Welcome to 2016!

The end of last year came and went before I knew it.  As the holidays rapidly approached we were still rocking our sickness.  Seriously we were sick for a solid six weeks.  But someone was looking out for us because as soon as we arrived in St Thomas for our annual Christmas vacation our sinuses cleared and we were once again breathing like normal people!  It was a special two weeks filled with family, beach time, and yummy food.  I always think I’m going to blog while I’m there but I never end up doing it.  It’s my recharge time as I soak up plenty of Vitamin D, reflect on the year, and find inspiration for the next.


Looking back I’ve realized the last 5 years have been completely family oriented..  2011 was the year I learned I’d become a mother, 2012 my life was forever changed for the better as I became a mother, 2013 my motherhood journey expanded with baby #2, and 2014 I fully cherished being a stay at home mother.  But by the end of 2014 I was realizing it was time to start adding something back into my life, something more than just taking care of my family.  2015 was the year life opened back up for me.  I earned my personal trainer certification from NASM, I made the decision to 100% embrace a lifestyle of fitness and well being, and I jumped back into the workforce following this new path.  It’s slow going as I’m still a stay at home mom but I will continue to expand and find my groove, my niche, my place.  I’ll achieve the proper balance of being present for my family and pursuing a career.  I guess the point I’m trying to make is 2016 is going to be a great year.  It’s easy to let the days float by but setting attainable goals for both short term and long term makes things happen.  And I’m making moves : ).


Thanks for sticking with me.  Now for my first blogged meal of the new year..


This is by no means a typical ratatouille.  I’m not quite sure what to call it, but it follows along those lines, just not in the traditional sense.  Fresh veggies stewed with fresh tomatoes seasoned with lots and lots of fresh basil.  Sometimes I find it hard to feel excited about eating veggie centered meals in the winter but right now I’m motivated to make it happen.  Yes I did add in ground beef for my protein, I find it necessary to keep me satiated and energized.  And, as I’m still finding the right balance for enjoying carbs, I decided this was definitely going to have the addition of plantain.  This may sound weird but they are so delicious when added to stews.  Just trust me on this one!


This dish came together quickly as my kids were running around playing, screaming, and creating a mess with their blocks.  Definitely minor chaos.  I let them run wild since I was a bit behind schedule for their typical dinner hour and I planned to share this meal with them.  As the dish simmered the house smelled delicious, but I had my doubts about them eating it.  Lots of green leafy things floating around, which tends to be the deal breaker.  But I talked it up and served them their bowls with a nice bit of pecorino mixed in.  And to my pleasant surprise they both ate it.  Like for real.  Smiles as they munched down.  And neither picked out any of the veggies but instead ate it bite by bite.  Total winning meal for us!!!



Yield: 4-6 servings


A medley of vegetables and ground beef seasoned with plenty of fresh basil - this bright flavor is nice treat during the cold winter months!


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced/pressed
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 eggplant, peeled and chopped
  • 4 kale leaves, stalks removed and chopped
  • 1 lb fresh baby san marzano tomatoes
  • 4 oz fresh basil, chopped
  • .75 oz fresh parsley, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon chicken base
  • 2 ripe plantains, peeled and cut into ~1" rounds
  • s&p
  • pecorino romano, to serve


  1. In a large skillet heat up a bit of olive oil over medium heat. Once warm add half the garlic and stir until fragrant ~30 seconds. Add the ground beef and brown. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot heat up a bit of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, zucchini, yellow, squash, eggplant, and kale leaves. Stir occasionally as they start to cook ~5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile add the tomatoes to your blender and pulse until liquified. Add the tomatoes sauce, basil, parsley, and chicken base to the veggies. Season generously with s&p. Mix well to combine.
  4. Stir in the plantain and allow sauce to come to a boil.
  5. Turn heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.
  6. Serve with fresh grated pecorino romano, garnished with fresh parsley.


I love the flavor of basil and used more than enough for this dish. Mainly because Trader Joe's sells organic basil in 4oz containers and I had no plan to use it in any other meal. You can always use less and add in other Italian seasonings if desired. But if you love basil don't hesitate to go a bit overboard like me!


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