20-Minute Paleo Burrito Bowls with Broccoli Slaw. (GF)

A healthier take on popular burrito bowls using a super easy to make veggie base! 

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Okay, here’s the deal.
Most burrito bowls don’t have a lot of vegetables since the base is typically a generous serving of rice and beans.
To make these burrito bowls paleo/whole30 approved, I swapped them out!
And, I took a shortcut, which I don’t often do in the kitchen.
This simple swap makes this meal super convenient and easy, perfect for a weeknight meal.
Are you ready?

I used an onion, bell pepper, garlic, and…

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…bag of broccoli slaw!

The end result is 110% delicious and you won’t even miss your former rice and bean base. Plus, it’s so so so fast and easy since all you have to do is open the bag and start cooking! Why have I not thought of this sooner?! I have a feeling I may be using this shortcut for other meal ideas, too.

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The meat is really flavorful thanks to spices, a can of diced green chiles, and fresh cilantro. Spoon it over your veggie base and then add whatever toppings you’d like! My favorites? Salsa and guacamole. Yum!

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One last thing–my husband put the slaw and meat in tortillas to eat as tacos instead of as a bowl, and he was a huge fan. So, that’s another option for you or your family members!

20-Minute Paleo Burrito Bowls with Broccoli Slaw

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 bag of broccoli slaw from the produce department
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 can diced green chiles
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika, regular or smoked
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Toppings: salsa, guacamole, etc.

1). Pre-heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the broccoli slaw, onions, bell pepper, and garlic. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Sautee for 5-8 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2). Brown the ground beef in the skillet. Add diced tomatoes, green chiles, and spices. Stir to combine, adding a little water (I used about 1/3 cup) if necessary. Cook until most of the water has evaporated.

3). To assemble: layer the bowls with the sauteed vegetables on the bottom, then the meat sauce and toppings of choice. Enjoy!

Servings: 4. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 301 Carbs: 17g Fat: 15g Protein: 25g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 8g Points+: 8 Recipe adapted from here.

Taco Stuffed Squash (or Zucchini) Boats.

Squash boats nestled in salsa, filled with zesty taco meat, and topped with cheese. A new twist on taco night!

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Everyone loves tacos, right? Right. This recipe is a new take on a taco, and a great way to get in a serving of vegetables. Same taco flavor you love and expect, just using a healthier, gluten-free alternative. I used yellow squash because I had a ton, but if you have zucchini feel free to use that instead! My husband doesn’t love yellow squash but he went back for seconds on this dish!

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The meat in the boats is really flavorful due to a low-and-slow simmer in a homemade taco seasoning. Fear not–homemade does not have to equal complicated! It’s made with just cumin, chili powder, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. There’s no need for a taco seasoning packet filled with all sorts of additives when making your own is this simple! Chances are you already have those spices sitting in your pantry right this very moment.

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To make the squash into “boats”, you have to spoon out the seeds in the middle. You can’t do this easily without cooking the squash first. Lucky for you I tried that method to see if I could skip a step and the answer is clear: NOPE! If you’re using zucchini, you might be able to do this with a melon baller while they’re raw. Regardless, you need to cook the boats before you stuff them because the final bake in the oven is not going to be long enough to cook them start to finish.

So, you have two options:

  1. Boil the squash halves in a pot of water for a few minutes.
  2. Bake the squash cut-side-down on a pan at 400F for about 12-15 minutes.

I prefer the second option for many reasons:

  • It gives me time to cook the meat mixture while they’re baking, so I don’t have to multi-task too much.
  • I actually think it enhances the flavor because you sprinkle them with oil, salt, and pepper before baking.
  • I’m going to preheat the oven to 400F anyway, so that’s not an inconvenience.
  • It reduces the final bake time because they’re more cooked through with this method.
  • And finally, covering the pan with foil = no clean up, while boiling in water = a pot to clean up.

Let’s be honest, that last point was the real reason. : )

But, if you’d rather boil the halves then go for it! Either way, let them cool before you scoop out the seeds in the middle.

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Would you try this? Does your family have a taco night? Let me know in the comment section below. I see a lot of “Taco Tuesday” posts on social media. I love experimenting in the kitchen a liiiiiiittle too much to dedicate an entire meal every week to the same dish, but I can definitely see the appeal!

Taco Stuffed Squash.

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 squash or zucchini depending on size (I had a couple tiny ones so I used 6), cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/2-3/4 cup mild salsa
  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, minced
  • 4 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions or cilantro, for topping

1). Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Lightly drizzle squash with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the squash face down on the pan and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until fork-tender. Allow them to cool a few minutes until they aren’t too hot to touch, then use a spoon to scoop out the center of each half. Reserve this to add to the meat mixture (optional).

2). While the squash is baking, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the meat. Add the onion and bell pepper. When the meat is no longer pink, add the spices, leftover squash, tomato sauce, 1/4 cup salsa and water. Stir, cover, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.

3). Meanwhile, spread about 1/4-1/2 cup salsa in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Arrange the squash boats in the baking dish. Add 1/3 cup of meat to each boat, then sprinkle with about 1 tbsp cheese and some fresh cilantro. Cover and bake for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serving size: 2 halves. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 286 Fat: 12g Carbs: 18g Fiber: 5g Protein: 28g Points+: 7
Recipe adapted from: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2013/07/taco-stuffed-zucchini-boats.html

 

Cuban Picadillo.

Picadillo: ground beef cooked in a flavorful tomato sauce with onions, cilantro, garlic, spices, and olives. If you don’t like olives don’t write this one off!! My husband hates olives but loves this dish. They are barely noticeable and the brine from the olives is really what’s necessary to give this dish a unique taste.

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If you’ve never had picadillo, think of it almost as an alternate to hum-drum taco meat. It’s traditionally served over rice but you could get creative and eat it as a taco if you’d like. Each bite has so much flavor, and this is a PERFECT weeknight meal. It can be on the table in about 30 minutes! What’s not to love?!

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This picadillo has some flavors you’d expect in a Latin dish: cilantro, cumin, onion, and garlic. But, what really makes this dish special (as I alluded to earlier), is adding a few tablespoons of “alcaparrado”, which is basically just green olives and peppers. You should easily find a jar in your grocery store’s international aisle. I used Goya. Add the olives and a little bit of the brine from the jar to the meat sauce while it cooks. The other most important flavor-creating step is simmering the meat in the tomato sauce because this allows it to thicken and coat every bite of meat in that delicious sauce. Yum!

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One more bonus about this recipe: you can play with the ratio of ingredients to suit your tastebuds. Want more olives/brine? Add them. Want more sauce? Add more tomato sauce. Don’t have a pepper? Leave it out. Want to add a tomato? Do it! I suggest making it once following the recipe pretty closely and playing with it from there however you’d like. You have lots of freedom with this recipe!

So, if you are in a dinner rut and need something quick, easy, (and healthy!), you need to try this recipe. This savory meat dish is an absolute favorite in our home; both my husband and I love it and I make it quite often. I actually served it at school last year to some of my students and they inhaled it, so I can tell you it is kid-approved!

Cuban Picadillo

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pepper, finely chopped (I sometimes omit)
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • 1-1/2 lb 93% lean ground beef (or as lean as you can find!)
  • 4 oz (1/2 can) tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp alcaparrado + 2 tbsp brine

1). In a large skillet, brown the ground beef over medium heat until cooked through, breaking up the meat into small pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Drain grease and add meat back to the pan.

2). While meat is cooking, chop onions, garlic, cilantro, and pepper (if using). Reduce heat to medium-low and add to the pan. Saute until onions are soft.

3). Add alcaparrado, 2 tbsp brine, tomato sauce, and water. Mix well and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for at least 5 minutes or up to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Servings: 6 (1/2 cup). Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 170 Carbs: 4.5g Fat: 7g Protein: 22.5g Fiber: 1g Points+: 4

Recipe adapted from: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2008/03/picadillo-6-ww-pts.html

Chipotle’s Cilantro Lime Rice

Sometimes rice can be a little bland, which is why I love Chipotle’s cilantro lime rice–it is SO flavorful! If you are looking for a great addition to your Mexican dinner night, you need to make this rice. It will kick your tacos or rice bowls up a notch!

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All that’s required to totally transform your rice are a few simple ingredients: fresh cilantro, lime juice, and oil. After cooking your rice, simply toss it together with those 3 ingredients and all of a sudden you will have Chipotle-style rice ready for eating! We love it with my easy crockpot Mexican shredded chicken for tacos, rice bowls, quesadillas, etc.

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I used brown rice because it is much more nutritious, but you can certainly use white rice or whatever your favorite is! Also, honestly, the cilantro measurement is really an estimate–I LOVE cilantro and sometimes add more. I like to make sure every bite will be speckled with the green herb, but if you are not as big of a fan of the flavor I’d definitely stick to just the 3 tbsp. You can always taste it and add more if you think it needs it!IMG_20140219_175001827_HDR
Chipotle’s Cilantro Lime Rice

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked brown (or white) rice
  • 1/2 lime, juice of
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt, to taste

1). Prepare rice according to package directions.

2). In a bowl, mix together the hot rice, lime juice, cilantro, oil, and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.

Serving size: 1/2 cup cooked rice. Servings: about 6. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 163 Carbs: 33g Fat: 1g Protein: 4g Fiber: 2g Points+:4

Recipe adapted from: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2009/03/chipotle-cilantro-lime-rice-4-pts.html

Classic Guacamole.

Oh, guacamole. It’s great as an appetizer by itself, perfect on tacos or other Mexican fare, and even delicious on a salad. I LOVE a good guacamole, and it’s so good for you!

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Making homemade guacamole is easy: chop, mash, mix, season. Finding the right recipe, however, can be a challenge. Some are too tomato-y, some are too spicy, and some just have no flavor at all. The recipe I’m about to share with you came from Alton Brown, and (not surprisingly) was just right! It has nice thick chunks of avocado and tomato while still being creamy. I opted not to make mine spicy because I prefer it that way, so I omitted the jalapeño, but you can definitely add it if you like your guac with a kick! 

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Want to know a way to avoid your guacamole from turning brown if you decide to make it for a party ahead of time? Press the guacamole into a bowl, making sure there are no air holes. Then, using a measuring cup, carefully pour cold water over it until there is about an inch of water over the guacamole. Before serving, simply pour out the water and give it a stir! Just make sure to use a measuring cup to gently pour the water in the bowl. Don’t use the sink. Trust me. : )  

Now go grab a few ripe avocados and get mashing!

Classic Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 3 hass avocados, seeded and chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • Optional (I omitted): 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and diced

1). In a large bowl place the avocado pulp, lime juice, salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Use a potato masher and mash to your preferred texture.

2). Fold in the onion, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic (and jalapeño, if using). Taste and season accordingly. Allow it to sit at room temperature for 1 hour for the flavors to combine before serving. 

Yield: About 4 cups, or 16 servings of  1/4 cup (4 tbsp) each.

Nutritional Information per 4 tbsp: Calories: 64 Fat: 5g  Carbs: 4g Protein: 1g Fiber: 3g WWPoints+: 2

Recipe adapted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/guacamole-recipe.html 

 

 

Easy Homemade Taco Seasoning

Let’s talk about taco seasoning. You can buy it at the store in the form of those little convenient packets, or you can add maybe 3 minutes to your total cooking time and make your own from the spices sitting in your pantry.  It is EASY and tastes just as good (if not better!) than what you get in the packets. Plus, even if you don’t want to make it a habit of making your own, someday you may realize you are out of taco seasoning right before you wanted to whip up some tacos. Now that problem is solved!

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All you need are 7 common spices, plus salt and pepper. Give them a stir in a little bowl and continue on with your dish as usual! Like I said, it’s so easy. One batch of this mixture is equal to one packet of taco seasoning. If you are making tacos, you will need to add 2/3-3/4 cup water just like you would with the seasoning packets.

Now, I’m going to jump on my soap box about why you may want to start making it a habit to prepare your own taco seasoning. Packaged taco seasoning has many unnecessary and even unhealthy ingredients. For example, take the list of ingredients from a name brand taco seasoning I found in my pantry: maltodextrin, chili pepper, salt, onion powder, corn starch, garlic powder, spice, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, yeast extract, silicon dioxide, sunflower and/or cottenseed oil, spice extractive, and ethoxyquin. Um, what? I can hardly pronounce some of those unrecognizable ingredients. And “spice”?? Why don’t they name the spice? The first ingredient listed, maltodextrin, as well as “yeast extract” are alternate names for Manufactured Glutamic Acid, aka MSG (source). And the partially hydrogenated soybean oil? Trans fats (source). The side effects of MSG and trans fats have been pretty well documented and I encourage you to read up on them if you haven’t already. Ok, ok. I’m done. All I want to say is if you are going to buy pre-packaged taco seasoning (which, let’s face it, we all probably will from time to time), read the ingredients list and make sure you select one where all they list are regular spices. No preservatives or ingredients you don’t recognize, k?

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp freshly ground sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

1). In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients. (This mixture will be equivalent to one packet of taco seasoning).

Recipe adapted from: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/taco-seasoning-i/ 

Salmon with Sriracha and Lime Sauce

I LOVE salmon because it is so healthy (Omega-3s!) and it only takes 20 minutes to bake, making it a great option for busy weeknight meals. When I’m really in a time crunch, I season it with my go-to creole seasoning and throw it in the oven. We love it that way, but I also love experimenting with new ways to make it. In this version, the salmon is topped with a flavorful mixture of lime juice, lime zest, sriracha sauce, and maple syrup before baking–no marinating required! Then, after baking, the salmon gets sprinkled with a bit of fresh cilantro on top. The cilantro adds a bright pop of flavor and color! Did I mention this is all happening on top of a parchment-lined baking sheet, which results in virtually no clean up? Just throw the parchment paper away and you’re done! I told you, this one’s perfect for a weeknight meal.

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The really neat thing about this recipe is the fusion between Asian and Latin flavors due to the combination of sriracha with lime and cilantro. This recipe was my first go at using sriracha. I know, I know…I’m a bit late to join the sriracha club. I was hesitant to use it because I was afraid it would be way too spicy, and sometimes I’m a wimp in the heat department. Although sriracha is very spicy by itself, when mixed with other ingredients (in this case the lime juice and maple syrup), it is definitely not too spicy. Bonus? There are only 5 calories in a teaspoon, but it packs a flavorful punch, making it a valuable ingredient. This salmon can be served along either an Asian flavored side dish or a Latin one! Even a salad would be perfect.

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This is a unique but simple way to completely change the way you cook salmon. Let me know what you think!

Salmon with Sriracha and Lime Sauce

Ingredients:

  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tsp sriracha sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground sea salt
  • 1 1/4 lbs pounds salmon fillet, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro

1). Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place salmon on parchment paper.

2). In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice/zest, maple syrup, sriracha, and salt. Pour over salmon.

3). Bake for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Servings: 4 Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 219 Carbs: 4g Fat: 9g Fiber: 0g Protein: 28g WW Points+: 5

Recipe adapted from: http://www.self.com/fooddiet/recipes/2013/04/salmon-sriracha-sauce-lime