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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.

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

 More real food recipes you might like ::

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Gluten Free Peaches and Cream Baked Oatmeal Cups :: Baked Oat Muffins To Go!

August 16, 2017

Portable, healthy, on-the-go gluten free peaches and cream oatmeal!

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

We are…slowly switching gears…

You know…switching back into school routines. In just shy of a month, our lazy summer mornings, and sandy beach lunches will be swapped for out the door school morning breakfasts, and lunchbox noon meals!

And I’m pretty serious when I say we are *slowly* switching gears, because summer is just so sweet where we live. We really are soaking in every last ray of sunshine that we can!

A new breakfast idea to savor summer!

We picked up a bushel of local peaches last week, and while I dreamed of peach sherbet, my practical side took over and decided to create something useful for busy school days using our peaches.

My plans for preserving our blueberries into blueberry granola for the pantry were spot on, and I have been tucking these little peach baked oatmeal cups into the freezer for a cool fall day when those fresh peaches are long gone!

A favorite summer breakfast with a twist

Every August, the girls’ favorite breakfast is peaches and cream oatmeal. Those warm bowls of oats drowning in fresh cream and sweet peaches is nothing short of amazing! These baked oatmeal cups are like wrapping those bowls of peaches and cream oatmeal into a little hand held muffin cup, perfect for on the go and for tiny hands.

Ingredient notes and swaps

I have a few swap thoughts, but if you happen to try some other flour blends, please comment below so others can see how they worked out!

  • Egg free friends, I’m pretty sure these baked oatmeal cups will work great with flax or chia eggs. They may not puff up as much but it will still work great
  • If you don’t have access to the Namaste gluten free flour blend, I’m sure most gluten free blends will work well. You could also try using a couple gluten free flours that you like to bake with and make your own blend.
  • If you are a gluten free household, please be sure that your oats are gluten free as oats can carry traces of gluten from processing.
  • I used coconut milk (this is my favorite gum/additive free brand, or I make it quick myself) and lemon juice to make “buttermilk” for soaking the grains. If you have a quality, well sourced buttermilk, you can use that instead, or use raw milk with lemon juice.
  • To change things up, I did try one batch swapping the 1 cup of Namaste flour for 1/3 cup each of almond flour, coconut flour, and cassava flour. They turned out great, and it’s a great way to change nutrients up.
  • I tried one batch with a few tablespoons of grassfed collagen in the batter to add another level of nourishment, and it turned out great. I know some do not have access to grassfed collagen, however, and for those friends, this recipe turns out just as good without the collagen.

No peaches? No problem!

Whatever fruit is in season near you, I’m quite certain they will swap nicely! Here are some ideas, and let us know if you try any of them!

  • Apple Cinnamon (just swap the peaches for diced apple, and I’d add a bit more cinnamon or maybe some cloves or apple pie seasoning blend!)
  • Pear Cinnamon (swap the peaches for pears)
  • Strawberry (swap the peaches for strawberries and leave out the cinnamon. I think almond extract would taste really good versus the vanilla)
  • Blueberry (swap the peaches for blueberries and leave out the cinnamon. I think almond extract would taste really good versus the vanilla)
  • Banana (swap the peaches for diced banana)

Freezer friendly tips

I mentioned I’ve been stashing some of these baked oatmeal cups away for school mornings, so I wanted to give you some tips on making that happen!

  • Let the muffins cool completely before freezing them
  • Put the cooled muffins into a freezer bag and then into the freezer. I would freeze them right away – same day that you make them. This locks in the moisture so they don’t get dry. So if you are making them for breakfast, eat what you need for the meal, and then freeze the rest.
  • To thaw and warm back up, you have 2 options. You can thaw them on the counter overnight. Or you can pop them on a tray right from the freezer and set them in your oven. Turn the oven to 350 degrees and by the time it pre-heats, the muffins will be thawed and warmed.

Gluten Free Peaches and Cream Baked Oatmeal Cups :: Baked Oat Muffins To Go!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Put the oats and gluten free flour blend in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the coconut milk and lemon juice. The mixture will be thick. Cover with a towel and let the mixture soak overnight about 8 hours. This soaking process breaks down the phytic acid in the oats and flour, making it easier on digestion. It also allows the nutrients in the grains to be absorbed better.
  2. The next morning, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a small mixing bowl beat the eggs and honey for 1 minute until frothy. Add this to the oat/flour mixture that soaked overnight, along with the vanilla, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Stir to combine (this takes a minute and some muscle at first as the oat/flour/milk soaked mixture is a bit thick – do NOT add more liquid. It will loosen up and the peaches will add a lot of moisture.
  4. Fold in the diced peaches, and scoop the batter into a muffin tin lined with silicone muffin cups (or, if you don’t have silicone muffin cups, you can butter your muffin tin to prevent sticking). Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes until the tops are golden brown (check them around the 30 minute mark in case our ovens run differently). Let the muffins cool 5 minutes in the pan before turning them out to a cooling rack for 10 minutes before eating.
  5. Recipe makes 12 large muffins. You could make them smaller and get 18 – if you have real little ones in the house, I’d make them smaller so they can eat a whole muffin. You will probably need more like 30 minutes to bake if you make them smaller.

More real food recipes you might like ::

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Paleo Blueberry Granola :: Grain Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Nut Free Options

August 2, 2017

Paleo blueberry granola will bring a sweet blueberry taste and a light crispy crunch to your breakfast bowl and snack time!

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.

Ah, the signs of late summer…

Sun kissed hair, scraped up toddler knees, sandy feet…and bottomless buckets of blueberries! I haven’t even gotten a chance to freeze any blueberries this summer yet, as my crew of 3 hungry, growing kiddos has been devouring them by the pound!

A new way to preserve our summer blueberries

We’ll see if I get a chance to freeze any of those pretty berries, but this week, I tried preserving some of the blueberries into granola, and the result was…delicious!

Versatile, forgiving granola

Homemade granola may sound like a daunting task, but hear me out! This is just about the easiest, most forgiving type of food you will ever make! Those of you who know me well, or who have been following my blog for very long, know that baking is not my favorite kitchen task.

Dehydrating granola is so forgiving. You can flip flop around the ingredients to what you have in your kitchen, and the result dries out in the dehydrator no matter what…that’s my kind of “baking!”

Waking up to warm blueberries…

I set up my blueberry granola to dry out in the dehydrator overnight. I always look forward to the smell of warm granola the next morning, so overnight dehydrating is my favorite. But friends….oh my! The scent of warm blueberries when we woke up that morning was like nothing I have ever made before! Everyone – including my (not real blueberry loving) husband noticed how amazing it smelled.

The little flecks of dried blueberry infuses this granola with the most amazing flavor too.

One granola…so many possibilities!

I keep granola in my pantry at all times because it is so useful. It makes a great breakfast cereal with a splash of raw milk or coconut milk,  lunch time yogurt topper, or quick packing school snack. It is also great for little hands. This granola is light and crispy – which makes it easy to chew for little guys. (Keep in mind that babies under the age of one year should not eat nuts or seeds yet, so this recipe is not good for them. If your toddler is over the age of 1, and tolerating nuts/seeds, you are good to go!)

Ingredient swaps and notes

Here are my ingredient swap thoughts. Again, granola is pretty forgiving, so as long as the fat (oil) and raw honey are about the same, you can swap around the dry stuff as much as you want.

  • For those that are new to buckwheat, this power packed seed is a great source of protein and fiber. If you can’t tolerate buckwheat, swap it with coconut flour or other flour of your choice. (If you choose the coconut flour, you can skip the soaking in step 1.)
  • For the nuts and seeds,  I used a combo of walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pecans. If you are nut free, use all seeds – pumpkin, flax, sunflower, chia are all good choices! I used soaked/dehydrated nuts/seeds for best digestion.
  • I used coconut oil for the fat, but you could use butter, avocado oil, or olive oil.
  • For the raw honey, start with 1 cup and add to your taste after tasting the granola mixture. I used 1 cup which was sweet enough for my crew that isn’t used to super sweet cereal.
  • I chose to pulse the blueberries a few times before stirring them in. I wanted the flavor of the blueberry infused in the granola, and that definitely happened! If you prefer to keep your blueberries whole, I think that would work. Just keep an eye on the blueberries to be sure they dry out completely or they will go bad quick.

Dehydrator notes

I’ve had the same dehydrator for over 5 years now. It really has done it’s duty, but I do have to admit that I feel like the temperature isn’t staying quite as even in the last 6 months, and it may be puttering out. Things still dehydrate, but it takes a bit longer or higher temperature setting. That said, my little “middle of the road” dehydrator has definitely served its purpose! It is a great starter dehydrator. I haven’t decided yet if I will splurge on the fancier dehydrators with the promise that they will last longer yet 🙂

5.0 from 4 reviews
Paleo Blueberry Granola :: Grain Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Nut Free Options
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups buckwheat flour
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 lb unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 cups nuts/seeds of choice, ground into bits (I pulsed them in my food processor.)
  • 1 ½ cups almond flour (If you are nut free, use more seeds ground into flour, or more coconut shreds or flour)
  • 1 ½ cups coconut oil, melted
  • 1-2 cups raw honey, melted (Just melt your oil first, turn the heat off and stir in the honey to melt.)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons almond extract (or vanilla extract)
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries, coarsely chopped (I did 5 pulses in my food processor)
Instructions
  1. Stir the buckwheat, water, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel and let the mixture soak 7-10 hours. This soaking process makes the seed easier to digest and makes the nutrients more available to absorb.
  2. After the buckwheat has soaked, add the rest of the ingredients and combine well.
  3. Spread the granola mixture over your dehydrator trays (I line mine with these "clean screen" tray liners since this mixture is wet and can fall through large tray holes), and dehydrate at 135 degrees until dry. This time will vary depending on how well your dehydrator keeps it’s temperature, how wet your mixture is from the blueberries and water, as well as how thin you spread the mixture out on the trays. Should be anywhere from 12-24 hours. It will continue to crisp up as it cools too. You can dehydrate at a higher temp such as 165 degrees and have it dry out a bit faster if you want.
  4. When the granola is dry, you can crumble it into an airtight storage container and keep it in your pantry. I like to keep some larger pieces for easy snacking too.

More real food blueberry recipes!

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Fast Prep Blueberry Coffee Cake :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free, Paleo Friendly

July 27, 2017

Enjoy the very best of summer without fussing in the kitchen all morning with Fast Prep Blueberry Coffee Cake!

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 kicked off blueberry season a couple weeks ago!

The picking was a little early, but we got a good start, bringing home about 20 pounds of beautiful blueberries to enjoy until the warmer weather brings some easier picking.

We are literally surrounded by gorgeous blueberry fields where we live, so every summer we take advantage of supporting these amazing farmers by putting up about 70 pounds. The frozen blueberries make for great school morning smoothies, warm bowls of oatmeal on cold, snowy mornings, and yogurt topping snacks on a busy day.

Embracing a new season of life…

This summer has brought on more activities than we have done in past summers, now that my kiddos are getting older. I don’t have as frequent of a napper anymore, and the girls love seeing more of their friends from school. I normally have a bit more time to fuss with special recipes in the kitchen, but to be honest, I just haven’t had it in me this summer!

After scouring the interwebs for a coffee cake idea to use up some of our blueberries, I was about to scratch the whole idea after dreading all the fuss of making the filling and all the separate steps…

A new recipe for this busy momma

I scraped everything that I dreaded, and decided to try something new. Something…not fussy. Something that would make me want to make this special breakfast more than just once a summer. Six times to be exact! I made the recipe 6 times in the last week to try different combos and ratios to get it just right – and also to make it friendly for anyone needing to avoid grains etc.

The best coffee cake texture!

Perfectly spongy, and so satisfying! The mild sweetness is perfect with a cup of coffee – or a big glass of raw milk like my girls had with theirs. I think my favorite part is the sweet and salty combo of the crumble topping – it hit every taste bud in my mouth and the girls literally raved over it with every bite. Little foodies I have, I tell ya!

One recipe – lots of options

And in a few different ways too. If you are not in blueberry season, swap the fruit for raspberries, peaches, or blackberries.

I found the coffee cake to be super forgiving with each batch that I changed things up. Obviously I can’t trial every different special diet, but I did hit some of the bigger ones and loved the outcomes with each time. Note the recipe swaps for things like nut and grain allergies in the recipe card. For my egg free friends, I did make one batch with flax eggs, and while the egg version was my favorite, I did enjoy the flax egg version. It doesn’t puff up as much but it stayed together and tasted really good!

School morning breakfast bake off???

So my prepping for this post lead to 6 batches of coffee cake making…what did I do with all that coffee cake?! My family would have easily pounded out a whole pan of it in one shot, but no one needs that much coffee cake everyday for a week! I froze squares of coffee cake and tested how they warmed up in the oven from the frozen state. It was just perfect! So…hello school morning breakfast pick me up!

What a great way to store away those special summer blueberries. It will be so fun to pull out that coffee cake on a cool fall morning, or a blizzardy snow day home from school this winter!

5.0 from 9 reviews
Fast Prep Blueberry Coffee Cake :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free, Paleo Friendly
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE BLUEBERRY COFFEE CAKE ::
  • 3 eggs (or 3 flax eggs if you are egg free)
  • ⅓ – ½ cup raw honey (you may use more if you have older kids used to sweeter things – this is a mild, little kid friendly amount of sweet)
  • ⅓ cup coconut milk (or raw milk/cream)
  • ⅓ cup avocado oil (or melted butter, ghee, coconut oil, or olive oil)
  • 1 tsp almond extract (vanilla extract would work – the almond is so good!)
  • 2 cups Namaste GF Flour Blend (If you are grain free, use 1 cup cassava flour and 1 cup almond flour. If you are nut free, all cassava flour will work – let us know in the comments if you try it!)
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
  • FOR THE TOPPING ::
  • 1 heaping cup of pecans, finely chopped (I buzz mine up in the food processor. If you are nut free, I think sunflower seeds would work nice – or shredded coconut.)
  • 3 tbsp avocado oil (or melted butter, coconut oil, or olive oil)
  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp almond extract (vanilla extract would work – the almond is so good!)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and butter small baking dish or pie plate.
  2. Whisk the eggs, honey, coconut milk, avocado oil, and almond extract in a medium mixing bowl until smooth.
  3. Stir in the flour and baking powder, fold in the blueberries, and pour the batter into a buttered baking dish.
  4. Mix the topping ingredients in bowl, and then sprinkle the topping over the batter.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let the coffee cake cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

More real food blueberry recipes!

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

July 26, 2017

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

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

Summer is flying by!

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

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

20 minutes start to finish?!

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

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

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

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

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

Ideas to change it up!

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

Noodle Options!

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

Gluten Free Options ::

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Crispy Baked Eggplant Dippers and Italian Meatballs

July 20, 2017

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

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

 

We are complete and utter beach bums in the summer…

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

Summer eggplant love

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

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

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

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

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

Little kid sized fun!

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

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

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

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

Ingredient notes/swaps

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

A note about leftovers!

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

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

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Paleo Cherry Buckwheat Breakfast Muffins :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, & Dairy Free!

July 7, 2017

Paleo cherry buckwheat breakfast muffins will wow your family with fluffy, soft texture, and juicy sweet cherries!

Our family has been enjoying Michigan cherry season!

We have the Cherry Festival up in Traverse City on our bucket list to do as the girls get older (and easier to travel with!), but in the meantime, we are literally surrounded by cherry farmer’s where we live right along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

There is just something about the weather and soil in this area that is the perfect growing condition for cherries!

Hands on learning where their food comes from…priceless.

There are some great places around us that offer U-Pick cherries so the girls can get right in there and see how their food is growing. It just doesn’t get any better than that! We are grateful for the experience, and the girls look forward to it every year.

New recipe goals!

I guess I’m feeling a bit adventurous this year, as I have been doing just about all new recipes with my cherries this season! We perfected cherry jam over the weekend, and this week have been enjoying multiple batches of these cherry buckwheat muffins! After the first attempt, I just knew I had to get these just so and share them, because they are so good and very satiating.

Ingredients that count

Those of you following me for very long know that one of my mottos when feeding kids is “make every bite count.” In other words, little kids have small stomachs – stop thinking fillers and start thinking nutrient dense fueling. Fueling kids with food that satiates and nourishes keeps them focused longer – and keeps you from having the fix snacks every hour!

These cherry buckwheat muffins are not only loaded up with friendly fats from coconut milk, eggs, and coconut oil, the flours I’m using have a purpose too…

What is buckwheat flour, anyway?

Despite the sound of it’s name, buckwheat flour is ground up buckwheat seed – its a seed, not a grain! Many people that cannot tolerate gluten or grains can tolerate buckwheat, and it has a host of nutritional benefits. Buckwheat has an impressive protein content and is packed with essential minerals our bodies need to function at it’s best.

Even if you can tolerate gluten/grains, it is a good idea to rotate your food around. Using the same flour day in and day out in your baking will wear on the gut. Change things up a little! The buckwheat gives these muffins a mildly sweet, nutty flavor that goes so well with cherries!

Some notes on cassava flour

Cassava flour is a newer gluten/grain free flour to my kitchen in the last 9 months. I’ve been playing around with it a lot, and this is my first real recipe on the blog using it! I have fallen in love not only with the ease of baking it provides and incredible finished texture to baked goods, but also the nutritional benefits. Specifically the prebiotic fiber.

Cassava flour is dried and ground up cassava root. It is a tuber vegetable and it is loaded with these amazing starches that actually feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut. We are learning more about prebiotic importance – it isn’t enough to just populate your gut with probiotics. They are living organisms and need “food” to feed on. That is where prebiotic fiber in foods such as the cassava root come in!

More than just a muffin!

With all of these amazing ingredients, these muffins are more than just a starchy filler to the breakfast plate. They are filling and satisfying – and will please even the biggest kid muffin critic in texture and taste – I’m sure of it! They are SO soft. It really feels like all purpose flour was used to make them.

And you can’t beat juicy, sweet cherries in every bite!

5.0 from 7 reviews
Cherry Buckwheat Breakfast Muffins :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, & Dairy Free!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk (or raw milk, buttermilk, or yogurt if you tolerate dairy)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ cup cassava flour (or if you Namaste gluten free flour blend if you tolerate grains)
  • ¼ cup softened coconut oil (or butter)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ -1/3 cup raw honey (If you have older kids used to sweeter things, you can bump this up to ½ cup. If you have really little guys in the house, I’d keep it on the low side – it may taste light on the sweetness to you , but they don’t have a frame of reference for that yet! You can always drizzle a bit of honey on the muffin you are eating.)
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 2 tsp almond extract (vanilla extract would work too)
  • 2 cups cherries, pitted and halved (you can chop them up if you want the bits of cherry smaller in your muffins – that is personal preference)
Instructions
  1. The night before you want to make the muffins, put the buckwheat flour, coconut milk, sea salt, and lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl, combine, cover the bowl with a towel, and let it sit overnight (8-9 hours). This soaking process breaks down the phytic acid in the buckwheat seed so it is easier on the gut, and also makes the nutrients in the buckwheat more available to absorb into the body.
  2. When you are ready to make the muffins, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the cherries into the bowl, and stir to combine, and then fold in the cherries.
  4. Scoop the batter into silicone muffin cups (my personal preference), or paper muffin cups, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let the muffins cool 10 minutes before taking them out of the muffin tin to finish cooling on a cooling rack.

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Pectin Free Cherry Jam :: Honey Sweetened Too!

July 7, 2017

Preserve the best of cherry season with delicious cherry jam, perfect for all of your jam topping dreams!

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’s no secret…

We love cherry season! Cherry picking has become one of the summer activities my older girls look forward to all year, and my youngest is really starting to get the hang of this whole cherry picking thing too 😉

A short but sweet season!

Only about a week or so long, we try to get right in there as soon as we hear word of those cherries being ready to pick, because before you know it – they are gone! This year, we had a late spring frost that damaged a lot of the cherry blossoms, but thankfully some were salvaged and we have been enjoying every juicy {messy!} bite of the 60 pounds we picked.

Novice cherry jam maker…

As many years as we have been picking cherries, I have never made cherry jam! I usually pick one fruit from the summer to make jam with, and this year I decided cherries were the lucky ones! I was so thankful that despite the frost this spring we were still able to pick, and I really wanted to do something special with them.

Since our cherry picking was literally the day before the 4th of July holiday, I didn’t have time to get to the store to buy the pectin for jam making I like…(If you are really loving jam making season, THIS is the safe, preservative free pectin I like to use!)

…So a pectin free trial run happened…

…and while my first batch was a bit runny (made a great syrup for pancakes!), we loved the result once I got it right! Since making the first trial, I have made 3 batches of this jam, and really nailed a great consistency for all your jam topping dreams, as well as the perfect amount of sweet and cherry flavor.

A note on the “sweet” and types of cherries

I have made a couple batches of this jam with our favorite local raw honey, and 1 batch with organic cane sugar to be sure it worked, and to get the amount right. For those of you who don’t have access to a good raw honey that tastes really light and delicious, the organic cane sugar is your best bet at a good jam. If your raw honey is too floral, dark, and rich, it will overpower the cherry flavor, and you don’t want that in this kind of recipe – the cherries are SO good!

Be sure to taste your jam before jarring it up. We all have different sweet palates, and your cherries might have a different level of sweetness. If you are using sour cherries you will probably have to double the sweet. Ours were sweet cherries that were perfectly ripe – almost over ripe and were very sweet.

Storage!

In my house, homemade jam is a treat, so I just don’t make a ton of it anymore. Jam for run of the mill use like PBJ’s for school are reserved for a cost effective organic brand from Costco – 3 mouths to feed, times 3 sandwiches, a few times per week equals a lot of jam! I reserve our homemade jam for a treat to top weekend pancakes, or to stir into yogurt, or to swirl into homemade ice cream!

That said, you can batch up and store this jam however you wish. I am just keeping mine in the fridge – it will go that fast!  Since I made some extra batches to prepare for this post, I’ll be giving some away as gifts, and I stored the extra in the freezer as freezer jam. If you like to can, you can water bath can the jars and just be sure to check the seal the next day to make sure it took. If they are good to go, you can pantry store them, and if you get one that doesn’t seal right just freeze it.

Recipe size and jar storeage

This recipe makes enough jam for four 8oz jelly jars. I happen to think this style is much cuter for gift giving by the way! You could also use eight 4oz jelly jars which also make wonderful gifts, or are great for storage when you don’t want to pull out a larger jar of jam. I freeze my jam for 24 hours, and then put the lids on to prevent the jars from breaking.

5.0 from 5 reviews
Pectin Free Cherry Jam :: Honey Sweetened Too!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 8 cups sweet cherries, pitted (you can use sour cherries, but will have to adjust the honey/sweet to your taste)
  • ¼ cup water
  • Juice of 1 large lemon (about ¼ cup juice)
  • ¾ cup raw honey (organic pure cane sugar will work too. Be sure you enjoy the taste of your honey – pick a light color honey – if it is very floral in taste it will cover up the cherry flavor. If you can’t find one you love, I’d suggest using organic cane sugar!)
  • 2 tsp almond extract (optional but so good!)
Instructions
  1. Put the cherries and water in a pot and bring to a simmer. Use a potato masher or spoon to squish the cherries while it simmers for about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the lemon, honey, and almond extract and bring to a constant, rolling boil until it thickens, and you can feel it thicker to stir, about 20-25 minutes. Stir often to prevent sticking and scorching. You will see the jam thicken up toward the 20 minute mark, looking more viscous. You can jar it up and put it in the fridge or freezer, or water bath can it at this point! Recipe makes 4 of these 8oz jelly jars.

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

June 23, 2017

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

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

Little kids and Ranch dressing…

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

But back to the kids and Ranch!

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

So what’s the problem with commercial Ranch dressings?

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

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

All the flavor, using real ingredients!

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

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

Lightning fast prep!

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

Why dairy free?

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

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

A note on the fresh herbs versus dried

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

Different ways to flavor your Ranch!

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

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

A note on tools…

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

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

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

June 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5.0 from 8 reviews
Instant Pot Tomato Soup
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp friendly fat to cook in such as butter, avocado oil, tallow, lard, or coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 quart bone broth
  • 5 large tomatoes, seeds scooped out (no need to chop finely – I just halve them)
  • ½ cup fresh basil (or a tbsp or 2 of dried basil)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Turn the Instant Pot to “Saute,” melt the friendly fat, and sauté the onion and carrot with a big pinch of sea salt for about 7 minutes until the veggies soften and sweeten.
  2. Add the garlic and tomato paste, combine and cook for 1 minute. Turn the Instant Pot to off (“cancel”).
  3. Add the bone broth, tomatoes, and basil. Put the Instant Pot lid on, and make sure the vent is closed. Turn the Instant Pot to the “Soup” setting. Bring the time down to 10 minutes. The Instant Pot will take around 10 minutes to come to pressure before counting down the 10 minutes.
  4. Once the 10 minutes of pressure cooking is complete, turn the Instant Pot off, release the valve, and take the lid off. Add the honey, and use an immersion blender to puree the soup. You can sea salt and pepper the soup to your taste once pureed. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can pour the soup into a high powered blender to puree)

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Real Food Copycat Nestle® Toll House® Cookies :: Gluten and Dairy Free Too!

June 16, 2017

Remember Nestle® Toll House® Chocolate Chip Cookies from your childhood, but want to make them with better ingredient choices? I’ve got the answer!

Real Food Copycat Nestle® Toll House® Cookies :: Gluten and Dairy Free Too!Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

We were known for them…

Growing up, our house was *known* for bringing the best chocolate chip cookies *ever* to whatever gathering we went to. I’m talking people were NOT happy if they were not brought. They were soft and sweet, and whether it was right out of the oven, out of her old Tupperware, or if we were sneaking them out of the freezer {ahem…}, they were seriously nothing short of amazing.

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.My mom’s secret?

The recipe on the back of the Nestlé® Tollhouse® chocolate chips bag, with a couple tweaks that literally make them melt in your mouth.

Her secrets to making them soft and chewy instead of crispy were:

  • Swap the butter for vegetable shortening – in other words…Crisco® (I know, I know. Just hang tight with me real food police…I’ve got your back in a few paragraphs here…)
  • Half the salt. I’m not sure why this is – I didn’t half the salt in the recipe I made just out of curiosity and I still liked them. Could have been her preference!
  • Back off the cook time to about 8 minutes. Meaning leave them just slightly under-cooked. They finish cooking a couple minutes on the hot sheet pan and then on to the cooling rack to cool. The result is a middle that is soft and literally melts in your mouth!

Real Food Copycat Nestle® Toll House® Cookies :: Gluten and Dairy Free Too!The challenge…

Well her tweaks, along with most of the rest of the ingredients in the recipe have made it pretty hard to enjoy knowing what I know now. Know better, do better, right? I’ve tried literally dozens of “healthier” cookie versions but nothing reminded me of my childhood…until these!

Real Food Copycat Nestle® Toll House® Cookies :: Gluten and Dairy Free Too!What’s so bad about vegetable shortening?

Dear friends, something happened during my grandparent’s generation. Fat got a super bad rap. Everyone started swapping their butter for this new fangled cooking fat medium called vegetable shortening. It is usually made up of hydrogenated soy. It was easy to cook with, gave amazing results, and {the real kicker for this particular generation}…it was cheap.

In short, we have not only come to learn the damage that hydrogenated oils such as vegetable shortening does to our bodies causing free radicals (think cancer feeders), but that it also doesn’t do the body systems that actually need real fat any good. Everything from our brains, to our digestion, to our hormones, rely on real, unprocessed fat. These hydrogenated vegetable oils were also made cheap and fast using GMO crops which is leading to a host of digestive/genetic issues in the last couple generations of kids.

In the end, we have a couple generations in counting of kiddos that grew up without well fed hormones, brains, etc and we are still recovering from the mess. (Hence my mission at Raising Generation Nourished! To read more about healthy fats, how to make the switch to the good ones, and how to use them, you can pick up my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings! There is a whole section on fats, their use, which ones to avoid, and almost 100 recipes using real, healthy fats to cook with!)

Real Food Copycat Nestle® Toll House® Cookies :: Gluten and Dairy Free Too!Still a cookie…but with real ingredients.

Yes, dear friends these cookies still have sugar (albeit the non GMO variety!). And whether you want to admit it or not, sugar is still sugar. I‘m not glorifying these cookies by even letting them be called healthy. Because if you ate them everyday, you’d be overloading your body with sugar.

But for a weekend family reunion treat? A birthday sleepover midnight indulgence with friends? Absolutely!

Real Food Copycat Nestle® Toll House® Cookies :: Gluten and Dairy Free Too!Here are my Nestle® Tollhouse® Real Food Copycat Swaps!

  • Swap the vegetable shortening my mom used for Nutvia Organic palm shortening, which is coconut/palm oil based (No it doesn’t make it taste like coconut! And yes, please be careful on brands – this brand is sustainable, fair trade, etc). You could use butter if you want, which is what is on the original Nestle recipe. Your cookies will be crispier – and some people like that! Awesome! I was really going for the soft and chewy cookies my mom made when I was a kid, and palm shortening is the ticket!
  • Use an organic, non-GMO sugar, and back off the amount a bit. Honestly, when I make these again for just my kids, I will be backing off the sugar amounts even more. These were so sweet for my kids’ and my palates because we just don’t eat sugar anymore. They taste JUST like I remember them as a kid (even with the amount backed off a bit!), and I cringe that I thought that was ok! So I backed off the {organic/non GMO} sugar from ¾ cup to ½ cup and then made my own brown sugar. You can get organic brown sugar and use ½ – ¾ cup brown sugar. I never use brown sugar and it always ends up getting hard in the back of my pantry. Brown sugar is just sugar mixed with molasses (1 cup to 1 tablespoon ratio.). So instead of ¾ cup brown sugar, I used another ¾ cup sugar and around 1 tablespoon of molasses (This is why the sugar is 1 ¼ cup. ½ cup regular sugar plus the ¾ cup used for the brown sugar. Again, I think we could pop that sugar down to 1 cup total or even ¾ cup and my kids would still be very happy).
  • Because we are a gluten free home, I used the Namaste Gluten Free Flour Blend. It swapped for all purpose flour perfectly. (If you can tolerate gluten, I would try some Einkorn All Purpose Flour. I am not an experienced baker with it, but if there are friends here reading this that are, please let us know your experiences. I hear it leaves things “wetter”, or the flour isn’t as absorbent, so the amount may need to be adjusted up a bit?)
  • Swap the Nestle® chips for an organic brand. This is another one of those, “Well if sugar is still sugar, then why fuss about this ingredient? Well to be honest I don’t want to support companies that are still making products with GMO filled cane sugar and/or corn syrup, soy, and fillers. If you are dairy free, the Enjoy Life chocolate chips or Enjoy Life chocolate chunks are a good choice. I like using the Organic Meijer brand that our local Meijer grocer carries. If you are going to shop around, just really watch the ingredients (even in “health food” stores!). You can find them without the GMO’s, fillers, and corn syrup!

Real Food Copycat Nestle® Toll House® Cookies :: Gluten and Dairy Free Too!

5.0 from 4 reviews
Real Food Copycat Nestle® Toll House® Cookies :: Gluten and Dairy Free Too!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup organic & sustainable palm shortening
  • 1 ¼ cup organic pure cane sugar (I will be trying 1 cup next batch - the 1¼ is still less than the original Nestle recipe, but quite sweet for our taste as we don't eat sugar much)
  • 3-4 tsp molasses (If going lower on the cane sugar, use more lik 2-3 tsp molasses)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ¼ cup Namaste Gluten Free Flour Blend (I hear the Trader Joe’s GF flour blend is similar if you have that. I am not sure how other GF blends will behave, but it is worth trying! There are many great ones out there!)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 10-12oz package chocolate chips of choice (If you are dairy free, the Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips or Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks are a good choice. I like using the Organic Meijer brand that our local Miejer grocer carries. Just really watch the ingredients if you want to shop around. You can find them without the fillers and corn syrup!)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Use a hand blender to cream the palm shortening, sugar, molasses, and vanilla. Add the eggs and blend until creamy and smooth.
  3. Add the flour, baking soda, sea salt, and chocolate chips, and stir with a spatula until mixed evenly.
  4. Drop spoonfuls of batter on a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. You don’t need to roll these unless you want perfect circles – this is one thing I remember as a kid loving – my mom always let us drop the dough on the sheet and imperfectly shaped cookies feel the most homemade to me! Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool on the tray for 2 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool off the rest of the way (if they last that long!)

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Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir Soda :: A naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!

June 8, 2017

Honey rhubarb water kefir soda is a naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!

Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir Soda :: A naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Spring rhubarb, spring temperatures…and spring birthday babies!

Well she isn’t really a “baby” anymore, but my oldest turned 8 years old a couple weekends ago, and I’m declaring I’m still allowed to call her my baby!

Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir Soda :: A naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!We celebrated her birthday with canvas painting, blowing out candles, and enjoying her friends!

This sweet baby has the kindest heart and more compassion for people than anyone I have ever met. She is so special, and I am truly blessed to call her mine.

Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir Soda :: A naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!My late spring birthday baby also just happens to *big puffy heart love* rhubarb!

Rhubarb is always in full swing around her birthday, and making her a special bubbly birthday drink with rhubarb for her special day has become tradition! I can’t wait to share this recipe with you!

Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir Soda :: A naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!Water Kefir Basics…

Water kefir is a mild, kid friendly fermented drink. The gelatinous water kefir “grains” (not a grain at all by the way!) are little colonies of beneficial bacteria that infuse the water it breeds in with numerous cultures and food enzymes. It has a mild lemony flavor upon fermenting, and you can flavor this finished kefir however you wish. In today’s recipe, we are flavoring our finished kefir with raw honey and rhubarb.

For more in depth information on the who, what, when, where, and why of water kefir, see this post, Water Kefir Basics, to learn more, and then hop back over to make your honey rhubarb soda.

Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir Soda :: A naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!It’s all about that flavor!

If I’m gonna take the time to do a second ferment on my water kefir, I want it to have a super fun, bold flavor. Usually loading up the bottle with whatever chopped sweet fruit is in season does the trick. Rhubarb is a bit tricky because it is so tart. The flavor is so amazing, however, so infusing some water with that big flavor and then sweetening the deal with our favorite local raw honey makes the most amazing, bright pink “rhubarb syrup” to flavor our water kefir with!

Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir Soda :: A naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!Ingredient notes, and tools of the trade

  • Honey Notes :: I know so many love rhubarb and strawberry, but let me tell you…rhubarb and raw honey are a match made in heaven. It is my favorite way to sweeten up rhubarb, and if you have a fantastic local raw honey source that you just love the taste of, you will not be disappointed! If you don’t have a local raw honey source, this is a good raw honey to use, or you can swap it for organic cane sugar.
  • Fermenting Tools :: You will read in my Water Kefir Basics post that I love fermenting my water kefir using Pickle Pipes, and then finishing off those flavored second ferments in air tight, grolsch type (swing top) bottles. It makes the fermentation more efficient, giving way to a super effervescent fizz you will love.
  • Recipe Size :: Also keep in mind that if you are only brewing a quart of water kefir at a time, you will want to half this recipe. I ferment a half gallon at a time so this recipe represents what I always make.

Rhubarb and raw honey are a match made in heaven.

5.0 from 5 reviews
Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir Soda :: A naturally probiotic rich fizzy, fun drink for the whole family!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 7-8 stalks of rhubarb, sliced (Since rhubarb sizes can vary, you will need about 5 cups of sliced rhubarb)
  • 2 ½ cups of water
  • ½ cup raw honey
  • 1 ½ tbsp vanilla extract
  • ½ gallon (2 quarts) finished water kefir
Instructions
  1. Bring the sliced rhubarb and water to a simmer for about 10 minutes until the rhubarb is disintegrated. Strain out the rhubarb fibers, leaving behind the pink, rhubarb infused water.
  2. Leave the rhubarb infused water to cool a bit before stirring in the raw honey to dissolve. Add the vanilla extract at this point too.
  3. When the rhubarb syrup has cooled to room temperature, add the finished water kefir to the bowl (if you add the finished kefir to the rhubarb syrup when it is still hot, it will kill off the bacteria, so be sure it has cooled off). Stir the rhubarb syrup and kefir together, and pour the rhubarb kefir into swing top bottles using a funnel (Leave a few inches of headspace at the top to account for gas build up. This batch will fill up 4-5 of these sized swing top bottles.).
  4. Seal the tops and ferment the drink for 1-3 days to your taste. You can open the bottles daily to release the built up gasses and taste if it is done to your liking. Fermentation rates are variable upon temperature of the room as well as the strength of the culture. When it is above 70 degrees, I have found water kefir doesn’t need more than a good 24 hours.

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

June 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m so glad you asked!

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

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

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

Balsamic Glazed Salmon & Roasted Veggies:

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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

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Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)

May 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)Fermenting tools

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

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

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

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

Probiotic Rich Asparagus Pickles (Fermented Asparagus!)

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

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

May 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gluten Free Options ::

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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No Churn Honey Rhubarb Ice Cream

May 19, 2017

Sweet local honey, fresh tart rhubarb, and fluffy whipped coconut cream swirl into the most decadent spring ice cream treat!

No Churn Honey Rhubarb Ice CreamProduct 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.

80 degrees!

We hit 80 degrees this week! Can’t you even believe it?! After spending most of the winter buried in snow, we practically float out of our houses in wonder at the return of the sunshine!

We are also pretty giddy to get our hands in the garden. Michigan takes its good ‘ol time warming up in the spring however, and we typically have to wait until closer to June to plant much outside!

No Churn Honey Rhubarb Ice CreamWhich is why we are so thankful for rhubarb!

Every March, it faithfully peeks its leaves from the just thawed ground, and by the first of May it is ready for little hands to tug and harvest! It gives my kids something to tend to until the ground warms up a bit more for the rest of the garden, and you can do so many fun things with it!

No Churn Honey Rhubarb Ice CreamFrom the everyday practical, to sweet treats!

While I keep things pretty practical around here, using the majority of our rhubarb for making honey rhubarb granola, we make room for an occasional treat sometimes too! I use the honey rhubarb granola for end of the school year teacher gifts, and then stash at least 2-3 batches away for hot summer mornings when I don’t want to heat the house up with cooking breakfast.

We had already made a batch of strawberry rhubarb creamsicles, and my kiddos were asking for ice cream with the unseasonably warm weather we had this week!

No Churn Honey Rhubarb Ice CreamNo ice cream maker, no problem!

The only set back in my head was that my ice cream maker puttered out at the end of last summer. I had thought of replacing it by this summer, and it just hasn’t made it into the budget yet! I decided that I would try it with whipping the cream part nice and light to see how the texture came out – I figured if it wasn’t super light and fluffy, that I would just tell the girls it was rhubarb sorbet and call it good 😉

No Churn Honey Rhubarb Ice CreamBeyond my expectations!

I really thought the ice cream would turn out denser, like a fruit sorbet. But it was almost as fluffy as freshly churned ice cream! Whipping the cream to stiffness did the trick, and the kids were so happy to enjoy the rhubarb they picked in frozen form!

No Churn Honey Rhubarb Ice CreamCream options, and how to easily scoop coconut cream!

We used coconut cream for our ice cream this time, but if you have access to raw milk, you can skim the cream off that to use!

For this recipe, I put a 33oz container of coconut milk into the fridge. This makes the cream separate and solidify at the top of the container. Then I just use scissors to cut the top of the carton open, and scoop the cream out. There will be about a cup of liquid left behind that you can put into a smoothie later.

No Churn Honey Rhubarb Ice CreamNotes on the honey, and how much to use

This is a great time of year to meet your local farmers that are keeping bees! They love to tell you about their hives and how they care for their honey. Just ask! We have a fantastic local farmer we buy from in 5 pound containers. Choose a honey that you LOVE the taste of. If you don’t prefer a “flowery” honey taste, don’t use it in this ice cream – they honey flavor really shines with the tart rhubarb.

The amount of honey to use in this recipe is personal preference, and depends on your kids’ palates. If you have really little guys in the house, I would use anywhere from ¼ cup to ½ cup. If you have older kids used to sweeter, store bought ice cream, you may want to do the ¾ cup. I find ¾ of a cup really sweet – I love feeling the tartness of the rhubarb so I tend to use ½ cup or less. Remember that honey is actually sweeter on the palate compared to sugar, so really a little goes a long way!

No Churn Honey Rhubarb Ice Cream

5.0 from 5 reviews
No Churn Honey Rhubarb Ice Cream
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups rhubarb, sliced
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup – ¾ cup raw honey (See notes above when considering how much honey to use. If you don't have access to local raw honey, this is a good brand that has a mild, non flowery taste good for this recipe.)
  • 2 ½ cups coconut cream (Or raw cream if you have access. See above notes for how to scoop the coconut cream. This amount was the amount of cream skimmed from one 33 oz carton of coconut milk)
Instructions
  1. Cook the sliced rhubarb, lemon juice, and sea salt in a sauce pan over medium heat, for about 5-7 minutes, until the rhubarb is softened.
  2. Put the cooked rhubarb mixture into a blender along with the honey, and puree. Set the rhubarb/honey puree aside in the refrigerator to cool completely.
  3. When the rhubarb mixture is completely cooled, you can make your ice cream. Pour the coconut cream in a small mixing bowl, and use a blender to whip it into whipped cream. Fold the rhubarb/honey puree into the whipped cream, and then pour the ice cream mixture into your freezer safe container to set up. (I used a small glass loaf pan for easy scooping)
  4. Before serving, set the ice cream on the counter to soften a bit so you can scoop it easier.

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Paleo Chia Honey Power Bars :: Gluten, Egg, and Dairy Free

May 12, 2017

Portable, pack-able, and power packed! Paleo chia honey power bars are a busy family game changer!

Paleo Chia Honey Power Bars :: Gluten, Egg, and Dairy FreeProduct 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 the magnolia tree blooms…

I always feel like spring has finally sprung! It bloomed on the early side this year, and the girls always feel like they have their own personal flower palace to play in for the week or so that the magnificent blooms stick around.

Paleo Chia Honey Power Bars :: Gluten, Egg, and Dairy FreeSpring also brings busier schedules for us…

…and less kitchen time for me! This is always the time of year that I have to take a step back and really prioritize so I’m not saying “yes” to all the things, and forgetting to enjoy the season. One of the ways that I can say yes to more outside-the-home-activities, is to be sure I optimize any kitchen time I have.

Here are some tips for doing that:

  • Plan 1-2 hours (or a morning/evening) for a prep day. During this prep time, get ahead on whatever you can to make your meals run smoother for the week. I have one prep day (about 2 hours) every week. My prep time almost always includes, making bone broth for the week, salad dressings/mayo for the week, a dozen hard boiled eggs for the week, and veggie soup for the week to use. Bone broth and eggs are pretty hands free, but it is cooking along while I take a few minutes to stir up dressings, and get a pot of soup going. Once you get in a “mode” it’s easy to move from one thing to another in one shot.
  • Prep odds and ends to make meal prep flow faster during the week. On your prep day add whatever else might be needed for that particular week such as veggie chopping to make dinners run smoother, making crackers or granola (which I usually replenish once a month or so), or getting breakfast cookies, pancakes, or bars like these chia honey bars into the freezer so breakfasts and snacks run quick.
  • When making dinners, double up to optimize your time. It’s always nice to take a couple nights per week off from making dinner! Warming up dinner leftovers really helps on busier nights. Also, consider taking a longer prep dinner such as roasted chicken, to have on a less busy day like the weekend. Then, as you are de-boning the chicken pop the bones into your crockpot or Instant pot to make bone broth right off the bat. The leftover meat can be used Monday night when everyone is busy from their day back to school or work for a quick stir fry or salad, and the bone broth can be used for a dinner meal of soup later that week.
  • Allow yourself a non cook night 😉 Or two! It is totally acceptable to have a family style platter dinner night! Load up a big tray of veggies and dip, fruit, cheese, nuts, olives, and hard boiled eggs. Or have a salad bar night using veggies, nuts/seeds, dried fruit, leftover meat, or avocados.
  • Ask. for. help. 🙂 You are allowed! If those kiddos are old enough to feed themselves off a plate, they are old enough to peel carrots, chop fruit, stir a pot of soup, and wash the dishes. It’s ok to teach the kids that many hands make light work 😉 The more you can get done with your crew of hands, the more park time, beach time, zoo time, play time!

Paleo Chia Honey Power Bars :: Gluten, Egg, and Dairy FreeSo let’s talk about these chia honey power bars!

I love hand held snacks just as much as everyone. I put so much thought into every single ingredient in these bars, so that with even the littlest of kiddos in the house, “every bite counts!”

Here’s a little break down!

  • Chia Seeds :: The tiniest of superfoods, chia seeds are not only loaded with fiber, protein, antioxidants, and omega 3 fatty acids, they are a mineral powerhouses of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, and manganese.
  • Friendly Fat Focus :: Filled to the brim with long chain fatty acids, the shredded coconut and avocado oil feed growing brains and satiate the hungriest of appetites (because “I’m hungry” every hour doesn’t jive in this house!)
  • Protein Balance :: The chia provides some protein and there is also a nut sourced protein as well as grassfed collagen sourced protein. It’s a great balance and helps keeps the kids fuller longer as well as help feed their muscle growth.
  • Non Refined Energy Source :: These are power bars for active kids after all! Listen, kids expend a LOT of energy. The raw honey and banana not only make the taste more palatable for kids, it also provides a great energy from a safe source to keep kids going. The fat and protein will keep blood sugars balanced so they aren’t crashing on you within an hour.

Paleo Chia Honey Power Bars :: Gluten, Egg, and Dairy FreeTips for freezing

These bars freeze up fantastic. If you have those bananas starting to turn too ripe on the counter, grab them up and double batch into honey chia power bars for later. I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to say “yes!” to an impromptu park picnic or beach day and pull a nourishing snack or meal addition out of the freezer. Not having to worry about what the kids are going to eat when they {inevitably} get hungry, is a game changer, dear momma!

You can pop your honey chia power bars right into a freezer bag. For lunch packing, just put them right in the lunchbox from the freezer – they will thaw by lunchtime. If you are serving them for breakfast, you can either set them on the counter the night before to thaw overnight, or you can pull them out of the freezer and warm them up in the oven.

Paleo Chia Honey Power Bars :: Gluten, Egg, and Dairy Free

5.0 from 7 reviews
Paleo Chia Honey Power Bars :: Gluten, Egg, and Dairy Free
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup chia seeds (flax seeds should work here too)
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 small ripe bananas (I think 1 cup of applesauce would work here)
  • ¼ cup avocado oil (or melted coconut oil or butter)
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour (If you are nut free, I think ground sunflower seeds will work, or swap for cassava flour or sorghum flour. You may want to back off the amount to ¾ cup with the sorghum.)
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup grassfed collagen
  • ¼ cup honey (you can taste the mixture and add more if you need. If you have really little guys in the house I’d stick to this or even just a few tablespoons. For the little ones, go with less sweet than your preference as they really don’t know any different!)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Blend the chia seeds and water so the chia seeds are more of a “meal” versus seed texture. Set aside to thicken while you make the rest of the batter (It will get goopy, almost pudding like. It will act like “glue” to bind the bar.).
  3. Put the bananas in a medium mixing bowl and mash with the back of a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl, along with the chia/water mixture, and mix everything to combine.
  4. Press the batter into a small baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let the bars cool 10 minutes before cutting.

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Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

May 5, 2017

Start your day off quick and nourished with crispy, crunchy, and honey sweetened morning glory granola!

Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar 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.

We celebrated a brand new 6 year old in the house last week!

Claire is my mid spring babe! She is chock full of ideas and opinions, and you’ve never met a 6 year old so full of interest for birds and bugs of all kinds. The kid overflows with joy describing birds to you, taking her Michigan bird guide with her wherever she goes! In fact, bird guides quite literally taught her how to read this year! She was so bored with typical beginner reader books, but would sit for hours with a bird guide!

Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!We celebrated with her friends at a local canvas painting studio painting…birds of course!

I can’t take credit for any new cake ideas (she asked for this strawberry birthday cake, which was totally fine with me!), but I do have a new recipe based on the busy week that leads up to a birthday! Granola is a pantry staple in the house, not only because it is an easy grab and go snack or meal, but also because it is not fussy to make.

Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!Real food and busy schedules

With a little planning ahead, you really can still keep the food real on a busier than usual week. Dinners can be fast and easy skillet dinners or sheet pan dinners, and breakfast a quick smoothie or egg muffins. For me, though, it’s those packable school snacks (that they have to have for a morning snack *every* day!), or mornings that the kids just want something different that can throw me off!

Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!A new granola idea!

There are so many granola recipes on the blog here – usually I just make granola based on what I have in the kitchen at the moment. Which is why I love granola making so much – it is SO forgiving! I just loved how this granola turned out, and I decided to call it morning glory granola because of all the goods that got dumped in!

Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!Lemons into lemonade…or something like that!

I had a bag of carrots that had been forgotten about, and while they certainly weren’t rotten, they would need to be cooked into soup or something to get any use. I decided to see what they would do drying out in the granola – and it made the prettiest orange flecks in each cluster! Add a little cinnamon, honey, vanilla, and raisins, and it tastes just like a morning glory muffin – with a crisp!

Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!Notes on recipe size and dehydrators!

This recipe makes…a lot! Which is how I like it because I don’t like to make granola all the time. It filled up 4 gallon freezer bags for me. You can half the recipe if you don’t want as much in the end.

I have had this dehydrator for about 4 years now, and it’s still kickin’! You can bake the granola off in the oven if you want to – I would set it for something like 300 degrees and just be sure you are stirring it around frequently so the bottom gets dried out. Because this granola is soaked, it is wet, and takes a while to dry out. If you have already soaked/sprouted nuts, you can skip the soaking part and the mixture won’t take as long to dry out.

Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!Nut free friends!

Remember that thing above where I said that granola making is super forgiving? Well this is where that all comes in! You really can swap the nuts in this recipe for whatever you CAN have! Seeds of any kind will work (sunflower, pumpkin, flax, etc). You can also use more of one of the flours such as coconut flour. If you are able to tolerate oats you could swap some of the nuts for oats – I really wasn’t kidding when I said how flexible granola can be!

5.0 from 8 reviews
Gluten Free Morning Glory Granola :: Paleo Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups raw walnuts, chopped (I buzz mine up quick in the food processor)
  • 3 cups raw pecans (I buzz mine up quick in the food processor)
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds (I buzz mine up quick in the food processor)
  • 2 TB sea salt
  • 6 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chia seed, ground into meal
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1 cup sorghum flour (if you are grain free, you can use buckwheat flour, or more almond/coconut flours)
  • 1 cup melted coconut oil
  • 5-6 large carrots, shredded
  • 2 cups raisins
  • ½ -1 cup raw honey (start with the ½ cup and taste the mixture – you can always add more if you need. You can do the ½ cup if you have really little ones, and add more honey to your bowl of cereal if you want it sweeter)
  • 2 TB cinnamon
  • 2 TB almond extract (vanilla would work too)
Instructions
  1. Put the chopped walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Fill the bowl with water just until the nuts and seeds are covered. Let the nuts and seeds soak 7-12 hours. This soaking process breaks down the phytic acid in the nuts/seeds and makes them easier on digestion. I like to get everything soaking first thing in the morning and then before I go to bed at night I'll put everything onto the dehydrator to dry out over night. You could soak overnight and dry out all day if you wish.
  2. After the nuts/seeds have soaked, add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Put the granola mixture onto your dehydrator trays, and dry out the granola according to your manufacturer"s instructions. Since this is a soaked granola, the time may take a bit longer since it is wetter, a little over 12 hours if drying out under 150 degrees.
  4. Once the granola is dried out, you can crumble it into storage bags or containers and store in the pantry.

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

April 21, 2017

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

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

Spring has definitely sprung!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And veggie sides are huge budget savers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy dinner success to you!

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

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

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“Everything But The Kitchen Sink” Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!

April 13, 2017

“Everything but the kitchen sink” paleo breakfast cookies are filled with power packed protein, and satiating friendly fats, making it a great on the go, portable breakfast for anytime of the year!

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

Did you know that the Easter bunny cooks at our house???

Yep! Every Easter since this momma had a gaggle of little ones racing around for Easter eggs every Easter morning! I remember the first Easter I realized that my plans for a beautiful, elaborate Easter morning breakfast were dashed with toddlers that cared more about Easter eggs and new crayons than eating…

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!A new tradition!

The following year I decided that I needed to have something similar to the quick, handheld breakfast I started doing on Christmas morning (something similar to these festive Christmas cranberry breakfast cookies!). A portable, quick breakfast that the girls could eat while hunting for eggs and reading their new books.

The night before Easter I was about to “nibble” on the carrots the girls left out for the Easter bunny when it hit me!

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!That silly ‘ol Easter bunny made the girls a fun breakfast cookie out of some of the carrots the girls left out for him!

That’s one talented bunny! But my kiddos thought it was the coolest thing in the world! And they got a nourishing breakfast starter to eat that kept blood sugars in check and made for happy moods.

Now that my oldest 2 have caught on to who the Easter bunny really is this year (whaaa!!!!), they still asked for their Easter bunny carrot cookies this year, and wanted to play along with their littlest sister who still thinks there’s a bunny baking in the kitchen!

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!Everything but the kitchen sink!

These breakfast cookies are loaded with so many fun surprises! Bits of walnut and chunks of sweet apple, tiny shreds of bright orange carrot, and raisins dotted throughout! There is a good mixture of a variety of flours so there is a good balance of protein, fat, and of course fantastic texture.

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!Streamlined cookie prep!

While the list of ingredients may look like a lot, remember this momma isn’t a huge fan of baking – I made the process super simple. And big time bonus! These cookies freeze up GREAT. Double up and into the freezer so you don’t even have to make them in the morning! In fact I love them right out of the freezer.

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!Ingredient notes and swaps

  • Egg free swaps like chia or flax eggs work great in this recipe! In fact, what is pictured in this post is using 2 chia eggs. It adds some extra omega 3’s and fiber to the cookie too! To make 1 chia or flax egg, blend 1 tablespoon of chia seed or flax seed into a “meal” and mix it with 3 tablespoons of water (so double this for the 2 “eggs” you need in the recipe). Let the seed/water mixture sit for 5 minutes to gel and then use your “eggs” in the recipe. I like to make my egg replacements before I even start the recipe so it is ready to go by the time I need them.
  • Nut free friends, I would sub sorghum flour, cassava flour, or other GF flour you like for the almond flour. I wouldn’t use the same amount – more like ¾ cup-ish since those flours are drier than almond flour. For the chopped walnuts, I would use ground up seeds that you can tolerate, or more coconut shreds.
  • Softened butter should swap for the coconut oil fine.
  • Maple syrup should swap for the honey fine if you have little guys that can’t have raw honey yet.
  • I think the recipe will work fine without the collagen. I used to make them without it a handful of years ago before I used to have it around, though the collagen sure does make the texture super soft. Maybe add a bit more tapioca if omitting the collagen. I love the added protein the collagen gives to the cookie as well.

"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!

5.0 from 8 reviews
"Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Paleo Breakfast Cookies! :: Dairy, Gluten, Grain, and Refined Sugar Free with Egg & Nut Free Options!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup softened coconut oil (I get that brand at Costco)
  • 3-4 TB raw honey (We get our raw honey from a local farmer, but this is a good brand too)
  • 2 eggs (Or 2 “chia eggs.” Plus 1 TB apple cider vinegar to puff the cookies up like eggs would do. Pictured in this post is the cookies made with chia eggs! It works great!)
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour (I get that brand at Costco)
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup grassfed collagen
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp almond extract (vanilla would work)
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (I pulse them up in the food processor, but hand chopping would work too. I buy ours at Costco.)
  • ½ cup finely shredded carrots
  • ½ medium apple, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup raisins
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Blend the softened coconut oil and honey until smooth.
  3. Add the eggs or chia eggs and blend until smooth.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. I start with a spoon and then finish it with my hands. The dough will feel dry at first, but I promise the moisture from the apples and carrots will make the cookies moist. You should be able to form cookie dough balls with the mixture.
  5. Line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper and put form your cookies on the baking sheet. I form a ball and then carefully flatten them on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Let the cookies cool a good 10 minutes before handling so they set up. This batch makes about 1 dozen medium sized cookies.

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

April 9, 2017

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

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

Spring is {finally!} in the air!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 11 reviews
Homemade Mayonnaise :: Free from common allergens! {Egg, Dairy, Soy, & Gluten Free!}
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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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Gluten Free Protein Waffles :: Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!

April 7, 2017

Light and crispy outside, fluffy and chewy inside! You’ll never know these gluten free waffles are packed with protein and nourishing fat!

Gluten Free Protein Waffles :: Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar 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.

You guys have been so patient!

Thank you for that! I have been posting about these waffles for the last couple months as leftovers in my girls’ school lunches, and my poor Instagram followers are about ready to throw rotten tomatoes at me if we don’t get these bad boys up pronto!

afe waffle iron recommendations!All the texture and flavor you want in a waffle…without the sugar crash!

Because who needs a carb overloaded toddler anyway?! {No thank you!} I’m so proud of the breakdown of ingredients in these waffles. I’m even more proud that they don’t feel like a brick, they don’t crumble in your mouth, and they keep a fantastic texture for leftovers. Which means momma can do double time and save kitchen time! Yeah!

Gluten Free Protein Waffles :: Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!If you want the right waffle texture, you gotta play the waffle game…

Which means those darn separated eggs and whipped egg whites. Friends, there is just no doubt about it. If you want super fluffy batter, crispy but soft and airy waffles…you can’t skip this step! Believe me – I have made plenty of brick texture waffles in my day!

I promise it doesn’t take much more than an extra few minutes, and your family is going to rave over these airy, light, and crispy waffles!

Gluten Free Protein Waffles :: Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!All star player ingredients!

Ok, so we want that great flavor and texture, but we also want those stable blood sugars, and even a nutrient component to these, right? So here’s what I came up with! Instead of a waffle with all grain flour, I mixed a great gluten free flour blend with some protein and fat rich almond flour. The grassfed collagen keeps the texture soft as well as bumps up the protein even more.

Gluten Free Protein Waffles :: Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!Filling and satisfying

Because these waffles are so satisfying, I actually found that my kids are eating less waffles than when I used to make an all grain based waffle. Sure, I always paired their waffles with eggs, raw milk, and even bacon sometimes, but carb-filled waffles are easy to down one after the next. These waffles are light and airy, but they are also very protein and friendly fat rich – which makes them satiating! Next to a side of eggs or sausage, the kids will be full in one serving!

Gluten Free Protein Waffles :: Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!Which means leftovers for school!

***Big time round of applause from the busy mommas!***

Because if I can pack Monday’s school lunch right after Sunday morning breakfast…#winning! I slather almond butter and jam, or coconut butter and raw honey in the middle, and then look at all the possibilities!

Gluten Free Protein Waffles :: Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!Ingredient notes

  • My sweet egg free friends! Give me a few more weeks – I am on the verge of a waffle that I have been working on for myself since I cannot have eggs right now. This recipe just doesn’t work the same without the eggs. If you are an egg free pro and end up with a swap, leave us some of your wise notes in the comments section!
  • If you are nut free, swap out the almond flour for more of the GF flour blend. I actually think that buckwheat would be a nice swap here too. Buckwheat is a seed, so make sure it doesn’t fall into the family of nuts or seeds you can’t have. It is high in protein and minerals to boot too!
  • I’ve been using coconut milk instead of raw milk for our waffles lately since our milk share is low until late spring. Coconut milk works great!

Gluten Free Protein Waffles :: Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!Safe waffle iron recommendations

I have had my ceramic coated, safe waffle iron for a couple years now and it still works like new! I love it! Here are some safe waffle iron options ::

3

5.0 from 1 reviews
Gluten Free Protein Waffles :: Gluten, Soy, and Refined Sugar Free!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Whisk the flours, collagen, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Separate the egg whites into a small mixing bowl. Put the egg yolks in a different small mixing bowl along with the milk, oil, syrup, and vanilla extract
  3. Blend the egg whites for a couple minutes on high speed until they are fluffy like whipped cream. Set aside.
  4. Blend the yolks and wet ingredients to combine for 1 minute.
  5. Pour the egg yolk wet ingredient mixture into the dry ingredients, and blend to combine.
  6. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the batter. Pour the batter onto a hot waffle iron and cook according to your waffle iron directions. Mine takes about 2 minutes.

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No Cook Paleo Granola :: 10 Minute Prep, Grain Free, & Protein Rich!

March 24, 2017

This 10 minute prep, no cook, paleo granola is a little  bit sweet, a little bit salty, a fun crispy crunch, and big time kid approved!

No Cook Paleo Granola :: 10 Minute Prep, Grain Free, & Protein Rich!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.

They sure do give you a run for your money, don’t they?!

You know…toddlers! While I’m nearing the end of a 7 year stint of having at least 1 toddler in the house, these little 1-3 year old people still have a way of completely throwing my day off with their “fascinating” requests, utter disregard for the concept of time, and sudden obsessions.

No Cook Paleo Granola :: 10 Minute Prep, Grain Free, & Protein Rich!Which has everything to do with no cook, paleo granola, right?

Well of course it does! Because when the 3 year old has it in her mind that she just *has* to have yogurt and granola one afternoon, momma is out of the said granola, and there have been more than enough battles chosen for this particular day…you figure out a way to make some sort of granola pronto.

I initially had the thought of just crumbling up some crispy nuts  from the pantry, sprinkling a bit of coconut flake,  and drizzling a bit of raw honey…but then I had an idea!

No Cook Paleo Granola :: 10 Minute Prep, Grain Free, & Protein Rich!All of the granola components without the cook time!

What if I did a quick “crumble” in the food processor (pulse!) of these components to make it really look like a granola mixture?! I decided to use dried fruit instead of the honey just in case it really did work and I wanted to easily store it away in a container. Bingo! After a few attempts at getting the right combo of dried fruit to nuts/seeds/coconut, we definitely had a winner…but did the toddler buy it???

No Cook Paleo Granola :: 10 Minute Prep, Grain Free, & Protein Rich!She was all over it!

The dates provided the perfect, mild sweetness for a little one – and my taste buds are quite trained now so I don’t need things super sweet anymore. You can always add a drizzle of honey to the bowl if you need! She enjoyed her bowl of yogurt with fresh granola, and anyone with a toddler in the in their care knows that I am not exaggerating when I say the day was saved!

No Cook Paleo Granola :: 10 Minute Prep, Grain Free, & Protein Rich!Notes about ingredients, swaps, and nutrients!

  • I used dates as the “sweet” for this granola. Dates are a fantastic source of essential minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, that we all need on a daily basis. I like the fiber component of using real fruit for sweetening things for little guys too! You could swap the dates for another dried fruit (like raisins or dried blueberries) to provide the “sticky” to hold the bits of granola together.
  • I really think that any nut and/or seed combo would work for this granola. My biggest suggestion would be to change things up every time you make it! Different nuts and seeds have different nutritional benefits – take advantage of the variety. I do like the ingredient profiles of chia and flax and have tended to keep those in the mix each time. Chia seed and flax seed are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, which most of us could use more of! They are also a good source of protein and fiber.
  • I have also liked to pull out some of the nuts and use more coconut shreds. Coconut shreds have protein and fiber as well as iron and zinc! We aren’t huge coconut flavor fanatics here, but I like the texture and the dates cover up the coconut flavor! I understand that coconut has become problematic as an allergen for some with leaky gut going on. If that is the case, simply leave the coconut out and swap for another seed or nut.
  • If you are nut free, you can swap the nuts for pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, and/or more coconut shreds!

No Cook Paleo Granola :: 10 Minute Prep, Grain Free, & Protein Rich!Serving suggestions for everyone!

We have a bit of a split home as far as who tolerates dairy and who doesn’t, so I have a lot of serving ideas for you!

No Cook Paleo Granola :: 10 Minute Prep, Grain Free, & Protein Rich!

5.0 from 11 reviews
No Cook Paleo Granola :: 10 Minute Prep, Grain Free, & Protein Rich!
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 10-12 dates, pitted and chopped (I think a couple cups of other dried fruit like raisins would work here, and probably wouldn't need the initial chopping!
  • 1 cup walnuts (I like to use soaked/dehyrated nuts for best digestion)
  • 1 cup pecans (I like to use soaked/dehyrated nuts for best digestion)
  • ½ cup chia seed
  • ½ cup flax seed meal
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ - ½ tsp sea salt (leave out if your nuts were salted)
  • {I get all of our nuts and seeds, as well as dates from Costco. I purchase coconut shreds in bulk at our local health food store.}
Instructions
  1. Put everything into the food processor. Mix with a spoon to combine everything evenly first.
  2. Pulse to combine into the texture you like (I have left the chunks bigger than what is pictured in this post as well and that is my favorite - my toddler prefers it smaller like what is pictured). Store the granola in an airtight container in the pantry up to 3 months.

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