Spaghetti Squash Casserole


So many of you Eaters “liked” and commented on the spaghetti squash casserole recipe I posted on Instagram and Facebook, that I had to include it as a blog post, so we can all reference it easily next time we need it. The recipe was written on the BellsBestBerries Blog post because they are the pesticide free CSA, who grew the spaghetti squash.

Here are my tips on this: it was actually better the second day, so don’t be afraid of cooking it early and then reheating it. I cooked it with aluminum foil on top, but I do not think I will next time. Some of the water from the squash probably needed to evaporate during cooking and that process may be easier if the wrap is left off. Also, I like my cheesy casserole dishes to be a bit crunchy on the edges, so removing tin foil might help that to happen. Just keep an eye on it while cooking if you don’t use the foil.  I used 1 small to med squash to fill a 9×13 pan with plenty of squash for all 4 of my family members to eat, as the main course of a meal. It would be fine to cook the squash the night before, so the “noodles” are prepped and ready to go when you want to bake this. Go to this site to get the recipe, but leave comments or questions here on this OE post, and I will try to help.

As always, use as many organic or pesticide free ingredients as possible!

Encouraging Health,

Organic Eater

Blackbean, kale, and sweet potato enchiladas

BBenchiladaI posted this on Instagram today, and I was shocked when I realized this recipe has never been posted on my blog! I’ve made it several times in the last year and a half, and it’s one of our family favorites (OK, full disclosure: me and our 14yo daughter absolutely FLIP over these, son thinks they’re good, and hubs thinks they could be better if I added some meat). My precious daughter turned 14 today, and this enchilada recipe was her requested birthday meal, along with black bean brownies. Yes, I gave her an open door to unhealthy anything, and she chose black bean brownies all on her own. She really loves them that much (no one else in the family does, so I’m not making a hearty recommendation here). You can find that recipe on Dr. Axe blog if you’re interested in making those. But for the veggie enchiladas, here ya go…

What you need: (all organic if possible, especially the kale, which is often on the Dirty Dozen list for pesticides)

1 large sweet potato

1 can black beans, drained (makes 8 small enchiladas which feeds the 4 of us, but double if you need to) OR even better, use home cooked beans of equivalent amount. If buying canned, buy non BPA canned goods if possible. The BPA plastic coating in cans can be toxic. Another reason to use the bag of beans and cook them at home.

some kale, spinach, or chard greens to add to the beans (as much or as little as you like)

coconut oil, butter, or olive oil to sautee beans and greens in. Do not use highly processed vegetable oils like canola or corn oil, both of which are GMO.

garlic, cumin, and chili powder and s&p to flavor those beans and greens (your discretion for amounts of seasonings)

green enchilada sauce or salsa verde (trader joes salsa verde is what I use)

6-8 soft shells, I use Trader Joes corn shells that only have 2 ingredients and are GMO-free according to store policy. Or use another healthy (very few ingredients, real food type shell) that are usually only found in health food stores. Or try a homemade shells recipe and make your own grainfree shells! Do NOT use shelf stable flour (aka “frankenwheat”) tortillas that have a paragraph of ingredients and preservatives. Gross! Wheat is never really recommended on this blog, but if you have to, then use the traditional foods version of soaked and sprouted wheat. You can even find those in the freezer section of the health food stores (Food For Life brand, that makes Ezekiel bread).

1 jar salsa, I use Trader Joes Pineapple salsa because we love that hint of sweet from the pinapple in there!! It’s perfect in this recipe with all the other veggies. I think it’s actually the KEY to awesomeness in this recipe.

Cheddar cheese, preferably raw milk cheddar that is white, not fake colored orange cheese. Another good alternative if you can’t find raw or grassfed (at Trader Joes) is an organic white cheddar, or even a Cabot brand, because it’s hormone free and it’s white (not colored orange) and they have a range of sharpness available. Again, I’m gonna leave the amount up to you, but I use enough to totally cover my shells before baking! I always buy a block of cheese, and grate it myself because of the additives in bagged cheese. Read the ingredients list!

options: mushrooms (I rarely add), fresh cilantro (I always add), green onions (I usually add), peppers (I never add), hot sauce on top, avocado and tomatoes and sour cream on top! You could also put this on a bed of lettuce or other raw greens if you need even more greens in your diet!

A baking sheet (or pot if you boil the potatoes), a large frying pan, and a baking dish like an 8×8 Pyrex, or glass, etc. Do not use a non-stick metal baking dish (click if you don’t know why non-stick surfaces can be unhealthy cooking)

What to do: preheat to 350 first

Skin and chop and heat the sweet potato because you’re going to mash it. Options: boil the potato chunks, or lay pieces on a baking sheet and put in oven (you’re preheating to 350 anyway), while you’re doing everything else. Either way you heat it, mash it after it’s heated.

In a large frying pan (please don’t use non-stick pans) heat the oil, beans, garlic, seasoning, and greens on medium (and any options you’re adding, but save some cilantro for toppings if you’re using it in this). Cook until greens get wilted because they will cook further in next step.

In your glass or ceramic baking dish, pour some salas verde (green sauce) in the bottom and then start making your enchiladas: shell in hand, add mashed sweet potatoes down middle of shell. Add about 2 Tbs of the beans/greens mixture from the frying pan. Top with about a Tbs of salsa. Roll shell and put seam down into the salsa verde covered dish, one right next to the other. When you are finished with rolling the shells for that dish, cover each one with more salsa (or salsa verde if you rather), then top with cheese and fresh cilantro and bake until cheese looks done, maybe 20 mins.  We top with avocado, tomatoes, and sour cream or plain yogurt and the rest of the fresh cilantro! Ole!

I promise this gets easier and quicker after you try it once! Some ideas for making this as quick as possible: consider putting the bean/green mixure and potatoes in the crock pot on low, then add that mixture to shells and bake after you get home. Let me know if you try that, and it actually works!! You could always do your sweet potatoes and your bean/greens mixture the night before, and store it until you’re ready to make these. They’re going in the oven anyway, so it shouldn’t matter that it’s cold when you assemble them. I’m always looking for easier ways to make dinners, so if you figure out a tip here, please let us know!

Here are pictures of some of the Trader Joes ingredients I use for this: pineapple salsaTJshellsandsalsa

Keep this recipe in mind during CSA vegetable season (at least here in NC), because it’s a great way to use kale and sweet potatoes from your CSA box! Also, I think it would be easy to add ground beef or chicken or turkey (pastured/clean/organic meats) to this if you want to!

Fannetastic Food blog was the original inspiration for this recipe.

Please let me know if you try this yumminess!! I am eager to hear if any of you love it as much as we do. And now, on to the next January birthday (we have 7 of them this month!)……

Encouraging Health,

Organic Eater

10 Ways to know if you’re a true Mexican Food Fan!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! My family is criz-azy about Mexican food. The Hubs’ nickname is “Taco”, if that tells you anything. When we started eating super healthy, I had to find a way to make Mexican as healthy as possible, cause there was NO WAY we could give that up! Fortunately, I succeeded at the healthy versions (whew!) that are actually even MORE tasty than the old way. Thank God. We are not exaggerating when we say we are truly Mexican Food fans, but as far as we know, there is no Mexican blood running through our veins, surprisingly. Here are a few ways we know we are authentic fans. Take the test for yourself.

If you have one of these sitting in your breakfast or dining room all year long, you’re a true Mexican food fan. No, we don’t wait until Cinco de Mayo. He’s out all year.

If you own a copy of something similar to this, you’re a true Mexican Food fan:

If you stock this, or similar items, in your pantry at all times, because you wouldn’t be caught dead without salsa, you’re a true Mexican Food fan:

If you have at least 2 varieties of this stocked at all times, because crunchy every night would get boring, you’re a true Mexican Food fan:

If you know what these are, you are a true Mexican Food fan:

If you listen to Mexican Music on Pandora several nights a week, you’re a true Mexican Food fan:

If “let’s do something different” means using this instead, you’re a true Mexican Food fan:

If you can identify all the ingredients in the pictures below, you’re a true Mexican Food fan:

If you enjoy taking family photos like this, you’re a true Mexican Food fan: (we also made magnets)

And lastly, if you subscribe to this magazine, you’re a true Mexican Food fan:

So, did you pass the test? Didn’t think so. Happy Cinco de Mayo anyway!

Encouraging Health (and fun!),
Organic Eater
PS: there is a great Mexican recipe for OMG, Organic Mexican Goodness on my blog that you should try AND Vanessa at has an entire post of several Mexican recipes on her blog too! Everything I’ve ever tried of hers has been great! Enjoy!

Easiest Chicken Tortilla Soup Ever (link + my suggestions) 2012

I found a recipe that is SO easy and delicious, I HAD to share it with you. Bonus: it’s Mexican. Trifecta (again) in my life!! Vegan friends, or friends who are out of chicken, you can make it by using white beans or garbanzo, and vegetable stock. Maximized Living Advanced Plan or Paleo friends, this may have too many beans for you, depending on your starch tolerance.

Hop on over to The Humbled Homemaker’s recipe for Easiest Chicken Tortilla Soup Ever then come right back here to get my extra tips for making this ORGANIC and/or making it with a little extra nutrition I added (and a substitution).

“ONE-POT STOP” here: Pour some organic free-range chicken stock into your pot. Homemade stock/broth is your “best” here, but do what you can. I used a box tonight and felt not one bit of guilt. I also ADDED a spoonful of crushed garlic to the stock, because I try to add garlic to ANYthing I can, for extra nutrition. If you don’t have stock, you could just use water, but I would definitely add garlic for more flavor in that case. Of course I used organic free range chicken breasts. Two were plenty for this recipe. I cut them into very small pieces, cause who wants a big ol’ chunk o’ chicken to have to gnaw on, when this is “soup”?!  I cut up my chicken before I boiled it to save time (didn’t want to have to wait for boiled chicken breasts to cool before cutting/shredding).

Then I dumped in a jar of this:

pineapple salsa

which is NOT organic, but IS delicious and I think it was the “secret sauce” in how it turned out so fabulously!! Pineapple has fructose, so some will need to add a no-sugar salsa instead. I only had one jar, so…… I improvised and threw in half a jar of Trader Joes Marinara sauce (hey, it’s tomatoes, that’s all I cared about. And now my soup is Italian Tortilla soup, but that’s OK). I may not change that when I make this next time, cause it was soooo good! Again, home-made salsa would have been healthiEST, but I was in a hurry tonight and that is life.

Next, I threw in a box of drained organic black beans. Boxed are healthier than canned because they’re BPA free, but soaked/cooked at home are best, if you’re eating them at all. I saw her note at the bottom, about garbanzo beans, so I threw those in too! You could also add organic frozen corn here (regular corn is highly GMO, so buy organic or know your source). I try to cut grains every chance I get, so I did not add corn this time. If company was coming and I was trying to ‘stretch” this meal, I would have added it:)

Then I added the rest of my box of chicken stock and some s&p and let it cook about 5 minutes. THAT’S IT!!!! Chicken, stock/water (& garlic), salsa (marinara), beans. It could not be easier. I think this would work great in a crock pot too, so let me know if you try it that way. Another way to make this quickly is to have your chicken and beans and salsa ready the night before, then all you have to do is throw them in the pot with the stock. Done. You’re welcome.

If you have time, you could add homemade grain free tortillas from Mark’s Daily Apple, or Cheddar Biscuits from HomeCookedHealthy, which is my new favorite grainfree bread to keep in stock around here.  Quickfix: organic blue corn chips (small amount!). The soup is good enough all by itself, though.

The Print Friendly button will let you print only what you want to print from this post.

Encouraging Health,

Organic Eater

We’ll call it OMG, Organic Mexican Goodness

For those who know us, you knew it couldn’t be long before I posted some kind of Mexican recipe! Well, here ya go. My gift to you, dear fans of the taco in any form. Let’s call it Mexican Lasagna, Organic Eater style, or OMG for short:)

Mexican Lasagne

copyright 2012 Mexican Lasagna, aka OMG

This was one of my first attempts at taking a “regular” recipe and making it Organic Eater approved. And si, it was wildly successful! Ole! My family is crizazy about Mexican, to the point that Hubs has been nicknamed “Taco” by those who know him best. See picture below. We love chips & salsa so much, we take pictures of it when we eat out. Sad but true.

My "Taco" at Taco Boy, in Charleston, SC pre grain-free life, circa 2010

Cutting out chips and taco shells has been the hardest part of cutting grains from our diet, but we’re finding ways to substitute or cut back. Here is the link to the original recipe called “Cheesy Enchilada Casserole” at GetOffYourButtandBake. Yep, that’s the website’s real name!  I suggest going there to print the original, then use my notes on how to make it OE approved. And btw, it was voted #1 Casserole at Taste of Home, so you know it’s gonna freakin rock!

Use grassfed beef (if you are in Charlotte and need a local source, leave a comment)

I used the Pineapple Salsa from Trader Joes (if you are on Advanced plan diet, the pineapple makes this off limits to you) but you can make your own salsa in the blender. I had time restraints or I would have.

I used fresh cooked (from dried beans) black beans. I try to use as few canned goods as possible since the lining is coated with BPA (except for a few brands like Eden Organics).

I could not find an acceptable organic Italian Dressing when I was shopping, so I just added olive oil, crushed garlic, and italian seasonings.

I used Trader Joes taco seasoning, but there are lots of homemade taco seasoning recipes that may be even healthier.

TJ corn tortillas

I used Trader Joes soft CORN tortillas (no wheat in them, so gluten free) but you could make coconut flour tortillas instead, to be grain free. Just don’t use wheat or any brands that have lots of ingredients, which will be difficult to find unless you go to a health food store. If you cannot find or make wheat-free, you could use Ezekiel brand sprouted wheat tortillas as a third option. They’re better than the chemical ingredient loaded processed flour ones (Good, better best always)

I used frozen organic corn instead of canned. You can delete this to comply with Advanced Plan.

Stonyfield yogurt

I used plain whole fat organic yogurt instead of organic sour cream (only because that’s what I had on hand) Delicious substitute! And hopefully it added some probiotics, which would be awesome.

I used raw milk cheddar cheese from Trader Joes, but if you cannot find raw, you could at least use no hormone cheese. Cabot, found at most groceries, is my go to brand when I cannot buy organic. Do not buy the bagged cheese that has added ingredients to keep it from caking. Buy the block of white (no orange color added) cheddar and grate it yourself.

I added fresh cilantro to the meat mixture and added more on top when the casserole came out of the oven. Benefits of cilantro. It’s amazing! We add plenty of it to every Mexican dish we make now!

I used a 3Qt rectangular glass Pyrex dish because I didn’t want lots of “layers” of corn shells. I ended up with 2 layers of shells this way, which made it acceptable, but don’t go crazy eating seconds and thirds…. you know you’re gonna wanna, it’s that good! I think you could easily get away with only 1 layer of shells, which I will try next time.

Lastly, “Taco”, I mean Hubs, likes his cheese a little crunchy on the edges, so I did NOT cover with tin foil until the last 10-15 mins of baking. And we used yogurt as the sour cream on top of the lettuce and tomatoes added at the end.

Mex lasagne in dish w cilantro

copyrith 2012 Mexican Lasagna topped with cilantro, aka OMG, Organic Mexican Goodness!

I did as the original recipe suggested, and cut my shells into squares, and fried the cut off edges in coconut oil and topped with a sugar substitute and cinnamon. Yummy!

Cinnamon sugar chips

copyright 2012 Cinnamon sugar fried "chips"

KEEP IN MIND this is not grain-free food unless you make it with coconut flour tortillas and delete the corn in the meat mixture. I considered this a “treat” meal on the weekend, so I left the corn in mine (80/20 rule). Go HEAVY on the organic lettuce and tomatoes on top, and go lighter on the serving of casserole underneath. Or, ditch the shells and put the meat mixture on a salad. It was absolutely delicious before I ever put it in the dish with the shells. The original also suggested crushing msg covered, fake orange-colored Doritos on this. Good grief.  I implore you not to do that!:) Please don’t tell me if you do.

Enjoy my amigos!! You can thank me later, go make this!!!!

Remember you can always cut my commentary and print just the necessary items using the “Print Friendly” button. I know this is an extra long one, so cut the fluff. Who wants 20 page recipes anyway?! not me!

Encouraging Health,

Organic Eater