Creamy Pink Pasta with Shrimp & Spinach

Forgive me on the recipe name here, not my best work.  This dish was fantastic, we will definitely be making it again.  Although “creamy” may make you step away from this recipe, the “cream” is just Greek yogurt!  I fooled Mr. Applebutter once again. ;-)

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Creamy Pink Pasta with Shrimp- adapted from back to her roots

Serves: 6

12 oz whole wheat spiral noodles

1 tbsp. olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

8 oz. mushrooms, diced

2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

4 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped

10 oz. shrimp, peeled & deveined

1 cup marinara sauce

5 oz. plain 0% Greek yogurt

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

2 oz fat free crumbled feta cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet with a lid, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add in garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for 2 minutes or until garlic begins to soften.
  3. Add in mushrooms and grape tomatoes. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until mushrooms soften.
  4. Turn heat up to medium-high and add in shrimp. Cook for 2-5 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and opaque. Remove from heat, add in spinach and cover skillet. Let spinach wilt for about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove lid and place skillet back over low heat. Add the pasta, Greek yogurt and marinara sauce. Stir until sauce is mixed well and all pasta and veggies are coated.   Add Italian seasoning and feta cheese.  Mix well.
  6. Heat until just warmed through. Divide into pasta bowls and serve topped with parmesan cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: Depending on your taste, you may need to increase or decrease the amount of “sauce” (pasta/yogurt mixture). 

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 357 calories, 7g fat (2g saturated), 45g carbohydrate (8g fiber), 26g protein

Mediterranean Lentil- Chicken Bowls

I’m so excited to be back with a new post! Even though I’m pretty sure it’s just my mom and a few others that read this blog (Hi mom!), I love when I find a winning recipe that I can share. This one will be repeated for sure in our house. Despite Mr. Applebutter always being skeptical of lentils, he had seconds! I’ve been trying to work lentils into more dishes because they are an amazing source of fiber & protein with very little fat. Hence, a good replacement for meat on nights I’m trying to go vegetarian. However, I threw some leftover boneless chicken in this dish for added protein. So far I’ve done lentil taco’s and lentil soup, but I wanted to try something new this time. If you’re new to lentils, they are very easy to prepare so don’t be afraid to try them. Rinse them in a strainer and you’re set to go with however the recipe suggests that you cook them.

Enjoy!

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Mediterranean Lentil-Chicken Bowls- slightly adapted from Alida’s Kitchen

Serves: 4

1/2 cup chopped red onion

2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, plus 3 parsley sprigs (for cooking water)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup dried lentils, rinsed

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup halved grape tomatoes

1/2 cup diced cucumber

1/2 cup feta cheese, divided

salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon water

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Honey Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove

Instructions:

  1. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper and cook in slow cooker with 1/4 cup water on LOW for 6-8 hours until cooked through. Chop chicken and set aside.
  2. Boil 2 1/2 cups water in a medium pot. Once boiling, add 1 cup lentils, 3 parsley sprigs and 1 garlic clove to cooking water. Return to boil and then simmer 20-25 minutes. Drain and discard parsley sprigs. Combine lentils and chopped chicken in medium sized bowl.
  3. Dice and chop veggies while lentils cook.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together ingredients for balsamic vinaigrette. Heat vinaigrette over low heat in same pot that lentils were cooked in. Once heated (but do not boil), pour over lentils and chicken. Add cucumbers, grape tomatoes, feta cheese, red onion, and salt & pepper to taste. Mix well.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 280 calories, 9g fat (3g saturated), 18g carbohydrate (5g fiber), 30g protein

Since I’ve been gone…

So, a couple of things happened to explain my disappearance…

1) We adopted this little guy from a kill shelter (It hurts to even say it!)…

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He’s the happiest little face to come home to, and the cuddliest snuggle bug.. He’s also a LOT of work. Until now, I couldn’t make a very simple meal without him getting into something, let alone a blog-worthy meal. Despite the struggle, he is our best investment ever and we have many years of unconditional love ahead of us. I hope his cute little face makes up for abandoning my blog.

2) I got a job…teaching pre-school children, their parents and the daycare center staff nutrition. If I could have dreamed up a job, this would be it. I feel so lucky. Regardless, a new job is a new job and learning the ropes takes time.

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3) I’m officially a registered dietitian!! In addition to the above two things, I had to promise myself I would spend all free time studying. To pass this test meant everything to me, so I don’t regret it!

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I hope you will still read, even though I’ve been very unaccountable! However, being realistic, I will be posting once a week instead of twice. As much as I love finally being in the real world, I’ll admit it is tough finding the energy to cook creatively every night. If you read this, thank you. I felt missed when I was gone and that’s a GREAT feeling!

Kale Pesto & Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

This was my first adventure with eating raw kale.  It has always only seemed appetizing cooked since it’s tougher then other greens like spinach, but, this recipe proved me wrong.  This was pretty quick and easy for a weeknight while still packing a lot of nutrition!

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Kale Pesto & Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta- adapted from littleleopardbook

Serves: 6

12 oz whole wheat spaghetti

3/4 cup kale pesto (see below)

6 tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1 1/2 cups grape (or cherry) tomatoes, halved

 

Kale Pesto

6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

4 cups kale, washed and chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup cashews

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

 

Instructions:

  1. Prepare kale pesto by combining kale, garlic and cashews in blender or food processor until smooth.  Next add salt, pepper, olive oil and water and blend until well combined.  Finally, stir in parmesan cheese and pulse for a few seconds. Note: This recipe will make slightly more then needed for the pasta.  Save and mix into a vegetable dish or as a spread on sandwiches for later in the week.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain the pasta and mix in 3/4 cup kale pesto.
  3. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes and grape tomatoes.  Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 240 calories, 12g fat (2g saturated), 27g carbohydrate (4.5g fiber), 6.5g protein

BBQ Chicken & Grilled Pineapple Quesadillas

I found these to be perfect with a side of corn on the cob.  The smells of the dish really have me looking forward to warm summer nights!  Looks like we’re in for it, as the next few days are supposed to be in the high 80′s.  I swear this has been the strangest May I’ve ever experienced.  We’ve had some 90 degree days and then some in the 40′s!  Hopefully June will be a little more predictable.  As always, look out for a lower sodium BBQ sauce that isn’t super high in sugar.  The best compromise I’ve found at Wegmans is the Dinosaur brand.

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BBQ Chicken & Grilled Pineapple Quesadillas- adapted from Closet Cooking

Serves: 6

6 8-inch flour tortillas

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, shredded

1/2 cup 2% colby jack cheese

1/2 cup 2% sharp cheddar

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp low-sodium barbeque sauce

2 jalapenos, seeded and diced

1/4 pineapple, thinly sliced (equal to about 1.5 cups)

Instructions:

  1. Rinse and trim chicken breasts.  Cook in slow-cooker with 1/3 cup water for 7-8 hours on LOW setting.
  2. Preheat grill (I used my Cuisinart Griddler since it was a rainy day) to a medium setting.  Once hot, grill sliced pineapple for a few minutes until you see grill marks.  Set aside.
  3. Once chicken is cooked, shred and mix with the bbq sauce in a medium sized bowl.
  4. Place equal amounts of chicken mixture, jalapenos, pineapple, and both cheese’s on one half of each of the 6 tortillas.  Fold over and grill on medium heat for 3-4 minutes per side.
  5. Use a pizza cutter to cut each tortilla into 3 wedges.  One serving is one tortilla, or 3 wedges.

Serving Size (per serving): 300 calories, 7g fat (2g saturated), 32g carbohydrate, 26g protein

Baked Quinoa and Chicken Parmesan

I was so excited to find this one because I know when it comes time to counsel gluten-free patients, it’s going to a be a bit of a challenge.  So much of my diet is focused around wheat products for their rich nutrients, that I don’t really explore the gluten-free world.  This recipe is a great spin on the classic that saves you some carbohydrate in place of extra protein.  I just hope my Italian grandfather isn’t looking down from heaven ashamed of me for leaving out the pasta!  This recipe is gluten free as long as you do not include the whole wheat breadcrumbs.

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Although the above picture looks like a lot of cheese, it’s really only 1 cup total which is a reasonable portion divided by the six servings.  It always gives me a good laugh when I see pins on pinterest that consist of a meal loaded with cheese with a few vegetables scattered underneath and the pin claims a “healthy meal.”  Please be cautious when you see this!  A meal with an abundant amount of cheese is a red flag to a false claim.

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Baked Quinoa & Chicken Parmesan- very slightly adapted from Prevention RD

Serves: 6

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium white onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 (14.5 oz) can low sodium tomato sauce

1 (14.5 oz) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 tsp. dried basil

2 tsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning

Black pepper to taste

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

1.5 cups water

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 cup reduced fat (2%) mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided

1 oz parmesan cheese, shredded

3 tbsp. whole wheat breadcrumbs

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Clean and trim chicken, place on aluminum foil lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until cooked through.  Set aside.
  3. Increase oven heat to 375 degrees.  Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  4. Place rinsed quinoa and 1.5 cups water in a medium pot.  Cover and bring pot to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer until cooked, about 15 minutes or as per package directions.
  5. To make the sauce, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Stir in the onion and cook until tender, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the balsamic vinegar, scraping off the bottom of the pan and cook 2-3 minutes until liquid is almost fully absorbed.  Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, crushed red pepper, basil, oregano, Italian seasoning and black pepper to taste.  Bring to a low boil and simmer until rest of the meal is prepared.
  6. Once chicken and quinoa have finished cooking, add to sauce pan (turn heat off) and mix thoroughly.  Place half of the mixture in the baking dish and top with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.  Add other half of mixture and top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, 1 oz parmesan, and 3 tbsp. whole wheat breadcrumbs.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to bake for 10 more minutes.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 336 calories, 9.5g fat, 32g carbohydrate (5g fiber), 30g protein

Recipe Recommendations

On Saturday, I officially became a “dietitian.”  Hopefully in a few months and with a lot of studying, I will finally be a Registered Dietitian.  While I can’t wait for that day, I am relieved to no longer be an intern.  Working for free is not ideal, although I have learned a LOT!

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So over this whole blog hiatus, I haven’t had time to be creative, but I have cooked a lot.  Most of the recipes I have hardly changed, so in efforts to not lose them in a sea of pinterest boards, I have linked them here for you all to enjoy too.  New Applebutterhamony recipes are on the way, I promise!

Crispy Kale & Mushroom Fried Rice

Balsamic Roast Beef

Tangy Thai Chicken Sandwich

Creamy Avocado & White Bean Wrap

Spiced Lentil Tacos  –> really excited about these!

Spaghetti in Garlic Gravy with Fresh Herbs

Stuffed Shells –> Believe it or not, this was my first time making stuffed shells.  I never knew how ridiculously easy it was!  One thing I have to say here, sub full fat for part-skim ricotta, still a great flavor while saving yourself some fat.

Apple-Cheddar Chicken Tartines with Honey-Dijon Roasted Potatoes –> Made them both and loved them both!

Quinoa Stuffed Poblano Chiles

Sketch-Free Broccoli and Cheese Soup –> I’ve never seen Mr. Applebutter excited about a soup, and this one he was over the moon for.  Let’s be honest here, this soup has a lot of cheese.  It’s not a staple, it’s a treat.  A very delicious treat!

Honey-Lime Chicken Skewers –> So easy, so delicious.

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Quesadillas

Philly Cheesesteak Pizza