Pesto Chicken Zoodles

Only 18 more days until Spring! Soon we will be shedding our sweaters, busting out the florals and bearing our legs….oh wait. I’m not ready!!! Anyone else feeling like they need to start prepping for bikini season NOW?

pesto chicken zoodles

Here’s some fun news – the hubbs and I just booked a cruise! In just a few weeks we’ll be sailing into some Bahama sunshine. Thank god. So with all this talk of springtime weather and fitting into shorts I thought I would share one of my favorite veggie-loaded, low carb dinner recipes.

pesto chicken zoodles

In this recipe I use Trader Joe’s pesto, but you could use any kind. For the chicken sausage I recommend using Al Fresco Chicken Sausage, which is gluten free, all natural and super delish. This time I went with spinach & feta flavor, which worked perfectly.

pesto chicken zoodles

The only catch for this recipe is that you do need to have some soft of spiralizer. I have the “made for tv” version, aka the Vegetti, which works perfectly fine. No need for expensive equipment. Also, are they serious with that name??

Pesto Chicken Zoodles

Ingredients:

  • 2 large zucchini
  • 5 button mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp garlic
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 chicken sausage
  • 1 Tbsp pesto

Directions: Spiralize zucchini into thin noodles and slices mushrooms. In a large saute pan on medium heat cook mushrooms and garlic in olive oil for about 3 minutes. Add in zucchini spirals and cook for about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, heat chicken sausage in microwave and slice into discs. Add chicken sausage to pan along with pesto and mix completely to combine.

pesto chicken zoodles

My Pesto Chicken Zoodles recipe (aka zucchini noodles for all the newbs out there) is super quick, easy and totally satisfying. You may or may not feel like you are kickin’ back in a big ‘ol booth at Olive Garden scarfing down pesto primavera and breadsticks. It’s really pretty much the same thing, but with less guilt and self-loathing 🙂

Enjoy!

6 Healthy Food Swaps for Quick Meals

Eating healthy when you’re on-the-go can be quite challenging. And I am the queen of on-the-go, so I know the struggle is real.

Little tid-bit of info about my life – I work full time in marketing during the day and 2-3 nights a week I teach dance and rehearse at a local studio. That means a lot of my dinners are packed to-go or just need to be super quick.

healthy food swaps for quick meals

Over the years I’ve found some products that are easy AND healthy. The worst feeling is walking into a dance class with an overfull belly of McDonalds because you didn’t have time to make something healthy.

Below is a list of my top 6 Healthy Food Swaps for Quick Meals

1. Instead of 45- minute white rice…

Microwave brown rice/grain packet

One of my biggest pet peeves is how freakin’ long it takes to cook rice. Luckily, I found Seeds of Change rice packets. These guys are a life saver. And I love that they are incorporating other grains like quinoa and red rice.

seeds of change rice

2. Instead of chicken nuggets…

Frozen sausage

As you found out in my last post, I love frozen sausage. They’re just so easy to pluck out of the freezer, microwave and BAM, you’ve got your protein in less than 3 minutes. Combine Roasted Garlic Al Fresco chicken sausage with some brown rice and vegetables and you’ve got a whole meal in less than 10 minutes. Just make sure the sausage you pick is nitrate free. Processed meats are OK in moderation, just make sure they are all natural or organic. I also love these Kayem artisan sausages!

kayem artisan sausage

3. Instead of Easy Mac…

Whole grain mac & cheese box

You’re tired, you’re hungry, you’re about to reach for the cereal…but wait! You have a box of mac & cheese! AND it’s whole grain?? WHaaaat? Combine one of these whole grain mac and cheese boxes with some frozen vegetables and you’re as good as gold. This Hodgson Mill Ultragrain Mac & Cheese is made with quinoa! So cool.

hodson mill mac and cheese

4. Instead of canned vegetables…

Frozen vegetables

Quick, easy and there when you need them. With the same nutrition as the fresh version, you can’t go wrong. I especially like some of the Trader Joe’s frozen vegetables that have some tasty sauces or spices on them.

trader joe's vegetable melange

5. Instead of Lean Cuisine…

Smart Made frozen meals

I do not recommend frozen meals on the reg. However, if you’re in a pinch, these Smart Made meals are actually not horrible for you and are truly tasty. My expectations were pretty low since frozen meals like this usually make me gag and then die of sodium poisoning. But, to my surprise it was pretty darn good. The idea is that they have swapped in healthier ingredients like brownie rice, whole grain pasta, turkey instead of beef, etc. I’ve had the Turkey Sausage & Roasted Veg Lasagna and the Roasted Turkey & Vegeteables meals, both of which made me feel great after and I could just reach into the freezer and grab it on my way out the door. Perfection.

smart made meals

6. Instead of Ramen…

Hearty soups

This is definitely my last-ditch effort at a meal. But when all I can do is grab a can from the cabinet, I want to make sure that it contains something at least semi-healthy. Lately I’ve been loving these Campbell’s Well Yes soups. They are made with relatively healthy ingredients are surprisingly tasty. Sweet Potato Corn Chowder is my fave. But my all-time favorite soup/meal is from my man Wolfgang Puck. His soups are amazing and made with hearty organic ingredients. The butternut squash is my wintertime weakness.

campbell's well yes sweet potato corn chowder soup

What do you eat when you’re on the go?

Sweet Potato Chicken Casserole

Do you love cheese?! Do you love warm, ooey gooey comfort food? If so, then this casserole is for you. This dish resulted from my craving for something warm and hearty. Right now life is pretty cold, everywhere I go. So when hot showers and hot cocoa just don’t cut it anymore, I turn to comfort food.

sweet potato chicken casserole

Oftentimes comfort food leaves you feeling heavy and sleepy, so I wanted to make something that would leave me feeling energized and ready to go. Instead of using pasta or rice as the base, I chose to use sweet potato, which offers lots of great nutritional benefits like fiber, vitamic C, potassium and B vitamins.

sweet potatoes

This dish is gluten free, full is healthy veggies and could be easily made vegan by omitting the chicken sausage and subbing the butter and cheese with alternatives like Earth Balance or Daiya Cheese.

img_0581

Speaking of chicken sausage, let’s talk about it for a second. It’s one of my favorite go-to’s when I’m in a pinch for a quick, healthy meal. I love to stock up on Trader Joe’s or Al Fresco chicken sausage and freeze it. Then I’ll microwave it for an easy protein solution. Just make sure your chicken sausage is all natural and nitrate free. You don’t want any of those nasty chemicals in your beautiful casserole. I’ll be talking more about chicken sausage in my next post, 6 Healthy Food Swaps For Quick Dinners. So stay tuned for that!

img_0585

Sweet Potato Chicken Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/8 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups half & half
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 4 mushrooms
  • 2 chicken sausages

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and dice sweet potato, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes. While the potatoes are baking, slice mushrooms, broccoli and chicken sausage into bite size pieces. In a medium pot melt butter and mix in flour, salt and pepper. Add in half and half and then melt in half of the cheddar cheese. In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, mushrooms, broccoli and chicken sausage and mix in cheese mixture until everything is fully coated. Pour into baking dish, sprinkle on the rest of the cheese and bake for 20 minutes.

img_0587

This dish kinda reminds me of mac & cheese, minus the mac. It gives you that same comforting feeling, but without the guilt!  I don’t know about you, but for me, mac and cheese is always great going down, but pretty uncomfortable after.

Sweet Potato Chicken Casserole

The last thing I want to say about this recipe is that it’s so friggin’ easy. If you’re like me and have a husband who thinks he’s the only one that can cook a good meal, bring this out when you want to beat him at his own game. Super easy, but impressively delicious. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite comfort food?