Maple Pop Crunch and Coconut Oil Incorporation

Probably my favorite discovery of 2012 was coconut oil. I used it first for my homemade body butter, and then moved on to cooking with it. There are many health claims associated with coconut oil; I am particularly interested in its effectiveness with thyroid health (duh!).

Here is an excerpt from an article taken from the Dr. Oz website on the benefits of coconut oil:

“Studies¬†have shown that intake of coconut oil can help our bodies mount resistance to both viruses and bacteria that can cause illness. Even more, it also can help to fight off yeast, fungus and candida.

Coconut oil can also positively affect our hormones for thyroid and blood sugar control. People who take coconut oil also tend to have improvements in how they handle blood sugar since coconut can help improve insulin use within the body. Coconut oil can boost thyroid function helping to increase metabolism, energy and endurance. It increases digestion and helps to absorb fat-soluble vitamins.”

You can read the entire article at

The recommended dose is 2 tablespoons per day for us thyroid sufferers. I take 1 teaspoon in my morning cup of coffee and incorporate it in many recipes in place of Olive Oil. I can say the biggest difference I’ve noticed is my digestion issues have disappeared. It has also helped me with some bathroom issues if you know what I mean ūüôā

A friend of mine recently introduced me to a new snack called Maple Pop Crunch. This is absolutely delicious, and should be made at your own risk…I liken it to “healthy crack” cause it is soooo addicting.

Let’s call a spade a spade here. This is a treat that is about 1100 calories for the whole batch; ONE serving (1/6th of the bath) is 180. Portion wisely.

Maple Pop Crunch

1/2 pack of organic brown rice cakes, broken into popcorn size pieces (6 rice cakes)
1/4 cup Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
1/3 cup Pure organic Maple Syrup
Sea salt to taste
  • Preheat over to 325 degrees
  • Over medium heat, simmer together the coconut oil, syrup and sea salt¬†for about 5 minutes


  • Pour over rice cake bits, mixing well. I line my pan with foil to save on cleanup time.


  • Bake in the oven at 325 for about 10-15 minutes (mixing halfway through)
  • Let cool- this gets super crispy crunchy amazing!



Toddler Muffins

Not only do my husband and I eat “clean”, but so does our 10 month old. I’m well aware that I only have control over what my child eats for a certain amount of time, so my goal is to start good eating habits now. I’ve noticed that other parents in our lives can get pretty defensive on the food they feed their children, like I’m somehow judging them or thinking they are making poor choices. Well if you’re feeding your child Skittles for breakfast, I guess I’d judge that, but in our circle that is not the case. The truth is that I ate a horrible diet growing up. Mostly processed food and garbage, not because my mom was a bad parent, but because I liked it and it was easy. Busy parents love easy…they need easy. What most people don’t consciously know, is that these companies know that too, and profit A LOT off of it. Food companies are not in the business of making healthy choices for you; they are in the business of making money. They hire scientists to come up with chemically engineered flavors with the perfect combination of sugar, salt, and fat to hook you and your children and keep you buying more. Dr. Oz just aired a program showing that these foods are as addicting as cocaine. These are not real foods, but they taste better because that is what they are engineered to do. I think it is our responsibility as parents and consumers to know what we are putting in our mouths and the mouths of our children. I like sharing knowledge, not passing judgment.

I’m also aware that old habits die hard. People, by nature, resist change. I recall my husband having a full-blown adult temper tantrum because our cupboards didn’t have the familiar brands of junk he had bought his entire life. How’s that for brand loyalty! I was somewhat forced into this lifestyle, and the more I read, the more I learned. And frankly, the more I wanted to keep learning.

My most favorite criticisms I get are some flavor of the “well it’s not going to kill you” argument or the “eating healthy costs more money”. I’ll address these one at a time.

* It’s Not Going to Kill You *

Well, that’s debatable. Eating a diet high in processed foods is killing people. Look at our heart disease, obesity, and diabetes numbers in this country. Are you going to drink a soda and drop dead. Probably not. People don’t develop lung cancer after one cigarette either. A friend of mine recently posted something on facebook about her grandma living til 90 eating velveeta cheese and creamed soups. George Burns also lived to the ripe old age of 100 smoking 10-15 cigars a day. You can’t take the exceptions to the rule to make an argument that these are healthy behaviors. Besides, my goal isn’t to live to 100. My goal is to feel good by feeding my body food the way God made it, in as natural a form possible.

* Eating Healthy Costs More Money *

Have you priced out cancer? How about doctor’s visits, medications, and time off work? If I offered you a snack of petroleum or a sip of flame retardant would you accept it and even give some to your kids? Of course not, but people unknowingly do it everyday. 90% of food dyes in nearly every children’s snack including “fruit” snacks and cereals are made of petroleum. Some of these food dyes have been linked to behavioral disorders like ADHD and Autism. BVO or Brominated Vegetable Oil can be found in a popular sports drink and sodas and is a chemical flame retardant not meant for human consumption.

I’ll take my money and invest in the health of me and my family. Do I “stress” about it. No. There is nothing to stress about when you eat whole, non GMO foods. We don’t eat “perfect” either, we’re just doing the best we can!

So there it is. My rant. My new passion. Take it or leave it, it’s up to you.

Now on to a recipe. My family is taking a vacation to Arizona, and I was looking for a recipe that could incorporate some fruit, vegetables, and protein; a muffin of some sort. I wanted to be able to freeze said muffin and pack it to avoid having to cook a lot on vacation and to have something nutritious on hand for the little guy. I came across a lot of recipes with the usual copious amounts of sugar, butter, “vegetable” oil, and white flour. So I took a recipe as a base, removed all the junk, and came up with a delicious little recipe that my little one loves. Heck, they taste delicious to my husband and I too.

Toddler Muffins

2 large peeled organic carrots

2 large bananas

1-2 apples, cored

1 Cup of cooked sweet potato or squash

2 eggs

1 1/2 Cups Gluten free oats

1/2 Cup Water

Dash of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a food processor, place carrot in first and grind. Next, place the rest of the ingredients and blend til smooth.

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Place in greased muffin tin (I used olive oil), and bake for 45 minutes.

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Makes 12 muffins.

Faux Cream

When you give up gluten, one of the most frequent questions people ask is “What about treats”? Well, lucky for me, I’m an ice cream girl. I didn’t even have a wedding cake at my wedding, instead we had an ice cream bar from our favorite local ice cream shop. I will have the real thing from time to time; however, I usually regret it, and not for the reasons you may think. Since I’ve “reset” my taste buds by giving up sugar, when I do have it, I feel sick from the sugar rush. So I’ve found a great healthy substitute I like to call “Faux Cream”. I certainly didn’t invent this recipe, but I’ve used the base to create several flavor variations.

The ultimate test a recipe has to pass around here is the husband test. He gets extremely skeptical when I make a “healthy” dessert. He still hasn’t forgiven me for my black bean brownie fail. Epic Fail. However, he says the “Faux Cream” passes the test.

Faux Cream; Serves 1


One frozen banana (I cut mine into chunks and put into freezer bag for ease of blending)

1/2 Cup Frozen fruit of choice (Mixed berries, Strawberry (hubby’s fave), etc..)

1/2-3/4 cup of unsweetened almond or coconut milk

Another great add-¬†in is pure pumpkin and a dash of cinnamon; this is my favorite, but it didn’t photograph well.

Put all ingredients in a food processor or blender.

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Blend, adding almond milk or coconut milk 1/4 cup at a time until desired consistency.

And, voila!

Strawberry Faux Cream…

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Berry Faux Cream

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Spicy Shrimp

This is one of my favorite go-to recipes; it’s easy and¬†healthy.¬†Shrimp is an excellent source of selenium, protein, and B12. I LOVE selenium rich foods, as selenium supports thyroid function. On the flip side, goitrogenic¬†foods can slow thyroid function and stimulate goiters. I learned about this early on when I had a goiter in my neck. Had¬†being the operative word here. I¬†attribute its disappearance to clean eating, avoiding¬†goitrogenic¬†foods, and being stabilized by my meds. So a word about goitrogenic foods:

Goitrogens¬†are substances that naturally occur in certain foods and are said to interfere with the production of thyroid hormones. You may be surprised that some of the most commonly consumed “health” foods contain goitrogens; cruciferous¬†vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, bok¬†choy, collard greens, brussel¬†sprouts, strawberries, peaches, pears, peanuts, pine nuts, and soy. Most sources believe that the goitrogenic material¬†are largely destroyed when said foods are cooked; which is why I’ve resumed eating them in moderation and cooked.

If you’re avoiding goitrogenic¬†foods, omit the broccoli and sub in green beans or sugar snap peas. Add brown rice if desired, or keep it grain free for my Paleo friends.

Spicy Shrimp


8 Tablespoons Water

4 Tablespoons Organic Ketchup

2 Tablespoons Gluten Free Soy Sauce

4 Teaspoons Cornstarch

2 Teaspoons honey

1/2-1 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (to your desired spice level)

1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil or Coconut Oil

6 Cloves of Garlic, minced

Vegetable of choice; I used Broccoli, Carrots,Mushrooms, Pea Pods and Red Onion (about 3 cups of vegetables)

16 Ounces of cooked, tail off shrimp

In a bowl, combine first 7 ingredients. Set Aside.

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Next, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Briefly saute garlic, and add vegetables.

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Saute for about 10-12 minutes.

Add shrimp and sauce. Cook and stir until sauce has thickened; about 3-4 minutes.

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This recipe serves 4 and is 240 calories per serving.

Clean Eating with Venison

You know the old saying “bringing home the bacon”? Well, my husband brought home the deer meat; 54 pounds of it. I typically abstain from red meat, mainly beef, but venison is much leaner than beef.¬† A 3-1/2 ounce portion of lean ground beef has thirty-one percent more calories, 189 percent more fat, and 118 percent more cholesterol than an equal amount of venison. Clearly, not all red meats are created equal. Venison does have more calories per ounce than turkey or chicken, but venison has less cholesterol than either white meats.

For all intents and purposes, venison is organic; there are no additives or hormones administered. My¬†husband and fellow hunters processed the meat, so I know¬†exactly what spices were added, and know there were no nitrites added to the sausages either.¬†Plus, venison is a great source of protein, so in my book, we’re dealing with a health food here!

Perhaps my favorite thing about clean eating is trying new recipes and “cleaning up”¬†previously loved recipes. The following can be made with any meat really, but if you have some venison to use (I know I definitely do!) give ’em a try.

Venison Roast


  • 1 venison roast (3 to 4 pounds)
  • 10 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 7 medium carrots, quartered
  • 1 medium¬†onion, quartered
  • Beef Stock


  • Cut 10 deep slits in roast; place a garlic clove in each slit.¬† Combine the rosemary, onion powder, garlic powder and thyme; rub over entire roast. Cover; refrigerate for 2 hours.


  • ¬†¬† Add 1/2 in. of¬†Beef Stock¬†to a¬†roasting pan or a dutch oven.¬†Place the roast, carrots and onions in pan.


  • Cover and bake at 325¬į for 1-1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender.

Be careful not to overcook; venison can get pretty dried out if overcooked.


Venison Lasagna (Noodle-less)


  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 white onion, died
  • 1 pound venison
  • 1 15 ounce can organic diced tomatoes
  • ¬†3 tbsp tomato paste
  • ¬†3 tbsp Italian Spice blend (marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savory, sage, oregano, & basil)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¬†¬Ĺ tsp pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¬†1 pound zucchini (1 greed, 1 yellow), cut into rounds
  • 2 cups plain greek yogurt
  • ¬Ĺ cup ricotta cheese (if you want to be really adventurous and ensure ‚Äúclean‚ÄĚ cheese, you could make your own I hear; however, I was not that girl tonight‚Ķmaybe another time)
  • 1 head of broccoli, chopped
  • 1 egg


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil and add onion and venison. Sautee until venison is browned. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian spice, salt, pepper, and garlic.



  • In a medium bowl, combine egg, Greek yogurt, ricotta cheese, and broccoli. Mix well.


  • Spray 13X9¬†inch Pyrex baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place a layer of zucchini rounds evenly across the pan forming the bottom layer. Top with a layer of venison mixture (half the sauce). Top with half of the yogurt/broccoli mixture. Repeat.



Bake for 45-60 minutes.

This is such a flavorful dish that is low-carb and stock full of protein. This recipe serves 6, with each serving a measly 283 calories and a huge 40 grams of protein.


I have enough venison to make this dish 53 more times ūüėČ



Clean Eating

They” say that the number one New Year’s Resolution made by people is to lose weight (WHO¬†are they anyway?!). Judging by the overflowing parking lot at my gym after January first, I’d say they¬†are right. The best time of the year to put your gym membership on hold is actually January; I workout at home with Beachbody¬†DVD’s right now. It’s easier for me to do a workout during nap time¬†as opposed to all the effort it takes to get an infant reservation and lug my baby to the gym. I just finished 60 days of Insanity and began P90X with my hubby on December 31st.

I’m so close to my pre-pregnancy weight I can literally taste it. We’re talking like 3 pounds away people. That puts my total weight loss DESPITE having Hashimoto’s to 62¬†pounds!! I know everybody loves a before and after photo; I’m kicking myself for not taking a before picture when I was cleared to workout after the¬†baby. So now you will have to wait until I reach my goal and complete P90X.

Working out has been a huge piece of my success, but probably more has to do with the “clean” eating style I’ve adopted. As mentioned previously, this also includes giving up gluten. So I thought that¬†since it’s the beginning¬†of a new year, I’d blog a little about clean eating, and maybe this can be incorporated into someone’s resolution.

So what is “clean” eating”? Clean eating is simply eating whole, unprocessed foods. It is not a quick fix diet, it is a way of life.

The following are 7 core principles taken from an article from Cooking Light by Diane Welland, MS RD.

1. Choose whole, natural foods and seek to eliminate or minimize processed foods.

Processed foods are anything in a box, bag, can, or package, and although there are always a few exceptions to the rule (like a bag of fresh green beans), the majority of your foods should be fresh.

2. Choose unrefined over refined foods.

While it may not be possible all the times, you can up your intake of whole grains like brown rice, millet, amaranth, and quinoa. Beans and legumes are also important. Clean sugars include honey, maple syrup, and dehydrated sugar cane juice.

3. Include some protein, carbohydrate and fat at every meal.

Most of us typically do well with carbohydrates and fat, but we often lack protein, especially in the early part of the day, like at breakfast and lunch. Protein is an important muscle-builder, and it can also help curb your appetite. When eaten throughout the day, it keeps us feeling full longer. Be aware of the kinds of meals you put together and space out your protein.

4. Watch out for fat, salt, and sugar.

This is easier than you think, particularly if you’ve cut out processed foods, which are responsible for most of our excess calories and high levels of fat, sugar, and salt. Clean foods are usually naturally low in all of these ingredients.

5. Eat five to six small meals throughout the day.

This usually pans out into three main meals and two or three hefty snacks. Eating this way prevents you from skipping meals and overeating. It also keeps your blood sugar levels steady so energy doesn’t lag.

6. Don’t drink your calories.

High calorie drinks like specialty coffees and soft drinks, on average, tack on an extra 400 to 500 calories a day. Choose water first, or my personal favorite, unsweetened tea (any flavor). Other clean drinks: low-fat or skim milk and 100 percent fruit juice diluted with sparkling water.

7. Get moving.

Regular physical activity is a must for many reasons. Not only does it decrease fat, strengthen and build muscle, and help you burn more energy at rest, it keeps your heart, lungs, and bones healthy and strong.


Sounds pretty easy, but is it doable? YES!! There are so many magazines, websites, and cookbook resources to help get you started. Nothing feels better than giving your body the proper nutrition it needs to function properly. I would say I’m at about a 95/5 plan. I still have wine in moderation, and I’m REALLY trying to ditch the tablespoon¬†of coffee creamer in the morning.

A typical day of eating looks like this for me:

Breakfast: Old Fashioned Oatmeal (Gluten Free) made with coconut milk and cinnamon; 4 egg whites and 1 egg topped with salsa. Coffee. Organic half and half.

Morning snack (after my workout): Protein shake made with almond milk, chocolate protein powder (raw warrior), and a banana

Lunch: 2-3 Turkey muffins ( and vegetable or salad

Afternoon snack: Celery and almond butter

Dinner: Lean meat (Tilapia, turkey, chicken) and vegetable

I’ve had a ton of fun making things from scratch and learning new ways to make whole foods delicious. I want to share my newest breakfast creation I made this week: Clean Pumpkin Pancakes

Serves 2; about 3 pancakes per person


* 8 egg whites

* 2/3 cup pure pumpkin

* 1 cup ground oats (I use gluten-free oats ground in my bullet)

* 1 Tbsp cinnamon

* 1 Tbsp baking powder

* 1 tsp allspice

* 2 packets of Stevia

One serving packs 24 grams of protein and just 221 calories!

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Pictured with 1 small banana and 1/8 cup of pure organic maple syrup. 400 Calorie breakfast!

Here’s to a fit and healthy 2013!

Sunday Cooking

Argh…I know I haven’t posted in a while; my new years resolution is to be more consistent, but my plate overfloweth with being a wife, mom, and therapist. One thing I’ve adopted to make my life easier is Sunday Cooking. I cook a few big meals on Sunday that my hubby and I can pull from throughout the week for lunches and dinners. If I didn’t do this, it would be way to easy to fall off the healthy eating wagon and try to make “healthy” choices from local restaurants. I spend a good amount of time researching new recipes to keep our food choices fresh and exciting. This week I tried a couple new ones that I thought I’d share.


I typically eat the same breakfast everyday. I don’t know what it is about me and breakfast and not getting tired of the same meal everyday (2 eggs and gluten-free oatmeal with raisins and cinnamon), but my husband makes little remarks once in a while¬†that tells me I need to mix it up. I found and¬†this little gem from a blog called Urban Nester. I made adaptions based on what I had on hand and food preferences.

Gluten-Free Bake Oatmeal Casserole
Total Time: 50 minutes

2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
6 Truvia packets
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup sliced almonds
1 cup berries (I used frozen)
1/2 cup Enjoy Life brand Chocolate Chunks (gluten, soy, and dairy free)
2 cups coconut milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ripe banana diced


Preheat oven to 375¬įF and generously spray the inside of a 10-1/2 by 7 inch baking dish with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, Truvia, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, half the almonds, half the berries and half the chocolate. (Save the other half of berries, almonds and chocolate for the top of the oatmeal). In another large bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, egg, butter and vanilla extract.
Add the oat mixture to prepared baking dish. Arrange the remaining berries, almonds and chocolate on top. Add the banana slices to the top then pour the milk mixture over everything. Gently shake the baking dish to help the milk mixture go throughout the oats. I made this the night before, and baked in the morning. Either way will do.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is nicely golden brown and the milk mixture has set.
¬†Image taken from Urban Nest…I should have taken a pic of mine¬†before we dug in for breakfast this morning…
This was seriously like eating dessert for breakfast, but without all the guilt.
Calories: 287 per serving
38 grams of carbs
6 grams of fiber
14 grams of fat
8 grams of protein
The following recipes will provide my husband and I with 18 servings of food! This covers most of our lunches and dinners until the weekend. I always have on hand salad supplies, and in addition to these recipes, will bake some chicken to add to salads to mix it up.
Organic Southwestern Stuffed Peppers and Meat for Taco Salads; a 2 for one recipe
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I have searched high and low for a GOOD pepper recipe, and i found it on the blog Simply Love Food. I made some minor adaptions again based on preferences and available ingredients.
 The unexpected result was double the amount of filling that could even fit into the peppers, so I halved the finished mixture (via a food scale) and saved the other half to make taco salads. Bonus!
  • Olive Oil cooking spray
  • 1 tbls¬†Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 1 package ground turkey breast (I bought this from Costco, and it weighed in at 27 ounces of meat)
  • 1 medium onion
  • Homemade taco seasoning. See recipe below.¬†
  • 2 cups of cooked brown rice
  • 3 organic bell peppers, halved and seeds removed
  • 1 can of black beans, I use Eden Organic¬†drained & rinsed
  • ¬Ĺ cup of organic frozen corn
  • 1 (15 -16 ounce) jar of salsa
  • Applegate¬†Cheddar Cheese (I used one slice on top of each pepper)

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix (taken from

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

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Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat the peppers with olive oil cooking spray and roast in a baking dish about 20-25 minutes just until cooked thru. Remove the peppers from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle them.

Saute the onions in tablespoon of EVOO and add turkey and brown til cooked thoroughly. Add the taco seasoning, black beans, corn and rice. Add in the jar of salsa and mix well.

This was a where I discovered the sheer amount of mixture, weighed it, halved it, and set aside half the filling for taco salads.

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Carefully spoon the turkey mixture into each half of the bell peppers and place back into the baking dish. Cook the peppers for another 15-20 minutes or until the peppers are cooked all the way thru. Before removing from the oven sprinkle the tops of each pepper with shredded cheddar cheese. Place back into the oven just until the cheese has melted.

Remove from the oven and top with fresh cilantro, avocado slices and/or sour cream just before serving if desired.

Calories: 246 per serving
20 grams of carbs
4.3 grams of fiber
11 grams of fat
19 grams of protein
Turkey Taco Mixture Nutrition Info (minus lettuce)
Serves 6
Calories: 161 per serving
16 grams of carbs
3 grams of fiber
4.6 grams of fat
13.4 grams of protein
And finally, a tried and true favorite around here, and it’s MY recipe.
Rachel’s Gluten-Free Turkey Spaghetti
Serves 6
  • One package of gluten free spaghetti noodles; I LOVE the ancient harvest quinoa brand
  • 2 organic zucchini squash
  • 1 package of ground turkey
  • 1 package of baby bella¬†crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 organic yellow onion
  • 1 tbls¬†EVOO
  • Your favorite jar of ORGANIC spaghetti sauce. Make sure SUGAR is not listed in the ingredients, and that you can pronounce all ingredients.
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

I love using what I call “vegetable fillers” in my recipes when I can. This is one of those recipes that you can “bulk up” the volume of the dish by adding vegetables, with very few added calories. Plus, with hashimoto’s, getting extra Selenium is a must, and mushrooms are a great food source.

Cook noodles according to package instructions. Gluten free noodles are different from the other kind, so make sure not to add any salt or olive oil to water. Also, rinse after draining. You may have to pull apart, or separate some of the noodles, because sometimes they can stick together.
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Rinse the mushrooms, dice onion and slice zucchini.
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Heat up 1 tbls EVOO in pot and add mushrooms zucchini and garlic. Saute until zucchini becomes soft.
Meanwhile in a skillet, brown garlic and onions until turkey is cooked thoroughly.
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Add the turkey and onion mixture to zucchini, mushroom, and garlic. Stir in spaghetti sauce. I like to add a few shakes of red pepper flakes to give it a little zing.
Simmer on low about 15-20 minutes. Add noodles and mix together.
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Okay, not the prettiest picture, but look how much food you get out of this batch!
Calories: 430 per serving
44 grams of carbs
7 grams of fiber
14 grams of fat
31.5 grams of protein