Buffalo Mushroom Meatballs

One thing I absolutely love about Whole30 is how it challenges me to try new things. When I made eggs for breakfast every day, around Day 5 I started to switch things up! I was making sausages with sides of leafy greens or ground pork skillets filled with veggies and fruits! Chicken is cheaper and I most familiar with ways to cook it, but when something interesting goes on sale, I challenge myself to figure out how to cook it– for the sake of variety and for new tasty, healthy food experiences!

So naturally, when I saw Maverick Ranch’s Ground Buffalo on sale, I was rather intrigued!
Buffalo meat, also known as bison meat, is a leaner, more nutritious variety of meat than traditional beef. It can be used as a replacement for beef in recipes too!Zoodles & Buffalo Meatballs

Buffalo Mushroom Meatballs (makes 9)
Ingredients:
– 1lb Maverick Ranch Ground Buffalo
– 1/4 cup tomato sauce + extra 1/4 cup set aside
– 1/4 cup chopped baby bella mushrooms
– 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
– 1 large garlic clove, minced
– 1/8 cup coconut flour
– 5-6 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
– 1 tsp dried oregano
– 1/2 tsp garlic powder
– 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp pepper
– extra virgin olive oil, for coating the pan

image1

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 425-degrees.
2. Coat bottom of a baking dish in extra virgin olive oil.
3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together ALL ingredients (except the tomato sauce that’s to be set aside). Be careful not to overwork the meat, just until thoroughly mixed.
4. Divide mixture into nine equal pieces then ball up and place into baking dish. Coat with remaining tomato sauce.
5. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
6. ENJOY! 🙂

This time I enjoyed my meatballs over some freshly prepared zoodles with a homemade roasted red pepper sauce– sprinkled with extra fresh basil, of course!Zoodles & Buffalo Mushroom Meatballs


What kinds of new creations have you attempted recently? Any new delicious discoveries?

Sweet Potato + Bacon Hash

The school year is coming to a close, ladies and gentlemen. I’ve always been told that as a first year teacher, your main goal is to survive. “If you finish with your head above the water, you’ve succeeded!” as they say.

Well… I MADE IT! On top of that, I feel confident that I got to show lots of love to my students, aid them in their learning, and challenge them on their way of thinking and doing life. Does this mean I get extra credit?

The downside, however, with “just surviving” the school year is that I let many of my healthy habits slip. Exercise was a nice treat once a week, if I was that lucky. Healthy eating only happened if I meal prepped on Sunday– and if I didn’t? Well, let’s just say the people over at Wawa started saying “See you tomorrow, Victoria!” as I walked out of the store with my usual breakfast order. #whatamidoingwithmylife

Here we are now. I’m getting back on track after falling off the wagon a bit. I might as well celebrate with a new mouth-watering breakfast dish! Which brings us to the star of this post…Sweet Potato & Bacon Hash

Sweet Potato & Bacon Hash (serves 3-4)
Ingredients:
– 2 small sweet potatoes
– 1/2 yellow onion (about 2 cups diced)
– 1 green bell pepper
– 3 slices Maverick Ranch Sugar-Free Bacon
– 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 1 tsp paprika
– 1 tsp rubbed sage
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp black pepper
– 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakesSweet Potato & Bacon Hash

Directions:
1. Peel sweet potatoes and finely chop. Also, finely chop green bell pepper and yellow onion roughly the same size for more even cooking.
2. Heat 3 tbsp EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add in potatoes, onion, and green bell pepper.
3. Add in all spices listed and stir to coat veggies.
4. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, heat a separate skillet to medium heat and cook bacon to desired crispness. Once bacon is to your desired crispness, take off pan and blot extra grease with a paper towel.
5. After the 10 minutes has passed, lower the temperature to medium-low and pat down hash into the skillet. Let it cook for another 5-6 minutes without stirring to allow potatoes to crisp up on one side.
6. Check potatoes for tenderness. If ready, give one last stir and take off heat. Then, chop bacon into similar-sized pieces and sprinkle onto hash.
7. ENJOY!

Sweet Potato & Bacon Hash

Today, I enjoyed my hash topped with scrambled eggs, chopped scallions, a dash of hot sauce, and an extra sprinkle of chopped bacon 😉
Hash & Egg BreakfastSweet Potato & Bacon HashNow if this doesn’t inspire you to a healthy breakfast, then I don’t know what will! The tenderness of sweet potatoes mixed with the salty crunch of bacon will make you rejoice! The best part about this dish too is it’s Whole30 compliant! (As long as you use approved bacon) BAM! Now get cooking–you can have this dish anytime of day! 🙂

Sweet Potato & Bacon Hash

 

Quick & Easy Whole30 Meal Ideas

See these two lovebirds? They’re my adorable parents…
Everybody say, “Awwwww“.LovebirdsThese two embarked on their first Whole30 today! And now it’s on the Internet Mom & Dad, so you have to stick to it. The people know! My mother asked about some quick & easy Whole30 Approved meal ideas. As I was typing I got to thinking that just maybe this would be of interest to some of you. So, in honor of Bob & Jen… Let’s do it:

Breakfast:
– Scrambled Eggs (3) + Sugar-Free Bacon (3) + Roasted Broccoli
– Breakfast Frittata with assorted veggiesCheery Breakfast– Roasted Hash: sweet potatoes, mushrooms, bell pepper, zucchini, onion, and garlic; roasted in olive oil + Sausage – all chopped and tossed together in a bowl!
Coconut Milk & Chia Seed Pudding (without sweetener) + fresh berries
– Spinach Banana Smoothie: 3 cups spinach + 2 tbsp almond butter + 1/2 cup unsweetened Almond Milk + banana (but eat something else with it!)Strawberry-Banana-Spinach Breakfast Sausage Patties over a bed of Kale + Roasted Sweet Potatoes
– Omelets filled with whatever vegetables you’d like! 🙂
– Egg Cups: Bacon + Egg + Veggies; all baked together in one cupcake pan in just 20 minutesEgg Cups

 Lunch/Dinner:
**I put this category together because I almost always make dinner for two and save the extra for lunch. 2-in-1 meals for the WIN! :)**
– Tilapia + fresh salsa + steamed veggies (TIP: Tilapia takes 5 minutes at 500-degrees in the oven AND you can steam veggies in the microwave.. no excuses)
– Beef Burger over Spinach + slices of Tomato & Onion + Sauteed MushroomsDelicioso– Spaghetti Squash + meatballs + tomato sauce (check the label for sugar)- Taco-seasoned Ground Beef over lettuce, tomatoes, onions, bell pepper… instant Taco Salad!
– Applegate Farms Prosciutto wrapped around Apple Slices + small side salad
– “Zoodles” (zuchinni noodles) tossed with olive oil, salt & pepper topped with Grilled Chicken and Diced TomatoesRoasted Veggies & Squash– Hard Boiled Eggs + fresh veggies + handful of almonds or cashews
– Shrimp Kebabs: bell pepper, squash, zucchini, and shrimp coated in olive oil & grilled + squeeze of lime
– Stir Fry: chicken + any veggies + coconut amines + hot sauce; cook in sauté pan and DONE
Lazy Man Plate: protein + veggies + fruit + nut/seed (no cooking required)Lazy Man's Lunch Lettuce Wraps: Romaine Lettuce Leaves + Ground Chicken + Cucumber + Tomato + Balsamic Vinaigrette (check labels)
– Soup in the Crockpot (or anything in the Crockpot, really); just set it and forget it! 😉
French Onion Soup


I hope this helps you in your Whole30 journey! This is by no means an exhausted list, but just an option for you to glance over when you’re short on time and in need of a “real food meal” that’s Whole30 Approved!

For more recipes for Whole30, check out my recipes page for more ideas & tips!

Happy [Paleo] Friendsgiving!

Happy FRIENDSgiving!

 My heart is so overjoyed to have spent Saturday evening accompanied by friends, laughs, and gratitude! We had the pleasure of hosting a Friendsgiving event at our home. This meant LOTS of scrumptious foods and desserts to share, so I made sure to add some to the menu that were delicious and nutritious.

Our lovely friends arrived and everyone channeled their “inner Picasso” and drew on little index cards all the things they’re thankful for! Kudos to Austin to thinking of this awesome ideas! 😉Thankful Wall Thankful Wall Thankful Wall

Do I have a creative group of friends or WHAT? 

After a round of games, the turkey was finally done! This, by the way, was the first turkey I have ever cooked so I was truly elated when… “Guys!! The red thing finally popped up! It’s done! And I think it actually looks good too!”Turkey Time

Thank you men for handling it from here...
Thank you men for handling it from here…

There were a variety of foods that friends brought, but again, I made sure to sneak in some healthy Paleo options to share. Let’s start off with a delicious Sweet Potato + Pumpkin Casserole. It’s so good that your friends won’t even miss those marshmallows– well, maybe. It’s worth a shot. 😉Paleo Sweet Potato Casserole

Paleo Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Casserole (serves 9)
Ingredients:
4 large sweet potatoes
1 16-oz can 100% pure pumpkin
3/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
2 tbsp cinnamon, divided
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tbsp pumpkin spice
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Honey, for drizzling

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees and fill a large pot with water. Chop all the sweet potatoes into large chunks and place in pot. Place the pot on high and bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Once finished, remove from heat and strain all the excess water.
2. Return sweet potatoes to pot and add 1 tbsp of olive oil (for dairy-tolerant folks, you may use butter instead). Mash sweet potatoes until smooth. Then, add in your can of pumpkin and mix together thoroughly.
3. Add in pumpkin spice, coconut milk, vanilla, and 1 tbsp of cinnamon to mixture. Mix thoroughly once more. Next, transfer mixture to casserole dish (I used a 9×9 pan).
4. In separate mixing bowl, toss almonds with cocoa powder, 1 tbsp of olive oil, and 1 tbsp of cinnamon. Toss until evenly coated. Garnish the top of casserole with chopped almonds.
5. Finish off your casserole with a drizzle of honey over top of the almonds.
6. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. ENJOY 🙂

Paleo Sweet Potato CasseroleHow is that for a mouth-watering Paleo spin on a classic? Well, we’re not done yet. A fresh salad came to mind while I perused the grocery store on that Fall morning and then it hit me: Dino Kale + Cranberry Chopped Salad. I love when the grocery store inspires you! Also, this gem is Whole30 Compliant!Dino Kale + Cranberry Chopped SaladDino Kale + Cranberry Chopped Salad (serves 8)
Ingredients:
1 bunch Dino kale
3 cups spinach
1 small gala apple
1 green bell pepper
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Coat a oven-safe dish in coconut oil. Place washed cranberries in dish and stick in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, chop up kale, spinach, apple, bell pepper, and walnuts into bite-size pieces. Try to make everything about the same size. Place all ingredients in large bowl.
3. Once cranberries are finished, add them to the bowl. Toss all ingredients together.
4. If desired, add your favorite dressing (I suggest a balsamic) or top with some of that Thanksgiving turkey! EAT UP 🙂

Okay, so my salad is more "layered" than "tossed", but it was all for the photos, people!
Okay, so my salad is more “layered” than “tossed”, but it was all for the photos, people!

Other food items included green bean casserole, rolls, cranberry sauce, and a plethora of desserts. I will admit, I sampled a bit of everything. I will also admit that due to this I had a major sugar-induced headache for the next two days (Is a “food hangover” a thing? Because I think it is). Sometimes you pick your battles and choose to indulge every once in a while. Just choose wisely, then get back on track!

This is the "Remember to Make Wise Choices" Face.
This is the “Remember to Make Wise Choices” Face.

Happy Friendsgiving

I am so thankful to these wonderful people in my life (and those who couldn’t make it too) and I am happy to have celebrated Friendsgiving while sneaking in Paleo recipes at the same time. Thank you all for being my guinea pigs!


Happy Friendsgiving!
Maybe you can try some of these, or be inspired to find more Paleo Thanksgiving dishes for this year’s feast!Give Thanks

 

Pumpkin Seeds: Three Ways!

STOP! Wait! Don’t throw out those pumpkin seeds! YES. I’m talking to YOU.

Okay this post may be a tad late after all that pumpkin carving happened over Halloween, but I have been sick for the past two weeks (cold AND flu, yuck) so I fell off the grid for a while. AND NOW I’M BACK: Heerrrreeee’s Victoria!!! So, if you happen to still be scooping out pumpkins during the rest of the fall season, or would like to save this post for next year, here is a delicious healthy snack so you can get more bang for your buck with your pumpkins!Pumpkin Seed SnacksOh, they are just waiting to be all roasted up, seasoned, and snacked on!! 😉

First and foremost, make sure you clean off all your seeds and pull them away from the pulp. Then, wash thoroughly in colander and drain. Finally, dry out your pumpkin seeds. I placed mine on a baking sheet (as pictured above) and let them sit out all Saturday afternoon. Once your seeds have had a nice tan, you can proceed with the recipe. Onward…Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 300-degrees.
2. Toss seeds in olive oil.
3. Season to desired taste (pick a blend below!)
4. Toast seeds for 20 minutes, or until golden and crispy! Then, chow down!

Season Blends:
Sweet – cinnamon + coconut sugar
Salty – sea salt
Italian – garlic powder + basilCinnamon Pumpkin Seeds

Sea Salt Pumpkin Seeds

Italian Pumpkin Seeds

You can snack on these alone, sprinkle on salads, or use to top on some creamy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup for a warm meal on a cool Fall day! Oh just think of the possibilities! How else do you enjoy pumpkin seeds?

Again, sorry for being away for a while. I hope this recipe fills your house with a delicious Autumn scent and your tastebuds are left tingling! Be on the lookout for more recipes and healthy tips with The Thrive Life!