Chicken Fajita Bowls with Mexican Cauliflower Rice

So I’m pretty active on Instagram. I’m not the best at taking pictures of my food, so I really love scrolling through people’s Instagram feeds with beautiful food pictures. I try. I like to think I’m getting better at it, but still. Taking lovely food shots is not my forte.
 

One of my favorite types of pictures are when people do food bowls. I don’t know if this is a new trend or if it just photographs well, but they are so beautiful. The food is organized so cleanly and is usually very colorful. I can’t get enough of them!

All that was said to introduce this Chicken Fajita bowl I recently made. I’ve made similar things before and I swear I posted them on here, but I guess not. Which just means I need to make them again so I can post them again and practice taking better pictures of them! See, it all works out.

This is a super easy weeknight meal that is totally family friendly and can be customized to your tastes.

Chicken Fajita Bowl

Makes enough for 2-4 bowls, depending on how much you put in them

 

Mexican Cauliflower Rice:

– 2 tablespoons Olive oil

– ½ onion diced small

– 3 cloves garlic, minced

– 1 bag riced cauliflower (I used the 12 oz bag from Trader Joe’s)

– 1 ½ tablespoons (or so) of tomato paste

– ½ tablespoon each garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder

– Salt to taste     

Bowls:

Mexican cauliflower rice (you can use regular rice or Mexican rice if you want)

Shredded chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)

½ purple onion, sliced

½ each red, orange, and green bell pepper, sliced

Shredded cheddar cheese for topping

Plain non-fat greek yogurt for topping

Guacamole or avocado slices for topping

Place the onion and bell pepper slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toss with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast at 375 for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the Mexican cauliflower rice:

In a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, and garlic and saute until just starting to soften. Then add the cauliflower rice and cook for about 7 minutes until cooked through. Add the seasonings and tomato paste and stir together until well mixed.

 


Once the rice and veggies are ready (either the cauliflower rice or whatever rice you want to use), you can assemble your bowls.

 

You can be fancy and do layers and sections and organize the whole thing by color or whatever. Or, if you are not planning on taking a photo and you couldn’t care less what your bowl looks like before you eat it because you are just going to mix it all up anyway, you can just throw everything together and have at it.

As long as it tastes good, who care? You do you, love.

Grilled Spinach Pesto Chicken

I’ve recently discovered that my entire family loves pesto. My husband has always liked it. I’m a bit late to the pesto game, only discovering how good it was a few years ago. My super picky 7-year-old just started liking it, and my almost 4-year-old has always liked it. Well, she used to love it, then she stopped loving most things. Now we are trying to get her back into her “eat anything” mode. 
 

One time, I made her pasta with pesto and I told her to just try it. She took a bite and I said, “See, that’s not bad at all!” She agreed with me and now she often requests that I make her “the pasta that’s not bad at all” :0)

What I love so much about this pesto is that it is mostly spinach. I also use walnuts (you can use any nut), which adds another layer of nutrition. I’ve made it before, but I’ll post the recipe again.

Spinach Pesto

In a blender, add the following (all eyeballed):

½ bag of prewashed baby spinach (about 3 oz or so)

1 big bunch of fresh basil

½ cup of walnuts

3-4 cloves garlic

½ cup parmesan cheese

Hefty pinch of salt & a sprinkling of pepper

Olive oil

Put everything in the blender. Start with about ½ cup olive oil and then you can add more as needed based on the consistency you want. 

 

Let the blender do its thing and ta-da! Pesto! Isn’t that green color gorgeous?!


You can use this in so many ways. For this meal, I cut two chicken breasts in half lengthwise to get four thinner pieces. Then I coated each piece in some of the pesto and let it marinade for about 20 minutes. You can do this longer, even overnight. You could also do this in a freezer bag and freeze the whole kit-n-caboodle. Then you’ll have premade pesto chicken ready whenever you want it.

 

When I was ready, I just grilled the chicken for about 7 minutes per side over medium-high heat.   

 

Serve with more pesto on top.

If I had mozzarella on hand, I think this would be delish with a couple tomato slices on top of the chicken, then place some sliced mozzarella and put the chicken under the broiler for a couple minutes until the cheese melts. Maybe even add a drizzle of balsamic glaze! Oh my mouth is watering already…

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’ve probably made chicken tortilla soup too many ways to count, but this one is by far the easiest. Also, my husband said this was the best chicken tortilla soup I’ve ever made, so, you know, it comes with raving reviews! 

When it comes to soups, I much prefer a thicker, creamier soup over a broth-based one. I’ll make an exception for French Onion. I’ve never really been a fan of chicken noodle, even. I find it pretty bland most of the time, and even “good ones” are boring to me. I do, however, love chicken tortilla. When done right, it boasts so much flavor. It’s total comfort food.

I’ve posted a version I made before on this blog, but like I said, this one is so incredibly easy, I had to share it. It’s also really healthy, so that’s more points in the plus column!

It wasn’t my intention to make this soup really spicy, but it was. You can adjust as necessary, for example using regular diced tomatoes in place of the fire roasted one since they usually come with green chiles in them. 

Also, I used baked blue corn tortilla chips: they contain 20% more protein than yellow or white, they are less starchy, they are a more complete protein source, and they have much lower glycemic index. Plus, their blue color comes from anthocyanins which are the same antioxidants found in berries. Need more? They have a sweeter, nuttier flavor than white or yellow corn as well. And they make your food look pretty. You should be able to find them anywhere.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 15oz can fire roasted tomatoes

1 poblano pepper, roasted, peeled, and seeds removed (if you don’t want to do all this, just use a small can of diced green chiles)

½ onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

olive oil

1 tablespoon chili powder

½ tablespoon cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Vegetable broth, to texture preference

1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 ½ cups roasted corn

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

In a skillet with some olive oil over medium heat, add your onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and a little salt and pepper and saute until soft and fragrant. Pour mixture into a blender and add the can of tomatoes (juice and all), the poblano, and the vegetable broth. I didn’t put an amount for the broth because it depends on how thick or thin you want your soup. Adjust as needed for your preferences. Blend until smooth.

In the same skillet you used for the onions and garlic, add a little olive oil over medium heat. Add your beans, corn, and chicken. Stir around until heated through and the corn isn’t frozen anymore. For the corn, I use the roasted corn from the freezer section at Trader Joe’s. You can always use fresh and char it up yourself, or you can just use regular frozen corn. It really doesn’t matter as long as it’s in there.

 

Add the chicken mixture to the tomato mixture and serve for a nice hearty soup! Top with some cheese and avocado and tortilla chips.

Quick and Easy Chicken Stir Fry

A super easy and quick way to get in a healthy meal is to do a stir fry. This is another non-recipe recipe. Well, it’s sort of a non-recipe; the sauce has measurements, but everything else is completely interchangeable. 

And technically, the sauce can just be a bunch of things thrown together too. That’s how I ended up with this one. Or even store bought.

A little background: Stir frying is a Chinese cooking technique where the ingredients are cooked in a small amount of very hot oil while being stirred in a wok. If you don’t have a wok, that’s fine; you can accomplish the same end result in a skillet. A wok is nice to use because it’s shape lends itself well to high-heat cooking. The smaller area at the bottom produces a hot area to allow the food to sear and then the food can be pushed up the sides to continue cooking at slower rate while more food is added to the hot bottom. The high-heat cooking helps the ingredients to retain their color, texture, and nutritional value. This style of cooking dates back to the Ming dynasty. At the time, wood and charcoal used to fire stoves was expensive, so the stir fry method allowed people to cook quickly without wasting fuel. By the early 1900s, most Chinese kitchens were equipped with wok ranges.

Stir frying was brought to the US by Chinese immigrants around 1820. In 1945, a cookbook called How to Cook and Eat in Chinese was written by Buwei Yang Chao and introduced the term “stir fry” which is a rough translation of the Chinese term for the technique “ch’ao”. By the 1970s, stir frys were widely popular since they were healthy and quick, allowing families with busy schedules to still have a family dinner.

And that leaves us where we are today. I think stir frying is a method that most people use, especially when trying to get a quick meal on the table. And who isn’t trying for that?

You can use any sort of meat you want, or make it vegetarian. You can use any sort of veggie you want. You can use vegetable oil, peanut oil, canola oil. You can add any herbs and spices that your heart desires. You can add a sauce or don’t add a sauce. The possibilities are quite endless.

For this stir fry, I used 1 pound of chicken cutlets because they are thin and cook quickly. I used the veggies I had on hand, which were leeks, purple onions, bell peppers (red, orange, and yellow), carrots, collard greens, and broccoli. I would have added zucchini too, but I completely forgot I had one. I also added a lot of garlic. Just try to make sure everything is roughly the same size.


I started with some oil in the pan and let it get hot. I added my carrots first because those take longer to get soft. After a few minutes, I add the rest of the veggies. When they were almost soft, I added the garlic and some salt. Once all the veggies were pretty much cooked, I pushed them up the side of the wok and added a little more oil and the chicken, which I had cut into small pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper. 


Cook until done and then mix the veggies back in. If you are using a skillet instead of a wok and don’t have the space to move the veggies to the side, you can remove them to a plate and add them back in when the chicken is done.

While the chicken is cooking, mix up your sauce. There are probably hundreds of stir fry sauces available, but this is what I just randomly put together and it was yummy:

¼ cup coconut aminos (you can use reduced sodium soy sauce if you’d rather, but the aminos add another layer of healthy ingredients)

A small splash of fish sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

A splash of lime juice

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon or so of cornstarch

Whisk together and when ready, add to the stir fry. Let it come to a boil and it will start to thicken up.

 

Serve over rice, preferably brown rice.

Start to finish, this is a very fast meal. The cooking part is especially quick, so I highly recommend having all the ingredients cut up before you begin.

 

One Pot Buffalo Chicken Pasta

When I’m in a hurry but still have to make dinner, it’s so easy to want to hit up the Chick-Fil-A drive thru. But my wallet and waistline thank me when I buckle down and hit up my pantry and fridge instead.
 

One pot meals are so great because, hello, if I don’t have time to make a big meal, then I definitely don’t have time to do dishes! This one is particularly great because it is LOADED with protein and fiber, which is excellent for weight loss and overall healthy eating.

You can make this with regular pasta and regular cream cheese, but keep in mind that it won’t be as healthy or as protein-packed.

This is another in my line-up of No Recipe Recipes.

1 box Banza Penne (chickpea pasta. I’ve mentioned it before. It is so great! I hardly ever go back to regular pasta!)

A couple spoonfuls of Greek Yogurt Cream Cheese (You can get Green Mountain Farms brand at Sprouts and Kroger/Ralphs has a store brand as well)

Cooked, shredded chicken

Frank’s Buffalo Sauce (this is the only one on the market that I can find that is zero calories)

Bleu cheese crumbles (optional)

Boil the pasta per package directions and drain.

While the pasta is hot, add the cream cheese and stir until melted and saucy. Add the chicken and mix in.


Add however much buffalo sauce you want based on your heat tolerance. Try a little at a time and taste to see what you like. Some people like it super hot and some just a little, so go with your preference.


If you are the type of person who likes moldy cheese, go ahead and add some bleu cheese crumbles to yours. I do not, thank you very much, so I left mine as is.

 

This was really yummy and satisfying. It only took about 10 minutes, and I only had to wash one pot!

 

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

I always have the best of intentions when it comes to meal planning. It rarely actually works out for me, but still I try. Recently, my husband I got some of those bento-style boxes to make up some healthy lunches to take with us in the morning. The idea would be that we already have a healthy lunch ready to go, so it saves time in the morning and we would be less likely to go out somewhere. 

The best laid plans, amiright?

It didn’t really work. I think the problem is we made too many meals ahead of time, so by the time we got about half way through, the lunches we made weren’t very good anymore, we were bored with the same thing every day, and the main portion of the lunch was a chicken breast which always ended up really dried out after reheating. I had to go back to the drawing board. I think I successfully came up with some other options besides just plain ol’ chicken and rice, and I also think that making them in smaller batches is going to be the key to less food waste and fatigue.

My first idea was this chicken salad. You don’t have to reheat it, so that solves the dried meat problem. I also only made a few days’ worth, so we shouldn’t get too sick of it and we won’t have to throw any of it away. Served with some whole grain crackers and a lite Baby Bell cheese circle and I think I’ve got a solid lunch option on my hands.

I suggest making this at least a couple hours before you plan on eating it so the flavors have a chance to really come together.

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

4 cups cooked chicken (you can use whatever cooked chicken you want. I put 3 chicken breasts in my Instant Pot with some chicken broth, salt, dried thyme, and Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute and they were ready to go in no time.)

1 cup finely chopped carrots

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 cup quartered grapes, red or green your preference

1 cup chopped apple, whatever kind you want

Handful of slivered almonds

1-1/2 cups plain non-fat Greek yogurt

Juice from half a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Keep in mind that none of these ingredients are set in stone. This is just how I make a basic chicken salad. If you don’t like carrots? Don’t add them. Think carrots are the greatest thing in world? Add more! You can put any seasoning you want. You can swap out the almonds for something else. Or remove them altogether. This would also be really good with dried cranberries (not to mention how pretty it would look with that pop of red color!). If you think Greek yogurt is a bit too tangy, you can take some of it out and substitute nonfat mayo or sour cream. If I had some green onions, I would add those too.  

 

Speaking of Greek yogurt, I would start on the lesser end and stir it in in small amounts until it reaches the level of creaminess you like.


This recipe makes A LOT of chicken salad, so it would be good for a party or picnic. The Super Bowl is coming up; you could serve this along with some whole grain crackers as a healthy alternative to the rest of the stuff on the food table.

Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Broccoli Sheet Pan Meal

Do you ever wish that you had, like, 5 more hours in the day? Seriously, when I look at our calendar there are times when I think a 29 hour day is something I could totally work with. 

Alas, that is not possible. So, I just have to make the most of the 24 hours that do come in the day. That’s one of the reasons I really like sheet pan meals. You can cook everything all at once and only have to dirty one dish. And if you use parchment paper, even the one dish you use isn’t that tough to clean.

My favorite sheet pan meal is pretty basic, but still has a lot of flavor. You can always change things around too, like the veggies and the seasoning. Even the meat, just be aware of how long it takes to cook different types of meat.

Basic sheet pan chicken and vegetables*

boneless skinless chicken breasts

Broccoli

Red bell pepper, sliced

Olive oil

Garlic salt

Grated Parmesan cheese

*no amounts here. Make however much you need. This is totally an “eyeball it” dinner. I made 2 chicken breasts, but you can always make 3 or 4. I also just filled in the outside with the veggies.

Put a piece of parchment on a baking sheet. Add your vegetables and toss with olive oil, garlic salt, and parmesan cheese, to taste. Remember, you can always add more later.

I LOVE this olive oil from Trader Joe’s!

Move the veggies to the side and add your chicken breasts. Coat them in olive oil and garlic salt as well. Top each with a little parmesan cheese.

 

Bake at 375 for about 20-25 minutes. Then turn on the broiler for 5 minutes to get the top of the chicken nice and golden.

That’s it. Serve it up and enjoy an easy, healthy dinner.