Getting Real with Food

Valentine’s Day Dinner

When I was younger, my mom and I would ‘host’ our own cooking show in our kitchen. We put on aprons, set out the ingredients and loved shouting “Kick it up a notch!” or “Bam!” Fast-forward more than 20 years, and now, it’s my 2-year-old daughter Ainsley awaiting my instructions. My lifelong passion for making and sharing food led to my blog, Honest Grub, Honest Foodie, and I cannot wait to create recipes using real ingredients exclusively for T&S readers! I want to build a community around loving food and loving ourselves. Right on track, I’m sharing a meal perfectly suited for Valentine’s Day.

chicken florentine pasta
I’m all about easy, healthy recipes. This is lightened with the use of half & half and chicken broth instead of heavy cream. And butternut squash noodles are now a convenient swap, although it’s just as scrumptious with whole wheat pasta!

Serves 2
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Gluten Free

3 c chopped rotisserie chicken
2 c chopped fresh spinach
10 raw baby bella mushrooms
½ c raw pine nuts
8 oz. low sodium chicken broth
½ c Greek yogurt
¾ c Half & Half
1 t ground paprika
1 t onion powder
1 t pepper
2 t salt
¼ c chopped shallots
3 cloves garlic
¼ c red wine
1 T butter
2 T olive oil
¾ c shredded Italian Cheese
20 oz. butternut squash noodles (Find at Schnucks, Dierbergs & Whole Foods)

1. Take rotisserie chicken off the bones, chop and place in bowl. Add chopped spinach. Slice mushrooms ¼-inch thick and place in separate bowl.
2. In a large frying pan, toast pine nuts in single layer on medium heat until they turn golden brown (about 5 minutes). Toss after 3 minutes. Put in a bowl to cool.
3. In the same pan on medium heat, add olive oil and saute 2 cloves minced garlic and shallots for 2 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms and cook another 2 minutes. Add butter, and simmer for a few minutes. Turn heat to medium high, pour in the red wine and simmer for 5-7 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
4. Turn stove to medium heat, and add in the last minced garlic clove. Pour in chicken broth, half & half, and yogurt. Whisk until everything is incorporated. Whisk in onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Let simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Fold in chicken, spinach and cheese, and turn heat to low.
6. Cook your noodles per instructions, plate and top with mixture. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts, and feel free to add fresh parmesan or basil on top.

chocolate chocolate brownies 
These brownies are Ainsley’s new favorite treat. Instead of cocoa powder, I use melted chocolate for an extra fudgy taste. Enjoy Life chocolate is our go-to in the house. It has only three ingredients: cane sugar, unsweetened chocolate and cocoa butter. You can find this brand at most stores in the area.

Serves 15
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Gluten Free
Dairy Free

2 c Enjoy Life semisweet mega chunks
½ c coconut flour
1 c coconut sugar
½ t salt
½ t baking soda
¼ t cream of tartar
½ c coconut oil, melted + 1 T coconut oil
2 t vanilla extract
4 eggs (or egg substitute)
1 c chocolate gems (½ for batter, ½ for topping) [Note: These are optional and can alter the GF/DF components. I like to use ones with no artificial coloring.]

1. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt ½ c coconut oil in 30-second increments. Set aside to cool.
2. Place coconut sugar in a large bowl. Sift coconut flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt into bowl. (Sifting creates a lighter texture and makes ingredients easier to mix.
3. In a small stock pot, add 2 c of water. Place a microwave-safe bowl on top, making sure it doesn’t touch the water. Put chocolate chunks and 1 T coconut oil in the bowl, and turn
on medium high heat. Stir chocolate until fully melted.
4. Let chocolate cool before adding coconut oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisk until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
5. Fold wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until completely mixed. Fold in chocolate gems. Set aside for 10 minutes. This is very important when using coconut flour because it needs time to absorb the liquid and thicken.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes.

Note: To substitute for coconut products, use: ½ c canola oil, 1 c cane sugar and 1 c cassava flour

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