Zucchini Bake Lean and Green

I’m always on the lookout for easy-to-make, one-batch lean and greens that don’t require a trip to the store. I’m a huge fan of zucchini and I always have a few in my fridge. When I chanced upon this recipe from Joy Filled Eats’ instagram feed, I thought it would be perfect for Optavia 5&1. With a few mods, it absolutely is!

Ingredients:

  • 170g shredded zucchini {3 greens}
  • 7 {14T} egg whites {1/2 Leanest}
  • 3/4 cup 1% cottage cheese {1/2 Leanest}
  • 2 wedges original Laughing Cow {2 Healthy Fats}
  • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk {1/4 condiment}
  • ½ tsp salt {2 condiments}
  • 1T reduced fat Parmesan {1/2 condiment}

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Shred zucchini {peeled or unpeeled is entirely up to you} and place in paper towels to squeeze out as much of the water as possible. Removing the water is a critical step—don’t skip it!
  3. Spray a 9″ x 9″ baking dish and then sprinkle 1/2T parmesan on the bottom. This helps to keep the bottom dry.
  4. Place the shredded zucchini in an even layer in the dish
  5. Blend your egg whites, cottage cheese, Laughing Cow wedges, salt, and almond milk in a blender until smooth. Then pour over the top of the zucchini.
  6. Top with another 1/2T of parmesan
  7. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, around 35-45 minutes.

Entire batch equals one complete Lean & Green.

A few tips:

  1. This is a really large portion, so I often make it in the AM and then eat it in two servings throughout the day. So I end up eating 7 times on those days.
  2. If you’d like to use this as a side dish, you can eat 1/2 of the dish and then supplement with 1/2 of a Leanest and 1.5 Greens.
  3. I saw a question on Joy Filled Eats’ Insta asking if you can use ricotta instead of cottage cheese. You definitely can, but as much as I LOVE ricotta, I really think this dish is better with the cottage cheese.
  4. If/when you store it in the fridge, I recommend placing a paper towel on top and then covering with foil. That way, any moisture is captured in the paper towel instead of collecting in the dish.
  5. This would make an AWESOME Thanksgiving side dish. It’s super light and goes with just about anything.

PS. You’ll see I have a few different baking dishes in the pics. I’ve made it a few times and ultimately, I like the square or rectangular dishes the best. The round one wasn’t big enough, but I had the best lighting that day, lol.


The Best Low Carb Shrimp Fried Rice

I’m baaaaackkkkk! I know I’ve been radio silent for the past month, but work’s been totally crazy! {Did ya know? I own a tech startup for romance book lovers} Annnnnd, I bought a motorcycle and have been taking advantage of the gorgeous summer weather. Here in Chicago, you’ve got to enjoy it while you can!

BUT I’ve been taking pictures and notes over the past month of all of my new #fuelinghack and #leanandgreen recipes and can’t wait to share them with you! First up, THE BEST shrimp {you can always swap out proteins if you don’t like shrimp} FRIED RICE I’ve ever tried! I found the “rice” combo from Instagrammer @angel619sd and it’s AMAZING—so good, you won’t even know the difference! I then worked it into the perfect L&G. I don’t often like to use up all three condiments on one L&G, but trust me, it’s worth it! I hope you love it!

Equals 1 Lean, 3 Greens, 1 Healthy Fat and 3 Condiments.

Ingredients:

• 180g/1 Cup of riced cauliflower {2 Greens}

• 113g/.5 Cup of shirataki rice {1 Green}

• 4.6 oz shrimp {2/3 Lean}

• 1 egg {1/3 Lean}

• 1 tablespoon of soy sauce {1 Condiment}

• 1/4 a teaspoon of ginger {1/2 Condiment}

• 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic {1/2 Condiment}

• 1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar {1 Condiment}

• 1 tsp sesame oil {1 Healthy Fat}

Instructions:

To make the rice, I generally use pre-made frozen cauliflower rice. I cook it in the microwave first and then fully drain—the drier the better. Then measure out your 180g/1 Cup and put aside. Then, put one package of shirataki rice in a fine sieve or colander and rinse well in cold water. Then place in a dry, non-stick pan on medium high heat and stir well until the rice firms up and the water has all evaporated. Add the cooked cauliflower rice and continue stirring on medium high heat until any remaining moisture has evaporated.

Note: the brand I use, Skinny Pasta, comes out to 154g after it’s rinsed. You can either remove 41g or cook the entire package. It’s not a perfect Green if you use the entire package though, so just be aware. It’s about 1/3 extra Greens. I used it all because I know that some of the 41g will cook off in the pan.

After the rice is ready, turn the heat down to medium and make a small well in the center and add the oil. Once heated up, put in the garlic and ginger and stir it around in the oil. Be sure NOT to burn it. If you need to turn the heat down even more, that’s totally ok. Once those are heated up, add the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar and mix everything together. 

Then, toss in your cooked shrimp, one scrambled egg, and mix together. The entire batch is yours to eat and it’s a HUGE portion. This is one of those meals you’ll probably want to split into two. 

I topped mine with a sprinkle of chopped scallions, sesame seeds, and sriracha for the picture, but none of that is necessary whatsoever. 

Enjoy!

PS. Because of the egg, you only need one Healthy Fat


Cheddar & {1/2} Sausage Biscuits

I’m always looking for ways to hack my fuelings so they eat more like a mini-meal and this one DEFINITELY fits the bill!

As with many hacks, there’s a little trial and error. With this one, the first time I made it, I used full chicken sausages. Two sausages, depending on brand, generally equal one lean, but using up my entire lean between two fuelings created a not-so-great day for me, so I switched to breakfast turkey sausage links instead. Two links {much smaller than the full-sized chicken sausages} equals 1 oz off your Lean, which still left me with almost my entire Lean and the results were just as satisfying. However, because I didn’t use up all of my Leans on this batch, I added 1/4C of reduced fat shredded cheese, which is only 1/4 Lean, to create a cheesy crust—WELL worth it! 

One note about the turkey sausage: because of the sodium content, you can only have two links per day. That’s why I only used two {on half the batch} and not four {on the full batch}.

All of that said, what I hope you take away from this recipe is that the potatoes and biscuit fuelings with only 10T of water make a great base for almost anything: you could add sautéed mushrooms and mozzarella OR line the tins with thinly sliced zucchini and then pour in the batter OR place a piece of turkey pepperoni at the bottom and add some mozzarella and then dip the finished muffin in marinara. The options are truly endless, but this makes for a great base that doesn’t add any condiments. Just packets and water. What you do from there is up to you! 

Don’t forget that with two packets, this equals TWO FUELINGS. I used a mini-muffin tin, so that made 12 muffins or SIX PER fueling. You can either save half for later in the day or split them with a friend or family member doing Optavia with you. If you do split them, feel free to add sausage to ALL of the muffins, since you can each have two sausage links per day. And, of course, for a vegetarian option, you can omit the sausages altogether or use a veggie sausage. Just be sure to confirm how those sausages are counted with your coach or Optavia Nutrition Support.

PS. The ones I made are great with SF ketchup if you have a condiment to spare!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Smashed Potato packet {either flavor}
  • 1 Buttermilk Cheddar Herb Biscuit packet 
  • 10T Water {or 4 oz and 2T}
  • 2 Breakfast Turkey Sausages {subtract 1 oz from your daily Lean}
  • 1/4 C Reduced Fat Shredded Cheese {1/4 Lean}

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Mix the two packets with water and combine well 
  3. Spray muffin pan
  4. Sprinkle cheese evenly between muffin tins 
  5. Distribute the mixture evenly between muffin tins
  6. Place one piece of turkey sausage in each of SIX muffins
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned

Cheese Taco Shells

I don’t know about you, but tacos are one of my absolute favorite foods on the planet. I love the versatility, the flavors, and I even love the way you eat them with your hands. So many of the meals we eat are with utensils. Frankly, tacos are just fun—and why shouldn’t food be fun?

The problem with tacos on 5&1 is the “shell,” so like I often do, I look to keto chefs for inspiration. The answer: taco shells made from cheese! Now, in keto, they use full fat cheese. To make them 5&1 compliant, we’re going to go with reduced fat cheese. Different fat level, same yumminess level.

Taco Shell Ingredients:

  • 3/4 C or 84g Reduced Fat Shredded Cheddar or 4-Cheese Mexican Cheese {3/4 Lean}
  • 1.5 oz Ground Beef, Chicken, or Meat Substitute from the Leaner category {1/4 Lean}

Entire batch equals One Lean. What you add inside will count towards your Greens and Condiments.

For mine, I added tomatoes and shredded iceberg lettuce and topped with nonfat Greek yogurt {you could use non-fat sour cream as well…I just had Greek yogurt, so went with that.} These shells are small though, so you’ll likely end up with a side salad to complete your Greens. Or, you can add Greens somewhere else throughout your day: grilled mushrooms on your smashed potatoes, roasted peppers on top of your rosemary cheddar biscuit, etc.

If you don’t want ANY meat at all, you can double the amount of cheese and fill them with veggies only. It’s entirely up to you. Get creative! This is the perfect opportunity to play around with your favorite taco combination!

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Measure out your shredded cheese and cook up your choice of ground meat.
  3. Once oven is preheated, place your cheese in circles {it’s important that they’re circles to create the right shape} on a parchment lined baking sheet or use a pan like mine. Bake for 5-7 minutes, until the edges turn brown and the cheese is bubbly.
  4. While your cheese is cooking, set up your “drying racks”— turn two {or more, depending on how many batches you’re making} glasses over and set wooden spoons across them.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool for approximately one minute. It needs to rest and firm up, but keep an eye on it. It’s important that you not let them cool too much, as they’ll need to be slightly warm to mold into the taco shell shape.
  6. Use a thin rubber spatula to remove the shells from the pan and then hang them on your “drying rack.” Allow them to harden for approximately five minutes.
  7. Remove, fill and enjoy!

Lastly, these don’t store well. For me, they lost their crispiness and you definitely cannot reheat them. My recommendation: make only what you intend to eat for that meal.

Hope these add some fun and versatility to your Lean & Green arsenal!


Zucchini Rollatini

Creamy, cheesy, tomatoey goodness! If you love lasagna like I do, you will absolutely LOVE this dish! Like I’ve said before, I love great food, but I love when it’s simple to make. This one couldn’t be easier. It looks and tastes beautiful, but anybody can make it.

The ingredients list is super simple, too.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 C Rao’s Marinara {3 Greens}
  • 180g Zucchini* {3 Greens}
  • 1 Egg {1/3 Lean}
  • 2/3 C Reduced Fat Shredded Cheese {2/3 Lean}
  • 1 C Low Fat Ricotta {1 Lean}
  • 1 tsp Italian Seasoning {1 Condiment}
  • 4T Reduced Fat Grated Parmesan {2 Condiments}

Entire batch yields two servings. Each serving equals 1 Lean, 3 Greens, and 1.5 Condiments

*Equivalent to 1.5 C, but since you’re slicing on a mandolin, it’s important to weigh your zucchini.

One last thought: I saw a similar recipe online that yielded five servings, 1/2 Lean per serving, and 3 Condiments per serving. Personally, I don’t like to make a Lean & Green with so many servings. I prefer to eat a meal no more than two days in a row {and I don’t like to freeze meals}. I also like my Lean & Green recipes to be complete meals {1 Lean, 3 Greens} and I try to constrain the number of Condiments so I have room for almond milk in my daily shakes. That said, you could absolutely double or triple this recipe if you’re serving a family and/or you could add lean ground turkey if you want to add meat. In that case, I would suggest adding 7 oz of COOKED 98% fat free ground turkey {1 Lean} to the ricotta mixture, 120g Zucchini {2 greens} and 1/4 C Rao’s Marinara {1 Green}. I wouldn’t change the cheese proportions. That would turn the entire dish to three complete Lean & Greens and only 1 Condiment per serving.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Slice zucchini using a mandolin.*
  3. Mix 2T parmesan, ricotta, Italian seasoning, and egg.
  4. Place marinara at bottom of pan.
  5. Roll zucchini with ricotta mixture and line up in dish.
  6. Cover with shredded mozzarella and remaining parmesan.
  7. Cook for 30 minutes or until toasted brown and zucchini is tender. 

PS. I so highly recommend using these gloves when working with a mandolin. Zero cuts. Zero worries. And so cheap. I will never use a mandolin again without them.


Cloud Bread

I’d heard about cloud bread {I also just found out it’s called revolution bread}, but honestly, it seemed like too much work for what it was. I love to cook and I love good food, but I also like recipes to be pretty easy. You will need a KitchenAid or hand mixer for this one {unless you’re cool with whipping egg whites by hand}, but my verdict: it’s more than worth it!

That’s the hard part. The easy part? The ingredients list is super simple.

Ingredients:

  • 3 T of light herbed cream cheese {3 condiments}
  • 3 Eggs {1 Lean}
  • 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar {.5 condiment}
  • 1/4 tsp of salt {1 condiment}
  • Everything Bagel spice {1 condiment}

One note: I used herbed cream cheese and love it. For a sweet cloud bread option {suggested by Sandy of Sandy’s Kitchen Adventures when we chatted about this last weekend}, use plain cream cheese and you can then top it after it’s baked with a cream cheese icing. If you want the option to go either way, definitely use plain cream cheese.

Entire batch yields 6 sandwiches {1 top, 1 bottom}. One serving equals TWO sandwiches, which equals 1/3 Lean & 2 condiments.

Instructions:

  1. Start with room temperature eggs
  2. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees
  3. Separate the egg yolks and egg whites
  4. Add cream of tartar and salt to egg whites and whip to very stiff peaks
  5. Combine the cream cheese and egg yolks until perfectly smooth
  6. Once egg whites are ready, delicately fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites until combined
  7. Line two pans with parchment and spoon out 12 equal dollops and flatten to 1/2-3/4 inches tall with the back of a spoon, keeping each dollop approximately 5 inches apart {You’ll see that I have a special “muffin top” pan, which worked beautifully for this. It is NOT necessary. A simple pan with parchment will do.}
  8. Sprinkle everything bagel spice on half of the tops
  9. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown
  10. Allow tops to completely cool before you touch them or try to remove them from the pan. They are extremely flaky and need to firm up.

Tops can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days {if they last that long.}


Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just really crave a good, hearty soup. And trust me, this one is SUPER hearty. In fact, it’s almost more like the consistency of chili in terms of thickness, although it’s mostly blended, so it’s not chunky like chili.

In fact, this would also make a great thick sauce to dress some proteins like chicken or a white fish. However, if you want it closer to soup consistency, just add an extra cup of unsweetened almond milk to thin it out. Each additional cup adds one condiment to the entire batch.

One thing you’ll learn about the way I cook is that I measure everything in grams. I don’t like using measuring cups as I find them to be less accurate. Plus, it’s easier to clean up when I use bowls and my scale (you can zero out after each ingredient and often put everything in one bowl, if a recipe works out that way). So for most recipes, I’ll include the gram weight as well. Feel free to do whichever works best for you. 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of Broccoli {6 greens}
  • 248g or 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese (2-3 grams fat/oz.) {1 Lean}
  • 112g or 1 cup fat free shredded cheddar cheese {1 Lean}
  • 16 oz. (2 cups) of unsweetened almond milk {2 condiments}
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic {1 condiment}
  • Salt & pepper to taste {optional condiment}

Entire batch yields 2 servings. Each serving equals 1 Lean & 3 Greens, plus 1.5 condiments.

Instructions:

  1. Cut florets from one head of broccoli, removing all stems, and chop
  2. In a deep pot, add a little cooking spray and warm the garlic (watch the heat so you don’t burn the garlic)
  3. Add in the chopped broccoli {does anybody else hear Dana Carvey singing? lol}
  4. Stir the broccoli for a few minutes until lightly cooked
  5. Add the almond milk and bring to a slow boil
  6. Add the ricotta and mix until well combined
  7. Use a hand blender until smooth, leaving a few pieces of broccoli in tact
  8. Add the shredded cheddar and mix until well combined
  9. Taste and add salt and pepper, if desired
  10. Separate into two or four servings