Chicken Meatballs with Eggplant, Leek and Kale Ragu over Almond Flour Fettuccine

This dish is amazing. Not tooting my own horn, but it just is. I was in a complete state of starvation after a very stressful day of waiting at the hospital for Brad’s latest check-up when I started crafting this dish in my head.

Before leaving to go to the clinic for the check-up, I had set out ground chicken to thaw. I had all the intentions of making soup in the Instapot. But after two and half hours at the hospital and another hour out running errands, I was hungry and dreaming of bigger and better things than a measly ole soup.

Chicken Meatballs with Eggplant, Leek and Kale Ragu over Almond Flour Fettuccine in a pot on the stove

Which is exactly how this gorgeousness was born. Straight out of my hungry mind palace. Even in the state of my hunger, I knew it would be totally worth it. I knew I had to have the comfort food of pasta and the savory meatballs and the veggie loaded ragu.

Now, bare with me. It kinda has a lot of steps. And I didn’t really write anything down measurement-wise. It was completely intuitive cooking at its finest. So take these directions and ingredient list with a grain of salt. Use what you have on hand, and I’m sure you will end up with something just as tasty.

For the chicken meatballs:

  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 2 Tablespoons almond flour, to help bind
  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Italian seasoning, salt and red pepper flakes, to taste

Combine all ingredients. Form into meatballs, and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

For the Ragu:

  • 1 small eggplant, diced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale, chopped
  • 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (I used a Roasted Garlic and Caramelized Onion Tomato Sauce)
  • Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste

Heat a large pot with avocado oil. Add in the leek, eggplant and kale. Sauté until eggplant is soft and the kale and leek are wilted. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Add in the tomato sauce. Taste. Season again until you get it to your likely. Cover and simmer while the meatballs bake.

Once the meatballs are cooked, add them to the ragu. Simmer an additional 5-10 minutes so the flavors of the meatballs and sauce combine.

While your sauce simmers, heat a pot of water to cook the noodles. I used Cappello’s fettuccine noodles because they are the best pasta substitute I’ve ever found. Cook noodles according to the package directions. I actually undercooked mine so they could soak up some of the sauce.

Chicken Meatballs with Eggplant, Leek and Kale Ragu over Almond Flour Fettuccine in a blue bowl.

The outcome was the gorgeous, delicious veggie-heavy sauce with the added bonus of savory, juicy chicken meatballs and perfectly cooked pasta.

You just can’t beat that.

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Chicken Enchiladas

Mexican food is my jam. I’m sure I could live off of it, if I had to choose just one thing to eat for the rest of my life.

Over the weekend, I shared what I bought at the grocery store. Now, I want to share how I’ve been using some of those items so you can get some ideas on how cooking can be fun and full of flavor.

Added bonus…it’s all good for you.

These enchiladas were no joke. We ate the whole pan. But don’t judge. It was a brownie sized pan.

What you need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 jar of your favorite salsa
  • 1 bag of Horizon Organic Mexican Cheese blend
  • 1 pack of Siete Foods Almond Flour tortillas
  • 5 green onions, sliced
  • Fennel and Fire Fajita Seasoning, to taste

First, you want to throw the chicken breasts in the Instapot with 3/4 cup of water and some fajita seasoning. Set to 10 minutes on manual, and let the pot do all the work for you. Once it is ready, quick-release the pressure and shred the chicken. I shred chicken with a hand mixer. It’s so easy and mess free.

Now you assemble the casserole. Salsa, chicken, green onion and seasoning on the bottom. Add a layer of tortillas. Then continue layering chicken, cheese, seasoning, onions, salsa, tortillas until you run out of chicken. Top with the final layer of tortillas, cheese and salsa.

Bake covered with foil in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove move foil and back for an additional 10 minutes. Serve with sour cream and guacamole.

It was absolutely delicious. I usually try to make enough for leftovers, but this little guy didn’t make it. We ate the whole thing. If you are cooking for more than two people, just double the ingredients and use a 9×13 pan. You may have to bake it for a longer time period, but the outcome should be just as good.

Enjoy this one. We sure did.

The Season of Change

“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.” 
― Robert Tew

Hey. Hi. Hello.

It’s been awhile since I last published on this space. But it feels like the thing to start doing now that life has significantly changed.

So what has changed?

My better half was diagnosed with cancer, had surgery and has been declared cancer free in a mere two week period. All of this happening grossly close to the Christmas holiday and during a busy work period for me. Isn’t life funny like that? It always makes you slow down and take stock of what is really important at the most inopportune times.

But that is why I’m writing now. I want to be able to share all the things we learn about how to live our best life as we prepare for routine scans and the anxiety that comes with that. It’s just another season of life, but it won’t slow us down for one minute.

So what does this season of life look like?

To be honest, I’m not really sure. I know I want to be in the moment more than ever before. I know I don’t want to dwell on the little things. I know I don’t want to worry over what people think. I know I want to live my best life with Brad and our puppies in our home that we share. I know we will be eating very clean. I know we will start a routine of exercising (yoga for me…not sure what Brad will want to do once he is fully recovered from surgery.)

And I know this is the space, as well as my Adventures to Wellness Facebook page, where I will share what we are doing to accomplish and thrive during this new season.

Gratitude for All the People

A cancer diagnosis for someone as young as Brad is super unsettling. Most people don’t really know what to say to us. So they just not to say anything (not judging, just an observation) or they say something off the wall. It can be quite comical. And yet I feel a little guilty typing that out because so many people have been so good to us during this time. It’s just the truth.

There is a small population of people that know exactly what to say and how to say it. Very, very small. And I can say we have been blessed beyond measure on having key people in that category. And people in the category of just coming to spend time with us….because spending time is the most valuable thing someone can do for another person.

The Restart

When I thought about what I wanted to say in this first post, nothing really feels adequate. Most starts or restarts are horribly awkward. (This one is shaping up to be pretty awkward, too.) I’ve found, most of the time, the fear is in starting.

I’ve started over on this blog lots of times, but no other time has it been more important to me than now.

2019 will be the year of weeding out what and who doesn’t serve, grow or make me happy.

I know that’s a bold statement. But when the one person you love most in the world faces a scary beast like cancer and wins, you have to celebrate life because every single day from here on out is a gift. A straight up gift.

So what can you expect to see here?

  • Paleo and Ketogenic recipes and food content
  • Clean eating philosophies
  • Clean beauty and skin care for men and women (B’s tumor affected his endocrine system)
  • Books on gut health, general health and wellness, food, personal development and spiritual development
  • Outside resources (mostly on the Facebook page) we feel warrant sharing with a larger audience
  • Life updates on B’s condition, our life, etc.

This space will be what I intended it to be when I first conceived the idea. It will be with some regularity, but maybe not daily, and I welcome you to follow along.

This is no longer just my space of wellness, but Brad’s, too. And, ultimately, yours…if you want to be a part of it.

With all my love and positive energy,
Ashten

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti

This is one Paleo dinner that doesn’t taste “granola” at all. It was so good we ate until our stomachs hurt.

The glorious part is I browned the hamburger meat several hours before I was ready to eat, and I threw all the ingredients for the sauce into the crockpot to cook for awhile so the flavors could get right. Plus, slow cooking the meat makes it extra tender.

I’ll admit it’s not the prettiest dish I’ve ever made, but it makes up for it in warm, hearty flavors. Perfect for fall.

What you need:

  • 1 spaghetti squash, cut in half
  • 1 jar of Whole30 compliant spaghetti sauce
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder and Italian Seasoning to taste

Sauté the ground beef with the onion in a hot skillet until meat is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Move to slow cooker. Add in the sauce. (I used Thrive Market’s Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce.) Add a little Italian Seasoning, and more salt and pepper if you like. I cooked ours on low for about 4 hours, but you could also make this on the stovetop.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scrap out the pulp and seeds. Season the inside of the squash halves with salt, pepper and a little avocado oil. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet cut side down, and roast for 40-45 minutes. When it is done, remove from the oven, and let cool for a few minutes. Flip the halves over and scrap the squash with a fork to make “noodles.”

Put the squash noodles in a bowl. Top with the spaghetti sauce. And enjoy.

It was warm and comforting. And like I said, we ate all of it. The good thing is the “noodles” didn’t make us sick. It’s the little things in life.

What are your favorite comfort dishes that just happen to be Paleo?

Secret Ingredient Salmon Cakes

Someone I admire paid me the biggest compliment today.

On the Adventures to Wellness Facebook page, there was a lovely little comment on my Creamy Chicken and Zoodles post about finding a yummy gluten free, egg free, nut free, soy free recipe.

I love it when you guys comment and leave messages about making my recipes. So humbling.

These Salmon Cakes are extra tasty. And in keeping with the gluten free, egg free, nut free, soy free theme, I can’t wait to share it with you.

What’s the secret ingredient?

Pumpkin purée.

Pum

What you need:

  • Two cans pink salmon
  • 1/2 can organic pumpkin purée
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • Dill, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Drain the juice off the salmon, and put meat into a bowl. Flake with a fork. Stir in the pumpkin and coconut flour. Season liberally with salt, pepper, garlic powder and dill.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy.

It’s just that simple. The pumpkin purée acts as a binder like eggs, and it doesn’t alter the flavor of the cake. And if you have an allergy to eggs, you don’t have to worry over it with this dish.

I paired our Salmon Cakes with a combination of wilted turnip greens and Swiss chard. So tasty and full of Vitamin K.

What is one ingredient you use in everything?