Words by Shayla Knutson, Tracy Nicholson / Photography by M.Schleif Photography

When Midwest Nest asked me to contribute to their spring issue, I decided to plan out a full day of meals using fresh, healthy ingredients and a few tips from my Sweetly Simple Life food blog. These dishes had to be simple, spring-inspired and full of flavor. To provide an elegant backdrop, Radiant Homes offered me a stunning kitchen in their new model home in the coveted Edgewood Estates neighborhood of North Fargo.BODY:pic 2

Zucchini & Carrot Cake Oats
This is one of my favorite oatmeals for breakfast. It’s pretty healthy and it only uses two tablespoons of pure maple syrup. There are no other sugars added, but it tastes like cake – it’s so good. You can also keep it in a crockpot, warming for 6-8 hours overnight and then it’s ready for you in the morning. It’s just really easy, throw all of the ingredients in there and let it cook.pic 7 & 16

Poppy Seed Chicken-Salad Sandwiches
I love that this is a healthier version of chicken salad, but doesn’t skimp on the taste. I’ve tried to look for a good, pre-made chicken salad at the stores, but when I read the ingredient list with a ton of additives and heavy mayo, I quickly changed my mind. A typical chicken salad would call for around two cups of mayo – as a compromise, I used only a 1/4  a cup of mayo, then substituted the rest with greek yogurt. This is a really versatile recipe in terms of diet and preferences. My husband, Cam, doesn’t eat gluten, so he prefers to make wraps using butter lettuce, instead of bread or croissants. I, however, love a good whole wheat bread from my go-to source, Breadsmith.

Enchilada Zucchini Boats
This is one of my husband’s favorite dinner dishes and I love Mexican food. We probably make this recipe once a week. It’s pretty spicy, so if you’re not someone who enjoys spicy food, you can easily tone it down by avoiding the chipotle peppers. If you skip the chipotle, this is also a really kid-friendly and fun recipe. Lure them in with the process of carving boats out of zucchinis and they might just be tempted enough to eat their veggies.


A Sweetly Simple Life:
Growing up in the small town of Hazen, N.D., we didn’t have a lot of options for dining out, so naturally, I learned to cook every meal with my family. Today, I live in Downtown Fargo with my husband, Cam Knutson. I work for Ami Baxter Interior Design and I’ve had my cooking blog, Sweetly Simple Life for a couple of years now. This is how we cook several times a week – pretty healthy, gluten-free, or at least with a gluten-free option, and always delicious. Cam loves to take the leftovers to work, so even though it’s just the two us, we always make a little extra. Living with a husband who’s gluten-free means we lead a pretty healthy lifestyle, but I still make time for my guilty pleasure – baking. I love baking!

Where do I get my inspiration? I do a lot of searching on Pinterest, but I don’t follow the actual recipe at all. I gather several different recipes and create my own; which is always a struggle when people ask me to share recipes with them. However, there is one place you can find more of my recipes – find me @sweetlysimplelife on Instagram or on Facebook.



Zucchini & Carrot Cake Oats
  • ½ C. steel cut oats
  • 1 ½ C. almond milk
  • ½ C. finely shredded carrots
  • ½ C. finely shredded zucchini
  • ½ Tsp. cinnamon
  • ⅛ Tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ Tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ⅛ Tsp. salt
  • ½ C. toasted pecans
In the crockpot:
The night before – spray your crockpot with oil. Combine all of the ingredients except the pecans in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Top with pecans and enjoy!
On the stove:

Combine all ingredients except the pecans. Cook covered for 15 minutes. Top with pecans and enjoy!


Poppy Seed Chicken-Salad Sandwiches

Chicken Salad 
  • 4 C. rotisserie chicken cubed
  • 1 ½ C. finely chopped celery
  • 1 ½ C. quartered grapes (red or green seedless)
  • 1 C. toasted walnuts
  • ¼ C. avocado oil mayo
  • 1 C. greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 4 Tsp. poppy seeds
  • 1 ½ Tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • ½ Tsp. pepper
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
Add chicken salad ingredients and toss until the dressing is thoroughly incorporated.
Serve on croissants, butter lettuce, wraps, or your favorite type of bread. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.
Enchilada Zucchini Boats
  • 4 small zucchini
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 med. yellow onion
  • 1 Tsp. chipotle pepper sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • ½ Tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tsp. salt
  • 3 Tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 Tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 – 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • ½ C. corn (fresh, frozen or canned)
  • 1 C. water
  • 1 lb. ground turkey or beef
  • 1 – 7 oz. can diced green chilies
  • 1 ½ C. shredded cheese (Cheddar or Mexican blend)
  • ½ C. greek yogurt
  • 1 to 2 Tsp. powdered ranch
  • Cilantro
  • Sliced scallions

Preheat oven to 400℉. Brown ground meat and add all other ingredients besides zucchini. Let this cook and simmer on medium-low for 15-20 minutes. For the zucchini, use a spoon or melon baller. Scoop centers from halved zucchini while leaving a ¼ “ rim to create boats. Drizzle with ½ Tbs. olive oil and bake until zucchini is almost tender (approx. 8-10 min). Spoon the mixture into the zucchini boats and top them with cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and golden brown. Top with yogurt mixture, scallions and cilantro.


To see more of Shayla Knutson’s Sweetly Simple recipes, follow her on Facebook or Instagram @sweetlysimplelife

About the Model Home:
Contractor – David Reid, Radiant Homes
Architect – Meland Architects
Interior Design – Brandi Youngmark Interior Design
Cabinetry – Designer, Kristi Foell, Braaten Cabinets
Appliances – Rigel’s
Flooring – Carpet World & Design Direction
Plumbing & lighting fixtures – Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery

Radiant Creative Homes