Loaded Spaghetti Squash


This week I challenged myself to create three recipes using only 1 pound of meat. This was one of my creations and it is by far my favorite out of the three. This recipe can be created on it’s own or from leftover taco meat. Each serving is 330 calories (23g carbs, 21g protein). I use more cheese than I probably should in this dish, so if you want to cut down the amount of cheese, that can be customized! 

Not everyone is comfortable working with spaghetti squash, but it is one of my favorite squashes to work with! You may be wondering how I cut my spaghetti squash, I’ve shared my tips in the directions below. By following my suggestions, you will be able to cut your spaghetti squash with ease! 

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:


1 spaghetti squash (approx. 2.5-2.75 pounds)
1 cup Mexican style shredded cheese
1/2 pound ground turkey
1/2 gluten free taco seasoning packet
3/4 cup black beans
3/4 cup whole kernel sweet corn
1/2 cup cooked white rice
1/4 cup red onion chopped
1/4 tomato diced
1/2 cup water
1 jalapeño or 1/4 bell pepper chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 pinches of salt
1-2 pinches of black pepper
Optional: chopped cilantro for garnish


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. With a sharp knife or a fork, make slits or poke holes in the spaghetti squash. You just need a couple on each side. This will prevent the spaghetti squash from essentially exploding in the next step. 
  3. Microwave your spaghetti squash for 4-5 minutes. 
  4. Using a towel or oven mits, carefully remove the spaghetti squash from the microwave and place on a cutting board. Carefully cut the spaghetti squash in half. I opted to cut “hamburger style,” because it creates longer stringy pieces once cooked. Cutting it long ways will create short strings. 
  5. Using a brush, coat the inside of the spaghetti squash and the rim with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  6. Place the spaghetti squash on a sheet pan upside down and cook for approx. 40 minutes. 
  7. Prepare your white rice and measure out 1/2 cup. Set to side. 
  8. Brown your ground turkey over medium heat. Once browned, add the taco seasoning and 1/4 cup of water. Let cook for 5 minutes. 
  9. Remove the turkey meat from heat until the spaghetti squash is done. 
  10. Measure out your black beans, corn, red onion, tomato and jalapeño or bell pepper and place in a bowl. Set to side. 
  11. Measure out shredded cheese and set to side separately from mixture of veggies. 
  12. Carefully remove the spaghetti squash from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Use a spatula to help flip the cooked squash onto a heat safe plate or cutting board. Using a heat barrier, like a towel, use a fork to begin scooping out the “spaghetti” strands of the squash. Place in separate bowl and put to the side. 
  13. Place the pan with the taco meat back on the burner with medium heat. Add the bowl containing the mixture of beans and veggies and 1/4 cup of water. DO NOT add cheese or spaghetti squash yet. 
  14. Once your veggies are heated through (you will hear sizzling), Add the spaghetti squash to the mixture. I recommend using tongs for this step since it doesn’t mix well. Add the shredded cheese. 
  15. The spaghetti squash and cheese should only be over heat for 3 minutes. Mix all ingredients together so that the cheese and seasonings are evenly spread throughout the dish. 
  16. Remove from heat and serve with chopped cilantro garnish. 

This recipe makes 4 servings. 

Mexican Zucchini Boats


During my meal prep this week, I challenged myself to make 3 different recipes from one pound of ground turkey. Right now, times are tough and I am looking for ways to make food stretch for those on tight budgets! I instantly thought taco meat could be an excellent choice. This recipe is great, because you can make this by itself or with the other two recipes (Burrito Bowl or Loaded Mexican Spaghetti Squash). This recipe is 226 calories a serving (24g carbs and 13g protein).

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:


1/4 pound ground turkey
1/4 gluten free taco seasoning packet
2 zucchini
3/4 cup black beans
3/4 cup whole kernel sweet corn
1/2 cup cooked white rice
1/2 cup Mexican style shredded cheese
1/4 cup red onion chopped
1/4 tomato diced
1/4 cup water
1 jalapeño or 1/4 bell pepper chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch salt
pinch black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Prepare the taco meat by browning the ground turkey over medium heat.
3. Add seasoning packet and approx. 1/4 cup of water to browned turkey. Simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Remove the taco meat from heat and place in a large bowl. Set to side.
5. Prepare your zucchini by cutting off the ends and cutting the zucchini down the middle, long ways. You should have four long pieces of zucchini.
6. Scoop out the inside of the zucchini with a spoon. This will create a “boat” like appearance. Using a brush, spread olive oil on the inside of each zucchini. Season each piece with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Grab the bowl of taco meat and add the black beans, corn, cooked rice, tomato and chopped jalapeño or bell pepper to create the filling for your boats.
8. Mix all ingredients until the taco seasoning from the meat is coated on all ingredients.
9. Using a spoon, scoop the filling into each zucchini boat. This process may be a little messy. Push down the ingredients to maximize the amount of filling in each zucchini.
10. Place in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, covered in foil.
11. Add shredded cheese to the top of each boat the last 5 minutes of cooking. Cook uncovered.

This recipe serves 4.







How Food Helped Me Manage My Chronic Endometriosis Symptoms

I hope that I am able to help other women in a similar circumstance by sharing my experience. Any time there is no cure, it is challenging to accept and manage. I found that by simply changing my diet, I could significantly improve my quality of life and regain who I was meant to be.

I am a woman suffering from Endometriosis. So what is it? Endometriosis is a disorder where tissue in the uterus abnormally grows in other areas of the body, such as your ovaries, lining, bowel and other areas of the pelvis. Endometriosis effects 1 in 10 women. You would think a disease this common would have more information and research. It’s challenging to find and there is no known cure. The misconception is that you just get cramping, headache, fatigue, etc. around your time of the month. Wrong! These words are understatements. My symptoms never stopped and caused me to seek specialized treatment at only 11 years old.

In 6th grade, I began experiencing extreme amounts of pain and would have abnormal periods. There was no timeline for when this would occur and doctors originally just chalked it up to me being so young and “developing.” I would regularly pass quarter sized blood clots/tissue, which is extremely painful to experience. I finally saw a pediatric specialist at Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital, who diagnosed me with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). This disease causes cysts to develop on the ovaries, which can cause mild to severe pain. If they were small enough, you had to just let them develop and burst or dissolve by themselves. The only treatment option I had was to go on birth control at the age of 14.

I remember birth control being a blessing. It helped manage my symptoms and reduced the amount of bleeding I had. I felt like I could finally live a semi-normal life! However, that didn’t last very long. After about 6 months, my birth control prescriptions “stop working.” What I mean by this is that my body got used to the hormone levels and I would just get intermittent bleeding randomly throughout the month. I had no cycle control, which in turn increased my pain levels on a day to day basis. I went through this cycle of switching birth controls every 6 months for years.

Fast forward, I’m 21 years old. My symptoms have intensified over the last few years and I’m desperately seeking medical solutions to why I can’t get rid of my cramping and lower back pain. I was sleeping 9-12 hours a day and was still exhausted. I had started developing mild depression symptoms. I was struggling to maintain my weight and my periods were out of control again. Then all of a sudden they stopped all together. My doctors were convinced I was pregnant. They tested me multiple times to ensure I wasn’t having false negative tests. Yet, they all came back negative. Turns out I had a 2 inch x 2 inch cystic tumor on my ovary that had caused my period to stop completely. I was told that they would try to save my ovary in the surgery, but that they could not make any guarantees. I was terrified of what the outcome was. Little did I know I would be receiving an answer to a long awaited question.

My surgeon confirmed she was able to save my ovary and that she found something called Endometriosis. At this point she told me I was between stages 1-2 of the disease and that we were fortunate that they caught it early. She proceeded to explain that this could be why I experience such high levels of pain and that short and long term treatment options needed to be discussed. I was relieved to know what was wrong with me, but I had a false belief that things would improve. To the contrary, things only spiraled from here for me personally and with my health.

I complained post-op of a frequent intense pain in my side. She assured me it would reduce over time and might just be my body healing after the surgery. My doctor proceeded to tell me there was a possibility that I may have difficulty having children due to my disease. She didn’t think I was at a high risk of infertility then, but that if I waited until I was closer to my thirties, there was a higher likelihood that I could experience challenges. At the time, I was in a very serious relationship and she encouraged us to start a family as soon as possible. That was a lot to take in. I wasn’t ready for children, nor did I even want them in the next 5 years. I went into adult mode really quick. I felt a lot of pressure to get married and start a family. At the same time, it made me realize that I couldn’t rush things just because I might have a problem in the future. Ultimately, I had to ask questions that people at 21 don’t normally have to ask and make some tough decisions about my life and the people I kept in it.

In hopes of slowing the spread of my disease, I begin Lupron treatments. This medication puts you in a medically induced menopause. For those of you that have experienced menopause, you know what how horrendous this is. I took this treatment with no add back hormones, because they weren’t available at the time. After my first injection, I felt like I was dying almost immediately. I became super weak. I had intense hot flashes, my hair was falling out in large clumps, my body physically ached and my libido was so low that the thought of sex was nauseating. Then, the weight gain started. After 30 pounds of weight gain over three months, I had enough. I told my doctor that I felt worse on the treatment than I did without it and that I was done. She said I hadn’t been on the treatment long enough to get the full benefits of it and I could care less. To this day, I still deal with repercussions of that medication. I truly believe the joint and sciatic issues I experience are directly related to the side effects from the medication.

After I stopped the meds, I continued to complain to my doctor about the frequent pain in my side. It had developed into a stabbing pain during intercourse that was never there before. I had never really experienced excruciatingly painful sex at that point and thought it was a one time thing. Nope. Every time I had sex that stabbing pain was there. This is a symptom of endometriosis and could be related to the disease. However, I was also told that the scar tissue from saving my ovary could have resulted in some unintended effects to my body. Ultimately, I wish they would have just removed the ovary, because I’ve never been the same since. Intimacy became very challenging for me and this continues to be an issue. Even when the pain isn’t as prominent, you develop almost a PTSD response to sex. Prior to the pandemic, I was supposed to start pelvic wall therapy to help with managing and reducing this pain over time. It takes a very special partner to love you and support you unconditionally through this challenge.

Fast forward to 27. I’m living on my own and I’m dealing with my pain as best I can. I begin to start getting frequent infections and needed to see a doctor. My hormones were all out of whack and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I just knew that I was sick all of the time. My OBGYN had retired and I was searching for a new doctor. I began explaining my symptoms and the doctor I saw brushed them off like I was crazy. I chose to see a different doctor in the practice, who proceeded to tell me I was too young to have the issues I was describing and that they couldn’t possibly be hormone related. I told him that my symptoms correlated to the week of birth control I was on and that I only felt good during my placebo pills. He agreed with his colleague and told me that my issues weren’t related to the birth control I was taking. Four visits later, I was in tears, because my skin was so raw that I couldn’t function. Still, they couldn’t find anything wrong with me. I was tired of the doctors not listening to me, so once again I chose to see a third doctor in their practice. She was my saving grace. She listened to me, really listened. She told me to discontinue the use of the birth control and after some back and forth, were able to get my hormones under control.

Being off birth control was hard. I was experiencing endometriosis symptoms that I had never felt before. The pain was so bad that I began vomiting occasionally from the severe pain. I had constant headaches, abdominal and lower back pain. I was experiencing issues with my sciatic nerve in my right leg. The stabbing pains were the worst and would occur at random. I made it about 6 months without birth control before I went crawling back to my OBGYN begging for any kind of relief. We talked through my options and she recommended staying off the pill longer since my side effects were so severe. My choices were the depo shot or an IUD. Based on the side effects, I chose to take my chances with the IUD. I was told that my pain could increase for a short period of time, but that over the next few months, I should go back to normal. That may be the case for other people, but that was not my experience.

The 10 months that I had the IUD, my endometriosis symptoms were the worst they have ever been. I had so much sharp pain that l was having trouble getting out of bed and going to work. I couldn’t work out and I started to gain a large amount of weight again. I was under so much stress that I was having trouble functioning. I pushed through the pain and told myself it was temporary. It wasn’t. The pain increased and became scary. I began blacking out for very short periods of time. My endo-belly had gotten so bad that I had to buy pants 1-2 sizes larger just to wear during my flare-ups. Slowly the swollen/bloated feeling never went away. That was my norm. Distended stomach and all. My most terrifying moment was while I was driving home from work. I blacked out for a few seconds. It was brought on by a sharp stabbing pain that started while I was at a stop light. That was my last straw. I was fortunate that I didn’t get into an accident, but I knew I couldn’t live like this anymore.

I went back to the doctor and they scheduled an appointment to have the IUD removed, but I had to wait 8 weeks for the appointment. In the interim, my pain was so severe that I was hospitalized 4 weeks before my procedure. I suspected the IUD had punctured my uterus. To my surprise, they said my IUD was perfectly placed and that the symptoms I was experiencing was due to my endometriosis. I was told to take Motrin and go home to rest. Motrin. For anyone that lives with chronic pain, you know Motrin doesn’t do anything at all. I was beside myself and asked what more I could do to manage my pain. The ER doctor suggested talking to my OBGYN about a hysterectomy. I was 28 years old, in the ER, being told to consider a hysterectomy for a treatment option. I was appalled.

I still had four more weeks until I saw my doctor and by week two I was actually considering discussing surgical options like excision, ablation and even a hysterectomy. I was desperate for the pain to stop. I was angry at the world. I was angry at my body for imprisoning me to a hell that I felt like I could only understand. I hated my body, I hated the way I looked and I just really hated myself at that point. Things in my mind got darker than I’ll admit. It’s a part of myself I hope to never see again. I started watching all these videos from people who were suffering from Endometriosis. I was yearning for someone to relate to. I came across one person who said her eating habits really helped to make positive changes in her life. I frantically researched this topic and learned there is a correlation to gluten, soy and lactose intolerances and those suffering from endometriosis. I wasn’t sure if this was true, so I asked my doctor. She said that there are correlations, but that it’s not always helpful for patients suffering from the disease. Every person is different, so what may have helped others might not work for me. Since I was at a cross roads, she told me to go ahead and try eliminating those items to see if they could work.

It’s extremely hard to limit your diet, so I started by simply going gluten-free. Within a few weeks, I had noticed my inflammation had reduced and the pain I was feeling regularly was subsiding. I began to limit the amount of soy in my diet. Soy is very challenging, because it’s in everything. I do my best to eat soy free, but I do consume it occasionally. I started to notice my mood began to balance out and my bloating reduced. I had forgotten what it was like to not have pain every minute of the day. It was amazing to be able to make it through a whole day and not feel awful. Even my lower back pain had eased up. I went back on the birth control and to my surprise, I had absolutely no side effects that I had previously experienced. Could this all be because of a diet change?

In my gut, I know that the foods I eat impact how I feel. If I accidentally eat gluten or if I consume an Asian dish with gluten-free soy, I get cramping within a 12-24 hour period. Some people have asked me if the pain I feel is just because I had food sensitivities I wasn’t previously aware of. That answer is no. I still experience flare-ups where I have severe pain. However, they have greatly subsided in frequency and have been less intense since making these diet changes. I sincerely believe that my eating habits help to manage my chronic pain. It will never fully go away, but at least I have a fighting chance of better managing my symptoms! This was my way of telling endometriosis that it wouldn’t get the best of me! Moral of this story is, sometimes we seek medical advice and look for a treatment that’s a pill or a shot. We don’t always stop to consider if what we are eating has impacted our bodies negatively. My story shows the importance of food and eating well, because it can make a world of difference.

Fiesta Stuffed Peppers


This fun take on stuffed peppers was created from hispanic influences. I LOVE tacos, but I always have leftover taco meat when I cook them. This recipe allowed me to utilize a leftover, while making a hardy meal that is quick, easy and takes very little effort! These stuffed peppers can also be prepared even if you don’t have leftover taco meat! That being said, unless you’re making 12 peppers, you won’t use a whole pound of meat. However, I have some awesome ideas for some additional taco inspired recipes that will be coming out in the next few days! Stay tuned…

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:


6 bell peppers
1/2-1 lb. ground turkey or beef
1 gluten-free taco seasoning packet (low sodium when possible)
1 cup of cooked white rice
1/2 can of whole kernel sweet corn
1/2 can of black beans
1 cup of Mexican style shredded cheese
1/4 cup of salsa or 1 diced tomato


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse and cut the tops off of your 6 bell peppers. Remove seeds, so the inside of the peppers are hollow. Set to the side in a baking dish.
  3. Prep and begin cooking your white rice.
  4. While the rice is cooking, brown 1 lb. of meat, then follow directions provided on the back of the taco seasoning packet. You can also use leftover taco meat in place of this step.
  5. Once rice has finished cooking, measure 1 cup of cooked rice and place it in a large mixing bowl.
  6. Place 1/2 lb. of seasoned meat into the mixing bowl with the rice.
  7. Add 1/2 can of corn, 1/2 can of black beans, 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and either 1/4 cup of salsa or 1 diced tomato to the mixing bowl.
  8. Stir until all ingredients are well mixed.
  9. Grab your baking dish with the hallow peppers and begin adding filling into each pepper. Push down ingredients lightly to maximize the amount of filling that is being placed in each pepper.
  10. Place the dish in the oven for 30 minutes covered with foil.
  11. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and add the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese to the tops of each pepper. Bake for another 5 minutes, uncovered.
  12. Remove and serve.

This recipe makes 6 servings.

Berry Coconut Smoothie Bowl


As a woman that suffers from Endometriosis, inflammation is something that I struggle with on a regular basis. This week I had my first flare up in months. That being said, because of my diet changes, I noticed that my pain levels were much more manageable than they’ve been in the past. This smoothie is my go to when I need antioxidants!

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:


1-1.5 cup coconut milk
1 cup of spinach
1 cup of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries frozen
1/2 frozen banana
1/4 sliced banana fresh
1/4 cup fresh blueberries, blackberries and raspberries
1 tbsp coconut flakes
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp coconut flakes
Optional: 1/4 cup ice


1. Add the coconut milk, spinach, frozen berries, 1 tbsp of coconut flakes and 1 tbsp of chia seeds (optional: 1/4 cup ice) to a blender.
2. Blend till smooth. If the consistency is too thick add small amounts of coconut milk until desired texture is achieved.
3. Pour smoothie mix in bowl.
4. Top with sliced fresh banana, berries and 1 tsp of coconut flakes

This recipe serves 1.

Healthy Greek Marinade

This Mediterranean inspired marinade is quick and easy to make. With Greek yogurt as the main ingredient, it won’t break any diet!

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:


1 cup of Greek yogurt
4-5 sprigs of dill chopped
1/2 lemon (squeezed for juice)
1-2 pinches salt
1 pinch black pepper


  1. Place the Greek yogurt, dill, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a ziplock bag or a shallow Tupperware with your favorite protein. 
  2. Place in the fridge for 30-60 minutes. 
  3. Your protein is ready to be cooked!