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Kid Friendly Roasted Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

October 3, 2018

Warm up this fall with this savory and sweet velvety roasted acorn squash and sweet potato soup!

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.

I’m just going to cut right to chase today…

This soup doesn’t need much of an intro. It’s chilly in Michigan. Tank tops and flip flops have been traded for hoodies and baked oatmeal {notice I haven’t traded my flip flops yet? Yeah, that’s a Michigan thing 😉}, and I’m all about the warm veggie soups for just about any meal of the day.

Holding out on turning the heat on…

It’s a Midwest thing, just like those flip flops we refuse to give up until snow is tickling our toes, and the only way I can get away with it, is by keeping my oven running. This beach bum isn’t as hardcore Midwest as most who hold out on turning the heat on until November, but I can get away with getting through the first week or so of October. Especially when I can get my oven going for an hour to roast some yummy squash and sweet potatoes, and warm the house up at the same time!

Two birds, one stone

The oven not only kicks the warmth up in a chilly house for a while, it also makes the most amazing flavor come out of just about any vegetable. Just oil up the flesh of your squash and sweet potatoes and lay them flesh down – they will get a gorgeous caramel color and flavor that will add an amazing warmth to your soup. Add in a pinch of cayenne and a hint of maple syrup and everyone will be wondering just what all that great flavor is coming from!

Kid favorites packed with healing bone broth!

It’s no secret that squashes and sweet potatoes are some of the most kid friendly vegetables around. The sweet taste and smooth texture is pleasant for just about any kid, and when you fix those veggies into soup form, you can also pack a gut healing bone broth punch to your little guy’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Soup for breakfast?!

Yes, absolutely! If you have followed my Instagram for any length of time, you know that soup purees like this are in my breakfast bowl many days of the week. (Check out my hashtag #RGNMorningMommaFuel to see!) It is an easy way for me to get veggie minerals in, and it tastes amazing with an apple muffin and side of eggs. The girls most often take theirs along in a thermos for lunch at school, but as babies and toddlers they ate soup for breakfast many days of the week. It was an easy way for me to get food into myself and baby, and those little guys don’t know any better than soup might not be considered a “breakfast food!”

Freezer friendly

Absolutely grab onto those great fall farmer’s market and grocery store deals on your in season acorn squash and sweet potatoes and get your freezer stocked up! It is so nice to be able to pull out a quart of soup on a busy day where there isn’t time for cooking. The soup just needs to be cooled to room temp before you put them in freezer safe containers, and you can stash them away!

Babies, Toddlers, and Lunchbox Thermos Tips

Your babies and toddlers will adore this soup. Use a spoon, or try a short, wide smoothie straw for them to drink it right up. Straws were a favorite way for my littles to drink soup so they could do it all by themselves. Pack school aged kids yummy soup in a thermos along with an apple muffin with butter, a chicken wrap, or some crackers! It makes for a great lunchbox change up, and can be packed this way for daycare too.

5.0 from 14 reviews
Kid Friendly Roasted Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
  • 2 medium acorn squashes, halved and seeds scooped out
  • 4 small sweet potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 6 tbsp of olive oil or butter, divided
  • 1 medium/large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup
  • Pinch of cayenne or to taste if you like heat
  • 1½ - 2 quarts bone broth depending on how thick/thin you prefer your soup
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish with coconut milk/yogurt or sour cream, and a drizzle of olive oil
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spread olive oil over the flesh of your acorn squash halves and sweet potato halves, and then sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Place the squash and sweet potatoes flesh side down on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, until the veggies are soft.
  3. You can start the rest of the soup when take the squash and sweet potatoes out of the oven so they are cooling while you work – you’ll want the squash cooled so you can handle it to scoop the flesh out.
  4. In a large soup pot, add 2-3 tbsp of butter and the onion with a pinch of sea salt. Cook the onion over medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the thyme, broth, and roasted squash and sweet potatoes, and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat, and blend the soup with an immersion blender, or pour it into a regular blender to puree. Garnish each bowl with a splash of coconut milk or dollop of sour cream and a drizzle of olive oil.

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Shepherd’s Pie Loaded Baked Potatoes :: PLUS! How To Make Baked Potatoes With The Crispiest Skin & Creamiest Inside!

September 12, 2018

Shepherd’s pie loaded baked potatoes take that classic comforting dinner we all love, and make it in to a family dinner made for a 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.

Back and forth…

You just never know what you’re gonna get in September here in Michigan. One day, we’re enjoying the beach and 80 degrees, and the next day, we get a fall preview, waking up to 50 degrees, hoodies, and hot tea! I love that about Michigan though. It’s as if she knows you can’t just swap our blissful summer days for the chill that late fall brings. We ease into it around here. The chill does last for quite a while around these parts, after all.

Cooler weather menus

I’ve been sitting on this recipe since last spring! It happened to be one of those cooler spring days where I decided to use the oven to warm up the house and snap a few pictures while I was at it. The late day lighting suggested warmer weather was on the way with summer around the corner, and I just tucked this recipe away for the inevitable fall cool down, when you all would want to turn your ovens back on again. When the chill hits the air where you live, I hope you can give this recipe a try.

All the shepherd’s pie comfort with less fuss

Because, real life, ya know? It’s so fun to make a big pan of shepherd’s pie on the weekend, but if you’re craving that warm comfort on school night, this method of loading the creamy shepherd’s pie filling right on top of a perfectly baked potato is just the ticket.

The perfect baked potato

This is important! If you’ve never had a really well done baked potato with a creamy inside, and crispy skin on the outside, you are in for a treat! The method will seem so simple, but sometimes that’s the way to go – the less fuss the better. Avocado oil makes things super crispy, which is why I usually reach for that. And making sure the potato skin is coated in sea salt helps dry it out and crisp it up! I also have had nice crispy skin using olive oil. Seasoning the outside of the potato really well not only helps to crisp the skin, it also seasons the potato so you really don’t have much to do after cooking, other than pile on the shepherd’s pie filling!

Can I use sweet potato instead?

Absolutely! In fact 2 out of my 3 girls prefer their shepherd’s pie over a baked sweet potato versus the white potato. The prep method and cook time is about the same – sometimes if the sweet potato is a bit larger, it can take an hour to bake. Just prick the sweet potato with a fork around the 50 minute mark to see if it is soft on the inside.

Shepherd’s pie filling 101…

Savory, creamy, and hearty – that is what should come to mind for a shepherd’s pie filling. The gravy-like sauce is the perfect topping for your bake potato, and the taste will make any kid ask for seconds. I kept the veggies very “classic” shepherd’s pie with peas and carrots, but you really can use whatever you have on hand. If you are grain free, you can also leave out the corn. I love adding diced butternut squash to replace the corn in the fall. Again, pictured here in this post is the classic shepherd’s pie filling with the corn.

How to make the perfect “nest” for your shepherd’s pie filling

When your potatoes are done baking, use a knife to slice a lower case “t” along the top of the potato – one line down the length of the potato, and another across the width. Then pinch the ends of the potato until it “pops” open – the perfect little bowl to nestle all the shepherd’s pie bits and gravy into.

Weeknight prep tips

Both the potatoes and the shepherd’s pie filling can be prepared in advance. If you are a “prep day” kind of a person, you can make the filling on your prep day, and just stash it away in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to use it. The baked potatoes can be baked off as well, and just warmed through to crisp up in the oven prior to eating. Since the filling freezes so well, you really could double up, and save part of the batch for another time.

5.0 from 16 reviews
Shepherd's Pie Loaded Baked Potatoes :: PLUS! How To Make Baked Potatoes With The Crispiest Skin & Creamiest Inside!
  • 5 medium organic russet potatoes
  • 4-5 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
  • 3-4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp friendly fat to cook in (butter, ghee, avocado oil, olive oil will work well. I like to use half of this as leftover bacon fat for flavor)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1lb grass-fed ground beef
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp tapioca flour (depending on how thick/saucy you like your filling)
  • 2 tbsp organic tomato paste
  • ¾ cup bone broth or water
  • 3-4 tsp coconut aminos (it is fine to leave this out if you don’t have it – it does really add to the flavor though! It mimics soy sauce in flavor.)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ¾ cup frozen organic peas
  • ½ cup frozen organic corn (omit if you are grain free/paleo. Butternut squash subs well - dice it and cook it through at the beginning)
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste to finish
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Make sure the potatoes are dry. Poke a fork into each potato 2 times. Rub the oil all over each potato, and then rub the salt over each potato.
  3. Set the potatoes in a baking dish and bake at 425 degrees for 50 minutes until fork tender.
  4. While the potatoes are baking, you can make the filling. Melt your friendly fat in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots with a small pinch of sea salt, and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic to stir in.
  5. Add the beef to the cooking veggies along with the sea salt and pepper and brown the beef.
  6. When the beef is done browning, stir in the tapioca flour and tomato paste, and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Add the broth, coconut aminos, and thyme, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, bring the heat to low, cover the pan with a lid, and cook for 7 minutes.
  8. Take the lid off, stir in the peas and corn, and return the lid, cooking for 5 more minutes.
  9. Taste the filling for salt and pepper, and then top your baked potatoes with the beef/veggie shepherd’s pie filling.
  10. **Filling can be made days in advance for quick, weekday dinners!

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Walnut Crusted Crispy Mahi Mahi :: Kid Friendly and Gluten Free!

September 5, 2018

Quick, kid friendly, and gluten free, walnut crusted crispy mahi mahi is perfect for dinner any night of the week!

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’s the way we’re keeping life around here these days. My girls are all back to school, and anyone that has ever had a brand new pre-K or Kinder kiddo in the house knows that after school melt downs can be a very real thing. Since this is my third time around this block, I was prepared long before my fresh new pre-K sweetheart set foot in that classroom last Monday, and I planned out our menu that week accordingly.

Yummy flavor, minimal work.

Because that sweet little wee one in the picture above has needed some downtime after her exciting days of pre-K! She *big puffy heart* loves fish of any kind, so I just knew I had to plan that into our first week back to school. This minimal ingredient, and minimal hands on time crispy fish is always a favorite. After she ate 2 helpings, she was a complete chatter box telling me about all her exciting school time adventures!

Crispy fish method

I don’t take that whole “minimal work” thing lightly. Just a few ingredients into a bowl to “bread” the fish and then crisp it up in a skillet. Finish the cooking in the oven and it’s done. The key to the crispy outside lies in a few things:

  1. The right flour. Walnuts are pretty oily when you blend them up, so adding another flour to the ground walnuts makes up for the oily walnuts and gets the outside of the fish really crispy. White rice flour is one of my favorites because it is cost effective and nice a dry – which makes a nice crispy outside. But if you are true Paleo/grain free or do not tolerate white rice flour, you can use coconut flour which works to crisp things up just as good.
  2. The right oil. I feel like avocado oil or animal fat such as pastured tallow or lard makes anything crisp up the best. Butter and olive oil tend to make things softer. Also, scalding olive oil in the kind of heat you need for a crispy fish, can make it taste bad. Coconut oil will work just fine as well, but you will have the coconut taste there (which is fine if that doesn’t bother you!).
  3. And a super hot skillet. Big time cast iron skillet fan here, but if you don’t have one, a regular skillet will work just fine. Just don’t crowd the pan! If your skillet is smaller like mine, do the crisping up in batches so the temperature of the skillet stays hot.

Fish sourcing

We started finding the wild caught Mahi Mahi at Costco a year or so ago – I’m so thankful they now carry it along with wild caught salmon and cod so we can keep some variety to our fish night menu rotation. We also have a couple of local fish mongers that carry wild caught fish. Look around where you live – even our local grocer now keeps a selection of wild caught fish. To read more about why wild caught fish is more superior to farmed, visit

Can I use other fish?

Sure! Wild caught cod is more fragile, so just handle it carefully – it also cooks a bit faster so back off the time. Smaller pieces might work better in the pan so it doesn’t fall apart, since cod is very delicate. Salmon works fine too if you have access to wild caught.

Side dish ideas

This part can really throw off your plans for a “quick and minimal work” dinner! Just keep it simple. My older girls are big time salad lovers. While my youngest will tolerate them, I ended up roasting her some sweet potatoes and serving buttered peas with them. Again, super minimal hands on work, and the sweet potatoes can roast right alongside the cooking fish. Here are some other ideas:

  • Mashed sweet potatoes
  • Steamed mixed veggies
  • Salads (here is a great Olive Garden salad dressing, and Ranch too!)
  • Roasted potatoes (you can roast other veggies like broccoli right alongside these too)
  • Squash (my kids’ favorite side – Instant Pot or roast it and blend with butter – keep it simple)
  • Bone broth cooked rice with veggies. This is so simple to do with those frozen mixed veggies – just pop the veggies right in with the cooking rice and top it all with butter.

Well fed, *and* well nourished

Because it is in fact possible to be fed and still not feel well and energized. My biggest goal when thinking about feeding children is making every bite they take count. Man, those school days can be long and exhausting. It is so important to snuggle them close, and let them unload from the day, but it doesn’t mean you have to compromise on re-fueling them if time to cook is short. Replenishing their little bodies can be as easy as a simple fish dinner, bowl of soup, or omelet. It can be fast prep, and nutrient loaded for their ever growing bodies. Happy school year to you!

5.0 from 18 reviews
Walnut Crusted Crispy Mahi Mahi :: Kid Friendly and Gluten Free!
  • 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped (I buzz mine up in a food processor into a “meal”)
  • ½ cup white rice flour (or coconut flour if you are grain free/Paleo)
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika (optional but lovely color and flavor)
  • 1-2 eggs, whisked
  • 4 wild caught Mahi Mahi fillets
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • ¼ -1/3 cup avocado oil for the skillet (enough to completely cover your skillet generously)
  • Lemons and parsley to garnish if you choose.
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Combine the walnut “meal,” rice flour, and paprika in a shallow dish or plate. Set up the whisked egg in a bowl next to the walnut mixture and a clean plate for your coated fish at the end.
  3. Coat the Mahi Mahi in the whisked egg, and then the walnut/flour mixture on all sides. Place the coated fish on a clean plate while you finish coating the rest of the fish. Sprinkle the tops of the coated fish with sea salt and pepper to your taste.
  4. Heat the avocado oil in a skillet over medium/high heat. When the oil is hot, place 2 of walnut crusted Mahi Mahi fillets in the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes ON EACH SIDE until the outside of the fish is golden brown. The less you move the fish around the crispier they will get – I even set a timer for about 3 minutes so I am not tempted to peek! When those 2 fillets finish cooking, place them on a baking sheet while you cook the other 2 fillets. You can cook all 4 in the skillet if your skillet is large enough, but do not over crowd them. I think the fish gets crispier using a cast iron skillet, and mine is smaller so I just do 2 at a time.
  5. Place the baking sheet with the crusted fish into a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes to finish cooking the middle. Garnish with lemons and parsley if you choose.


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How To Make Soaked Baked Oatmeal :: A framework for a nutritious baked oatmeal that you can flavor any way you choose!

August 30, 2018

Learn how to make traditionally soaked baked oatmeal using a framework of nutritious ingredients that you can flavor any way you choose!

So, are we easing in yet?

Back to school rhythms? While my household definitely longs for the routine of school by September, we do tend to still cling to summer and the warm air for a bit longer. Before we know it, hats and scarves will be out, so for now…we enjoy our beach-y sunsets and the warm sand in our toes.

Breakfast staples for the school year

As always in using this space to write, I’m hoping to keep my recipes this fall super relatable, sustainable, and *practical.* I love finding super fun, “over the top” recipes to play with, but quite frankly in this season of life I very much get you, dear momma. With a 9, 7, and 5 year old at home, working from home, and everything that goes along with those items, I just need my life to have a flow. A rhythm. And a few ounces of practicality. And that includes having some breakfast staples that I don’t have to think too hard about.

Bake once, eat twice…

Or three times! This mindset is a game changer for so many busy families. Baked oatmeal is one of those breakfast staples that just about any kid will eat *and* just so happens to make enough for at least 2 breakfasts for most small to medium sized families. I’m also willing to bet larger families can double this into two 9×13 pans and have enough for 2 meals – if you have the oven on, you might as well do double time!

A baked oatmeal framework

There are so many different ways to dress up baked oatmeal. Keeping your baked oatmeal breakfast menu rotation full of variety is what will keep everyone from getting bored of having “the same thing” every week. This also ensures keeping the humble oat as budget friendly as we brag about it being. So the base of your baked oatmeal is always the same, but we can change up the flavor! You won’t find our winter baked oatmeal loaded up with fresh blueberries or peaches, because summer fruit is triple the price here in the winter, and that just isn’t sustainable. Instead, in the wintertime, you’ll find our baked oat slices filled with fresh apples or bananas, or  sprinkled with dried fruit like raisins or cranberries that you can get year ’round.

More than just oatmeal

This is loaded oatmeal! And by that I mean filled to the brim with *balance.* Satiating and filling fats and protein from the nuts, seeds, eggs, and coconut milk (or milk), along with the slow burning fiber filled oats will make this breakfast last way past the first school hour of the day. And for so many kids, that is HUGE. Make every bite of their breakfast count – it is all packed into these little oatmeal squares.

Why soaked?

In short, it is what your ancestors would have done with any grains. Soaking any grain in an acid medium, such as yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, whey, lemon juice, or vinegar reduces anti-nutrients like phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors (which all grains contain). Grains have gotten a bit of a bad rap in the last decade or so, and while I think many Americans “over grain” their plates, eating it way more frequently than our ancestors would have, they do serve purpose in our diets if there isn’t a true food allergy present. Whole grains, like oats, contain an impressive nutrient profile, so long as you don’t cover up those nutrients by eating them without soaking first.  Just a couple minutes to add the oats and acid to your mixing bowl the night before is really all you need. It actually helps with prep time the next day since that part of the recipe is already in the bowl!

Onto the flavor choices!

They are truly endless. You can keep it as basic as can be with just a bit of honey and cinnamon, or dress  it up with pumpkin and apples for the fall, cranberries for winter, strawberries in the spring, and peaches for the summer! Just follow the basic frame work, and here are some ideas to change flavors up:

  • apples
  • pears
  • bananas (cinnamon and bananas is seriously amazing!)
  • raisins
  • cranberries (Fresh or dried – and try almond extract versus the vanilla. So good!)
  • pumpkin or butternut squashes (cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice blends work well here!)
  • strawberries
  • cherries
  • blueberries (Fresh or dried)
  • peaches
  • raspberries
  • Or, skip the fruit, and go with more of a maple flavor using syrup instead of honey, or use honey and cinnamon for flavoring your baked oatmeal. Sometimes less is more, and the girls love just cinnamon baked oatmeal too!

Add in options

I kept the nuts and seeds section of the recipe pretty general, so that you can change that part up too. Different nuts and seeds have different nutrient components, so it is nice to have some variety there. And since nuts and seeds have anti-nutrients like phytic acid just like grains, I do prefer to use soaked/dehydrated or sprouted nuts and seeds. You can soak/dehydrate yourself, or buy them sprouted (here you can find already sprouted seeds or sprouted nuts). I usually buy the organic nuts or seeds at Costco and just soak/dehydrate myself to save on my budget. If you have a nut free household, all seeds works just fine, or you can swap the nuts/seeds for shredded coconut or more oats. Directions for doing this is right in the recipe. Here are some nut/seed ideas to try:

A note on sweeteners and amount…

While 1/2 cup of sweetener may feel like “a lot,” keep in mind this is spread out across an entire 9×13 pan of baked oatmeal – it’s a lot of baked oatmeal. The half cup of honey leaves this baked oatmeal with a nice, mild sweetness. If you have older children used to sweeter foods, you may want to add a bit more. Or bake it off this way, and you can drizzle a little honey on the top of theirs if they mention that it doesn’t taste sweet to them. You can use whatever sweetener you feel comfortable using – honey, pure maple syrup, etc. I do like to use coconut sugar lately because we love the warm taste, and it has a lower glycemic index. Keep in mind coconut sugar does make the baked oatmeal darker in color because of the coconut sugar’s darker color. It just looks more rich to me. Pictured in this post is a combination of honey and maple syrup.

How to freeze and re-heat leftover baked oatmeal

Because that is really why we are here right?! To learn how to make a breakfast that serves itself twice!

  1. Completely cool the baked oatmeal.
  2. Cut the baked oatmeal into the sized servings you want.
  3. Individually wrap each slice of baked oatmeal with plastic wrap (you can use beeswax wrap if you wish), and then place them into a freezer bag. This will ensure they don’t get freezer burn. Alternatively, you can just put the squares into a freezer bag without individually wrapping them. If you plan to use the baked oatmeal within 2 weeks, you are not likely to get the freezer burn. If you plan to have them frozen for over 2 weeks, my suggestion is preventing the freezer burn, and using the wrap.
  4. The night before you want to serve the frozen leftover baked oatmeal, take the servings out of the freezer, and set them on the counter to thaw out. They will be thawed by morning and ready to warm up!
  5. To warm up the thawed out baked oatmeal, I like to place the servings on a baking sheet and set the baking sheet in a cold oven. Turn the oven on to pre-heat to 350 degrees. By the time the oven pre-heats, the baked oatmeal is gently warmed up! You can turn the oven off, and serve.

5.0 from 18 reviews
How To Make Soaked Baked Oatmeal :: A framework for a nutritious baked oatmeal that you can flavor any way you choose!
  • 5 cups oats (Not quick cooking oats. If you are gluten free, be sure your oats say they are gluten free like THESE)
  • 2 ½ cups full fat coconut milk or raw milk
  • ½ cup unsweetened full fat coconut yogurt, or dairy yogurt. (Our grocer carries the large 32oz tubs of So Delicious plain coconut yogurt which is what I use.)
  • 2 cups of nuts or seeds of choice, chopped (I buzz them up in my food processor quick. I like to use soaked/dehydrated nuts for best digestion. *OR* you can skip the nuts/seeds and add in 1 more cup of oats to the soaking process. *OR* you can skip the nuts/seeds and add in 1-2 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut. A mix of nuts/seeds and shredded coconut works too.)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 8 eggs
  • ½ cup sweetener of choice (Raw honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1-4 tsp cinnamon (depending on the fruit you are using – I like more with apples, bananas, pears, or raisins. And less if using berries and peaches)
  • 3 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 ½ - 2 cups of fresh fruit, OR 1 cup dried fruit (see above notes for ideas!)
  1. Soak the oats 8-24 hours before baking. The day before you want to make this for breakfast, put the oats, coconut milk, and yogurt in a medium mixing bowl, stir to combine, and cover with a towel to soak overnight. You can also butter your 9x13 baking dish the night before so it’s ready.
  2. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Add everything EXCEPT the fruit to the soaked oats, and mix in thoroughly.
  4. Fold the fruit into the batter, and pour the batter into the buttered the buttered baking dish.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes, until the top is lightly browned. You can use the toothpick method to make sure the middle is set – it should come out clean if the baked oatmeal is done cooking.

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How To Make A Healthy Yogurt Breakfast Bar :: A simple weekday breakfast idea!

June 23, 2018

Letting the kids serve themselves with nourishing, power packed yogurt toppings will become one of your weekday breakfast staples with this easy, healthy yogurt breakfast bar!

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.

A fresh new summer

I’m sitting here writing this post trying to figure out where the last 9 months have gone! Moments of this past school year seemed to be never ending, while most of it really and truly feels like a blur to me! Regardless of how the last year has looked for you, I invite you to look at summer a little outside the box than most.

Relaxed, yes. Taking advantage of summer energy – totally!

I don’t know if it’s the sunshine that my body so desperately needs, but summer always brings a renewed energy toward fresh projects, organizing previously unorganized spaces, and, as a blogger, a flood of new ideas to use this space to help others. While many use the summer to take off work, take it easier, and back off on things, I tend to have more creative energy in the summer, and really find it is a good season for me to knock out new ideas. Will there be relaxing beach days? More than you can count! You bet! But between juggling my 3 girls, getting our feet in the beach sand, and home life, I’m hopeful to stir things up over in this space a bit more in the next few months.

With the season change this year, comes a brand new season of life for this momma.

Nine years. The last 9 years of my life have literally revolved every minute of every day around the little people here in our home. I wouldn’t trade the last 9 years for anything! But this fall, all THREE of my babies will be in full time school, and quite frankly, I am SO many things. I am literally all the above. Happy, sad, joyful, terrified, lost, accomplished…relieved to have made it this far and still have kept all 3 alive.

A new kind of busy

While I completely and utterly bow down to my newborn momma readers here today (I do promise you, sweet momma, that they will sleep someday!), I always imagined this season of life as having a more time to play in the kitchen with new ideas. That has really proven to be false, as I’m outside of the home way more now than when I was a newborn mom! It really is all about perspective and priorities. My health goals and priorities are always a non-negotiable, but I’ve figured out some “short-cuts” to allow some of my other “outside of the kitchen” priorities still happen – in other words…balance. Right?!

Self Serve Yogurt Breakfast Bar!

Once your littles get to the age of being able to self serve (don’t underestimate this – I’m not talking 9 or 10! I’m talking 3 years old, and for those little “responsible beyond their years” first borns…you could probably start this around 2), this breakfast idea will become one of your weekly menu rotations. The possibilities for loading these bowls up is literally endless. The kids will be full and focused for a full day of play and school starting their day off on this foot!

First things first! The yogurt!

So let’s talk yogurt! Dairy free or non-dairy, homemade or store-bought, you have so many options. There won’t be any claims of one right way, or superior yogurt style here. Only what works best for your family, their digestions, and your schedule. We want a sane mommathat is the end goal. If store-bought yogurt means momma feels more on top of her day, then grab that {quality, non-sugar added} store-bought yogurt. If making your own yogurt makes your heart feel full and accomplished! Girl, you make that yogurt then!

If you are going for store-bought yogurt here are some things to make sure you look for:

  • Plain/No Sugar Added. Sugar or sweetener doesn’t need to be in the ingredient list. You can add fruit or control your own sweetener like honey this way. Many store bought sweetened yogurts are worse than candy bars when it comes to grams of sugar.
  • Full Fat/Whole Milk. Low fat or fat free isn’t don’t anyone any good. Our cells, organs, hormones, blood sugars all need fat to survive and thrive. It will make the kids feel more satiated, and it will feed their ever growing brains the fat they need.
  • Dye Free. If you are meeting the above 2 points, you probably don’t need to look out for this, but I’m just mentioning it in case! Yogurt shouldn’t need fancy colors – they mess with kid’s brains and moods. Just be mindful of it, and watch those labels.

Safe Store-Bought Yogurt Options (Dairy & Dairy Free):

  • Any local whole milk yogurts. The area I live in is pretty abundant in either Amish farms, or all grassfed farming practices that also make yogurt. This is really going to vary where you live. I would recommend if you would like to find local yogurt, to check farmer’s markets or local health food stores. Ask around!
  • Maple Hill Creamery Full Fat Grassfed Yogurt
  • Organic Valley Full Fat Plain “Grassmilk” Yogurt
  • Stoneyfield Full Fat Plain Grassfed Yogurt
  • {Dairy Free} SoDelicious Full Fat Coconut Yogurt (Plain or the Vanilla both don’t have added sugar). Our local grocer and health food stores carry the 32 oz tubs of plain and vanilla which is great on the budget buying in that size. If you don’t see it where you live, ask for it! It can never hurt to ask for your stores to carry something!
  • {Dairy Free} CoYo Full Fat Coconut Yogurt
  • {Dairy Free} The Coconut Cult Full Fat Coconut Yogurt

Homemade Yogurt Options:

Here are some great recipes for yogurt if you would like to try making your own! It is so rewarding, and I still do this some of the time!

Now the FUN part!

The toppings and add-ins! Not only is this part fun for the kids, this is the part that will add even more nourishment to their bowl to make this a full, balanced meal that will stick with them all morning. Here are some ideas:

  • Fruit. This can be seasonal for sure. In the winter I do a lot of bananas. In the summer it is usually berries. Wintertime means some dried fruit occasionally as well when most fruit is out of season. The fruit also helps add a bit of sweet to the bowl. If you have really little guys at home, I’d skip the honey all together and just keep them used to fruit and the sour taste of yogurt. All 3 of my girls still eat yogurt without honey (ages 9, 7, and 4). They just have never had it any other way. It is possible to train their palates to loving the tart yogurt taste.
  • Seeds. Rotate these around each week to change up nutrients! Chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds – so many options!
  • Nuts. Again, rotate these around to change up nutrients. I think the nuts do best with yogurt when you chop them up a bit just fyi.  Walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios  are all great, and places like Costco are now starting to carry their nuts in organic too! That is awesome on the budget!
  • Grassfed Collagen. This is a no-brainer to me now, but might not be something you would think of right off the bat at first! Grassfed collagen adds a great little protein punch to your yogurt bowl (10 grams for per scoop!), and especially for those using coconut yogurt which is lacking in protein, it is a fantastic addition. This real food source of grassfed protein is tasteless and also has a gut healing component to add as well.
  • Granola. There are a number of granola recipes on the blog here, and if you need pre-made, I found a bunch of great granolas to try on Amazon if you just search “sprouted granola” or “paleo granola.” Here are a few of the more popular recipes on my blog (I do make our granola for our household to save on the budget since we go through it pretty fast) :: Grain Free Apple Cinnamon Granola, Simple Cinnamon Granola, Morning Glory Granola, and Honey Cluster Granola (this uses rhubarb but you can sub for apples).
  • Other “superfood” boosters. My kiddos LOVE the Acai Berry Powder from Perfect Supplements. Not only does it make their yogurt a super cool purple color, it makes the yogurt a bit more berry in flavor. They love it, and it is a great superfoods berry with loads of antioxidant power for them. I also think this is a great spot to add in probiotic powders, vitamin C powders for immune boosting, etc if you have a hard time getting your kiddos to swallow/accept those items. My girls all swallow caps, but as babies, I used yogurt as a vehicle for supplements a lot!
  • Real food sweeteners. This is super optional, but if you have older kiddos used to sweeter things, do not try to force them on the no honey train. It isn’t worth it. Raw honey is loaded with minerals and enzymes that are great for them, and you don’t need a ton of it to make the kid’s sweet tooth happy. Raw local honey, pure maple syrup, or coconut sugar is just fine in small amounts.

Tips for keeping the “self serve” part {ahem!}…mess free…

I know, I know. Seriously, I get it. It is SO much faster and less mess to just do it yourself. But I promise you, that if you do a few of these tips, you can have a really streamlined yogurt bar flow even for a Tuesday school morning that won’t leave you with a big mess to clean up when they are done.

  • SHOW them and practice (and not on a school day!). So plan your first and second yogurt bar on a day that the kids don’t have to be out the door by 8am. Set it up on a Saturday morning so you can demonstrate and help them practice how to serve themselves appropriately.
  • Use the right sized serving bowls. If they are too big and cumbersome, you are sure to have a mess.
  • Use the right sized serving utensils. This will help with portion sizes.
  • Give them portion specifics. “You may take 1 teaspoon of chia seeds.” “You may take 4 spoonfuls of yogurt”. If you use the same serving bowls and utensils each time this will make this part easier. I typically serve the yogurt, for example, right out of the yogurt tub (most of the time I get the SoDelicious coconut yogurt in the 32oz tubs) with the same serving spoon. The girls know that my youngest gets about 3 “scoops” with that spoon, and my oldest knows she takes about 6 “scoops”. I have teaspoons or tablespoons set out for seeds and nuts or other toppings. They  have learned appropriate portion sizes this way, so they don’t under-fill or overfill their bowls and end up with an unhappy amount of one thing or another. I have a bunch of these little teaspoons and these tablespoons so I can set them out easily to serve.

Balance is the key to sustainability.

When it comes to eating real food in the time and space we live in today, keeping it going without quitting a month in all boils down to balance. YES our society needs to take a step back, get out of the drive through, and step into the kitchen a little more. We need to turn off the TVs and phones and turn on the stove. Put some boundaries around extra events and get around the table with family more often. BUT…we also don’t live in the same world our ancestors did. We do have different responsibilities and lives than they did. I’ve been going at this real food thing for well over a decade now. What constitutes sustainability for that long? Making sure there is some grace in my meal plan. I cook breakfast from scratch a good portion of the week, but I *big puffy heart* love my Wednesday morning yogurt breakfast bar! I hope this breakfast idea gives you some inspiration to keep at your real food goals! XO, Renee

More real food breakfast ideas you might like ::


Batch Up Meals Breakfast Ideas Instant Pot Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

On-The-Go Instant Pot® Mini Frittatas :: 5 Minute Pressure Cook Time, Freezer Friendly, and Dairy Free!

April 14, 2018

Keep real food on the menu despite your busy schedule with on-the-go Instant Pot mini Frittatas!

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.

A different kind of busy…

We are well beyond babyhood seasons in my household. I remember thinking during those first years with milk stained yoga pants, “5 day hair,” and 2am nursings that this thing must get easier each year. It has to, right?!

Every stage of motherhood has a “busy.”

It changes. It is definitely not as sleepless. And it certainly isn’t as exhausting and desperate. But it is not less “busy.” Instead of a endless rocking, it turns into endless life training. These little people that I am responsible for are navigating society, and I’ll be darned if they aren’t going to be positive, contributing members of the community with hearts that know how to treat other people. Even though I enjoy full nights of sleep again (yes, dear newborn momma, you will sleep again!), life is still filled with schedules, routines, and life training. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Real food goals, momma mental sanity, and busy kids

It does your littles zero good, dear momma, when you are so stretched that you are exhausted beyond function getting real food on the table for every meal. It also doesn’t do the family any good if we are serving sugary cereal at the breakfast table each day. There IS a happy medium. You don’t have to prepare a 5 course meal every day, and you don’t have to settle for convenience foods just to maintain a little mental sanity. You WILL have those days that completely fall apart, and it is so nice to have some real food menu options in your back pocket so you can keep wholesome food in your kids, and deal with the flow that life hands you.

Breakfast goals for busy moms that have real food menu goals

Alright! Take some notes, dear momma…this is as real as it gets from my real home to yours!

  • Have a weekly menu rotation, and keep it simple. Fit your menu to your family tastes – there is no one right way. There is a weekly breakfast menu printable on this post, along with what a typical school week looks like for my family. You can have a breakfast rotation and still keep things interesting with variety – you can see that in our menu rotation. Fruit and veggies change with the season changes, etc.
  • Take advantage of your freezer. Mini pancakes, breakfast cookies, waffles, baked oatmeal cups, and muffins all freeze up so well. I always say, if I’m going to be baking, I might as well do double duty. Bake for Saturday morning breakfast, and keep the leftovers for Tuesday or Wednesday in the heat of the busy week. The mini frittatas in this post freeze well too!
  • Have a granola stash. Always my go-to when my morning plans have been shot! Keep a container of granola in the pantry to eat with a splash of raw milk or coconut milk, or to crumble over yogurt or coconut yogurt. There are loads of granola recipes on this blog – just use the search bar at the top and search “granola” and you will find them. Some of our favorites are Simple Cinnamon Granola, Grain Free Apple Cinnamon Granola, Morning Glory Granola, and Blueberry Granola.
  • Utilize a prep day, or prep the night before. I rarely get prep days these days. I do most of my breakfast prep the night before. Chop veggies, get dry ingredients into mixing bowl, use the Instant Pot to pre-cook potatoes to make crispy hash in the morning. And these mini frittatas! You can prep them in the little cups the night before!
  • Don’t underestimate dinner leftovers! My kiddos KNOW that momma gets the dinner leftovers for her breakfast usually! Mine!

Instant Pot game changer!

I feel like I am still just scratching the surface for using my IP regularly, but I’m getting there. I’ve been on a kick for quick breakfasts that travel well in the car lately thanks to my 4 year old that likes to linger in the morning…Instant Pot egg fritattas have been SO nice to have on hand for her! There is a recipe for egg muffins in my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings that I use for her – A LOT. But one morning, I just simply forgot to get the oven going, and didn’t have the time to make them. Enter the Instant Pot!

5 minutes all around!

Five minute prep that can be put into the mason jars or ramekins the night before? Check! Five minute pressure cook? Check! My biggest goal for these frittatas was for them to be just as fast in prep time as they are in cook time. Use simple veggies that chop quick – no extra pan saute time included. I just don’t have time for that on a school morning. I literally want to dump it in a bowl, whisk, and pour. In fact, I have been prepping the egg mixture in my big 4 cup liquid measuring cup so I can just whisk it, and pour right into the cups. One less mixing bowl to clean!

Cooking container notes

So far, I have 2 options that cook well, and fit in the Instant Pot. I’m sure there are more, but this is what I’ve been using.

Change it up!

The possibilities are endless really. The base of the egg mixture is nice and flavored with onion and garlic powder so you don’t have to spend time chopping and sauteing that for this dish. Here are some ideas to mix things up in the veggie/protein department!

  • Swap any of the veggies for mushrooms, kale, asparagus, or broccoli. I do love the flavor that bell peppers give, so I tend to leave those in, and just swap the spinach for something new to keep things interesting.
  • Swap the bacon for cooked sausage, beef, or whatever protein you have around. You can also leave this out if you don’t have any around. I love the flavor that the bacon or sausage give!
  • Cheese! Two ways! You can either 1.) melt it up on top when the frittatas are done cooking, OR 2.) whisk it into the egg mixture so it is cheesy throughout. And I’m 100% sure there is no one stopping you from doing both! Just sayin’ 😉

Freezer tips

If you have chickens that are producing an abundance of eggs, or you snag a sweet deal at the farmer’s market on some farm fresh eggs, you can utilize your freezer to use them up! Just batch up these mini frittatas and freeze them. Simply slide them out of their container, let them cool completely, and then pop them into freezer bags.  You can thaw them out on the counter overnight and then pop them into the oven to warm through in the morning.

5.0 from 19 reviews
On-The-Go Instant Pot® Mini Frittatas :: 5 Minute Pressure Cook Time, Freezer Friendly, and Dairy Free!
  • 6 large eggs (if your eggs are on the small size you might need 7 or 8)
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (Raw milk works too if that is what you have. If you are using duck eggs, I have found that I like using a bit more milk since they are denser – use more like heaping ¼ cup if you are using duck eggs)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ cup diced bell pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped baby spinach
  • 1-2 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
  1. Fill the liner of your Instant Pot with 1 cup of water, and set the Trivet at the bottom.
  2. Butter four 8oz wide mouth mason jars or ramekins. I think coconut oil or ghee would work here if you can’t have butter. I did try avocado oil spray once and felt like it stuck to the mason jars more just FYI.
  3. Whisk the eggs, milk, oil, and seasonings until frothy. I have been whisking everything in my 4-cup liquid measuring cup so it is easy to pour into the jars.
  4. Whisk in the veggies and bacon, and then pour the egg mixture into the mason jars or ramekins, dividing it equally between the 4 jars.
  5. Set the mason jars on the trivet in the Instant Pot, close the lid, seal the valve, and press “Manual.” Keep the pressure at “High,” and bring the time down to 5 minutes. The Instant Pot will automatically turn on, coming to pressure within a few minutes, and then will count down the 5 minutes. When the timer beeps that the 5 minutes is done, you can release the pressure at the valve and open the lid. Use tongs to take the jars out. The jars and ramekins are cool enough to touch within a few minutes of being out of the IP.
  6. At this point, you can either lid your egg cups for on-the-go, eat them right there, or you can slide them out for either eating, or freezer storage. To freeze the egg frittatas, slide the egg out and let it cool completely before putting them into freezer bags.

More fast, real food breakfast ideas you might like!

Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

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 13 reviews
30 Minute Gluten Free Grassfed Mini Meatloaf with Sheet Pan Roasted Veggies :: Kid Friendly Taste, Paleo
  • 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
  • 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)
  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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Healthy Kids and Teens Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

4 Steps To Mastering Safe Kitchen Skills With Kids PLUS! A Break Down Of Appropriate Kitchen Tasks By Age

November 11, 2017

“Raising a real food generation in the real world” starts with getting little ones in the kitchen! Learn the 4 steps to mastering safe kitchen skills with kids age by age!

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. 

Where it all begins…

This post is so full circle for me. I literally have chills as I write these first few sentences, because other than writing about nourishing babies with real food and stopping the cycle of processed food, this topic is what I had envisioned writing about more as my kids get older.

Because this is where it all begins, yes? If we want to see the next generation of kids know where their food comes from, and “raise a real food generation in the real world,” it must start with the littles in the kitchen.

…We must stop the cycle of disconnect with our food, and be ok with messy hands, spilled milk, and egg shells in the batter.

…We have to be ok with dinner prep taking a few minutes longer so the toddler can be the one to wash up the potatoes, and 9 year old can be the one to do the chopping.

Maybe not every night, but making a commitment to include our kids in the kitchen will save them the years and years of relationship issues with food that the last few generations are still digging out from. 

Where to start!

So here I am, 8 1/2 years after having my first baby, and having ZERO culinary background or schooling, to tell you that kids really can learn how to master kitchen skills. I’ve found that even with my 3 very different personality kids that there is a really concrete flow for teaching them how to master these skills without tears or frustration. Here is my method!

4 Steps To Mastering Kitchen Skills With Kids

These steps are evergreen for any kitchen skill at any age. The process will look a little different between showing a 3 year old a new skill versus a 10 year old, but the concept is the same. The goal is to set the kids up to succeed and not fail.

  1. Show Them. YOU do the task and explain what you are doing along the way. SLOW DOWN, so they can see what you are doing and process it. You may stay at this step for 1 run through, or for ages. For instance, washing up produce really just takes showing your 2 year old how you want the apples washed, how to do it with care so they don’t bruise, and where to set them when they are done washing. How to clean up their splashes and how to dry the apples. Easy peasy. But my toddlers watched me most of their toddler-hood before they used a sharp knife. Anytime they were up in their little helper stander watching me chop, I was telling them what I was doing. It all starts there.
  2. Hand Over Hand. Get right up over their shoulders and help. Even with the washing example, a 2 year old will still need help along the way until they have done it a few times and know what to expect. You can hand over hand peeling carrots, chopping fruit, stirring a pot of soup or muffin batter, etc. This is really key to helping kids feel confident – because you can keep them safe at the same time. Slip ups and mistakes will still happen, but you are still there.
  3. Supervised Independence. This is where the setting them up to to succeed comes in. Stick around until they feel confident on their own. Letting a 2 year old go to town on a sink full of produce will only end in a mess to clean up and an irritated mom if you are not right there next to them in the beginning to let them know it is not ok to pour a cup of water on the floor. When expectations are clear, they are set up to succeed. This step also is important with older children as well. My 8 1/2 year old is still not out of this step for chopping with a sharp chef’s knife. She mastered using a kid safe kitchen knife years ago, but last year we introduced a kid hand sized, regular sharp knife, and I’m still watching over her shoulder here and there as she goes along. It gives me a chance to correct a posture or holding technique so she doesn’t get hurt.
  4. Mastery. When the child has demonstrated independence over a period of time, you can confidently let the know they have mastered that skill. Kids love this – they literally eat this kind of challenge up. I learned this terminology from watching my girls in their Montessori school – mastering certain skills or work stations gave them such pride.

So let’s talk about age appropriate tasks!

Here me on this first, and repeat after me…every kid is different. EVERY kid is different! This is not concrete, rather a general guideline. I remember thinking sometimes, there is no way my kid could do this or that, and then got gutsy and tried it, and they blew me away at their ability. Other times I would try something that one of the other children was responsible to do at a certain age, or caught onto fast, and was quickly reminded that not every kid is ready for everything at the same time!

Let this be your inspiration! 

Best Kitchen Tasks Ages 6 months 2 years old

  • Mixing Practice :: As soon as those little guys can sit up on the floor, grab those empty mixing bowls and spatulas and let them have at it! Empty bowls of course at first, but you can even toss some blocks or pretend food in. As the little ones are able to stand safely in a little helper stander, you can stand them right up next to you and they can pretend at the counter while you work. A 2 or 3 year old might also do well stirring a small bowl of water to start learning the cause and effect of spilling and splashing. I’d rather have them learn this consequence with a bowl of cool water than a pot of hot soup – 3 kiddos into this thing and we’ve never had a burn from splashed soup because they learned very young that you need to stir gently or it makes a mess that you have to help clean up. (In the image below, you’ll see my then 4 1/2 year old stirring a small pot of soup independently, while my then 2 year old stirs a bowl of water that she is totally pretending is soup 🙂 )

  • Scooping Seeds Out :: Squash clean up is such a fun task for little ones! The sensory play is fantastic, and it is great activity for toddlers

  • “I Chop, You Dump!” :: Toddlers love putting things in and out of bowls, filling up cups, and just feeling like they are helping momma. Tell them you need some help getting those chopped veggies in a bowl and they will proudly puff their chests out to be the big helper. I’m telling you, give a toddler a board full of chopped carrot coins and they’ll put them from bowl to bowl or cup to cup for a good half hour of focused play! I used to start dinner early just for this great occupying play!

  • Washing Produce :: Hop those toddlers up on a Little Helper Stander and let them help scrub the potatoes up, wash up the apples, and rinse of whatever produce you are preparing. A bowl full of water and chopped leeks are great sensory play to get the sand out (and they will inhale this creamy potato leek soup after they rinse the leeks!).

  • Pre-Chopping Skills :: We purchased this toddler chopping toy for my oldest’s 1st birthday, and it has been passed down to each of the other girls – it is a GREAT way to introduce the process of chopping to little ones in a safe way and start building and coordinating their hand muscles for this task.

  • Other odds and ends :: Toddlers big puffy heart love buttons! Let them push the blender, mixer, or food processor on! They also just love being a part of whatever you are doing. Take the time to let them take a turn to stir the muffin batter, put the muffin cups in the muffin tin, put the veggie peel scraps in the garbage, hand over hand scoop the biscuits off the baking sheet, and butter the pan for the bread. You’ll be surprised not only at how much they really can do, but what this does to puff up their confidence in other life tasks.

Best Kitchen Tasks Ages 3-5 years old

Not only will these little guys transitioning into more preschool ages still thoroughly enjoy the tasks from their babyhood, ages 3-5 is a fun age because they are gaining more fine motor control and can reason about hot/cold, cause and effect of splashing, and some are even trustworthy to start some simple knife skills.

  • Same Kitchen Tasks from the Above Babyhood Section :: Just take it up a notch. Give them more responsibility such as counting out how many potatoes need to be washed and dried – and clean up the splashes that happen. Let them mix a bit more when you are making muffin batter.

  • Peeling :: One of my girls was peeling with a Y-Peeler by the age of 2, but she was extremely trustworthy and followed directions well. I usually like to start peelers around age 3, but again, follow your child’s lead. Follow the “4 Steps to Mastering a Kitchen Skill” from above, and you’ll probably never have to peel a carrot as long as they are around! Your older 4 and 5 year olds will also enjoy the Julienne Peeler to make strips of veggie “noodles” for stir frys – they are always a big hit here!

  • Cracking Eggs :: This is a good age to start this skill, though my experience has shown me every kid picks it up differently – one of mine took a good year to master this skill while another just a few tries. Just follow the “4 Steps To Mastering A Kitchen Skill” from above and they’ll catch on!


  • Measuring :: I typically start introducing this skill around this age by measuring it myself and letting them dump into the bowl. As they get closer to age 4 and 5, you can start with some independent measuring using smaller measuring spoons and work up to the bigger cups and liquids.
  • Pouring :: Don’t start with something you need poured precisely right away. Start with just a couple of simple tea cups or small pitchers with water only a quart of the way filled up and let them practice pouring from one pitcher to another. Back and forth. You can even start with something dry like rice or beans, and when they master pouring that, use a little bit of water.

  • Special Tools This Age Can Manipulate :: This age does well peelers, Julienne peelers, spirilizers, and little choppers for dicing onion or chopping nuts. Apple cutters work well if you get them started. Don’t try a full apple until they are a bit older – cut some rings of apple and let them do the rounds versus a full apple – full soft pears work well though! They also still love pushing buttons, so let them make the hummus in the food processor, or blend up the smoothie.

  • Messy Sensory Tasks! :: Let them butter up the pan for the muffins or bread, scoop out the seed for the squash (let them put the seeds in a bowl and have at it – they will play with it for hours!), and wash up the dishes. This is big time prime age for helping with cleaning up. They have a deep need for order (this is not just a personality thing – ages 2-4  years old is a Montessori Sensitive Period for “order” where they are seeking out where things should be and how things should be – it is why they melt down when things aren’t just so!). Show them how to wash up the dishes (I keep the sharps out of the dishwater), and how to stack them up on the drying rack neatly – they LOVE this! It is one of the biggest reasons I can’t do without my Little Helper Stander! When they are done with the dishes, let them play in the water a bit 😉

  • Pre-Chopping Skills :: At this preschooler age, I like to introduce a these kid safe knives and start hand over hand chopping practice with soft things like steamed veggies, bananas, strawberries, or soft pears. You will definitely find that chopping responsibility age varies from kid to kid. My first born was trustworthy with a small, paring knife (paring knifes are sharp) for strawberries and other soft veg around the age of 4, while my other 2 were not. My 6 ½ year old is just now starting to use a sharp knife (this chef’s knife is my favorite knife for older kids as they start needing sharper knives for real chopping) safely and I think this is probably more the norm.

  • Hot Food Prep :: Just like knife skills, trustworthy-ness for hot food prep will vary in age from kid to kid. My first born was standing next to me in her Little Helper Stander at the age of 2 and 3 helping me stir a pot of soup. Never leaving her side, but she was very trustworthy. I learned real quick that my second born was not the same way from the second I set her up there and she was going to test my warnings of “hot” herself. Simply let them know you are going to scoot their stander over to the other side of the counter where they can stir a bowl of pretend soup (water) until they are ready to be safe with hot food. It isn’t a big deal! They’ll catch on! She was safely stirring a pot of soup closer to 4 ½ and this is the same for my third born.

Best Kitchen Tasks Ages 6-9 years old

  • Refinement of Toddler Section Skills :: Now is when I’m going to start telling you to let go a little 🙂 Let them make a mess a bit while they learn how to measure flour precisely, let them get  a little egg shell in the batter as they refine their egg cracking skills (just scoop it out before you mix!), and let them have a salad with roughly chopped versus neatly diced carrots. Their confidence and skill mastery will only sharpen with letting go!

  • Follow a Recipe :: While my toddlers and preschoolers watch me refer to my recipes while cooking all the time, when my Kinder age kiddos start reading, I start pointing out what I’m reading and why. Let the 8 and 9 year olds follow a simple recipe for making hummus, a salad dressing, or simple soup.

  • Measuring and Pouring :: Let it go momma, and let them try 🙂 Put the flour in an easy to scoop container (I actually find freezer bags are just as good for the little bags of gluten free flour). Instead of pouring milk from a large jug, let them measure it out from a smaller pitcher. Yes, more dishes to clean and a little extra time, but it is worth it every so often to let them practice this skill.

  • Blending, Mixing, Whisking, Folding :: Follow the “4 Steps to Mastering a Kitchen Skills” and show them the difference between stirring and folding. Show them the different tools and the why behind wanting to fold something versus blend it up with a mixer.

  • Special Tools This Age Can Manipulate :: This age should be pretty independent with peelers and soft veggies like zucchini for the spirilizer. If you get the child up high on a step stool, up and over the apples, an apple cutter works well too – I still find that halving the apple at least so there is a flat, even side to rest on the table so it doesn’t roll around is best. Rolling pins, cookie cutters, and piping bags can all be introduced by age 5 or 6 and refined as they get older. My 8 1/2 year old understands how to independently use the blender for a smoothie, food processor buttons, and the Instant Pot! I’ll be out of a job soon 😉

  • Slicing and Chopping :: This age will still most likely need a step stool for safest chopping. Getting them up and over the work area gives them better control and leverage (try chopping something sitting at the table even level with what you are cutting – it is much easier to be up and over what you are slicing). I like starting with these kid safe knives at first, and then move to these kid hand sized sharp chef knives that are nice and sharp. Remember, the duller the knife the harder they will have to press and that will cause slips and accidents. When the knife is nice and sharp, they won’t have to work as hard and accidents won’t happen. Start using a sharp knife with softer veggies like zucchini, cucumbers, and green beans, and fruit like strawberries. You can core an apple and have them slice those too. When they master being able to handle these softer items, move to carrot sticks and potato cubes, again following the “4 Steps To Mastering Kitchen Skills.”

  • Hot Food Prep :: This age should be pretty good to go on helping stir a pot of soup, but this is also a great age to start teaching how to make a simple egg in a pan, flip a pancake, and sear some meat. It takes some time to supervise and help them learn the coordination of it all, but it is worth it when they can fix themselves an egg in the morning without your help! Again, I think it is best to keep them up and over the work area, so even my 8 year old still uses a step stool at the stove for safe hot food prep.

  • Pre-Meal Planning :: This is a good age to start testing all that you have taught them as little ones with regards to eating in a balanced way! Start having them help you plan out the breakfast menu, pack a balanced lunchbox, and prepare dinner. Every family’s eating style will be different even within this RGN real food community, so I won’t tell you what that should look like. As an example in our home, there is always a healthy fat, veggie, and protein at each meal. It will look differently from household to household, but my kiddos by this age know how to plan a meal and what might be missing.

Best Kitchen Tasks for Older Children (Tweens/Teens)

So here’s were I’m going to make this post an ongoing work in progress! My oldest is 8 1/2! I don’t have older children yet, so I’m not going to pretend that I know what I’m doing here. I do have a few thoughts that I will share, but as my kids reach through these ages, I’m hopeful to update this section as we go!

I think these older kiddos, just like our little guys, are capable of much more than we think. I’m just now starting to work with my 8 1/2 year old on more refined cubing of potatoes and dicing of veg for soups. Following bigger recipes and taking things in and out of the oven. I think tweens and teens ought probably be helping plan and make most of one meal once or twice a week, and packing most or all of their lunchboxes. I would really love to hear what your tweens and teens are doing in the kitchen at home! Inspire us with little ones by using the comment section below to tell us all that your teens can do!

My favorite kitchen tools for kids

Here is a comprehensive list of the tools I love using with my kids – I have tried and tested SO many different kitchen tools with them. Some have been disasters, and so this list is truly all of my favorite tools to make working with my kids in the kitchen safe, easy, and fun!

One of the tricks I used to adding to my kitchen tool collection for the girls, was getting these tools on their gift lists for holidays, birthdays, etc. Wrap them up in a fun apron, or slide a great recipe in with the gift with the promise of some kitchen time together!


Batch Up Meals Dinner Ideas Instant Pot Lunch Ideas Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips Soup

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 15 reviews
Instant Pot Chipotle Chili :: Stove Top & Slow Cooker Directions Included! Bean free & Paleo friendly too!
  • 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
  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 8 reviews
Savory Steak and Mushroom Soup :: Dairy Free, Gluten Free, & Grain Free
  • 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
  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
  • 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
  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
  • 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.)
  • 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
  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!

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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!
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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)
  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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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!
  • 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
  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 10 reviews
Instant Pot Tomato Soup
  • 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
  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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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 9 reviews
Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)
  • 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)
  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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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 6 reviews
Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Crusted Salmon with Restaurant Style French Fries and Roasted Veggies :: Gluten, Grain, Nut, Egg, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!
  • 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)
  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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Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}

April 9, 2017

Just 5 minutes and this creamy paleo mayo is ready to go for your favorite salads, slaws, wraps, and more!

Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten 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.

When life hands you a lemon…

…you make lemonade, of course!

I don’t consider myself a natural optimist. I have always been quite the black and white realist when it comes to pretty much everything. But, if there is anything that I have learned in almost 15 years of autoimmune thyroid disease, it is that getting down about healing roadblocks and restrictions only makes life gloomy. And when you have a house full of kids, that just plain doesn’t work well.

Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}Life handed me a big ‘ol bucket of lemons

Healing roadblocks and autoimmune diet restrictions have been some of my best moments – because this stubborn go-getter fights back making gallons of lemonade out of those lemons. Sometimes it takes those flare ups to get fired up. I had a few days of feeling sorry for myself, and then I got busy. Why? Because I know this isn’t a life sentence. And I know that some of my best work comes during these times.

Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}Why no eggs?!

Pastured eggs are so healthy – I mean they are full of really good fats, vitamins, and minerals. But, my friends, just because a food is inherently “healthy” doesn’t mean that it works for every “body.” After a Hashi’s flare up that we are thinking is in part due to an EBV infection coming out of dormancy, I decided to pull eggs out of my diet to help calm the flames of inflammation. Eggs are just one of those foods that can be inflammatory for those with any autoimmune conditions.

Within a month of keeping the eggs out of my diet I had lost 10 pounds. In essence, 10 pounds of inflammation. Even though I was not experiencing digestive distress when I ate them, eggs just weren’t working for me!

(I highly recommend the book Hashimoto’s Protocol by Dr. Isabella Wentz if you have not explored root causes and effective treatments for Hashis – according to her book, the vast majority of Hashimoto’s sufferers should be off eggs {along with dairy, gluten, and soy}. I want to make sure you all know that I am NOT a doctor, and what is working for me, may not necessarily be the case for you. Especially when it comes to autoimmune/Hashis/thyroid stuff, the root cause for one is not always the same for the other. Dr. Wentz’s books have been life changing – highly recommended!)

Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}No eggs (or dairy)?! No problem!

I’ve been there and done that – in fact I’ve already been off dairy for the last few years because I know it just doesn’t jive with thyroid conditions. I also couldn’t eat eggs with any of my newborns least they be super fussy, and one of my girls couldn’t eat eggs during her babyhood/toddlerhood. Might there be a genetic component here? Could be. I have had numerous food allergy and sensitivity tests done in the last decade, and I never have come out as allergic or sensitive to eggs. It very well just may be that my body doesn’t do well with them – especially when my thyroid is acting up.

We’ll talk about baking without eggs another day. To be honest, I’m not doing a ton of baking. I’m keeping things as simple, rustic, and gentle as possible right now while I calm my system. Back to the basics…it’s cheaper, easier to plan, tastes amazing, and you know what? It works. If you are needing to calm inflammation, keeping it simple is key.

Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}With a good, staple mayo, you can make just about anything!

Why mayo? Because with a good mayo, you can make Ranch dressing, flavored aioli, and just about any slaw, salad, or creamy dressing you need!

I have been craving coleslaw and salads! Probably that spring fever bug that is bitten me! I have been using my Italian dressing, French dressing, and Asian dressing (subbing almond butter for peanuts right now), but I have been wanting my Olive Garden dressing and tuna salad which both need a scoop of mayonnaise to make it taste really amazing! Eggless mayo isn’t a new concept to me – I created this mayo years ago when my toddler couldn’t eat eggs. It is so amazing, and if you can tolerate dairy it is so good – you’ll love it!

Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}The real deal…legit…whatever you wanna call it – I want it to taste GOOD!

Over the last month I have been working on this egg and dairy free mayo making sure it tastes *just* like the real thing – ie one that does NOT taste like avocado or coconut! Ha! And I want that smooth, creamy consistency – not too thick and not too thin.

Thank you for being so patient with me as I perfect these recipes – I know my Instagram followers have been asking for these egg free recipes as I post them! I want them to be the real deal before I post, and I am confident your family will love this! The taste *and* texture is just like what I grew up on – you know…that blue lidded container! Only this is made without the rancid soy oils and preservatives!

Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}Ingredient notes and swaps!

  • Olive oil will swap for the avocado oil if that is what you have. Avoid vegetable/canola oils. I purchase avocado oil from Costco.
  • Almond or cashew milks should swap for the coconut milk if that is what you have. If you are following an anti-inflammatory (AIP) type diet, coconut milk would be the best option over a nut milk. I promise this doesn’t turn out tasting like coconut! (I love this coconut milk that doesn’t have gums or preservatives, and keep it on hand in the pantry. You can also make your own coconut milk.) If you tolerate dairy, raw milk/cream works too.
  • You can leave the raw honey out if you are sugar free. Organic pure cane sugar or coconut sugar would work too. The hint of sweet makes it really taste like Miracle Whip if that is what you are used to. Without the sweet it tastes more like a Hellmann’s type mayo and is really yummy too! I purchase raw honey from a local farmer.
  • Make sure you taste the mayo once it is blended for sea salt/pepper to your taste, as well as “tang” – you can add more mustard or lemon juice if you want more tangy bite.

I literally eyeball everything into a mason jar – mason jars have measurements on the side so I just fill the avocado oil and coconut milk to the levels on the jar and toss in the rest – it takes less than 5 minutes!

5.0 from 13 reviews
Homemade Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}
  • ¼ - ½ cup avocado oil (depending on how thick/thin you like your mayo)
  • ¼ cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 small/medium avocado, pitted
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2-3 tsp raw honey
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  1. Put everything into a pint mason jar, and use your immersion blender to blend until smooth and thick. (I think this would work in a food processor if you drizzle the oil into the oil drip cup to slowly be added in to emulsify.)
  2. Taste for sea salt/pepper to your taste, as well as “tang” – you can add more mustard or lemon juice if you want more tangy bite.
  3. Store your mayo in the fridge 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
  • 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
  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 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
  • 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
  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!
  • 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)
  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
  • 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
  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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Healthy, Nourishing Breakfast Ideas For Busy Moms :: My Morning Routine

February 17, 2017

Practical tips for getting a nourishing breakfast in among the chaos of motherhood!

Nourishing Breakfast Ideas For Busy Moms :: My Morning Routine

Good morning, dear momma…

Motherhood is one of the most amazing experiences I have ever lived. I am writing this special post about you. For you. While I am usually focused on the kids and feeding families on this blog, today, I want you to set all of that aside for a bit and to talk about you.

Nourishing Breakfast Ideas For Busy Moms :: My Morning RoutineYou are worth taking care of…

I think it is pretty safe to say that in most households, mom probably last on the list. Especially if you have newborns or needy toddlers in the house, it goes without saying that your hands are tied.

Nourishing Breakfast Ideas For Busy Moms :: My Morning RoutineBut can I ask you something?

When a firefighter goes into a burning house, who does he put the oxygen mask to first?

That firefighter is not very helpful if he is on the floor of the burning house not able to breathe because he was more concerned about getting the oxygen to the person inside. The firefighter first puts the oxygen mask to himself, so he is able to help those he is there to save.

Momma, yes tending to newborn cries is important, but if you are not taking care of yourself somewhere in there, you will crash and burn at some point. 

Nourishing Breakfast Ideas For Busy Moms :: My Morning RoutineFill your cup so you can fill the rest of your family

Over the last 8 years of motherhood, I have grown to become incredibly protective over 2 things.

My sleep, and my breakfast.

Sleep is tough when you have babies in the house, but it can be done. I will save that topic for another day, because today we are going to talk about breakfast! Somewhere near that stack of books you know you’ll be reading to little ones all day needs to be a plate or bowl of nourishment for you.

Nourishing Breakfast Ideas For Busy Moms :: My Morning RoutineMomma’s breakfast = not negotiable

A surefire way to get the day started off on the wrong foot is to make sure you don’t eat something. A few years ago I started a post series on my Instagram (hashtag #RGNMorningMommaFuel) as a way to remind moms to eat something, and to keep myself accountable for getting breakfast in. At the time I had a newborn, a toddler, and a school aged kid, and I found that the days I got breakfast in ran much smoother than the days where I just grabbed a quick banana.

Breakfast became a non negotiable for me. While my breakfast routine has changed over the last 3 years as my dietary needs have changed (for example, I’m not nursing babies or pregnant right now), all in all the theme has always been the same (focused on real, nutrient dense food), and it makes all the difference in the world in how my day runs.

Nourishing Breakfast Ideas For Busy Moms :: My Morning RoutineMy routine

I’m going to share some of my weekday, school morning, quick breakfast routines in hopes that it will spark some inspiration with you, my readers.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while you read!

  • I get up before my kids. Period. I know that stinks. But for me, it is crucial to my sanity to have at least 15-20 minutes of quiet before the chaos begins. If you have babies, I realize this is somewhat of a wild card. I also realize however, if you have babies, they gotta nap at some point that morning, so if they are up early to nurse, simply get them in a sling or carrier, or down on the floor with something interesting to look at after they feed, and fix yourself some food. If you have an early rising toddler, give them a quick banana and raw cheese or cup of milk and set them up with some floor puzzles or their favorite book to look at while you get some food. It’s ok for a toddler to learn about someone other than themselves – awareness of others needs is a great social skill for them to learn.
  • Most of these meals come together in 10 minutes or less! I found my day ran smoother eating first versus waiting until the kids got up to eat, or eating after they ate – because by that point I was so far gone on hunger. It is also inevitable that someone will always need you once the kids are up!
  • The food portions and ratios of macros is what works for ME. This is meant to be inspiration. Not set in stone. Figure out what type of fuel your body works best on, and go from there. I am a recovering adrenal exhaustion and Hashimoto’s fighter, and so my food is based on what works for my body where I am at – which is waaaay better off than where I used to be even just a few years ago. While I was a nursing momma, my plate had more carbohydrates because I needed it to function and keep up. While I am certainly not on the low carb train, I do tend to eat breakfast lighter on the carb side as I follow more of an Adrenal Reset type plan, eating more of my carbs later in the day.
  • You will notice I don’t have smoothies on my breakfast plan. If you love smoothies, they make a great quick breakfast, so go for it as long as they are packed with nutrients! I like to chew my breakfast, and enjoy a hot breakfast versus super cold and that is just personal preference. You can see a great green smoothie recipe here – my kids love it for breakfast! I used smoothies when I was  nursing as a mid morning snack a lot.
  • You will notice I side my breakfast with a bit of kimchi or sauerkraut every morning! It is an easy way to add a vegetable to breakfast, help your food digest, and infiltrate your gut with nourishing bacteria for the day!

To see my weekday “Morning Momma Fuel” posts, you can follow the hashtag #RGNMorningMommaFuel on my Instagram!

Nourishing Breakfast Ideas For Busy Moms :: My Morning RoutineEvery Monday, I hard boil 1 to 1 1/2 dozen eggs for the week.

I peel them and get them into a container and they make for fast breakfast additions for myself, as well as the kids’ breakfasts and lunchbox/snack packing for school. I use my Instant Pot which makes this process super fast, but for years (including all of my newborn years!) I steamed them in my steamer or boiled them the old fashioned way!

Hard boiled eggs go with just about anything!

From freezer breakfast cookies (which is our Friday staple!) to veggie wraps, freezer muffins, healthier pancakes, or a bowl of granola with raw milk. One of my favorite uses for hard boiled eggs is with dinner stir fry leftovers! Just top those stir frys with an egg – it is so fast and so good! (See Tip #4 for lists of breakfast cookie and granola options!)

Egg free friends!

We had to be an egg free house for a while back when one of my girls couldn’t tolerate them. It is do-able! Instead of hard boiled eggs,  keep a freezer bag of these great sausage patties in the freezer – you can thaw it out in the pan in minutes.

Nourishing Breakfast Ideas For Busy Moms :: My Morning RoutineVeggie minerals have made ALL the difference in how I feel every morning.

It seems almost too simple! After I had my second baby, I started eating lunch and dinner leftovers for breakfast sometimes when my hands were too full to cook, and I feel in love with eating soup for breakfast. Give it a try for a week or 2 before you write me off!

Soup goes with just about anything!

Eggs, bacon, freezer biscuits or muffins, breakfast cookies, veggie scrambles or hashes, avocados. The soup takes just minutes to warm through and all of those sides are easily prepped in minutes as well.

Some tips for making soup an easy breakfast

  • Make one large pot of soup every week to eat off from all week long. If you search “soup” on my search bar at the top of this screen, there is literally over a dozen different soups to try! Make soup a part of your prep day, or serve a doubled portion for a meal on the weekends so you have some left for during the week.
  • When you make soup for dinner, double the recipe and fill the freezer. A lot of my soup recipes are already large portions for my family of 5, so if you are a smaller family, these will feel like big recipes – use the leftovers for your breakfast!
  • Freeze in convenient portions for your family. When it was just my husband and I and a baby or 2, I used to freeze in these little pint freezer containers so I could just pull one portion out for my husband and I. These days with 5 mouths to feed, I tend to freeze in quart and half gallon portions so that when I pull soup out of the freezer it can feed me for breakfast and/or lunch as well as my family for a meal.

Nourishing Breakfast Ideas For Busy Moms :: My Morning RoutineI mentioned in the soup section how much of a difference I noticed that veggie minerals made in my morning, so veggies are a part of my breakfast most days of the week in some form.

Veggie and egg quick prep tips (or bacon/sausage/avocado if you are egg free)

  • Chop the night before. Since the chopping can be what hangs most people up on the time to get this done, take 5 minutes and prep your veggies the night before. You can just dump them into a hot skillet the next morning and your breakfast can be done in less than 10 minutes.
  • Keep it simple. Two veggies with some onion and garlic make the most amazing skillet veggie hash! Use what is in season so it doesn’t get boring. There are great veggie hash and potato hash recipes in my cookbook Nourished Beginnings – my kids crave it! It is a great one to make large portions of so the kids are eating the same thing as you.

Nourishing Breakfast Ideas For Busy Moms :: My Morning RoutineThis concept is similar to the soup section.

Plan to double your recipe every time you bake, and your freezer will always have something to pull from. Before “Breakfast Cookie Fridays” ever became a thing in our house, it was “nursing momma needs food all the time”! Now that I have school aged kids, it is fun to celebrate Friday with breakfast cookies, but all of those recipes were born out of my hungry nursing days!

Freezer baked goods go with just about anything!

From soup to fried eggs, bacon, and smoothies! You will notice that all of my recipes for these items are a mixed bag of different gluten free flours. My purpose in this is to balance the muffins or breakfast cookies so that it isn’t just a bunch of grain or starch to shoot blood sugars up. There is definitely a method to the madness!

Freezer and thawing tips

  • Lock in moisture by wrapping and freezing leftovers as soon as they are cooled. I don’t always wrap in plastic wrap, but everything does go into a freezer bag and into the freezer by the time they are cooled all the way.
  • I warm freezer baked goods up right from the freezer most of the time. Put them on a baking sheet and into the oven. Turn the oven to 350, and by the time it pre-heats the cookies/biscuits/muffins are thawed and warm, ready to eat. You can alternatively set them out overnight to thaw.

Don’t forget about granola in the pantry!

Granola was always my fall back on unpredictable newborn days (which is most days with a newborn!). It is the reason I have so many recipes on the blog! Pour raw milk or coconut milk over your  bowl, or sprinkle it over yogurt!

Nourishing Breakfast Ideas For Busy Moms :: My Morning RoutineFrittatas are the rushed moms breakfast bake!

Looks fancy, but honestly frittatas are actually one of my fall back breakfasts on mornings I have lost track of time or have early risers.  It looks and feels like a weekend breakfast casserole, but really takes just 15 minutes to make a skillet full that feeds the whole crew.

Egg scrambles are just as fast – simply cook your veg for a few minutes and then scramble the eggs in – you can be done in less than 10 minutes.

Egg cups/muffins are a fun, portable breakfast for kids, but also make a great side to a bowl of soup! There is a recipe here and one in my book Nourished Beginnings. They freeze up great too! You can use the tips for reheating in the muffin/breakfast cookie section to see how I heat them from the freezer.

Nourishing Breakfast Ideas For Busy Moms :: My Morning RoutineListen, I physically lived on dinner leftovers for breakfast for a full on year after I had my 3rd baby.

I would make a huge skillet stir fry for dinner and eat off the leftovers the next morning as I sleepily nursed the newborn. Then I would do it all over again for the next day! Change it up by topping your dinner leftover with a dreamy yolky egg or wrap it all  up it all up as a breakfast wrap, and you can transform dinner into a savory breakfast that will fuel you all morning!

Nourishing Breakfast Ideas For Busy Moms :: My Morning RoutineWhat about the kids?

I totally realize the kids need to eat too, and these meals are great for kids! My kids eat the same as me about half the week I would say. They tolerate things like soaked oatmeal well that I do not, and love smoothies in the morning (which I do not!), so there is usually a few days where I use that as a quick breakfast for them. For more details on my breakfast rotation for the girls, you can read this post.

Nourishing Breakfast Ideas For Busy Moms :: My Morning RoutineMy coffee routine

Because I know it will be asked about in the pictures, I’ll let you know how I take my coffee! Please know that I am absolutely aware that coffee isn’t for everyone. This is simply for those that are interested. If you are not, go ahead and hop down to the next section!

I tolerate coffee just fine – and yes I go days without it sometimes and don’t have a headache or symptoms. I truly enjoy the taste, the experience, the process of making it with love…and, let’s face it…in a crazy day filled with diapers, owies, piles of laundry, and cleaning up spills, sometimes starting your day with a little something that makes you happy and brings you joy is definitely a good thing!

I make 8oz (1 cup) of coffee (This is my favorite coffee brand – it is mold free and very clean sustainable source. Once you taste it, you’ll never be able to buy another brand – it is so delicious!), and then blend it for 30 seconds with 1 tablespoon of Bulletproof MCT oil, 1-2 teaspoons of butter, and half a scoop of grassfed collagen. It is a lovely, frothy, creamy delight that also keeps my blood sugar in check with all of the satiating fat and zero sugar. It is so good!

I also wanted to mention that I French Press my coffee to keep it clean and non toxic. I store my coffee in this airtight sealed container to keep it fresh and moisture free so it doesn’t mold. supplement routine

In a world where our soils are majorly depleted and not given proper resting periods to replenish, I have found I really do feel my best when supplementing. I know this can be a touchy subject in some circles, so if you feel strongly that supplements are not needed, you can absolutely skip by this section and just enjoy all of the real food breakfast ideas that I provided in this post! (Make sure you hop down and catch my final thoughts though!)

First and foremost, I want to clarify that this is what works for me. I have had some branding questions on what I use, so that is what this section is for. If you are unsure of how to supplement with what is best for YOUR current body needs, I recommend working with my friend Lydia, NTP who can look at your unique biochemistry and make suggestions based on what your body is in need of. She does HTMA testing via mail (no doctor’s note needed!) and will work directly with you, no matter where you live!

With my breakfast I always take:

(Remember that I am not a physician/practitioner. I cannot make recommendations for what you should take or dosages that are right for you – this is what works for me, and meant to give you an idea of what my routine looks like as well as answer the brand questions.)

Nourishing Breakfast Ideas For Busy Moms :: My Morning RoutineDear momma, you are so important.

It took me until I was 3 kids into this thing to realize that how I took care of myself mattered. You are the heartbeat of the home and if you are not well, the whole ship sinks. When I have taken the time to take care of myself I always take care of my family better.

You are allowed to take 15 minutes to have a meal.

Did you hear that? Set that baby down with something interesting to look at while you fix some food (you will be glad you start these little increments of learning how to play on their own early so that as they get older they will do it with ease! YES looking at an interesting toy, or out the window is play for an infant! That is a whole different topic for another time!), get those toddlers a stack paper and crayons and let them have at it, and get those big kids either helping in the kitchen, helping with the little guys, or send them off to play for 15 minutes. Your kids deserve a mom that is nourished and can be what they need for the day.

You are worth it, and you are loved!
xo Renee