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30 Minute Gluten Free Kale Stuffed Grassfed Mini Meatloaf with Sheet Pan Roasted Veggies :: Kid Friendly Taste, Paleo

November 17, 2017

A nourishing, nutrient dense meatloaf dinner in weeknight fast prep time!

I see you, dear momma…

I see your endless nights with newborns and toddlers…

I see your taxi driver miles put on the van carting kids to school, events, activities, and friends…

I see that work you are doing both inside and outside the home while the kids are in school, or that on the side work you are doing while your kids sleep at night…

I see you taking the time to navigate teen friendships, homework, and activities.

And I see your heart to want to nourish your family with healthy meals while still keep up a schedule like this…

Because we all can’t do it all

YES balance is good. Yes sometimes things need to be trimmed to make priorities happen.

But I also get that we all can’t stay at home all day and be in the kitchen. We all can’t quit a job that is paying our bills to make sure healthy dinners are on the table every night. And I’ll be the first one to stand up for the stay at home mom to say that it isn’t just playing dress up with babies all day and dollies with toddlers. No one can do it all. No one.

You can still do this

So even if you never try the recipe in this post today (I hope you do!), please walk away from reading this post feeling a sense of hope. You CAN do the real food thing not only on a budget, but on a time crunch. And it is so worth being able to get through your day with that much greater ease because your body is nourished with food that fuels.

Did you hear that part? I didn’t even mention your kids…yes nourishing the kids is great (and so important so they can get through their day too!), but YOU dear momma. YOU need to be fueled because this ship sinks without you being well.

The ultimate nutrient dense dinner…meatloaf!

It is no secret, my family is obsessed with my meatloaf recipe. My husband, in particular, favors it over most any dinner I make. This momma loves that it is packed out with nutrient loaded grass-fed beef AND liver and that it is happily gobbled over and over.

But I don’t, however, always love that it is not very weeknight friendly to prep, and an hour and half cook time just doesn’t work on a Tuesday night…

A weekend dinner made for the weekday!

My meatloaf recipe is so good, but I’ll be the first to admit, that it is more of a weekend meal. Especially when you want to go the extra mile and make special sides like really amazing mashed potatoes. On weekdays, I need quicker prep time, quicker cook time, and just over all less fuss

Quicker prep time, cook time, and less fuss? How can that be for a meatloaf dinner?! I’m so glad you asked!

  • Less fuss with prepping the meat. While I love the flavor that the cooked mirepoix gives in my original meatloaf, it does take some extra time and steps that a weeknight just doesn’t call for. Instead, I packed these little guys out with amazing flavor using seasoning you probably already have in your pantry, and it makes the meatloaf taste really yummy.
  • Less cook time. One-third of the cook time to be exact! Pop everything into the oven for 30 minutes while you help the kids with homework, play a game, give the baby a bath, or read books to the toddler and dinner  is done! Super hands free!
  • Quicker veggie sides – but still kid friendly! I think it’s pretty safe to say most kids will accept sweet potatoes on their plate – especially when they are roasted sweet, and have tasty seasoning. But you can change up the veg to what your kiddos love too! Sheet pan veggies are super fast and kids love the taste.

Tips for making this work on a weeknight

Ok, so I get it. 30 minutes is still 30 minutes, right? So this meal probably doesn’t work on that 2 hour gymnastics practice night, or the night you work late and the kiddos are one their own, or the day you have a fussy, teething baby or sick, needy toddler. But this definitely works for most run of the mill weeknights, *especially* if you do just a little prep work the night before!

  • Get the meat into the pan the night before. Mix it up, divide it up, cover it up, and stick it in the fridge til it’s time to cook!
  • Or, prep the meat into servings and freeze big portions. Put this on your prepday and triple batch! That will make 3 dinners for the next month! Simply freeze the mini loaves and pop them into a freezer bag. You can pull out however many minis you need for dinner that night, thaw them, and cook.
  • Chop the veg the night before. It’s one of the reasons we eat sweet potatoes over white potatoes more often – they don’t brown, so I can prep them ahead! Chopping the sweet potatoes and broccoli the night before will save you at least 5 to 10 minutes of prep time. On dinner night, just dump them onto your trays, oil & season them, and they are ready to go!
  • Use leftover roasted veg from the weekend or night before! Seriously, I do this all the time. When I’m cooking one meal, I might as well double it up I figure. I can use the leftover veggies for my breakfast or dinner the next day.

5.0 from 12 reviews
30 Minute Gluten Free Grassfed Mini Meatloaf with Sheet Pan Roasted Veggies :: Kid Friendly Taste, Paleo
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE ROASTED SWEET POTATOES & BROCCOLI ::
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets (save the stems for broccoli soup!)
  • ¼ cup avocado oil, butter, ghee, or coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp all season salt
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • ¼ - ½ tsp pepper to the kid’s taste
  • FOR THE MINI MEATLOAF ::
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 heaping cup of baby kale, chopped finely
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup gluten or grain free flour of choice (I’ve used tapioca, cassava flour, and white rice flour. Nut flours and coconut flour do NOT work in my experience)
  • 3 tbsp full fat coconut milk or raw milk/cream
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ - ½ tsp pepper to the kid’s taste
  • Ketchup to top the mini meatloaf (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Prepare the veggie trays. Toss the sweet potatoes and broccoli florets in a large mixing bowl with the oil and seasonings, and divide between 2 sheet pans.
  3. Prepare the mini meatloaves. Mix all the meatloaf ingredients together by hand in a small mixing bowl. Divide the mixture into 6, and distribute the meat into a half dozen muffin tin. Spread ketchup on the top of each mini meatloaf if you wish.
  4. Roast everything together at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring the veggies around at the halfway point.

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Instant Pot Chipotle Chili :: Stove Top & Slow Cooker Directions Included! Bean free & Paleo friendly too!

November 4, 2017

Slow cooked chili flavor with a special smoked twist, all in record time! 

Snow dusted roof-tops…

…the last week of October. Yup. We woke up to our first light covering of snow this week, as if October just wanted to nudge us a little reminder of what’s to come in the next month. We already had the heavier coats, hats, and mittens dug out of the basement in preparation, and I can’t tell you how my little Michiganders are excitedly anticipating measurable snow in the coming weeks!

So I’m rolling with it…

Chilly fall evenings definitely call for chili! My slow cooker sprouted chili is a family favorite, but this week set ahead of me just happened to be a bit more packed in schedule than my usual, and I just didn’t have time to get beans sprouting. In fact, I decided one morning that chili just had to be on the menu that night, and that figuring out Instant Pot chili was going to happen! I am so glad I pushed myself to figure it out, because this chili is probably going to take over the family favorite status!

Instant Pot versus Slow Cooker versus Stovetop

It’s a hot debate. And I get it. I’m coming from more of an old school, “love my stove-top cooking” type feeling, and I did have a really hard time adjusting to my Instant Pot. I love the flavor that comes from getting veggie down in fat to sweeten and soften, and the slow simmered flavor that comes from the time and patience that stove-top cooking brings. And slow cookers and chili just go hand in hand because that all day low bubble just makes for amazing flavor.

But man, I’m here as a stove-top cooking lover to admit to you that using the pressure cooker Instant Pot the right way gave JUST as amazing depth of flavor as a slow stove top simmer – and gets it done in record time for the busy family.

Weeknight dinner game changer!

Typically chili is something I save for weekend meals since the prep and cook time take a bit longer, but with the Instant Pot, I was able to have this meal done in record time, and it was so satisfying to serve on a Tuesday night!

One of my favorite features of the Instant Pot pressure cooker is the Saute setting. It allows me to get the caramelized flavor out of the veggies that stove-top cooking gives before pressure cooking. While you definitely could just dump all the veggies in and pressure cook it, trust me, the extra 10 minutes of cooking that veg down in some fat makes the flavor SO worthwhile.

Tips for making this chili all YOUR own, and on a weeknight in record time!

I know many people are very passionate about what makes a good chili. I have my list, and yours may look different! If you love a thicker chili, leave out the bone broth. I like a bit more liquid to mine so I can dunk my cornbread or crackers. If you have a certain spice blend that is all yours, do it up! If you prefer beans in your chili, add more liquid/broth and add those beans in there! I don’t tolerate even sprouted beans like I wish I did, and so I’ve learned over the last few years how to enjoy chili without the beans.

While this chili dinner is not a quite 15 minute meal, it definitely is do-able in 30 minutes with an Instant Pot, or right around an hour-ish stove-top so long as you do a few things in prep the night before or on a prep day!

  • Chop the veggies the night before or on your prep day – this saves you a good 10 minutes between all the veg washing and chopping.
  • Cook the squash for dinner the night before and save the cup you need for the chili so you just have to dump it in. Or save some extra time and use canned pumpkin/squash.
  • Cook the beef and bacon the night before or on your prep day. Just be sure to save the fat to cook the veggies in – that flavor is unmatched!
  • Always have bone broth on your prep day plans. I never let my freezer bone broth stash get below 2 quarts so I’m always ready for making dinners like this.
  • You can also always make the chili on your prep day and then warm it through in a slow cooker or stove-top during the week. If you are serving to a crowd at a gathering, a slow cooker will keep the chili warm all day on the warm/low setting. The chili freezes up great too. My kiddos LOVED taking this chili to school in their school lunch thermos, and my husband took leftovers in his travel crockpot he warms at his desk at work!

Toppers and Sides!

Here are some weeknight fast toppers and sides for your chili meal!

  • Avocado slices with chives and parsley
  • Sour cream or raw cheese and chives
  • Crackers (I grew up with “oyster” crackers in my chili, and these GF blender batter crackers taste and feel JUST like those! If you are grain free, try these easy blender batter plantain crackers, or we like the Simple Mills grain free crackers – even Costco carries them now!)
  • Cornbread (This version is gluten free – if you want to make it dairy free too, swap the butter for ghee or palm shortening, and swap coconut milk for the milk and sour cream. The corn bread pictured in this post is done with ghee and coconut milk! If you do not tolerate corn,  you could try swapping the cornmeal for almond flour – I actually think this would work ok!)
  • Grain Free Herb Butter Biscuits (This is a super fast blender batter and they are so good! If you do not tolerate butter, you can use palm shortening or ghee.)
  • Squash Drop Biscuits (This is another good one to swap if you can’t have corn and need dairy and gluten free too.)
  • Salads with any of these popular kid friendly dressings, or my personal favorite with this chili is the Olive Garden Copycat dressing.
  • Big veggie platters with clean ingredient Ranch to dip. It doesn’t get any easier than just making a family style platter of veggie sticks to share around, and you can make either this egg free Ranch or my Paleo egg free Ranch dip if you are dairy free. If you can tolerate eggs, we also love this squeaky clean ingredient store bought Ranch from Primal Kitchen.

Notes for my Slow Cooker & Stove-Top friends!

Unless it’s worked into your budget, or coming on a birthday or holiday wishlist, there is no need to rush out and grab and Instant Pot just for this recipe. One of my mantras has always been…don’t go broke trying to eat healthy! I spent quite literally the first 9 years of my real food journey with just a stock pot and soup pot at my stove while I learned how to cook, and you can definitely do this thing without an Instant Pot. If it fits in the budget and you are a super busy family that would benefit from the ease and fast cook times, I think you will be so happy with your purchase!

I left both stove-top and slow cooker directions in the Instructions, and you can comment below if you have further questions – I am happy to help! 

5.0 from 14 reviews
Instant Pot Chipotle Chili :: Stove Top & Slow Cooker Directions Included! Bean free & Paleo friendly too!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp friendly fat to cook in, divided (Ghee, butter, tallow, lard, coconut oil, or avocado oil)
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 4 strips of bacon, diced (you can use more if you wish but we found this to be plenty of flavor and texture!)
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 small zucchini cubed or diced depending on your size preference
  • 3 jalapeños, de-ribbed/seeds & ribs scraped out, diced
  • 1 cup cooked & pureed squash (acorn, butternut, or koboucha work well. I think canned pumpkin would be fine too.)
  • 1 – 15oz can organic diced tomatos
  • 1 – 15oz can organic tomato sauce
  • 1-2 cups beef bone broth depending on how thick/thin you like your chili (chicken bone broth would be fine too)
  • 3-4 tsp sea salt (start out small and you can always add more when it’s done to your taste)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp chipotle powder
Instructions
  1. Brown the beef and cook the bacon in 1 tablespoon of ghee or other friendly cooking fat. If you are using an Instant Pot using the “Saute” feature to do this. If you are using your soup pot, cook over medium heat until cooked through. Scoop the meat out with a slotted spoon so the fat stays behind for cooking in.
  2. Add the rest of the cooking fat to your IP or soup pot and sauté the onion and peppers with a pinch of sea salt for about 10 minutes until soft and sweet.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
  4. Return the meat to your IP or soup pot along with the rest of the ingredients. Give the chili a stir to combine. IF YOU ARE USING THE INSTANT POT, put the lid on, close the valve, press “Manual,” and bring the time to 15 minutes. The IP will take about 5 minutes to come to pressure, and then will pressure cook for 15 minutes. When the pressure cooker beeps that it is done, turn it off and let the pressure release naturally about 5 minutes before opening the lid. IF YOU ARE USING THE SOUP POT, put the lid on and bring to a low simmer for about 1 hour. You could alternatively use a slow cooker from this step cooking on low for 6-8 hours.

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Savory Steak and Mushroom Soup :: Dairy Free, Gluten Free, & Grain Free

October 21, 2017

Savory steak & mushroom soup will become your staple comforting bowl of warmth this fall and winter!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family. 

Comforting bowls of warmth

That’s what fall and winter are all about right?! We’ve been enjoying an unseasonably warm fall so far, which make for really fun fall hiking, or pumpkin patch days! But with the sun going down a bit earlier each day, the cool air settles in by dinnertime, and that, dear friends calls for warm bowls of soup to end the day!

A new nourishing staple in my home

Last week I introduced you all to Nourished Kitchen’s Roasted Mushroom Broth that I have completely and utterly fallen in love with this fall. I’m so thankful to have discovered this broth at the beginning of “soup season” so that I can enjoy trying it out in new meals all fall and winter!

I have been making some creamed mushroom soups with this warm and earthy roasted mushroom broth, but one night decided I needed to use it for more of a full dinner meal – one that my husband would actually consider a “dinner”…and that means it needs to have some sort of meat involved 🙂

Steak & Mushrooms…like a match made in heaven!

I don’t know of anyone that wouldn’t take a steak and mushroom dinner every day of the week. Getting those mushrooms down into a golden braise with warm ghee or butter sends this bowl of soup over the top. The extra nourishment from the roasted mushroom broth or using a collagen loaded beef bone broth boosts the nutrient level of this meal, making it something I’m definitely putting on my monthly meal menu this fall!

Rich and savory without the heaviness

I know the idea of steak and mushrooms can feel kind of “heavy” but this brothy soup will feel comforting without the heaviness you would get from a big steak meal. Roasting the mushrooms for the broth makes this soup base feel so rich. It was such a satisfying and satiating dinner for a weeknight!

Tips for serving baby and little kids

I can tell you right now that my older babies would literally inhaled this soup! I very often made beef stew (in my cookbook Nourished Beginnings Baby Food), and chicken stew for my babies and blended it up for them – they were perfectly giddy with these meals! Those tougher cuts of beef like the steak in this soup are tough for little ones to chew though. Even my 4 year old needed her steak chunks cut a bit smaller to handle.

Here are some tips for serving this nourishing soup to little ones:

  • This would be a safe soup to start in pureed form for babies over the age of 6-9 months that have already tried tastes of beef and some veggies so you know they don’t have any reactions to the individual ingredients. You can pour mostly the broth base into a blender, Magic Bullet, or food processor along with a few of the veggies and a cube of the beef and blend it up.
  • For toddlers that like to “do it myself,” puree half of his bowl of soup including the beef to make it a thicker soup. He can fist-full it, or use a spoon. You could also just put little pieces from the soup onto his tray to finger food and see if he will sip the broth from a cup. My little ones loved having little tea cups of broth!
  • For older toddlers and preschoolers (even into those little guys in the Kindergarten and 1st grade ages), just make the beef chunks smaller. Even though the beef is really tender in this soup, it is just easier to chew that way for little mouths. To be honest, I made the steak cuts larger than I would have for photographing purposes for this post. When I make it again, I’ll be making the cubes smaller so my preschooler and 1st grader can handle them without needing take the beef out and cut it up more.
  • Remember that little kids don’t like temperature extremes for their food. Their senses are so much more heightened than adults. Instead of serving piping hot soup to your little one, serve it lukewarm or even room temp. I have found my babies to go from completely refusing a food, to gobbling it down without hesitation simply by letting the food cool off to what I would consider cold!

The perfect steak and mushroom soup accompaniments!

Here are some simple sides to serve with your soup – easy enough even for a weeknight

5.0 from 7 reviews
Savory Steak and Mushroom Soup :: Dairy Free, Gluten Free, & Grain Free
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup friendly fat to cook in such as butter, ghee, avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, or tallow (I like using a combination of ghee and olive oil)
  • 1 – 1 ½ lbs grass-fed round steak, cubed (Sometimes this is called swiss steak. Our beef processor tenderizes this cut as well, so if your is not, I would pound it out a little. Stew beef, chuck, or any steak cut you wish should work fine. I do think ground beef would be fine if that is what you have, and what fits in the budget.)
  • 4 tbsp arrowroot or tapioca flour, divided (You can increase this if you want a thicker "stew." If you tolerate grain, white rice flour will work nicely here if that is what you have)
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 small onions, diced (or 1 large onion)
  • ¾ - 1lb mushrooms of choice (I used a combination of cremini and shitake)
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup full fat coconut milk (If you tolerate dairy, you could use raw milk/cream if that is what you have)
  • 1 ½ quarts roasted mushroom broth, or beef bone broth
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp parsley
  • 2-3 cups baby spinach or baby kale, chopped
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the friendly fat in the bottom of your soup pot over medium/high heat while you toss the beef, 2 tablespoons of the arrowroot, salt, and pepper in a bowl to coat. When the oil is hot, carefully set the coated beef cubes in, searing the meat on all sides. Set the beef aside leaving the juices/oil behind in the pot.
  2. Over medium heat, add another tablespoon of oil along with the onions and mushrooms. Sprinkle with a big pinch of sea salt and cook over medium/medium-high heat for about 7 minutes, until the mushrooms and onions are softened and caramel in color.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for a minute, then add the coconut milk. Bring the coconut milk to a simmer for a minute or 2, and then add the last 2 tablespoons of arrowroot. Stir until everything thickens.
  4. Add the broth, seasonings, and seared beef to the pot and bring to a simmer. Keep the soup at a low simmer over low-medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat off, and add the chopped spinach in to wilt, then and sea salt and pepper the soup to your taste.

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Roasted Mushroom Broth

October 13, 2017

Use this warm, earthy, and savory roasted mushroom broth for your favorite mushroom soups, stews, risottos, and pilafs!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” I received a copy of Broth & Stock for review purposes in compensation for this post. Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family. 

Healing, comforting, warming broth

Years ago it was one of the first things I learned how to cook. I was 23 and barely knew my way around the kitchen. That’s how most in my convenience food generation grew up, after all. But a health crisis in my early 20’s catapulted this kitchen novice into figuring out how to cook food that wasn’t from a box, and it changed my life forever.

Everything I was reading about healing using “real food” pointed toward broth. I tend to be one of those “jump in with both feet” kind of people, and within a week I purchased my first stock pot and began teaching myself how to cook.

Broth is so much more than food

What I ended up learning during those years of teaching myself how to cook was that cooking was so much more than just making food. Something about it made my heart more full. It didn’t just satisfy my stomach, it satisfied my soul.

Deep? Maybe. But I allowed the art of cooking engross me, and I fell in love with making myself food that had love and thought put into it. At the age of 23, I was learning where my food actually came from and that connection to the food we eat is so powerful.

Broth & Stock

I share my story because simple broth making was what made me fall in love with cooking. It opened my eyes to the importance of feeding myself well, and knowing where my food came from – something that I literally did not know, or give any thought to until I was 23.

And that is why I’m not sure that I have been more excited to share a cookbook with you than Broth & Stock by Jenny McGruther from the Nourished Kitchen! I know what learning how to make beautiful stocks and broths did for me, and it is literally the driving force behind the passion and purpose of this blog.

A whole cookbook about…broth?!

Yessss! Because broth is so much more than you think! In only the way Jenny does best, you will learn the differences between various broths and stocks, and how to use them best to make their flavors shine. From a variety of land and sea animal stocks and broths, to different vegetable broths, Broth & Stock has opened my horizons from using the same broth for every recipe I make.

Broth & Stock is also so much more than learning how to make beautiful, healing broth – the recipes in the second half of the book using those healing broths have been such a joy to bring to my kitchen. Being the novice, untrained cook that I am, I have learned so much from Jenny over the years how to bring out depths of flavor in meals using various herbs, spices, broths, wines, and seasonings. Or just leaving simplicity alone, and savoring the true flavor of something by not complicating it. The recipe for pho in the book is the best I have ever made, and the family favorite so far has been the Cream of Chicken Soup with Parsley & Chives. Everyone around the table had 2nd and 3rd bowl-fulls!

Roasted Mushroom Broth

I’ve been adding certain healing mushrooms to my bone broth making for extra medicinal benefits for the last few years, but I had never thought to make a broth with mushrooms alone – and boy have I been missing out! The earthy, savory flavor from the roasted mushroom infused broth is like nothing I have ever tasted before.

Here is an excerpt from Broth & Stock about the Roasted Mushroom Broth:

Roasting strengthens the flavor of mushrooms, amplifying the savory and almost meaty base notes that can give soups a unique foundational richness. Those savory flavors serve as a good match for meat and whole grains. Use this broth as a base for mushroom soups and stews or in risottos and pilafs. Using a wide variety of mushrooms will improve this broth’s flavor and complexity. I often use the stems and trimmings of wild mushrooms left over from foraging, as they give the broth a remarkable depth of flavor; however, using the button or cremini mushrooms easily available year-round in most grocery stores also yields a lovely broth, as roasting improves their flavor. You don’t need to take the peel off the onion, as it produces a lovely color, just split the onion in half and drop it in the pot. –“Broth and Stock”

Reprinted with permission from Broth & Stock from the Nourished Kitchen, written and photographed by Jennifer McGruther, 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

5.0 from 16 reviews
Roasted Mushroom Broth
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3⁄4 pound mixed mushrooms or mushroom stems, chopped into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, skin on and halved crosswise
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 quarts cold water or Chicken Bone Broth
  • 1⁄4 cup dry white wine
  • 6 sprigs thyme
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Arrange the mushrooms in a single layer on a baking sheet. Nestle the onion halves into the mushrooms, sprinkle the smashed garlic over, and drizzle with the olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes in the heated oven.
  3. Remove the sheet from the oven and drop the roasted mushrooms and onions into a heavy stockpot. Pour in the broth and wine. Slip the sprigs of thyme into the pot and then bring it all to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue simmering, covered, for about 30 minutes.
  4. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve, then use a wide-mouthed funnel to pour it into two 1-quart jars, sealing the lids tightly. Cook with the broth right away or store it in the refrigerator for no more than 5 days. Alternatively, you can freeze the broth for upto 6 months, making sure to allow plenty of headspace if you're using glass jars.

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Paleo Wild Caught Salmon Burgers With Dairy Free Garlic Aioli

September 30, 2017

Enjoy these light and flaky, Paleo wild caught salmon burgers with creamy dairy free garlic aioli for a fuss free dinner prep perfect for any weeknight!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family. 

Salmon…a household baby favorite!

Years ago, when my older girls were really little, I started making little salmon “cakes” or “patties” – whatever you like to call them! It mostly started because I did not grow up eating fish, and I needed a way that I could…get it down! My babies were completely obsessed with fish, and making salmon cakes was one of the ways I was able to mold my adult palate toward the fish.

You can see my special, nutrient filled ways to introduce baby to wild caught fish in my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings! I truly believe that starting my little ones out with little bits of wild caught salmon while they were young paved the way for their love of fish!

A much needed trip, and a fresh idea!

This summer, my husband and I got away one day {without kids!}, and enjoyed some time to savor each other’s company, shopping…and good food! The trip itself was refreshing, but one particular meal at Fish Lad’s, a fish monger dedicated to wild caught, sustainable fishing methods, had me absolutely over the moon with joy. With each amazing, dilly, juicy bite of their delicious wild caught salmon burger, a new idea on how to make salmon “patties” was realized!

It’s all about the texture

I was never really able to nail down what was missing from every other salmon “cake” or “patty” recipe I tried, until that day. With every bite I remember thinking “this is so light and airy, and yet so hearty, and meaty…and satisfying. It didn’t feel like a dense, egg-y, fish patty. It also didn’t taste like a salmon meatloaf stuffed with breadcrumbs.

Salmon worthy of the name…burger!

Not that there is anything wrong with those typical salmon patty textures, but this salmon…THIS felt like the texture of a burger. I could see tiny flakes of salmon with each airy, juicy bite, and it hit me.

They hand chopped this fish. And it was fresh fish.

You see, most salmon cake recipes used pureed fresh fish, or canned fish. Since fish is SO delicate, it turns into a paste when you puree it, so you add an egg or two to bind it all up, some breadcrumbs to soak up all the moisture, and you get a beautiful salmon “meatloaf” type texture. It works…but this salmon burger texture was nothing short of amazing. And I’m here to tell you it is absolutely worthy of the “burger” name.

My first try…

My first few attempts at my new salmon burger approach this summer had my kiddos absolutely in love, and I was completely sold on this new approach. Instead of pureeing the fish to oblivion, I hand chopped it. I bought a whole wild salmon, skinned it, cubed it…and then ran a chopping knife through it. The result was the texture of what you would be used to feeling with beef hamburger – little small bits of meat.

I was so nervous to see if it would stick together without an egg. But if we make hamburgers without a binder, shouldn’t this stick together too? This chopped salmon texture really does, and it is as fast prep as making hamburgers too, which is SO nice for a quick Friday night dinner.

Because a burger this special deserves a special sauce!

I have been able to nail down my seasoning ratios on the salmon burgers in my last few attempts, as well a brand new aioli topping that everyone will love! The aioli is a dilly, creamy, garlicky dream, and it just puts these burgers over the top – just like the aioli I had on my salmon burger at Fish Lads! It will make your Friday night in feel so special, and because it is loaded with friendly fats and healthy ingredients, you can feel free to pile it up high.

Of course, just like any burger, these salmon burgers are really a blank slate!

Change up the seasonings to your style, and enjoy! You can make them Asian style, or give it some heat with cayenne or flavorful chipotle (this is my favorite way of detailing my specific burger!), use Italian seasoning – whatever suits you! We served the burgers this night with roasted sweet potatoes, but you can change that up too! Homemade restaurant style french fries are always a hit too!

Supporting local…and some thoughts on fish quality

I can tell you that I am 100% sure that Fish Lads’ salmon burgers will be my staple order whenever I’m in Grand Rapids, but I’m so glad I can replicate their masterpiece even by a little at home! If you are newer to adding fresh fish to your household menu, know that the quality does matter. Wild caught fish is superior not only in taste, but in nutrition. If the salmon isn’t that super bright pinkish red flesh, it is farmed and not as good in quality.

Thankfully wild caught Alaskan salmon can be found so much easier these days. Even places like Costco carry fresh, wild caught salmon in the freezer section of their store! Look up your local fish mongers. The demand for quality has risen as  more and more people become aware of the importance of fish being wild caught. Ask the fish mongers questions – my findings have been that these people love what they do, and they want to tell you about their skill!

Onto the salmon burgers!

5.0 from 15 reviews
Paleo Wild Caught Salmon Burgers With Dairy Free Garlic Aioli
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE SALMON BURGERS ::
  • 1 - 1¼ lbs fresh wild caught salmon
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup friendly fat to cook in such as avocado oil, coconut oil, butter, tallow, etc.
  • 3-4 tbsp potato starch to dredge (optional but gives amazing aroma, flavor, and crispy seared texture. If you tolerate white rice flour, that has the same effect.)
  • FOR THE GARLIC AIOLI ::
  • 1 small avocado, pitted
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil (I used a garlic infused olive oil which was even more amazing!)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic (if you don’t care for the “heat” of raw garlic, you can use 2 tsp of powdered garlic)
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp dill
  • ¼ - ½ tsp sea salt per your taste
  • ¼ tsp black pepper or more to your taste
Instructions
  1. Skin and cube up your salmon. Then run a chopping knife through the cubed salmon until the bits are small but not to a puree. The texture should resemble that of ground beef.
  2. Combine the chopped salmon and salmon burger seasonings in a medium mixing bowl. Place in the fridge while you prepare the aioli.
  3. To make the aioli, put all of the aioli ingredients into a pint mason jar, and blend with an immersion blender. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can blend everything except the oil with your food processor, and then drizzle the oil in slowly while it blends. Set the aioli aside in the fridge while you cook the salmon burgers.
  4. Heat a skillet with your friendly cooking fat of choice over medium-high heat while you form your salmon burgers.
  5. Divide the salmon mixture into the sized burgers you want, and form burger patties with your hands. This takes just a little bit of time, but it is worth working the patties gently so they come together and aren't too overworked.
  6. Dust the salmon burgers on both sides in a small bowl of potato starch. Place the potato starch dusted salmon burgers into the hot oil, and cook over medium to medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Flip the burgers and cook another 3-5 minutes, until both sides are golden brown, crispy on the outside, and cooked on the inside. If you make smaller salmon burgers your cook time will be shorter - this cook time was for 1 pound of salmon formed into 4 burgers.

Make sure to check out my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings for safe recipes to introduce your baby to wild caught fish – create that broad taste palate for enjoying fish, and they will be enjoying salmon burgers with the family as they grow toddlers!

More real food recipes you might like:

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How To Make Soy Free and Refined Sugar Free Teriyaki Sauce :: Plus! A 20 Minute Beef Teriyaki Stir Fry Recipe!

September 9, 2017

Learn how to make soy free and refined sugar free teriyaki sauce, and a bonus 20 minute beef teriyaki stir fry recipe for those busy weeknights!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family. 

Season transitions…

While most that are unfamiliar with Michigan think we are buried in snow most of the year, the reality is…we have just about the most amazing summer you’ll find anywhere on the planet! And while that snow *is* our reality about 3-4 months out of the year, having distinct seasonal changes is what keeps me in love with this place we call home.

We are hanging up our body boards and swimsuits and welcoming the new school year with open arms!

Season changes and new school routines

The new school year brings a different kind of busy to our house. With 3 young children, we kept pretty “busy” all summer long, but the school year type of busy is just a little different. There are places to be *on time*, lessons and practices to be *on time*, and bedtimes that are not as flexible as the lazy days of summer.

Which brings me to dinner…

Efficient but nourishing is the name of my game!

I know many of you picture this foodie blogger momma floating around the kitchen all day preparing elaborate meals for her family. That is just not my reality! This house is about as real as it gets, and as a work at home mom with kids that need to be taken to and from school, as well as still has a little one that isn’t in full time school yet…well, dinner needs to be efficient.

But how do we make a quick dinner, and still meet those goals of using real food instead of convenience foods?

My veteran momma school year dinner prep tips!

Well, maybe not veteran, but I do have a few years under my belt with school aged kids, and I have learned a few things about dinner time during the school year that I hope will help you.

  • Make weekend meals stretch into the weekdays. Plan your big roasted chicken for Sunday dinner, and use the leftover meat for a stir fry on Monday. Plan a doubled up stir fry on Saturday or Sunday and use the leftovers for dinner on Tuesday. You get the idea. Take a good 1-2 days out of that 5 day work week to use leftovers, and the week of dinners will feel less daunting.
  • Prep “the little things” ahead of time. Salad dressings, dips, sauces (like this teriyaki sauce!) may take just a few minutes to make, but that few minutes on a crammed out Wednesday night of activities will rush you. Every Sunday I like to make some “little things” like salad dressings, mayo, or a sauce for dinner and just stash it away for the week. Repeat after me…one. less. thing. (!!)
  • Take 5-10 minutes before bed to prep anything for dinner the next day. Again, it doesn’t take long to chop veggies, but that 5 minutes of time is precious on a school night. Chop your veg, slice meat (or get it marinating!), peel garlic, and make that dinner prep fly by the next day. You can even do things like make the rice for this dinner meal the night before. This could be considered one of those “little things” from the above point. If you know you eat rice 1-2 times per week, make that rice up while you are having your prep time in the kitchen over the weekend.
  • And a quick tip for work at home or stay at home moms! I know this isn’t everyone, but since I fall in this category, I do have a tip to share for my friends in this place. Make dinner before school gets out – or at least have it ready to go, on a sheet pan, chopped, half way made, etc. I don’t know about you, but my kids are starving after school, and a lot of times we just go ahead and have dinner when they get home around 4pm. Most days, I make dinner when I put my toddler down for her nap so it can run quick without interruption, and I’ll just warm it back up when the kids get home from school. Again, I understand this is not do-able for every momma. If you are a work outside the home momma, we would absolutely love to hear your tips and tricks for dinner time in the comments!

Naturally sweetened teriyaki sauce {made in 5 minutes!}

Sticky and sweet teriyaki sauce will make just about any hesitant stir fry eater in the house change their minds! Most teryaki sauces you find on the market or in restaurants are loaded with corn syrup or sugar. In just about 5 minutes, you can make your own teriyaki using natural sweeteners, and it seriously tastes like anything you would love right out of a restaurant!

5.0 from 13 reviews
5 Minute Teriyaki Sauce
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup coconut aminos (Most health food stores carry this now. It tastes just like soy sauce, so you can avoid the soy!)
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup raw honey
  • 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp ground ginger (more if you want some heat – this is very mild kid friendly)
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot mixed with 1 tbsp water for the thickening slurry (tapioca starch would work, or if you can tolerate grains, you can use GMO free cornstarch)
Instructions
  1. Put everything except the arrowroot slurry into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the arrowroot slurry and whisk until the sauce thickens. This will take less than a minute.
  3. Pour your sauce over any stir fry! You can freeze your sauce in ice cube trays or small freezer containers too. This recipe makes a little over 1 cup of sauce – enough for 1 family sized stir fry.

So I’ve got my 5 minute teriyaki sauce made…now what???

Well…you make a stir fry with whatever is in season near you! Here’s a quick template recipe, but it is really forgiving. If you have chicken instead of beef, use that. If you have different veggies on hand, swap them out!


20 Minute Beef Teriyaki Stir Fry


For the beef ::

  • 2 tbsp potato starch (arrowroot or tapioca starches would work, but I like the crispy finish that potato starch lends)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ lb swiss steak, cut into strips
  • 2 tbsp friendly fat to cook in such as tallow, butter, ghee, or coconut oil

For the stir fry ::

  • 2 tbsp friendly fat to cook in such as tallow, butter, ghee, or coconut oil
  • ½ large white onion
  • 2 small or 1 large bell pepper (I used orange)
  • 1lb frozen broccoli, thawed (or 1 head fresh broccoli. I get large bags of frozen organic broccoli at Costco)
  • 1 large carrot peeled into strips (I use this Y-peeler to make the cool, noodle like strips!)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 recipe of the teriyaki sauce above
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions :: 

  1. Make the teriyaki sauce, and set aside. See the above instructions for the 5 minute teriyaki sauce!
  2. Make the beef strips: Whisk the potato starch, sea salt, and pepper in a bowl and toss the beef strips in to coat. Melt your fat in a skillet over medium-high heat, add the beef, and cook until crispy, about 5 minutes. Set the crispy beef aside.
  3. Make the stir fry: Melt the friendly fat in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper, and broccoli and cook for 5 minutes. You can cook this for an additional 5 minutes if you prefer your veggies softer. Add the garlic and carrot strips and cook another 3 minutes. Add the crispy beef and teriyaki sauce and simmer 3-5 minutes. Sea salt and pepper to your taste.
  4. You can serve your stir fry as is, or over a bed of cauli rice, bone broth cooked white rice, veggie noodles, or gluten free rice ramen.

More real food recipes you might like ::

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20 Minute Ginger Almond Crispy Chicken Stir Fry With Bone Broth Rice :: Nut Free Options and Rice Alternatives Included!

August 18, 2017

Bone broth packed rice, and crispy chicken in a veggie packed stir fry with a kid friendly flavor! All in 20 minutes!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

It doesn’t seem to matter what time of year it is…

…I think pretty much everyone would admit that most of the week, most families need under 30 minutes of meal prep for dinner time. I thought as my babies got older (read, less needy!), that I would have more time for all sorts of things. As it turns out, these older kids are pretty fun to do stuff with!

We’ve had the most freedom-filled summer I’ve had in years without babies in diapers, or nursing, nap schedules, and fussy teethers! I’ve been nailing down some of my less than 30 minute dinner ideas for you all, and I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me this summer.

Fast prep but power packed

Busy families need filling meals that actually count. Not just fillers. My kids are growing like crazy right now, and meals with balanced macros make all the difference not only in their mood, but their sleep and stamina.

This dinner is packed with mineral rich vegetables (that actually taste good!), and energy packed carbohydrates to fuel busy kids. The protein is sourced not only from the chicken, but by infusing the rice with amino acid rich bone broth. This packs a big nutrient dense punch to this meal. Don’t skip out on adding a pat or 2 of butter or ghee to the rice servings – the extra fat will satiate growing appetites, as well as nourish their ever growing brains.

My secret to fast, crispy chicken!

It looks so fancy doesn’t it?! I’m telling you, dear momma, cooking a whole chicken or two every week and keeping the meat for quick meals like this is my best kept (or not so best kept!) secret.

I use my Instant Pot to cook one or two chickens most weeks (if you have a slow cooker, that works just as good and is how I did my chickens for years and years!). Slice up the meat, and stash it away for quick salads, wraps…and meals like this! It just needs a quick dusting of seasoning and starch and it will crisp up in a pan of friendly fat and have the taste and feel of crispy chicken from a restaurant.

Rice swap ideas

If you don’t tolerate rice, here are some other ideas to serve your stir fry over:

  • Cauli-Rice (I hear some health food stores carry cauli-rice now so look for that if you have one to save time!)
  • Zoodles (spirilized zucchini!)
  • Peeled carrot “linguine” (use a Y-peeler like this and get fun, wide “noodles”)

Veggie options!

Definitely get creative and swap out the veggies for what is in season and budget friendly near you. That is one way that you can keep this kind of dinner on your menu rotation every other week and still keep it interesting! Swap the broccoli and peppers for sugar peas, zucchini, cauliflower, or carrots. You can also add a huge handful of spinach or kale at the end to wilt in for extra veggie power! I do this more often than not and it’s a good way to get a load of green into your family.

Tips for busy families to make this kind of meal happen

While this meal literally does just take me 20 minutes to make, I wanted to leave a few tips that will help you make things run super smooth (because dinner prep time of the day can be crazy, right?!), and shave off even more time. I know some of you have busier schedules than I do, or maybe are a new momma and can’t even imagine taking 20 minutes to do anything but nurse right now 🙂 I get it!

  • Have a prep day. If you have even an hour or 2 each week that you can devote to getting food prepped for the week, you can side step quite a few instructions on any recipe. Your prep day can include making the rice ahead of time – and maybe doubling or tripling it so you have servings of rice for other meals. Chopping vegetables and portioning them off into containers for certain meals. The sauce for this stir fry can even be made up ahead of time so you just have to dump it in. Just whisk it all up and pop it in the fridge til you are ready to use it. And of course, cooking off a chicken or 2 for your meals during the week will help meals go faster.
  • Have the kids help. Good lawd does it feel like prep goes slower with those little guys around – at first! But let me tell you, when I can had my 4 year old the veggies to wash up, and my 8 year old is doing the chopping, that leaves my hands free to get the other stuff ready. It’s worth the training – put ’em to work dear momma!
  • Double up. You can easily double this recipe to feed your family twice in one week. The recipe on it’s own feeds my family of 5 for one dinner, so doubling up will give you a night off cooking if you need it for those days where cooking just isn’t going to happen.

5.0 from 9 reviews
20 Minute Ginger Almond Crispy Chicken Stir Fry With Bone Broth Rice :: Nut Free Options and Rice Alternatives Included!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE BONE BROTH RICE (See above section for Cauli Rice or veggie noodle options if you are grain free!) ::
  • 2 cups bone broth
  • 1 cup organic long grain white rice
  • 2 tbsp ghee (or butter, olive oil, or avocado oil)
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • FOR THE CHICKEN ::
  • ¼ cup potato starch (or arrowroot, or tapioca flour)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger, divided
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 3-4 cups cooked chicken, sliced into strips or cubes (You could use raw chicken – the cook time will be a bit longer however. I used leftover chicken from my Instant Potted chicken from the weekend – slow cooker chicken works too!)
  • 3 tbsp friendly fat to cook in, divided (Avocado oil, ghee, butter, tallow, lard, or coconut oil are good choices)
  • FOR THE SAUCE ::
  • ¼ cup coconut aminos
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp almond butter (Or cashew butter. If you are nut free use sunflower seed butter. If you can’t have seeds or nuts, I would use a tablespoon or so of ghee for the nutty richness)
  • 2 tsp raw honey
  • ½ - 1 tsp ground ginger
  • FOR THE STIR FRY ::
  • ½ large onion, sliced into strips
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small red pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1lb frozen broccoli (Or 1 head of fresh broccoli florets. I get the big bag of frozen organic broccoli at Costco)
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • Green onions to garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. GET THE RICE GOING :: Put the bone broth, rice, and ghee in a pot with the lid on. Bring to a low simmer for 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the meal. When the rice has simmered for 15 minutes and all the bone broth is absorbed, turn the heat off, keep the lid on, and let it rest about 5 minutes, or until you are ready to serve your meal.
  2. PREPARE THE CHICKEN :: Put the potato starch, ginger, and salt in a dish and whisk to combine. Toss the chicken in the starch mixture to coat. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat, melt the ghee, and toss the chicken in. Cook the chicken until golden brown and crispy, stirring occasionally – about 5 minutes. You can prepare the sauce while the chicken cooks. When the chicken is done cooking, set it aside until the stir fry is done.
  3. PREPARE THE SAUCE :: While the chicken crisps up, put the sauce ingredients into a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside until it is time to pour into the stir fry.
  4. MAKE THE STIR FRY :: Melt the ghee in the large skillet over medium-high heat. Toss all the veggies into the pan with a big pinch of sea salt and cook for 5 minutes until the onions are translucent and the veggies are tender/crisp. Add the crispy chicken and the sauce, stir to combine, and cook about 3 minutes until the sauce thickens (the starch on the chicken will thicken the sauce!). Sea salt and pepper the stir fry to your taste, and serve the stir fry over the bone broth rice. Garnish with green onions if you wish!

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20 Minute Chicken, Mushrooms, and Kale With Tomato Basil Cream Sauce :: Gluten and Dairy Free

July 26, 2017

Savory, creamy and delicious tomato basil cream sauce with chicken, mushrooms, and kale – all in 20 minutes!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Summer is flying by!

We are soaking in every bit of sun that we can – and counting our blessings that we don’t go back to school until September around here! I’ve got 3 little water bugs and that basically means this beach dweller is in absolute heaven!

Being at the beach most days also means dinner needs to be…fast!

20 minutes start to finish?!

Yes please! And since it is summer we are going to clear out the herb garden of that overgrown basil, use up a bowlful of those pretty cherry tomatoes, and a handful of garden kale while we’re at it!

Basil, little cherry tomatoes, and kale are some of the easiest summer garden items to grow – and can be done in pots on the patio if you don’t have the garden space. Its a good one to get little kids in on to help with and start fostering that idea of knowing where their food comes from!

Secrets to meal prep, fast summer meals, and optimizing kitchen time

I am not in the kitchen all day, dear momma. Stretch a whole chicken to last you at least 2 meals, and you will have a lot more time to spend at the beach – promise!

We happened to use some leftover chicken from our Instant Pot chicken over the weekend for this meal. I’ve been using the Instant Pot a lot this summer for my whole chickens to avoid heating the house up – and it is so fast too. If you don’t have and IP, you can use your slow cooker! After cooking your whole chicken, simply save most of the chicken breast, slicing it up, and plan it into this meal the next day.

Ideas to change it up!

You can definitely change up the meat part of the meal however. Homemade sausage or pan seared wild caught cod would taste really good with this. And if you happen to have chicken breasts, just sear them up and slice before you make the meal.

Noodle Options!

The tomato basil cream sauce in this recipe is made for soaking into dreamy noodles! Here are some noodle options for both those who can tolerate grains and those who cannot! I promise, dear grain free friends, the veggie noodles feel just as amazing as regular noodles. I serve this dish that way often – especially when zucchini is at such amazing budget friendly prices during the summer months.

Gluten Free Options ::

Grain Free Options (Use a spirilizer, Y Peeler, or Julienne Peeler to make these veggie noodles!) ::

  • Zucchini Noodles (see the notes in the recipe card for how to make your zoodles!)
  • Sweet Potato Noodles
  • Butternut Squash Noodles
  • Golden Beet Noodles
  • Parsnip Noodles
  • Carrot Noodles

If you are not on a special diet, and can handle the gluten, I recommend using a wheat based noodle using Einkorn flour for best digestion.

One last note on the finishing oil, and a fun momma story 😉

I love finishing pasta dishes like this with really good olive oil. I promise you will find it takes the flavor and texture to a whole different level.

My husband and I were able to get away for a couple days last week to Grand Rapids, and we visited the Downtown Market while there. If you are every in the area, be sure to take a couple hours to browse and try all of the amazing food! We were able to eat these amazing wild caught salmon burgers, drink local kombucha, watch fermented pizzas be made, and enjoy every last bite of local grassfed milk ice cream – it is truly amazing!

There are also some stores within the market selling local spices, teas, wine…and olive oil! We sampled numerous bottles from Old World Olive Co. (it was so fun!) and I decided on an herb infused olive oil. The flavor is out of this world, and I am savoring it every chance I can! It was a fun trip that we rarely get to do with 3 kiddos in the house, and I really loved every minute! It was a foodie’s dream!

5.0 from 8 reviews
20 Minute Chicken, Mushrooms, and Kale With Tomato Basil Cream Sauce :: Gluten and Dairy Free
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3-4 tbsp friendly fat of choice to cook in (butter, ghee, avocado oil, lard, tallow, or coconut oil)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 8 oz mushrooms of choice, sliced (I used baby bellas)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ - 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (to taste – ½ tsp is kid friendly mild in heat)
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, sliced (I used leftover chicken from my whole chicken cooked in the Instant Pot the night before)
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (or raw milk/cream)
  • ¼ cup white wine (or more coconut milk or bone broth)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped kale
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste
  • Pasta of choice or veggie noodles (like zucchini noodles) to serve over (See the above section about noodle options!)
  • Good olive oil to drizzle over your plate to finish
Instructions
  1. Warm a large skillet with your friendly fat of choice over medium heat. Add the onion and mushroom with a big pinch of sea salt. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, and chicken. Cook over medium heat for 7 minutes until the tomatoes soften.
  3. Add the coconut milk, wine, lemon juice, and kale. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until the kale wilts and the liquid reduces/thickens.
  4. Add the basil and cook for 1-2 minutes. Sea salt and pepper to your taste and serve over pasta or veggie noodles of your choice!
  5. (If you are serving over zucchini noodles (zoodles!), simply spirilize your zucchini, place the zoodles in a strainer in the sink with a big pinch of sea salt, and let them drain while you cook the rest of the dinner. Squeeze out the liquid before serving. You can pan cook them for a minute to warm them up, but take care not to overcook them, or they will get too soft and not feel like a noodle.)

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Crispy Baked Eggplant Dippers and Italian Meatballs

July 20, 2017

Change up your eggplant routine and make a kid friendly, dip worthy dinner with crispy baked eggplant dippers and Italian meatballs!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

 

We are complete and utter beach bums in the summer…

…and as my girls reach the not-so-baby ages, we are enjoying the waves and powdery beach sand by our home almost daily at this point! The evening sunsets and waves have my girls all heart eyes over summertime, and I’m more than willing to indulge them every last bit as the school year approaches ever so quickly!

Summer eggplant love

Another one of our favorite summer spots is the farmer’s market, and pretty purple eggplants are my girls’ favorite summer veggie! Don’t pass them up when you see them out this summer. Eggplant is one of those produce finds you can only get a few short months a year – the first eggplant find of the summer is so exciting!

Eggplants are a great source of veggie fiber, as well as numerous vitamins and essential minerals. The purple skin is also loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients.

So pretty…but what do I do with this thing?!

A few weeks ago I let the girls pick out their own eggplant (it was fun to see what colors they picked and why!), and I set out to make a few fun dishes with them.

I am always quick to grab up those really big, dark purple eggplants, with my mind on roasted eggplant & tomato soup and this veggie spaghetti sauce, but I was really glad that the girls wanted to try some of the smaller, pretty colors because it made me think outside the box to cook with them – I wanted to do something special!

Little kid sized fun!

My 3 year old picked some pretty light purple swirly striped eggplants, and I envisioned them as being perfect for her little hands. This age *big puffy heart* loves anything that they can hold in their hands…and dip too! The small eggplants made the perfect sized little dippers for her, and my older 2 girls ended up devouring theirs too.

Super fun veggie side, but what about the rest of the meal?!

Dear momma, you didn’t think I’d leave you hanging, did you?! Of course I know you need something to go with your eggplant dippers, and since we are on the little hand sized fun theme, we might as well do meatballs, right!?

I doctored up these quick prep meatballs with the same marinara/Italian flavors as the eggplant dippers, and this finger food dinner is right up any kid’s alley! They are just as easy to prep and can cook right alongside the dippers. We had quick side salads with this Olive Garden Copycat dressing, and it felt like we were dining in a fancy Italian restaurant!

Ingredient notes/swaps

You can note the flour options/swaps in the recipe card – feel free to play around with it though. I have found you can coat these with just about anything. I do happen to like the potato starch the best as it gives the crispiest finish. If you are egg free, you can use a flax or chia egg for both the egg wash for the dippers, and for the bind in the meatballs.

A note about leftovers!

While preparing for this post, I baked off quite a few eggplant dippers! They were so good as leftovers the next day. My kids ate them right out of the fridge, but you could probably warm them up in the oven for a few minutes. We ended up having tomato soup the next day, and the girls were dipping their eggplant dippers in the soup – so good!

5.0 from 8 reviews
Crispy Baked Eggplant Dippers and Italian Meatballs
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE EGGPLANT DIPPERS ::
  • ⅓ cup potato starch
  • 1 egg whisked with a splash of water
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened coconut shreds
  • ⅔ cup white rice flour (If Paleo/grain free use almond flour, or cassava flour)
  • 2 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1-2 small eggplants, sliced into thin rounds
  • Your favorite marinara sauce for dipping!
  • FOR THE MEATBALLS ::
  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp white rice flour (If Paleo/grain free use cassava flour)
  • 2 tbsp marinara sauce or pizza sauce
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh basil (or about 1-2 tsp dried basil)
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh oregano (or about 1-2 tsp dried oregano)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Set out 3 bowls. Put the potato starch in the 1st bowl. Whisk the egg/water in the 2nd bowl. Whisk the coconut shreds, rice flour, Italian season, salt, and pepper in the 3rd bowl.
  3. Dip each eggplant round in the potato starch 1st, then the egg/water bowl 2nd, and finally the flour bowl. Line up the coated eggplant dippers on a Silpat lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake the eggplant dippers at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, flip the eggplant dippers and bake another 20 minutes (You will be putting the meatballs in to bake for that last 20 minutes too!)
  5. While the eggplant dippers are baking the first 25 minutes, you can roll your meatballs. Put all of the meatball ingredients in a small mixing bowl and combine. Roll the meatballs and line them up on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake the meatballs for 20 minutes along with the eggplant dippers that you have flipped. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping and salads on the side!

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Paleo Ranch Dressing and Dip :: Dairy Free, Egg Free, and Filled With Healthy Fats!

June 23, 2017

From salad dressing to dip and everything in between, Paleo Ranch dressing is everything you love about Ranch, without the dairy!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Little kids and Ranch dressing…

It’s a bit like my 6 year old and toads…they just go hand in hand! We’ve been enjoying all the creatures that summertime brings…especially this little one who I am pretty sure is destined to be some sort of animal scientist!

But back to the kids and Ranch!

I don’t remember using many other dressings as a kid, and I don’t know too many kids who don’t love Ranch dressing! As the commercials usually show, most kids will gobble up just about any vegetable if there’s Ranch involved!

So what’s the problem with commercial Ranch dressings?

Store bought Ranch dressings (yes, even many with “healthy” claimed on the bottle), are filled with rancid vegetable oils, soy, preservatives, sugar, and other additives. Kinda ruins the idea of the kids loading up on mineral rich, healthy veggies when they are drowning in it all that doesn’t it?!

It’s truly just not worth it. We have generations of kids (including my generation) that grew up on these toxic, rancid fats that did our bodies zero favors. Everything from our brains, to organ function, and even hormone regulation relies on real, healthy fats to work right.

All the flavor, using real ingredients!

Real food is so delicious dear friends! Big box companies just have to bottle up that flavor somehow faster and cheaper, as well as make it last long on the shelf. Which is why they have to add so much junk to it!

The good news, is that when you stick to the basics, and make it yourself, not only does it take just minutes to make, the real flavor from everything from the onion-y scallions to the herb-y dill and parsley give that dressing the Ranch flavor without even having to work hard!

Lightning fast prep!

I’m talking literally 5 minutes to dump it all in a jar and blend it up. It is easy and fast enough to prep on your prep day every week – if it will last that long. This dip/dressing goes really fast in my house – I swear the girls would drink it out of the jar if they could, and they definitely lick the bowl clean!

Why dairy free?

I’ll be the first one in the room to raise my hand when asked if raw dairy is a good food source. I am a huge believer in the power of raw dairy – and I love our local raw dairy farmers! Sadly, I just don’t tolerate it. So while it is a very healthy food, it just doesn’t work for some people, and that’s where I come in! You can swap the coconut milk for raw milk or cream easy peasy if you tolerate dairy and wish to!

And my dear dairy free friends, I hope you enjoy this creamy dreamy Ranch – I promise you won’t taste the coconut! Pinky swear!

A note on the fresh herbs versus dried

This time of year, my herb garden is loaded to the brim with herbs to make Ranch. In the winter we swap to dried herbs a lot (simply figure cutting the amounts of the fresh herbs down to a couple teaspoons of dried to make the swap). I do think that fresh herbs just make the Ranch that much sweeter…it really just takes the flavor up a few notches. If you have access to fresh, do it!

Different ways to flavor your Ranch!

Change things up a little big with these really fun ways to flavor your Ranch for a fun dip or dressing. My kids to tend to prefer just the plain Ranch, but 2 of them really love the Asian dressing mixed with a slaw salad – don’t knock it til you try it!

  • Chipotle Ranch :: Add 1 tsp chipotle powder (start with this and add more if you like more heat)
  • Bacon Ranch :: Swap the avocado oil for 2-4 tablespoons of bacon grease. You can also fold in chopped crispy bacon after blending
  • BBQ Ranch :: Add 3 tbps of your favorite BBQ sauce (we like this safe ingredient 5 minute homemade BBQ sauce)
  • Asian Style Ranch (so good on a cabbage slaw salad!) :: Swap the avocado oil for sesame oil. Swap the parsley for 1/2 tsp or more of ground ginger to your taste. Swap the white wine vinegar for 2 tbsp coconut aminos (tastes like soy sauce without the soy).

A note on tools…

It is easiest to make this dressing in a quart sized jar. The recipe makes a little over a pint of dressing. The quart jar just gives you more room to get all the fresh herbs in there, as well as use the blender. And speaking of the blender…the immersion blender will become your most beloved kitchen tool if you have never tried one before! Put it on your wishlist – you won’t be sorry. It gets daily use in my kitchen from dressings to soups!

5.0 from 8 reviews
Paleo Ranch Dressing and Dip :: Dairy Free, Egg Free, & Filled With Healthy Fats!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole coconut milk (I like this gum free coconut milk. If you tolerate dairy, raw milk would work)
  • ¼ cup avocado oil (Olive oil would work too.)
  • 1 small avocado, pitted
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 3 large green onions, chopped (use the green and white part!)
  • ¼ cup fresh dill (no need to chop)
  • ¼ cup fresh chives (no need to chop)
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh parsley (no need to chop)
  • 3-4 basil leaves (no need to chop)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (1 garlic clove would be fine but might adds a bit of heat to the dressing)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
Instructions
  1. Everything into a quart mason jar (I just measure the liquids using the measurements right on the jar instead of dirtying measuring cups!).
  2. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Taste for salt/pepper to your taste.

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Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!

June 16, 2017

Kid favorite tomato soup made with nourishing bone broth and fresh tomatoes in a fraction of the time!

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Wait, 92 degrees in June? {In Michigan?!}

I can’t even begin to describe how excited about this I am! I am a hardcore beach bum, and this weather totally suits my style!

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!It does not, however, jive with some of the cooking projects I had planned this month!

I wasn’t anticipating this weather when I picked up some fresh tomatoes destined for soup. It is just too hot to have that stovetop heating my house up. My kids were really looking forward to that soup, so I decided it was time to get the pressure cooking method  perfected on this family favorite soup recipe.

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!A family favorite staple soup

My original tomato soup recipe is a family favorite – one we have almost weekly all year round! During the summer I use as many tomatoes from our small family garden, along with a good bushel full from a local farmer, and stash it away for cooler months. I happened to see these greenhouse grown tomatoes at the farmer’s market this week, and just had to get started on my stash!

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!Same soup…WAY quicker cook time!

I’ll be honest, the first time I pressure cooked tomato soup, I wasn’t planning on it taking on the same slow cooked taste as my original. I was curious, however, and boy was I wrong. It literally tasted the exact same! The key is that buttery sauté in the first step before you pressure cook the rest!

And the quicker cook time {plus not heating up my house!} thanks to the Instant Pot has basically sold me on making all of my summer tomato soup this way.

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!Step 1 – Flavor Infusion

Turn the Instant Pot  to “Saute,” melt the friendly fat, and sauté the onion and carrot with a big pinch of sea salt for about 7 minutes until the veggies soften and sweeten. Add the garlic and tomato paste, combine and cook for 1 minute. Turn the Instant Pot to off (“cancel”).

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!Step 2 – Set It and Forget It!

Add the bone broth, tomatoes, and basil. Put the Instant Pot lid on, and make sure the vent is closed. Turn the Instant Pot to the “Soup” setting. Bring the time down to 10 minutes. The Instant Pot will take around 10 minutes to come to pressure before counting down the 10 minutes.

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!Step 3 – Blend, Season, and EAT!

Once the 10 minutes of pressure cooking is complete, turn the Instant Pot off, release the valve, and take the lid off. Add the honey, and use an immersion blender to puree the soup. You can sea salt and pepper the soup to your taste once pureed. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can pour the soup into a high powered blender to puree)

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!School {Or Work!} Packing Tips

I mentioned above how nice this soup is to bulk up on, and use for school lunches. Here is how I make that work without being in the kitchen all the time.

  • Whenever I make the soup, we eat it for a meal, and there is usually enough to fill 1 quart of soup for the freezer. That way, every time I make it, I’m building my stash. You cannot double this recipe in the Instant Pot (although I think  you could in the newer 8 quart Instant Pots!), but you can double or triple in a stockpot if you wish to cook stovetop. That is typically how I do things at the end of the summer when I purchase a bushel of tomatoes from a local farmer, to get a bunch done in one shot. I may do both stovetop and Instant Pot this summer!
  • I freeze soup in these BPA free freezer containers. When my family was small, I froze in pint containers. At this point, I generally freeze in quart, though sometimes in half gallon. I like to thaw on the counter overnight, but in the fridge for a day is fine too. If I’m in a real pinch and forgot, just a sink full of hot water will thaw it out in a half hour 😉
  • We have had these fantastic soup thermoses since my oldest was in Kindergarten – going on their 4th year of use multiple times per week all school year long, and they still look AND keep food warm just like new. They are a great investment.
  • These stainless steel, shorter straws are fantastic for babies and toddlers to drink their soup. In fact my youngest 2 (age 3 and 6) still prefer to have soups like this with a straw. My 6 year old especially for school so it is easier to eat and doesn’t make a mess. My oldest is too cool for a straw anymore as I was promptly told not to pack one earlier this year 🙂
  • My husband takes soup to work in a Travel Crockpot – the base stays at work and he brings the liner home for me to fill up. That way, he can warm it up right at this desk.  We’ve had this for years – longer than the thermoses – and it still works like new!
  • Re-heat your soup stovetop so you keep all the bone broth benefits!

Instant Pot Tomato Soup Tutorial :: Picture Tutorial and Lunch Packing Tips Included!

5.0 from 9 reviews
Instant Pot Tomato Soup
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp friendly fat to cook in such as butter, avocado oil, tallow, lard, or coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 quart bone broth
  • 5 large tomatoes, seeds scooped out (no need to chop finely – I just halve them)
  • ½ cup fresh basil (or a tbsp or 2 of dried basil)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Turn the Instant Pot to “Saute,” melt the friendly fat, and sauté the onion and carrot with a big pinch of sea salt for about 7 minutes until the veggies soften and sweeten.
  2. Add the garlic and tomato paste, combine and cook for 1 minute. Turn the Instant Pot to off (“cancel”).
  3. Add the bone broth, tomatoes, and basil. Put the Instant Pot lid on, and make sure the vent is closed. Turn the Instant Pot to the “Soup” setting. Bring the time down to 10 minutes. The Instant Pot will take around 10 minutes to come to pressure before counting down the 10 minutes.
  4. Once the 10 minutes of pressure cooking is complete, turn the Instant Pot off, release the valve, and take the lid off. Add the honey, and use an immersion blender to puree the soup. You can sea salt and pepper the soup to your taste once pureed. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can pour the soup into a high powered blender to puree)

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How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!

June 2, 2017

Sweet and sticky, this balsamic reduction sauce is the perfect, kid friendly compliment to any meal!

How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!

Ladies and gentlemen, we made it to the beach last weekend!

I’m not real sure what is going on with the cooler late spring temps around here, but we just couldn’t help it! Because I have 3 big time water bugs, I decided to go with the bathing suits despite the 60 degree weather, and 54 degree water temps (!!), because inevitably they are like a moth to a flame when it comes to the big lake.

I bundled them up in sweatshirts on top of their suits and off we went…my oldest and youngest flung their sweatshirts off the second their feet hit the sand…and yes my dear friends they did the polar plunge and totally swam in the icy water!

How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!Three extremely busy kiddos, means 3 extremely hungry kiddos!

Summer time beach days sometimes call for light, snacky suppers, but more often than not, that doesn’t fly with my kids! They burn through everything so fast – they really need meals that count when they are so active. And I’ve got a super quick one for you today that will still give you enough time to spend the whole day at the beach if you want!

How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!One sauce, multiple possibilities!

I am not sure that balsamic reductions are the first sauce that comes to mind when it comes to kid friendly meals, but I’m telling you – my kids ask for this over ketchup any day of the week! Sweet and sticky, it makes any dinner meal that I drizzle it over completely disappear.

Balsamic reduction sauces are so versatile, tasting amazing over everything from chicken and fish, to steak or even salads and roasted veggies. It’s a great sauce to keep in your back pocket when you want to dress something up a little bit and need a little change up.

How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!So here’s the balsamic reduction sauce recipe!

Use your sauce however you like! If you are stuck on a whole meal idea, keep scrolling for the sheet pan dinner idea to use your sauce with!

How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!

5.0 from 5 reviews
How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
Instructions
  1. Put everything into a small sauce pan and bring to a low boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium/medium-low and simmer until the sauce has reduced by half, stirring occasionally along the way. This will take about 15 minutes. It will be viscous and sticky when finished. You can fix the rest of your meal or bake/roast a sheet pan meal while the balsamic sauce is simmering.

So what about that “quick” meal you were talking about?!

I promise I’m not going to leave you hanging. This sauce sounds amazing, but how do we make it work into a meal idea that is not only kid friendly, but do-able on a time crunch?

I’m so glad you asked!

How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!Sheet pan dinners to the rescue!

I’m all about these hands free cook methods, dear friends! Pile up that sheet pan with whatever veggies are in season and let the oven do the rest. While your veggies and meat are roasting, you can simmer your balsamic sauce up on the stovetop (recipe above!). Start to finish the sauce just takes 15ish minutes so it is perfect timing for a sheet pan meal!

How To Make Balsamic Reduction Sauce :: Plus! A 30 Minute Sheet Pan Dinner!

Balsamic Glazed Salmon & Roasted Veggies:

Ingredients:

  • ½ large onion, sliced
  • 2-3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends trimmed off
  • 3 medium red potatoes, cubed
  • 4 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tbsp avocado oil (or other friendly fat to roast with)
  • 1 tsp sea salt (to taste)
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 3-4 salmon filets (If you have little ones like I do, you can cut the filets in half for smaller portions – I use 3 filets and half them to make 6 total servings.)
  • Avocado oil to brush over the salmon
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste to sprinkle over the salmon
  • 1 recipe of the balsamic reduction sauce from above

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss all of the veggies with the avocado oil, sea salt, pepper, parsley, and dill on a large sheet pan. Spread them out evenly and roast for 10 minutes while you get the balsamic sauce going and prepare the salmon.
  3. While the veggies are roasting you can get your balsamic sauce simmering on the stove (see recipe above). You can also brush each salmon filet with avocado oil and sprinkle sea salt and pepper to your taste on both sides of each filet.
  4. After the veggies have roasted 10 minutes, take them out and stir the veggies around. Place the salmon fillets on top of the veggies and roast another 20 minutes until the veggies are bite tender and the salmon is cooked through to your liking. If you like your veggies softer, you can cook them longer than that first 10 minutes. The salmon will only need the last 20 minutes of cook time.
  5. Spoon the balsamic reduction sauce over each salmon filet and drizzle over the veggies as well before serving.

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Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)

May 26, 2017

A big probiotic boost and delicious salty, sour bite from your fresh spring asparagus!

Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

We’ve been jarring up some yummy Michigan asparagus over the last couple weeks!

This is a fun project to get the kids in on. The steps are so easy that even a toddler can follow along! (And said toddler will probably be more willing to eat them if he gets to help!)

Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)Little helpers and seasonal produce!

My littlest helper in the house has been eager to hone her asparagus snapping skills, and she makes a really good jar stuffer too, packing those spears of asparagus in like a pro does!

Here are some great tips for including little ones in your kitchen tasks (without losing your ever loving mind 😉 )

  • Show them first. Literally do each step you want them to do. Break it down momma. They haven’t done this before!
  • Hand over hand next. For the really little guys, get your hands over theirs and show them how to do what you are asking them to do. Whether that is stirring, cracking an egg, or snapping some beans. They need to feel it.
  • Let them try with you narrating the steps. Slow down. Yes I know that is so hard when there is so. much. to. do., but it is worth it when they will be able to do it independently. I promise you will be more frustrated if they are doing it the “wrong way” over and over again because you didn’t show them the proper way to do something. (Please learn from my experience!)
  • Tell them the why! If you are snapping the ends off the asparagus, tell them why. If you are slicing the stems off the strawberries, let them know why! Giving them purpose and a reason will help them remember how to do what they are doing better instead of just blinding doing a task.
  • Keep it positive. Spills happen. Mistakes will happen. You’ll see that I even let an asparagus go into the jar that is right here in this post that Caitlyn forgot and snapped the wrong end so it ended up really short! Go over the steps again and show them. You’ll frustrate them and tear them down if you get angry or frustrated with them. If it turns out they can’t handle a task, simply let them know we’ll try something else, and maybe we will try this task again another time.

Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)Sooo…Asparagus “Pickles?!”

Yep! I brine these babies just like I would pickling cucumbers, and they disappear just as fast as regular pickles around these parts! A little sour and salty bite, I use the same dilly, mustardy, garlicy blend I do with cucumbers and add a bit of heat with red pepper flakes. It leaves a perfectly kid friendly taste, and I even make a jar just for momma with a little extra heat for my liking 😉

Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)2 birds…1 stone!

Not only do pickled asparagus taste amazing, they are loaded with beneficial bacteria for our guts too! The salty brine keeps the bad bacteria at bay, and allows the naturally good bacteria in the vegetable to proliferate and grow. Adding a spear or 2 of pickled asparagus to that lunchtime salad or wrap will not only get your veggie minerals in, but it will nourish the gut with the most cost effective source of probiotics around!

Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)Fermenting tools

While you can definitely get your ferments going today with just glass jar and a plastic lid (metal lids will corrode over time so plastic is recommended), as you get going you may want to take a look at fermenting tools that make the process even easier and stress free.

Vegetable ferments do best in an anaerobic environment (that is, “no oxygen” using an air tight seal). Plastic lids work fine, though some air does get through, and as the gasses build up in the ferment you need to “release” them by opening the lid here and there. The air that gets through also makes it easier for stray airborne microbes and molds to get in which can make the whole jar go bad.

There are a couple of sealing options you can choose from, and I really have found these to give the best fermenting results. The one that I use is the first recommendation, the Pickle Pipe.

  • The Pickle Pipe :: I am convinced a busy, “every day” mom invented this fermenting tool! Talk about zero fuss, *easy to clean,* and affordable! The Pickle Pipe creates a seal with a simple (easy to wash!) silicone disk, and the metal ring your jar comes with. The “pipe” part of the silicone disk has a special opening that only pressures open when the gasses build up in the jar and need to be released. So basically…set it and forget it! You don’t have to check for pressure everyday at all. I also am in love with their Pickle Pebbles which weight down the ferment at the top so you don’t have to worry about molding or the tips of the veggies going bad from being out of the brine. Invaluable! I have never had a ferment go bad or mold using my Pickle Pipes and Pebbles.
  • Fido Jar :: Fido jars create an incredible anaerobic sealed environment and are super easy to clean and take care of. No crazy parts to clean, and they are beautiful lined up in the kitchen to ferment! You will need to “burp” these every day or so to let the gasses out but they work very well! They are pricier than mason jars (especially if you already have a lot of mason jars at home, and can just get some Pickle Pipes to top them off), but they will last forever and, again, they are beautiful!
  • Traditional Fermentation Crock :: I have to be honest…I love these! I really do! They are on my foodie dream list and when I can afford a really beautiful new fermenting crock I really, really want one for my kitchen! They are gorgeous, easy to clean and work fantastic. They come with a weight to keep the veggies down to prevent molding and they create a perfect anaerobic environment.
  • Air-Lock Lids :: These are a really great, inexpensive option – especially if you already have a lot of mason jars at home. I think the Pickle Pipes are easier to clean and use, but if you have some of these lying around don’t let them go to waste – they work great!

Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)

5.0 from 8 reviews
Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1½ to 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill OR 1 ½ tsp dried dill
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends discarded (spears should fit into a quart mason jar with a good inch of headspace at the top. Trim up the ends if you need to accommodate this)
Instructions
  1. Dissolve the sea salt into the warm water and set aside. This is your brine to pour over the asparagus later.
  2. Put the garlic, mustard seeds, dill, and red pepper flakes into a clean, 1 quart mason jar. Then the pack the asparagus spears into the jar as tightly as you can.
  3. Pour the salt water brine over the packed in asparagus and spices, leaving 1 inch of headspace at the top. Be sure the asparagus is completely submerged under the brine (I like to use a weight, like this Pickle Pebble, to keep the veggies down).
  4. Seal your jar with your fermenting seal of choice. I use these Pickle Pipes. See the above section about sealing options.
  5. Let the sealed jar sit at room temperature until the taste is to your liking, anywhere from 5-14 days. You can taste them every couple days to see where they are at. Remember that if you live in a warm climate, the fermenting will go faster. It is still quite chilly up here, and so my veggie ferments take over a week to get to where we like them.

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Instant Pot Chipotle Chicken and Vegetable Soup :: Dairy Free and Gluten Free :: Stovetop Directions Included Too!

May 20, 2017

Flavorful smokey heat meets creamy chicken veggie soup, without the dairy or gluten, and in record time!

Instant Pot Chipotle Chicken and Vegetable Soup :: Dairy Free and Gluten Free :: Stovetop Directions Included Too!Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

This picture has nothing to do with chipotle chicken and veggie soup…

…but I just had to show you that despite posting such a lovely, warming comfort soup today, spring really has sprung around here! My youngest has been enjoying our lilacs while she patiently waits for her sisters to be done with school for the summer!

Instant Pot Chipotle Chicken and Vegetable Soup :: Dairy Free and Gluten Free :: Stovetop Directions Included Too!So why the soup recipe when summer is around the corner?!

Because this isn’t just any old pot on the stove soup! This is an Instant Pot soup, and that, my friends, means extra time before dinner to play outside! Which is really where we all want to be this time of year, anyway!

I’m all about the faster prep dinners that don’t heat my house up in the warmer months of the year. I probably use my Instant Pot in the spring and summer more than any other time of the year!

Instant Pot Chipotle Chicken and Vegetable Soup :: Dairy Free and Gluten Free :: Stovetop Directions Included Too!Star players, and an amazing finish!

Smoky chipotle gives this soup my favorite heat – a flavorful heat. You can adjust the heat to your preference, and since the nature of chipotle is flavor versus “in-your-face” heat, it really is a kid friendly way to add a little heat to your meal. Coconut milk tames this heat and brings out more of the smoky flavor as well as adding creamy indulgence.

Instant Pot Chipotle Chicken and Vegetable Soup :: Dairy Free and Gluten Free :: Stovetop Directions Included Too!Noodle options…and swaps!

The recipe as is uses gluten free noodles. Here are some gluten free noodle options – these should all cook up about the same in the Instant Pot.

Gluten Free Options ::

If you are grain free, use veggie noodles! Take the broth down by a cup or so since the broth gets cooked into the regular noodles and you don’t need that extra amount for veggie noodles. You can also get away with 1-2 minutes versus 3 minutes for the cook time. In fact, if using zucchini noodles, I would leave the zucchini out while you pressure cook the soup/broth and then add the zucchini noodles in at the end with the kale to just wilt in. It doesn’t need much cook time.

Grain Free Options (Use a spirilizer, Y Peeler, or Julienne Peeler to make these veggie noodles! Also, back off on the bone broth by a couple cups and make a tapioca starch or cassava flour slurry to make the broth smooth and have the starchy feeling of noodles) ::

  • Zucchini Noodles
  • Sweet Potato Noodles
  • Butternut Squash Noodles
  • Golden Beet Noodles
  • Parsnip Noodles
  • Carrot Noodles

If you are not on a special diet, and can handle the gluten, I recommend using a wheat based noodle using Einkorn flour for best digestion. I have not used an Einkorn noodle in the Instant Pot, so I am unsure of if the time will need to be adjusted for that. If you give it a try, leave us some notes in the comments so others may know what to do!

Instant Pot Chipotle Chicken and Vegetable Soup :: Dairy Free and Gluten Free :: Stovetop Directions Included Too!Tips for stovetop prep!

I didn’t forget about you, dear stove top friends! This soup was actually born on the stovetop this past winter, and I only recently converted it to the IP.

Simply sauté the veggies over medium heat in a large soup pot, following steps 1 and 2. When you get to step 3,  add the ingredients listed, except the noodles, and turn the heat up to high in order to bring the soup to a simmer. Once the soup is simmering, add the noodles, and boil until the noodles are al dente. Then stir in the kale. It’s as simple as that!

Instant Pot Chipotle Chicken and Vegetable Soup :: Dairy Free and Gluten Free :: Stovetop Directions Included Too!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Instant Pot Chipotle Chicken and Vegetable Soup :: Dairy Free and Gluten Free :: Stovetop Directions Included Too!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp friendly fat to cook in such as butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, tallow, or lard
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium celery, diced
  • ½ medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ tsp chipotle powder (This will leave the soup with a mild smoky, flavorful heat that is kid friendly in our house. If you prefer to half this for your kiddos, you can always add more to your bowl if you want more heat. I usually add more to mine from this amount as I like it pretty spicy.)
  • 1 ½ quarts bone broth (You can use Instant Pot Broth, or here is my slow cooker method)
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk (this is my favorite brand that doesn't have gums, fillers, or sweeteners added)
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken (Use leftovers from your roasted chicken, slow cooker chicken, or Instant Pot chicken)
  • 8oz gluten free noodles
  • ½ lb baby kale, chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Set the Instant Pot to “Saute” and melt the friendly fat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and bell pepper with a big pinch of sea salt. Saute about 5-7 minutes until the veggies soften and sweeten.
  2. Add the garlic, tomato paste, and chipotle powder, stir to combine, and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the bone broth, coconut milk, cooked chicken, and noodles. Turn the “Saute” off, and push “Soup,” then bring the time down to 3 minutes using the (+/-) button. (Make sure the valve is closed so it can come to pressure! The Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure and then will count down the 3 minutes.)
  4. When the Instant Pot is done counting down the 3 minutes, turn the Instant Pot off, and release the valve (use a towel so you don’t burn your hand with steam!). Take the Instant Pot lid off, and stir the baby kale in to wilt. Sea salt and pepper the soup to your taste and serve.

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Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!

April 21, 2017

It doesn’t get any better than a whole meal made on 2 sheet pans with this Paleo friendly honey mustard crusted salmon and veggies!

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!

Spring has definitely sprung!

We are jumping in puddles, running barefoot, planting seeds, enjoying the extra sunshine…

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!…and new bird and bug friends!

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!Spring also means busy, *hungry* kids!

Did I say hungry? I meant ravenous! I watch these little people go non stop at a park visit from the time they set their foot off their bikes, to the minute they are back at home. No seriously, it is any wonder they are so hungry when it comes to meal time!

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!Smart refuel

So what is a budget and time crunch conscious mom to do? Fuel the kids with something that is going to sustain their needs – their growing bodies and exponentially growing brains. And pile all that goodness up onto a couple sheet pans so you can still have time to play outside, get the dishes done, change that diaper, and rock the baby!

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!YES I’m calling a meal with wild caught salmon affordable!

Wild caught salmon really can be a budget friendly meal. Meat portions don’t need to be much more than the size of your palm (and for the kids the size of their palm!) – I think especially many Americans  “over meat” their plates. Even a small, palm sized portion of wild caught salmon is packed with brain building essentials and fat that will satiate even the busiest of kids. The slightly sweet and savory coating on the outside of this fish is so good too!

And veggie sides are huge budget savers!

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!Pile on the energy fueling veggies!

Even the youngest of kids in my house knows that half of our plates every night is saved for veggies. They are filling, satiating, and nourishing. And when you cook them just right…oh! They are so tasty! You can pick whatever veggies you have in house for the roasted veggie part of this meal. Carrots and potatoes are so cheap – they are true budget savers in my house!

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!And I don’t know of really any kid that doesn’t like french fries!

Sides of potatoes are great, but what is it about making that french fry shape that is like a moth to a flame to kids?! These french fries are no fuss and zero special prep. The come out crispy and tasty too! Potatoes provide a fantastic energy replenishing source for active kids. I literally can watch my worn out, hungry little ones go from zero to full speed again with a meal like this.

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!So there you have it!

A little real life from my home! This is where the nitty gritty of the day in and day out of a real food kitchen starts. Yes, fancy treats, and fun baked goods are great. But what’s for dinner on Tuesday night? What are we going to feed a growth spurting child that needs fuel that will help him grow without us going broke? That is where my commitment to you lies. The every day life. Because I want you to see how this thing can work for you with all of my being.

Happy dinner success to you!

Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!

5.0 from 5 reviews
Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 large russet potatoes, sliced into fries (cubes work too)
  • 6 tbsp avocado oil, divided (other high heat friendly fats would work – butter, coconut oil, tallow, or lard)
  • 3 tbsp organic all season salt, divided
  • 4 tbsp dried parsley, divided
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut on a bias into coins (I used rainbow carrots for more color!)
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened coconut shreds
  • ⅓ cup blanched almond flour (if nut free use coconut flour)
  • 2 tbsp organic mustard
  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tbsp mustard powder
  • 4 wild caught salmon fillets, skinned (If you have little guys in the house like I do, you can slice the fillets in half making 8 servings)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Toss the potatoes, 3 tablespoons of avocado oil, 1 ½ tablespoons of all season salt, and 2 tablespoons of parsley on a Silpat lined baking sheet so everything is coated evenly. Put the seasoned potatoes in the 425 degree oven for 30 minutes, STIRRING AROUND AT THE 15 MINUTE MARK, while you prep the other veggies and salmon.
  3. While the fries get started cooking prepare the veggie and salmon sheet. Toss the broccoli and carrots with 3 tablespoons of avocado oil, 2 tablespoons of parsley, and sea salt/pepper to taste on a Silpat lined baking sheet so everything is coated evenly. Spread the veggies to cover about ½ to ¾ of the baking sheet, leaving room to put the salmon on the same sheet.
  4. Combine the coconut shreds, almond flour, and 1 ½ tablespoons of all season salt in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk the mustard, raw honey, and mustard powder.
  5. Pat your salmon fillets dry, then brush the honey mustard mixture over the top of each salmon fillet. Sprinkle the coconut shred/almond flour mixture over the top of the mustard coated salmon, giving it a generous coating. Place the coated salmon fillets on the same baking sheet as the veggies. (You could do this on a third tray if you have a bigger crew and need to do a full sheet pan of veg and salmon!)
  6. After the fries have cooked for 30 minutes, stir them around again and place back in the oven along with the veggie/salmon sheet pan. I like to put the veggie/salmon sheet pan on the middle rack with the fries on the rack just below. Cook everything another 15 minutes, until the fish is golden brown on the top and the veggies are bite tender. (This 15 minute cook time leaves the veggies with a little “bite”, which is how I prefer them. If you like your veggies softer, you can put them in the oven for 15 minutes before putting the salmon on the tray, so they will get a total of 30 minutes. Be sure to stir them around at the 15 minute mark when you add the salmon to the tray. The salmon doesn’t need any more than the 15 minutes.)

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Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!

April 9, 2017

Creamy paleo coleslaw will become your quick & cool summertime veggie staple!

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Spring is {finally!} in the air!

And everything is starting to wake up and perk up around these parts! Despite the really cold temperatures during spring break week, we made the best of our time off, enjoying one of our favorite spring stops! The butterfly gardens!

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!Less kitchen time is the name of my game…

With spring time also comes busier schedules. I need to get these little people out in that sunshine they have been so desperately lacking over the winter months, and let’s just be honest…I need it too! After being cooped up for months on end, I’m ready for more park time, beach sand, and bike riding!

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!Less kitchen time doesn’t have to mean compromising on real food

In the warmer months of the year, it is still important to keep the kids and myself fed well so we have energy to do what we want to do! It’s one of those work smarter, not harder things! And one of my work smarter not harder mottos is – bulk up!

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!Keep it simple and don’t over-complicate!

In the fall and winter, I bulk up on soups to pull from the freezer, and steamed veggies to scoop from a container in the fridge. In the summer, while we still drink a lot of veggie soup (Hello fresh summer tomatoes for the best fresh tomato soup!!), cooler veggie sides like veggie sticks, salads, and slaws rule the week. Fresh veggies are so easy to grab at farmer’s markets this time of year. They pack up for on the go so fast too!

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!Prep ahead once, eat all week long!

Cool veggie sides like veggie sticks, slaws, and salads make the perfect warm weather meal addition for busy families. Coleslaw is one of my favorites to prep for the whole week because the flavors just get better as the week goes on…if it lasts that long! You might be surprised at how much your kids take to creamy slaw salads. Because of their smaller, bite sized, shredded pieces, my toddlers took to slaws quicker than they took to big kid salads.

And have I mentioned how amazing coleslaw is on top of a grilled summer burger?!

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!Notes on ingredients and swaps!

This coleslaw makes enough for a family gathering, picnic, or BBQ, filling a medium sized serving bowl. This amount is also great for keeping in the fridge all week to scoop from just for your family. If you have a smaller family, you can half the recipe – my crew quite literally inhales this just shy of a week!

The dressing I use in this coleslaw is derived from my Paleo Egg & Dairy Free Mayo. You can use whatever clean mayo you like – here are some options for you! {Don’t forget to add the hint of heat in the recipe and the paprika – it takes the flavor over the edge amazing!}

Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Creamy Paleo Coleslaw :: Egg, Dairy, Gluten, and Soy Free!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ head purple cabbage, sliced thin
  • ½ head green cabbage, sliced thin
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 ½ to 2 ½ cups of your favorite clean ingredient mayo or homemade mayo (Amount depending on how creamy you like your coleslaw. Pictured here is about 1 ½ to 2 cups. I use this homemade egg & dairy free paleo mayo – it blends in the jar in just minutes! This is another great mayo we love too.)
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • Optional ⅛ – ¼ tsp cayenne for a flavorful heat kick (or chipotle powder for a flavorful smokey heat kick – my personal favorite!)
  • Sea salt & Pepper to your taste
Instructions
  1. Put everything into a large mixing bowl and combine. Put the coleslaw in an airtight contiainer in the fridge to let the flavors marry for at least an hour before serving.
  2. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

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Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!

March 21, 2017

How do you make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget? Let this veteran real food momma show you how!

Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Early mornings. Clingy toddlers. School work. Never ending bills. Babies that just…won’t…nap.

Dear momma, I am right there in the trenches with you. I get it. I get the time crunch. I get the budget. I get your desperate desire to feed your family well and just not knowing where to start, or where to put your priorities into what part of it is the most important.

Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!Baby steps.

Here is some veteran momma wisdom for you. Let’s start somewhere. Instead of getting overwhelmed with fancy food prep, elaborate meals, and time consuming recipes, let’s get back to the basics. Real food at its core. Because let’s face it…our ancestors would have kept it that simple.

Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!How to save time among the chaos of mommahood

I do not, I repeat, I do NOT spend all day in my kitchen. Here are a few ideas for you to make your meals work for YOU!

  • Dear momma, make that meal work double time for you. I almost always make more of a meal than we need. Especially when it comes to soups, casseroles, and baked goods etc double up that recipe and use it later in the week when you don’t have time to cook.
  • Get the kids in on the action. I know what you are thinking…doesn’t that make it take longer?! Well, yes at first. But let me give you a little perspective. If the problem with getting the meal made is the kids being around, isn’t getting their hands busy washing, peeling, or playing with scraps at the counter keeping their hands busy so you can do your thang?! YES! Secondly, I promise you that over time, those hands that fumble over a peeler, and need constant supervision at the stove, will become your best soux chefs! My little helpers have become my right hand in the kitchen at times.
  • Prep day. Or prep afternoon or evening. Or prep hour even! Whatever you can do, have one set aside time during the week where you can have a little prep time. Wash and chop veggies (so you don’t have to buy the expensive pre prepped veg!), make salad dressings, mayo, and other simple staples you need for the next couple weeks. Make a huge pot of soup to eat from on busy days so you can avoid reaching for fast food or convenience foods when life happens.
  • Lastly, keep it simple. I love a fancy meal just as much as you. But life doesn’t always allow fancy food prep time. You can still put a delicious, satisfying meal on the table keeping things simple.

Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!A little dose of real life…

One of my goals in every post, and every book I write for you, dear readers, is to keep myself as relate-able as possible. My real life is about as real as it gets. We lived for years on one income. We’ve been the one car family, the laid off family, the food stamp family. We have been the sleepless night family, the 3 kids four years old and under family, the both momma and daddy working family.

Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!My heart is to show you that despite “life,” this real food thing really can happen.

Because of this real life that I live, I am very choosy about projects that I take on. I’m talking super picky. I only have so much time to pour into projects with my busy family, and I want to be ensured that every project I take on will have meaning for you, my readers.

Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!A new project!

Which is why I quite literally jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the 30 Minute Clean Eats On a Budget e-book project. When I read through Kelly’s vision for this E-book my heart leaped.

Her vision for this ebook project included:

  • Recipes need to be free from most common allergens and Paleo friendly. (Grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free.)
  • Recipes need to be 30 minutes from start to finish, and must be made in a pot or pan (No slow cooker or Instant Pot recipes because not everyone has one or can afford one).
  • Recipe cost needs to be under $20 for 4 people (the lower the better).

Doesn’t that just make you perfectly giddy?

Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!

Well, we did it!

Along with a talented group of 19 veteran real food bloggers, we have compiled an affordable E-Book cookbook of over 80 budget friendly, time crunch friendly, real food meals for the whole family! Not only is this e-book loaded with recipes you can make today, there are tried and true real food budget tips to help you baby step your way into this lifestyle.

You can snag up your copy of the 30 Minute Clean Eats On a Budget e-book here right now! Let us hold your hand through this lifestyle change – we are so excited for you!

Real Food For Real Families :: How to make real food happen with a busy schedule and on a budget!

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Gluten Free Ginger and Leek Chicken Noodle Soup :: Grain Free Options

March 17, 2017

Give that bowl of classic chicken noodle soup a ginger and leek flavor upgrade!

Gluten Free Ginger and Leek Chicken Noodle Soup :: Grain Free OptionsProduct links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

One last warm, wintry soup for the season, ok?!

I’m staring out the window at more snow falling. On March 17…

It’s pretty safe to say I’m over it, but for the moment I’ll embrace the last of winter hanging on…as long as I have a warm bowl of soup like this to cheer me up!

Gluten Free Ginger and Leek Chicken Noodle Soup :: Grain Free OptionsA chicken noodle soup make-over

My kids rarely tire of classic chicken noodle soup – in fact 9 times out of 10 when one of my girls requests soup, chicken noodle is definitely her jam. She asked for it a few weeks back and I decided to change things up a little bit. We were getting over a bit of a cold and I had some ginger to use up from making our cold busting ginger tea. It made simply the most amazing noodle soup we’ve had in a long time!

Gluten Free Ginger and Leek Chicken Noodle Soup :: Grain Free OptionsAn early taste of spring!

We needed a bit of cheering up after fighting our cold, and the brightly colored rainbow carrots and fresh green leeks seemed like just the ticket – and made the perfect swap for the typical carrot and onion. Since I wanted the ginger flavor to shine, the leeks were a lighter background onion flavor, and the pretty yellow carrots were a hit with the kids.

Gluten Free Ginger and Leek Chicken Noodle SoupWhether you have special diet needs or not, we’ve got a noodle for that!

Gluten Free Options ::

Grain Free Options (Use a spirilizer, Y Peeler, or Julienne Peeler to make these veggie noodles! Also, back off on the bone broth by a couple cups and make a tapioca starch or cassava flour slurry to make the broth smooth and have the starchy feeling of noodles) ::

  • Zucchini Noodles
  • Sweet Potato Noodles
  • Butternut Squash Noodles
  • Golden Beet Noodles
  • Parsnip Noodles
  • Carrot Noodles

If you are not on a special diet, and can handle the gluten, I recommend using a wheat based noodle using Einkorn flour for best digestion.

Gluten Free Ginger and Leek Chicken Noodle Soup :: Grain Free OptionsDon’t forget to pack the leftovers for school!

And work too! My husband loves his travel crockpot to warm up soup right at his desk without ruining all of the nutrients in the bone broth in a microwave. He keeps the base at work and just brings the liner home to clean and fill back up. You can read more about the thermoses I like to use for the girls at school here – they keep the soup very warm all the way to lunchtime!

Gluten Free Ginger and Leek Chicken Noodle Soup :: Grain Free OptionsHere’s to happy spring thoughts coming our way!

Gluten Free Ginger and Leek Chicken Noodle Soup
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 TB friendly fat to cook in such as butter, tallow, coconut oil, or avocado oil
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (I like to use 1 orange carrot, and 1 yellow carrot for more color)
  • 1 large stalk of celery, diced
  • 2-4 inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated (about 1 TB of grated ginger will leave a very mild ginger flavor and almost no heat. 2 TB of grated ginger will leave more flavorful heat to the soup - we like the heat!)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 leek, leaves and roots removed, quartered lengthwise, then chopped (soak in a bowl of water and strain to get the sand out)
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped (save some of the green to garnish the top)
  • 2 quarts bone broth (You can use Instant Pot Broth, or here is my slow cooker method)
  • 1½ cups shredded cooked chicken (Use leftovers from your roasted chicken, slow cooker chicken, or Instant Pot chicken)
  • 6oz gluten free noodles
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat, and add the carrot and celery. Add a big pinch of sea salt and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes to get the carrots softening.
  2. Add the grated ginger, minced garlic, leeks, and green onion. Cook for another 3-5 minutes over medium heat until fragrant and soft.
  3. Add the bone broth and chicken, turn the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Add the noodles and cook over medium/high heat until the noodles are cooked to your liking. Sea salt and pepper the soup to your taste.

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Paleo Fish ‘N Chips :: Quick Sheet Pan Prep!

March 10, 2017

Crispy and flavorful paleo fish ‘n chips are the perfect family friendly dinner menu idea made healthy!

Paleo Fish 'N Chips :: Quick Sheet Pan Prep!Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Boxed fish sticks…

As far as my childhood goes, and probably many in my generation, that was definitely the extent of most kids’ exposure to fish. I don’t think I touched a piece of fish from the time I was a teen until my mid 20’s when I learned better, and boy I am determined to change that!

Paleo Fish 'N Chips :: Quick Sheet Pan Prep!Know better, do better…

While I know beyond a shadow of a doubt our generation’s parents were just doing what they thought was best (fish is healthy right?!), those boxed fish sticks were pulled from questionable sources, and the breading…well, let’s just say the mile long list of ingredients probably didn’t do any of us any good!

More and more of us are becoming more conscious of fish sourcing importance, as well what the toxins and ingredients in processed foods do to our health (liver overload, every autoimmune disorder imaginable from Hashimoto’s to RA, Chron’s, and IBS all have roots in toxins from our environment and food).

Paleo Fish 'N Chips :: Quick Sheet Pan Prep!So what can we do when we just want to have something fun like fish and chips from our childhood?

Give those fish and chips a real food makeover, of course! Sure it’s not as fast as a box of fish sticks dumped onto the tray, but I gauruntee this preps faster than you think, *and* here’s the kicker…over time, those boxed fish sticks will wreck havok on your digestion. Making your own won’t be overloading your body with foreign food-like chemicals and ingredients which means you’ll feel better!

Paleo Fish 'N Chips :: Quick Sheet Pan Prep!Sheet pan prep fast and oh so good!

This crispy fish is super fast to bread up and the fries get so crispy with minimal effort! The trick is all in the oven temp and cook time! I love using this organic all seasons salt to season the fries – it seriously tastes just like a restaurant! Such a treat!

Paleo Fish 'N Chips :: Quick Sheet Pan Prep!Ideas for batching up the fish into the freezer

This busy momma knows that taking the time to make dinner sometimes just doesn’t happen. That’s why those boxed fished sticks from the store became so popular in the first place, right?!

So the next time you stock up on some wild caught fish, take a 20 minutes and bread up a bunch of fish for the freezer. You can get them all coated up, put them on a sheet tray into the freezer for an hour, and them pop the frozen breaded fish into a bag – they will pull out of the freezer just as convenient as the boxed kind!

Paleo Fish 'N Chips :: Quick Sheet Pan Prep!Super quick veggie sides for fish ‘n chips!

  • Salad (here are some kid friendly 5 minute dressings!)
  • Sheet pan roasted veg that can roast right along side the fish and chips
  • Steamed frozen veg – just dump the bag in, steam, and add butter! So fast!

Paleo Fish 'N Chips :: Quick Sheet Pan Prep!A quick note on sourcing

Wild caught fish is always best. We have a local fish monger that sells wild caught cod and salmon sometimes, but my main source most of the time is actually Costco. Their freezer section has great wild caught cod and it is always there! The health benefits of wild caught fish versus conventional/farm raised fish is vastly different. Cod is a great source of fat for brain development, so it is a nice meal to get your littles used to from very young.

(You can read more about how to introduce babies and toddlers to fish in my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings).

Paleo Fish 'N Chips :: Quick Sheet Pan Prep!I hope this recipe brings back a little bit of childhood to you!

5.0 from 7 reviews
Paleo Fish 'N Chips :: Quick Sheet Pan Prep!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Pat dry the sliced potatoes as much as you can, place on a large baking sheet, and toss with the avocado oil and seasoning salt. Put the tray in the 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Stir the fries around and bake another 15 minutes.
  3. While the fries are baking, you can prepare the fish. Sea salt the cod fillets on both sides. Put the potato starch in one bowl, whisk the egg and mustard in a second bowl, and whisk the almond/coconut/rice flours, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning in a third bowl.
  4. Coat one of the cod fillets in the potato starch covering all sides. Dip in the egg/mustard, and then coat with the seasoned almond flour mixture. Place the breaded fillet on a baking sheet, and then continue to bread all the cod fillets. (If you aren't making as many cod fillets, you can just bread the fillets and set them on the same baking sheet as the fries when it is time to bake them).
  5. Once the fries have baked for 30 minutes (15 minutes, stir, 15 minutes), put the breaded cod fillets in the oven and bake both the fish and fries for 15 minutes.
  6. Put the fish right under the broiler for 2 minutes, flip the fish, and broil another 2 minutes. The fries can just hang out in the oven while you broil and crisp up the tops of the fish.
  7. Serve your fish with lemon wedges and homemade tartar sauce (there is a recipe in my new cookbook, Nourished Beginnings), and your fries with your dipping choice such as organic ketchup!

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Paleo Herb Roasted Grassfed Meatballs and Brussel Sprouts with Butternut Squash Noodles

March 3, 2017

Quick prep, delicious meatballs, and amazing noodle texture in vegetable form that the whole family will love!

Paleo Herb Roasted Grassfed Meatballs and Brussel Sprouts with Butternut Squash Noodles Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

That thing when one of your most used kitchen tools breaks…

Oh I was just devastated when the handle on my spiralizer broke a few weeks back! I use that bad boy all the time…hence the worn out handle!

Paleo Herb Roasted Grassfed Meatballs and Brussel Sprouts with Butternut Squash Noodles Patience…and innovation!

Of course I would have loved to hit that little Prime button that day and have my new spiralizer on my doorstep in 2 days flat, but until that money tree grows in the backyard, we have to save and budget for this kind of stuff!

So I made use of what I did have…a hand peeler!

Paleo Herb Roasted Grassfed Meatballs and Brussel Sprouts with Butternut Squash Noodles The perfect, curly ribbon noodles!

Oh friends! This is pretty much becoming my favorite way to do the veggie noodle thing! Sure it takes a little elbow grease to get a squash completely peeled – honestly it didn’t really take that long, and with a really good, sharp Y-Peeler, it was very easy! I’ve even been doing carrots quicker (which don’t do real well in a spirilizer anyway because they are so thin!)

By the way! Y Peelers are fantastic for little guys who want to help you peel things! My little ones from as young as 2 years old helped peel easy things like carrots and potatoes using this peeler!

Paleo Herb Roasted Grassfed Meatballs and Brussel Sprouts with Butternut Squash Noodles Weeknight dinner quick for the whole family

If you have a half hour, you can have this on the table for dinner! Just 10 minutes to prep everything for the oven, and everything roasts in the oven together for 20 minutes! My kids loved the big thick “noodles” and my toddler approved the mild, simple flavor.

Paleo Herb Roasted Grassfed Meatballs and Brussel Sprouts with Butternut Squash NoodlesWhat’s in season? Use it!

I roasted these lovely brussel sprouts to fill our bowls because that’s what is around here are decent prices right now. Brussel sprouts get sweet and their leaves get crispy and salty when roasted – they are so good! You could swap the sprouts for asparagus in the spring, broccoli or a mix of summer veg in the summer, and greens or cabbage in the fall.

Paleo Herb Roasted Grassfed Meatballs and Brussel Sprouts with Butternut Squash Noodles So…will I buy another spiralizer?

Ummm yes! I do love my peeler, and still plan to use it for ribbon noodles, but have you seen the spiralizers with the downward handles?! They have taken the amazing spiralizer and made it even better! Gravity is on your side with these making veggie noodle making even easier. I’ll come back and let you know how I like it as soon as I am able to buy one! (If you like to use Instagram – hop over there and follow because I’ll probably do a video InstaStory once I get it to show you!)

For now, enjoy my creative efforts in using a hand peeler for a bowl full of irresistible veggie noodles!

Paleo Herb Roasted Grassfed Meatballs and Brussel Sprouts with Butternut Squash Noodles

 

5.0 from 4 reviews
Paleo Herb Roasted Grassfed Meatballs and Cabbage with Butternut Squash Noodles
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 large handful baby kale or spinach, chopped finely
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1½ tsp onion powder
  • 1¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1½ pounds brussel sprouts, halved or quartered depending on their size (or, enough to feed your crew for one meal - I like to fill a full baking sheet for my family of 5)
  • 1 medium/large butternut squash, peeled with a Y-Peeler into "ribbon noodles", or spiralized into spaghetti or ribbon noodles
  • 1 large handful baby kale or spinach, chopped finely to mix with the butternut noodles (optional if your kids might be funny about the extra green - it really just looks like herbs and doesn't have a taste though!)
  • 8 TB roasting fat of choice for the veggies (butter, coconut oil, avocado oil are good choices)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees
  2. Mix the beef, kale, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper in a small mixing bowl. Roll in to 2 inch balls and place on a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  3. Toss the brussel sprouts with 4 TB of melted butter, and sea salt/pepper to your taste on a baking sheet.
  4. Toss the butternut squash noodles with 4 TB of melted butter, chopped kale, and sea salt/pepper to taste on a separate baking sheet. I also like to add a bit of onion and garlic powder to the noodles - of course optional but we like it!
  5. Roast the meatballs, brussel sprouts, and butternut noodles at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, stirring the noodles and brussel sprouts 2 times during the roasting. This will leave the noodles a bit "al dente" - if you prefer them much softer, you can cook another 5-10 minutes. (I use all 3 racks in my oven, one sheet pan on each rack. If you are making a half recipe for a smaller crew, you could fit all the veggies on one tray)
  6. Serve the meatballs and brussel sprouts over bowls of the butternut noodles. You can add homemade sauces or pestos if you wish too!

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Kid Friendly Orange Ginger Salmon :: Gluten Free & Soy Free!

February 24, 2017

Change up dinner time with brain nourishing, kid friendly, orange ginger infused salmon!

Kid Friendly Orange Ginger Salmon :: Gluten Free & Soy Free!

We got hit with the crud…

A couple weeks ago my girls fell 1 by 1 to the fever bug going through the school. Thankfully it was quite short lived, and my sweet toddler was probably the hardest hit. She kicked her fever like a rockstar within 24 hours, and when she came out of it, she was….hungry!

Kid Friendly Orange Ginger Salmon :: Gluten Free & Soy Free!What do you crave as “comfort” when you are ill?

New mommas here is my encouragement to you! When you start these little guys out eating really nourishing food from the get go, they become comfort food to them. I don’t know about you, but it took me a long time to re-train my definition of “comfort food” during illness. I’ve gone from Sprite soda pop, Saltine crackers, and peanut butter toast that I grew up on during illness, to bone broth based soups, teas, and meat.

Kid Friendly Orange Ginger Salmon :: Gluten Free & Soy Free!She asked for her “pink fish”….

I am literally in awe every time my girls ask for something like “pink fish” (salmon) when they are recovering from being sick. This is my youngest’s typical request. My first born is my soup girl and will eat bowl after bowl when she is recovering. My second asks mostly for anything with fatty fish or raw milk related (glass after glass of raw milk, yogurt, fish, spoonfuls of butter…). It is truly fascinating to watch.

{For more in depth discussion and almost 100 recipe ideas for getting your baby started on nourishing baby food, training toddler palates, and nutrient dense meals for the whole family, you can find my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings, at Barnes & Noble, and Amazon!}

Kid Friendly Orange Ginger Salmon :: Gluten Free & Soy Free!Her favorite salmon!

What kid wouldn’t love an orange infused salmon to eat! The marinade for this salmon not only infuses a very kid friendly, mild ginger orange flavor, but makes the fish literally melts in your mouth! My little ones from 6 or 7 months of age even liked to finger food bits of this soft fish off their trays. (I recommend leaving the extra sauce added at the end of the recipe off their portion by the way – it is the perfect flavor addition for older kids and adults, but not needed for little guy’s sensitive palates)

Kid Friendly Orange Ginger Salmon :: Gluten Free & Soy Free!Weeknight fast prep with a fancy finish!

Fish meals always end up looking so beautiful on the plate – as if you worked on it all day. In reality, pan cooked salmon is one of my favorite weeknight dinners because it is literally just minutes in the pan. You can whisk the marinade up and get the fish fillets in within 5 minutes the night before, and when you get home from work and school, just pop them in the pan. So fast!

Kid Friendly Orange Ginger Salmon :: Gluten Free & Soy Free!Side options

When it comes to fast fish dinners, I usually keep it pretty simple. In this case, my girls were still recovering from a fever bug that I felt had a digestive component, so I kept the sides to a simple steamed veggie and buttered white rice. Super gentle for the gut. And to be honest, little kids usually go for more simple sides than the fancy ones anyway – at least mine do.

  • Roasted root veggies (There are a lot of recipes for roasted veggie sides in my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings)
  • Squash purees
  • Veggie rice pilafs (there is a great recipe for this in my book Nourished Beginnings along with a recipe for how to make cauliflower rice veggie pilaf if the babies aren’t ready for grains (rice) yet.)
  • Steamed frozen veggies – just dump them right out of the bag! I get the organic ones from Costco!
  • Fresh garden veggies steamed or sauteed in butter – from green beans, snap peas, and zucchini!
  • Crusty bread and big salads made up with all the toppings you want! Here are some popular kid salad dressings like Ranch, French, & Thousand Island!

Kid Friendly Orange Ginger Salmon :: Gluten Free & Soy Free!A note on salmon sourcing

I recommend wild caught salmon and to avoid farmed salmon. I realize this can be hard to find in some areas (although it is becoming more widely available as popular places like Costco start carrying them!). If you can’t find a good, sustainable wild caught source, the orange ginger marinade goes really great with pastured chicken or lamb, and grassfed beef too!

I buy my wild caught salmon from Costco (freezer section) for the most part. We also have 2 local fish mongers that occasionally will have it available. If you are local to West Michigan, ask in the comments and I will let you know where we go! Our family also enjoys Wild Planet canned salmon – if you can’t find fresh/frozen, this would be a great way to get the brain nourishing fats from salmon into the kids. My little ones eat it right out of the can, or you can mix it up with this 5 minute mayo for a salmon salad sandwich!

Kid Friendly Orange Ginger Salmon :: Gluten Free & Soy Free!{For more in depth discussion and almost 100 recipe ideas for getting your baby started on nourishing baby food, training toddler palates, and nutrient dense meals for the whole family, you can find my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings, at Barnes & Noble, and Amazon!}

5.0 from 6 reviews
Kid Friendly Orange Ginger Salmon :: Gluten & Soy Free!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup juiced oranges (you'll need about 3 small/medium oranges)
  • 2 inches of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 TB coconut aminos (if you don't have this, you can alternatively use double the sea salt)
  • 1 TB raw honey
  • 1 TB white wine vinegar
  • 1 TB sesame oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup friendly fat to cook in such as butter, tallow, lard, avocado oil, coconut oil, etc
  • 3 wild caught salmon fillets, cut in half to make 6 small fillets (You could leave them larger if your kids are bigger)
Instructions
  1. Whisk the marinade ingredients in a large glass container with a lid (orange juice, ginger, coconut aminos, honey, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper). Put the salmon fillets in the marinade, put the top on the container, and put it in the refrigerator anywhere from 2 hours up to 24 hours. (Sometimes I set the fish in the marinade the night before so I don't have anything to do until dinner the next day. Sometimes I set it up quick in the morning.)
  2. Take the salmon fillets out of the marinade, and pour the marinade in a small sauce pan to reduce into a sauce later. You can strain the marinade if you don't like the bits of ginger in your sauce. I love the added heat from the bits of ginger!
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the friendly fat to cook in, and then set the salmon fillets in the hot oil skin side down. Don't over crowd the pan. If you have a smaller skillet, cook the salmon in 2 batches. Cook the salmon over medium/medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Flip the salmon and cook another 3-5 minutes to your desired doneness.
  4. While the salmon is cooking, simmer the orange ginger marinade over high heat for 5-7 minutes until it reduces into a sauce. At this point you can either spoon the sauce over the salmon in the pan to cook the glaze on, or spoon the sauce as is over the salmon on the plate. My kids prefer their salmon with very little sauce - my toddler doesn't usually want any. In fact I squeeze a little extra orange juice or lemon onto their salmon and they don't even need the sauce (more for me!). The salmon has a mild, kid friendly orange ginger taste already from marinating so the sauce is just extra if you like it.

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Classic Vegetable Soup

February 17, 2017

The classic nostalgia of that red can of vegetable soup, loaded with mineral rich bone broth and packed with nourishing vegetables, all in about 20 minutes!

Classic Vegetable Soup :: Bone Broth Packed & Tastes Just Like Campbell's Canned!

A trip back in time!

A couple weeks ago I showed a quick Instagram Story about my prep day, and I just happened to be making a simple, quick, and frugal vegetable soup. One that I make quite often with varying vegetables depending on what I have in house.

I had mentioned that the flavor is very similar to those little red cans of veggie soup in the soup isle at the grocery store, and you all were very excited about learning how to make it! Even though the nutrition in those little red cans is not stellar, it really brings back a lot of memories for people, I think, and you really can make it taste amazing with real food so your kids can have the same memories!

Classic Vegetable Soup :: Bone Broth Packed & Tastes Just Like Campbell's Canned!It’s all in the flavorful base…

That same sweet, tomato-y broth that the those store bought cans of veggie soup have is very easy to duplicate using real food! Something magical happens when you get that veg down in some butter and let a little time do some work on it. It sweetens the tomato paste as it cooks, and makes for a really delicious broth!

Classic Vegetable Soup :: Bone Broth Packed & Tastes Just Like Campbell's Canned!If it’s in season, it will work!

The beauty of this soup is that it really can be tailored to the veggies your family likes, and what is in season. You can pack it out with as much veg as I do, or add more broth if you want it a brothier soup.

I like keeping the veggies pretty simple – similar to that in the red can, with a few favorite add-ins like mushrooms, and, because I’m always looking for a way to get green in, a couple handfuls of spinach always wilt in so easily adding more nutrient punch to this simple soup.

Classic Vegetable Soup :: Bone Broth Packed & Tastes Just Like Campbell's Canned!

Easy peasy lunch packing!

Because this simple vegetable soup freezes up so nice, it makes a great lunchbox addition. I shoot for a veggie at every meal, so for my kids, soup fills that veg gap a lot of the time. I like to freeze in quart containers for my crew so it is easy to pull out one container that will feed all 3 girls and myself for one meal. You can freeze in smaller portions if you need.

I can also send a quart container with my husband to work for the week that he can have here and there, warming it up in his travel Crockpot.

Toddler tips!

Sometimes those little guys have issues with “pieces” – I know I have one of those right now and there’s no rhyme or reason to it other than…she’s 3! She waivers between not caring about the pieces and caring very deeply about it, so I have a couple tips to save your sanity!

  • Blend it up! Most little ones are more apt to eating smooth, texture free soup so just buzz it up. I have gone from complete refusal to more than willing to eat the soup with just this approach. Choose your battle and just get it into them that way, I say!
  • Let them pick out what veggies are going in. If they get a say in it, they are more likely to eat it. You can set it all out in front of them and ask them to pick 2-3 vegetables they want (in addition to the onion, garlic, tomato paste etc). On that same note you can let them help you cook it too!
  • Make sure it is a good temperature. I don’t talk about this often enough, but most kids are really sensitive to extreme temperatures of food. In fact what is warm or sip-able to you, is most likely scalding hot to them. Same goes cold food. My toddlers always preferred lukewarm to room temp soup, and when it came to stuff right out of the fridge, I usually let it warm up on the counter for a bit.

Classic Vegetable Soup :: Bone Broth Packed & Tastes Just Like Campbell's Canned!Soup and crackers go hand in hand!

Here are some ideas for you to keep in the pantry for easy additions to the lunchbox packing!

Classic Vegetable Soup
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 TB friendly fat to cook in, such as butter, avocado oil, coconut oil, tallow, or lard
  • 1 small/medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 cups frozen organic green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces (fresh works too if it is in season!)
  • 1 medium potato, cubed
  • 6oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen organic corn
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 TB tomato paste
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes, drained (if tomatoes are season, use fresh!)
  • 2 quarts bone broth (You can use Instant Pot Broth, or here is my slow cooker method)
  • 2 big handfuls of baby spinach or baby kale
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large soup pot, melt the friendly fat, and add the onion, carrot, green beans, potato, mushrooms, and corn with a big pinch of sea salt. Cook over medium/medium-high heat for about 7 minutes until the veggies soften.
  2. Add the garlic and tomato paste, stir to combine, and cook for a couple minutes.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes and bone broth, and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Turn the heat off and wilt in the baby spinach, and then sea salt and pepper the soup to your taste.

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30 Minute Gluten Free Meatball Skillet in a Curry Peanut Sauce :: Nut Free Options Included!

February 3, 2017

Change up your meal plan with this quick, weeknight gluten free curry meatball skillet the whole family will love!

30 Minute Meatball Skillet in a Curry Peanut Sauce :: Nut Free Options Included!

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

This has nothing to do with curry…

…but I wanted to break up your winter reading with these cutie smiles and the scarce snow we are experiencing this winter! What a mild one for us so far!

30 Minute Meatball Skillet in a Curry Peanut Sauce :: Nut Free Options Included!Meal change up time!

It is so easy to get stuck in a meal rotation rut, isn’t it!? If you haven’t noticed by following my Instagram meal posts, soups tend to be what I fall back on a lot when we have had a busy day and I don’t want to think. I’m not a great meal planner, despite what some may think, and most weeks I’m flying by the seat of my pants (and what’s on sale at the market!) for my dinner menu.

 30 Minute Meatball Skillet in a Curry Peanut Sauce :: Nut Free Options Included!Skillet quick prep!

I can tell when I’ve been serving soups too often when my soup loving, any food loving oldest starts giving me that face like “umm soup again?!” Skillet dinners are just as fast, and a couple weeks ago I perfected a curry skillet that we have grown to really love. The meatballs bake while you make the skillet and just get added it at the end – I timed myself quite a few times and it really does just take 30 minutes for everything.

30 Minute Meatball Skillet in a Curry Peanut Sauce :: Nut Free Options Included!Curry love…

It’s one of my favorite flavors, and you know what? I didn’t grow up eating it! So there is hope for those older kids!

Curry is a season blend originating from south Asia/India, primarily composed of turmeric combined with other warming Indian spices. You can find curry blends just about anywhere in the spice section of your grocer these days. Our local grocer even carries their own label of an organic curry blend. (If you are Midwest local, I’m talking about the Meijer Organics curry blend – it is so good!), but this brand of curry should be available just about everywhere.

30 Minute Meatball Skillet in a Curry Peanut Sauce :: Nut Free Options Included!The turmeric train!

The benefits of turmeric are all over the blogosphere these days. There is no denying the powerful anti-inflammatory properties of this root, and I can’t think of a tastier way to get this healing root into your diet than a skillet filled with mineral rich veggies and kid friendly, fun meatballs!

30 Minute Meatball Skillet in a Curry Peanut Sauce :: Nut Free Options Included!How to serve curry to little kids

My kids….LOVE curry. I have one in particular that seriously wants curry seasoning everything she eats! I don’t even serve curry on a regular basis and my kids have developed a palate for it. It can have a bit of heat to it, so my recommendation is to season your curry meal lightly to start, and you can always add more to your dish if you want it stronger. As this recipe stands, this is a pretty typically seasoned curry, so I would back it off if your kids are not used to curry. My kids gobble this up – even the toddler.

If you have the little guys under 2 years old, serve it right off your plate as is on the amount of curry season (sans the noodles for babies under 1 to avoid the grain). You might be surprised at how they take to the delicious flavor! Turmeric is fantastic for kids!

30 Minute Meatball Skillet in a Curry Peanut Sauce :: Nut Free Options Included!Noodle swaps!

We love using rice noodles for this meal. I think it makes the kids come to the table more eagerly, and cooking them in the broth of the skillet gives the sauce it’s thickening starch so easily! If you can’t handle the rice noodles, or are on a special diet, you can swap the noodles for more veggies or veggie noodles using a spirilizer. If you do happen to do this, just be sure to make a slurry out of your broth so you get some thickening. You can whisk tapioca starch into the broth before you pour it in, and the sauce will thicken right up.

I also think the curry seasoned veggies and meatballs are great over rice (or cauli-rice!) if you don’t have access to a quality noodle and can tolerate rice.

30 Minute Meatball Skillet in a Curry Peanut Sauce :: Nut Free Options Included!For my peanut free friends!

Whether you are Paleo or have a peanut allergy, here are your swaps!

I have made this with almond butter (we get ours at Costco, but here is a good brand you might find at your local grocer), and it is amazing (this works for Paleo friends but NOT for nut allergy friends!). For nut allergy friends that can have seeds, sunflower seed butter tastes so much like peanut butter. I have not tried it in this meal, but when I have swapped sunbutter for peanut butter it always works well.

If you can’t tolerate nuts or seeds at all, I would simply leave it out – it still tastes really good, and I make curry all the time without nut butters. It takes this dish to a whole other level, but it is still tasty without it.

30 Minute Meatball Skillet in a Curry Peanut Sauce :: Nut Free Options Included!

30 Minute Meatball Skillet in a Curry Peanut Sauce :: Nut Free Options Included!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE MEATBALLS:
  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 egg (a flax egg will work if you are egg free)
  • 2 TB flour of choice (I like to use white rice flour, but tapioca works if you are grain free)
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • ¼ - ½ tsp sea salt
  • FOR THE SKILLET:
  • 3 TB friendly fat to cook in such as butter, tallow, lard, coconut oil, or avocado oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 TB curry powder
  • 1½ quarts bone broth (water would be fine here)
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • ½ - 12oz bag rice noodles
  • ½ pound baby kale or baby spinach (or other green! Pictured in this post was brussel sprouts because that is what I had! You can pop the Brussels in with the broccoli section to cook!)
  • 3 TB natural peanut butter (I think almond butter would work if you are Paleo. If you can't have nuts, I think sesame seed butter or sunflower seed butter would be fantastic!)
  • 1 TB raw honey
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Make the meatballs. Preheat the oven to 375 while you roll the meatballs. Mix all of the meatball ingredients in a small bowl, roll up the meatballs, and set them on a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes while you make the rest of the meal.
  2. Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet (use a skillet that has a lid as you will need it later on), and add the onion and carrot. Stir in a pinch of sea salt and saute on medium heat for 5 or so minutes until the veggies soften.
  3. Add the garlic and curry powder and cook for a minute.
  4. Add the bone broth, broccoli, and noodles and put the lid on your pan. Bring the pan to a simmer, and keep simmering over medium/medium-high heat until the noodles are cooked to your liking - about 7 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat to medium low and stir in the baby kale, peanut butter, and honey and cook a few minutes until the kale wilts and the sauce thickens. Sea salt and pepper to your taste.

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10 Minute Homemade Alfredo Sauce :: Dairy and Dairy Free Options!

January 20, 2017

Classic garlic filled creaminess and everyone’s favorite pasta sauce! Velvety homemade Alfredo is real food at its best!

10 Minute Homemade Alfredo Sauce :: Dairy and Dairy Free Options!Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Winter comfort…

January seems to be flying by! That is definitely not something I am used to saying as this beach bum really {really!} enjoys her barefoot summer days.

It’s been a mild winter so far however (in Michigan standards!), and we are finding ourselves enjoying the winter fun that surrounds us, especially now that I don’t have really small babies in tow anymore. My kids are true winter lovers!

15803678_248299058937998_3462896345373736960_n(1)And I have to admit, winter comfort food definitely makes the cold more tolerable!

Creamy Alfredo meals are a cold weather favorite in our house. I used to think that Alfredo had to mean really heavy, unhealthy food. As it turns out, when you make it yourself it can truly be a nutrient dense, nourishing meal that tastes so good!

10 Minute Homemade Alfredo Sauce :: Dairy and Dairy Free Options!The simplest of ingredients seriously make the most amazing food!

Amazingly enough, you really don’t need that mile long list of ingredients that the store bought Alfredo sauce has! Next time you are at the store, take a look! You will be floored! A little butter and garlic, something to thicken up the milk a bit and you are in Alfredo heaven.

Traditional Alfredo sauce is made with milk or cream, butter, and garlic. We tolerate raw dairy in our house well, however I find myself making Alfredo sauce with coconut milk more than our raw milk. Our raw milk share is lower during the winter months when the cows don’t make as much milk. We don’t have as much on hand, and I like to save the raw milk for drinking instead of cooking off all of the raw properties. If you have access to a lot of quality milk and cream in the winter, or it is spring and summer for you and the milk is abundantly flowing, definitely give the milk a try! It is simply amazing!

10 Minute Homemade Alfredo Sauce :: Dairy and Dairy Free Options!A note for hesitant coconut flavor friends

I am not a huge fan of the taste of coconut. {I know it. Send in the real food police, right!?} I am just not. I didn’t grow up with a lot of coconut flavored anything, and no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get used to it. I can’t drink it on it’s own, and I rarely cook with coconut oil other than baking because I don’t like the finished taste!

I promise the coconut flavor is completely masked by *all* that butter and garlic. When you get that garlic super fragrant and use amazing butter, the alfredo sauce simply tastes like…creamy, garlicy, amazing alfredo sauce!

10 Minute Homemade Alfredo Sauce :: Dairy and Dairy Free Options!Coconut milk options

I do tend to use homemade coconut milk more than buy it to save money. Especially in the winter when our raw milk share is low, I am in the habit of making it every weekend anyway, so I just double it if I know we’ll be having alfredo. It is so easy to make, and you can avoid the cans and fillers from the canned coconut milk.

If making it isn’t an option, you are in a pinch, or you are just in a season of life where you just can’t make one more thing (yes, I have been there dear momma with that newborn on your hip!), there are a couple of brand options for you. You may find these in your health food store to price compare here!

  • Aroy-D Coconut Milk: This is a gum free coconut milk – just 100% coconut milk for those who can’t tolerate the guar gum added to many coconut milks.
  • Native Forest Coconut Milk: This is a good, inexpensive coconut milk. It does have guar gum added for thickening which does not bother us, but for those with sensitive tummies it might be something to avoid.

10 Minute Homemade Alfredo Sauce :: Dairy and Dairy Free Options!Noodle options

We definitely enjoy a good rice pasta on occasion! (We like this brand of rice noodles) There is nothing wrong with that if you tolerate it ok! Sometimes I don’t have it on hand, or we have already had pasta that week, so changing it up is always a great idea. If you have hesitant veggie noodle eaters, mix in some veggie noodles with regular noodles for a while to get them used to the idea 😉

Veggie “Noodle” Ideas:

Healthier Pasta Ideas:

10 Minute Homemade Alfredo Sauce :: Dairy and Dairy Free Options!Meal ideas for your alfredo sauce! {Psst! It can be more than just pasta!}

Alfredo sauce makes a kid friendly vehicle to get a load of veggies in. Steam a mix of vegetables to pile up on your pasta and drown it all in alfredo! The meal pictured in this post literally took about 20 minutes to make. I pressure cooked frozen organic broccoli in 2 minutes in my Instant Pot while I made the alfredo, and the chicken was leftover from our roasted chicken the night before. It doesn’t get much faster than that! (If you don’t have an Instant Pot, simply steam that broccoli – it doesn’t take long at all!)

We also like alfredo poured over baked potatoes. It feels a lot like drippy cheese for loaded baked potatoes! You can do veggie sides or salads in that case to get the veggies in and even crumble bacon over your loaded baked potato.

This alfredo sauce is also great with just a simple stir fry. If you have to be grain free while you are healing your gut, this is a great option for you to dress up your daily healing veggies!

10 Minute Homemade Alfredo Sauce :: Dairy and Dairy Free Options!

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10 Minute Homemade Alfredo Sauce :: Dairy and Dairy Free Options!
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Ingredients
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 TB flour of choice to thicken (I like to use white rice flour. Tapioca or Cassava works if you are grain free)
  • 1 quart coconut milk (Or raw milk. For safe store bought coconut milk options, see the notes in the post above.)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan (optional - I don't have access to quality parm all the time, so it is left out frequently and it is still very good - a little extra sea salt takes care of adding the salty bite.)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the minced garlic. Saute the garlic on medium heat for few minutes until fragrant.
  2. Whisk in the flour well, and then add the coconut milk.
  3. Bring the sauce to a simmer whisking occasionally, until it thickens, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Whisk in the Parmesan if you are using it and then sea salt and pepper to taste.

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