<![CDATA[Think Merrill - for a healthy lifestyle - Home]]>Sat, 04 Nov 2017 15:12:53 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Tuna Noodle Casserole]]>Mon, 12 Dec 2016 17:52:49 GMThttp://thinkmerrill.com/home/tuna-noodle-casseroleTuna casserole is one of the most common comfort foods, and my husband LOVES it. Begs for it. Typically they are made with a lot of processed ingredients, heavy quantities of milk or cream, and canned soup. In fact, a friend asked me to help her with a cleaner version and that's what brings us here! I've made one for years, but totally wing it. I never measured ingredients, so I had to work to get this written up for her! It took me two tries measuring ingredients, but I think I got it just right.

Here is my cleaned up version, though I wouldn't call this "healthy." Yes, it's dairy and gluten free, and definitely a better choice, but it's still an indulgent meal. This is on our once and a while list. I used Daiya mozzarella today, but I've also used the cheddar. The pepperjack shreds might really spice this up for a grown up flavor.
1 small onion, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 can unpressed coconut milk
1c unsweetened cashew or almond milk 
1T olive oil
1/2t garlic powder
1T onion powder
1/4t turmeric
1t pink Himalayan salt
1/2t pepper 
2-3 cans sustainable wild caught tuna, drained
1/2 bag Daiya shreds, any flavor
1 box gluten free pasta, cooked 1/2 suggested cooking time on package

Warm the olive oil over medium heat, then saute the onion, celery and salt about 5 minutes until fragrant and translucent. Add the rest of your seasonings, then stir in the can of coconut milk and cup of milk. Bring it to a nice bubbling heat, then stir in the Daiya Shreds and whisk until smooth and creamy. Add your tuna and mix well to break it up.
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Spread the pasta into a shallow, wide baking dish, then pour sauce over and mix well.  Bake at 375 25-30 minutes, switching to broil for the last few min to brown the top. If you like this soft and creamy throughout, cover while cooking and skip the broiler. Can be assembled the day before, then cook 45 min if cold out of the fridge. 
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<![CDATA[Coconut Lime Chicken]]>Mon, 28 Nov 2016 17:49:04 GMThttp://thinkmerrill.com/home/coconut-lime-chicken8026329This recipe made it's first appearance in my Marinating Chicken post. It's so good, I decided it needed a post of its own! Grilling this is our favorite way to cook it, but all the cooking methods below taste delicious.
3-4 limes (1/3c)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 can unpressed coconut milk
3-4 cloves garlic pressed
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons seasoned salt*
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Combine all ingredients and pour over your chicken. Refrigerate for at least 30 min before cooking. If making this as a freezer meal, add all ingredients to a gallon size freezer bag, label and store until needed.


Cooking Options: Bake (thawed or fresh) at 425 for 20-25 minutes - I use a meat thermometer to cook to 160 degrees then rest for five minutes before slicing; crockpot for 5-6 hours on low (6-7 hours from frozen); or grill (thawed or fresh) for 3-4 minutes per side, again using a meat thermometer to 160 degrees and allow to rest for five minutes before slicing. Instant Pot: Add the chicken, marinade and all, and cook on manual for 8-10 minutes depending how large your breasts are. Quick Release and serve immediately. If cooking from frozen, double your IP cook time to 16-20 minutes.

Variations
  • Try fresh squeezed lemon or orange juice if you don't have limes. I used about 1/4c of lemon juice this time.
  • 1/2 cup cilantro instead of parsley
  • If you don't have fresh herbs, try half the quantity of dried herbs. I used 1/4c dried parsley today
  • Try smoked paprika in your seasoned salt instead of regular

*Homemade Seasoned Salt
1/4c pink himalayan salt
4t black pepper

1t paprika
Combine well and store in a jar or container.
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<![CDATA[Black Bean Sweet Potato Salad]]>Mon, 28 Nov 2016 17:02:13 GMThttp://thinkmerrill.com/home/black-bean-sweet-potato-saladThis recipe started with some leftover roasted sweet potato cubes from dinner the night before. It was so delicious now I make it all on purpose, just for this recipe. I make and freeze my own beans in the Instant Pot (instructions here) but using canned is fine. If you keep healthy food prepped and ready to go, it's easy to make good choices. These store all week long in jars, just add toppings the day you're ready to eat one.
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/8 red onion, minced
salt and pepper to taste
chili powder

Optional toppings: cubed avocado, fresh cilantro, salsa

Toss the cubed sweet potatoes in just a drizzle of olive oil and bake on a cookie sheet until cooked through, 20-25 minutes. Divide evenly between medium sized glass jars: sweet potato, black beans, red onion. Top with a sprinkle of chili powder, the zest from your lime and then cut and squeeze the lime evenly over each jar. Shake well, then refrigerate. I'll add my fresh toppings the morning I'm ready to eat them. Yum!

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<![CDATA[Hearty Green Bean Salad]]>Mon, 28 Nov 2016 16:26:44 GMThttp://thinkmerrill.com/home/hearty-green-bean-salad
One of my favorite fast snacks or side dishes!! It's also a favorite of my veggie loving middle child. So tasty! The olives in this are so buttery delicious, you'll never want to eat regular black olives again!

1 bag or bunch green beans, trimmed & snapped in thirds
1 russet potato, peeled and cubed
3T olive oil
Juice and zest from one lemon
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 can Lindsay Naturals Olives, sliced or halved
Salt and Pepper to taste

Bring salted water to a boil and add the potatoes for 5-6 min. Add in the green beans and boil for another 2 min to blanch. Drain, then toss with the garlic, salt, pepper and parsley, and the olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon juice and zest. Serve at room temperature or divide in jars or containers for easy grabbing later!

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I have included links for your convenience; some of these are affiliate links. It doesn't cost you any extra to order from them, and if you do purchase something using one of these links, I am given a small compensation from the seller. This helps me keep my blog up and running! For more questions please see my disclosure page.
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<![CDATA[Lightened Up Caesar Salad]]>Mon, 28 Nov 2016 16:18:01 GMThttp://thinkmerrill.com/home/lightened-up-caesar-saladFor a long time, I was allergic to eggs on top of dairy so creating this recipe was a must! I can eat eggs again, but this still stays on our meal plan because it's so delicious!
3T olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
1t Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
2t vegan Worcestershire or aminos
1T nutritional yeast
Optional, 1t anchovy paste or fish sauce
1/2t salt
1/4t pepper

Blend in a bullet or blender. Toss over 4c chopped romaine. I added toasted raw almonds instead of croutons for crunch. When we aren't doing the 10 Day Shred we eat some sheep and goat cheeses, so I replace the yeast with Locatelli Pecorino-Romano grated cheese.

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I have included links for your convenience; some of these are affiliate links. It doesn't cost you any extra to order from them, and if you do purchase something using one of these links, I am given a small compensation from the seller. This helps me keep my blog up and running! For more questions please see my disclosure page.
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<![CDATA[Sweet Potato Pudding]]>Mon, 28 Nov 2016 15:34:27 GMThttp://thinkmerrill.com/home/sweet-potato-pudding
This is one of my favorite healthy snacks or desserts. It tastes just like pumpkin or sweet potato pie without all the fat, calories or sugar, and it's super simple to make. I usually cook an extra sweet potato when I'm making them already for dinner, or throw one or two in the oven while something else is baking. I also quick cook them in my Instant Pot! I love to store servings in small glass jars or plastic containers so I can easily grab them when I'm in a hurry.

1 large cooked sweet potato
1t cinnamon
pinch each of nutmeg and clove
1-2t raw honey or agave
1-2T unsweetened cashew or almond milk.

In a bullet or food processor, blend all but the milk until it's blended. Add the milk 1T at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Top with chopped pecans and a sprinkle of ground flax and serve immediately, or store in individual containers.
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I have included links for your convenience; some of these are affiliate links. It doesn't cost you any extra to order from them, and if you do purchase something using one of these links, I am given a small compensation from the seller. This helps me keep my blog up and running! For more questions please see my disclosure page.
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<![CDATA[Mini Quiche Cups]]>Mon, 28 Nov 2016 15:24:37 GMThttp://thinkmerrill.com/home/mini-quiche-cups
These crustless, dairy free mini quiche cups are so super easy! Great for breakfast or a fast, healthy snack in between meals, the whole family begs me to make these weekly. You can easily mix and match the ingredients based on what you have, use leftovers, or create something delicious from scratch. Some of our favorite variations are crumbled cooked turkey bacon, or leftover pieces of roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes. The possibilities are endless! Here I left a few plain and added some vegan cheese shreds for my pickiest eater. This is one of his favorite snacks! He won't eat the leafy greens, but he loves when I blend some fresh herbs like basil right into the egg mix.

12 eggs
1/3c unsweetened cashew or almond milk
1t salt
1/4t pepper
1t onion powder
1c packed, chopped leafy greens like spinach, arugula, mustard greens or chard
grape tomatoes, sliced in half
coconut oil
fresh or dried chives, basil, cilantro or parsley; optional
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Add the eggs, milk and seasoning to a large bowl and blend with an immersion blender, or in a blender and pulse until well mixed and fluffy. Lightly grease your muffin tins with coconut oil (I prefer silicone) and add your leafy greens. Pour the egg mixture over the greens leaving about 1/2" from the top edge. Drop a few tomatoes on top and a few chives or herbs to finish it off. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Do NOT overbake. They will look shiny on top but won't run if you move the pan. That's when you know they are done. Watch carefully those last few minutes. You can see mine in the silicone start to pop out themselves! Serve immediately or store in the fridge for easy reheating, or grab and eat cold.
I have included links for your convenience; some of these are affiliate links. It doesn't cost you any extra to order from them, and if you do purchase something using one of these links, I am given a small compensation from the seller. This helps me keep my blog up and running! For more questions please see my disclosure page.
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<![CDATA[Tasty Two Bean Salad]]>Thu, 27 Oct 2016 19:10:59 GMThttp://thinkmerrill.com/home/tasty-two-bean-salad
This ended up being a throw together, with leftover items I had already thawed or chopped but it's a total keeper!! I knew as soon as I tasted it I had to write it down. I use my own cooked beans, I make large batches in the Instant Pot and freeze them in bags so I always have them handy. Canned beans will work just fine. It's good without the tomatoes, and amazing with them! Your choice.

Ingredients
4 cups black beans (or two cans)
2 cups navy beans (or one can)
Two green onions, sliced thinly
1t onion powder
1t dried oregano
1/2t dried marjoram
1/2t garlic powder
1/2t dried thyme
1/4t smoked paprika
1/4c olive oil or avocado oil
1/4c red wine vinegar
1/2c chopped grape tomatoes (optional)

Combine all ingredients and let chill for at least 30 min before serving. Toss well and enjoy.


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<![CDATA[Chocolate Zucchini Muffins]]>Mon, 26 Sep 2016 04:00:00 GMThttp://thinkmerrill.com/home/chocolate-zucchini-muffins
I know, I know, I've been heavy on the muffin posts lately. BUT they are something my kids eat and eat well, so I usually make two different batches per week for them to enjoy for breakfast, in their lunches, or as an after school snack. We have had a ton of zucchini lately, so these have been in our rotation often. They are just the right combination of savory and sweet, and with clean ingredients so you just can't go wrong.

3/4c (1/2c if you want them more savory) coconut palm sugar
1T ground flax + 3T water
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 medium zucchini, grated
1t baking soda
1t baking powder
1t pink Himalayan salt (1t if you use coconut oil)
1/4c cacao powder or cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup gluten free flour blend* or oat flour or whole wheat flour
1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
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Add flax and water to a bowl and sit for just a minute.  Add the sugar and coconut oil,  mix well. Stir in the zucchini, followed by all dry ingredients and finally chocolate chips.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes for mini muffins, 20 minutes for regular.

*Erika's Gluten free flour blend (the best!) ingredients: Brown Rice Flour, White Rice Flour, Sweet Rice Flour, Tapioca Flour, Xanthan Gum.
I have included links for your convenience; some of these are affiliate links. It doesn't cost you any extra to order from them, and if you do purchase something using one of these links, I am given a small compensation from the seller. This helps me keep my blog up and running! For more questions please see my disclosure page.
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<![CDATA[Almond Breaded Chicken Tenders]]>Tue, 20 Sep 2016 16:00:14 GMThttp://thinkmerrill.com/home/almond-breaded-chicken-tenders
One of our family favorite easy dinners! Takes just minutes to prep and pop in the oven, and the whole family loves them. You can easily change up the flavors by adding in different dry herbs or spices. We have tried at least a dozen and haven't found one we didn't love!

1 package chicken tenders, or breasts cut into strips
1/4c melted coconut oil or vegan buttery spread
1/4c almond flour/meal
Salt and Pepper
Any other herbs/spices, optional (we like a little sprinkle of garlic and onion powder)

Bake at 375 for 15 min, then turn to broil for 3-5 min to brown the tops. Serve immediately.
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I have included links for your convenience; some of these are affiliate links. It doesn't cost you any extra to order from them, and if you do purchase something using one of these links, I am given a small compensation from the seller. This helps me keep my blog up and running! For more questions please see my disclosure page.
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