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.

30-Minute Shortcut Beef and Vegetable Ragu. (GF, DF, Paleo)

The most flavorful ragu ever! Perfect for a weeknight meal, and a great way to sneak in some veggies!

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I had NO idea how amazing this meal was going to be when I made it.
So. Much. Flavor!!
My husband proclaimed it one of his favorite meals ever. So simple, but seriously amazing.

You know it’s a winner when you genuinely look forward to the leftovers, and this sauce reheats beautifully–it’s almost better the second day! You can serve it over pasta, gluten-free pasta, or spaghetti squash (my favorite!).

Speaking of which, click here to learn how to cook spaghetti squash!

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Okay, so what makes this sauce so wonderful?

  • From start to finish, you can have dinner on the table in 30 minutes. Always a win, especially on busy weeknights. Thanks, food processor, for making this so quick and easy!
  • Everyone loves spaghetti and meat sauce, right? Right. Gotta love dishes that will appeal to your entire family.
  • The ingredients are simple. Humble, even. But, when they come together, they create a rich, cozy sauce. The key is using high quality beef (grass-fed), and marinara sauce.
  • The “shortcut” in this shortcut ragu is the marinara sauce. It’s (gasp) store-bought. Normally I’m all about making everything from scratch, but sometimessssss life gets crazy and you need a quick meal. Find a high-quality marinara sauce and it will make this meat sauce taste like it has been simmering all day.
  • My favorite –> Hidden veggies! In order to sneak some vegetables into the sauce, I threw them in the food processor first until they were chopped up teeny tiny. My husband hates mushrooms but didn’t even know he was eating them!

Hooray for adding nutrition and making a meal go further in a healthy, cost-effective way! I love it.

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Quick tip: double this recipe and freeze it!

30-Minute Shortcut Beef and Vegetable Ragu

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef (I used 90/10)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped (I used a handful of baby carrots!)
  • 1 rib of celery, roughly chopped
  • 4oz sliced mushrooms
  • 24 oz high quality tomato-basil marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • cooked pasta (regular or GF), or spaghetti squash
  • salt and pepper

1). Heat a large skillet or pot over medium heat and add the ground beef. While it is beginning to brown, add the onion and garlic to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper.

2). Add the carrot, celery, and mushrooms to the food processor. Pulse until minced. Add to the skillet and season with salt and pepper.

3). When the ground beef is no longer pink and the vegetables are tender, add the marinara sauce and chicken broth, stirring to combine. Reduce heat slightly and place a lid partially on top of the skillet. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4). Stir in fresh basil. Taste and re-season with more salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve over cooked pasta or spaghetti squash.

Servings of sauce: about 6. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 203 Carbs: 16g Fat: 7g Protein: 18g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 8g Points+: 5 Recipe adapted from here

Paleo Italian Stuffed Peppers.

Perfect for a weeknight meal, these paleo stuffed peppers are easy and healthy!

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It’s January! Everyone is looking to clean up their diets this time of year, and this is the perfect recipe to fit any new year’s resolution that is clean-eating related. This dish is paleo, Whole30 compliant, gluten-free, and overall delicious. You won’t even miss the rice that is traditionally included in stuffed peppers.

The real star of this show is the meat. So savory! So flavorful! It was absolutely perfect. There’s a hint of Italian fare from the basil, but it is not overpowering. I added lots of chopped spinach to get as many veggies in as possible.

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Did I mention this recipe is super simple and easy? While the peppers are doing their initial bake, cook the meat and vegetables. Once the peppers are out of the oven, stuff them with the meat mixture. Then you can either put them back in the oven for a few minutes, or, if you don’t mind firmer peppers, eat them as-is. Also, if you don’t mind adding dairy, I think a sprinkle of parmesan cheese would be fabulous here! I’m already thinking of other ways I can use this meat mixture (tacos, perhaps?) because it’s soo good!

Paleo Italian Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

  • 4 bell peppers, cut in half
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1lb grass-fed ground beef (or turkey)
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, chopped (or 1/2 can diced tomatoes, or 4 small tomatoes)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

1). Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Place the bell peppers, cut side down, in a large baking dish. Bake for about 15 minutes.
2). While the peppers are baking, add the oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Season well with salt and pepper.
3). Add the chopped tomatoes and garlic to the pan. Cook for a few minutes and then add the basil and spinach. Cook until wilted. Add more salt and pepper, to taste.
4). Evenly distribute the meat mixture into each pepper half. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or eat!

Servings: 4. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 240 Carbs: 7g Fat: 15g Protein: 24g Sugar: 4g Fiber: 2g Points+: 7 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

 

Zucchini Lasagna (Gluten-Free!).

Thin slices of grilled zucchini take the place of traditional lasagna noodles, and are then nestled in a rich meat and cheese sauce. You won’t miss the pasta one bit!

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See that beautiful green peaking through the lasagna? That’s the zucchini. I realize many of you have got to be really skeptical at this point. Zucchini for lasagna noodles?! It sounds crazy, I know, and even I had my reservations about it. I’m pretty sure I looked at my husband at one point while assembling this and told him I had no idea if this was going to turn out well. Thankfully, it did. Not only did it turn out well, it was awesome!! He’s not a huge fan of zucchini and really loved this one too. With lots of meat and cheese, what’s not to love? Yum.

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For those of you who follow me on instagram (if you don’t, you should!), you may recall I recently had a tiiiiny kitchen incident earlier this week involving a knife and 3 of my fingers. A record, to be sure. This recipe was worth it, though. It just goes to show you everyone can have one of those days in the kitchen, and you need to be careful with sharp knives. Which, by the way, you’ll need a sharp knife or a mandoline to achieve these thin slices of zucchini you’ll use to replace the noodles. Just be careful and don’t do what I did. : )

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Once they’re thinly sliced (you’re going for about 1/8-1/4 inch slice), sprinkle some salt on ’em to draw out excess water, pat them dry, and grill them up on an indoor or outdoor grill. These slices are so thin that they’ll be ready within 1-2 minutes per side. My indoor grill took a little longer than that on some of my slightly thicker slices, but just pierce them with a fork to test if they’re done. They’ll look something like this:

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I had 3 small zucchini, and it ended up not being enough for the layers, so I did the above steps with 2 small yellow squash and added it in the middle layer, which worked out great. So, if your garden is exploding with one squash and not the other, you can certainly substitute yellow squash!

While all of that’s happening, you’ll brown your meat and make a yummy sauce. Then, in another bowl, you’ll mix together ricotta cheese with parmesan and egg. That’s what makes this sauce so creamy and rich tasting. Once everything is ready, start layering! Sauce goes in the bottom of the pan first, followed by zucchini, ricotta mixture, mozzarella cheese, and another layer of sauce. I was able to have 3 layers of zucchini total. The top layer is a little different in that you only add the remaining sauce and mozzarella, no ricotta. This is important because you now know you can use half the ricotta mixture on the first layer, and the second half on the second layer. Make sense? Then once it’s all beautifully assembled, cover it with foil and bake it for about 30 minutes.

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After 30-40 minutes, remove the foil and either let it bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown on top, or turn your broiler on high for a few minutes. This lasagna took a pretty long while to assemble and we were hungry, so I went with the broiler route. Just be sure to keep an eye on it!

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The portion sizes on mine worked out to be equivalent to about the width of 2 slices of zucchini. Pair it with a big salad and you’ve got yourself a really filling meal!

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Zucchini Lasagna (Gluten-Free!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb 96% lean beef (or ground turkey)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • salt and pepper
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3-4 large zucchini OR yellow squash, sliced 1/8″-1/4″ thick (I used 3 small zucchini + 2 small yellow squash)
  • 15 oz part-skim ricotta
  • 16 oz part-skin mozzarella cheese, shredded (I did not use the whole bag but you can if you’d like!)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg

1). For the meat sauce: Heat a large pan and brown the meat, seasoning liberally with salt and pepper. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the tomatoes, basil, and more salt and pepper. Simmer on low, covered, for about 30 minutes while you prepare the zucchini.

2). Sprinkle a little bit of salt on the thinly sliced zucchini to draw out any excess moisture and after 10 minutes pat them dry with a paper towel. Heat your grill and grill the zucchini slices for 1-2 minutes per side, or slightly longer for any thicker slices you may have. To test if they’re done, pierce them with a fork. They should be easily pierced when cooked through.

3). Preheat the oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, and egg together well.

4). Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Begin layering. Spoon some of the sauce on the bottom of the pan, then top with zucchini slices. Add HALF the ricotta mixture on top of this layer, then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Add more sauce, zucchini, the second half of the ricotta mixture, and more mozzarella cheese. Top with more sauce, the last layer of zucchini, more sauce, and the last of the mozzarella cheese.

5). Cover with foil and bake for about 30-40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden-brown. Alternatively, you can turn the broiler on high to achieve the golden brown look quicker (just be sure to keep an eye on it!)

6). Allow the lasagna to rest about 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Servings: 8. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 345 Carbs: 16g Fat: 17g Protein: 36g Fiber: 2g Points+: 9
Recipe adapted from: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2009/02/zucchini-lasagna.html 

 

 

Easy Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches.

French dip sandwiches make me think of one of my dear college roommates. We used to frequent a popular sandwich chain on campus and she would always order the french dip sandwich. She introduced me to these delicious sandwiches and I was happy to find out they’re incredibly easy to make at home. In fact, your crock pot does almost all the work for you. Don’t you just love recipes like that?

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The ingredient list for this recipe is quite short: just the meat (well-trimmed, please!), low-sodium soy sauce and beef broth, garlic, worcestershire, and an onion! Combine it all in the slow cooker and let it cook low and slow alllllllll day. When you come home from work or running errands, you’ll be greeted with a lovely scent as you walk through the door, and dinner is almost ready to eat!

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I was shocked at how tender the meat was after cooking. I tested it with a fork and it literally completely fell apart. I hate shredding meat (unless it’s in the kitchenaid mixer!) so I was thrilled to eliminate that extra step. Grab whatever your preferred bread is and some cheese, make a sandwich, and panini press it! If you do not have a panini press, you could heat up a pan over medium heat and use a smaller pan to press the sandwich down. Either way, it’s important to make a panini out of the sandwich so everything sticks together easily.

And don’t forget about the sauce! According to my husband, the au jus is one of the best parts of the sandwich. Reserve some of the liquid in the crock pot for dipping the sandwiches. You can also remove the onions if you’d like. Either way, the au jus is what puts the “dip” in french dip sandwiches, so don’t leave it out!

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We both agreed the meat was incredibly tender and flavorful. I have made this recipe once before and I will be making it again! You may also be interested in my crock pot balsamic roast beef recipe–it can be turned into a french dip sandwich as well, but with more of a balsamic tang!

Easy Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 10-ounce can low-sodium, fat free beef broth
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard (I used grey poupon)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2.5 pound chuck roast, very well trimmed of visible fat
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 sandwich rolls, split
  • 6 slices of cheese (provolone, swiss, or just your favorite)
1). Spray your crock pot with cooking spray for easy clean up. Add the beef broth, soy sauce, worchestershire sauce, mustard, and garlic into the crock pot. Stir to combine. Slice the onion into thin rounds and add to the crock pot. Place the roast in the crock pot and season with salt and pepper. Cook on low for about 8 hours.
2). Remove the roast from the crock pot and pull apart into smaller pieces. The meat should fall apart easily.
3). To assemble sandwiches: Preheat the panini press. Place meat on bread, then top with cheese and the remaining half of bread. Panini press it (or use the stovetop method described in the post) until golden-brown and melty. Serve with some of the au jus and enjoy!
Servings: about 6. Approximate nutritional information per serving (not including bread and cheese): Calories: 269 Carbs: 3g Fat: 10g Protein: 39g WWPoints+: 6
Recipe adapted from: http://fakeginger.com/?p=1614 

Penne with Strip Steak and Spinach

My husband and I recently celebrated our anniversary, so in honor of him I am posting one of his all-time favorite recipes! I first made this for him back in college because I wanted a meal we could enjoy on a picnic, and this pasta dish tastes great hot or at room temperature. This meal is definitely hearty–there’s pasta, strip steak, and even some greens! I used baby spinach this time but the original recipe calls for arugula, which is also very delicious. I reserve this recipe for special occasions and probably make it once or twice a year.

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There are a few steps to prepare this meal, but many things can be done at the same time to speed up the process.

1) Cook the pasta. No big deal here–just boil water and toss in your favorite pasta. I used whole wheat penne this time, but you could use regular pasta or even brown rice pasta to make it gluten free!

2) Cook your steak. My husband loves strip steak, and it’s a great cut for this meal. To add flavor, the original recipe calls to add salt, pepper, garlic, and herbs de provence to the steak before cooking. I’ve also had success just adding Montreal Steak Seasoning. Either way, do not skip that step–it really brings great flavor to each bite! I used my indoor “grill” for this, but you can grill it outside or even cook it in the oven. If you do that, sear the steak first in an oven-proof pan over medium-heat for 2 minutes per side, then finish cooking it in the oven at 450F for about 5-6 minutes. I hope to do a post on this method soon!

3) Make the dressing. This dish is a fresh take on a pasta salad because the penne, beef, and spinach are tossed together with a homemade vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is what makes this recipe fabulous. Fresh herbs are best, but use dried if you must. The tangy balsamic and creamy dijon come together perfectly with the olive oil to make the dressing.  I actually reduced the amount of olive oil from the original recipe and I believe you could reduce it even further if you’d like.

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Toss it all together and you are ready to eat!

The weather is getting warmer and picnic recipes are hard to find–pack this pasta “salad” and take it with you!

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Penne with Strip Steak and Spinach

  • 1 (1-pound) New York strip steak
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound penne pasta (whole wheat or rice pasta for gluten free)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for steak and pasta water
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for steak
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach or arugula

1). Season the steak with salt, garlic, herbs de Provence and garlic. Grill or cook indoors until cooked to preferred temperature (we like medium-well). Allow the steak to rest 5 minutes before thinly slicing.

2). Meanwhile, boil a large pot of salted water and cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water before draining. 

3). In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, fresh herbs, and olive oil. Toss the pasta with the 1/4 cup reserved pasta water and half of the dressing before adding the steak and spinach/arugula. Add more dressing or reserve to add later. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Servings: 7. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 362 Carbs: 37g Fat: 16g Protein: 23g Sugar: 3g Fiber: 5g WW Points+: 10 

Recipe adapted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/penne-with-beef-and-arugula-recipe.html