Roasted Cauliflower with Figs and Mint

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This is the most wonderful side dish. The flavors are familiar, but surprising together. Buttery, well roasted cauliflower with soft figs, sharp balsamic, and bright mint. Do it.

Roasted Cauliflower with Figs and Mint
Wildly adapted from Food Network Magazine

Ingredients:
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 8 cups)
1/4 cup + 1 tsp olive oil, divided
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
6 dried figs, coarsely chopped
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
2 Tbs aged balsamic vinegar

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Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Put the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet, drizzle over the 1/4 cup olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss a bit to coat and evenly spread the cauliflower on the baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and roast, stirring once with a spatula, until golden brown at the edges, about 20 minutes.

Into a skillet, add the teaspoon of olive oil with the garlic and figs and cook until they’re softened, about 3 minutes.

Transfer the hot cauliflower to a serving bowl and add the fig and garlic mixture, the mint, and balsamic vinegar. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary and serve warm or at room temperature.

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Avocado Mango Salsa on Salmon and Coconut Rice

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Swap out 2 cups of water for a can of coconut milk next time you make rice. Oh my heavens, best thing ever. It’s such a nice compliment to the fish and sweet hot salsa. We ate the leftover rice with cinnamon and whole milk for breakfast the next day and it was wonderful then, too.

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This salsa was the result of a box of mangos I picked up from Costco. I made it twice in one week, it was such a hit. The first time, I used more avocado, the second, I added cilantro. It’s a flexible recipe. Play with it. I used it as a topping for a steak salad for lunch and ate some on corn chips. It’s a fresh burst of flavor and you’ll find yourself finding all sorts of ways to eat it. Leave the jalapeno out of some for the sensitive palates (ie 3 year olds) and you’ll keep everyone happy. I served it with a side of curry roasted carrots. Nom.

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The fish wasn’t anything special, but I needed the protein and this salmon had more flavor than tilapia or sole, though both of those would work well, too. I baked the fish in a bit of olive oil and lemon under foil at 350 for 12 minutes. Easy.

It’s a quick dinner, but certainly not boring. Perfect for summer, perfect for kids, perfect for patio dining.

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Avocado Mango Salsa
Adapted from Allrecipes here and here

Ingredients:
2 mangoes – peeled, seeded and diced
1 Tbs white sugar
2 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 avocado – peeled, pitted, and diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 tsp salt

Instructions:
Mix together the mangoes, sugar, vinegar, cilantro, jalapeno and salt. Gently fold in the avocado and serve.

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Homemade Coconut Flax Instant Oatmeal

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This may come as a shock, but Aurelia does not always eat what I do or what I make for us. For lunch or dinner, this is often not negotiable and she just eats what she wants from what I’ve made. Breakfast gets more flexibility, because it’s often a matter of “must eat something” and “2 minutes or less”. Mornings are indeed rushed and while many times she’ll go for a “dippy” (over easy) or scrambled egg, other times she wants something sweet or I need to make something even quicker than an egg that doesn’t require clean up.

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I was buying these apple cinnamon instant oatmeal packets and dividing them in half to make 1/4 cup servings Aurelia could eat quickly and I could make easily. When the last box ran out, I decided to look for a brand without sugar (or fake sugar), but still with flavor. My quick search turned up nothing and I finally had the wits to just google a recipe and try to make my own. Old fashioned oats don’t cook quickly enough or get soft enough to replace the instant oatmeal packets. Luckily, I found this article on the “secret” to making homemade instant oatmeal: the blender! Brilliant. Just blitz a third of the oats in the blender and add to the other ingredients. I’m not a fan of the sugar or creamer (??) included in the linked article, so I just used the technique and came up with my own recipe. I’ve made it three times now, making more than 6 pounds. Geez. I put it in 2 quart jars and freeze it, but already we’ve gone through a couple because what do you know, I can’t stay out of it. Turns out that it’s the perfect middle of the night snack when I wake up hungry (yay, marathon training) or for my own quick breakfast. I keep a 1/4 cup scoop in the jar so I can easily measure out one for Aurelia and/or two for me.

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In one 1/2 cup serving: 107 calories, 17 g carbs (.5 g sugar), 3 g protein, 4 g fat

Don’t buy the packets anymore. Make this, keep it for ages, feed your babes breakfast, and add your own sweetener (stevia, honey, fruit, jam, etc) as needed. Here’s to whatever makes the mornings easier!

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Homemade Coconut Flax Instant Oatmeal

Ingredients:
6 cups quick oats
1/2 cup flax seed meal
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1-2 Tbs cinnamon

Instructions:
In a blender, blitz 2 cups of the quick oats until ground. Pour into a large bowl, add the other 4 cups of oats, along with the other ingredients. Mix well. Store in an airtight container. To serve, combine 1/2 cup dry mix with 3/4 cup boiling water and let set for 1 minute to thicken before adding toppings (if desired) and eating. Use less water for a thicker oatmeal.

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Weekend Dinner: Balsamic Roast Beef, Cauliflower and Herbed Barley Salad, Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Beets

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This was a lovely dinner. Simple roasted vegetables. Hearty grain. Melt in your mouth beef.

Balsamic Roast Beef
Adapted from Add a Pinch

Ingredients
1 3-4 pound boneless roast beef (chuck or round roast)
1 cup beef (or chicken or veg) broth
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs honey
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
6 cloves garlic, chopped

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Instructions
Place roast beef into the insert of your slow cooker. In a 2-cup measuring cup, mix together all remaining ingredients. Pour over roast beef, cover with lid, and cook for 4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. Once roast beef has cooked, remove from slow cooker with tongs onto a cutting board. Break apart lightly with two forks, put into a serving dish and then ladle about 1/2 cup of cooking juices from the slow cooker over roast beef.

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BONUS! Onion Butternut Beef Soup
With all the remaining glorious cooking liquid remaining in the slow cooker, make an onion soup! Add in a chopped, caramelized onion, a couple cups of water, and 2 cups chopped winter squash. Cook on low again in the slow cooker for 4-6 hours. There will be a lot of fat in the broth from the beef, so I let the soup cook completely in the fridge and them remove the solidified layer of fat from the top before reheating and serving. Makes great lunch.

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Warm Cauliflower and Herbed Barley Salad
Adapted from Bon Appétit, March 2013

Ingredients
1/2 cup pearled barley
Kosher salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 15-ounce can white or butter beans, rinsed (or I used 1.5 cups cooked lentils)
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, divided (or 2 Tbs dried parsley)

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Instructions
Place barley in a large saucepan; add water to cover by 2″. Season with salt. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, 30-40 minutes. Drain; run under cold water. Set aside. Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and oil in a medium bowl until emulsified. Season dressing with salt and pepper; set aside. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cauliflower; cook, turning occasionally, until browned in spots, 10-12 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water, cover, and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer cauliflower to a large bowl; add beans, parsley, reserved barley, and the dressing. Toss to coat and serve warm.

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Beets – same ol’ simple way

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All together now! Lovely dinner. Great leftovers.

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Smoked Salmon Dip

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This has been an after school/work snack for Aurelia and me a couple times and we both polish it off with gusto. I’ve made it with 4 oz smoked salmon (pictured) for a lighter, more creamy dip and 8 oz of smoked salmon for a richer dip. Using some crème fraîche or cream cheese in place of some yogurt is a lovely pairing, too. It’s a flexible recipe. High in protein and excellent fats, scooped on celery sticks, is not just a healthy snack or appetizer, but a satisfying and memorable one.

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Smoked Salmon Dip
Adapted from Bon Appétit, December 2011

Ingredients:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbs prepared horseradish
4-8 oz smoked salmon
1 Tbs dried chives
salt and pepper to taste

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Instructions:
Place salmon in a food processor; pulse just a few seconds at a time until salmon is reduced to pea-size pieces. Add the other ingredients and pulse a few times to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Can be made 3 days ahead.

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Slow Cooker Pulled Beef Tacos with Green Onion Slaw and Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas

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Pulled roast beef that’s been slow cooked in a rich, sweet and spicy tomato sauce has got to be one of the best foods ever. This huge roast made a ton of meat and while it was awesome as a salad and on (gasp!) tortillas, it got better after a day, then two, then three in the fridge. I started heating heaps up in the morning and cooking an egg on top for breakfast. I ate it like stew, heated up out of a jar for lunch.

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Layered on top of greens with cool cottage cheese and the sour slaw was my favorite still and I do believe I could eat that everyday and not get bored. It was a sad moment when I finished the last of the leftovers.

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I don’t eat many tortillas these days and these were a bit of a bother to make, but holy moly, they were so amazing. I ate three. To assemble a simple taco, just layer the pulled beef (strained a bit from the cooking juices) on a tortilla and top with the slaw. Incredible. For a taco salad, swap out romaine for the tortilla and layer with a cheese of choice, pulled beef WITH the cooking juices, and a spoonful of slaw. Mmmmmmm.

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Slow Cooker Pulled Beef Tacos with Green Onion Slaw and Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas
Adapted from Meal Planning 101

Slow Cooked Pulled Beef

Ingredients:
4 lbs beef chuck roast or brisket
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp coconut oil or bacon fat
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 Tbs chili powder
1 Tbs coriander
1/2  – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbs cumin
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 quart homemade tomato sauce  (or 2 – 14 1/2-ounce cans crushed tomatoes)
1/3 cup molasses

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Instructions:
Season the beef generously with salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil or bacon fat and heat just until beginning to smoke. Add the meat and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 15 minutes total. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker and leave the skillet on the heat. Add garlic, onion, chili powder, coriander, crushed red pepper, and cumin to drippings in the skillet and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Add vinegar and boil until it’s almost gone (be careful not to breathe in the steaming vinegar fumes), scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in water and pour the mixture over the brisket. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, and molasses. Cover the cooker, set it on LOW, and cook the beef until it pulls apart easily with a fork, about 8 to 10 hours.

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Green Onion Slaw

Ingredients:
1 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 head cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

Mix together all ingredients until combined. Season to taste. Cover and refrigerate for an hour before serving.

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Whole Wheat Tortillas
Adapted from 100 Days of Real Food

Ingredients:
3 cups whole-wheat flour
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water

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Instructions:
In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer set with a dough hook, pour in the flour, oil and salt. Beat with the paddle until crumbly, about 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape the sides as needed. If your hand-held mixer comes with dough hooks those can be used as well. With the mixer running, gradually add the warm water and continue mixing until the dough is smooth, about 3 minutes. Take out the dough and divide it into 12 equal sized pieces. I do this by making the dough into a big log shape that is about 8 – 10 inches long. Then I cut it in the middle. Then I cut each of those pieces in the middle and so on until you have 12 pieces. Using the palms of your hand roll each piece into a round ball and flatten it out on a baking tray or board. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes or up to one hour.

Heat a cast iron skillet, griddle or 12-inch skillet over med-high heat. The pan should be fairly hot before you begin cooking the tortillas. On a lightly floured board or counter top, use a rolling pin to turn each ball into a 8 to 10 inch flat circle. I used enough flour to make the dough easier to handle and rolled it out between two pieces of wax paper because it was still fairly sticky.

Grease the pan with a touch of oil and then carefully transfer each tortilla, one at a time, to the pan and cook until puffy and slightly brown, about 30 to 45 seconds per side. Set aside on a plate to cool slightly. Eat within an hour, refrigerate or freeze.

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Eggy Porridge (gluten free, sugar free)

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I’ve made this countless times in the last month. It’s satisfying like a bowl of old fashioned oatmeal or grits. Not the same, but just as wonderful. It’s the perfect post workout meal and really filling. Aurelia loves it for breakfast and I’ve made it on a few very late nights. This is a big serving and I often share it with Aurelia or roughly halve the ingredients and have a smaller bowl to myself. But when I’m really hungry and craving something carb-rich, I can tuck into a big bowl of this eggy porridge, topped with some fruit, stevia, and cinnamon, and it hits the spot. It’s the best of both worlds – comfort and health food. Try topping with any fruit, nuts, cinnamon, cardamom, almond or vanilla extract, seeds, dried fruit, nut butters, or natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or stevia. Really, it’s delightful and real fast food.

If you don’t want to use the microwave, it works beautifully in a pot on the stove. Just keep stirring over medium heat for a couple minutes until it reaches the right “oatmeal” consistency.

Nutrition data: (full recipe, using egg whites and raw whole milk)
Calories: 284
Carbs: 21 grams (Fiber: 9 grams, Net Carbs: 12 grams)
Fat: 10 grams
Protein: 27 grams

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Eggy Porridge
Adapted from Ingredients of a Fit Chick

Ingredients:
3 egg whites (3/4 cup) or 2 eggs
2 Tbs coconut flour
2 Tbs flax seed meal
1/2 cup milk

Instructions:
In a microwave safe bowl, mix together all ingredients until well blended. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 45 seconds. Remove from the microwave and stir again until smooth. It should resembled a thick bowl of creamy oatmeal. Mix in your desired flavors or toppings and serve.

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Gluten/Sugar/Dairy Free Clean Eats Cake

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I’ve been writing down all my food in Cron-o-Meter for about a month now and while I’ve been keeping food logs on and off for ages, keeping track of macro nutrients takes food-awareness to a new level. It’s been tremendously helpful to identify when I’m hungry to see that I’m not getting enough fat or if my sweet tooth is too strong, I can see that I’ve been overeating carbs for a day or two.

I’ve been eating dark chocolate as a treat and a bit of frozen yogurt with Aurelia once a week or so, but you know me, I miss my everyday cakes. I’m far better without them, health wise, but the comfort is missing.

This is not German chocolate or plum cake or the like. I won’t try to pass it off like that. But it’s better in many ways. It’s real food, but without the gluten and sugar in traditional cakes or unusual flours found in many gluten free ones. It’s warm and starchy and satisfying. And when I have to log every bite, I can indulge without falling off course. Win!

Also, did you know that cinnamon help control blood sugar? Several studies have shown improved insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control by taking as little as ½ teaspoon of cinnamon per day. In 2009 Scandinavian researchers performed cinnamon research on 15 young, lean and non-diabetic participants. These healthy participants were randomly assigned to consume rice pudding without cinnamon, or with 1g or 3g of cinnamon respectively. It was found that the group that consumed 3g of cinnamon had significantly lower levels of insulin after the meal than the other groups, indicating that cinnamon can acutely decrease the insulin response of food consumption even in healthy persons, not just diabetics. (Brian St. Pierre, CISSN, CSCS)

I love cinnamon and the combination of the spice with the fat in the almond butter help with the digestion of the sugar in the banana, making this a dessert that won’t send you crashing soon after.

Ok, enough health reasons. It’s delicious and takes three minutes. That’s reason enough.

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Gluten/Sugar/Dairy Free Clean Eats Cake
Adapted from The Wannabe Chef

Ingredients:
1 small ripe banana
1 1/2 Tbs almond butter
1 egg
2 Tbs cocoa powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon

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Instructions:
In a microwave safe bowl, mash the banana into a smooth puree. Mix in the almond butter, egg, cocoa powder, and cinnamon until it forms an even batter. The batter will expand as it cooks in the microwave, so make sure the bowl is big enough. Microwave on high for 2 and 1/2 minutes until the center is set. Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave and enjoy hot, cold, or at room temperature.

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Apple Dijon Burgers

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Totally marvelous.

Apple Dijon Burgers
Adapted from Civilized Caveman

Ingredients:
1 lb grass-fed ground beef
1/2 apple, shredded
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp coconut oil or other choice of fat
2-4 tsp aged balsamic vinegar

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Instructions:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, apple, onion, mustard, salt and pepper. Mix well. Using your hands, form 4 even size burgers. Have your grill (bbq or stove top) on medium heat (350-400 Degrees F) and grill for approximately 5-6 minutes per side or until done to your liking. Once you place your burgers on the grill, fry the egg over easy in the coconut oil in a skillet over low heat and set aside. You can now plate your burgers how you see fit. I used spinach as a base, added the burger, topped with the fried egg, and drizzled everything in a sweet, aged balsamic. Seriously delicious.

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Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

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This clean eating recipe is just the thing for your weeknight dinner. It was quick, healthy, delicious, and really did satisfy that desire for cheesy noodles I get from time to time. We ate it up and then we all went back for seconds. Even Aurelia started picking the broccoli out of my bowl.

I got this recipe from Alisa at Paleo in PDX. I love Portland, I love the blog, and I’m sure Alisa and I would be friends if we knew each other. Her recipes are just the sort I love to eat and make.

Skip the cheese, adapt the recipe with ghee or coconut oil (for the butter) and coconut milk or almond milk (for the cow’s milk) if you don’t do dairy. If you do use dairy, remember to always source from good farmers and happy, grass fed, hormone free cows.

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Chicken Broccoli Alfredo
Adapted from Paleo in PDX

Ingredients:
1 small spaghetti squash (or 1/2 large)
2 tsp coconut oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium head of broccoli, chopped (about 5 cups)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp coconut flour
1 cup milk (I used raw cow’s milk)
Pinch of nutmeg

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Instructions:
Start with your spaghetti squash. You have two ways to make it. Pick one or the other and go with it.

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place skin side up in baking pan and fill pan about 1/4-inch high with water. Place pan in oven and bake for 30-45 minutes. Pierce with a knife after 15 minutes to test for doneness. The knife should slip through the skin easily. If not done, go for another 5 minutes and repeat. Once done, remove from pan, set on a cutting board, and carefully turn the squash flesh side up to cool more quickly. Or…

2. Pierce the whole spaghetti squash with a sharp knife 8-10 times, spaced out around the squash. Put it in the microwave and cook for 15-25 minutes, depending on how big your squash is. Only set the microwave for 5 minutes at a time and rotate the squash for even cooking. Pierce with a knife after 15 minutes to test for doneness. The knife should slip through the skin easily. If not done, go for another 5 minutes and repeat. Once done, remove from microwave, set on a cutting board, and carefully cut in half lengthwise to open and cool more quickly.

Now for the rest of the recipe. In a large skillet, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chicken pieces and season with sea salt and pepper. Let cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add the broccoli pieces and sauté with the chicken. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to stir occasionally, until the chicken is done and the broccoli is tender. Once done, keep warm over low heat.

Now, whip up the sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat and whisk in the coconut flour to
make a roux. Whisk constantly for one minute and then slowly add the milk. Turn the heat up to medium high and continue to whisk for another five minutes or until it has thickened. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Once the spaghetti squash is done and cool enough to handle, scrape out the shreds (noodles) with a fork. Add the noodles to the pan with the chicken and broccoli, and then pour the sauce over top. Mix together until well incorporated, over low heat. Taste and add more sea salt and pepper if necessary. Serve hot!

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