Clean Comforts: Quinoa Crusted Mozzarella Sticks

Cheese is the best food in the whole entire world, and I will not hear otherwise.

I grew up in a cheese-loving family. My dad and I bond over Brie. Needless to say, mozzarella sticks are one of my all-time favorite foods. Unfortunately, they are full of fat, salt, and future heart attacks, so they don’t really fit into my current lifestyle! I set out to create a healthy alternative without using white bread crumbs.

And then it came to me! Quinoa, the trendiest of the grains, can stand in for breadcrumbs. They turned out deliciously crispy, flavorful, and filling.

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

10-12 string mozzarella cheese sticks (I used Light Organic Trader Joes, but I would recommend Light Saragento next time. Better flavor!)

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 cup oat or whole wheat flour

1 egg

2 tbsp parmesan cheese

1 tbsp dried parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop the mozzarella sticks in half and put them in the freezer. This is NECESSARY! While you’re waiting for the cheese to freeze, cook the quinoa and set aside. Scoop a cup of the quinoa into a bowl. Add the cheese, parsley, salt and pepper to the quinoa and mix. Put the egg and flour into separate bowls. Remove the cheese from the freezer. Dip each piece into flour, then egg, and the quinoa last. Press the quinoa firmly onto each stick.

This is also necessary: PUT THEM BACK IN THE FREEZER. If you don’t freeze the sticks, they will become mozzarella pancakes. Which doesn’t sound too bad. But still. Keep the sticks in the freezer for at least a half an hour. Spray the tops with cooking spray and place in the oven for 10 minutes.

Serve with marinara sauce, or eat them by themselves!

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When made with a healthy cheese, these mozzarella sticks can be filling option for lunch or dinner! The quinoa is high in protein and fiber. It’s also full of calcium and riboflavin, which helps stimulate your metabolism! Mozzarella is also full of protein, and also contains niacin, riboflavin, and biotin.

Enjoy, foodies!

Clean Comforts: Fresh Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Sandwiches > Salads.

One of the hardest parts of living this lifestyle is cutting back on enriched flour. I miss my ciabatta rolls! Another hard part is forcing vegetables down my gullet. I love the crunch of fresh veggies, but I said it once, and I’ll say it again: salad does not fill me up. Ever. I can (painfully) eat bowls and bowls of salad and never feel full.

These spring rolls give you the best of both worlds. Wrapped in thin sheets of rice paper, they make it feel like a sandwich with the contents of a salad. The dipping sauce is amazing, and I had to restrain myself from drinking the contents.

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Ingredients (makes 3 rolls)

8-10 frozen shrimp

3 sheets rice paper

2 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce

3 romaine lettuce leaves

1 large carrot

1/2 cucumber

3 fresh basil leaves

Sauce:

2 tbsp natural peanut butter

2 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp sesame or olive oil

1 tbsp honey or maple syrup

1/4 tsp ground ginger

2-3 tsp water

Directions

Thaw shrimp as directed. Chop up your veggies: shred the carrots, and thinly slice the lettuce, cucumber, and basil. Add any other veggies you’d like! Once the shrimp are thawed, cut them in half lengthwise and place in a hot pan with the soy sauce. Saute for a few minutes and set aside. Fill a pan with a few inches of warm water. Place your rice paper in the pan for 15-20 seconds. Pull out gently and set on a wet dish towel. Place 3-4 pieces of shrimp on the bottom, then top with the veggies. Fold the bottom up, then the sides inwards, and roll like a burrito!

Sauce: Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together for a few minutes. I liked mine very peanut-y, so add according to your own taste. When the texture is smooth and liquid, pour into a dip container.

These are low in calories, and full of vitamins and minerals. They will keep you full and energetic throughout your day!

Dip the spring rolls in the sauce and enjoy your salad in disguise!

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Clean Comforts: Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

Breakfast is the bomb. I don’t trust people who say things like “I’m not really a breakfast person…” If you aren’t a breakfast person, are you even a person?

Maybe I’m exaggerating.

Oatmeal is a wonderful option for breakfast because it keeps you full until lunch. I, however, am not a fan of the vomit-like consistency of cooked oatmeal. Blech. I try to eat it like a normal human being and it’s just gross to me.This is why baked oatmeal is a great option for texture freaks like me! It looks like cake, smells like cake, and tastes like cake. Mmm, cake.

Adapted from: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Baked-Oatmeal-II/

Ingredients (serves 8)

3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup almond milk (or whatever kind of milk you fancy)

2 eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup frozen wild blueberries (they don’t have to be wild. I just like ’em rebellious)

1/2 tsp lemon zest

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour the 3 cups of rolled oats into a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest to the mixture and stir it up. Pour in the milk, and then the eggs, one at a time. Pour your applesauce and vanilla extract in and stir until combined. Add your blueberries last. You can use any kind of fruit in this dish, like apples, cranberries, bananas, or raisins. Pour the mixture into a greased 8 x 11 baking dish, and let it cook for about 40 minutes.

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This oatmeal has been a life saver for me because it’s so quick and easy. When I’m rushing in the morning I can put a bit of butter on it and head out. My favorite way to eat this dish is warmed up in a bowl with cold milk poured over it. It’s like a healthy tres leches. Here I go again with the cake.

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Nutritional Benefits: Oh oats, how I love thee. When I started eating healthier, I found myself desperately missing carbs, and oats came to my rescue. They are famously rich in fiber, and keep you full. Additionally, they can reduce hypertension, and contain phytochemicals, which reduce risk of many different cancers.

You can have your cake, and eat it, AND not feel guilty about it. Woot woot.

Clean Comforts: Cheesy Mashed Turnips

I know. The title is not appealing.

Here’s the thing. Potatoes are awesome, but are high carb and shouldn’t be consumed often if you’re trying to lose weight. Cauliflower? Ugh. They’re the pretentious hipsters of the vegetable world.

Turnips are the misunderstood third child. They’re a little tough, slightly bitter, and always overlooked (can you tell that I’m a third child?). However, turnips are extremely healthy, and can help take the hunger edge off if you just want some mashed potatoes. With a little coaxing and good seasoning, they’re creamy and delicious.

*side note: they are not supposed to taste like potatoes. Remember: misunderstood third child. Different children, different expectations.

Ingredients: Serves 2

4-5 turnips

1 medium potato

1 cup +1/4 cup milk

1 tbsp mayo (you can omit, but I recommend it)

2 tbsp butter

1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon sugar

salt & pepper to taste

Directions

The main reason why turnips aren’t popular is because they tend to be bitter. I’m using 3 different ways to cut out that bitterness. The first is with the use of the potato. It is necessary because it balances out with the strong taste of the turnip. Cooking it in milk is another way to cut out the bitterness, and the sugar in the recipe also counteracts it.

Peel your turnips and potato and chop into large chunks. Put them into a pot with 1 1/2 cups of water mixed with 1 cup of milk. Turn the heat to low/medium and let them cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Pierce them with a knife to test & drain.

Turnips are more fibrous than potatoes, so I used two methods to mash them. First, add the butter, mayo, milk, sugar, salt and pepper to the pot of turnips. Use a potato masher to break down the big pieces. Once they are broken down, put them in a blender or food processor and let it blend. Add the cheese gradually while it blends.

Garnish with fresh herbs, more cheese, or gravy. Whatever your little heart desires. I added more cheese because cheese is God’s gift to us.

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Turnip’s Nutritional Benefits: Turnips have only 8 grams of carbs, while potatoes have 37! That’s a major difference. Their similar texture to potatoes helps you feel fuller, but with fewer calories. They also have nearly half of the vitamin C you need in a day. They also contain necessary minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium.

Enjoy your turnips, friends!

Clean Comforts: Slathered Asian Salmon

I have a problem.

I love Panda Express more than I love most people. The bigger problem? Panda Express is the leading cause of double chins (it’s a fact).

This recipe is for those of you that love salmon and Asian flavors. Its all the same goodness, but without MSG! The ingredients are items you probably have on hand already. This recipe is for two people, but just up the sauce ratios, and you’ll have a full blown family meal.

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The Salmon:

  • 2 five ounce frozen Alaskan salmon filets
  • 1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp organic honey
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (you can omit)
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • salt & pepper to taste

The Rice

  • 1 cup organic brown Jasmine rice
  • 2 cups water
  • olive oil & salt to taste

The Veggies

  • 1/2 cup frozen green beans

This is seriously one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made. I have a thing for Jasmine rice. It smells like what I imagine Jesus smells like, and is packed with fiber to keep you full. Throw the rice and water in a pot until it boils, then cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While the rice simmers, thaw out your salmon. I put mine in cold water for 30 minutes (in the packaging of course).

Now, create the slather sauce. In a medium sized bowl, briskly mix all the sauce ingredients until combined. Set aside.

Spray a nonstick baking dish with cooking spray, or just rub some olive oil on that bad boy. Place the salmon, skin side down, on the pan and season with salt & pepper. Drench the little fishy in your sauce. You can let it marinate for up to an hour, but I was starving, so I stuck it in the oven. My salmon took about 11 minutes to cook. The length of time depends on the thickness. For every inch thick. give it about 10 minutes or so.

Make your beans/veggies however you so desire. I just follow the directions on the packaging because I’m not the rebellious type. Let the salmon rest for a few minutes, then eat it atop the brown rice. The rice with the sauce is absolutely delicious.

Health Benefits

  1. Salmon has Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which will literally give you life. They give you major cardiovascular benefits while making your hair shine like a Pantene model. It’s also an amazing source of lean protein.
  2. Brown rice is the best because it’s full of fiber, can lower your cholesterol, and prevent diabetes
  3. Green beans are green, therefore they are good. (Fiber, Vitamin A, Iron, Magnesium!)

Go forth, and enjoy your little slice of Asian heaven.

Hello fellow foodies!

My name is Alli, and I’m passionate about all things food. Recently, I’ve been needing to change my lifestyle choices though. My love of food had me gaining weight and feeling sluggish. However, I am not content with eating a spinach salad every single day. That sounds like my own personal hell.

I’ve decided to write this blog for people like me, who need healthy comfort food. As much as I love Pinterest, the clean eating options are generally pretty boring.

I’m here to change that!

Some of my posts will be recipes that I’ve found online and have tweaked. Others will be original. Some will be about eating well while eating out. I generally do not count calories, but focus on the vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients for a balanced diet. I am no professional chef, but I know good food when I taste it.

Enjoy, fellow foodies!