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Carrot Noodle Stir Fry

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Everyone needs quick & healthy meals ideas, and I have a great one for you today. Even better, this tastes like any oil coated, sodium loaded stir fry but it’s totally healthy. Carrots + broccoli + a 2-ingredient sauce. It doesn’t get much more simplier or healthier than that! Plus, this stir fry is naturally gluten free!

Carrot-Noodle-Stir-Fry-Chopsticks

So, carrot noodles. You’ve probably noticed vegetable noodles and spiralizers are all the rage on Pinterest and food blogs. I love the idea of eating my vegetables in noodle form but seriously have no room in my kitchen for another fancy appliance. It turns out that you can easily make vegetable noodles with a vegetable peeler, no spiralizer needed!

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When I first started experimenting with veggie noodles, carrot noodles were not on my radar. I hate carrots. They taste like chalk to me. Even dipped in hummus – still gross. Then one evening Steve made some carrot noodles. It’s hard to remember how it all happened. I was in the bathroom vomiting from coffee withdrawal sickness and not really paying any attention to anything. Steve came in the bathroom with a small plate of food, saying I needed to eat. I was too sick to care and just ate whatever he gave me. I guess there had been some carrot noodles in there.

{If you’re interested in my coffee story, check back on Friday for a post about how and why I beat caffeine addiction!}

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Well, the carrots weren’t so bad. It turns out that cooked and flavored carrots taste amazing. There is really no carroty taste at all! I’ve now been honing my carrot noodle recipe, and found that carrot noodles are very well suited to stir fry. The carrots suck up all the flavors from the sauce. It’s very similar to eating a bowl of rice noodles slathered with sauce, but instead you’re eating a bowl of vegetables. Not only will you love how this stir fry tastes, but you’ll love how good it feels to be eating something that is truly healthy and good for you!

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Carrot Noodle Stir Fry

Serves 1. For a more substantial meal, serve with rice. I cook 1/4c rice (dry) for each serving of carrot noodles.
 
Ingredients
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 broccoli crown
  • 1 Tbs olive oil, divided (or other cooking oil, like coconut oil or sesame oil)
  • 2 Tbs water
  • 1 Tbs Bragg’s Amino Acids (this is a soy sauce replacement. If you don’t mind the sodium, just sub in soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp chili garlic paste (check label to be sure it’s GF)
Directions
  1. Heat half of the oil in a small skillet over medium high heat.
  2. While the oil and the skillet are heating, cut the broccoli into florets. When the oil is hot add the broccoli to the skillet. Stir the broccoli until it is coated with oil and bright green. Add the water to the skillet (be careful, it may splash/steam), reduce the heat to medium, and cover. Let the broccoli simmer until it is tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. While the broccoli is simmering prepare the carrots noodles. First, peel the outer layer off of the carrots. Using the same vegetable peeler, continue to peel along the entire length of the carrot to make long noodle shapes. Once the carrot is down to the small stub you are holding onto use a knife to cut it up into small pieces. Do this with both carrots.
  4. When the broccoli is tender move it to a plate and drain any extra water out of the skillet. Add the other half of the oil to the skillet and bump the heat back up to medium high.
  5. When the oil is hot add the carrot noodles. Stir to coat them with oil. Continue to cook for about 3 -4 minutes, stirring. The noodles will go from firm to softer, and be brighter in color. Once the noodles have softened add the Amino acids and chili garlic paste. Stir to combine. Add the broccoli back into the skillet and cook for just a minute more to heat up the broccoli.
  6. Serve hot.
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PGF: Macaroni & Broccoli

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Macaroni-&-Broccoli-Both

Macaroni & Broccoli is a quick, healthy pasta dinner. It can be difficult to make a quick GF dinner, and even more tricky if you’re trying to make that meal healthy, too. Since the base of the dish is pasta and there are no strong flavors this healthy, gluten free dinner will please picky eaters, too.

Really, this is so simple to make that it hardly needs a recipe. I set two pots of water on the stove over high heat. While the water is coming to a boil I chop some broccoli florets and garlic. When the water is boiling I add some brown rice pasta to one pot, some regular pasta to the other and steam the broccoli. If I’m not feeling lazy I may saute the garlic in a little oil, but it’s not a necessary step.

Macaroni-&-Broccoli-Tall

It goes without saying that you NEED to be careful when cooking GF pasta and wheat pasta side by side. Use two separate pots and get out two separate stirring spoons. I like to keep my GF pasta, pot, and stirring utensil on one side of the stove and the wheat-laden food on the other side. Package up any leftover pasta right when you are done with it to avoid any cross contamination! I time the pasta cooking times so that the GF pasta will be done first. I drain it, put in on the table, and then drain the wheat pasta when the GF portion is totally out of the way. If you take these simple precautions to avoid cross contamination your meal will be safe! (Of course, you could also make this meal entirely with GF pasta, or even entirely with wheat pasta if you don’t have a gluten intolerance).

Once the pasta is cooked I stir some broccoli and garlic in to each pot and dinner is ready! Super easy and dinner will be on the table in under 30 minutes! For a fuller meal, serve with a salad and some grilled chicken. You’ll still have a quick, simple dinner!

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PGF: Macaroni & Broccoli

See post for additional tips on safely cooking GF and wheat pasta simultaneously.
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c GF pasta
  • 2 c wheat pasta
  • 1 large or 2 small heads of broccoli
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbc olive oil
Directions
  1. Fill two saucepans with water and heat over high heat.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil, cut the broccoli into small florets and mince the garlic.
  3. Place the broccoli florets in a steamer basket. Fill another sauce pan with an inch or two of water and put the steamer basket in the pan. Heat to boiling, and then reduce the heat to low and let the broccoli simmer for about 8 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat. (See this post for step-by-step instructions on steaming broccoli).
  4. In a small bowl, mix the minced garlic with the olive oil. If you’d like, you can saute the garlic and oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, until the garlic has softened, but this step is not required.
  5. When the pasta water is boiling, add the GF pasta to one pan and the regular pasta to another. Stir each, being sure to use separate stirring utensils. Cook each pasta according to package directions and then drain, starting with the GF pasta.
  6. Return the pasta to their respective pots. Add about 1/3 of the broccoli and 1/3 of the garlic/oil mixture to the GF pasta. Stir until the oil has coated the pasta.
  7. Add the remaining broccoli and garlic/oil to the regular pasta and stir to coat the pasta with the oil.

Simple & Tasty Steamed Broccoli

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Did anyone decide to eat healthier this year? I didn’t make any New Year’s Resolutions this year, but I have been putting a larger focus on eating enough fruits and vegetables. My goal is just to eat 5 servings a day and I’m not putting any pressure on myself to make them all super cool or have no repeats in a certain amount of time. If that means I will eat the same banana oatmeal every day and the same smoothie every afternoon then so be it. I’m sure I’ll branch out with time. The idea is just to get those fruits and veggies in!

Broccoli is one of the vegetables I do love to eat. It was the only vegetable my parents could reliably get my sister and I to eat when we were kids. My Dad would often prepare some broccoli similar to what I’m sharing today and we all loved it. Every time we would all say “this broccoli is particularly good tonight”. Every time. Eventually it was an inside joke and we still just kept saying it.

Steamed Broccoli 6

Truth be told, this broccoli is particularly good! It’s flavored enough to make things interesting but simple enough to maintain the flavor of the broccoli. If you’ve steamed vegetables much before then you know the cooking process. Here are some photos to help you along if you’re new to steaming vegetables! (And if you are new to eating and steaming vegetables congratulations on deciding to eat more healthy foods! Keep up the good work!)

First, cut the broccoli into florets. Leave the stems as long or as short as you want.

Steamed Broccoli 1

Next, prepare the steamer. Fill a large saucepan with an inch or two of water and then put the steamer in the pan.

Steamed Broccoli 2

Put the broccoli florets in the steamer basket and then put a couple of bay leaves on top of the broccoli.

Steamed Broccoli 3

Cover the pan and heat the pan to boiling over high heat. Listen for the water under the steamer to boil (since you won’t be able to see it boiling) – it won’t take long, since there is only a little bit of water in the pan. Once you hear the water boiling turn the heat down to low. Let the broccoli simmer for 5-10 minutes, depending on how hard/soft you want it to be. Use a fork to test the tenderness. When the broccoli is done take the lid off. Be careful; there will be a lot of steam!

Steamed Broccoli 4

Carefully remove the broccoli from the steamer and the pan (they will be hot!) and put in a bowl. Stir in some olive oil and coarse salt and serve!

Steamed Broccoli 5

Simple & Tasty Steamed Broccoli

Ingredients:

  • Broccoli heads or crowns
  • bay leaves (1 large or 2 small)
  • olive oil
  • coarse salt

Directions

  1. Trim broccoli into florets.
  2. Fill a medium/large pot with an inch or two of water and place a steamer basket in the pot. Put the broccoli into the steamer basket and add one or two bay leaves on top of the broccoli.
  3. Cover the pot and heat to boiling over high heat. Once the water is boiling reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until tender (test tenderness with a fork).
  4. When broccoli is cooked to desired level of tenderness remove it from the steamer and place in a bowl.
  5. Spray or drizzle the broccoli with olive oil and stir, then sprinkle with coarse salt.

Chicken, Broccoli & Quinoa Casserole

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I love casseroles, but (at least for me) they are always a guilty pleasure type of meal. Usually casseroles are so creamy, cheesy, and delicious, but also so unhealthy. My favorite GF casserole is seriously irresistible, but it doesn’t really have much nutritional value. This casserole is like magic. It tastes so bad, but is really so good!

The major components in this casserole are whole foods: just some pan seared chicken, quinoa, and steamed broccoli. Sounds boring, but then it’s all topped with a creamy cheesy topping. And, get this, rather than just dumping on some sour cream or cream cheese, this sauce is made from scratch from milk and parmesan. All together = yum!

Obviously, we thoroughly enjoyed this casserole because at the end of the meal this was all that was left:

There’s a got bit of prep work involved in this casserole because everything is fully cooked before it is combined and put in the oven. This makes for a great make ahead of freezer meal. My instructions here are for prep immediately followed by baking. If you do prepare this ahead of time, or freeze it, just increase the bake time until the casserole is heated through. If you have questions about the cooking process let me know and I’ll help you out!

Happy healthy eating! And happy beginning of October!

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Chicken, Broccoli & Quinoa Casserole

 
Ingredients
  • 3/4c dry quinoa
  • 1 1/4c water
  • 2 small heads of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 3 large chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbs salted butter
  • 2 small shallots, minced
  • 1 Tbs all purpose GF flour
  • 3/4c milk (I’ve used almond milk and skim milk)
  • 3/4c chicken stock
  • 3/4c shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4c basil, finely chopped
Cooking Directions

Quinoa & Broccoli

  1. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. When the water, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook until the water is absorbed, about 12 minutes.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, steam the broccoli florets. (My steaming method: Fill a large saucepan with about an inch of water. Place a steamer basket in the pan and fill it with the broccoli. Cover, and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling (which will happen in just a couple of minutes), reduce heat to a simmer. When broccoli is soft, after about 5 minutes, depending on how large the florets are, remove from heat and drain it).
  3. Roughly chop the cooked broccoli and combine with the cooked quinoa

Chicken

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces to the pan.
  2. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until cooked through.

Cheese Sauce

  1. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the shallots to the melted butter and cook for a few minutes, until shallots have softened.
  2. Stir the flour into the butter/shallot mix.
  3. Very slowly, add the milk and chicken stock into the pan while stirring. Start with just a tablespoon of liquid at a time, making sure it is entirely absorbed before you add more. As the mixture looks more liquid-y than solid you can add more and more liquid.
  4. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. It probably take between 5 and 10 minutes. When the mixture is thickened, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese, garlic powder, and basil

Bake Casserole

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Place chicken in the bottom of a large casserole dish (or use several smaller dishes – great for freezing). Top with quinoa and broccoli, and finally with the cheese sauce.
  3. Cook for about 10 minutes to let everything heat through (or longer, if baking from refrigerator or oven. In this case, put the baking dish in the oven while it is preheating, also).
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