Our Favorite Pasta Brand {Plus a recipe!}

Hey there! I’m SO excited to share today’s post and recipe with you. If you know us and have been following along for a while, you know we like to have our diet mostly filled with lots of veggies, fruits, lean proteins, healthy carbs, etc. Of course, we don’t hold ourselves back from pizza, pasta, wings and ice cream, but as these foods don’t always make us feel the great or fuel us the best for our activities, they aren’t what we are eating 80% of the time. I don’t believe in cutting out foods because they are “bad”. In fact, I don’t believe that foods are inherently “good” or “bad” – they are what they are and they all have a time and place in our lives (in my opinion).

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That said, we will try to make healthier swaps in our kitchen for things we eat on a more regular basis. For instance, I have a banana bread recipe we LOVE that doesn’t have any added sugar. They are still sweet and so satisfying, they just don’t come with all the extra sugar banana bread usually comes with. We tend to eat Ezekiel bread and wraps or sour dough bread as these feel better for us to digest. And, we chose Jovial pasta products instead of the traditionally Barillo or Prego brands because Jovial products have so few ingredients and are easier for us to digest.

If you’ve seen my Instagram stories, I’m sure you’ve seen my post about our love for Jovial products, which is why I can’t wait to share this recipe with you. Recently, Jovial sent us the the most wonderful package filled with all sorts of our favorite Jovial products, as well as many new-to-us products.

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Over the weekend, I had to break open a box (while munching on the rosemary einkorn crackers, lol) and whip up something tasty … which is where this recipe comes from! It’s super easy and was all put together in about 30-40 mins, and that was without really rushing around. We’ve been enjoying leftovers throughout the week!

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The best part, too, is that I’m hosting a GIVEAWAY over on my Instagram page. All you have to do is leave a comment saying what your favorite pasta dish is. If you follow Jovial, myself and tag a friend, leave comments for each that you do as they’ll give you extra options to win. I will be choosing TWO winners on Monday, February 4th who will each win a $25 gift certificate for Jovial products! Trust me – you want this prize!

Ingredients

  • Jovial Farfelle Pasta (or elbows would work great, too!) – I used half a box
  • 1 package of pancetta
  • 1 small/medium sweet potato
  • 2 handfuls of Brussels sprouts
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • EVOO
  • salt & pepper

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Directions

  1. Heat a large pan on the stove, add some EVOO, chop your sweet potato and Brussels sprouts and add them to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Tip – make sure to use plenty of EVOO so they don’t stick. You can also add some water throughout the cooking process.
  2. Once the veggies are getting soft, start to bring a pot of water to boil. Add the Jovial pasta once it is boiling. Move the veggies to the edges of the pan and allow space for the pancetta and garlic in the middle. Allow the pancetta to brown and crisp up and then mix the veggies back in.
  3. Once the pasta is ready, collect some of the pasta water in a cup and drain the rest. Add the pasta to the veggies and pancetta and stir to combine. If it’s a little dry, you can add some of the pasta water and/or olive oil into the pan. Sprinkle some Parmigiano-Reggiano over the pasta and veggie mixture and combine.
  4. Serve with a little extra Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top.

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All in all, this recipe is a relatively quick and easy dinner to put together – perfect for a busy weeknight! We absolutely loved the flavor combinations and when I say you cannot tell that the Jovial pasta is a “healthier” pasta option, I am not lying! Jovial products have become a staple in our house and I hope you love them as much as we do.

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Don’t forget to head on over to my Instagram post to enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $25 gift card to Jovial!

Questions for you – What’s your favorite weeknight quickie meal to throw together? What’s your favorite “healthier” alternative to use or make in the kitchen?

 

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The Easiest Veggie & Turkey “Hash” (aka: our summer staple dish)

We eat a lot of veggies in our house. When I went shopping with my sister, she couldn’t believe we bought a few heads of lettuce, kale and spinach, which are just our leafy greens. She asked if we ate all that in a week and I said “YUP!”. RM has veggies pretty much every meal and I eat salad’s for lunch a lot so when you add it up, we plow through veggies!

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And, while I do like veggies more than I used to (thanks to RM for being such a proponent of veggie eating, and showing me new ways to cook them so that they taste great!), the process of cleaning and chopping can be time consuming. If I had more free time, I would love to spend hours in the kitchen, chopping, cooking and drinking wine, but that’s just not realistic for me right now.

Enter my favorite time saving hack thanks to Whole Foods; pre-chopped veggies!!! Yes, it may cost more than buying whole veggies and chopping them myself, but the time I save is worth the money I save! I find these in the produce section, where Whole Foods has a HUGE selection of partly prepared produce varieties that save lots of time in the kitchen. I’m not sure what other stores have in terms of this, but I’m sure they have something!

This “recipe” is seriously SO easy, but what we love about it is that it covers a ton of ground on the veggie front, plus we add the turkey for a little protein. In terms of eating, we either eat it alone, with eggs (RM does this), on salad, in a quesadilla – there are seriously so many options! Which is key for us when it comes to meal prep – we want lots of variety so we don’t get sick of what we have in the fridge.

Ingredients

  • Chopped onions (you can buy pre-chopped or chop your own)
  • Confetti rice (this has broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, but you can use whatever you find, which might be just broccoli or just cauliflower)
  • Shredded Kale (or spinach, if you prefer)
  • Shredded Brussels Sprouts (if you want)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2-3/4 lb Organic ground turkey
  • EVOO – to taste
  • Salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes – to taste

Directions

  1. Heat a pan over medium heat and add some EVOO. Once warm, add the onions and let cook for a few minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for a few minutes before adding in the confetti rice and then the kale and Brussels sprouts. Throughout the course of cooking these veggies, add in the salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes to your liking, as well as the EVOO.
  2. Once the veggies are cooked, remove and place in a bowl. Add the ground turkey to the pan you used to good the veggies and cook until it’s fully browned.
  3. Add back in the veggies and let simmer for a few minutes.
  4. Serve however you wish 🙂

See? I told you this was easy! And, really, there are no rights or wrongs when it comes to what you add and how you cook it. I’ve done it a dozen different ways and we have never been disappointed.

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If you find yourself short on time and not able to get in the veggie in-take you want because it takes a long time to prepare everything, I highly suggest trying this method out. While it may cost you a little more, when you think about what you’d do instead of this (maybe order out or get stuff from Whole Foods hot bar?), it’s probably worth it!

Have a great day 🙂

Questions for you: What’s your best time saving hack in the kitchen? Do you like to chop veggies or would you prefer it done for you? 

Five on Friday {9.8.17}

Hey there! Happy Friday! I know it was a long weekend, meaning this was technically a short week, but does anyone else feel like it was a long one? Friday couldn’t come fast enough! I have some fun things to share with you today, so I hope you enjoy it!

  • Vegan Pesto – Roberto watched the documentary “What the health” and it has caused him to think about his diet and the amount of animal products he (we) consume. In an effort to try and reduce some of this (but definitely not eliminating entirely), he has made a few changes here and there. He found a recipe for Vegan Pesto and he made it the other night and it was incredible! We used Nutritional Yeast which actually did taste just like cheese, plus it has vitamins in it! We used some brown rice pasta and topped it with tomatoes and I added grilled chicken to mine. SO good!

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  • Booty By Brabants There was a sale on BBB last week and I finally took the plunge and bought myself a pair. It seems as though EVERYONE is wearing them, so I had to see what the rave was all about. The verdict? I love them! While they feel a little snug going on, they are actually incredibly comfortable. I’ve seen them be a bit see through on some people, and while I initially didn’t think that was a problem for me, last night they did look a little see through when I squatted. Luckily, it’s dark in the room so I hope no one noticed 😉 Next time I will have to try out the thicker version of the pants (the Croco’s, I think).

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  • Get Sh*t Done – Erol and I have been connected through social media for years now, so when I saw his latest endeavor (I Digress Podcast) and the awesome tanks he was selling to go along with it, I just had to buy one. Get Sh*t Done is basically my life motto, lol. If you’re interested, reach out to him via Instagram! It was $20 + $3 shipping.

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  • Planet Fitness 25 Year Anniversary Sale – Now that summer is nearly over, you may find yourself in the gym more often. If you cancelled your gym membership over the summer (I’ve talked to a bunch of people who did this), you might want to consider checking out Planet Fitness. As part of its 25th anniversary celebration, new members can join the Judgement Free Zone® for only 25 cents, then $10 a month, with no commitment. The offer kicks off in Massachusetts and New Hampshire on Sept. 5 and then nationally on Sept. 11, continuing through Sept. 13.
  • 2017 Hub on Wheels Citywide Bike Tour – On Sunday, September 17th, TD and the City of Boston will host the 2017 Hub on Wheels Citywide Bike Tour. This year’s ride will benefit pediatric cancer research at Boston Children’s Hospital. I’m so excited to be taking part in the event this year, and I wanted to share details with you in case you’re looking for a fun activity to do an great way to raise money to help fight kids cancer. The bike ride (10 or 40 miles, your choice!) will take you down a car-free Storrow Drive and all around Boston and its surrounding neighborhoods. What’s really cool about this event this year is that Hub on Wheels is proud to support Boston Children’s Hospital, with $5 of each $50 registration fee automatically going to support the efforts to find a cure for pediatric cancer. Riders may also consider becoming Hope Riders , fundraising before the big day with 100% of donations supporting kids cancer research at Boston Children’s Hospital. Check out any of the links above to get more information, or shoot me a comment. I would love to have some friends/familiar faces to ride with!

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That about does it for me! I  hope you all have a great Friday and a fantastic weekend. Hoping to pop in with a few good posts next week!

Questions for you: What was a highlight of your week? Did you get in any good workouts? Did you do anything different or fun? What’s on tap for the weekend?

Five on Friday {10.21.16}

Good morning and TGIF! Was it just me or did this week feel extra long? Between having no motivation to do anything (literally), not sleeping well and managing life with a new kitten who needs LOTS of attention, I feel like this week dragged on. But! RM and I are heading to NYC via train today for the weekend to celebrate his sister’s engagement, which is very exciting. The dinner is actually in Brooklyn so we opted to rent and Air BNB in Brooklyn so I’m looking forward to checking that out! For now, though, let’s talk shop about what’s been going on.

  • RM’s new adventure- Shortly after we got back from Italy, RM gave his notice at work. This was a longgg time coming and I couldn’t be more proud of him for finally taking a chance on himself and choosing happiness over job security. I’ll have more details to share soon, and I hope you’ll check out his website once it’s up and running! If you’re finding yourself in a similar position where you’re unhappy at your job or in your career and you have a passion you want to pursue, there are always ways to make it happen. And, like I said to him, even if it doesn’t work out (which it will!), at least he can say he tried and won’t have a big “what if” hanging over his head!

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  • Jessi’s bridal bath- The weekend leading up to our honeymoon was spent up in NH celebrating my best friend Jessi’s bridal bath, which was a joint bachelorette party & shower. Her family has a house on a lake so we had a great time laughing, hanging out, boating, lounging, drinking and eating. I always love events that bring all of my SMC girls together! Can’t wait for their big day in December 🙂

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  • Crockpot Pork Tenderloin- I know it hasn’t felt like fall this week, but last week I made a delicious- and SUPER easy- crockpot meal. You know how there are always those little cooking videos flying around Facebook? Normally I just watch or scroll past, but this one caught my eye so I tried it out: Slow Cooker Hasselback Apple Pork Loin. Even though it got a little dry (I made it on a Sunday but we didn’t eat it until Monday), it was really flavorful and I loved that the ingredient list was short. I highly suggest this if you’re looking for a new meal to try!
  • OAKtoberfest 5K- Last weekend I ran the annual OAKtoberfest 5K put on by the Oak Square YMCA that I teach at. I have been running this race for YEARS, and I always enjoy it. It’s a relatively small race so it’s not crowded, plus you get the hills over with right away! Last year I ran a big PR and even placed 3rd for my age group. This year I went into it with zero expectations because I haven’t really been doing a ton of running, but I ended up running a nearly 1 minute PR race! 22:32 was my official time, which is crazy fast for me. I didn’t place, but I didn’t care- it was just fun to run the race with some of my gym friends!

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  • Meet Francesca: I’m sure you’ve all seen by now, but last weekend RM and I brought a new little kitten into our family/home. Francesca is 8 weeks old, under 2 pounds, a total fluff ball and a little firecracker. She was so scared when we first brought her home, but soon enough she opened up and has been a blast ever since. She’s super playful and always wants to be where we/I are/am, which is absolutely adorable. We got her from the Salem Animal shelter and they were wonderful to work with throughout the adoption process. My sister is going to stay with her this weekend so she doesn’t get lonely!

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And that does it for me- hoping to get some blogging done while we are on the train since I have lots of posts I want to write. I hope whatever you have going on this weekend, you have a wonderful time!

Questions for you: Have you ever chosen happiness over security? Do you have any pets? What’s a great fall recipe I should try? Have you run any races lately?

Tastes of Fall: Chicken, Quinoa, Kale & Goat Cheese Stuffed Acorn Squash

Good morning! I’ve got a delicious- and easy-  recipe for you today. Anyone else like to cook according to the season and, well, what’s in season? I love seeing all of the pumpkin, squash, and apple recipes floating around the blogisphere these days. Athena posted this delicious looking Autumn Kale Salad recipe last week, Alexis posted this Vegan Butternut Squash Pasta recipe that I’m dying to make and Lexi posted these fantastic Pumpkin Sticky Bun Muffins that I actually made last weekend!

I could literally go on and on, but today I want to share a fall recipe that I made the other week. I based it off of this recipe that I made last year, which was basically identical to the meal we had at The Local in Newton. Regardless, I realized that I hadn’t actually POSTED a recipe for this meal so I figured today was as good a time as any 🙂

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All you need for this recipe is an acorn squash, kale (or spinach), chicken (or shrimp or steak), quinoa (or rice or a blend) and goat cheese (or feta or none)… as you can see, you can really do what you want to make this recipe your own!

Ingredients (use as a guide, but feel free to substitute as you see fit!)

  • 1 medium acorn squash, baked
  • 3-4 chicken thighs, baked
  • small bunch of kale, de-stemmed, rinsed & baked
  • Quinoa or rice or a blend (I had a medley on hand so I used that)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup of goat cheese
  • dash of cinnamon (for acorn squash)
  • EVOO (for kale  & chicken)
  • Coconut oil
  • salt & pepper & garlic powder

Directions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425*, cut your acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Coat the flesh of the acorn squash with coconut oil and place face down in a baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the squash is soft. Once it’s soft, remove from the oven and sprinkle some cinnamon on the flesh. Set aside.
  2. While the squash is cooking, cook your quinoa or rice according to the directions on the back of the package.
  3. While the squash and quinoa are cooking, prepare your kale by washing it, de-stemming it and placing it in a baking dish. Coat with salt, pepper, garlic powder & plenty of EVOO. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until it has wilted.
  4. Once you’ve gotten a handle of the foods in steps 1-3, prepare your chicken. I cut mine into cubes, coated with EVOO, salt, pepper and garlic powder and sautéed in a skillet until it was cooked through.
  5. At this point, everything should be cooked and it’s time to assemble everything. I combined the kale, quinoa and chicken in a small bowl and then stuffed the acorn squash halves with that mixture. Finally, I topped each stuffed half with a sprinkling of goat cheese and broiled for a few minutes until the cheese started to brown.

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What I loved about these was that even though it was a lot of separate things to cook, they could pretty much all be done simultaneously since the squash takes some time to bake and the quinoa and kale don’t need tending to once they’re cooking.

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All of the flavors in this dish really complimented each other and left me “mmm’ing” after each bite. The savory flavor from the kale mixed with the sweetness from the squash was on point!

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These also reheated really well and sine the squash was cooked enough that it was soft it was easy to peel away from the skin. You could eat the skin if you wanted lots of extra fiber, but I opted to take the skin off 😉

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Like stuffed peppers, I call this a one stop dinner dish since you’ve got veggies, protein and healthy fats all in one place! This is a great fall recipe- let me know if you try it 🙂

Questions for you: What’s your favorite fall recipe? Are you a pumpkin lover? What’s your favorite kind of squash? Do you prefer kale or spinach?