Filed In: Cooking Tips

Worthy of Seconds: 3 Scrumptious Thanksgiving Sides!

Grilled Sweet Potatoes and Maple Vinaigrette

Why I like it: They are a little sweeter than my normal sweet potato regime, but they are not loaded with unnecessary processed marshmallows and loads of brown sugar. With the perfect amount of pure maple syrup and a hint of lovely cinnamon, this dessert-like veggie with have you all running back for seconds (with no shame!).


  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the vinaigrette

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp creole mustard (or any spicy brown mustard)
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Small handful of fresh parsley, chopped


  1. Preheat grill to medium.
  2. Toss potato rounds with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill 8-10 minutes on each side, until the potato is lightly grilled and fork-tender.
  4. Whisk together the garlic, mustard, vinegar, cinnamon, and maple syrup.
  5. Slowly stream in the olive oil while whisking.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the sweet potato slices and top with parsley.


Yields: 4 servings

Estimated time: 25 minutes

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Why I like it: Brussel Sprouts could be called the epitome of a fall dish! These veggies seem to have a bad rap, but now with modern creativity in cooking, they don’t have to be one of those nutritious superfoods that sacrifice flavor for health benefits. Now you can enjoy all of their advantages! Start with this recipe to see what I mean. LOLO Note: I like to use coconut oil instead of olive oil. They are delicious with a little lemon juice too!


  • 1 pound brussel sprouts
  • 3 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prepare Brussels sprouts by cutting off the brown ends and peeling off the yellow outer leaves.
  3. Place Brussels sprouts in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix all of these ingredients together.
  4. Pour Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes or until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. It helps to shake the pan every 10 minutes or so to ensure even browning.
  5. Remove from the oven, pour into a bowl, sprinkle a little more kosher salt over the Brussels sprouts and serve warm.

Maple Infused Butternut Squash and Apples

Why I like it: Apples and butternut squash are each loaded with antioxidants, so when they are blended together, not only do they taste glorious, but they become a power-side! The combination of this fruit and veggie is such a fall delight!

Makes: 3-4 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3-4 hours


  • 1 small (~3 pounds) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 3 apples (I used tart – granny smith)
  • 2 tbsp. Earth Balance (or any other vegan margarine)
  • 3 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg


Start by peeling your butternut squash before you cut it. Once your butternut squash is peeled, cut it in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds out. Then proceed to cut into smaller portions and cube in 1 inch pieces. Spray the bottom of a slow cooker with cooking spray and add your squash and margarine. Set to high for 2 hours before adding the apples. After two hours have passed, dice or slice your apples and add them to the slow cooker with 3 tbsp. maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir the ingredients and lower the slow cooker to “low”. Cook for an additional 1-2 hours or until the squash and apples can be easily mashed.

Serve as a side dish, on top of yogurt or ice cream, or alone!

Happy Thanksgiving! Try these recipes, and be thankful!

Source 1, Source 2, Source 3

Cooking Contrast: Coconut Oil vs. Olive Oil

Olive oil is an extremely healthy oil as it is loaded with much-needed fatty acids and essential vitamins, but how can we use it in order to properly take advantage of its rich benefits?

*This oil is not the best for cooking as high heats make it susceptible to oxidative damage.

Instead, use it in homemade salad dressing, or drizzle it last-minute on top of your cooked food for the fullest flavor. Go here for two easy and delicious recipes.

Coconut Oil is esteemed as the only oil that is stable enough to withstand the high heats of cooking. So, do yourself favor, and toss out all of those “wishful heathly oils,” and replace them with a big-ole’ jar of organic, thyroid-stabilizing, antioxidant-rich coconut oil.


-Anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial

-Boosts energy levels and endurnace

-Improves the digestive system and absorption of fat soluble vitamins, minerals, and amino acids

-Contains high levels of anti-oxidants which protect the body from free radicals and premature aging

-It contains 50% lauric acid, which helps prevent high blood pressure and heart-related problems


Salad Facelift: 2 Awesome Dressing Recipes

Give your leafy greens something to look forward to, and try these two olive-oil infused, ridiculously-healthy homemade recipes. Get one of those classic glass bottles to store, shake, and serve on the spot. Enjoy!

The directions are as easy as this: combine all ingredients and shake thoroughly. 

Balsamic Dressing

1 1/2 c Extra Light Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 c Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 c Maple Syrup

1 TBSP Dried Oregano

1/4 Tsp Ground Pepper

1/2 Tsp Sea Salt

1/4 Tsp Garlic Powder




Lemon Garlic Dressing

Equal parts Extra Light Virgin Olive Oil and Lemon Juice

1/2 Tsp minced Garlic for every cup of liquid

Season w Sea Salt & Pepper to taste

3 Chicken Recipes from Rockstar Moms

Lacey Buteyn: Chicken Quesadillas


She is not only a wealth management advisor in Dallas, but she is a bold, energetic mom of three adorable boys, who is committed to creating a spirit-filled passionate life of action and adventure. Her favorite family chicken recipe is chicken quesadillas that are low in fat and high in protein!


**Note: You can use leftover chicken from restaurant, grill, or a slow-cooked chicken in the crock pot 4-6 hours on low; fully covered **

Option 1:

Put chicken in crockpot and cover with favorite salsa.  Cook for 4-6 hours on low; Stirring and shredding 3-4 hours into the cooking process.  Lightly sprinkle a handful of shredded cheese.

This can be a meal on its own.

Option 2:

Cover chicken in a glass Pyrex or cookie sheet with foil with low-fat Italian dressing. Broil chicken on the top rack for 3-5 minutes each side until cooked thoroughly.


What you’ll need:

2 chicken breasts (cooked) – see above

1/8-1/4 cup Low-fat or regular Mexican blend cheese

1-2 tsps. Ground Cumin

2-3 Lime

Fresh Cilantro

Favorite Salsa (I like Costco’s fresh salsa or a local favorite restaurant)

Low-fat butter (I like Bumble and Brown’s Yogurt butter)

Whole wheat or other favorite tortillas



Chicken Blend:

Cube or shred cooked chicken and place in food processor (Cuisinart or magic bullet both work well)

Small handful of cheddar cheese

Sprinkle 1-2 pinches of ground cumin

Squeeze juice of 1-2 limes

Add 1/8-1/4 cup salsa to desired consistency

1 handful of fresh cilantro

Blend the mix until finely ground.  The chicken/cheese/salsa blend will make a paste that has the consistency of chicken.

**I usually do this in a smaller Cuisinart in a couple with a couple of rounds so the ingredients all blend evenly.**The blend can be made ahead of time and will stay fresh 2-3 days in the fridge.**


The quesadilla process: 

Lightly butter one – side of all tortilla and leave butter side up until ready to cook.

Spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Put the tortillas butter side down onto a medium sauté pan.

Add the chicken blend, generously covering the tortilla on all sides ** I microwave the chicken for 30-60 seconds if it is now cool **

Sprinkle a 1/2 handful of cheese ~ estimated 2 Tbsp. over the chicken

Cover the chicken with the second tortilla (butter side up)

Cook until lightly brown and flip the quesadilla to lightly brown the second tortilla ** You can also opt to cook open face (1 tortilla at a time) and fold over instead of flipping.**

Use a large knife or pizza cutter to slice into sections.

Serve with: Pico de Gallo, guacamole, and low-fat sour cream.

Sides: Black Beans & Sautéed / Steamed Zucchini and Squash


Corinne Franks Oh: Shoy Yu Chicken


She is a spunky, fun-loving 42-year-old married mother of three who works full time as a high school counselor and part time as a group fitness instructor. She loves living in Austin where the lifestyle is active, hip and casual. Her kids’ favorite meal is Shoy Yu Chicken AKA Pineapple Sesame Chicken. It’s super simple and a crowd pleaser!



What you’ll need:

Skinless boneless chicken thighs

1 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup agave nectar or brown sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 can crushed pineapple

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Quinoa or rice



Fill crock pot with skinless boneless thighs (breasts are fine, but dryer). Pour on top: 1 cup low sodium soy sauce. 1/2 cup agave nectar (or brown sugar). 1 teaspoon sesame oil. 1 teaspoon minced garlic. 1 can crushed pineapple (16 oz). 1 tablespoon sesame seeds. Cook in crockpot on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 6 hours (depending on when you need it done). Serve over quinoa (traditionally over rice).


Cheryl Scruggs: Lime Grilled Chicken

Not only is she a mom of twin girls, but she is a full time marriage counselor, speaker, and writer (see I Do Again). She is a health food junkie who passionately lives an active lifestyle, enjoys her family and friends, and continually pushes herself to learn more about life, people, and culture. Her signature Lime Chicken recipe has been the talk of dinners for years. It is a company pleaser and an easy dish that never seems to get old!



What you’ll need:

6 Chicken Breasts w/o bone in

1/2 cup Olive Oil

1/4 cup each of Lemon Juice & Lime Juice

Sea Salt

Coarse Ground Pepper



Mix olive oil and juices together. Generously sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Pour marinade over chicken. Coat all sides of chicken. Allow to marinate several hours if possible. Turn chicken in pan every hour or so. Grill for 25 min on 350 degrees.

Delicious but Not-So-Ordinary Substitutes

Little tweeks to recipes can make a major difference in your health. My challenge to you: try these before you look at this article like it’s crazy. The kitchen is only fun when you mix things up. So, I dare you to incorporate these substitutes in your next batch of whatever is cookin’! The real test: don’t tell the partakers of the change, and see if they notice the taste.

  • BUTTER (when baking): Avocado
  • SOUR CREAM: Greek yogurt
  • SUGAR: Maple syrup or agave nectar
  • WHITE FLOUR: Stone ground whole wheat, coconut, or buckwheat flour