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

Chocolate Banana Smoothie

You will love everything about this Chocolate Banana Smoothie from the creamy chocolate flavor, subtle banana flavor, and hint of almond butter. It is a great way to start the day and will keep you full all morning. You may also love these oatmeal smoothies or kale, spinach, and apple smoothies to get your day started right.

This healthy chocolate banana smoothie is the answer to the hundred degree mornings that we can seem to escape lately. It has been so hot and quite honestly, nothing seems appealing when you wake up and start sweating immediately. The only thing I can even think about having is something cool and refreshing like a smoothie and this chocolate version hits the spot. It almost tastes like a healthy chocolate milkshake but is actually good for you.

Chocolate banana smoothie in a mason jar with loose oats and chocolate.

The key players in this chocolate smoothie are a super ripe banana, vanilla almond milk, oats, chia seeds, flaxseed meal, almond butter, unsweetened cocoa powder, and ice. The banana adds sweetness without needing any added sugar. The riper the banana, the sweeter the smoothie. The oats add fiber and whole grains to help keep you full. The chia and flax add fiber and protein and the almond butter adds healthy fats and some extra protein as well. Finally, the unsweetened cocoa powder adds chocolate flavor without added sugar. It's simple to make and it's a smoothie that will actually keep you full all day.

On a side note, My husband grew up eating chocolate banana licuados in the morning that were basically whole milk, bananas, chocolate syrup, and sometimes even a raw egg. While I will probably never add a raw egg, this recipe was inspired by those morning licuados. I wanted to make a healthier version that we could have in the morning and that I felt good about giving our daughters. While he still swears by those super sweet, creamy licuados; he was shocked at how much he enjoyed this cleaned up version.

Chocolate Banana Smoothie Extras

  • Greens: Adding greens to a smoothie is a great way to kick up the nutrition and sneak in veggies for kids. Often I will throw a handful or two of spinach into this smoothie. Kale works as well but has a stronger and more bitter flavor.
  • Cauliflower: If your kids turn their noses to spinach in their smoothies, consider trying frozen cauliflower. It has such a mild flavor, it blends right and no one will even know it's there.
  • Avocado: For an extra creamy smoothie, add some avocado to the smoothie as well. Chocolate and avocado work really well together and it adds extra healthy fat, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Yogurt: Yogurt is another great option for adding protein to this chocolate smoothie. It also adds calcium and probiotics. I like to use plain Greek yogurt but any style will work. You can also switch up the taste by adding flavored yogurt like coconut or strawberry. This also adds some sweetness to the smoothie if it isn't sweet enough for you.
  • Berries: Another option is adding berries. Frozen strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are all delicious in this smoothie and add antioxidants.
  • Coconut: I love the coconut anything, especially with chocolate. To add coconut flavor, you can use coconut milk instead of almond milk. You can also add unsweetened shredded coconut. For a low calorie option, you can use coconut extract or coconut Stevia.
  • Hemp seeds: Hemp seeds are super nutritious and contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids as well as protein and many other vitamins and minerals. They are a great addition to this smoothie to kick up the nutritional value.
  • Tofu: Another protein option is to add some soft silken tofu to the smoothie. Make sure to drain all the liquid first and give it a good rinse. Since tofu has virtually no flavor, adding it to a smoothie adds protein and makes the smoothie super creamy.
  • Protein Powder: Anytime I post a smoothie recipe, I always get a million questions about protein powder. Personally, I usually try to add natural protein whenever possible so I would opt for yogurt or tofu. However, protein powder is a great option as well.
  • Eggs: Believe it or not, some people do like to add raw eggs to their smoothies, and not just bodybuilders. If you buy pasteurized eggs, this is an option. It will make the smoothie super rich.
  • Sweetener: If the banana you are using isn't super ripe, this smoothie may not be sweet enough. You can use honey or maple syrup to sweeten it up. You could also use sweetened vanilla almond milk or a flavored yogurt as well to add sweetness.
  • Coffee: If you want to get your breakfast and coffee all in one shot, add brewed coffee or instant espresso powder to this chocolate banana smoothie to make a mocha smoothie. It's delicious.

Chocolate smoothie with banana in a glass on a wooden table.

How to Meal Prep Chocolate Banana Smoothies

If you want to speed up your mornings, it's actually pretty easy to meal prep these smoothies you just have to dump everything in the blender and add milk.

  • Fridge prep: If you will be making these smoothies within 4-5 days, you can prep this just like overnight oats. Add everything to a large mason jar except the ice. Then just dump it into the blender and add ice when you are ready to eat it. Depending on how much milk the oats absorb, you may need to add some extra milk.
  • Pantry prep: Add the oats, flax seeds, chia seeds, cocoa powder, cinnamon to a small container or bag to keep in the pantry. Then in the morning, add it to the blender with the banana, almond butter, and milk. That way you won't be measuring out tons of different ingredients.

Calories 328, Total Fat 14g, Total Carbohydrate 47g, Protein 10g, Serving Size 1.25 cupsOriginal Article

Healthy Meal Plans: Week 32

This week is all about summer friendly comfort food that is still good for you. There is the best slow cooker beef recipe, a delicious pasta with bacon, pulled pork tostadas, and even some lightened up sloppy joes.

Now on to this week's meal plan! It starts out with Cottage Cheese Omelet Muffins, Freezer Friendly Burritos, and Slow Cooker Balsamic Beef Roast. Monday brings Sugar Snap Pea and Bacon Pasta and Tuesday is Cilantro Lime Chicken Kabobs. Wednesday is Stovetop Barbecue Pork Tostadas and Thursday is Brown Sugar Chicken. To end the week, meals include Garlic Parmesan Shrimp and Turkey Sloppy Joes.

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!

Cilantro Lime Chicken Kabobs: There is nothing better than cilantro and lime for summer and these chicken kabobs are packed with flavor for a quick, easy weeknight meal.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Kabobs for dinner in this week's meal plan.

Garlic Parmesan Zucchini and Summer Squash Wedges: Have tons of zucchini in your garden? These healthy fries are the answer covered in crispy Panko and Parmesan cheese.

Healthy meal plan with >Garlic Parmesan Zucchini and Summer Squash Wedge for dinner.

Brown Sugar Garlic Chicken Breast: We have been eating this recipe for ages and it is still one of our favorite quick and easy meals. The chicken comes out perfectly tender with a sweet and savory spice rub that is seriously tasty.

Brown Sugar Garlic Chicken Breast with brussels sprouts.

Freezer Friendly Burritos: I have a deep love for burritos and always have these freezer friendly bean and corn burritos on hand for quick and easy meals. Double the recipe and keep a batch in the freezer for meals on the go.

Freezer Friendly Burritos on a wooden table with herbs and napkins.

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

Asian Kale Apple Slaw

Kale Apple Slaw covered in a homemade peanut dressing is the healthy, tasty salad you have been dreaming about. This salad is a favorite for a quick lunch with grilled chicken or as a side dish with Broiled Asian Chicken Thighs or Slow Cooker Korean Pork.

I have been eating this kale apple slaw on repeat all week. The peanut dressing is everything and makes this salad addictive. We seriously can't get enough and have been eating it daily. The kale gets tender, the cabbage stays crunchy, and the apples add a nice touch of sweetness.

And don't get me started about the fresh herbs. Ever since falling in love with store bought herb salad mixes, I have been adding herbs to all my salads. This one gets fresh cilantro and mint, which add tons of brightness to the salad. Don't skip the herbs. You could throw in some fresh basil as well. It mimics the fresh Asian dishes that use tons of herbs and makes this kale slaw something special.

The other thing that makes this kale apple slaw amazing is the peanut vinaigrette dressing. It's made with a combination of peanut butter, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, soy sauce, and lime juice. For such a simple dressing, you will be shocked at how much flavor it packs in. Plus it is easy to customize. Like things spicy? Add some Sriracha or Asian garlic chili paste. Eating paleo? Make it with almond butter and coconut aminos. Love coconut? Add some coconut milk to the dressing as well.

Kale Apple Slaw on a white plate with fresh herbs.

Make this Kale Apple Slaw a Meal

  • Add Chicken: To make this salad more substantial and turn it into a meal, I almost always add some leftover rotisserie or grilled chicken, really whatever I have in the fridge. Any cooked protein will work, but chicken is the one I have in the fridge most often and is my favorite for this salad. Sometimes I throw some chopped cashews, peanuts, or almonds on top as well for some crunch.
  • Consider Tofu: If you a vegetarian or vegan, tofu is a great addition to this kale slaw. For a fast option, I use the packaged baked tofu since it has more texture and taste than regular tofu. You can also use any cooked or grilled tofu that you have leftover.
  • Toss with Salmon: Another good option is adding cooked salmon. You can use either a freshly cooked salmon like this honey garlic broiled salmon or canned salmon will also work for a faster option.
  • Add Edamame, Avocado, and Quinoa: To add protein, healthy fats, and some extra fiber and whole grains to the salad, consider adding some shelled edamame, sliced avocado, and your favorite grain. I always have cooked quinoa in the fridge but you could also use brown rice, farro, barley, or couscous.

What kale should I use for kale slaw?

There are tons of different kinds of kale but the most common ones in the grocery store are curly kale and Lacinato kale, also known as dinosaur kale. Both will work for this kale apple slaw, but I personally prefer Lacinato kale since it is slightly softer with a milder flavor. When you are looking for Lacinato kale in the grocery store, it is the dark green kale with flat leaves. When preparing it, make sure to remove the stems, which are fibrous and hard to eat. You can save them for juices, smoothies, and soup stock.

Kale slaw with apples, cucumbers, and fresh herbs on a white ceramic plate.

Can I make Kale Slaw ahead of time?

Kale salads and slaws are great for meal prep since the kale won't wilt immediately in the fridge. It is best to eat in within 2-3 days since after that some of the vegetables may take on a bit of a slimy appearance. If you need to store it longer in the fridge, pack the salad and dressing separately and wait to cut the apple until you are ready to prepare the salad so it won't brown.

What makes Kale Apple Slaw healthy?

  • Kale is a green leafy vegetable that is a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition. With more iron per ounce than beef as well as plenty of calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, antioxidants and even Omega 3 fatty acids, this veggie is one you definitely want to add to your diet.
  • Cabbage is an ingredient many of us don't think of when it comes to health, but it is actually filled with nutritional benefits. Not only is it packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it also supports digestion and brain health.
  • Carrots are best known for being good for your eyes and packed with beta-carotene but they are packed with fiber, Vitamin A, and many other vitamins and minerals. And in addition to being great for eye health, they also support boosting your immune system, regulating blood sugar, and supporting digestion.
  • Mint is a fresh herb that is great for anyone looking to support digestion. It also helps with nausea, headaches, and supports weight loss as well as fights fatigue.
  • Cilantro is best known for its fresh flavor but in the background, it is helping your body to detox from heavy metals, supports skin health, and can even help fight seasonal allergies.
  • Lime juice is high in Vitamin C and actually helps with iron absorption so that you can maximize the benefits of the iron in the kale.

Calories 145, Total Fat 7g, Total Carbohydrate 19g, Protein 4g, Serving Size 1.25 cupsOriginal Article

Slow Cooker BBQ Turkey Breast

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast covered in a low sugar, homemade barbecue sauce is the answer when you are wondering what to make for dinner or your next party. Made with lean turkey breast and an easy barbecue sauce that comes together right in the slow cooker, this meal is so good. Pair it with this skinny coleslaw and slow cooker pinto beans.

It's funny how I almost always incorporate ground turkey, turkey sausage, or deli turkey into my meals but always forget about turkey breast unless its Thanksgiving. In the past it could be pretty hard to find out outside of the holidays, but now I find my local supermarket almost always has turkey breast (or at least turkey breast tenderloins) available. Since I can get bored pretty quickly with chicken breast, turning to turkey is always a great option and believe me when I say you won't regret making this slow cooker barbecue pulled turkey.

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast with Barbecue sauce on a sandwich roll with coleslaw.

Today's recipe is a twist on a traditional barbecue pulled chicken made with homemade barbecue sauce, turkey, and onions. The barbecue sauce is made with ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, cumin, and paprika. You can also throw in some chili powder or cayenne if you like things spicy. It's also flavored with onions and garlic that add tons of flavor to the sauce while it cooks.

One note is to always look for a no sugar added or lower sugar ketchup if you can. Regular ketchup tends to have a lot of sugar. If you want to avoid ketchup altogether, you could use tomato sauce instead and taste before adding it to the crockpot to see if you need more vinegar or spices. You can also add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste if you like lots of tomato flavor in your barbecue sauce.

How long does it take to cook turkey breast in the slow cooker?

It depends on what kind of turkey you are cooking. For a recipe using turkey breast without the skin and bone, it will only take 4-6 hours on low in the slow cooker depending on the size of the turkey breast. For quicker cooking, you can cut the turkey breast into smaller chunks. For a skin on and bone-in turkey breast, it will take closer to 8 hours to cook it in the crockpot.

Dinner Ideas with Slow Cooker Barbecue Turkey

  • Pulled Turkey Sandwiches: Pile the turkey onto your favorite rolls (regular or light) and top with coleslaw. If you like things spicy, add some pickled jalapenos as well.
  • Barbecue Turkey Quesadillas: This makes the best quesadilla filling. I like to fill a low carb tortilla with mozzarella, sliced red onion, cilantro, and this turkey for a spin on a barbecue chicken pizza.
  • Turkey Tacos: Grill some corn tortillas and fill them with turkey and coleslaw or just plain shredded cabbage. For heat, serve with your favorite hot sauce, Sriracha, or chipotle peppers.
  • Barbecue Turkey Hash: Hash is one of my go-to meals when I have to clean out the fridge. Add tons of veggies like sweet potatoes, onions, peppers, zucchini, corn and then stir in the turkey. Top with some crumbled goat cheese or a fried egg.
  • Pulled Turkey Stuffed Sweet Potatoes: I love the combination of barbecue sauce with sweet potatoes so I usually end up stuffing leftovers in a baked sweet potato. Usually I will serve a big green salad on the side to get some veggies.
  • Barbecue Turkey and Ranch Chopped Salad: Make a chopped salad using romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, black beans, and corn. Top with this tender barbecue turkey and skinny ranch dressing.
  • BBQ Turkey Burrito Bowls: Start with brown or white rice, black beans or pinto beans, then add veggies, corn, the pulled turkey, and pile with lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese for a southern spin on a classic burrito bowl.
  • Barbecue Turkey Pizzas: Everyone loves a barbecue chicken pizza so why not make one with turkey instead. Grab your favorite homemade or store bought pizza crust, spread on some of the barbecue sauce, turkey, red onions, and cheese. Then top with fresh cilantro.

Slow Cooker Barbecue turkey in a sandwich bun with coleslaw and a pickle.

Can I freeze slow cooker turkey breast?

This crockpot turkey will keep in the freezer after it has been cooked. Make sure to store it with plenty of sauce. The best way to defrost it is to place it in the fridge the night before and let it thaw out overnight. It can also be defrosted in the microwave on low power so it doesn't dry out.

Can I make this with chicken instead?

If you can't find turkey or you prefer chicken, this recipe will still turn out great. You can use boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs. If you decide to use chicken breasts, make sure to only cook them for 3-4 hours on low so they don't become dry.

Can I make this with prepared barbecue sauce?

Absolutely! If you don't want to make your own sauce, you can use your favorite store bought option instead. You will need about 1.5 cups of barebcue sauce to replace the homemade one. Look for one that is low in sugar and doesn't contain lots of hard to pronounce ingredients to keep things light and healthy.

Calories 241, Total Fat 4g, Total Carbohydrate 18g, Protein 35g, Serving Size 6 oz.Original Article

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zucchini Noodles and Zoodles

Zucchini noodles, loving known as zoodles, are one of the best ways to use all your summer zucchini. From a pasta substitute to a salad star, these healthy and low carb noodles make for some delicious meals. Here's everything you have ever wanted to know about the zucchini noodle – prepping, cooking, storing, freezing, nutritional benefits, and plenty of zucchini noodles recipes.

When I was younger, my parents let me have a little patch of land in our backyard for a garden. I picked out a few veggies to grow, along with strawberries and some basil. I am not sure I really knew how the plants would grow, nor did I supply them with adequate room, I’m sure.

I do, however, remember the zucchini plant. I remember how surprised I was at how it grew in a big, long vine that stretched beyond my garden parameters. I can still see the giant leaves of this particular zucchini plant, so big, they practically dwarfed some other plants nearby. So big, they hid their own fruit, to the point that I didn’t think to look underneath the leaves. Until, one day, I did.

That’s when I found the biggest zucchini I’d ever seen, the biggest zucchini my parents had ever seen. I don’t remember its exact dimensions, but I do remember it was about as long as my 12-year-old arm, and about five inches wide. At that time I think all I knew to do with it was to make five loaves of zucchini bread. If I had only known then about zucchini noodles. That big guy could have provided me enough noodles to last me through every salad, pasta stand-in, or stir-fry I could muster up that week and beyond.

Zucchini noodles in a wooden bowl with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.

Today I’m happy that I now know zucchinis are good for more than just bread (though, that’s yummy, too). Spiralized, ribboned, or sliced thin, creating zucchini noodles is a great way to add a low-calorie, low-carb, and nutritious vegetable to a myriad of meals.

Are Zucchini Noodles Good for You?

Heck yes! Zucchini is one of the lowest-calorie vegetables when compared to the same serving size as other nutritious vegetables like broccoli or Brussels sprouts. Coming in at only 19 calories per cup, zucchini also packs a nutritious punch. The bright green summer squash contains potassium, vitamin C, folate, vitamin A, and iron, no cholesterol and almost zero fat. Zucchini is also a super low-carb fruit, containing only 4 grams of carbs per cup when eaten raw. Plus, its high water content means it’ll keep you feeling fuller, longer with every bite.

If you’re looking for a low-carb, low-cal, weight-loss friendly, healthy alternative to pasta or fun way to sneak in those five servings, look no further than the fabulous zucchini noodle.

The Nutritional Makeup of Zucchini Noodles

According to the USDA nutrient database, one cup of sliced zucchini contains 19 calories, 1.5 grams of protein, 0 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fiber, and 3 grams of sugar. It also provides calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and a host of other vitamins and minerals your body needs to maintain optimum function.

Zoodles with shrimp and Parmesan cheese on a white plate.

The Health Benefits of Zucchini Noodles

  • They are low-carb. If you were to compare one cup of zoodles to a cup of other cut squash, you’ll find that it’s one of the lowest-carb squashes available. For this reason, you’ll often find zucchini noodles being used in recipes as a substitution for other high-carb foods such as pasta.
  • They are high in hydration. Zucchini noodles are made up of 95 percent water. (Kind of makes you wonder how they squeeze all the other good-for-you nutrients into the other five percent, doesn’t it?) When you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight, why not fill up on a good food that has the bonus of keeping you hydrated?
  • They are low-calorie. Part of any good weight loss or maintenance diet is watching your calorie intake. When a cup of zoodles contains only 19 calories, and one cup of spaghetti contains 200 calories, which would you rather eat?
  • They contain potassium. Four cups of zucchini noodles contain 1,180 milligrams of potassium, which is about 25 percent of your daily needs–all in one meal. Potassium is an electrolyte that occurs naturally. Your nerves and muscles need it to perform at their peak. Potassium also helps control your blood pressure and your digestive and kidney health.
  • Zoodles are a good source of vitamin C. Put down that orange and reach for a cup of zucchini noodles instead. For every serving of the squash you eat, you’re consuming 20 milligrams of vitamin C. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is water-soluble (good thing it comes in such a water-filled vessel) and is known for its antioxidant properties. The vitamin helps your body to both grow and repair your connective tissues, blood vessels, bones, and skin. It also aids in the absorption of iron and can help decrease bad cholesterol levels.
  • They are low fat. Really, really low fat. As in, .36 grams per cup low. That means you can enjoy your zucchini noodles with a side of healthy fats, like the kind you get from eating avocado, nuts, and eggs.
  • They are good for your bones. The calcium found in zoodles can help keep your bones strong and aid in the prevention of osteoporosis. Calcium is an important mineral that your bones cannot do without. It is also responsible for contracting your muscles, making new bone tissue, and helping your blood to clot.

How to Pick Zucchini for Noodles

When choosing zucchini, make sure that the squash is firm and has a glossy look to the skin. Discard or do not purchase any that are flexible, soft, or turning brown. When you slice into a ripe zucchini, it should have a buttery texture and the inside will look yellowish, white, or slightly green.

Zucchini noodles being picked up with a chopstick in a bowl.

How to Make Zucchini Noodles

You don’t have to peel the skin off of a zucchini to make noodles. As the flesh contains most of the water of the squash, you’ll want to eat the skin to retain the zucchini’s fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Just rinse, pat dry, then slice off the stem and a bit of the end and decide which way you’d like to craft your noodles.

  • Spiralized. A spiralizer is a tool that takes the cylindrical zucchini and twists it as it cuts the entire squash into spirals. They come in many different varieties, from tabletop models to hand-held versions. No matter which spiralizer you choose, the end result will be fabulous spirals of zucchini, ready to be sauced, sauteed, or stir-fried.
  • Matchstick. You’ll have to get out your knife and cutting board to create these long stick noodles. Cut each zucchini lengthwise into three or four sections, then cut each of those sections into strips until you achieve your desired length. These make a great addition to a salad.
  • Julienned. I recommend using a kitchen mandolin for this method (though you can also use a vegetable peeler). You’ll want to be sure to use the knuckle guard as well — trust me. As you slice the zucchini alongside the blade, you’ll notice your zucchini will be transformed into nice, long ribbons. Add these ribbons to any recipe you choose — or eat them as-is with a nice vinaigrette. It’s up to you.
  • Ribboned. The other side of your vegetable peeler may also have a wider option for creating long, wide ribbons of zucchini with each pass of the tool. These long noodles work great as a wider-noodle substitute (as in lasagna noodles).
  • Pre-cut. Can I just give a shout-out to the geniuses behind pre-cut everything? Whether you’re running low on time or don’t own the tools to create your own zucchini noodles, look for pre-packaged options in your grocer’s produce section.

How to Store Zucchini Noodles

You can keep whole, unwashed, ripe zucchini for up to one week in the refrigerator in a loosely tied or perforated plastic bag. If you’d like to freeze it, you can blanch it first to keep the frozen squash from turning brown and mushy.

After you’ve made zucchini noodles, you can store them in a plastic or glass container or plastic bag in the fridge for three to four days. Be sure to line the storage container with a paper towel to absorb any extra moisture from the zucchini noodles. The paper towel will also keep them from becoming too soft.

You can freeze the zoodles, but they do end up thawing into kind of a mushy mess. This is okay if you want to add them to sauce or “hide” them in your children's food. When faced with mushy zucchini noodles, you can always blend them right into a sauce or cook them down and add them to other recipes.

Zoodles on a white plate with salmon and tomatoes.

How to Cook Zucchini Noodles

Just like other recipes that contain squash, there are many ways to cook a zoodles…or to not cook them at all. Although like any vegetable, cooking zucchini noodles does strip the squash of some of its nutrients, they still make a great low-carb, low-calorie food that tastes great any way you serve it.

I do recommend salting and draining your zucchini noodles on a paper towel or over a colander before cooking them. This results in a much firmer noodle, as some of the liquid is drawn out of the zucchini before cooking.

  • Raw. Simply slice your zucchini in spirals, ribbons, matchsticks…however you like and add to any salad, or skip the other salad ingredients and toss the noodles in a simple dressing, like this Lemon-Feta Vinaigrette.
  • Sauteed. This is easily one of my favorite ways to enjoy zucchini noodles. When choosing between rice or noodles in an Asian dish, I always go for the noodle. Simply prepare your sauce according to the recipe, then toss the noodles in toward the end for just a few minutes to cook them until al dente. Some of my favorite recipes using this method include Asian Zucchini Noodles, Pesto Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles, Garlic Parmesan Zucchini Noodles with Sausage, and Thai Red Curry Tofu with Zucchini Noodles.
  • Microwaved. When you’re in a hurry nothing beats the microwave. Place a desired amount of noodles into a microwave-safe bowl and heat for approximately one minute, then toss with your favorite sauce, like this one for Parmesan Zucchini Noodles.
  • Baked. When you’re craving a nice, hot, cheesy pasta dish, sometimes you gotta have it. But, you don’t have to give in and toss your healthy diet to the side completely. Simply substitute zucchini noodles for pasta like I did in this recipe I created for Low-Carb Zucchini Lasagna, sit back, and enjoy every delicious morsel.

Zucchini noodles as pasta with spaghetti sauce.

Where to Buy Zoodles?

If you don't want to make your own zucchini noodles at home, there are plenty of places to buy them pre-cut these days. Check in your grocery store in the fresh produce section first. Many stores now offer spiralized veggies that are ready to grab and go. You can also check the freezer section since big brands have started making zucchini noodles as well. They are flash frozen and turn out pretty great when prepared correctly.

Looking for more zucchini noodle recipes?

We have over forty amazing recipes for main dishes, side dishes, and more. Check out all our zoodle recipes.

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

Sesame Soy Grilled Tuna

This Sesame Soy Grilled Tuna with an Asian marinade with soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, and ginger makes a perfectly grilled tuna steak that is full of flavor. It's great with Sesame Soy Edamame, Asian Zucchini Noodles, or this Asian Kale Salad.

This easy grilled tuna with Asian flavors is as good as you would get in any restaurant and doesn't come with a huge price tag like the restaurant dishes normally do. It's marinated in a simple blend of soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, green onions, and sesame oil. This adds tons of flavor to the fish without adding lots of calories in a heavy sauce or oil rich marinade. It can be cooked on an outdoor grill, on a grill pan, or even pan seared. It's so good and really couldn't be simpler to make.

Grilled tuna steak on a black plate with kale salad and a green and white napkin.

Before we talk about this grilled tuna steak recipe, let's talk about the elephant in the room – cooking almost raw tuna at home. When I first made this recipe and shared it on Instagram, so many of you reported you would be scared to make this dish at home. But you shouldn't be! As long as you are buying the right fish, you can definitely cook medium rare or rare tuna at home just like you would get in your favorite sushi restaurant. It's easy, fast, and a really healthy option for dinner. And if you prefer things cooked all the way, that's an option too. This grilled tuna recipe will work for barely cooked tuna or fully cooked tuna.

A Quick Guide to Buying Tuna

Since buying fresh tuna can be expensive and a little scary for some, especially if you are preparing it raw or almost raw, it's important to know what to look for when buying tuna steaks.

  • Type of tuna: There are lots of different types of tuna and most can be enjoyed raw or just seared on the outside. Ahi tuna, also known as yellow fin tuna, is probably the most popular but you can also look for bluefin, bigeye, or albacore tuna. Most stores sell tuna as steaks and many times, these steaks are cut to order from a large loin piece.
  • Color: The color of the tuna should a deep red to pink color and should be shiny and almost translucent. Differerent species will vary slightly in color but they all should have a rich pink to red color. The tuna should never be brown or matte looking. This normally means it is getting older. Another sign of age is any gaps in the tuna steaks. They should be a nice whole piece.
  • Smell: Fresh tuna should always have a fresh ocean smell, but shouldn't smell overly fishy.
  • Previously frozen: Almost all tuna sold in grocery stores and fish markets has been flash frozen at sea to preserve freshness. So unless you are buying tuna that has just been caught, it is almost always previously frozen.
  • Frozen: You can buy frozen tuna steaks and defrost them yourself at home. Just make sure to buy high-quality fish.
  • Markets: Whenever in doubt, make sure to buy your tuna steaks at a quality market where you can count on the freshness or a fish market if there is one available. Many grocery stores have fish counters with knowledgeable staff that can ease your fears about buying fresh tuna.

Easy grilled tuna on a wooden cutting board in small slices.

How do you know when a tuna steak is done?

If you are cooking a tuna steak to medium rare, many times the best way to make sure you don't overcook it is to use a timer. To get medium rare tuna, it will only take between 2-3 minutes per side since you are just looking to sear the outside of the fish. Always make sure to use a very hot pan or grill and the tuna will naturally release when it is seared and ready to flip. If you want your tuna more cooked, you could cook it for about 5-6 minutes per side. Tuna gets dry quickly, so beware of overcooking it.

What spice blends and seasonings go with tuna steaks?

There are tons of different spice blends, seasoning, and marinade options when it comes to tuna. If you don't want to use the Asian marinade I suggested in the recipe, you can try all kinds of other combinations. Almost anything that would work as a crust for steak will work for tuna. Just make sure to not use anything too strong that will overpower the fish. Here is one of my favorite simple tuna steak seasoning blends.

Tuna Steak Seasoning

  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

How do I pan sear tuna steaks?

If you want to pan sear the tuna steaks instead of cook them on the grill, you can follow the exact same instructions but cook the tuna in a heavy pan or a cast iron skillet. Make sure to add some high heat oil, like vegetable oil, to the pan first. Once it is nice and hot, add the tuna and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Let the tuna rest 5 minutes before serving.

Can I keep leftover tuna in the fridge?

This tuna will keep well in the fridge for 2-3 days after it has been cooked. It doesn't reheat very well so it is best to serve it cold. It is delicious in salads, over rice, or with cold Asian noodles. It also makes great tacos and lettuce wraps.

Calories 237, Total Fat 4g, Total Carbohydrate 4g, Protein 43g, Serving Size 6 oz.Original Article

Easy Healthy Carnitas – Slow Cooker or Instant Pot

These easy and healthy Carnitas can be made in the slow cooker or Instant Pot and come out deliciously tender and packed with flavor every time. They make the best filling for tacos, burritos, rice bowls, and more. Serve them with these Slow Cooker Pinto Beans or add them to this Mexican Chopped Salad.

Carnitas are the ultimate filling when it comes to all your Mexican favorites. They are crunchy and crispy on the outside while still staying moist and tender inside. Seriously good and this version couldn't be easier to make with options for the crockpot and the Instant Pot.

Slow Cooker Carnitas in corn tortillas with cilantro and onion.

If you have never had carnitas before, it is like a Mexican version of pulled pork made with spices, orange juice, and lime juice. Traditionally they are cooked in a large vat of lard until the pork gets super tender and the outside gets crispy from cooking in fat. However, as you can imagine, this isn't the healthiest option. Luckily, it is pretty easy to make a version without the lard that is still really delicious.

The key to making carnitas at home is taking the extra step to crisp up the pork after it has cooked low and slow. This can be done in the broiler or in a cast iron skillet once the pork has finished cooking and is shredded. Personally, I always do it in the broiler since it is fast and there is less clean up. However I know some people don't love using their broiler, so you can crisp them up in a skillet with a little oil.

What are Carnitas?

Carnitas are a traditional Mexican dish, usually made with pork shoulder that is cooked for hours in lard or cooking fat. It's addictive and delicious and something that almost everyone I know loves once they try it. Since it is cooked in lard, it gets incredibly tender but also gets nice and crispy on the outside. Normally it is cooked with a basic spice blend and served with corn tortillas, cilantro, onions, and a spicy salsa.

Since cooking pork in a vat of lard isn't something most people want to take on, it's actually really easy to make a version at home using the Instant Pot or slow cooker that tastes just as delicious. The only catch is that you have to crisp up the pork after cooking it in the broiler or in a hot skillet.

Instant Pot Carnitas on a baking sheet with tortillas and lime.

How to serve Carnitas?

The most traditional way to serve pork carnitas is in a taco piled high with cilantro, white onion, salsa, and plenty of lime juice. It can also be used to make burritos, rice bowls, enchiladas, nachos, and quesadillas. And around here, I love piling it high on a big green salad with black beans and corn. Honestly, this is such a versatile protein, you can use it so many different ways. And it freezes well so don't be afraid to make a big batch and keep some in the freezer for a quick meal.

How to make Carnitas in the slow cooker? Instant Pot?

Slow Cooker carnitas couldn't be easier to make. First, you will want to trim a pork shoulder to remove extra fat and cut it into three to four large pieces. Then coat it in a spice rub using chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add some lime juice, orange juice, onion, and garlic. Then cook everything for about 8 hours on low until the pork is fork tender and easily shreds.

To make pork carnitas in the Instant Pot, you will follow the same steps to start. When it comes to cooking, just use the meat setting and make sure it is on high pressure. Cook it for 30 minutes and then let is naturally release. Shred the pork using two forks.

Finally to make things crispy, turn the broiler up to high and spread the carnitas out on a baking sheet. Broil for 4-6 minutes until they begin to crisp up and then toss with some of the cooking liquid to add flavor and moisture.

Can I make Carnitas with chicken?

Absolutely! You can use the recipe included here but replace the pork with chicken thighs instead. You will also need to adjust the cooking time. It will take about 4 hours in the slow cooker and about 20 minutes in the Instant Pot. Here is a complete recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas.

Easy carnitas in three tacos with onion, limes, and cilantro.

What can I serve with carnitas?

There are so many different options when it comes to side dishes for carnitas. The most traditional would be to serve it with refried beans, rice, and a stack of warm corn tortillas. Then each person can assemble their own tacos with fresh cilantro, diced white onion, limes, and salsa. Avocados or guacamole is also always on our table when Mexican food is involved.

When we are eating carnitas tacos, I almost always serve it alongside some type of corn and black bean salad since it is something we all love and it keeps things light and healthy. Usually, I will serve some lettuce wraps as an option too for people who are eating low carb, Paleo, or Whole30.

Then I like to use the leftovers for lunches in my own Chipotle style burrito bowls and salads. I toss in beans, corn, salsa, a little bit of cheese, and some cilantro lime brown rice or cauliflower rice.

Calories 216, Total Fat 9g, Total Carbohydrate 3g, Protein 29g, Serving Size 6 oz.Original Article