Stuffed Pepper Soup. (GF, DF, Paleo)

A deconstructed version of traditional stuffed bell peppers–all the flavors of the original dish, but in soup form!

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I think I speak for, oh, half of the country when I say: brrrrrrr.

Snow, ice, and sub-zero wind chills? Pretty sure I’m going to turn into a human popsicle.
What better way to warm up than with this cozy bowl of stuffed pepper soup?
I grew up eating stuffed bell peppers (a lot), and I really love them.
But, did you know you can take all of the ingredients and flavors of stuffed peppers, and put them in a soup?

I was a little hesitant the first time I made this because I was skeptical that this soup could actually taste like traditional stuffed peppers. Thankfully, it did, and I’ve made it many, many times since!

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In a way, the soup version is easier because you don’t have to actually stuff the peppers and bake them. Just let the soup do it’s thing, boil some rice seperately (if you want it), and it’s ready to go!

A note on the rice: traditional peppers have rice in them. Add it if you’d like, or don’t! If you are trying to keep it paleo-friendly, you’ll want to skip the rice.

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Growing up, we always topped our stuffed peppers with sour cream, so you can do that if you’d like. Again, for dairy-free/paleo, skip the topping.

Make a big pot of this soup tonight and stay warm!!

Stuffed Pepper Soup
Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean grass-fed ground beef (or turkey, if you’d prefer)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 3/4 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: cooked rice

1). Heat a large pot to medium-high heat. Brown the ground meat until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and add onions, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until softened.

2). Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, marjoram, and more salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to come together.

3). Serve in bowls, over rice, if desired. Top with sour cream if you’d like!

Servings: 6. Serving size: 1 1/2 cups soup, 1/2 cup rice. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 261 Fat: 5g Carbs: 37.5g Fiber: 5g Protein: 17.6g Sugar: 6g Points+: 7 Recipe adapted from here. Adapted recipe courtesy of Audrey’s Apron.

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Crock Pot Pumpkin Chili. (GF)

A cozy fall chili recipe made in the crock pot that your whole family will love!

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Oh October.

I love you.

You’re the month of bonfires, football, plaid, boots, and scarves.

And ever-changing brightly colored leaves.

And, of course, #pumpkinallthethings! Yes, even chili!

You know what’s awesome about putting pumpkin in chili? You can’t taste it, but it thickens the chili up (yay texture!) and you get all kinds of important vitamins and nutrients (yay health!).

Did you know pumpkins have a large amount of vitamin A, fiber, beta-carotene (an anti-oxidant), potassium, vitamin C, and more? Now we can all feel good about our pumpkin-obsessions because they’re so good for us! Yes yes yes.

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If you have non-pumpkin loving friends and family, you should definitely still make this chili. I promise you really can’t taste the pumpkin! Pumpkin alone does not have a very strong flavor; it’s all of those strong fall spices that are usually added to pumpkin baked goods that make it stand out. Since this is a savory recipe, none of those spices are present. What does that mean for us? Nice, even flavored chili.

This recipe comes together very quickly. After you cook your meat (ground beef or turkey, whatever you prefer!), add all the other ingredients together in the crock pot. Let it cook all day, and when you come home you’ll be greeted with piping hot chili and a wonderful aroma.

Sound perfect? It pretty much is.

Then all that’s left to do is light a pumpkin candle (tell me I’m not alone), cozy up on the couch with a big bowl of this hearty stuff, and revel in autumn’s arrival!

Crock Pot Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1 can low-sodium diced tomatoes
  • 1 large can low-sodium crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 can chili beans
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1.5 tbsp chili powder
  • 1.5 tbsp cumin

1). Cook the ground meat and chopped onion in a large skillet until the meat is cooked through and the onion is soft.

2). Spray the crock pot with cooking spray. Add the cooked meat and all the other ingredients. Stir to combine.

3). Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Servings: 6. Serving size: 1 1/2 cups. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 434 Carbs: 57g Fat: 8g Protein: 37g Fiber: 14g Points+: 11 Recipe courtesy of Audrey’s Apron.

 

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 

 

 

Clean Southwestern Bowl with Turkey and Black Beans!

We’re back to our regularly scheduled programming of healthy recipes on Audrey’s Apron! This recipe is simple but has a ton of flavor! Just a few ingredients (ground turkey, black beans, onions, and a pepper) combined with lots of delicious spices and herbs make this delish. I chose to serve it over a little bit of brown rice, but you could also use spaghetti squash or even quinoa. You can add cheese, corn, or substitute ground turkey for ground beef as well. It’s completely customize-able to whatever you and your family prefers!

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You can see the specks of fresh cilantro peaking through, but what you can’t see is the perfect medley of spices in each bite: cumin, chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, and oregano ensure each bite is really flavorful. One of the most important ingredients: lime juice. It brightens up the entire dish and counters some of the heat from the other spices. This is so, so good!

This is a meal that tastes great and will keep you full without weighing you down. Plus, it’s so quick to whip up! It definitely falls under the 30 minutes or less category, especially if you have your brown rice prepared ahead of time. I plan on making this again in the coming weeks!

If you have a new year’s resolution to eat clean, unprocessed meals, this recipe is a great place to start!

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Clean Southwestern Bowl with Turkey and Black Beans.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey (or ground beef, if you prefer)
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red or white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper (or any color–I used orange because it’s what I had!), chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup freshly torn cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1). In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add ground turkey and cook thoroughly, breaking it up into small pieces. Add garlic, spices, and salt and pepper. Mix together.

2). Stir in black beans, cilantro, and lime juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve over brown rice, quinoa, or spaghetti squash.

Servings: about 5. Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 222. Carbs: 18g Fat: 4g Protein: 31g Fiber: 5g WW Points+: 5.

Recipe inspired from: http://www.thecomfortofcooking.com/2013/10/southwestern-stuffed-spaghetti-squash.html. Adapted recipe courtesy of Audrey’s Apron.

 

 

Simple Summer Chili

Chili is traditionally a cold weather favorite, but I love that this recipe incorporates in-season zucchini! This summer has been so rainy that a cozy meal like this one has been a welcomed change to grilling outside.

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I originally found this recipe from a health and fitness blog I love to read, and this may be my new favorite chili recipe (thanks, Julie!!). The best part is the spice blend–it is PERFECT. It tastes just like the chili seasoning you can purchase in packets at the grocery store, but it is so simple and easy to make yourself! And so much better for you,  too. Ground beef or ground turkey both work well in this recipe–it is completely up to you! You can also use your favorite kind of bean…I like to switch it up between black beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans based on what I have in the pantry.

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Whip this up for your family tonight! It will certainly be a hit!

Simple Summer Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 can low sodium beans (kidney/pinto/black–whichever!), drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, no salt added (do not drain!)
  • 1 cup beef broth, reduced-sodium and fat free
  • 1.5 tbsp chili powder
  • 1.5 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic salt

1). In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and zucchini, stirring until tender and opaque. Add ground beef/turkey and stir until meat is browned.

2). Drain any excess fat from pan before adding remaining ingredients. Add as much/little beef broth as necessary to reach the desired consistency. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until flavors are well blended.

3). Enjoy topped with low-fat cheese, light sour cream, non-fat greek yogurt, or simply as is!

Servings: about 6. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 219 Carbs: 20g Fat: 7g Protein: 22g Sugar: 4g Fiber: 6g

WW PointsPlus: 6

Recipe adapted from: http://www.pbfingers.com/2012/07/23/simple-summer-chili/

Kale and Ground Beef/Turkey Taco Filling

This recipe is an amazing way to sneak in a lot of kale without having picky eaters complain! I was so pleasantly surprised at how the kale blended away among the spices and was not even noticeable. Kale is so good for you and I am always interested in new ways to incorporate it in a meal. In this case, it gets completely lost in all the other flavors of the dish. I love that the spice blend in this recipe is incredibly simple, yet it tastes even better than the (not-so-healthy) packets of taco seasoning from the store. Overall, it is not very spicy but it does have a little kick. If you want more spice, increase the amount of cayenne pepper to taste.

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I served this kale, beef, and bean mixture on a bed of crisp greens for me and in small tortillas for my husband. I was curious to see how he would react to the kale being cooked into the mixture, but he did not even mention it and told me the dish was awesome! Win!

Did I mention this easily came together in well under 30 minutes? It is a great choice for a homemade meal on a busy weeknight. I have a feeling we will be enjoying this dish again soon!

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I used lean, organic ground beef in this recipe, but I actually originally intended to use ground turkey. After reading this report (and several others) regarding the disgusting addition found in over 90% of ground turkey in the U.S., I am so hesitant to buy ground turkey now. Does this news enrage anyone else, or is it just me? I hate not knowing what goes into the food we put into our bodies. Anyway, perhaps organic, local, grass-fed beef is the way to go…at least for now.

You MUST try this recipe and let me know what you think. I have a feeling your whole family will enjoy it!!

Healthy Kale Taco Filling

Ingredients:

  • 1.25 lb lean ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cups of chopped kale
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I only used 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

1). Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and ground beef. Stir until cooked through. Add the diced red pepper.

2). Add the kale and mix together well until wilted. Add the spices and the black beans. Stir occasionally until heated through.

3). Remove from heat and serve in tortillas or on a bed of salad. Enjoy!

 

Servings: 6. Nutritional Information per 1/6 serving: Calories: 247 Fat: 8g Carbs: 17g Protein: 25g Fiber: 6g Sugar: 2g

WW+: 6 Old points: 5

Recipe adapted from http://greenlitebites.com/2012/10/11/kale-turkey-black-bean-taco-filling/ 

 

 

Crock Pot Lasagna Soup

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I love lasagna but hate taking the time to assemble it. This soup entails all the traditional flavors of lasagna in a less traditional way. I tried a similar recipe last year but I think I prefer this crock pot version. It is easy to throw together, very nutritious, and it can feed a small army!

That is a huge crock pot and it is FULL! Be ready for leftovers! :)

I learned something INCREDIBLE via experimenting with this soup: you do NOT have to brown the ground turkey before you add it to your soup!

“What?!” “No way.” “This girl must be crazy.” “How is that possible?”

I bet all of those phrases just went through your mind. I know that was my initial reaction! But yes, it is true…to save yourself an extra 10 minutes and dirty pan to wash, all you have to do is crumble the ground meat directly into the crock pot. It cooked perfectly!! I will definitely be doing this from now on.

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This soup seems to be very versatile and you can easily adapt it to what you have in your pantry. For example, I was out of tomato paste so I used tomato sauce. I didn’t have beef broth so I used chicken broth. The original recipe called for V8 (who has that in their pantry? I never do!), so I used my favorite marinara sauce. The end result was fantastic!

Crock Pot Lasagna Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1.25 lb 99% fat free ground turkey (or you can use ground beef if you’d prefer!)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes with basil (I love tuttorosso!)
  • 1 cup prepared pasta sauce
  • 1 8 oz can no salt added tomato sauce
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp salt and pepper
  • 2 cups uncooked small pasta (like elbow or shell…I used whole wheat)
  • Optional: 2 bay leaves and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes for added flavor!
  • For (not so optional) topping: 1 Tbsp part-skim ricotta, 1-2 Tbsp part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

1). Mix together the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, broth, garlic, onion, basil, parsley, and pasta sauce in the crock pot.

2). Crumble ground turkey into the soup (or you can cook it before you add it, but it will turn out perfectly fine this way too!)

3). Cover and cook on LOW 7-8 hours or HIGH 4-5 hours.

4). About 20-30 minutes before ready to serve, add the 2 cups of uncooked pasta and 1 cup of water. Stir to combine. Place lid back on and let the pasta cook for about 30 minutes.

*If you let the soup go too long with the pasta in it the pasta will get over cooked. Just keep an eye on it!*

5) Ladle 1 cup portions in to bowls and top with ricotta and mozzarella cheese, if desired.

This soup was high in protein and low in fat, which will keep you full for a long time. My husband usually doesn’t consider soup a “meal” but that wasn’t the case with this soup! Try it and let me know what you think!

Servings: 13. Serving size: 1 cup.
Nutritional Information Per 1 Cup Serving: Calories: 178 Carbs: 22 g Fat: 3 g Protein: 15 g Sugar: 7 g Sodium: 362. 

Recipe adapted from http://www.familyfreshmeals.com/2012/11/slow-cooker-crockpot-lasagna-soup.html.