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Monday “Mess”-cipe Recipe

I woke up yesterday to a cool, rainy morning…  Perfect excuse to bust the slow cooker out of its summer retirement for a little cleaned up comfort food.  I had a bunch of summer produce hanging around, nearly on its last leg so I knew I needed to concoct a dish using as much of it as possible.  Solution?  An “everything but the kitchen sink” veggie dish.

Ingredients (I never really measure when I cook, so all of these measurements are educated guesses.  Much more fun that way.):

  • 1 tsp virgin coconut oil (You could also use olive oil, but I really love the flavor good quality coconut oil imparts)
  • 1 ½ c chopped onion (I used one small vidalia onion)
  • 1 c carrot, sliced ¼-inch thick (I used three large carrots)

Heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add onion and carrot; cover and cook until tender (about 5 minutes).

  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced (The heat is in the seeds and the ribs, so if you’re a fan of spicy food leave a little more of the ribs intact.)

Add curry, ginger, garlic, and chile.

Cook for an additional minute, stirring constantly until aromatic and well combined.  Place onion mixture in slow cooker.

  • 1 ½ c cubed sweet potato (I used two small spuds)
  • 1 c cubed yellow squash (I used one small squash)
  • 1 c diced bell pepper (I used half of a green pepper and half of a red one)
  • 2 c cut green beans (Dirty little secret: I used frozen…just as good and usually cheaper)

Add remaining vegetables to onion mixture.

Add remaining ingredients.

  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, including juices (look for lower sodium varieties)
  • 14 oz low-sodium vegetable broth (more or less depending on how thin you want the dish to be)

Cover and cook on HIGH 6 hours or until all vegetables are tender.

By the time I had everything bubbling away in the crock-pot, the morning rain had subsided, the sun came out, and I decided it would be a perfect afternoon to take my birthday present to myself for a test drive…

…and my apartment smelled amazing when I returned 🙂

To give the dish a little something extra, wilt in fresh spinach (I used a whole bag) and coconut milk (I used about a cup of light coconut milk).   To brighten up the flavor and lend some acid to the dish (the slow cooker tends to muddy flavors a bit), spritz each serving with a fresh lemon wedge.

I served this dish with cubed chicken breast that I cooked separately, but you could simply throw some chicken right into the crock-pot along with the veggies to make a one-pot meal.  And feel free to use whatever fresh (or frozen…or even canned if you’re desperate) produce you have on hand in this “mess”-cipe recipe.

Clean Spicy Tuna Cakes

Looking for a clean source of protein that won’t blow your grocery budget? You probably already stock one as a pantry staple: canned tuna.  I know, it’s not the most exciting food in the world, but with a little creativity you can take your tuna to another level (without the mayo usually used in tuna salad).  With roughly 30 grams of protein per four-ounce serving, canned tuna is one the best bargains for a clean eater.

Ingredients (4 patties):

  • 2 (5 0z) cans water-packed tuna, drained

  • 1 Tbsp (1 oz) spicy brown mustard
  • 1 Tbsp (1 oz) hot sauce
  • spices of choice (I used several shakes of garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, and plenty of cayenne)

the usual suspects

  • 2 Tbsp oat flour (I ground rolled oats in a food processor, but you could use quick oats)

  • 3 Tbsp liquid egg whites  (or one whole egg white)
  • 3 oz broccoli, finely chopped (you could use any combination of veggies: celery, onion, bell peppers, etc.)

  • cooking spray

Ok, these instructions couldn’t be any easier…ready for it…  Mix.  Divide.  Cook.  Serve.

Seriously?  You need me to elaborate?

MIX all ingredients.

DIVIDE evenly into fourths and shape into patties.

COOK in a skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.

SERVE.

I placed mine atop a bed of baby spinach and topped it all off with avocado.  You could add any of your favorite toppings: salsa, Greek yogurt, guacamole…or if you’re anything like me, extra hot sauce 🙂

Idiot proof, easy on the wallet, easy on the waistline.  What more could you ask for?

Clean Crock-Pot Pork Tenderloin

“I don’t have time to eat well.”  “Eating clean is way too complicated.”  “It’s so much easier to head to the drive-through.”

Clean eating doesn’t have to be time consuming, complicated, or intimidating.  Case in point: my crock-pot pork tenderloin.  The actual prep time is very minimal and you’re free to go about your day while the slow-cooker does all the work for you!

Seasoning Mixture

Ingredients:

  • 1 large pork tenderloin, trimmed of visible fat and broken down into chunks
  • 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • salt&pepper to taste
  • cooking spray (go for an olive oil or coconut oil)
  • 2 c water (or low-sodium chicken stock)

Part 1:

Blend the seasonings (garlic powder through pepper) in a small dish.  Rub the pork with the prepared seasoning mixture.

Brown the pork in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Note that the goal here is not to cook the meat all the way through, just to sear the outside.  Do not crowd your pan; work in batches if necessary.  Once all the meat has been browned, transfer to the bottom of your slow-cooker and then cover with water (or stock).  Cook on high for about 2 hours, then reduce the heat to low for an additional 3 to 4 hours.

Now you could stop there…and believe me, with the smell emanating from your kitchen, it’s going to take some serious willpower not to just dig right in.  But with a little extra effort you can mimic traditional southern pulled pork barbeque.

Part 2:

Preheat your oven to 425, or for the brave and impatient preheat the broiler.

Pour off the cooking liquid through a sieve, reserving about a cup.

“Fork” your pork!

After “forking” your meat should look like traditional pork barbeque.  Pile into a foil lined baking sheet and then cover with your reserved cooking liquid.

Roast the pork, flipping every five to ten minutes (more frequently if you opt to use the broiler).   Continue until the liquid evaporates and the edges of the pork become crispy.  Set a timer and keep an eye out so you don’t burn the meat!

Once it’s finished, just add some fibrous veggies (yay broccoli!) and a quality fat source (avocado, anyone?) for a complete clean meal!

If you’re feeling really ambitious you can make your own vinegar based barbeque sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (go for the good stuff, raw and unfiltered)
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less depending on how spicy you prefer)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Stevia extract (or Splenda or a bit of honey can be substituted if you prefer)

Whisk ingredients together until well mixed.  Serve over your pork!  If you wind up microwaving leftover pork, the extra liquid will help to keep it from drying out.

If you don’t bother with the second step of the process, this meal will take you no more than 10 minutes of prep time.

Enjoy!