Eat All The Vegetables (And All The Pasta)

When I walk into my kitchen to make dinner, I am usually craving a certain flavor. Is that normal?! Some flavor combinations that I crave, in case you are thinking I am crazy, are syrup and a glass of milk, sauce and cheese, and of course, my beloved veggie omelette and sweet potato. Although I guess that last one is technically a meal and not a flavor. But do you see what I’m saying?! Sometimes, there is just one flavor that you know that you want! One of my favorite flavors is sauce and cheese. 🙂

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One of my classic favorite meals. So exciting, I know.

I don’t profess to be a food blogger, and for that you should be thankful because I literally have no idea what I’m talking about. It irritates me when the ingredient list includes more than five items, I typically cook when I’m hangry therefore I am very impatient, and I own probably 7 spices and never have the one that the recipe calls for. On the flip side, I am always trying to find something new to love making and eating and I tend to search for healthy alternatives. I like to know that I’m eating a variety of food to help me be my healthiest, because if left to my own devices, I would try to survive on chips, queso, oatmeal, and yogurt. #keepingitreal

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There was a time when I wouldn’t eat any pasta within a ten-mile radius. Pasta = carbs and that was one of the things I wasn’t “allowed” to eat…according to my own ridiculous standards. The plate of deliciousness that you see above is buffalo chicken parmesan from The Macaroni Grill and yes I ate every last bite of it (although I did eat it in two different meals…so. much. food)! However, buffalo chicken parmesan, especially in this quantity, is not a meal I would add to my regular rotation of lunches or dinners throughout the week. Two ways that I eat “pasta” without actually eating pasta are in the form of zoodles and spaghetti squash. For the record, I do not think carbs are the devil (your body needs them) and I do actually eat real pasta now. 🙂 I am just always trying to add vegetables to my meals because they are easy to skip (in my opinion), but they are nutrient dense and I need them!

Zucchini Noodles

Cook Time: 2 minutes (microwave)
Need: Zucchini, spiralizer, pasta toppings of your choice

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First, we have zucchini noodles, or as you might see them called on Pinterest, “zoodles”. I buy zucchini every week at the grocery store to cook with or eat in some way, and yet this is the best picture I could find of my zoodles. Probably because every time I make them, they look pretty unappetizing even though they taste great. 🙂 Here, I just topped the zoodles with sauce of my choice, some mozzarella, and turkey meatballs.

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To make zoodles, you need a spiralizer. This is the easy-peasy spiralizer that I own, and while there are much more complicated ones out there, for $14.99 this one does the trick just fine. You have the option of moving the white cap on the top to either end, depending on whether you want thick or think zoodles. With zucchini in one hand and spiralizer in the other, you just twist your zoodles into a bowl. I am lazy and make mine in the microwave (though the stove is always an option, too). Cover your zoodles with a paper towel to soak up moisture and you have the base of your meal ready to go in two minutes!

Spaghetti Squash

Cook Time: 10 minutes (microwave) OR 35 minutes (oven)
Need: Spaghetti squash, knife and fork, pasta toppings of your choice

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This one is a little more complicated than zoodles. Spaghetti squash is pretty easy to find in the produce section of the grocery store. Once you find it, you will wonder how you ever missed it. 😉 If you are lucky, the produce sticker on your squash might also have directions on it! I have cooked spaghetti squash in the microwave and in the oven. One night I had more time (and patience) than I had on another night. Ha!

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Don’t worry, you aren’t going to eat this part. 😉 No matter how you are cooking your squash, you must first use a fork to poke holes in the squash. I forgot this step when I cooked my squash this past weekend in the oven, and it took FOREVER to bake. Don’t omit this step! Once you have done that, then you can cut it in half.

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Just like a pumpkin…you have to get all the strings and seeds out of the squash. Once you are left with two “bowls”, you can season it with whatever spices you have on hand. I used pepper and red pepper flakes.

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When I took this picture, I was cooking this squash in the microwave for ten minutes.

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Once your squash cooks, you will be able to get your “spaghetti”. I used a fork to pull it all to the middle.

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I had a plate nearby for all the spaghetti…

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…and when I was done getting all the “noodles”, this is what my squash looked like! There should be nothing left. 🙂

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I added chicken and this delicious sauce from Trader Joe’s!

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If your TJ’s hasn’t gone Christmas crazy on you yet, try to find this Autumnal Harvest pasta sauce before it’s gone for the season!

So the real question: do zoodles or spaghetti squash actually taste like REAL spaghetti noodles? Well…no. Carbs are magical and vegetables are vegetables. If you are expecting the flavor and consistency of pasta, you won’t find that with these two options. But of course, zoodles and spaghetti squash are flavorful and filling, so what more could you ask for? When you are searching for healthy alternatives, these are two great choices. Happy cooking!

What I’ve Been Eating Wednesday V

I have two food philosophies: balanced and easy. I don’t believe in life without chocolate and I don’t believe in recipes that require 438 spices that no one has ever heard of. 😉 With that being said, we all know that the holidays bring lots of yummy treats…which of course you ate because they only come around once a year, right?

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My mom loves baking biscotti. The temptation of almond apricot biscotti with white chocolate cannot be resisted.

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But in true Kylie fashion, I tried to balance out those eats with more nutritious ones…like this bowl of cinnamon oatmeal and plate of hot sauce. Aka egg whites with veggies. 😉 I am trying so hard to break my ketchup addiction so hot sauce has become my new go-to! I am also so happy that the gas stations and rest stops that I stop at while driving to and from Pittsburgh have snacks like these…

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…but there was a peanut butter filled donut in the section right next to the veggies. I almost cried.

Of course, if you are like me, you like to plan to make treats that everyone can enjoy that still have a healthy spin.

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My mom found the cutest Easter egg fruit pizza on Pinterest so while she prepped Easter dinner, I patiently worked at the counter on my masterpiece. It had a crescent roll crust and cream cheese/strawberry greek yogurt “sauce”. Then we had a million pieces of fruit to cut and arrange! I think it turned out really well considering our Pinterest fail with veggie Christmas trees a few years ago haha!

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I’m recovering from my Easter sugar coma with leftover Easter turkey and my two favorite side dishes: broccoli and sweet potatoes…with hot sauce. 😉

By far, the best thing I ate in the last few days was this Banana Honeymoon Shakeology Pie. When I tell you the ingredients, you might make a face, but I PROMISE it tastes like chocolate pudding. I made my family taste test it. They can vouch for me! Ready for the recipe? It is BEYOND easy.

Get out your blender and add:

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2 ripe bananas
2 scoops Chocolate Shakeology
12 oz tofu (I know!!!)
1/2 c peanut butter
2 T milk of choice
1 T honey

Blend those ingredients together and smooth it all out into a graham cracker pie crust. Put it in the fridge to set for 1 hour! Serves about 8; one slice is about 220 calories.

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This seriously tastes like such an indulgent dessert and you can’t even taste the tofu! I have heard so many people say tofu takes on the taste of whatever it is eaten with…but I have eaten buffalo tofu before and it did not measure up to my standards. Here, you wouldn’t even know you were eating it. I always feel good eating dessert but I especially feel good when I know it is semi-good for me. 🙂

What’s the best dish you’ve eaten recently?!