Stress free Beef Gyro Bowl

This is another quick and easy recipe when you don’t feel like cooking.  I like to keep this one on my menu during chaotic weeks when I don’t want to stress myself out any more. Like, I don’t know, the holiday season? It is basically just seasoned ground beef, topped with veggies and some tzatziki. Not only is this recipe stress free it is also high in protein and relatively low in carbs!


Tzatziki made with greek yogurt

If you are not familiar with tzatziki, it’s a cold sauce or dip made from yogurt. The recipe will make more tzatziki then you need for these gryo bowls. Save it, don’t toss it! There are so many ways to eat it.  As a dip for crackers or veggies.  Or it goes great with just about any meat.

These gyro bowls are able to be customized to meet your needs.  Need some carbs? Serve over rice.  Need more protein? Serve over quinoa.  Neither?  Serve over cauliflower rice or spinach.  I personally prefer a mixture of quinoa and spinach.

The tzatziki does take some time since it needs to be prepared ahead of time. Everything else,however, comes together in 20 minutes! You can make the tzatziki ahead of time. (I’ve kept mine if the fridge for a couple days.  I have no idea if will last longer than that since I usually eat it all my then!)

Beef gyro bowl

Beef Gyro Bowl over quinoa and spinach.

Top these bowls with whatever veggies you are feeling like.  I  use whatever I have hiding out in my fridge.  I imagine some beets and radishes would go pretty well on this!  If making this for little ones (or picky adults), just exclude things their palates might not like (in my house I leave the olives and red onions off the kids bowls)




Makes 4 huge servings or more, smaller ones if you are not as obsessed as me.


16 oz 2% or whole fat plain greek yogurt. (Don’t use nonfat it will be too runny)

1 large cucumber, peeled seeded and diced

1 tb lemon juice

1 tb red wine vinegar

1 tb olive oil

4 cloves garlic minced or pressed

1 tsp dried dill


  1. Seed the cucumber by cutting it in half and using a spoon to scrap the seeds out of the middle. Dice it as small as you have the patience for.
  2. Toss the cucumber with kosher salt and place in a strainer. Fill a large gallon sized bag fil with ice and place on top and let it sit for at least an hour.
  3. In the meantime, mix all remaining ingredients.
  4. Remove cucumber and using cheese cloth or thick paper towel squeeze out any excess liquid.
  5. Mix with yogurt mixture and adjust salt and pepper to taste
  6. Set in fridge for at least on hour.


Gyro Bowls

Makes 4 servings


1 lb 95% lean ground beef

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp garlic granules (or minced fresh garlic if you wish)

2 cups spinach

½ cup quinoa (omit if using rice or cauliflower rice)

1 cucumber, peeled and sliced

½ cup red bell pepper, sliced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

¼ cup red onion, diced

¼  cup Kalamata olives

¼ cup chopped walnuts.


1.Cook quinoa (or rice) according to package.

2.Season beef with oregano, rosemary and salt and pepper. Brown over medium heat and drain off any fat.

3.Place ¼ cup quinoa in each bowl.  Top with ¼ of the ground beef.  Add spinach, cucumber, red bell, tomatoes, red onion.  Top each bowl with ½ cup tzatziki (less if you are not a freak about it like I am), 1 tb Kalamata olives and 1 tb walnuts.




Nutrition for ¼ the amount plus ½ cup tzatziki

Calories: 379 Carbs: 24 Fat: 14 Protein: 38


Inspired by a recipe from Clean Eating Magazine.



30 Minute Spaghetti Squash with Shrimp

I am not anti carbs or anti pasta by any means, but sometimes you need a nice satisfying lower carb meal option.  Especially this time of year when there is an overabundance of carb rich food everywhere you look.  That is where spaghetti squash comes in. In can be a great replacement for traditional noodles.


Let’s keep something straight though, spaghetti squash does not taste exactly like noodles.  It has a little (non offensive) vegetal taste and it has a little more crunch to it then traditional noodles. Don’t get me wrong it is still delicious. I just don’t want anyone to make it and expect it to taste like regular wheat noodles and be disappointed.

One cup of spaghetti squash has only 42 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates compared to once cup of traditional cooked noodles that have 221 calories and 43 grams of carbohydrates.  Making spaghetti squash a great substitute when you are trying to lower the overall calorie or carb amount of your meal (or you would rather get all those calories/carbs from somewhere else).

When it comes to cooking the squash there are many different ways you can do it. You can roast it in the oven, put it in the slow cooker or microwave it.  Microwaving is my personal favorite. It is quick and it makes cutting it easy.  No more failing around the kitchen with it stuck to end of your knife while you slam it on the counter.  (Please tell me I’m not the only one who has done that?!)

When you microwave it, make sure you stab it all over with a fork.  That will release the steam and prevent it from becoming a bomb in your microwave.  For a 2 ½ pound squash, it will need to cook for about 14 minutes. Turning over halfway through.  If your squash is larger it will need more time.  It is done when the outer skin is soft and easily pierced. After that, DO NOT take it out of the microwave.  Leave it in there, for another 10 minutes.  It will continue to steam on the inside.  (This is a great time to prep the rest of your meal.)

Spaghetti Squash

Cutting the squash in half width wise leads to longer noodles.

Once the 10 minutes is up, carefully remove the squash, it will still be hot.  Cut it in half width wise, not length wise like you have always been told!  When you cut it width wise you get nice long noodles, not the 2 inch ones. Gently scrape out the seeds and any loose pulp.  Since it is already cooked, you will not have to put too much man power into this.  Using a fork, gently pull the flesh out into a bowl and separate into strands.

If you don’t want to microwave it, you can cook it in the oven. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and place in a pan cut side down.  Place a small amount of water around the squash and bake at 400 for 35-45 mins.  Alternatively, you can cook it in your slow cooker too.  I have, however, yet to try this method. You need to pierce it all over with a fork and place whole in your slow cooker on low for 6-8 hrs.  It’s is done when it can be easily pierced with a knife.

Just about anything you can do with regular noodles you can do with spaghetti squash.  However, I prefer something lighter, like garlic, olive oil with shrimp.  In this recipe I used precook frozen shrimp because that it what I had on hand. You also could sub out precooked chicken breast. spaghetti-squash


Garlic Lemon Shrimp on top of Spaghetti Squash with Garlic and Olive Oil.

For the squash:

2 ½ pound spaghetti squash

2 Tb Olive oil

2 cloves Garlic, minced

¼ cup shredded parmesan

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp kosher salt

For the Shrimp:

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tb Olive oil

1.4 cup fresh lemon juice

½ tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp black pepper

1 ¼ precooked, defrosted peeled and deveined shrimp.


  • Prick the squash all over with a fork. And microwave for 6 minutes. Turnover and microwave for another 8 minutes. Let continue to steam in microwave for another 10 minutes.
  • While squash is cooking make the shrimp. Place garlic and oil in a large skillet and cook over medium heat for 1 minute.  Add lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Toss with Shrimp (or precooked chicken) and set aside.
  • When squash is done steaming, remove from microwave. Cut in half width wise and remove seeds. Using a fork pull out the flesh and separate into strands.
  • In the same skillet used to cook the shrimp heat the olive oil. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Careful not to burn the garlic.
  • Add red pepper flakes (If make this for kids, you may want to omit this step. And top individually with red pepper) cook for 1 more minute.
  • Add cooked squash and toss. Season with salt and parmesan.
  • Toss in prepared shrimp. And serve.


Nutritional info for 5 shrimp and 1/4 the spaghetti squash

Calories: 297 Fat:13 Carbs:20 Pro:24

Adapted from Spaghetti Squash in Gina Homolka’s Skinnytaste Fast and Slow Cookbook.




7 Ways to Start a Gratitude Practice

I know thanksgiving is over, and you are sick of hearing about being thankful, but hear me out for a minute.  While expressing our gratitude over the holidays is all good and well, we need (yes, NEED) to be practicing it the other 365 days a year. I mean, don’t you want to feel more joy, happiness, and over all better wellbeing all year long? Scientific studies have shown that gratitude practice leads to:

  • More meaningful relationships
  • Increased productivity at work
  • Better physical health
  • Reduced depression
  • Increases happiness
  • Heighten sense of wellbeing
  • Increased over all enjoyment of one’s life
  • Increased hope and purpose
  • Increased empathy

A pretty good sales pitch for gratitude, right? But now how do you do it? Just like working out and healthy eating, we need to make gratitude a habit.  Here are 7 ways you can have more thankfulness in your day, pick one (or all).


“There are many beautiful reasons to be HAPPY.” My gratitude journal.



  1. Gratitude journal. Yeah, you’ve heard this before. We all know we are supposed to write down 5 things we are thankful for.  But if you find yourself writing something along the lines of “I’m thankful for my significant other, my kids, my job, my dog… oh yeah and coffee” Then I encourage you to change it up a bit.  Pick just one topic and write 5 things about that topic you are thankful for.  For example here is one I wrote about my husband:

He supports me and all my crazy ideas.

He is a great father to our boys.He tells the best bed time stories to the boys, so I can have a few minutes alone every night.

He can grill one mean steak.

He is always encouraging me to be and do more.

He cleans my car for me (and if you know me you know this is HUGE).

2.  Acknowledge others. Truly listen to them and look them in eye.  And not just with your boss, do this with the barista at your coffee shop, your waitress, the kid who checks you in at the gym. Do this with every one you come in contact with.  Put down your phone, look them in the eye and honestly thank them.

3.  Show gratitude to yourself.  Seriously. Stop comparing yourself to others. Instead recognize what you have accomplished. When someone complements you, accept it.  If you feel uncomfortable just smile and say thank you. Do not try to talk them out of it or explain the compliment. Take the compliment.

4.  Make sure all your loved ones know you are grateful for them. Randomly pick one person a day, and make sure you let them know you are grateful for them.

5.  Send out hand written thank you notes.

6.  At least once a day, tell someone who is important in your life how important they are.  Pick one person per day, and send them a text, email, DM, snap, whatever and just let them you know are grateful they are part of your life.

7.  Smile. So simple, yet so powerful. And it’s contagious.


Ok so I know I said gratitude 365, but let’s be honest here. No one, and I mean no one is able to count their blessings and be thankful every single day of the year. We all have those days. Heck we are not robots.  We have good days and bad.  However, when we are in the habit of practicing gratitude regularly, it can help with the bad days.  They may not last as long or be as bad.   Regular gratitude practice can act as a life raft and help float us through the darker days.

It’s not that you have to be active in your gratitude practice on the days you don’t even want to get out of bed (that would be crazy!) to reap the benefits.  If you have been practicing thankfulness up until this point, then that is what will help the crappy day not be as bad or last as long. Research shows gratitude can help those suffering with major catastrophic health events (like cancers and heart attacks) so, imagine what it can do for the average person just dealing with a super crappy day?

All you have to do is pick one of the 7 ideas mentioned above and give it a go for a few weeks.  Maybe if you find it’s not so bad, try adding in another.  If you do, leave me a comment or drop me a line and let me know how it went.  I’d love to hear.  And if you already have an established gratitude practice, tell me how you do it.  I enjoy hearing how other include thankfulness in their lives.




Bolier L, H. M. (2013). Positive psychology interventions: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. BMC Public Health., 119.

Emmons RA1, M. M. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. J Pers Soc Psychol. , 377-89.

Lambert NM, C. M. (2010). Benefits of expressing gratitude: expressing gratitude to a partner changes one’s view of the relationship. Psychol Sci., 574-80.