Changing for the better, one bite and (deep) breath at a time.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pinterest Crockpot Pizza Casserole - Healthified

I have been seeing this pin float around Pinterest for a few weeks now, and I wanted to give it a try.  It's made with pretty basic ingredients that were easy to make healthier, and since I just threw everything in the crockpot and let it cook on its own, there was minimal prep.  The end result was so great.  Greg and I absolutely loved it, and we have tons of leftovers.  Below is the recipe I created, adapted from the original.  I omitted the pepperoni (you really don't need it) and used organic ingredients.  I also swapped out whole wheat pasta for the white pasta in the recipe.  Next time I'll try quinoa or brown rice pasta to mix it up.  When it comes to the cheese, use the real deal (even raw if that's your thing) and enjoy every last satisfying bite - no fat-free cheese around here!

When it comes to purchasing pasta or marinara sauce, make sure to check the label and ingredient list.  These kitchen staples tend to be made with hidden ingredients that you might not want to eat (or give to your family).  I look for three things:

1. Organic - conventional tomatoes are heavily sprayed with pesticides.

2. No high fructose corn syrup - many sauces are sweetened with the HFCS instead of sugar.  Look for sauces that have no sugar added, but if they do, make sure they're sweetened with sugar.  You won't be able to tell the added sugar content from the label, since it includes the sugar inherent in the ingredients (cooked tomatoes, onions, etc.) as well.  If the sugar is high up on the ingredient list (top 3-4 ingredients), you know your sauce is made with a decent amount of the sweet stuff.

3. Soy oil - I try avoiding highly inflammatory (and usually genetically modified) soy oil as much as possible, but it seems to be in everything.  Many marinara sauces are made without any oils, so they can be a good bet (especially if you use olive oil in the recipe).  Otherwise, try to pick one with olive oil only.

I recently found "Organic Marinara Sauce" from Trader Joe's in a clear glass jar with a yellow label and used it in this recipe.  It is sweetened with a bit of sugar and doesn't contain any oil.  There is enough fat in the rest of the recipe that it wasn't missed.

Healthified Crockpot Pizza Casserole


16 ounces whole wheat spiral pasta, uncooked (but rinsed)
1 lb. organic grass-fed ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 organic green bell peppers
32 ounces pasta sauce (see above)
1 cup water
1 cup organic shredded mozzarella cheese


In a skillet over medium heat, cook ground beef, onion, bell pepper, and garlic until cooked through. 

Rinse pasta and place it in the crockpot with the ground meat mixture.  Stir to combine.  

Pour pasta sauce and 1 cup water over noodle mix.  Top with shredded mozzarella.

Place on the crockpot and cook on low for 5-6 hours.  Look what I got to come home to!

I made this the night before, placed the crockpot in the fridge, and then set it on the heating element at lunch today to cook for about 6 hours.  It was divine and so nice to come home to!  Served with a big green salad or some hearty roasted vegetables for a well-rounded and fall-friendly dinner.



Sunday, November 4, 2012

Raw Kale Salad - Whole Foods Inspired

Of all the pre-made items at Whole Foods, my favorite go-to is their raw kale salad.  Full of wonderfully healthy tomatoes, pine nuts and cranberries, it has a tangy-sweet flavor but is packed with vitamin A, vitamin K, lycopene (anti-oxidant), flavonoids (anti-inflammatory), and isothyocyanates (cancer-preventive).  Plus, with a bag of pre-chopped organic kale, it's super easy and quick to make.

Even though the kale is completely raw, in this recipe it is softened and has a very palatable texture.  What's the secret, you ask?  Adding lemon juice and "massaging" it into the kale softens this sometimes bitter member of the cabbage family and imparts a fresh flavor.  I found this recipe on WeGottaEat and adapted it slightly for my liking.  I also added tomato so it's just like the kind I purchase at my local WF.  The pictures are of this recipe, doubled.  It keeps really well in the refrigerator for a few days and is great topped with sliced chicken or wild salmon for a more complete meal.


3 cups organic raw kale, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup cranberries 
1 organic tomato, chopped
Juice of 2-3 whole lemons
2 T cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
pinch sea salt
pinch pepper


Sprinkle lemon juice on kale and work into the leaves.

I basically used clean hands to cover each leaf with a little juice.  You could use even more lemon juice if you like an extra "lemon-y" flavor.

Add chopped tomatoes:

Add cranberries.  I was running low so didn't add as many as the recipe calls for.

Add pine nuts.

Top with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.  Cover and refrigerate.  Serve cold after a few hours so that the flavors can set and the kale can soften even more.

Save yourself some money at Whole Foods and give your body an amazing nutrient boost!