Taco Squash Bowls

As you may have guessed by the name of my blog, I’m frequently on the go.  I have a full time job managing a team of healthcare IT professionals in the pharmacy department of a large academic medical facility plus 2 other part time/PRN pharmacist positions – one as a staff pharmacist at a smaller hospital and one as a consultant pharmacist for a physician-owned surgical center.  I’m also an active member of a women’s group focused on developing the potential of women and promoting volunteerism.  I play sand volleyball in 2 different leagues 3 out of 4 seasons of the year plus strive to squeeze in at least 4 workouts a week.

While I love cooking, there are weeks when I don’t have much time to devote to preparing meals so I have a few quick and easy things in the regular rotation.

Some variation of these taco squash bowls are eaten in my house on the reg.  They’re super quick and easy plus are basically just meat and veggies – so they pack a protein punch plus all the goodness that only vegetables can provide.  So it’s a no brainer that they make an almost weekly appearance on the menu at home.

Additionally, so many variations can be made that it never gets old!  Just use a little creativity and you’ve got a different spin every time!

Some of my favorite veggies to prepare this with include acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and even sweet potato!  These are all regularly found stocked in my kitchen so it just depends on what I’m feeling like or which one needs to be used first.

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I generally make these with taco meat, but I had some leftover pork tenderloin carnitas (don’t worry, I’ll post how I made that later!) in the freezer so I used that this past week and it was equally if not more delicious!

Toppings can be just about any of your favorite taco toppings as well!  I love mixing it up with diced avocado, various salsa varieties, green onions, cilantro…you name it!  I’ve also added diced, cooked onion and garlic to the taco meat mixture for even more veg and flavor!

Here’s the pork carnitas version with avocado2018-02-07_17-06-54_862

And here’s the original with taco meat, salsa, and non-dairy cheese substitute

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So…..let’s get started, shall we?!

Taco Squash Bowls

Serves:  6                                                         Total Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients:

  1. 2 lbs ground turkey, chicken, or lean beef (I generally use a 1:1 ratio of lean ground beef (at least 93% lean) plus ground turkey or chicken 99% lean)
  2. 2 packets reduced sodium taco seasoning (or 1 depending on the brand – follow instructions for 2 pounds of meat)
  3. 2/3 C water
  4. 1/4 C quick oats, optional
  5. 3 small acorn squash, roasted
  6. 1 T olive oil
  7. Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Roast the acorn squash.  Preheat the oven to 425F.  Cut the acorn squash in half length wise and scoop out seeds. Drizzle cut side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place cut side down in a baking dish lined with foil and bake for 20-25 min or until a fork inserts easily into the skin.
  2. Cook the taco meat.  Cook beef/turkey/chicken mixture in a skillet over medium heat until no pink remains.  Drain all fat.  Add taco seasoning, water, and quick oats (if using).  Stir to combine, cover, and cook for a few minutes until water has absorbed.  The addition of the oats makes the meat mixture less crumbly and makes it stick together more.
  3. Assemble the bowls:  spoon taco meat mixture into half cooked acorn squash.  Top with garnish as desired (definitely add the salsa!) and enjoy!

These store really well and reheat easily for quick weekday lunches with the leftovers!

Nutrition Info (including 2 T salsa and 1 T vegan cheese alternative shreds):

388 total cal, 36g protein, 36g carb, 10g fat

 

Note:  CeceOnTheGo participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  The products linked are products actually used when preparing this recipe

 

 

 


Sweet Potato Protein Pancakes {gf, df}

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I try NEVER to skip breakfast.  Especially since I typically work out in the morning before work, I’d be a hangry mess by mid-morning if I skipped this important meal!

I also make sure to incorporate at least 20 grams of protein into my breakfast, as otherwise I’m prone to the dreaded blood sugar crash.  I used to be a carboholic in the mornings, generally eating only dry cereal and a banana, along with my coffee.  After wondering why, for the longest time, I was consistently feeling shaky, slightly nauseous, light headed, and on the brink of a major headache around 10:30am, I finally figured out that I was likely experiencing an insulin spike following my carb-loaded breakfast which resulted in low blood sugar and all the aforementioned symptoms.

So, alas, protein is a must in ensuring my first meal of the day sets me up for success! This generally means I tend towards savory breakfast items.  But sometimes I still crave something sweet so I started experimenting with protein pancakes.  I probably make these once a month, usually on a weekend morning, as a special treat.  This version incorporates sweet potatoes, but I’ve also done variations such as banana + slivered almonds, frozen blueberries + walnuts, even added powdered peanut butter for some extra deliciousness!  The possibilities are endless really…you may just need to adjust the non-dairy milk amount or coconut flour to get it to the right consistency.

I also recently started adding collagen protein to my pancakes, along with each morning in my cup of coffee, in smoothies, in oatmeal, really just about anything!  Warm or blended foods tend to work best as it can get a bit lumpy when incorporated into cold things.  A good brand should be flavorless, unless of course you’re looking for more of a flavored version.  Collagen consumption has many reported benefits and personally I’ve seen a definite effect in the strength of my hair and nails.  The link to the product above also contains a good description of some of the other reported benefits such as anti-aging, bone and joint health, and gut health.

Sweet potato pancake batter

The batter turns a bit orange, partly from the coconut flour and partly from the sweet potatoes.  As you can see, I also try to leave the sweet potatoes a bit lumpy as I like the texture of them.

Cook these over medium-low heat to allow them to cook through as well as to hold together better.  Let them hang out long enough until they slide around on the pan easily.  I constantly get too impatient and end up with broken apart, ugly pancakes.  Luckily I only ruined the first few of this batch and was able to get a few that were picture worthy!

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Sweet Potato Protein Pancakes {gluten-free, dairy-free}

Servings: 2-3

Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  1. 1 medium sweet potato, cooked
  2. 4 large eggs
  3. 2 scoops collagen powder, optional
  4. 1/4 C coconut flour
  5. 1/4 C cashew milk or non-dairy milk of choice
  6. 1 t pure vanilla extract
  7. 1 T coconut sugar, honey, or pure maple syrup
  8. 1 t cinnamon
  9. 1 t salt
  10. 1/4 t baking powder
  11. 2 T coconut oil, divided
  12. Toppings of choice, such as drizzled almond butter and chopped nuts (pictured); thawed, frozen berries; additional maple syrup or agave syrup, gf granola, etc.

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, add eggs and lightly beat with a whisk.
  2. Add cashew milk, vanilla, 1 T melted coconut oil, sweetener, cinnamon, and salt and whisk to combine.
  3. Add baking powder, coconut flour and collagen powder, whisking just until no large lumps remain.
  4. Add the cooked sweet potato and use the whisk to incorporate and break up slightly as necessary, leaving it a bit lumpy.  At this point, you could include whatever add ins you want, adjusting the non-dairy milk or coconut flour as necessary.  Tip:  I didn’t have a cooked sweet potato on hand so I scrubbed one and then heated it in the microwave for 4-5 minutes until it was soft.  Then I cut it in half and used a spoon to scoop out the inside and discarded the skin.
  5. Working in batches, heat about 1/4 T remaining coconut oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.  Once oil is melted and the pan is heated, add small amounts of batter, approximately 1/4 C, to the pan.  Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes or until fully set, flip, and cook other side for additional 3-4 minutes.
  6. Top to your heart’s delight and enjoy!

Nutrition Info (based on 2 servings, without toppings):

450 total cal, 25 g protein, 29 g carb, 25 g fat

 

Note:  CeceOnTheGo participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  The products linked are products actually used when preparing this recipe

Immune Boosting Chicken Vegetable Soup

This has been a rough week for several reasons.  After spending a long weekend on an amazing ski trip with friends, I wasn’t able to get on track with my normal weekly activities.

We returned home on Monday evening then returned to work on Tuesday.  Every evening of the week, there was some after-work activity to run to – volunteer group meeting, work related late evening meeting, college basketball game tickets…thus I never made it to the grocery store.  Luckily, I had a few things left over in the freezer to get us through the week food wise.

On top of having something to do every evening, one of my dogs got an upset stomach and threw up on me and in the bed in the middle of the night, I didn’t sleep well due to a headache another night, and then to top it off woke up with a stomach bug Saturday morning, all leading to being pretty exhausted.  Needless to say, I also didn’t make it to my normal workouts this week.

After spending the entirety of Saturday lounging around (and staying close to the bathroom), I started to feel a bit better Sunday so decided to finally get out of the house and to the grocery store.

Whenever I’m not feeling well, I always crave my mom’s homemade chicken noodle soup.  However, no matter how many times I’ve attempted and gotten guidance from my mom, it never seems to turn out the same.  I think she’s holding back some of her ingredients from me on purpose 😉 .

This time, instead of trying to mimic my mom’s soup, I decided to give it my own spin and throw in a few ingredients that are touted to help reduce inflammation and boost your immune system.  While I can’t speak to the science behind these claims, I can report that it was pretty yummy and hit the spot, which was welcomed for this very empty stomach!  My husband, who claims not to like chicken noodle soup, even liked it, helping himself to a second bowl.

I used onion, garlic, ginger, thyme, oregano, cayenne, turmeric, and fresh lemon in this soup.  All of these reportedly boost immunity, although I haven’t looked into the research to support that.  Regardless, it can’t hurt, especially when it made for a really tasty end product!

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Ingredients:

Servings: 6                                          Total Time:  1.5 hrs

  1. 1 whole chicken, approx. 6 lb
  2. 2 bay leaves
  3. 6 C chicken broth, divided
  4. 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4″ rounds
  5. 4 celery stalks, diced
  6. 1 medium onion, diced
  7. 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  8. 8 oz kluski (egg) noodles, optional*
  9. 1 T garlic, diced
  10. 1 t ground ginger
  11. 1/2 t ground thyme
  12. 1/2 t ground oregano
  13. 1/2 t ground turmeric
  14. 1/8 t cayenne pepper
  15. Juice of 1 lemon
  16. Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1.  Place the chicken, breast side down, along with 2 C broth and 2 bay leaves in pressure cooker.  Lock lid in place and heat over high heat until rocker starts moving.  Reduce heat to medium and cook chicken for approximately 35-40 minutes.  Turn off heat and let pressure release naturally.  Once the pressure is released, remove the chicken and set aside to cool.  Remove bay leaves and discard.  Pour broth into fat separator, such as this one.  Allow to cool and reserve.  Once the chicken has cooled, remove the skin and any visible fat.  Roughly shred chicken meat with hands.  I used mainly the white meat for this recipe (and let my hubby pick over the legs and thighs 🙂 )
  2. While chicken and broth cool, in a large stockpot, heat about 2 cups of broth over medium low heat.  Add the onion and garlic and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add herbs/seasonings and remaining broth (fat removed).  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  3. Bring to a boil and add noodles and vegetables.  Reduce heat to simmer and allow to cook for about 15-20 minutes.  During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the shredded chicken.  Just prior to serving, add the juice of one whole lemon

Notes:  To save time, you could use a pre-bought rotisserie chicken.  However, I find pressure cooking it the best way to keep it moist and delicious!

Next time I make this, I will probably try adding the juice of an additional lemon (2 in total) for even more lemony flavor.  I may also try fresh ginger rather than dried.

To keep this lower carb, omit the noodles.  It will still be plenty hearty and filling with all those vegetables and chicken!

Nutrition Info:

350 total cal, 38g protein, 40g carb, 5g fat (including noodles)

Note:  CeceOnTheGo participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  The products linked are products actually used when preparing this recipe

Turkey Sausage Egg Cups

I NEVER skip breakfast.  If I were to miss it, trust me, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere near 🙂  #hangry – it’s a thing

Since I typically work out first thing in the morning, it’s important to have a protein packed breakfast ready and available afterwards.  I’m also prone to having the dreaded blood sugar crash mid-morning if I don’t eat enough protein in the morning.

After working out in the morning, I’m usually rushing to get ready for work on time, so breakfast also needs to be fast and convenient.

These egg cups are perfect for all these reasons!  They’re packed with lean protein, super easy to make ahead, portion out, and take on the run.  They also reheat really well.

I typically use silicone muffin pans for these, as the egg cups pop right out and the pan is super easy to clean!  I’ve used normal metal baking pans in the past, sprayed with cooking spray, and after fighting to get it clean, gave up and tossed it (not a proud moment – I hate giving up and I hate being wasteful!!!)

You can also mix these up with just about any veggie you like!  I’ve done fresh spinach, bell peppers, onions, you name it!  Depending on how much veg you add, you may need to reduce the eggs a touch so they don’t spill over (speaking from experience here 🙂 )

I also love topping theses with some salsa or hot sauce, such as Cholula, for some added flavor and spice!

Enjoy!

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Pic:  heading to work for an extra long shift following a night with little sleep!  So glad I had those egg bites to power me through!

Turkey Sausage Egg Cups

Servings: 8   (3 egg cups per serving)                  Total Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients:

  1.  1 pound lean ground turkey (I used 99% lean) or turkey sausage
  2. 14 large eggs
  3.  Sausage seasoning (omit if using pre-seasoned sausage):
    • 1/2 t crushed red pepper (more or less to taste)
    • 1 t salt
    • 1 t pepper
    • 1/2 t dried marjoram
    •  1 t dried sage
    •  1 t dried thyme
    • 1 t dried rosemary
    • 1/2 t ground fennel seed
    • 1 t garlic powder
    • 1 t onion powder
    • 1 t dried parsley
  4. Cheese or non-dairy cheese substitute, optional

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. If using regular ground turkey, use hands to mix all seasonings with turkey
  3. Form turkey into 24 rough balls
  4. Press turkey balls into bottom of each muffin slot
  5. In a small bowl or large measuring cup, crack eggs and whisk to combine.  Season with salt and pepper as desired
  6. If adding veggies, place small amount in muffin cups on top of sausage
  7. Pour egg mixture over turkey sausage (and veggies if added)
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until eggs are fully set
  9. Remove from oven, top with some shredded cheese if desired, and place back in oven for a few minutes until melted
  10. Remove from oven and enjoy!

Nutrition info:  212 calories, 10.3 g fat, 2.5 g carb, 27.7 g protein

 

 

Note:  CeceOnTheGo participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  The products linked are products actually used when preparing this recipe.

 

 


Buffalo Chicken Dip (Dairy Free)

With the Superbowl right around the corner, I thought I would share one of my favorite healthy and easy appetizers!

Before I fully committed to going dairy-free (because of GI issues amongst other things), I LOVED the cheesy, gooey, spicy, salty, chickeny buffalo chicken dip that always seemed to make an appearance at sporting and tailgating events.

Last year, we had a few friends over to watch the Superbowl and I thought I was really going to miss having buffalo chicken dip at such events.  But then I thought, why should I have to miss it?  Surely there’s a way to get something at least similar without dairy – there’s all kinds of dairy replacements available these days!

So I started experimenting, and came up with a pretty good substitute.  Our friends, who are mostly all dairy eaters, even liked it!

buffalo chicken dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip (Dairy Free)

Serves:  6            Time:  ~20 minutes

Ingredients:

  1. 2 medium sized chicken breast (10-12 oz total)
  2. 5 oz store-bought roasted garlic hummus (about half of a 10 oz container) (or make your own if you have time! 🙂 )
  3. 6-7 T Hot Sauce (I prefer Frank’s)
  4. 1/3 C Avocado Mayonaisse (or light mayo of your choice)
  5. 1 T Fresh Lemon Juice
  6. 1 T onion powder
  7. 1 T garlic powder
  8. 1/4 C shredded cheese alternative (such as Trader Joe’s Almond Mozzarella Style Shreds)
  9. 1/4 C Nutritional Yeast, such as Braggs
  10. 2 T Tahini
  11. 1-2 T unsweetened non-dairy milk, such as cashew or almond, as necessary

Instructions:

  1. Poach the chicken breast until cooked through.  Place chicken breast in small sauce pan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer approximately 15 minutes or until cooked through.  Allow to cool and then shred.
  2. Meanwhile, mix all other ingredients thoroughly in an oven safe or microwave safe dish.
  3. Add the chicken to the rest of the ingredients, adding small amounts of non-dairy milk as necessary to thin.
  4. Prior to serving, warm in the oven at 350F or in the microwave.
  5. Serve with veggies or chips of choice.  I enjoy this with large slices of red bell pepper or celery!

Mmm-mmm!

Nutrition info:  192 tot cal, 9.9 g fat, 8.8 g carb, 16 g protein

 

Note:  CeceOnTheGo participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  The products linked are products actually used when preparing this recipe.

African Style Chicken Peanut Stew

I love traveling and trying out new restaurants and foods.  Awhile back, I had this wonderful peanut stew while in Madison, WI.

It combines many flavors I love, including curry, peanut sauce, and warm, African spices.

Lately, I’ve been loving soups with cinnamon in them – it just adds this extra layer of depth and warmth that’s so amazing this time of year – and I remembered that delicious peanut stew I’d had on that chilly night in Wisconsin so decided to attempt it myself.

While not exactly the same, this peanut stew definitely hit the spot and left me with a very full, happy stomach 🙂

Peanut Stew

African Chicken Peanut Stew

Serves:  4                Estimated Time:  ~45 min

Ingredients:

  1.   1 small yellow onion, diced
  2.   3 cloves garlic, minced
  3.   1 thumb size knob of fresh finger, peeled and minced
  4.   1 medium sweet potato, diced
  5.   3 C fresh spinach
  6.   1 red bell pepper, diced
  7.   1 serrano chile, seeded and diced
  8.   1 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
  9.   2 chicken breasts, approx. 1 lb, cubed
  10.   1 T coconut oil
  11.   1/3 C natural peanut butter (or other natural nut butter such as SunButter)
  12.   1 C light coconut milk
  13.   1 C reduced sodium chicken stock
  14.   1 T ground coriander
  15.   1 t cayenne pepper
  16.   1 T curry powder
  17.   1 T chili powder
  18.   1 cinnamon stick
  19.   Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  20.   Fresh cilantro and reduced sodium, dry roasted peanuts for garnish
  21.   1/4 C cooked basmati rice for serving, optional

Instructions:

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large stock pot.  Add the onion and sweet potato and saute for a few minutes on medium-low heat.  Add the garlic and ginger and continue to saute for another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add chicken and spices ( coriander, cayenne, chili powder, curry), and saute for another 5 minutes.
  3. Add canned tomatoes, chicken stock, coconut milk, nut butter, cinnamon stick, and diced serrano.  Stir to combine and reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add red bell pepper and spinach and allow to simmer another 5-10 minutes.
  5. Serve over rice, if desired, and top with fresh cilantro and roasted peanuts

Enjoy!

Estimated Nutrition Info:  546 total cal, 40 g carb, 43 g protein, 24 g fat (with rice)

 

Note:  CeceOnTheGo participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  The products linked are products actually used when preparing this recipe.

Spicy Shrimp with Cauli Mash and Bacony Garlic Brussels

Thanks for joining me!  This site will be a work in progress while I get the hang of this!  Any and all feedback is welcomed and appreciated!

Take care of your body.  It’s the only place you have to live. — Jim Rohn

I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for awhile in order to share recipes (successes as well as probably a few flops) along with ideas on how I stay both mentally and physically fit and healthy.

My journey with learning and loving to cook started at a young age.  I can happily report that both my mom as well as my grandma are amazing cooks so I learned from the best, in my opinion :).

As a young child, I was labeled an “extreme ectomorph”, which basically was medical jargon for lanky and lack of muscle.  Like most kids, my metabolism along with playing multiple sports, allowed me to eat just about anything and everything and remain thin.  Literally, Peanut Buster Parfaits from DQ were a regular part of my diet!

That is, until my thyroid got out of whack my sophomore year of high school.  I gained >30 pounds that school year so I had to start looking for ways that I could continue to prepare and enjoy delicious food but become more conscious of what I using to fuel my body.

Thus, my love of cooking began.

For my first recipe, I’m going to share what I put together for dinner tonight.  After sharing a picture on social media and getting several requests for the recipe, I decided it was time to stop thinking about starting this site and actually get started 🙂

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Spicy Shrimp w/ Cauli Mash and Bacony Garlic Brussels

Serves: 4                               Total time: ~45 min 

Cauli Mash:

  1. 1 head of cauliflower, cut into medium florets
  2. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 2 T olive oil
  4. 2 C chicken broth
  5. 1 C cashew milk (or milk of choice)
  6. 1/2 C corn meal
  7. 1/3 C nutritional yeast such as Braggs (or cheese such as parmesan if you like)

 Bacony Garlic Brussels:

  1. 1.5 – 2 lbs Brussels spouts, trimmed and halved
  2. 4 oz diced pancetta (or several slices bacon, diced)
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2 T olive oil
  5. Salt and pepper

Spicy Shrimp:

  1. 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  2. 2 T olive oil
  3. 1 t crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
  4. 1 t garlic powder
  5. 2 t chili powder
  6. Salt and Pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450F.  Toss the brussels sprouts ingredients together and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Bake in the oven for approximately 20 – 25 minutes, stirring once.
  2. While brussels sprouts cook, start the cauliflower.  In a medium/large stockpot, heat a few of the larger chunks of pancetta over medium heat until some of the fat has rendered.  Remove the pancetta, add olive oil and cauliflower and sauté for a few minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté 1-2 more minutes.  Add the chicken stock and milk of choice, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes or more until the cauliflower is fork tender.  Mash the cauliflower with your fork to desired consistency.  (I like a chunky texture).  Add the corn meal and nutritional yeast (or cheese) and stir to incorporate.  The mixture will thicken up.  Add a few more tablespoons of broth or milk as necessary.
  3. For the shrimp, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Pat the shrimp dry and add to the skillet.  Season with red pepper flakes, garlic powder, chili powder, salt and pepper.  Using tongs, turn the shrimp and cook on each side about 3-4 minutes.  Remove the shrimp and add a few tablespoons of water or stock and heat for a few minutes to create a sauce.
  4. Layer the mashed cauli, shrimp, and brussels sprouts and enjoy!

Estimated Nutrition Info:

  • **404 tot cal, 21 g carb, 21 g fat, 43 g protein
  • 521 total cal, 30 g carb, 27 g fat, 49 g protein

**I divided the cauli mash and bacony garlic brussels into 6 servings and had leftovers so this nutrition info accounts for that

Note: the original version of this recipe called for 1 15oz can of cannelini beans, mashed, and added to the cauliflower mash.  I recently made this again without the beans and found it equally delicious along with less bloat inducing :).  The nutrition information has been updated to reflect the removal of the beans.

This recipe was adapted from Pinch of Yum

 

Note:  CeceOnTheGo participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  The products linked are products actually used when preparing this recipe.