7 Amazon Prime Day Kitchen Deals You Don’t Want to Miss

I am an Amazon addict and look forward to Prime Day every year. Here are some of my favorites for the kitchen this year! They include items I seriously can't live without including the Instant Pot, Vitamix, and my favorite cast iron pans.

Remember there are limited numbers so pick up your favorites before they sell out!

1. Instant Pot Duo for $58.99 (usually $99.99)

Instant pot

2. Vitamix Blender for $297.95 (usually $549.99)

Vitamix

3. Bella Air Fryer for $38.99 (usually $62.99)

Air Fryer

4. Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Cookware Set (discount coming at 4:10 PM EST)

Cast iron pans

5. ThermoPro Wireless Cooking Thermometer (discount coming at 8:10 PM EST)

meat thermometer

6. Banza Chickpea Pasta Six Pack (discount coming at 8:20 PM EST)

Banza pasta

7. Mandoline Veggie Slicer (discount coming at 5:00 PM EST)

mandoline

Calories , Total Fat g, Total Carbohydrate g, Protein g, Serving Size Original Article

Healthy Meal Plans: Week 29

Lately, I have been craving tons of fresh veggies since there are so many good ones in season right now – zucchini, corn, tomatoes, asparagus, and green beans. So this week's meal plan celebrates many of those veggies in recipes your family will love.

Now on to this week's meal plan! It starts out with a delicious Protein Packed Banana Oatmeal Pancakes, Cranberry Tuna Salad, and Slow Cooker Hawaiian Chicken. Monday brings Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles and Tuesday is a Spicy Turkey, Green Bean, and Mushroom Stir-fry. Wednesday is a Skillet Gnocchi with Zucchini and Corn and Thursday is Grilled Lemon Dijon Chicken Thighs. To end the week, meals include Turkey Salsa Burgers and a Grilled Balsamic Flank Steak.

Want to try a free meal plan? Click here to download a free one week meal plan.

Here are some of the meals in this week's meal plan!

Potato Gnocchi with Zucchini and Corn: This easy to make creamy summer pasta dish taste like it should have a million calories but is surprisingly light and healthy.

Potato Gnocchi with Zucchini and Corn in a black skillet with fresh basil.

Cranberry Tuna Salad: My absolute favorite tuna salad recipe packed with cranberries, apples, and celery.

Healthy meal plan with Cranberry Tuna Salad for lunch.

Grilled Asparagus with Lemon and Feta: There is no better way to make asparagus than on the grill and adding fresh lemon and feta is always a good idea.

Grilled Asparagus with Lemon and Feta on a white plate with parsley.

Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles: I love shrimp scampi and this lightened up version over zucchini noodles is always a hit.

Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles on a wooden table.

Remember to check out the healthy, low carb, and vegetarian meal plans all with nutritional info and Freestyle SmartPoints.

Love the idea of meal planning but don’t have time to find recipes, create shopping lists, and make meal plans?

Since I know that many people simply don’t have the time to create their own healthy meal plans, we provide delicious and healthy meal plans at Slender Kitchen that you can customize to meet your needs.

Each healthy weekly meal plan comes full of delicious recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The meal plans come in regular, vegetarian, and low carb options. All feature complete nutritional information, Weight Watchers SmartPoints, and categorized shopping lists! There are also two bonus fallback recipes weekly and the option for either a complete meal plan or a Dinner Only plan. This includes our interactive meal planning option where you can customize the number of servings for each meal, swap in new recipes if you don't like something, or build your own meal plan from scratch. All that for less the cost of one cup of coffee per month with the yearly plan.

Calories , Total Fat g, Total Carbohydrate g, Protein g, Serving Size Original Article

Healthy Meal Plans: Week 33

What are you craving this week? For me it's been burgers, tacos, and meatballs so all three of those things are making an appearance in this week's meal plan.

Now on to this week's meal plan! It starts out with Sausage and Butternut Squash Casserole, Chicken Parmesan Boats, and Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas. Monday brings Angel Hair Pasta with Kale and Sausage and Tuesday is Spinach Meatballs with Creamy Polenta. Wednesday is General Tso's Pork and Thursday is Grilled Lemon Herb Chicken Thighs. To end the week, meals include Grilled Honey Lime Salmon and Pizza Turkey Burgers.

Want to try a free meal plan? Click here to download a free one week meal plan.

Here are some of the meals in this week's meal plan!

Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas: We are obsessed with this recipe and every time I buy chicken thighs, my husband insists that I make these easy, super delicious tacos. They are super tender and get nice and crispy on the outside form a quick trip to the broiler.

Slow Cooker Chicken Carnita for dinner in this week's meal plan.

Chicken Parmesan Zucchini Boats: Have tons of zucchini in your garden? You will love these simple Chicken Parm zucchini boats.

Healthy meal plan with Chicken Parmesan Zucchini Boats for lunch.

Grilled Red Potatoes: We love potatoes as a side dish but when I am grilling, I don't want to turn the oven on as well. These tasty grilled potatoes are the answer.

Grilled Red Potatoes on a grill pan with spices.

Lightened Up General Tso's Pork: Sweet and spicy pork that taste just like your favorite takeout. This is too good not to make.

General Tso's pork in a bowl with rice and broccoli.

Remember to check out the healthy, low carb, and vegetarian meal plans all with nutritional info and Freestyle SmartPoints.

Love the idea of meal planning but don’t have time to find recipes, create shopping lists, and make meal plans?

Since I know that many people simply don’t have the time to create their own healthy meal plans, we provide delicious and healthy meal plans at Slender Kitchen that you can customize to meet your needs.

Each healthy weekly meal plan comes full of delicious recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The meal plans come in regular, vegetarian, and low carb options. All feature complete nutritional information, Weight Watchers SmartPoints, and categorized shopping lists! There are also two bonus fallback recipes weekly and the option for either a complete meal plan or a Dinner Only plan. This includes our interactive meal planning option where you can customize the number of servings for each meal, swap in new recipes if you don't like something, or build your own meal plan from scratch. All that for less the cost of one cup of coffee per month with the yearly plan.

Calories , Total Fat g, Total Carbohydrate g, Protein g, Serving Size Original Article

The Ultimate Guide to Snap Peas

Do you tend to walk right by the snap peas at the grocery store, unsure of what they are and how you’d use them? Or maybe you’ve picked them up to snack on raw, as a naturally sweetened treat for your kids or yourself, but never thought to cook them up, tossing them into your favorite stir-fry or with a simple garlic and soy preparation for a side dish.

If you, like me, are always on the hunt for new, delicious, healthy, and low-calorie ways to prepare vegetables or for new recipes that incorporate veggies you’d really never thought to try, then consider the humble snap pea, also known as the sugar snap pea. Delicious, nutritious, crunchy, crisp, and, quite frankly, not bad to look at, the snap pea is definitely having a moment.

Snap Peas Versus Snow Peas – What’s the Difference?

Although snap peas and snow peas might appear to be interchangeable, as they both have a similar size and shape, belong to the legume family, and grow by climbing up a pole, string, or stalk, they are not the same thing.

Snow peas (also known as Chinese pea pods) are green, flat, and oblong in shape with tiny peas visible through the outside of the pod. They have a mild flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked.

Snap peas are a cross between a snow pea and a garden pea. They can also be eaten whole, raw, or cooked, but they possess a sweet flavor, are juicy, crunchy, and will “snap” when you break them in half. You typically cannot see the peas in a snap pea from the outside of the pod.

The Health Benefits of Snap Peas

While many foods are billed as “perfect,” snap peas might be up there with some of the best in terms of the vitamins, nutrients, and other good-for-you components that this lovely little legume provides. Snap peas contain vitamin K, which helps your bones retain calcium, antioxidants from vitamin C, and a host of B-complex vitamins, plus folate, iron, and beta-carotene (another antioxidant that can help ward off cancer cells).

Snap peas make a wonderful addition to many recipes that call for a steamed or cooked vegetable, but they also make a great snack right out of the bag. Their fiber content keeps you full, while the sweet taste can help curb your sweet tooth. One cup of snap peas contains only 41 calories, 7 grams of carbohydrates, 2.5 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 0 grams of fat, and 3 grams of protein.

Garlic sugar snap peas on a plate on a wooden table.

Choosing Snap Peas

You can find snap peas in your grocer’s produce department, either loose or pre-packaged in a clear bag (usually next to the bagged lettuce). You’ll want to choose pods based on their bright green color and smooth skin. Do not pick any that are discolored, spotted, or wrinkled.

If you grow snap peas in your garden, you can pick them when they are bright green and smooth. To test for ripeness, harvest one pod by pulling it gently off the vine and snapping it in half. If the peas are small and the walls are thick and green, then the peas are ready to be eaten.

Storing Snap Peas

As with most peas, the sooner snap peas they are eaten, the fresher they will taste. However, snap peas will keep for up to five days in a resealable plastic bag in your refrigerator. Discard individual pods if they start to discolor or lose their firmness.

Preparing & Cooking Snap Peas

It’s best to cook or eat snap peas soon after picking to lock in as much flavor and freshness as possible. You can eat the entire pod raw or cooked, though some people prefer to trim off the ends and pull of the string that runs down the middle of the pods. For best results, rinse the snap peas, trim the ends, and let your imagination run wild. You’ll find that cooking with snap peas is, well, a snap!

  • As a Side: Whip up a fantastic, bright, flavorful side dish with snap peas in less than 10 minutes, like these Garlic Sugar Snap Peas or Sesame Sugar Snap Peas – two of my go-to healthy side dishes. The best part is, you probably already have all the ingredients in your kitchen, just waiting for the opportunity to transform themselves into something yummy.
  • In Soups and Noodles: Snap peas are an easy ingredient to add to any soup, particularly those that are Asian-inspired, like this Sesame Sugar Snap Pea, Edamame, and Carrot Soba Noodles. They only need a few minutes of cooking time, and you can add them in when your noodles are almost finished – just toss them right in the same pot!
  • In Stir-Fries: In my recipe for Snap Pea and Japanese Eggplant Stir-Fry, I saved time and extra dishes by using the same pan that I seared the tofu in to saute the snap peas and eggplant for just a few minutes before adding the other ingredients back in and serving. This Sesame Tofu and Snap Pea dish is another keeper.
  • In Pasta Dishes: Pasta is like a blank canvas. Why not dress it up with snap peas, garlic, a protein, and a creamy, ooey, gooey, (and don’t forget delicious) low-fat sauce? That’s what I did when I created this recipe for Creamy Snap Pea and Ham Pasta. We also love this Black Pepper and Garlic Snap Pea Pasta and Bacon and Sugar Snap Pea Pasta.
  • Sheet Pan Dinners: Sugar snap peas cook quickly making them perfect for sheet pan meals like this Soy and Mango Marinated Chicken Thighs with Sugar Snap Peas.
  • Salads: Snap peas are a crunchy addition in any green salad and can be added raw, blanched, or cooked. They also make a great addition to entree style salads like this Snap Pea and Farro Salad.

Calories , Total Fat g, Total Carbohydrate g, Protein g, Serving Size Original Article

Yellow Squash: Why You Should Start Eating This Veggie Now

Yellow squash. It’s hard to not think of this vegetable as the ugly stepchild of the zucchini. After all, they’re usually next to each other in the produce section, though the zucchini bin seems to be emptied far more often by demand. Plus how many recipes for yellow squash bread or yellow squash muffins or do you see on Pinterest? I’d wager to say not nearly as many as for zucchini, if any at all.

So where does that leave the poor, yellow guy? Well, with plenty of options, actually. Yellow squash (one of the summer squash varieties), is a great food to start including in your diet, if you don’t already. You may have noticed there are two kinds of yellow squash — the kind that is straight, and the kind that has a curved neck. In both cases, the bottom of the squash is larger than the top. While the skin can be smooth or bumpy, it’s always thin and when you cut into it, you’ll notice that the flesh is whiter and has bigger seeds than the inside of a zucchini.

Yellow squash can be eaten cooked or raw — either way provides you with lots of nutrition. (Although you’ll lose some of the water content when you cook the squash.) It’s low-calorie, low-sugar, and its fiber and water content can help you stay fuller, longer. These factors are important if you are watching what you eat.

Types of Yellow (or Summer) Squash

Although there are up to 10 kinds of summer squash, only about eight are (more) commonly available. In addition to yellow squash, zucchini, costata romanesco zucchini, and eight-ball zucchini, as well as tatuma, pattypan, cousa, and zephyr squash are all summer squash family members you should consider inviting to your next reunion.

Is Yellow Squash Good for You?

Yes! Full of vitamins A, B, and C, plus fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron, and folate, this is one summer vegetable you’ll want to stop passing over. And, adding this yellow variety of the Cucurbita pepo family helps you to eat more of the rainbow.

Yellow squash is great on the grill, diced and added to salsa or a relish, or spiralized as a pasta substitution. The only limit to eating more squash is your imagination — now is the time to get creative. How many ways can you think of to include this veggie varietal in your diet?

The Nutritional Makeup of Yellow Squash

According to the USDA nutrient database, one medium yellow squash contains 39 calories, 2 grams of protein, zero grams of fat, 8 carbs, 4 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of sugar. In addition, you’ll find ample amounts of calcium, iron, and vitamins C, A, and B, as well as beta-carotene and lutein. What you won’t find — cholesterol. That’s right, yellow squash is a cholesterol-free food.

Summer squash on a cutting board with a knife.

The Health Benefits of Yellow Squash

  • It is low-carb. Most of the calories in yellow squash comes from its carb content, which is to say, there really isn’t much of either. You can eat an entire medium-sized yellow squash and only consume 39 calories and 8 grams of carbs — not a bad deal at all. Spiralize a couple of those suckers and you have a nice bowl of faux pasta on your plate, ready to be topped with some crumbled or sliced chicken sausage, bell peppers, and fresh marinara sauce. When you consider one cup of pasta contains around 14 grams of carbs, you’ll be glad you filled your plate with a healthy helping of squash, instead.
  • It is low-calorie. When you’re on a diet or watching what you eat, then every calorie counts. Yellow squash is low-calorie, so you can eat a lot of it and still meet your calorie requirements for the day. It’s also a great vegetable to mix in or add to pastas and other calorie-dense foods to fill you up while helping you slim down.
  • It is is a good source of beta-carotene. A primary source of vitamin A, beta-carotene is also what gives yellow squash its vibrant hue. It’s also a carotenoid that acts as an antioxidant which protects the body from free radicals, can slow cognitive decline, and can keep your immune system, tissues, mucous membranes, hair, and skin healthy.
  • It is fiber-full. We love fiber here at Slender Kitchen. Not only does it keep you feeling fuller, longer, it also aids in digestion and helps to regulate your digestive system. Every medium yellow squash provides four grams of fiber. When added as a side dish, combined with other veggies or carbs or eaten raw, sliced thin and dipped in hummus, you can bet you’re getting a good start on your fiber intake for the day.
  • It’s cholesterol-free. If you are watching your cholesterol intake, then you needn't worry about eating summer squash. You can eat squash to help lower your cholesterol as well, as studies have shown that a plant-based diet can lower your total cholesterol. This includes both HDL and LDL levels, compared to those who eat more of a meat-based diet.

How to Choose Yellow Squash

Keep in mind yellow squash, like all summer squash, are best in (and most plentiful in) the summer. This shouldn’t be surprising, considering it’s a summer squash, after all. That being said, when picking a squash, you want to make sure it has a nice, bright color. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a squash that doesn’t have a few nicks and scratches on it, so you can ignore those. However, if a squash looks soft, wet, wrinkled, or is turning brown, it’s best to turn it down.

How to Store Yellow Squash

Store whole squash dry and stored in a plastic bag or other container in your fridge’s vegetable drawer. There is no need to make sure the container or bag is air-tight. In fact, a little air circulation is a good thing. They should stay fresh for up to two weeks, though if you start to see them shriveling or turning brown, it’s best to cook them up asap.

If you want to freeze your yellow squash for later use, you should slice and blanch it first, then store it in tightly sealed freezer bags. You can similarly store grated or spiralized squash too. Simply drain off excess liquid when you thaw it before cooking. I would recommend against freezing squash and eating it thawed (without cooking). It’ll be rather mushy and pretty gross.

What’s the Difference Between Yellow Squash and Zucchini?

The main difference between yellow squash and zucchini is the color. (Zucchini is most often found green, although there are some yellow zucchini, but let’s save that discussion for another time.) Beyond that, zucchini are generally long and slender and the same shape throughout. Yellow squash are bigger at the bottom with a smaller neck that can be either straight or slightly crooked. Either can be swapped for the other in recipes, or cook both together for color variety when grilling vegetables, spiralizing vegetable noodles, or tossing into your vegetable ragu.

Recipes for yellow squash salad with zucchini and herbs in a bowl with a spoon.

Are Yellow Squash and Butternut Squash the Same?

This time, the answer is “no.” These squash aren’t as interchangeable as zucchini and yellow squash. Butternut squash is a winter squash, and has a hard skin. It also is tan in color and much larger than a yellow squash. It’s heartier flesh is great for blending in soups and roasting with potatoes, as they have a similar, non-stringy consistency.

Is Yellow Squash Considered a Starch?

When thinking about yellow squash as a starch, most likely you’re comparing it to starchier vegetables such as potatoes and corn. Although there are some carbs in yellow squash, their value is pretty low. This kind of squash is generally considered a non-starchy vegetable, though.

Can You Eat Raw Yellow Squash?

Yes, you can eat raw yellow squash. It should be noted, however, that the smaller the squash, the less bitter and more sweet it will taste. It can be used it savory or sweet dishes, just cut it up and toss it in.

How to Cook Yellow Squash

There are several ways in which to cook squash. Before you cook it though, you’ll want to prepare it. I always wash my produce and pat it dry. From there, slice it however you need — small dice for salsa or relish, larger half-moons or discs for roasting, long, thick strips for grilling, or smaller sticks for a vegetable tray.

  • Roasted. Roasting vegetables enhances their natural flavors. In the case of yellow squash, it gives the vegetable a sweet, nutty flavor. Make sure however you slice the squash that the pieces are of equal size so they all roast the same. Heat your oven to 400 degrees, mix the squash with some olive oil and your favorite spices and roast for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the bottoms are slightly browned.
  • Spiralized. Much like making zucchini noodles, you can make yellow squash noodles and use them for all sorts of dishes. I like to add them to pasta (or as a substitute for pasta entirely), mix them into a salad, add a bit of texture to the top of a protein, or freeze them for later use.
  • Grilled. Grilling yellow squash is easy-peasy. I do recommend keeping the slices thick though, so you end up with meatier chunks of vegetable, rather than thin ones that will either a) get too mushy or b) fall through the grill grates before you can eat them. Much like roasting, all you need for grilled squash is some oil and spices before tossing them on the grill for five minutes on each side.
  • Raw. If your squash is nice and firm and fresh, you might enjoy it raw. I like to slice mine into carrot-sized sticks. They are great to dip into hummus, low-fat ranch, and other low-calorie yogurt dips.

Yellow squash recipe for baked fries with Parmesan cheese and panko breadcrumbs.

How to Eat Yellow Squash: Recipes and Ideas

  • As a side dish. This yellow squash side couldn’t be simpler. Slice the tops off the squash, slice them in half, layer them — skin side down — on a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and top with parmesan like I did in this Roasted Parmesan Summer Squash. Or use squash noodles in place of (or in addition to) zucchini in these Stir Fried Zucchini Noodles.
  • As “fries” on the side. Anything can be a french fry, right? Even squash. Cut yellow squash into longer wedges (leave the skin on), and coat in garlic, panko, and parm. What you'll be left with is a bowl full of Baked Garlic Parmesan Zucchini and Summer Squash Wedges that everyone will devour before they even hit the table.
  • In a salad. Diced, sliced, noodled, ribboned, shredded — whatever your squash fancy, add it to your favorite salad for a dash of color and nutrients. This Chopped Mediterranean Zucchini Salad is perfect with any kind of summer squash.
  • In baked goods. I know, I said it isn't typically done — so I'm going to go head and do it myself. This Carrot and Zucchini Bread could just as easily have been made with yellow squash, as could these Zucchini, Feta, and Dill Muffins. For breakfast, try baking up a batch of these Bacon, Egg, Zucchini, and Cheese Muffins. They are not only savory, filling, and kid friendly but can easily be adapted by adding or subtracting any ingredients. Even — you guessed it — yellow squash.

What are your favorite yellow squash recipes?

Calories , Total Fat g, Total Carbohydrate g, Protein g, Serving Size Original Article

Pesto Chicken – Grilled or Baked

This healthy Pesto Chicken made with fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, lean chicken breast, and cherry tomatoes is an easy dish that seriously packs in the flavor. For pesto lovers, add this to your list along with this Pesto Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles and Italian Pesto Chicken Bake.

Pesto chicken is one of those meals I could make weekly. We all love it and since it is such an easy dish to prep, it is something I don't mind making again and again. And don't get me started on the all the ways you can serve it. It is a really versatile recipe with so many delicious options – creamy pesto chicken pasta, pesto chicken sandwiches, rice bowls, you get the idea. Believe me, this will be one of those dishes you make again and again.

Pesto chicken with cherry tomatoes on a white baking sheet.

Before we dig into the recipe itself, let's talk about pesto for a minute. Every time I grocery shop, I am tempted to buy the store made pesto sauce. It's easy and doesn't involve pulling out the food processor. It's a good, quick option that works for this recipe if you are short on time.

However, make sure to always take a quick look at the ingredients. Try to find something that only contains ingredients you recognize – basil, fresh herbs, nuts, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, lemon, and spices. It can be shocking when you start looking at labels and realize the pesto is full of things you can hardly pronounce.

Usually, the best option will be in the refrigerated section. And it is important to note, that store-bought options will always contain a lot more oil. The homemade version included in the recipe is a lightened up version to keep things lower calorie and healthy. Both work great, just choose what will work best for your family and lifestyle.

Homemade pesto in a wooden bowl with a spoon.

What is in a pesto sauce?

Pesto is a traditional Italian sauce that is traditionally made with fresh Italian basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt, and pepper. It also sometimes contains an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. It is traditionally used in pasta dishes, vegetable dishes, and soups. Today many people like to make all kinds of pesto sauces by using different combinations of herbs and greens including parsley, cilantro, spinach, and even kale.

Is basil pesto healthy?

Pesto is a healthy sauce and condiment option that contains fresh herbs, nuts, and heart-healthy olive oil. However, it can be high in fat and calories since it normally contains a large amount of olive oil. The homemade version in this recipe cuts way back on the olive oil to make it lighter without losing any of the flavor.

How long can I store pesto in the fridge?

Normally when I make this recipe, I triple the pesto recipe so I can save the extra for other recipes. Homemade pesto will keep in the fridge for 5-7 days. It can also be frozen and stored for 3-4 months.

Healthy Pesto grilled chicken on a baking sheet next to a bowl of homemade pesto.

Leftover and Serving Ideas for Pesto Chicken

There are so many ways you can use this pesto chicken recipe. I always make a double or triple batch because we love the leftovers so much and I can always get at least 2-3 more meals out of it.

  • Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta: Make a double batch of the pesto sauce included in the recipe. Then while the chicken is cooking, cook the pasta. Save 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Once the pasta is cooked, add it back to the post with the pasta cooking liquid, extra pesto sauce, and 1/4 cup of cream cheese. Stir until a smooth sauce forms. Top with the chicken and tomatoes. This works with spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles as well.
  • Pesto Chicken Salad: We eat a lot of green salads for lunch and this pesto chicken makes a really delicious green salad. Combine it with arugula, chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, roasted red peppers, olives, and feta cheese.
  • Pesto Chicken Pizza: Slice up the leftover chicken and use it as a pizza topping with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. To keep things light, you can use a low carb flatbread for the crust or a whole grain pizza dough. Cauliflower pizza crusts also work for a lower carb option.
  • Creamy Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches: We love a good chicken salad and this pesto chicken makes one of the best. Combine the chopped pesto chicken with reduced fat mayo and greek yogurt. Then add some chopped red onion and red bell peppers for crunch.
  • Pesto Chicken Pizza Quesadillas: Lately I have been making pizza quesadillas for the kids. For this version, I use a thin layer of marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh spinach with thinly sliced pesto chicken.
  • Pesto Chicken Minestrone Soup: Sometimes minestrone soup is topped with fresh pesto, so why not top it with pesto chicken. You can use a store-bought or homemade soup.

Calories 253, Total Fat 8g, Total Carbohydrate 7g, Protein 35g, Serving Size 6 oz.Original Article

Lightened Up Chicken Parmesan Croissant Bread

This Chicken Parmesan Croissant Bread filled with chicken breast, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese is so tasty. Between the buttery crescent dough and the chicken parmesan filling, this stuffed bread is addictive.

Sometimes the best meals are created by accident or necessity. This one started with necessity as I stared at some leftover shredded chicken that I needed to use. After continuing to dig through my fridge, I saw the crescent dough and suddenly got inspired to make this filled Chicken Parmesan Croissant Bread. To keep things simple, I just tossed the chicken with marinara sauce, added some cheese, and filled the bread. It really couldn't be easier. And the results are well worth the little work it does take.

The trickiest part of making this bread is creating the braid. But believe me, although it may look hard, it is really simple. Once you have laid out your crescent dough, you are going to cut lines in the dough along both sides using a pizza cutter. The trick is to make sure you leave enough space in the middle for the filling. Then the cut sides will be braided over the top of the filling. Use the below picture to help.

Chicken Parmesan Bread on a baking sheet before being cooked.

The other important thing to know about this bread is that it is definitely fork and knife bread. Although you may be able to pick up the end pieces to eat them, most pieces will be too heavy to pick up and eat. It is sort of like a calzone in that sense.

One more thing I always like to discuss when making anything with spaghetti or marinara sauce is what to look for when choosing a sauce. Unfortunately jarred tomato is one of those things that can have lots of added sugar. This means more calories and points. So make sure to look for a sauce that has no added sugar or only a small amount of added sugar. Some of my favorites include Trader Joe's, Eden Organic, Rao's, and Newman's Own.

What to serve with Chicken Parmesan Bread?

If you are making this as the main dish, you will want to add some healthy sides to make it a full meal. My favorite side dish options are salads, roasted or sauteed veggies, or soup. I also like serving it with spaghetti squash with some tomato sauce to make it feel like a traditional chicken parm meal. Here are some of our favorite side dish options:

Chicken parmesan crescent bread with Italian seasoning on a cutting board.

Tips for Making Chicken Parmesan Croissant Bread

  • Protein: This recipe can be made with lots of different protein sources depending on what you have on hand. Shredded chicken breasts or thighs work. You can also use cooked ground chicken, turkey, or turkey sausage. For a vegetarian option, use white beans or vegetarian crumbles.
  • Veggies: Althgouh I haven't tried it, I think you could easily add some veggies to this as well. I would try spinach, cooked bell peppers, cooked eggplant, or cooked zucchini. It's important to cook the vegetables first and remove any extra moisture so that they don't make the bread soggy.
  • Spicy: If you like things spicy, add some red pepper flakes to the bread before cooking. You could also add them to the sauce.
  • Buffalo: One reader commented that she switched the marinara for buffalo sauce and made a chicken buffalo bread! Sounds delicious and I can't wait to try it. I would probably sprinkle the outside of the bread with Ranch seasoning as well.

Lastly this bread freezes well so don't be afriad to make a few loaves. You can enjoy one know and save the other in the freezer for a quick appetizer or meal in the future.

Calories 187, Total Fat 8g, Total Carbohydrate 15g, Protein 11g, Serving Size 1 sliceOriginal Article

Grilled Red Potatoes

Grilled red potatoes will quickly become a staple in your home when you are making dinner on the grill. Instead of turning on the oven too, these grilled potatoes are the answer. Served with easy grilled vegetables or grilled broccoli and your sides are ready.

When I grill a meal, I don't want to have to turn on the oven, too. That's where this simple grilled red potato side dish comes in to save the day. The potatoes and onions are packed into aluminum foil packets and cooked right on the grill with a touch of butter and any spices you like. Simple salt and pepper are delicious. Also, consider mixing things up with Cajun spices, paprika, oregano, or Italian seasoning to match whatever you are serving.

Less is more, or so goes the saying. Grilled red potatoes are a simple side dish designed to accompany any meal. The great thing about grilled potatoes is that the skin stays on, which is where all the nutritional value of the potato lies, as opposed to peeling it off as commonly seen with mashed potatoes. The skin contains fiber, B vitamins, iron and potassium.

A clever way to cook potatoes on the grill is with a foil packet recipe. If you haven’t tried this cooking method out yet, you’ll love how foil packet dinners require no clean up and are super easy to prepare!

How To Grill Potatoes

Why grill instead of baking? While the oven is always an option, the grill is perfect for steamy days. Who wants to turn the oven on to 400 degrees and heat the whole kitchen up when its a hundred degrees outside. Instead, have the resident grill master, or master in training, stoke the fire.

Using heavy-duty aluminum foil is a best practice with a grilled red potato dish. You’ll want to double wrap the potatoes and onion to prevent liquids from leaking through during the cooking process. Additionally, the tighter the seal, the hotter the contents in the foil packet dinner will get.

Avoid the huge flame if possible when grilling. You want an even application of heat and scorching a foil packet will alter the way it cooks. Even heat is the goal.

Onion Advice

Speaking of onions, do you cry when you cut? To minimize the annoying effects they cause, try soaking the onion in cold water before cutting. The cold will chill the gases enough to lessen their impact.

You can also wear contact or glasses when you cut onions. The lenses block the gases and make it sting less. For those who don’t wear contacts or glasses, there is one more trick that may work. It sounds crazy but many people swear by it. Try sticking a piece of bread in your mouth while you slice. The bread will absorb some the gases before they rise up to your nose and eyes. Strange but true!

While the grilled potatoes in this recipe call for an onion, butter, salt and pepper – which is a delicious combination – don’t be afraid to experiment with any variety of other flavors based on your likes and the meal you are preparing.

Spice Ideas for Grilled Potatoes

Don’t be timid when it comes to throwing in new flavors with your grilled red potatoes. It’s okay to experiment. Sometimes you get it right, other times it’s so–so. By trying new things, you’ll discover all kinds of new recipes and turn the basic side dish of grilled potatoes into a potential new favorite.

A note on spices: Ounce for ounce, dried herbs are more potent than fresh. If you grow your own herbs, of course go ahead and use them when cooking. One part dried herb to three parts fresh is a good rule to follow.

Purchasing new spices gets expensive. And if you aren’t sure you’ll use them in the future, start slowly. Buy what you think might be applicable to other dishes you like to cook and add on little by little.

  • Rosemary and Garlic: Substitute minced garlic for onion. Along with the garlic add a healthy dash of fresh rosemary. On another occasion try thyme or sage.
  • Indian Spices: A long roster of the basics include cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, ginger, garam masala (a blend of spices), turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, spicy red chile pepper. A note on the mustard seeds: These need a little prep work to release their flavor as it’s meant to be. Add seeds to hot oil and heat them until they split. Then you can use the oil with the seeds to flavor your red potatoes. A note on the ginger: Buy fresh ginger. It can’t be kept at room temperature. Instead, freeze it and shave off what you need from the frozen block with a potato peeler.
  • Buffalo or hot sauce: If you or the people eating your meal happen to love hot and spicy dishes go ahead and throw hot sauce or buffalo sauce on the cooked potatoes. But wait until after they’re cooked and off the grill to drizzle on the hot sauce. The grilled potatoes can take it. Can you?
  • Moroccan Spices: Salt, pepper, ginger and turmeric are mainstays in Moroccan cuisine. That being said adding any combination of saffron, paprika, cumin, white pepper or cinnamon are options that will yield the flavors reminiscent of vegetable tagines. This combination of spices is meant to invoke a combination of sweet and savory flavor.

These Grilled Red Potatoes couldn't be any more delicious and are so easy. After spending way too many years making potatoes inside while I grilled the rest of dinner, I am excited to finally move our entire meal outside.

Grilled red potatoes in a bowl with a yellow napkin.

Here is a photo of what they will look like if you don't place them on the grill after to brown the edges. They are delicious both ways.

Grilled potatoes with onions on a white plate.

Calories 127, Total Fat 4g, Total Carbohydrate 21g, Protein 3g, Serving Size 1 packetOriginal Article

Garlic Sugar Snap Peas

Garlic sugar snap peas are made in less than five minutes for the tastiest side dish for any meal. These healthy, slight sweet veggies are a favorite for kids and a good way to get everyone to eat their veggies. Plus sugar snap peas are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Serve them with this Healthy Kung Pao Chicken or Honey Garlic Salmon.

Sugar snap peas rank up there as one of my favorite veggies and I am constantly dipping them in hummus, adding them to stir-fries, and sauteing them as a quick side dish. I love their slightly sweet taste and crunch. This recipe for garlic sauteed sugar snap peas is a bit of a copy-cat of the PF Chang's sugar snap pea side dish. The snap peas are very quickly cooked in coconut or vegetable oil and garlic until just cooked and beginning to brown. Then they are tossed with a bit of soy sauce and black pepper. Ready in under 5 minutes and delicious.

Sauteed sugar snap peas on a plate that are lightly browned.

Let's talk about kids and veggies for a minute. It's frustrating for most of us to get our kiddos to eat their veggies. My veggie loving one year old turned into a two year old who wouldn't touch a veggie unless it was hidden in rice, pasta, or scrambled eggs. And while I have no problem with hiding veggies to make sure she gets a nutritious meal, I also want her to eat plain veggies as well. After reading lots of articles about kids and veggies, I have started including whole veggies with every meal (as well as some more hidden ones) and encouraging her to eat them. I am hoping if they keep showing up, she will start eating them.

And so far this is actually working with these garlic sugar snap peas. The first night she moved them around, the second night she licked off the garlic, and the third night she ate about four of them. For us, that is winning these days and it is encouraging me to keep trying with new veggies. And you wouldn't be wrong if you assumed I will be making these easy sauteed snap peas on repeat since she is eating them. I am defintiely that Mom that kicks something over and over again once we find healthy meals and snacks she likes.

How to prep sugar snap peas?

The one thing I don't love about snap peas is the prep work they take and to be honest, I normally buy them pre-prepped to save some time. However if you buy them fresh, you will want to cut off the ends and peel away the string from the snap pea. I find that sometimes the easiest way to do this is by gently snapping off the tip from one end and pulling it off with the string all one motion. If you aren't sure how to do this, look for a video tutorial or buy prepared snap peas.

How long to cook snap peas?

It depends on how you are cooking the snap peas. If you are cooking them in a pan stove-top, then they will only take 3-5 minutes to become tender crisp. If you decide to boil them, they take about 3 minutes. For roasting them in the oven, it will take 8-10 minutes in a 400 degree oven. In all cases, you want to cook the peas until they are tender crisp not until they get mushy. The best sugar snap peas still have a little crunch and are bright green.

Snap pea recipe cooked on a wooded plate with a napkin.

Are sugar snap peas low carb?

Even though they have sugar in the name, sugar snap peas have about the same amount of carbs as snow peas and regular peas. With around 5.25 grams of carbohydrates per half cup, they can work for a low carb or ketogenic diet when used in moderation. Since they have a sweeter flavor, they are popular both raw and cooked. Many low carb eaters like to add them to stir-fries and sautes to add a bit natural sweetness without adding too many carbs.

What to serve with snap peas?

Normally we are looking for side dishes to serve with a main dish recipe but today let's think about this in reverse. These snap peas are versatile and work with tons of different main dishes. I often serve them with a quick grilled or baked protein like chicken or pork tenderloin. They also pair well with Asian flavors like this Skillet Hoisin Chicken or this ten minute Soy Honey Salmon. For a vegetarian entree, these snap peas are delicious over a bowl of brown rice with chickpeas, carrots, cabbage, and this easy peanut dressing.

Calories 71, Total Fat 3g, Total Carbohydrate 9g, Protein 4g, Serving Size 2/3 cupOriginal Article

Healthy Watermelon Popsicles

I want to eat these Watermelon Popsicles every day this summer. These healthy popsicles are made with fresh watermelon, strawberries, and lime juice and are seriously the most refreshing thing on a hot summer day. They rank up there as my favorite frozen treats along with these Creamy Chili Mango Popsicles this Two Ingredient Watermelon Ice Cream.

These Watermelon Strawberry Popsicles are going to be your go-to frozen treat this summer because there really is nothing better than watermelon on a hot day. Lately, we have been going through an obscene amount of watermelon in our house. Everyone loves it and as soon as I begin to cut it, half of it immediately disappears from the cutting board, as hands reach in from all directions to grab it. So that's been inspiring me to think about other ways to utilize watermelon and popsicles was one of the first things I thought of.

Plus, let's have a minute of real talk. My two year old daughter has been demanding freeze pops daily ever since she had her first one last week. Not nicely asking for freeze pops, demanding them and proceeding to melt down if the answer is no. Oh, the lovely two year old tempers.

But given that most freeze pops are nothing more than water, sugar, and a bunch of food coloring, it's not really what I want her eating. So I have been making all kinds of homemade healthy and more natural options using these freeze pop molds. And this strawberry watermelon popsicle has been the most popular. She is happy she is getting a popsicle and I am happy it's a fairly healthy option. Honestly, I don't even put any honey in them unless the watermelon really isn't ripe. The strawberries add plenty of sweetness and as long as your choose a good watermelon, you don't need it.

Watermelon popsicles and pieces of fresh watermelon on a white counter.

Speaking of watermelon, a lot of people are unsure of how to buy one. If you aren't sure, use the tips below to make sure you get a ripe and flavorful watermelon. It makes all the difference in these popsicles and ensures they are brimming with flavor.

How to Pick a Watermelon

  1. Look for a yellow spot: Many people make the mistake of looking for a watermelon that is perfectly green all the way around. Instead, you actually want a watermelon with a nice, creamy yellow spot. This is where the watermelon sat on the ground, meaning it had time to ripen and wasn't picked too early.
  2. Heavy: A watermelon should feel heavy when you hold it. This means it is full of juice, another sign of it being ripe.
  3. Tapping it: You have inevitably seen people tapping and hitting watermelons in the store. They are looking to hear that the watermelon sounds hollow. This is another sign that it is ripe and ready to go.
  4. In doubt: Ask! Whether you are in a grocery store or a farmer's market, ask someone to help you choose a ripe watermelon. Normally they can help you choose one that will be rip, juicy, and full of flavor.

Watermelon Strawberry Popsicles on a dish with fresh watermelon.

Watermelon Popsicles Recipe Ideas

There are so many ways to create variations of this recipe and make up your own flavor combinations. Here are some of our favorites.

  • Watermelon yogurt pops: Add 1 cup of plain or flavored yogurt to your popsicle mix to make a creamy popsicle with some added protein, calcium, and probiotics.
  • Watermelon chili popsicles: We love fruit and chili, so often times I will mix in a Mexican chili powder like Tajin into our popsicles. It's also delicious with some chamoy swirled in.
  • Watermelon coconut: Add a cup of canned coconut milk to the pops for a creamy option.
  • Watermelon popsicles with seeds: Many people love adding a green element to their pops to make it look like an actual watermelon. Make the popsicles as instructed below, leaving the bottom inch of the popsicle mold empty. Once the watermelon portion freezes, add some blended kiwi to the bottom to create a green section that can be the rind.
  • Watermelon lemonade: Add fresh lemon juice to the mixture as well. For this option, you may have to add some honey for sweetness if the lemon flavor gets too strong.
  • Boozy watermelon pops: Adults love these popsicles with some vodka added. Just don't add too much or they won't freeze.

What are your favorite summer popsicles to make?

Calories 47, Total Fat 0g, Total Carbohydrate 12g, Protein 1g, Serving Size 1 popsicleOriginal Article