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6 Ways To Use Leftover Chicken

September 14, 2022

Tips for stretching a whole chicken, plus a variety of recipes to use your leftover chicken!

6 Ways To Use Leftover Chicken

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

Back to school schedule rhythms

We are back into fall routines, and we all know that means needing a little more rhythm to our meal plan! Many of us are back to busy schedules, after school activities, homework…and enjoying all of the fun fall events too! This felt like a simple enough post to write, but I felt very important, since this “using a whole chicken for multiple meals” thing is something that I rely on very heavily on a weekly basis during the school year.

6 Ways To Use Leftover Chicken

My year ’round menu staple…

Learning how to cook a whole chicken was one of the very first things I learned how to make when I started my whole foods journey. I was actually quite sick at the time. After seeing doctor after doctor, I saw a more holistically minded practitioner that turned my focus to healing through food. I made my first whole chicken and my own bone broth, and over a period of a few months, and other diet clean-ups, I saw a significant change in my health. I was sold, and the practice of making a whole chicken and broth on a weekly basis became a household staple.

6 Ways To Use Leftover Chicken

It isn’t as intimidating as it sounds!

Little did I know that years after I got into that rhythm of making a whole chicken and broth, and I started having children, that this simple kitchen task would actually end up becoming a budget and meal planning lifesaver! Whole chickens are less per pound than chicken parts, and you can really stretch that chicken into multiple meals. Of course if you have a larger family, you may need to make more than one chicken at a time to accomplish this! Here are a few posts to get you started on your own journey to making whole chicken! Use whatever kitchen appliance you have – I have a method for just about anything!

Prep Day Shredded BBQ Chicken

Onto the recipes!

Whether you plan to make a whole chicken specifically to use in a recipe like these, or you plan to make a whole chicken for dinner, and use the leftovers for another meal, I think you’ll find that the possibilities are endless when it comes to utilizing the whole chicken for your weekly meal plan!

6 Ways To Use Leftover Chicken

Recipe #1 :: Chicken Noodle Soup (plus other chicken soup ideas!)

The quintessential leftover chicken recipe, and my “go-to” on many weeks, is soup. Whether that be chicken noodle soup, or something heartier like stew, it is truly a no brainer. Save the juices that you cook your whole chicken in (called meat stock), and you can literally make soup in the same pot as your whole chicken! Also! If you need some biscuit ideas to go with your soup, you can try my Grain Free Butter Biscuits, my Soft Fluffy Pumpkin Biscuits, or my Cheesy Spinach Biscuits! Here are some of our soup favs with chicken (all of these are gluten and dairy free!):

6 Recipes To Use Leftover Chicken

Recipe #2 :: Chicken Fajitas

I can’t think of a way that I love using shredded chicken for more than fajitas. The texture from a whole chicken is out of this world, and I think you’ll find that the kids will love this on the meal plan rotation often! Go ahead and veggie load that fajita filling too (you can learn how to veggie load taco meat here, and use the same method!), and you can have the whole skillet as a meal to use in tortillas, shells, or on a big salad. If you need a fantastic fajita seasoning blend, you can find my recipe for fajita seasoning mix in my cookbook, The Little Lunchbox Cookbook! Or, if you prefer to buy, this is a good brand.

6 Recipes To Use Leftover Chicken

Recipe #3 :: Chicken Fried Rice

When my girls were little, fried rice was an easy lunchtime staple that I made often while they were home with me. Now that they are bigger, they love to take this savory meal in a thermos to school, but since they are bigger, the little bit of egg in the fried rice doesn’t go as far! I started adding chicken, and it is protein packed enough for a meal for big kids too! If your kids are sensitive to eggs, you can leave them out and add more chicken. This recipe is in my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings – the flavor will definitely remind you of a restaurant fried rice! So good!

6 Recipes To Use Leftover Chicken

Recipe #4 :: Chicken Pesto Pasta

*The* most requested pasta dinner in my house is this! I know, I know…it’s green. But hear me out! This creamy, dreamy pasta is SO, so flavorful and comforting. The recipe for my pesto pasta is in my cookbook, The Little Lunchbox Cookbook, but if you have a favorite pesto recipe, you can toss that with pasta and chicken and make your own! The recipe from the cookbook has some hidden veggies in with the pesto that the kids will never know are there because the sauce is so creamy, so you can truly call this a one pot dinner!

6 Recipes To Use Leftover Chicken

Recipe #5 :: Chicken Salad

Whether you are super short on time, or the weather is too hot to cook, chicken salad is a fast, no-cook way to use up the leftover chicken from your weekly whole chicken! My kids love to scoop chicken salad with veggies and crackers, which makes for an easy lunchbox protein. You can make chicken salad with a simple mayo (I like this brand from Costco, or here is my Paleo Mayo, or my dairy based egg free mayo), or get fancy with yummy add-ins. There is a really delicious chicken salad pinwheel recipe in my cookbook, The Little Lunchbox Cookbook that the kids will love, or you can try this Mexican Chicken Salad! (PS! If you want to try another “cold” chicken sandwich idea, try my shredded BBQ chicken sandwich recipe!)

6 Recipes To Use Leftover Chicken

Recipe #6 :: Chicken Stir Fry

Clean out the veggie bin at the end of the week and toss it with your leftover chicken! It can be as simple as that, or you can dress it up with some yummy stir fry sauce! Here are some recipes to get you started:

6 Recipes To Use Leftover Chicken

Don’t forget the bone broth!

If you are investing in a whole chicken, you might as well squeeze the most out of it that you can! Having the bones leftover after pulling the chicken apart is like the gift that keeps on giving. My usual routine is to toss the bones/carcass into my Instant Pot or Slow Cooker as I am de-boning the chicken and make the bone broth right there. You can leave it to cook in the slow cooker over night, or pressure cook it it a couple hours using your Instant Pot (a lot of the times I end up pressure cooking after dinner, and then leave it it in the pot over night since it is so incredibly hot – it cools off by the morning and then I strain and freeze it.

6 Ways To Use Leftover Chicken

So tell me!

What are your favorite things to do with leftover chicken? Also! I would love to hear from you if you try making a whole chicken for the first time after reading this post! Let us know how it goes!

Batch Up Meals Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Instant Pot Lunch Ideas Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips school lunches

Prep Day Instant Pot Shredded BBQ Chicken

July 5, 2022

Save money using a whole chicken on your prep day for shredded BBQ chicken to use for salads, sandwiches, and baked potato toppers!

Prep Day Shredded BBQ Chicken

Summer vibes

All the sun, all the sand! Our barefoot days spent on the shore of Lake Michigan in the summer is what gets us through the snowy winters here, and this summer is no different! The weather has been incredible…which also means I don’t want to be inside cooking meals all day!

Prep Day Shredded BBQ Chicken

Growing tweens and teens nutritional needs

If you have been around here as long as this blog has been around, you have truly watched my girls grow up. I started this blog when my third born was just a baby, and you’ve gotten to witness so many seasons of their growth. In the last few years, I’ve slowly started a bit of a larger gear shift as my oldest went through her tween years, and then turned 13 this spring. Now, with my second born right smack dab in her tween-hood, I feel like I’m seeing a pattern in nutritional needs of these rapidly growing, hormone-shifting years. Protein. And a lot of it. Sure, this age needs some really good, healthy fats for their ever-changing hormones and growth spurts – in fact it is vital. Hormones *need* fats to work. But I am also seeing even more importantly that their growth spurts and rapid metabolisms need protein, or they will eat you out of house and home!

Prep Day Shredded BBQ Chicken

Keeping the tweens from being starving!

I remember the moment I decided I had to change *something.* My oldest was a tween, and I literally couldn’t keep satisfied – she was always hungry! She was growing out of shoes left and right, and within one school year grew at least 5 inches. I was feeding her the same sort of meals as I always had, with larger portions, and making sure there was healthy fat at each meal. What I noticed was that on days that we had more protein on the plate, she was happier and more satiated. I started working on getting more meat into specifically our lunch meals, and it really helped during those growth spurting tween years. (Side note! YES pastured eggs are a great source of protein as well, and we use them for my younger two – but my oldest cannot have them other than in baked goods so that source is out for her!)

Prep Day Shredded BBQ Chicken

Saving your budget with a whole chicken

With an increased need for quality protein in my growing kiddo’s diet, I changed a few things around, and started focusing on using whole chickens for meal preps. We already had our half grassfed cow in the freezer at around $4 per pound (an absolute budget lifesaver!), but I didn’t want to be blowing my budget in cuts of chicken day in and day out. I needed something to pull for meat every day without cooking every day too! The budget savings in using a whole chicken at $4 per pound or less, versus cuts of chicken at over $6 per pound – well that is a no brainer.

Prep Day Shredded BBQ Chicken

More than just the meat!

Of course the tender, juicy chicken meat off the bone is by far superior to cuts of chicken, but you also get to use the leftover chicken juices (called meat stock), as well as the bones to make bone broth – practically free broth to use for weekly soups, stews, gravies, and cooking veggies or rice in! When your whole chicken is done cooking – whether that be in a slow cooker, oven, or Instant Pot, just strain the juices off and you’ve got yourself a nutrient packed stock for cooking with – without having to buy it at the store!

Prep Day Shredded BBQ Chicken

Let’s talk BBQ Sauce before we get to the chicken!

For this post, and for most of the summer, I like to use my super quick 5-minute BBQ Sauce. It stirs up in a jar in literally minutes, and it tastes so good! If you prefer a more fruit sweetened sauce, try my date sweetened BBQ Sauce here – it blends up in a blender in just minutes without cooking too! Or, if you have a store bought version that doesn’t have a bunch of junk ingredients, that works too! There are plenty of brands out there now that have made BBQ sauce from the store healthier without using high fructose corn syrup, dyes, and preservatives. Since we are talking a bit about budget saving in this post, I’ll recommend trying to make your own, and saving the money!

5 Minute BBQ Sauce

The Method :: Cooking the Whole Chicken

My goal in this meal prep recipe is to make the prep part as simple as possible, so that you will want to do this regularly, instead of just one time! Since the purpose of this whole chicken is to be shredded up with BBQ anyway, I don’t even spend time fussing with seasoning the chicken. We are essentially boiling/poaching the chicken plain. That way, the meat stock leftover in the pot is a perfectly beautiful, unseasoned but flavorful blank slate that you can use for anything you want. To get started, fill your Instant Pot liner with a couple cups of water and fill with carrots, onion, and celery – this veggie mix along with the chicken will flavor the stock beautifully. Add the chicken to the water and veggies, and pressure cook on the poultry setting for 28 minutes. After the chicken pressure cooks, let the pressure release naturally for about 15 minutes before opening the lid and getting the chicken out. Be sure to strain off the liquid (meat stock) to use for soup or cooking veggies/rice in this week!

Prep Day Shredded BBQ Chicken

The Method :: Shredding the Whole Chicken

Once the whole chicken has been cooked, you can pull the meat off the bones as soon as it is cooled off enough to handle. Sometimes I don’t have the time to wait, and I’ll use some tongs or put some rubber gloves on to get it done! Put all of the meat from the chicken into a large bowl and shred with 2 forks. You could blend with a hand mixer if you want too – it really does work!

Prep Day Shredded BBQ Chicken

The Method :: How to Turn the Shredded Chicken Into BBQ Shredded Chicken!

The only thing left to do is stir in the BBQ sauce at this point! Use as little, or as much as you want! For this 5 pound chicken, I did use an entire pint of my 5-Minute BBQ Sauce. You may also need to salt and pepper your chicken to your taste since we did not season the whole chicken, and chicken tends to be bland without. It is truly a blank slate – make it taste how your family likes it!

Prep Day Shredded BBQ Chicken

How to serve your shredded BBQ chicken!

For this post, I’ve shown you how to use the BBQ chicken for sandwiches, but there are a couple other ways I like to serve it too! One of the girls’ favorite ways is over baked sweet potatoes. It changes up the starch from bread, and adds a veggie in there too! My kids will eat the chicken cold in a lettuce wrap as well. Another option is mixed into a salad, or you can go with the classic bun (we like the GF buns from Trader Joes’), pita (we like the GF pitas at Costco from BFree), or wraps!

Prep Day Shredded BBQ Chicken

Prep Day Instant Pot Shredded BBQ Chicken

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery coarsely chopped
  • 1 Whole chicken between 4-6 pounds, rinsed
  • 1-2 cups BBQ sauce of choice I like to use a pint of my 5-minute BBQ Sauce
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Put 2-3 cups of water into your Instant Pot liner, along with the veggies, and then the whole chicken on top.
  • Close the IP lid, seal the valve, and press "Poultry." Bring the time up to 28 minutes. The IP will start on its own, taking about 5-10 minutes to come to pressure before counting down the 28 minutes of pressure cooking time.
  • Once the chicken is done pressure cooking, let the IP sit for 15 minutes to naturally release some of the pressure. After waiting 15 minutes, release the rest of the pressure from the valve, and transfer the whole chicken to a large dish or plate to de-bone. Strain the juices (called meat stock) and use those for any soups, stews, stir fry, or cooking veggies/rice in another time!
  • De-bone the whole chicken, and then shred the meat in a large bowl using 2 forks. Once the chicken is shredded, stir in the BBQ sauce, and then season with salt and pepper to your taste.
Prep Day Shredded BBQ Chicken

More real food recipes you might like!

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

Sheet Pan Lemon Garlic Chicken, Potatoes, & Broccoli with Dairy Free “Cheesy” Herb Sauce

May 19, 2022

This yummy sheet pan lemon garlic chicken is an easy weeknight dinner packed with flavor the whole family will love!

Sheet Pan Lemon Garlic Chicken, Potatoes, & Broccoli with Dairy Free "Cheesy" Herb Sauce

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 newest “tween”

It’s been a whirlwind of a spring around here, with all the school events that come with the end of the school year, a house move…and also our household spring birthdays! We have 2 of them in the spring to be exact, and my middle kiddo is officially 11! I feel like I have hit the tween jackpot so far, as my 2 girls in this age bracket have so far been quite a breeze considering. This age group also brings a different kind of busy to our household schedule than the baby, toddler, and little kid years, and boy oh boy have I been relying on sheet pan dinners during this “in and out the door every evening” season of having kids!

Sheet Pan Lemon Garlic Chicken, Potatoes, & Broccoli with Dairy Free "Cheesy" Herb Sauce

1 dinner, 2 sheet pans

I feel like sheet pan dinners are one of the most under-rated “fast weekday dinners,” especially with the Instant Pot craze, and the old faithful slow cooker all of our mothers used. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my Instant Pot, but when I am meal planning out my week, the dinners that come to mind for the busiest days are always sheet pan meals. And lately, they are on the rotation quite often. Protein, veg, starch all go in the same oven temp, and mom is hands free to tend to other things while it cooks? Sign. Me. Up.

Sheet Pan Lemon Garlic Chicken, Potatoes, & Broccoli with Dairy Free "Cheesy" Herb Sauce

But will my kids eat it?!

I know the lemon garlic flavors sound strong for a child’s palate, but this meal is super family friendly. The lemon and garlic are mild, though are enough to make an adult very happy too. And most kids are open to the idea of crispy potatoes and broccoli that tastes good after roasting. I would really encourage my young moms with babies and toddlers to toss a few bites of this on their highchair tray, or invite them to eat right off your plate too. The younger ages between 9 months old and 4 years old are super social eating ages – meaning, they are more likely to try something new if it is with you, and off your plate! You’ll be able to teach them to eat off their own plate with time, and with time they will actually want to do that -for now, don’t fret if all they want is what is on mom’s plate! Train their palates for these fun flavors, and this easy dinner meal can be on your rotation on the regular!

Sheet Pan Lemon Garlic Chicken, Potatoes, & Broccoli with Dairy Free "Cheesy" Herb Sauce

The Method :: The Lemon Garlic Marinade

The marinade for the chicken can be made up in advance, though is easy enough to make the night of as well. Just be sure you leave enough time for the chicken to marinade for at least 20 minutes. If you have a busy day, you can whisk it up before you leave in the morning, and toss the chicken in for the day. Or perhaps you get the chicken into the marinade before you leave to get the kids from school or practice so that it is ready to cook when you get home. Once you whisk the marinade together, you’ll want to scoop out about 1/4 cup into a small dish so that you have some to toss the veggies with that have not been touching the raw chicken.

Sheet Pan Lemon Garlic Chicken, Potatoes, & Broccoli with Dairy Free "Cheesy" Herb Sauce

The Method :: Prepping & Roasting the Potatoes

I like to spread this dinner out on 2 sheet pans despite the pictures. It allows for more even cooking and less “steaming” cooking versus roasting cooking so that you get a crispy outside on the potatoes and chicken. You can definitely back off on the amount and get everything on one sheet pan though if you have less people to feed. To get started, you’ll toss the potato quarters with a couple tablespoons of the reserved marinade and roast on the sheet pan first. The potatoes need more cook time than the broccoli and the chicken, so you’ll give them a head start.

Sheet Pan Lemon Garlic Chicken, Potatoes, & Broccoli with Dairy Free "Cheesy" Herb Sauce

The Method :: Prepping & Roasting the Rest of the Dinner

Once you stir the cooked potatoes around, you’ll toss the broccoli on the same sheet pan with the other 2 tablespoons of reserved marinade. I like to scoot the potatoes to one side of the sheet pan, and the broccoli goes on the other side, though you can toss them all together if you wish. Then, line up the marinated chicken thighs on the second sheet pan, and everything roasts together!

Sheet Pan Lemon Garlic Chicken, Potatoes, & Broccoli with Dairy Free "Cheesy" Herb Sauce
Sheet Pan Lemon Garlic Chicken, Potatoes, & Broccoli with Dairy Free "Cheesy" Herb Sauce

The Method :: The Dairy Free “Cheesy” Herb Sauce

The sauce…this sauce! You’ll want to dunk every piece, or drown the whole plate full in it because it just elevates every bite! While your dinner is cooking on the sheet pans in the oven, you can stir the sauce up in a small bowl in just a few minutes. This creamy dipping sauce will last for days in the fridge, so if you have any leftover (there is usually none leftover when I make it!), you can drizzle it on your salad, on a wrap, or any leftover chicken dinner you might have.

Sheet Pan Lemon Garlic Chicken, Potatoes, & Broccoli with Dairy Free "Cheesy" Herb Sauce

What if I can have dairy?

If your home consumes dairy, you can make the cheesy herb sauce with regular, plain yogurt, or Greek yogurt, and parmesan cheese instead of the coconut yogurt and nutritional yeast. Even sour cream is a good base – use what you have. It is delcious!

Sheet Pan Lemon Garlic Chicken, Potatoes, & Broccoli with Dairy Free "Cheesy" Herb Sauce

Are you a meal prepper?

If you like to prep a week’s worth of lunches for your busy day, this meal can be prepped on a Sunday to portion out for your lunches for the week so easily. Use portion containers to store it in, and you’ll have an easy lunch to pull from whether you are at work, or busy with littles at home.

Sheet Pan Lemon Garlic Chicken, Potatoes, & Broccoli with Dairy Free "Cheesy" Herb Sauce

Sheet Pan Lemon Garlic Chicken, Potatoes, & Broccoli with Dairy Free “Cheesy” Herb Sauce

Ingredients

For the Lemon Garlic Marinade ::

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic minced
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of ½ lemon about 3-4 tbsp
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard or regular mustard
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

For the Sheet Pan Dinner ::

  • 1 recipe of the above Lemon Garlic Marinade
  • 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • 8-9 yellow potatoes quartered
  • 1-2 heads of broccoli cut into florets (about 6 or so cups)
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste

For the Dairy Free “Cheesy” Herb Sauce ::

  • 1 cup full fat dairy free yogurt such coconut yogurt I like the large tubs of So Delicious plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried chives
  • ½ tsp dried dill
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • Pinch of pepper

Instructions

Make the Lemon Garlic Marinade ::

  • Whisk the marinade ingredients in a container that has a lid. **Scoop out ¼ cup of the marinade into a small bowl to save for the veggies.**

Marinade the chicken ::

  • You’ll want to marinade the chicken for at least 15-20 minutes, but you can do this in advance in the morning if you want. Rinse and pat dry your chicken thighs, add them to the marinade that is in the container, put the lid on the container, and shake it up to mix the marinade and the chicken. Let the chicken marinade in the refrigerator until you are ready to make dinner.

Make the sheet pan dinner ::

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees and get 2 large sheet pans out. Do not spray or line the sheet trays.
  • Toss the quartered yellow potatoes on one of the sheet trays with 2 tablespoons of the reserved lemon garlic marinade and about ¼ to ½ tsp of sea salt to taste.
  • Roast the potatoes at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, and then give them on a stir on the sheet tray. S
  • Scoot the potatoes to one half of the sheet tray, and add the broccoli florets to the other side. Toss the broccoli florets with the other 2 tablespoons of lemon garlic marinade and sprinkle a few pinches of sea salt.
  • On the second sheet tray, line up the marinated chicken thighs, and then put both sheet trays into the oven together to roast for 25 minutes.

Make the Dairy Free “Cheesy” Herb Sauce ::

  • While the sheet pan dinner is in the oven, you can stir up the dairy free “cheesy” herb sauce. OR this can be made up to a couple days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Add all of the ingredients for the sauce into a small bowl, and stir together until combined.

Notes

  • You can swap the thighs for chicken breasts but you’ll want to fillet any breasts that are on the thick side to match the size/thickness of the thighs represented here.
  • You can swap the broccoli for whatever veg is in season! Use green beans, asparagus, zucchini, or a mixture of veg!
  • If you are not dairy free, you can use regular yogurt or Greek yogurt and parmesan for the cheesy herb sauce.
  • This dinner makes a great meal prep for a whole week to warm up for work.
  • Any leftover chicken can be cut up and used for salads, wraps, or stir fry
Sheet Pan Lemon Garlic Chicken, Potatoes, & Broccoli with Dairy Free "Cheesy" Herb Sauce

More real food recipes you might like! ::

Batch Up Meals Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Lunch Ideas Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips school lunches

Simple Prep Day Paleo Crispy Chicken Fillets

April 18, 2022

These simple, crispy chicken fillets are the Paleo answer to making healthy, delicious meal prep day success!

Simple Prep Day Paleo Crispy Chicken Fillets

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.

The race to the finish line!

We are a week back into school since Spring Break, Easter has come and gone, and I really feel like we are starting to see that finish line to the school year in the distance! Those of you that have been around these parts long know that I just love our summers at the beach, and while we are definitely routine keepers around here, taking a couple months off in the summer is balm to our souls. One thing I have learned in the years since I have had kids in school is that May is….crazy! I don’t think there is one day that doesn’t have *something* on the calendar for me every May, and that means I’ve got to have a plan to keep us fed without compromising, and also without being in the kitchen all day.

Simple Prep Day Paleo Crispy Chicken Fillets

Back to the basics

Something that helps me keep whole foods on the table during busy seasons, is having the protein figured out and prepped ahead of time. It can make all the difference in the world in faster, easier meals. For instance, getting a dozen hard boiled eggs made quickly every Sunday, makes school morning breakfast additions so fast so that I don’t have to rely on convenience breakfast staples like boxed cereals that don’t have the nutrition, and won’t keep my kids sustained all morning. Likewise, I have found if I have a protein like chicken or beef made up ahead of time, I eat lunches better while the girls are in school. Let’s face it – it is so easy to skip it or just grab quick little things when busy during the day when the kids aren’t there to force the stop for lunch….*Guilty as charged!* So if I get some chicken prepped ahead of time, I’ll add it to a salad for lunch, or as a side to veggie soup, and I’m way better at getting lunch in.

Simple Prep Day Paleo Crispy Chicken Fillets
Simple Prep Day Paleo Crispy Chicken Fillets

Not just for lunch meal prep!

But wait! Having a simple protein prepped or even just this method in your back pocket for a busy weeknight can make dinnertime such a breeze. Add this simple crispy chicken to a skillet filled with a veggie stir fry, or a pot of pasta and cream sauce, and dinner is so satisfying without having been in the kitchen all day!

Simple Prep Day Paleo Crispy Chicken Fillets

Key players and keeping it simple

I don’t think there is anyone that would turn down a piece of crispy chicken…super flavorful outside, juicy inside – what’s not to love?! But the dredging, and the egging, and the flouring…most of us don’t have time for that other than special occasions. This lightly breaded chicken gets crispy without the fuss, and with just a couple of ingredients. Salt and pepper whisked with a simple sprinkle of cassava flour is as easy as it gets! I love cassava flour for a few different reasons. Even if you are not paleo, or need to avoid gluten, cassava flour is a great pantry addition that will help you keep your ingredients on rotation, so your family is getting variety. The cassava plant is a root vegetable, and the flour is quite literally just the plant, dried out and ground into flour. It is very absorbent, which makes for a nice crispy outside, and the health benefits from the natural pre-biotic fibers are so good for the gut too!

Simple Prep Day Paleo Crispy Chicken Fillets

The Method :: Prepping The Chicken

I did photograph this entire crispy chicken method, but let’s not complicate this. Prep the chicken into the sized pieces that you prefer. I’ll show you what I typically do here, but you can make the pieces bigger or smaller, depending on what you are using the chicken for. I like to rinse, and then pat dry the chicken with a paper towel. I don’t even use an extra plate (less dishes, less kitchen time, amiright?!) – just rinse, pat dry, and place on your cutting board. I like to fillet the chicken thin, so I typically cut the thicker top half off to fillet, and leave the smaller bottom half as is. Sometimes I’ll fillet the bottom half as well.

Simple Prep Day Paleo Crispy Chicken Fillets
Chicken breasts, rinsed & pat dry with paper towel
Simple Prep Day Paleo Crispy Chicken Fillets
Filleted chicken breasts
Simple Prep Day Paleo Crispy Chicken Fillets
Here are all 3 breasts filleted and ready for the flour!

The Method :: The flour coating

This cassava flour breading is as basic as it gets, though so flavorful. If you plan to use your chicken for a stir fry, you could add some ginger. Or if you are using it for a pasta meal, add some Italian seasoning! Just whisk the flour with the seasonings in a small dish, and then coat the chicken. I don’t even use a different plate or bowl – just toss it all right on the cutting board.

Simple Prep Day Paleo Crispy Chicken Fillets

The Cooking Oil…

Before we move onto actually cooking the chicken, let’s talk about what to cook it in! I prefer a super hot, cast iron skillet with coconut oil. You’ll want to pick a very high heat stable cooking fat, that is also healthy and not filled with inflammatory fat that will cause free radicals in your body. Oils like canola or peanut oil do very well with high heat, BUT they are so inflammatory, and they will inflame the body when eaten on the regular. Healthier fats like coconut oil, ghee, or avocado oil also tolerate the high heat well, but are so incredible for your health. The feed your brain, your hormones, and actually work to keep inflammation down. I use a nice big chunk of the coconut oil in a large cast iron skillet, and get a really nice, crispy crust on the chicken!

Simple Prep Day Paleo Crispy Chicken Fillets

The Method :: Cooking the Chicken

Once your coconut oil is heated, pull the chicken pieces right from the cutting board into the oil. You’ll want to keep some space around the chicken, so you may need to work in batches if your skillet will not hold them all, or if you are making a larger quantity of chicken. Allow the chicken to cook, undisturbed, for a good 3-4 minutes so that the golden, crispy outside can develop. If you start moving your chicken and it is sticking, you probably have not let it cook long enough to develop the crust. Flip the chicken, and cook another 3-4 minutes, until the chicken is golden and crispy on the other side and cooked through. I like to transfer the cooked chicken to a wire rack so it stays crispy.

Simple Prep Day Paleo Crispy Chicken Fillets

The possibilities are endless!

Here are some ways that I like to use my crispy chicken, both for lunches or dinner!

  • Salad topper
  • Stir fry
  • Pasta dishes
  • Sandwiches or lettuce wraps
  • Sliced as guacamole dippers – my kids love this in their lunches
  • Or just eaten plain with sides!
Simple Prep Day Paleo Crispy Chicken Fillets

Can I use chicken thighs?

110% yes! (Can you tell I’m a thigh girl?!) The method is the same, though you won’t need to use as much cooking oil since chicken thighs lend some fat as they cook very easily. If you prefer thigh meat, definitely use that! It is so good crispy and then used in all of the applications above for meal suggestions.

Simple Prep Day Paleo Crispy Chicken Fillets

Simple Prep Day Paleo Crispy Chicken Fillets

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Rinse the chicken breasts in cold water, and pat any excess water off using a paper towel. Place the chicken breasts on your cutting board as you go.
  • Fillet your chicken breasts so they are thinner, and spread them out on the cutting board. I like to cut the breast in half horizontally first so the smaller end is one fillet, and the top half gets filleted into 2.
  • In a small dish, whisk the cassava flour, sea salt, and pepper and then sprinkle half of the mixture over the chicken breasts. Rub the flour around the tops of the chicken, and then flip them over. Sprinkle the other half of the seasoned flour on the chicken, and then toss the chicken on the cutting board to coat evenly.
  • Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over high heat. Bring the temperature to medium-high heat, and add the coated chicken to the hot oil, making sure to leave some space around each fillet. You may have to work in batches. With my 12 inch cast iron I can do this in 2 batches.
  • Once the bottom of the fillet is golden brown (this takes 3-4 minutes), you can flip the chicken to cook on the other side for another 3-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken. Properly cooked chicken should have internal temp of 165 degrees. I don't test this, but you can.
  • Once the chicken is cooked through, place them on a plate or drying rack to rest a few minutes before cutting. If you are storing your chicken for meals for the week, you can let it cool, and store in an air tight container. If you are adding your chicken to a dish or skillet meal, you can add it right in, or slice and add it it!

Notes

  • Avocado oil would be a good neutral oil to cook in as well. Olive oil and butter will tend to smoke/burn at the higher heat so I prefer the coconut oil. You can use refined coconut oil if you don’t like the taste of coconut oil. I love the mild sweetness it brings to the chicken.
  • Season the flour however you wish! I like to add smoked paprika sometimes, or ginger depending on what I am using the chicken for.
Simple Prep Day Paleo Crispy Chicken Fillets

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Simple Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

March 28, 2022

This simple, no fuss, fool-proof Instant Pot hard boiled egg method is sure to become a part of your weekly prep day to set you up for easy grab and go meal add-in’s!

Simple Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

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.

Prep day staples to make meals run smoother

Just about every time I post one of our breakfast bar mornings to my Instagram, I’ll get a private message or 2, and some comments asking how I do the hard boiled eggs in the Instant Pot. I never really gave thought to posting this, since it seems so simple, but truly, these are the kitchen tasks that make the meal plans we do during the week flow so much faster – in other words…this is how we do real food for real life families!

Simple Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

So let’s talk about what a Prep Day is in my house

For me, Prep Day is hardly a “day,” so let’s just get that out there! I know there are people that truly spend an entire day prepping food for the week or month, and I think that is great. Do what works for you. For me, I’ll pick a 2 hour spurt during the week (typically on Sunday’s, but this changes depending on the time of the year). During that 2 hour spurt of the week there are a few tasks that I *always* do (like these hard boiled eggs), and a task or 2 that will be specific just to that week, or maybe dedicated to replenishing a monthly pantry item like granola bars.

Simple Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs
Simple Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

What in the world do you do with a dozen hard boiled eggs in 5 days?!

In my family of 5, this dozen eggs sometimes doesn’t even make it to the 3rd day, but let me give you some ideas! If you have a bigger family, by all means batch this up more!

  • Easy breakfast addition or breakfast bar item to go with muffins or breakfast cookies
  • Quick lunchbox add-in to go with everything from a soup or salad to leftover pancakes from the weekend to make a “breakfast for lunch” lunchbox
  • Fast morning or afternoon snacks
  • Egg salad for lunch or dinner
  • Crumbled onto a salad at dinner for extra protein for growing kids
  • Deviled eggs for a fun and easy addition to a charcuterie board lunch or dinner
Simple Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs
Simple Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs
Simple Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

So now that you know how to use them, let’s talk about what kind of eggs to use!

I’ll keep this as short as I can, because truthfully, I want you to use whatever are the best eggs that you can afford. However, I was reminded this week that some people may not understand the difference between cage free, free range, pastured, organic, etc when it comes to eggs, and I want to be sure you know! Because when you know better, you can do better, right? No beating yourself up – just work on fitting into your budget what you can. Obviously the best bet is going to be a local, pastured egg from chickens on pasture around where you live. Whether that be a friend down the street or a local farmer, these eggs will be the best nutrition for your family. Eggs with bright orange yolks are indicative of nutrients in the grasses and bugs that the chickens were eating. You’ll notice that conventional store bought eggs have a pale yellow yolk, and those eggs just don’t have the levels of nutrients that a pastured egg does. Unfortunately many may be tricked by the verbiage “cage free” because it sounds like the chickens are treated pretty great as they are not in a “cage.” Tricky, tricky wording because technically cage free chickens still can be kept inside with a certain about of space per chicken, and may not even get to feed on grasses or bugs at all. Chickens were meant to be on grass eating from the ground, giving their eggs the most optimal levels of nutrients. My recommendation would be to look for at the very least “free range,” and at the very best “pastured.” If you have further questions on this, please as in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer! I would also encourage you to visit your local farmer’s market to ask your local chicken farmers questions about how their chickens live and about their eggs – 9 times out of 10, farmers just love to talk about their chickens – especially if they are raising them right!

Simple Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

How to make Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

***First, you’ll fill your Instant Pot with a cup of water and place a steamer basket or the trivet your IP came with into the bottom of the pot. I love the steamer basket because at the end, I just pull the whole basket of eggs out and dunk them into the water

Simple Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

***Second, you’ll put the IP lid on and close the valve. Press “Manual” on the IP and bring the time down to 5 minutes. The Instant Pot will beep, and then take a few minutes to come to pressure before counting down the 5 minutes.

Simple Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

***Next, after the Instant Pot pressure cooks the eggs, you’ll release the valve right away, and pull the steamer basket out of the IP to dunk into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. If you are using the trivet, you’ll have to use a tongs to individually take the eggs out, which is totally fine. I just use a large mixing bowl in the sink to fill with cold water.

Simple Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

***Finally, after the eggs cool off for a few minutes, you can crack and peel them. I have left the eggs in the cold water up to an hour and that is fine too, although I have found they peel the best right away. Peel your eggs and store them in an airtight container in the fridge.

Simple Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

Get the kids involved in prep day!

Making the weekly hard boiled eggs is actually a fantastic way to get the kids in the kitchen. If you have little ones, have them help you peel the eggs – they will love this task! If you have older children, put this kitchen task on their plate entirely from start to finish. It is great life skills for when they are older, and they will feel proud contributing to the family. I’d even let them make some deviled eggs to get fancy if they love those!

Simple Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

Tips for introducing eating hard boiled eggs to little ones

Hard boiled eggs were one of my girls’ favorite finger foods as toddlers. They were an easy, compact protein for on the go little people, and I have a few ideas to make the introduction even more fun! Little kids *love* to be in charge. It all starts with letting them help you make the eggs, and for little ones this will mean gently placing the eggs in the IP, and maybe even helping you press a button or 2. Little ones also love peeling eggs – let them help you! Get a little egg cutter to make the prep a little safer (the egg cutter pictured below is one that I have had over a decade and I couldn’t find it, but there are so many in the stores, and if you like the Prime stuff, here are some to choose from there!), and let them cut the egg how they like – their choice. Let them sprinkle a little sea salt on the egg too!

Simple Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 12 uncooked eggs

Instructions

  • Add 1 cup of water to the bottom of your Instant Pot stainless steel pot, and place a steamer basket, or the trivet in the bottom of the pot.
  • Put up to 12 eggs into the steamer basket or on the trivet, close the lid of the IP, and seal the valve so it is closed.
  • Turn the IP on, press "Manual," and bring the time down to 5 minutes. The IP will beep, and then take a few minutes to come to pressure before counting down the 5 minutes.
  • Once the 5 minutes of pressure cooking is done, open the valve so the pressure releases, open the lid of the IP, take the steamer basket out, and place the steamer basket with the eggs into large bowl of cold water. I just fill a large mixing bowl with cold water in my sink. If you are using the trivet, you'll have to use tongs to pull out each egg and drop them into the bowl of cold water.
  • Let the eggs sit in the cold water at least a few minutes, though sometimes I forget about them for up to an hour. The eggs will peel the best after just a few minutes, but it still works if you have left them longer.
  • Once the eggs have cooled in the cold water for a few minutes, you can peel them. Store your hard boiled eggs in an air tight container up to 5 days in the fridge.
Simple Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

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Easy Paleo Granola Bars :: Oat Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

March 9, 2022

These yummy oat free Paleo granola bars are a snap to prep in the blender, quick to bake, and even easier to eat!

Easy Paleo Granola Bars :: Oat Free, Gluten Free, Dairy 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.

Moving week…and snack short-cuts!

It’s *finally* here! Moving week! It’s been a long year as we awaited our house to finish, and I’m getting ready to get these boxes we have been surrounded by into their final destination! Which means…I won’t have a whole lot of time in the kitchen, or be able to find much of anything until we get unpacked. I decided to get a few things stashed in the pantry that we can grab easily while we are moving, and I even got a new kitchen find to make the granola bar making process even faster!

Easy Paleo Granola Bars :: Oat Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

Meet my new $13 kitchen friend!

Seriously, this is the best 13 dollars I’ve spent in a long while! I would even say life changing status that compares to the Instant Pot. If you have ever made granola bars before, you know that in a pan, the edges tend to get slightly more cooked than the middle, and sometimes the cutting process can lead to some crumbs. These little silicone granola bar pans literally solve all of those problems, and truly the end result is perfectly shaped, perfectly cooked bars every. single. time….and I’m so here for that!

Easy Paleo Granola Bars :: Oat Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

Let’s talk about the ingredients!

While we aren’t a “paleo” exclusive house, I do like to keep ingredients on a rotation so we aren’t just eating the same ingredients all the time. Most granola bars have an oat base, and since we do oats in other places throughout the week from baked oatmeal to breakfast cookies, I wanted to make this staple, easy to make bar without oats to change the nutrient profile up a little bit. You can swap the nuts for whatever nuts that you have on hand – and I do think that if you are nut free you can use all seeds. The combination power packed nuts, seeds, and coconut, makes for a balanced fuel for everyone in the house!

Easy Paleo Granola Bars :: Oat Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

The Method :: Mix the Dry Ingredients

No hand chopping here! This whole granola bar mixture can be done right in your food processor! Put all of the dry ingredients into the food processor, and pulse about 4 long pulses, just to mix everything up and give a coarse “chop.” The pieces should look about like this ::

Easy Paleo Granola Bars :: Oat Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

The Method :: Mix the Wet Ingredients

Next, you’ll want to melt the honey, coconut oil, and almond butter in a sauce pan, and pour into the food processor. The wet ingredients are what gives the “stick” to the granola bar to bind the pieces together, so you really shouldn’t try to adjust the amounts of these, or you’ll end up with a crumbly mess if you use less, or a gooey mess if you use more. Pulse the food processor to combine the dry pieces with the wet ingredients. You can pulse until the pieces are still on the visible side, or until they are very small and unrecognizable. I like to go somewhere in between – I do have “coconut chip” detective that will refuse the bar if she can “see” the coconut chips – but she has no idea they are there in this form (and she is the biggest fan out of everyone of these bars btw!)! The mixture should look like this ::

Easy Paleo Granola Bars :: Oat Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

The Method :: Assemble and Bake

Again, I think the $13 investment in the silicone granola bar pans is so worth it – I am kicking myself for not getting one sooner! I think I would even pay double that for this convenience. Simply spoon the mixture into each well, and press it down firmly with the pack of your spoon. If you are making the bars in an 8×8 pan or a 9×9 pan, line the pan with parchment paper first, and then pour the mixture in. You’ll want to press the mixture down as firmly as you can before baking.

Easy Paleo Granola Bars :: Oat Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

Snack ideas and storage

Once the bars cool completely, they pop out of the silicone liner so easy, and you can store them in an airtight container in the pantry up to 3 months. Use your paleo granola bars for easy lunchbox add-ins or a quick snack with a side of fruit or veggies and dip! And for those of you with little ones at home, the *best* part about making your own granola bars is that you control the size. You can easily cut these bars into “bites” which is how I often still pack them for my 8 year old’s lunchbox. A full bar makes a good snack for her, but she doesn’t need all of that with other things in a full lunchbox too. My older girls do, though, so we keep the full size in the pantry, and I cut them to the size I need!

Easy Paleo Granola Bars :: Oat Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

Easy Paleo Granola Bars :: Oat Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees and place your silicone granola bar liners on a baking sheet. If you don’t have granola bar pans, you can use an 8×8 or 9×9 pan and cut them, just line the pan with parchment paper.
  • Put the walnuts, cashews, coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds, flax seed meal, cinnamon, sea salt, and coconut sugar into your food processor, and do a long pulse about 4 times to mix the pieces and break them up a bit. You can see what this should look like in the image above labeled “Mix the Dry Ingredients.”
  • Put the honey, coconut oil, and almond butter in a small sauce pan and melt over medium heat, stirring along the way.
  • Once the liquid ingredients are melted, pour them into the food processor with the dry ingredients, and pulse the ingredients to your desired consistency, making sure the wet ingredients have fully incorporated. If you want bigger pieces, pulse less times. If you want to make the pieces smaller so you can’t “see” them as much, pulse a bit longer. You can see what this looks like in the image above labeled “Mix the Wet Ingredients.”
  • Spoon the granola bar mixture into your silicone granola bar pan rectangles. Press the mixture down to pack it in tight using the back of your spoon. If you are using a square baking pan, pour the mixture into the parchment paper lined pan, and press firmly into the pan.
  • Bake the granola bars for 20 minutes, until lightly golden, for a slightly crunchy/slightly chewy granola bar, or 23-25 minutes, until darker golden brown, for a crunchy granola bar (similar to the texture of a Nature Valley Crunchy Honey Oat bar). I happen to love them crunchy, but both ways are fantastic! Let the bars cool completely before taking them out of the pan so they have time to harden. If you take them out while warm, they will fall apart.

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Bakery Style Banana Bread Breakfast Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

January 20, 2022

Bring the coffee shop home to you with these Bakery Style Banana Bread Muffins packed with good for you ingredients to make a healthy breakfast!

Bakery Style Banana Bread Breakfast Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy 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.

As the saying goes…

“If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow.” And so we snow shoe. And we build snowmen. And I live through the joy in my girls’ eyes at the sight of fresh powder. I am not sure I enjoyed the snow as much as my 3 girls do when I was a kid, but man, it sure is pretty. And we live here – and love it. So for a few months out of the year, I find joy in the piles of snow, and dream of the beach days to come. The winter months also bring a bit of a produce shortage to my kitchen, and that means…bananas!

Bakery Style Banana Bread Breakfast Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

All the bananas, all winter long

Because bananas are about the only thing my fruit budget likes in the winter. We pile them up in the fruit bowl every week, and inevitably there are a few stragglers at the end of the week that make for the most perfect breakfast muffins! I do have 2 banana muffins already on the blog, so why another? Well this one has a different ingredient profile, so maybe it works better for someone. And these big guys really reminded me of a coffee shop bakery muffin, so my older girls are all over that!

Bakery Style Banana Bread Breakfast Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

The Method :: The Bananas

Hey listen, I’m all about a banana muffin recipe where you just whir up the bananas right along with the rest of the ingredients and it becomes a super smooth batter. I even have recipes like that on my blog. But this one – we’re gonna take a fork to those bananas because it is worth those few little pieces for texture’s sake in these yummy muffins. Just grab a fork and have at it – it’s still just a “one-bowl” kind of a recipe, and it doesn’t take a lot of extra time.

Bakery Style Banana Bread Breakfast Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

The Method :: The Nuts

The blended nuts have a two-fold purpose. I wanted these to be a breakfast muffin, so adding an element of protein was easy to do with nuts. But I’m not just going to add almond flour to these muffins – the combination of walnuts and pecans give the most amazing flavor to the banana muffins, and you’ll get a just a little bit more nutty texture to the final muffin too. Yes, you have to pull out the blender, but just like the fork-smashed bananas, I promise that it is worth the flavor and texture.

Bakery Style Banana Bread Breakfast Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

The Method :: The Banana Muffin Batter

Once you mash the bananas, you’ll whisk in the rest of the wet ingredients – I just use the same fork I mashed the bananas with! Then you’ll add the blended nuts, and the rest of the ingredients. Just a quick stir with a rubber scraper will give you the perfect muffin batter to scoop into your muffin tin. I use a 1/3 cup measure which ends up being the perfect amount to completely fill the muffin cup. If you are going for a “bakery style” sized muffin, this is what you want to do! You’ll get that fun muffin top this way, and it’s a great size for older kids. You can make the muffins smaller by filling the muffin cups less, and you’ll get more muffins this way!

Bakery Style Banana Bread Breakfast Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free
Whisk the wet ingredients into the bananas
Bakery Style Banana Bread Breakfast Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free
Stir in the dry ingredients

The Method :: The Topping

Because most fun bakery muffins have a topping to entice! Just a couple sliced bananas and a sprinkle of walnuts make a pretty muffin top, and the kids will love it! The walnuts get crispy in the oven and so flavorful. Just place your banana rounds, sprinkle the walnuts, and you’re ready to bake.

Bakery Style Banana Bread Breakfast Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

The Method :: Baking the Muffins

I went for a higher heat to start with these muffins to get the most rise and a great “muffin top” texture. Once you pre-heat the oven, you’ll put the muffins in and pull the temp down a bit. The muffins will bake for about 25 minutes until they spring back to touch. Let them cool for a few minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. You can also cool and then freeze these muffins so that you have easy “grab and go” breakfasts for busy weeks!

Bakery Style Banana Bread Breakfast Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Swaps?

So I have not tried these muffins nut free. It is a lot of nuts to swap out. I do think blended pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds could work, but I’m not sure how the flavor would be. If you need a completely nut free banana muffin, try my Paleo Mini Banana Muffins! There are 2 eggs in these muffins and I do think they need them for the rise, but typically 2 eggs swap for egg replacer well in baked recipes. You might not get the rise that these muffins do, but it should still have a good texture.

Bakery Style Banana Bread Breakfast Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Bakery Style Banana Bread Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees, and line a muffin tin with unbleached paper cup liners.
  • Mash 4 bananas in the bottom of a medium mixing bowl until smooth. There can be a few small pieces throughout.
  • Add the avocado oil, coconut milk, eggs, and vanilla and whisk with the fork to combine with the mashed bananas.
  • Blend the pecans and the walnuts into a fine meal, and add them to the wet ingredients in the bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl, and use a rubber scraper to stir the batter until it is just combined.
  • Scoop the batter into your lined muffin tin, filling the muffins cups all the way to the top if you want the larger, bakery style muffins. You will get 12 large, bakery style muffins perfectly, or you can make them smaller and get 18 regular sized muffins.
  • Put the muffins in the oven, and bring the temperature down to 400 degrees. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Check your muffins around the 25 minute mark in case our ovens run differently. The muffins should spring back to touch, and be golden brown on the top.
Bakery Style Banana Bread Breakfast Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

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Hot Cocoa Waffles :: Gluten Free and Dairy Free!

December 6, 2021

The perfect snowy day breakfast! Cozy hot cocoa waffles made gluten and dairy free with all the yummy hot cocoa flavor!

Hot Cocoa Waffles :: Gluten Free and Dairy Free!

The coziest time of the year!

I’m just about the beachiest beach bum that lives in Michigan. I live for our powdery Lake Michigan shoreline in the warm months of the year, but I truly have Michigander kids. They just love the snow, and will play outside in all kinds of weather. Even though we enjoy a lot of snow here, getting school canceled for snow days are pretty few and far between, so when we do, a cozy breakfast is always on the agenda! We haven’t had any really big snows yet this season, but I thought I’d share a fun snow day breakfast since I think it would also be super fun to serve for Christmas morning too!

Hot Cocoa Waffles :: Gluten Free and Dairy Free!

A new spin on a household staple

Our gluten free protein waffles have become a blog favorite, as they are a staple in our weekend breakfast rotation meal plans, as well as make frequent appearances in my Monday #RGNSchoolLunch posts on Instagram in sandwich form! Last winter, I used that recipe to play around with the idea of a chocolate or “hot cocoa waffle,” and the girls had fun eating them on a few snowy mornings. I picked up this adorable snowflake waffle maker a few weeks ago, and just had to show you how to make this easy, festive breakfast for the kids!

Hot Cocoa Waffles :: Gluten Free and Dairy Free!

The Method :: The eggs

Egg separating is key to any fluffy waffle or pancake. For this recipe, you’ll want to separate your eggs, being very careful not to get any part of the yolk into the bowl that has the egg whites. The egg whites will fluff up the best when there is absolutely zero yolk in the bowl. And that fluffy egg white whip is what magically makes these waffles have the most amazing texture.

Hot Cocoa Waffles :: Gluten Free and Dairy Free!

The Method :: Finishing the Waffle Batter

Once your eggs are separated, and the egg whites are whipped until fluffy, you’ll blend the yolk mixture and combine that with the dry ingredients. After that, fold the fluffy egg whites in, and you’re ready to make waffles! When folding the egg whites into the batter, be very gentle so the egg whites don’t deflate – take your time, and it will eventually be combined!

Hot Cocoa Waffles :: Gluten Free and Dairy Free!

The Method :: Cooking the Waffles

This waffle batter will work on any waffle iron. You don’t need a fancy snowflake waffle iron…but if you have a chance to get one, they sure are cute! It’s a fun way to dress up the waffles in a way that doesn’t take any extra time, or junky ingredients! I have found that for these kind of mini waffle makers, about 1/4 cup of batter is just enough to fill up the iron, and not spill over the edges. My regular waffle maker, this ceramic waffle iron, takes about 1/2 cup of batter for reference. Just cook the waffle batter until the edges are crispy, and transfer to a wire rack while you make the rest.

Hot Cocoa Waffles :: Gluten Free and Dairy Free!

What do they taste like? (How “chocolatey” are these?)

I think these hot cocoa waffles have a mild, kid friendly chocolate taste. If you want a richer chocolate flavor, you can double the cocoa powder – I have done this and love it! When you add more cocoa powder, you tend to need to balance that bitter flavor with more sweetner, so I like to pull it down so that I don’t have to sweeten these much. I would say as is, these are pretty kid friendly. If your kids are used to much sweeter foods, you may want to increase the coconut sugar amount or add a few splashes of maple syrup to the batter mix.

Hot Cocoa Waffles :: Gluten Free and Dairy Free!

Topping ideas!

We love to go with the hot cocoa theme and top these waffles with whipped cream topping. I don’t even put the syrup out on these guys! I do tend to take the short cut of using the So Delicious brand Coconut Whipped Cream, but you can make your own whipped cream so easily. Just pour your coconut cream (or regular cream if you tolerate dairy) into a bowl with a splash of maple syrup and blend until fluffy. Whipped cream is one of my tricks to avoiding the inevitable syrup drowning that ends up happening on waffle or pancake day. I also think that a smear of peanut butter or almond butter tastes amazing. Chocolate and peanut butter – what’s not to love?!

Hot Cocoa Waffles :: Gluten Free and Dairy Free!

Freezer friendly?

Absolutely! I have been freezing our original waffle recipe for years, and they are one of my favorite make ahead meals. This hot cocoa spin on the waffle recipe freezes just as well, so go ahead and make them up ahead of time for that holiday brunch, or for the unexpected snow day you might get this February!

Hot Cocoa Waffles :: Gluten Free and Dairy Free!

Let’s talk waffle irons!

I just think the snowflake is so adorable on the snowflake waffle maker, and the size of these mini waffles are so great for little hands. They make really good leftover sandwich breads too! I do have a ceramic waffle iron that is regular sized as well if you are looking for more that size. I have been using that waffle iron for 8 years and it still works great. I like to use this avocado oil spray for the first batch of batter that goes in – I get this at Costco.

Hot Cocoa Waffles :: Gluten Free and Dairy Free!
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Gluten Free Hot Cocoa Waffles

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Separate the eggs into 2 small mixing bowls, being careful to not have any little bit of yolk in the egg whites. If there is anything else in the bowl with the whites, they will not whip fluffy properly. To the egg yolks, add the coconut milk, olive oil, and vanilla extract.
  • Blend the egg whites until fluffy, and then blend the egg yolk mixture until smooth.
  • Put the rest of the ingredients (the dry ingredients) into medium mixing bowl. Add the egg yolk mixture to the dry ingredients, and blend until combined.
  • Gently fold the fluffy, whipped egg whites into the blended batter until just combined – if you over fold/stir, the fluffy egg whites will deflate.
  • Spray your waffle iron with avocado oil spray, and cook according to your waffle iron’s directions. If you are using the “Dash” Mini Snowflake Waffle Iron as pictured above, I have found that about ¼ cup of the batter works perfectly. If you are using a waffle iron like my regularly used, ceramic waffle iron, you’ll use ½ cup of the batter.
  • We like to top our hot cocoa waffles with the So Delicious brand Coconut Whip! There is a coconut whipped topping in a can at Aldi and Trader Joe’s as well. Or you can make your own by whipping coconut cream with maple syrup until fluffy!

Notes

  • You can swap the coconut sugar for maple syrup or honey if you want.
  • The “chocolatey” flavor and sweetness of these waffles is a mild, and kid friendly. If you want a richer chocolate taste, add more cocoa powder. If you need them sweeter, you can add more coconut sugar.
Hot Cocoa Waffles :: Gluten Free and Dairy Free!

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Roasted Sweet Bell Pepper Soup :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free!

November 15, 2021

Give those sweet bell peppers a roast with creamy kid friendly sweet potatoes and carrots for a super smooth, velvety blended soup that the kids will ask for every time!

Roasted Sweet Bell Pepper Soup :: Gluten Free & Dairy 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.

First snowfall of the season, and a new kid favorite soup to warm up with!

The first snow of the season is quite possibly my kids’ most favorite day of the year. My little northern crew lives for fresh snow, and this weekend we got our first dusting, despite the fall trees not quite agreeing with the timing! We were visiting our new home, and the girls just had to make a snowman for the construction crew to enjoy this week. And with the plummeting temperatures around here, I hopped in the kitchen to play around with a new soup to the blog for you!

Roasted Sweet Bell Pepper Soup :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free!

Weekly soup routine

During the cooler months of the year, I like to get a vegetable soup of some sort made every Sunday. Easy favorites like creamy broccoli soup (this one is in my cookbook, The Little Lunchbox Cookbook – it’s just like Panera!), this blended winter veggie soup done in the IP, and Copycat Campbell’s Veggie Soup are among some of our staples. Not only does this help me with an easy lunch for Sunday afternoons that I don’t have to think about, it also gives me soup to pull from for the week to fill up lunchbox thermoses…and fill up my soup mug during the week to get more healing bone broth in.

Roasted Sweet Bell Pepper Soup :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free!

The Veggie Line-Up!

Sweet bell peppers may be the “star” of the show in this soup, but the real “secret weapon” lies in the sweet, creamy vegetables saddling up next to those peppers! Sweet potatoes and carrots are on most kids’ favorite veggie lists, and when you roast them, they get even sweeter. This veggie line-up also happens to be loaded with vitamins and minerals that the whole family needs to stay healthy and focused all winter long.

Roasted Sweet Bell Pepper Soup :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free!

The Method :: Roasting the Veggies

To get the most kid friendly soup flavor for this soup, simply toss the veggies on a sheet tray with some olive oil and little bit of smoky paprika, salt, and pepper, and roast away. You’ll have the soup more than halfway done at this point, and completely hands free while it all roasts!

Roasted Sweet Bell Pepper Soup :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free!

The Method :: Blending the Soup

Once the vegetables are done roasting, I dare you to snitch a little bite! You’ll have to hold yourself back from eating the whole sheet tray at this point, but I promise it will be worth the wait to quickly blend the soup up! Scoop the roasted vegetables into your blender, pour in some bone broth, and buzz away. I like to use the soup setting on my high powered blender for optimal smooth texture. Use whatever you have though! I didn’t always have one of these, and have made this soup using a regular blender, and an immersion blender works too.

Roasted Sweet Bell Pepper Soup :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free!
Roasted Sweet Bell Pepper Soup :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free!

The Method :: Finishing the Soup

After you blend the soup, pour it into a soup pan and stir in the coconut milk. You’ll want to warm the soup through from here, and season with salt and pepper to your taste once it has simmer a bit. If you like your soup to have a more “brothy” texture, add another cup of bone broth as well. You can ladle your roasted sweet bell pepper soup and finish with a swirl of coconut yogurt or olive oil too!

Roasted Sweet Bell Pepper Soup :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free!

Freezer friendly?

Absolutely! That is the beauty of soups like this. That whole “cook once, eat twice” deal works well for blended soups, and this one is not any differently. Let your soup cool completely, and store in these freezer safe BPA free quart containers, or in these incredible BPA free silicone soup dividers – you can freeze in 1/2 cup portions, 1 cup portions, or 2 cup portions!

Roasted Sweet Bell Pepper Soup :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free!

Roasted Sweet Bell Pepper Soup :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large red, orange, or yellow bell peppers quartered and seeds scooped out (you can use a combo of those colors)
  • 1 small/medium sweet potato cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 2 medium carrots peeled, cut into ½ inch strips
  • 2 small onions halved and then sliced into strips
  • 3 cloves of garlic peeled (leave whole)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2-3 cups bone broth
  • 1 cup coconut milk

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. You’ll want to use a large, unlined baking sheet for the roasting.
  • On a large sheet pan, toss the bell peppers, sweet potato, carrots, onions, and garlic with the olive oil, smoked paprika, sea salt, thyme, and pepper. Roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
  • Scoop the roasted veggies into a blender (high powdered blender, if possible, for optimal smooth texture), add 2 cups of bone broth, and blend until smooth. I use the “Soup” blending setting on my Blendtec pictured in this post.
  • Pour the blended soup into a soup pot, add the coconut milk, and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper to your preference. You can add more bone broth if you want a thinner soup.
  • Garnish with swirls of coconut yogurt and/or olive oil if you wish.
Roasted Sweet Bell Pepper Soup :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free!

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Butternut Squash Pasta Salad :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

September 14, 2021

Your favorite autumn flavors of butternut squash, greens, apples, and cinnamon, tossed in a gluten & dairy free pasta salad, perfect warm or cold!

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

A slow shift to cooler weather…

Other than the *most* amazing summer on the planet, with perfect 75-80 degree days, powdery beach sand under our feet, and glorious sunshine, early to mid autumn in Michigan is truly paradise. It’s a slow, subtle shift, really. The sky gets a little more golden. The mornings a bit more crisp. But it still warms up enough to enjoy our beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline most days. We swap bathing suits for light hoodies and shorts, and still get a chance to get our feet in the sand.

Holding onto our favorite summer pasta salad!

My girls don’t mind the weather change, in fact these born and bread Michiganders can hardly wait for snow! When they asked for their favorite summer pasta salad this week, I told them I’d give it an autumn twist since squash was a heck of an in-season deal this week. I flipped the oven on for the first time in a while, and set to work on a fun fall take on a pasta salad concept they love. (You can find my classic summertime pasta salad in my cookbook, The Little Lunchbox Cookbook!)

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

Squash Prep Tips

One of our favorite household vegetables, squashes of all kinds hit our table multiple times per week. Squashes like butternut, pumpkin, and acorn squashes are loaded with minerals and vitamins that are vital to organ function and growing kids. Squash is also so kid friendly in taste, with a mild sweetness that amplifies with roasting – it is such a great starter veggie for any older kids that are veggie hesitant. I know that he actual cutting and prep of a squash can seem daunting, but just a quick peel (I find that a sturdy Y-Peeler works best for peeling hard squashes), and a few minutes to scoop the seeds out and cube it up is so worth getting the caramelizing sweetness on all sides of those little squash cubes! The kids will love it! You can also peel and cut the squash on a prep day, or hours in advance. Cut up squash keeps in the fridge for days, and then all you have to do on your weekday dinner night is toss it on the sheet pan to roast.

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad
Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

The Method :: The Roasted Veggies

There is something magical that happens when you roast just about any vegetable. The natural sweetness in the veggie shines, making them really hard to resist! Even the sweet purple onions get even sweeter with roasting, and give the most amazing flavor to the salad. I find these sweet purple onions to work well for kids – especially after they roast. The pungency is covered up with caramelized sweetness. Just toss the squash, onions, and garlic on the roasting pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper. While the veggies roast, you can prepare the pasta and get the dressing ready. In under a half hour your pasta salad can be ready!

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

The Method :: The Butternut Squash Salad Dressing

One taste of this creamy, comforting salad dressing, and the kids will be asking for this on every salad this fall and winter! You’ll take some of the roasted squash and onions from the sheet pan, along with the roasted clove of garlic and blend it up with honey, cider vinegar, cinnamon, and some seasoning. The result is a smooth, spoon-lickable dressing perfect for this pasta salad, or any salads you make this fall!

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

The Method :: Assembling the Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

The first thing you will add to your mixing bowl is the chopped spinach. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, you’ll toss that hot pasta with the spinach to wilt it down. Baby spinach has a beautiful way of adding nutrients to veggie dishes without a veggie taste – it just takes on whatever flavors the dressing have. It is such an easy thing to add in! Then, toss the pasta/spinach mixture with the rest of the pan roasted veggies and the freshly blended butternut squash dressing. You can eat the pasta salad warm, or chill it for a few hours to eat cold.

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

Work and/or School Pasta Salad Prep and Packing

This huge bowl of pasta salad would be fantastic to serve at an autumn party, gathering, or holiday! But it is even more versatile than just an occasional holiday. The pasta salad will keep in the fridge for around 5 days. That makes it a really great make-ahead meal prep for work or school. If you prefer the pasta salad warm, you can use a thermos like my kids use for school. Or, for adults, you can try this super handing mini hot plate slow cooker that I used to use when I worked full time outside of the home to warm the pasta salad up. Add some meal prep chicken, beef, or egg, for protein too if you like! Your kids might also like this pasta salad cold. That makes for even easier packing and this salad doesn’t drip, so it can go right into a container, or into a bento box slot easily.

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 small butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 medium purple onion quartered, then cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic peeled (leave whole to roast)
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 1 tsp sea salt divided
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 – 12-ounce box GF pasta of choice I use Jovial GF Farfalle
  • 2-3 cups baby spinach finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes this leaves a “barely there” heat to the dressing, suitable for children. If you like more heat add more!
  • 1 small apple cut into 1-inch cubes (I do not peel mine, but you can)

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a large baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper.
  • Toss the cubed butternut squash, purple onions, and garlic clove on the sheet pan with 2 tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp sea salt, and the pepper. Roast the squash, onions, and garlic at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. While the veggies roast, you can cook the pasta and get the dressing started.
  • Get the pasta boiling, and put the chopped spinach in a large mixing bowl (you’ll be putting the hot, cooked pasta over the spinach to wilt it later)
  • To make the dressing, put ½ cup of olive oil, ¼ – ½ tsp sea salt, apple cider vinegar, raw honey, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes into a blender or Magic Bullet. When the veggies are done roasting, add the roasted clove of garlic, and 1 cup of the roasted squash/onions to the blender. Blend the dressing until smooth and taste for salt. (Set the rest of the roasted veggies aside to toss with the pasta salad later)
  • When the pasta is done boiling to al dente, drain the pasta, and give the pasta a quick rinse. Add the hot pasta to the chopped spinach in the mixing bowl, and toss to combine and wilt the spinach.
  • Add the remaining roasted squash and onion to the mixing bowl with the pasta, along with the chopped apples and the butternut squash dressing, and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and serve warm, or chill at least 3 hours to serve cold.

Notes

  • The pasta salad can be used as a make ahead meal prep lunch or dinner, keeping in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Warm it up with a splash of water if you prefer it warm, or eat it cold!
  • Change up the roasted veggies! You can swap some of the squash for carrots or parsnips, sweet potatoes, or another squash like acorn or pumpkin!
  • The dressing is…amazing! Make extra for your salads for the week. The dressing will keep for about 5-7 days.
Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

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Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Fall Inspired Part 1}

September 7, 2021

A cozy, fall inspired menu plan with busy families, school schedules, and nourishing goals in mind!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Fall Inspired Part 1}

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.

Getting back into the groove…

We are a couple weeks into school, and I feel like most of my readers are flowing back into fall school routines, so I’d say it’s safe to start talking about fall menus! Fall certainly has a different feel than going from spring to summer menu plans – does it feel like that to you? For the most part it felt like late spring and into summer, the meal planning goes a little more “fly by the seat of your pants” style, and then once September hits, everyone has no choice but to plan a little bit more, or dinner will never hit the table!

Before we get started!

If you have never seen one of my meal plans, I would invite you to start with the Winter Meal Plan Part 1 and the Winter Meal Plan Part 2. Even though we are not full swing into cold weather, the information at the beginning of each of those posts will help you understand my meal plan approach, how I like to handle macronutrients to balance meals, questions you might have about portions and family sizes, and even more. Make a pit stop there first, and then come back to get some fall inspired meals!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Fall Inspired Part 1}

School staples, and some lunchbox shortcut favorites

With school starting back up, and the long, daunting thought of the lunchbox packing task that awaits us for the whole year, I thought I would put some lunchbox staple favorites all in one place. Some because I didn’t have a ton of room to always label and link veggie/cracker dips and dressings for salads. And also so that you can see some examples of some store bought snacks and favs that I keep in my pantry. I’ll break these up so that you can find them easily!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Fall Inspired Part 1}
Build your own nachos lunchbox with store bought olives and chips (see below for links!)

Staple store bought lunchbox sides

For the most part, these are used sparingly and minimally – a hand full here, and a few there. But they are great to have on hand in the pantry, and especially help kids that are newer to “real food” make the transition to healthier lunchboxes without giving up some comfortable favorites. I also have a post with 11 Healthy Packaged School Snacks for Kids that I use for morning snacks at school here and there, but they also work well in lunchboxes.

Charcuterie Board style lunchbox using the Simple Mills crackers & a Bear Nibbles Yo-Yo Fruit/Veg Strip!

Staple dressings and dips

I’m going to go ahead and list all of our favorite dressings below, and you can put your kids’ favs into your meal plan as you go. I also wanted to mention that we get guacamole cups and hummus cups at Costco. If you don’t have access to Costco, you can find them at most grocery stores these days. You can also find Wholly Guacamole cups and Go Go Dippers Hummus cups online. There are also fantastic, simple recipes for guacamole and super simple hummus in the Lunchbox Staple Chapter of my cookbook, The Little Lunchbox Cookbook!

Fruity Poppy Seed Dressing in the Rainbow Chicken Salad from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook!

Veggie Soup Swaps

One of my goals each week in the cooler months of the year, is to get 1-2 bone broth based soups into the family by week’s end. Usually it is a veggie based soup, which the girls have devoured since infancy, and sometimes it is a heartier dinner soup with more protein and bulk. You’ll notice in the meal plan that usually my rhythm is to make the soup for the week on the weekend and that way it is easy to add to a thermos for school lunch later in the week. I know that not every kid will love every soup, and luckily for you, there are a myriad of soups to pick from both on the blog and in my cookbooks. If you have little guys at home, I would encourage you to start these young so that they develop a palate for these tasty soups that are such a great way to get nourishing bone broth and mineral rich veggies in! (Heartier, dinner type soups are linked in the dinner section below)

Copycat Alphabet Soup recipe from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook!

So let’s kick off this Fall Menu Plan!

Here is a PDF for you to download for the full 2 week fall meal plan with links to recipes included. {See below this section for a blank version if you want to fill in your own!}

Want to build your own meal plan?

Go for it! My way of doing meals is definitely not the only way! And my recipes are not the only recipes around! Here is a blank PDF for you to print and fill out your own.

Dinner swaps!

I know that not every dinner chosen on the meal plan below will fit with every family’s tastes. There are so many choices for how to fill this in, which is why I never posted meal plans before. I really want you to fill the meal plan in to your family preferences. The plan below is simply inspiration and a guide to show you how I flow certain meals into others, how I double up meals, and how I balance a day’s macronutrient needs for my family. Here are some fall inspired dinner swaps for anything on the menu that you might want to change. Most of this list is from right here on the blog. Any recipe links that have a page number are from my cookbooks. Those with page numbers in green are from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook, and those with page numbers in pink are from Nourished Beginnings.

Pot Pie Soup dinner!
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No Added Sugar Blender Batter Protein Banana Pancakes :: PLUS! A Bonus No Added Sugar Strawberry Topping!

September 4, 2021

Quick and easy blender batter protein pancakes with no added sugar and a fun strawberry topping!

No Added Sugar Blender Batter Protein Banana Pancakes :: PLUS! A Bonus No Added Sugar Strawberry Topping!

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.

An epic summer…and a crew ready for back to school routines!

And a glorious summer it truly was. This kids rode every beach wave, hiked every trail, read every book, and climbed every tree (while also making super cool tree swings out of random things from the garage as you can see behind them!). They played their hearts out, and I have found, years into this school aged kid thing, that kids that play their hearts out all summer are quite ready to go back to school once September hits! As much fun as they had together, they were ready for their first week back this past week, and had a ball seeing their friends at school once again.

No Added Sugar Blender Batter Protein Banana Pancakes :: PLUS! A Bonus No Added Sugar Strawberry Topping!

School morning breakfast goals

While I focus on certain nutrition goals for every breakfast no matter the time of year, school mornings bring along another level of needs, and not all of them include the actual ingredients of the breakfast. Here are my school morning breakfast goals

  • Manageable prep time. Besides wanting to fill the kids up before school with fuel that will last, these school morning breakfasts must be sustainable in prep time. School mornings are early, no matter the age, and it is vital that we can get these kids filled up with food that will fill them up to focus at school *and* be manageable to prep on a busy morning.
  • Low to zero added sugar. Because I love my teachers. And I want them to love my children 🙂 Bouncy little people that have been drowned in sugar before school make the morning really hard to focus. The book Sugarproof Kids is a very good place to start if you are looking to work on getting added sugar out of the diet. I like to fruit-sweeten where ever possible so that the fruit fiber can slow the burn of the natural sweet in the fruit.
  • Macronutrient balance. Having the right balance of fats, protein, and good carbohydrates will sustain the kids and keep them full and focused all morning. The right carbohydrates will give them energy instead of leaving them dragging when you combine it with protein and fat to slow the burn and satiate their hunger.
No Added Sugar Blender Batter Protein Banana Pancakes :: PLUS! A Bonus No Added Sugar Strawberry Topping!

Pancakes on a school morning?!

When you can blend the batter in just minutes and pour it onto a skillet right from the blender cup, then yes! It absolutely can be done on a school morning! These pancakes also have a good macronutrient balance with whole grain and fruit from oats and banana, protein from almond flour and collagen, and satiating healthy fat from coconut milk and egg. It takes just minutes to get everything into the blender and pour onto the skillet. You can serve the pancakes with fast and easy hard boiled eggs or sausage if you want as well. They are so filling that some kids might even just get away with having the pancakes with a smear of butter, almond butter, or coconut butter, and be good to go.

No Added Sugar Blender Batter Protein Banana Pancakes :: PLUS! A Bonus No Added Sugar Strawberry Topping!

The Method :: The Protein Pancake Blender Batter

Dump it all in and blend away! That’s my kind of pancake batter! Simply add the ACV to the blender cup and then fill the blender to the 1 cup mark with coconut milk. You’ll add the rest of the ingredients right into the blender and then buzz it down for 30 seconds. The batter pours beautifully right onto the skillet from the blender cup, so there’s no extra dirty bowls or scooping cups!

No Added Sugar Blender Batter Protein Banana Pancakes :: PLUS! A Bonus No Added Sugar Strawberry Topping!
No Added Sugar Blender Batter Protein Banana Pancakes :: PLUS! A Bonus No Added Sugar Strawberry Topping!

To syrup or not to syrup…

I’m all about a little pure maple syrup on a weekend waffle or pancake. But when I created these pancakes with school mornings in mind, I really wanted to give you some options for a no sugar added topping that will still make the kids happy. And leave their blood sugars happy too! What’s the point of a no added sugar pancake if you are going to drown it in syrup? These pancakes are nice and sweet on their own thanks to a couple bananas, but toppings are so fun too. The strawberry topping is a snap to make, and you can keep it around in the fridge or freezer to pull out anytime. You can change up the fruit if you want too, but we really like the strawberry banana combo!

No Added Sugar Blender Batter Protein Banana Pancakes :: PLUS! A Bonus No Added Sugar Strawberry Topping!

The Method :: The Strawberry Topping

You can use fresh fruit if it is in season, but that is usually just a few short weeks out of the whole year for us. I like to keep a bag of frozen strawberries for smoothies in the freezer, so they work great to make this topping too. Just put them in a small sauté pan with a little water and cook it down for a few minutes. You can leave the strawberries as is, or stir in some chia seed to make it feel thicker like a sauce!

No Added Sugar Blender Batter Protein Banana Pancakes :: PLUS! A Bonus No Added Sugar Strawberry Topping!

School morning hacks!

We’ve already talked about how easy these pancakes are to make on a school morning, but here are a few tips to make it even easier!

  • Make the pancakes up on a prep day and freeze them flat. You can pull pancakes out the night before to thaw and warm in the oven on a sheet tray, or pull them out frozen right into a toaster or toaster oven to warm up before school.
  • Make up the strawberry topping the night before or on a prep day. The strawberry sauce can be frozen too, so if strawberries are in season, batch it up!
  • Have some hard boiled eggs as sides ready to go. I like to make a dozen hard boiled eggs on Sunday evening when I am prepping for the week. Then you can easily pull these quick breakfast sides to go with your pancakes before school.
No Added Sugar Blender Batter Protein Banana Pancakes :: PLUS! A Bonus No Added Sugar Strawberry Topping!

No Added Sugar Blender Batter Protein Banana Pancakes :: PLUS! A Bonus No Added Sugar Strawberry Topping!

Ingredients

No Sugar Added Strawberry Topping ::

  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp chia seeds

No Added Sugar Protein Banana Pancakes ::

Instructions

Make the No Added Sugar Strawberry Topping

  • Put the frozen strawberries and water into a small sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat. When the strawberries are melted enough, use a potato masher to squish them down. Simmer the strawberries, mashing them up with the potato masher for 2-3 minutes, then set aside off the heat.
  • Add 1 tsp of chia seeds to a small bowl or cup, and then stir in the mashed, cooked strawberries until the chia seeds are evenly distributed. Put the strawberry topping into the refrigerator to thicken while you make the pancakes. This strawberry topping can be made days in advance, and even frozen.

Make the No Added Sugar Protein Banana Pancakes

  • Pre-heat your skillet to medium heat while you blend the pancake batter.
  • Put 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into your high-speed blender or regular blender, and then fill the blender to the 1 cup mark with coconut milk.
  • Put the rest of the pancake ingredients into your high-speed blender or regular blender, and blend for 30 seconds on high. If you are not using a high-powered blender, you may need to blend longer.
  • Use coconut oil or olive oil to lightly grease the skillet, and use the blender container to pour the pancake batter right onto the heated skillet. Cook the pancakes just like regular pancakes – when you see the bubbles, and that the sides of the pancakes are looking more “set,” you can flip them. This takes a minute or so. Then cook the pancakes on the other side until golden brown and cooked through – this takes a couple minutes.
  • Put your cooked pancakes onto a wire rack to cool while you work through the rest of the batter. To freeze the pancakes, let them cool completely, and store them in a freezer bag.

Notes

  • I like to add a few pinches of cinnamon to the batter too! Or pumpkin spice if you are into that sort of thing!
  • If you do not have grassfed collagen, you can leave this ingredient out. It adds protein, but I realize not everyone has access!
  • I think an egg replacer would work for the egg – please let us know in the comments if you are egg free and try this!
No Added Sugar Blender Batter Protein Banana Pancakes :: PLUS! A Bonus No Added Sugar Strawberry Topping!
Batch Up Meals Breakfast Ideas Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Lunch Ideas Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips RGN Meal Plans

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 2}

July 12, 2021

The weather is hot, and the produce is abundant! Create a nourishing 2 week meal plan with this fresh summer inspiration!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 2}

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 lovin’!

Whew! This summer is flying! I really wanted to get second summer meal plan up for you, and I sincerely hope that you are enjoying all that summer has to offer where you live! We have been hitting up all of the summer fruit U-Pick stands from strawberries to cherries, and this week, we’ll head out for those beautiful Michigan blueberries. The farmer’s markets here are loaded with veggies too, and I have some great meal ideas to help you through the rest of this summer!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 2}

START HERE!!!

If you are new to this space, I would recommend that you pop over to my PART 1 Summer Meal Plan before you go any further here. There is a load of really great information about how to cook in the summer heat, my approaches to meal planning, and some other helpful tips that will help make this whole process a whole lot easier for you! After you read through Summer Meal Plan Part 1, and get an idea of how those meals flow, you’ll be all set up to roll right into this Summer Meal Plan Part 2!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 2}

Let’s talk summer outings and packed summer lunches

One thing that I did not touch on in Summer Meal Plan Part 1 was that even though we aren’t in school for a few months, we DO still have to pack meals here and there! Whether its for a sunny beach day, a day trip to the park, or a road trip to the zoo, packed lunches don’t just disappear because school is done for the summer. I pack in different containers for family trips than I do for school lunches. When we go on family trips, there is usually a large cooler involved, instead of each child carrying their own individual lunchbox in their backpack. It’s just a different dynamic than school. As much as I am a sold-out, die-hard fan of our school year Planetboxes, they just don’t pack realistically very well in a cooler. They are heavy for one, and for outdoor spaces like the beach, I noticed how the sand would get in the metal hinges and it was just hard to clean. I have these Sistema lunchboxes That are super light weight and pack in a cooler well for the whole family. (There is also a larger one than the linked above and pictured below – my oldest uses THIS one)

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 2}

Take advantage of your evening down time

Listen, I’m the FIRST person to raise my hand for an evening beach sunset swim and toes in the sand. We only get a handful of months to enjoy our powdery beach sand, warm sun, and gorgeous Lake Michigan sunsets! But we don’t do it every night, and on the evenings where the sun is just starting to think about coming down, a lot of times I’ll spend about 15 minutes getting *something* ready for the next day. It might be getting a batch of blueberry muffins baked off for the morning, or stirring up a summer salad to make lunchtime a little quicker the next day, or maybe you get a dozen eggs in the Instant Pot so that you have easy to grab hard boiled eggs for the next few days. If you have kids that stay up a little longer in the summer, pull them alongside you and make them a part of it. You’ll be surprised at how much it helps when there are 2 sets of hands in getting tasks done.

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 2}

SUMMER MEAL PLAN PART 2!

Again, if you have NOT read through Summer Meal Plan Part 1, hop over there first, to see the flow, and then you can put both Part 1 and Part 2 together – that’s 4 WEEKS total of summer meals! Here is your free PDF of Summer Meal Plan Part 2!

Short and sweet!

So talk to me! How are summer meals going in your house? Are these summer meal plans helping you this season? Summer is so sacred. These few months are just so, so sweet, and I truly hope that having a little bit of a meal flow idea has helped you enjoy your summer just a little bit more!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 2}
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Blueberry Energy Bites

June 21, 2021

Just a 5 minute prep and you can keep these real food blueberry energy bites stashed away in the pantry for easy snack packing!

Blueberry Energy Bites

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.

Simple staple snacks for busy kids

For the most part, I’m a super no fuss mom when it comes to snacking. I’d rather focus on the 3 meals of the day, and if a snack is needed, give the kids a simple handful of fruit and cheese. So if I’m going to actually prepare a homemade snack, it needs to be easy prep, and double bonus points for pantry storage! We just kicked off our summer break last week, and packed these fun blueberry energy bites for one of our beach days. They were devoured, and made such a fun snack change up. I hope you get a chance to try them, whether its for your summer road trip or those school lunchboxes this fall!

An easy pantry snack

I just love any homemade food that I can make that doesn’t take up room in my fridge or freezer. That is hard to do with real food, but between homemade granola, my trail mix, and coconut clusters, I have a few easy grab and go snacks that pack easily for school lunches or road trips. Energy bites also store in the pantry well, and I put a spin on the classic cashew/date snack bites that we have all come to love with a fun blueberry flavor! Just perfect for little hands!

Blueberry Energy Bites

How to Make Blueberry Energy Bites

A very simple handful of ingredients (please be sure to read the section below titled “Ingredient Sourcing” for help on making sure you don’t blow your budget on this stuff!) and a blender is all you need! You’ll put everything but the blueberries into your food processor, and blend to make the energy bite mixture – it should stick together when you pinch it. After you pulse in the freeze dried blueberries, you just scoop and roll the bites up! That’s it! I love that these energy bites can store in the pantry, fridge, or freezer. It’s up to you!

Blueberry Energy Bites
Blueberry Energy Bites

Can I use fresh blueberries?

Believe me, in the height of summer, I’m all about using our fresh Michigan blueberries! Fresh blueberries would just make these energy bites a sloppy mess though with all the juices. You could dehydrate your own blueberries, or freeze dry your own blueberries. I have had success in freeze drying my own fruit by just putting a tray of blueberries into the freezer (uncovered). You let them “freeze dry” for about 2-3 weeks, and they should be ready to go once you bring them to room temp and let the condensation dry off them. These days, you can buy freeze dried fruit just about anywhere, and for not that bad of a price in some places! I grab the bags at Trader Joe’s, but you can get them online too.

Blueberry Energy Bites

Just for my nut free friends!

If you can’t have the cashews or almond butter, you can swap those out for sunflower seeds and sunbutter or tahini. I have made energy bites with both before, and they turn out great! In fact, the chocolate covered banana energy bites in my lunchbox cookbook, The Little Lunchbox Cookbook, are completely nut free, using sunflower seeds since many schools are nut free school zones.

Blueberry Energy Bites

Ingredient sourcing

I’ll be the first one to tell you from experience that fun little real food snacks like energy bites can absolutely BLOW your budget. Listen to me…don’t do it. If you cannot source this stuff without going broke, pack the kids local fruit and a handful of nuts and call it good for their snack. I don’t want you going broke to make these. If the freeze dried fruit is expensive where you live, leave it out – they taste so good even without that fancy fun stuff! For what it is worth, I do get every single ingredient on the list, except the freeze dried blueberries, at Costco. I pick up the freeze dried fruit at Trader Joe’s. I know not everyone has these places to choose from. In fact Trader Joe’s was even a mythical dream for me up until a couple years ago when they finally built one here!

Blueberry Energy Bites
Blueberry Energy Bites
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Blueberry Energy Bites

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Put the dates, cashews, almond butter, vanilla extract, and sea salt in your food processor, and pulse the blender a few times. Then, continuously blend the mixture for about 1 minute until everything is incorporated, and the mixture can pinch together and stick together.
  • Add the freeze dried blueberries, and pulse until the blueberries are incorporated into the mixture in tiny bits.
  • Use a tablespoon or a spoon to scoop the mixture, packing it into the measuring spoon. Use your hands to roll the energy bite into a round ball. Continue with the rest of the energy bite mixture. This recipe makes about 18 tablespoon sized energy bites.

Notes

  • These energy bites keep in the pantry for a month, or in the fridge or freezer for 3 months.
  • If you are nut free, I have used sunbutter and sunflower seeds for energy bites before with great success! you will use less sunflower seeds, so play around with the amount – it will probably be more like 3/4 cup or a little less.
  • You can use medjool dates if that is what you have. Just pit and halve them to measure.
  • You can swap the freeze dried blueberries for any freeze dried fruit!
  • This recipe doubles well if you have a large enough food processor, like my 14-cup food processor.
Blueberry Energy Bites

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Creamy Cabbage Soup

March 15, 2021

Creamy and velvety cabbage soup, packed with nutrients and full of flavor!

Creamy Cabbage Soup

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

It’s been over 15 years.

About 20 years ago I got the diagnosis that would change everything for me. Hashimoto’s – an autoimmune thyroid disorder. I’ll spare you the details of the 3-4 years after that diagnosis of trying to actually figure out what that meant, and how to feel even an ounce of better. After a few years of trying everything mainstream medical and not feeling any different, I saw more of a natural, functional medicine practitioner. Answers and more of a “root issue” approach helped me quite literally peel back layers and layers of healing that my body needed. I learned how to listen to my body. I learned what worked for me, what the red flags and warning systems looked like, sounded like, and felt like….and I have felt what “good” really and truly feels like.

Back to the basics

And because certain things like stress (hello 2020), infections, inflammatory foods, and toxins can trigger an autoimmune “flare,” I’ve learned how to nail down those triggers so they don’t spiral out of control. I’m feeling one of those “flares” in the season I’m in right now, and after about 6 months of ignoring the red flag symptoms (because we have all been in survival mode in 2020, amiright?!), it’s time to get back to what I know I need to be doing for my body. And for me, that always means getting back to less inflammatory foods even if they are considered “healthy” for most, and hello to more cooked veggie minerals at every meal. It has, and probably always will be a game changer for me. It is one of the biggest reasons there are so many veggie soup recipes on the blog, and in my cookbooks, and why you’ll always hear me talking about “breakfast soups.”

Creamy Cabbage Soup

Breakfast Soup

And lunch an dinner soup. Cooked veggies just digest easier, and it is so much easier to get a variety and abundance in when you roast or “soup” your veggies. Souping your veg doesn’t have to be boring either. There are so many ways to change things up, and give your body the mineral variety it needs! If you are new to veggies at breakfast, soup might sound so strange, but hear me out. A little mug of steamy soup, a muffin, and some sausage or egg? It is perfectly dreamy to be honest. Sure, a veggie hash or a smoothie with greens works for breakfast too, but there is something about souping breakfast that has been the ticket to feeling amazing for me for years.

Cabbage…nutrient packed and anti-inflammatory

And did I mention a big time budget saver? Because let’s face it – that part matters too! Cabbage is about as cheap as it gets, but it is also loaded with micronutrients and minerals. Cruciferous veggies like cabbage can also be anti-inflammatory. For some, cruciferous veggies can be a problem digestively, especially in the raw state, but cooking can help with digestion. It also helps to eat these veggies with a healthy fat, so cooking the veg in a nutritious fat that works for you such as butter or olive oil is perfect. If you are someone that tolerates cabbage well, you are going to love this soup!

But how does it taste, and will my kids eat it too?!

The last thing I want you to be doing is making a bunch of meals that the rest of the family won’t eat, dear momma. Even though I have seasons of needing to eat a little differently than a growing, metabolism burning kid, it doesn’t mean that they can’t also be eating many of the same foods! The girls love just about every soup blend that has come out of my kitchen for their lunchbox thermoses. When they were babies I served them soups for breakfast often right along with myself. It is perfect for those seasons of sleepy babyhood for everyone to eat the same. These days it looks a little more like the kids having a muffin with eggs and a packed out smoothie, and mom having the same muffin, but with some meat, and a mug of soup. This works for our metabolisms where they are right now in the season we are in at the moment. The cabbage for this soup cooks down and and gets sweet with sautéing and really is a blank slate for whatever flavors you want to add in. I use some nutritional yeast to give it a cheesy flavor without the dairy, as well as some of my sausage seasoning blend to give the soup the warmth of cooking with sausage.

Creamy Cabbage Soup

Simple, easy soup making method

This is a one pot deal, and I think that is something just about everyone can handle these days! Just use the slow sauté approach to bring out the sweetness and flavor from the veggies, toss with some potato starch and then simmer them with your broth. The potato starch gives the soup a grain-free velvety, creamy texture that is to live for! You’ll use your immersion blender to puree the soup to a perfect creaminess once it is finished, but if you don’t have an immersion blender you can use a regular blender too.

Creamy Cabbage Soup

Other creamy soup purees that work well for any meal of the day!

My rhythm has most often been to make a soup for the week on the weekends or on Monday’s. If you don’t like to eat the same soup for days in a row, make a couple different kinds and start building your freezer stash. If you store a quart of soup into the freezer each week, you’ll soon have a lush soup stash to pull from so that, perhaps, on an extra busy week you don’t have to cook a soup. Or so that you can pull some variety throughout the week.

Creamy Cabbage Soup

Creamy Cabbage Soup

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp butter to cook in bacon fat, olive oil, or avocado oil work well here too
  • 2 small onions halved and sliced into strips
  • 1 carrot coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery coarsely chopped
  • 1 small/medium head of cabbage sliced into strips
  • 3 tbsp potato starch
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast optional but lends a cheesy flavor without the dairy!
  • 1 tsp of my sausage season blend optional, but gives the flavor of having meat/sausage in the soup
  • 1 quart bone broth
  • 1/2 – 1 cup full fat coconut milk or regular milk if you tolerate dairy
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium high heat, and saute the onion, carrot, and celery for a few minutes while you chop the cabbage. There is so much cabbage, so give the first few veggies a few minutes to get started first.
  • Add the sliced cabbage and saute over medium high heat until the cabbage reduces down about half, and gets really soft and sweet. This takes a good 10 minutes to achieve and the flavor is amazing. Stir throughout the cooking process.
  • Put the potato starch, nutritional yeast, and sausage seasoning blend into the pot, stirring to coat the veggies in the starch and seasonings.
  • Pour the broth in, stir, and bring the soup to a low simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the stove off, pour in the coconut milk, and blend the soup with your immersion blender or in a regular blender until smooth. Salt and pepper the soup to your taste once it is blended.
Creamy Cabbage Soup

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Bakery Style Carrot Oat Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

February 23, 2021

Have a fun and healthy start to the day with a balance of macronutrients in these fun bakery style carrot oat muffins!

Bakery Style Carrot Oat Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy 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.

Middle School…We’ve got this!

I’ll be the first one to admit that I was a little tentative about it being her 6th grade year. I remember 6th grade…do you remember middle school?! I do not remember ever having this much confidence and poise in 6th grade, but I’ll take it. This middle school thing hasn’t been so hard so far, and my goodness is this kid so fun. Her sense of humor totally surprises me, and her maturity blows me away.

Bakery Style Carrot Oat Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Gone are the days of mini muffins…

The little ones grow up, don’t they? They grow so rapidly in these pre-teen and teen years, and the minis just don’t do the trick for these growing appetites. My oldest has been completely enamored with the idea of a muffin that looks like her favorite coffee shop, and it’s actually pretty fun to sit down with a warm mug and an almost 12 year old. The way their minds think at this age will make you think, and will soften your heart.

Bakery Style Carrot Oat Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Breakfast muffins that count

You know that whole “rapidly growing” thing I mentioned above? We can still do a fun breakfast muffin that feels like a coffee shop, but also fill these pre-teen and teen growing needs with ingredients that actually count. Without compromising on texture, I was able to combine all 3 macronutrients in a healthy, balanced way in these carrot oat breakfast muffins. Because Lord knows no one needs a hormonal, hangry pre-teen in the house. {And truth be told, no one needs a hangry, tired toddler on their hands either!} Healthy, well sourced carbohydrates, fats, and protein is where it’s at for happy blood sugars, and a focused morning at school.

Bakery Style Carrot Oat Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

The Method :: The Muffin Batter

The carrot oat muffin batter is quite simple. You’ll blend the wet ingredients until smooth and then blend in the dry. This batter comes together so quickly, and I find myself making them up quick the night before I want to serve them so that I can get those few extra winks of sleep! I use the shredder tool on my food processor to make the carrot shredding go fast, but this is also a fun project for any littles in the house that are ready for sharps to shred the carrots on a little shredder. I remember having extra afternoon time when I had napping babies with an extra older preschooler that didn’t nap anymore. It is always nice to have a little project to work on with them to keep their hands busy!

Bakery Style Carrot Oat Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free
Bakery Style Carrot Oat Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

The Method :: Muffin Size and Baking Tips

My household used to *live* for mini muffins, but as my littles have grown (along with their appetites!), the novelty of the minis has sadly worn. If you have toddlers in the house, mini muffins will be so helpful to you. There is less waste because sometimes little ones get halfway through a regular sized muffin and decide they are done! It is also less overwhelming to look at a mini muffin or 2 on your plate versus a very big one. (This is the mini muffin pan that I have) If you have older kids in the house, they will just love the idea of having a big, bakery sized muffin! For the minis, simply use a tablespoon to fill the mini muffin cups and bake for about 15 minutes. If you are going for more of an oversized, bakery style muffin, I’ve found a heaping quarter cup measure works really good. Those larger muffins will need to bake around 35 minutes. Of course a nice regular sized muffin works good too – and packs nicely for lunchboxes. You can use a quarter cup measuring cup to scoop those out and bake around 25 minutes.

Bakery Style Carrot Oat Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Freezer Friendly

Go ahead and double this one up! It bakes up doubled perfectly, and these breakfast muffins can make a regular appearance on your meal plan because they freeze up great. Just cool them off after baking and stash them away in the freezer in gallon freezer bags. You can thaw them out on the counter overnight, or pop them in the oven to warm in the morning while you get ready.

Bakery Style Carrot Oat Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Swaps and Switches

If you are egg free, try 2 flax eggs, and perhaps make some of the liquid for the flax eggs some apple cider vinegar so that it will react with the baking powder and create some rise. The flax eggs will bind, but will need some help to fluff up. If you are nut free, I’m sure you can swap the almond flour for something else. If you fall into either of these categories, please let us know what you try so that others that are egg or nut free can have some options!

Bakery Style Carrot Oat Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free
Bakery Style Carrot Oat Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Bakery Style Carrot Oat Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin with unbleached paper cup liners or silicone liners. This recipe will make 10 large, bakery style muffins, or 12 regular sized muffins. You could also do mini muffins and get about 24 or so.
  • Blend the eggs, olive oil, syrup, and molasses about 1 minute until smooth.
  • Add the almond flour, oats, Namaste flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt and blend to combine. Add the carrots and blend to combine.
  • Scoop the muffin batter into your muffin cups, and top with a sprinkle of oats if you wish. Bake the muffins at 350 degrees. Large, bakery style muffins like the size in this post will bake for 35 minutes. Regular sized muffins will bake for 25 minutes. If you try mini muffins, they will need about 15 minutes. The tops of the muffins should be golden brown and spring back to touch.

Notes

  • This recipe doubles great and is freezer friendly. Just cool the leftover muffins and store in gallon freezer bags in the freezer.
  • If you are egg free, try 2 flax eggs, and perhaps make some of the liquid for the flax eggs some apple cider vinegar so that it will react with the baking powder and create some rise. The flax eggs will bind, but will need some help to fluff up.
  • If you are nut free, I’m sure you can swap the almond flour for something else – let us know what you try so that others that are nut free can have some options!
Bakery Style Carrot Oat Muffins :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

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Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

February 17, 2021

More winter inspired meal planning to create 2 more full weeks of nourishing winter meals!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

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

Winter Inspired Part 2!

You asked, and I’m all ears, dear momma! I was hesitant to hit publish on my first Meal Plan a couple of weeks ago, but my heart is just so full with the messages and posts about how this has helped your families. So I’m back with more! ***If you have not had the chance to read my first Winter Inspired Meal Plan, you’ll want to hop over there to start. You’ll read a lot of great tips for portion sizing, balancing macros, and ideas for making your first baby steps into meal planning with real food.*** There is a full 2 week printable meal plan with winter inspired foods there, and another full 2 weeks on this post – that is a full month of meals to play around with, and I can’t wait to hear about your meal planning successes!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

Winter Inspiration

I know there are readers from all over the world that visit this space, so I want to be sure that I reiterate my recommendations on the first meal plan to buy what is in season where YOU live. February in Florida, or somewhere in Australia looks very, very different from February in Michigan! But I also realize that while I’m drooling over your beautiful farmer’s markets this time of year, our farmer’s markets and available in season produce will be bursting at the seams during the summer months. We just have very different growing seasons. Keep in mind where you live, and shop produce that fits in your budget within the season that you are, and you’ll be good to go!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

A note about my husband!

I left this out of the Part 1 Meal Plan, and for that I apologize! My husband eats all meals with us on the weekend. He is a commuter on work days, and so he takes his breakfast and lunch with him Monday through Friday (he has been working from home since April, but still preps his food the same way). In the winter, his breakfast is prepped on Sundays. He makes a skillet of potato hash with spinach and sausage for all 5 days, and takes that with him to work. He warms that up at work and adds an egg most days. A nice travel thermos or electric travel mini hot pot works well for anyone that does not have access to warming things up. In the warmer months of summer, he will do smoothies more often. For his lunches, he preps some sort of meat main (typically chicken or beef), and brings enough salad for the week with him. He keeps all of this at work. He eats dinner with us most nights of the week, though sometimes he fasts dinner. {He did not always prep this himself by the way! That started happening when I was pregnant with baby 3…sometimes momma just can’t do everything! He enjoys taking that off my plate, so he still does this, but I know that is not the case in every house. Do what you can!}

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

Warm meals for cold days

That is the name of the game in the winter months here. If you live somewhere warmer, feel free to swap some of our hot meals for cooler ones! Just look at this frozen Lake Michigan beach in the winter months! We enjoy really warm dinners in the winter, so you’ll see that reflected in the meal plan for the winter months. That does not, however, mean that I want to be in the kitchen all day! I think you’ll see how I’m able to stretch meals into the next day, and repurpose food for new meals to help with time management.

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

Let’s talk about lunchbox food products!

I love homemade hummus…but 3 kids into this thing I found the convenience of hummus cups to be a bit of a sanity saver. You just can’t always make everything all the time, least you burn out, dear momma. Same with guacamole. We just can’t afford the avocado prices here where they don’t grow, so guacamole cups are a very nice alternative. I do some of this shopping at Costco, and some online, so here is a great post with some of the packaged convenience lunchbox snacks, including crackers and granola bar options that you’ll see in the meal plan too. I do sometimes make these from scratch, but it sure is nice to have the option to buy them during certain seasons.

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

SO! Let’s get started!

Here is a PDF for you to download of my full 2 Week Winter Inspired Meal Plan with links to recipes included. {See below this section for a blank version if you want to fill in your own!}

Want to build your own meal plan?

Go for it! My way of doing meals is definitely not the only way! And my recipes are not the only recipes around! Here is a blank PDF for you to print and fill out your own.

Winter Inspired Dinners to Swap in the Dinner Section

I know that not every single dinner idea on my blog or in my cookbooks is everyone’s cup of tea, or perhaps you have other ingredients available or in season right now where you live. So here are some other dinner ideas to swap for the dinner section of the meal plan that fit with the idea of “winter inspired!” OR, fill in your own family favorite meals! Most of this list is from right here on the blog. Any recipe links that have a page number are from my cookbooks. Those with page numbers in green are from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook, and those with page numbers in pink are from Nourished Beginnings.

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

Spring is right around the corner!

I hope you enjoy the 4 total weeks of cold weather meal planning I’ve created for you! I am going to be working on some spring inspired meal planning in the next month or so, and would love any feedback or questions you might have as I prepare to create those! Drop some comments below!

Gluten Free Strawberry Pie
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Breakfast Cookies 6 Ways!

February 4, 2021

Enjoy a fun, healthy breakfast with these power packed breakfast cookies made 6 different ways to change it up!

Breakfast Cookies - 6 Ways!

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

A Friday tradition, about 7 years in the making!

It all began about 7 years ago. Imagine…a busy mom of a 5 year old in kindergarten, a {seriously rambunctious} 3 year old, and a baby on her hip. Not exactly the picture of the most relaxing morning, let alone getting a good breakfast in. I think back to those days and really do wonder sometimes how I managed. And dear momma who is in the same boat, you WILL, in fact, make it through those years. It was during those years that I created my very first breakfast cookie – something packed with nourishment that we could head out the door with when the morning fell apart trying to get a kindergartener to school while toting along a feisty toddler and squirmy baby!

Breakfast Cookies - 6 Ways!

All grown up!

That little baby in the picture above is now marching right along in 1st grade this year! And, no, all those busy, pulled-in-all-the-directions mornings did not “ruin her” as I once thought they might – she is pure joy {with a sprinkle of spunk, I might add!} And while it’s been a hot minute since there have been babies and toddlers in the house, Breakfast Cookie Friday has become a most looked forward to breakfast over the years for my school aged children ready to celebrate Friday and welcome the weekend!

Breakfast Cookies - 6 Ways!

Our Breakfast Cookie Friday Set-Up!

We set up our Breakfast Cookie Friday’s in a breakfast bar style. A bowl of the cookies, a bowl of hard boiled eggs, some hot water for tea…and the best part – the kids serve themselves! *Round of applause for the moms!* Dear momma, I promise that spending a bit of time while they are young to show them *exactly* {precisely!} how you want them to serve themselves, is worth every single minute of your extra coffee time not having to tend to serving them! If you already have big kids, just a quick demo will do. If you have toddlers and younger children, show them precisely, {every single step!} so that you don’t get frustrated when eggs land on the floor, or there is a big mess. I have found that age 2-3 is a good age to start this, depending on the child. Giving them the gift of independence and your trust in them to serve themselves is priceless! These days, my Fridays are extremely hands free with an 11, 9, and 7 year old, and it is just glorious! I make the hard boiled eggs and cookies the night before and the morning is extra relaxed.

Breakfast Cookies - 6 Ways!

A new breakfast cookie base – with endless possibilities!

Honestly, this recipe was born because I wanted just one recipe that I didn’t have to pull up instructions for – something I could memorize easily, and then adapt to whatever I had in my pantry. You’ll just adore this power packed, base breakfast cookie recipe, and then you get to pour the add-ins that you have available in the pantry that week!

Breakfast Cookies - 6 Ways!

Dried fruit, nut, & seed variations

I’ve created 6 different recipe cards with different dried fruit and nut/seed combos for you to try, but really the possibilities are endless! I just picked up a bag of brazil nuts and dried mango at Costco last week, and plan to use that the next time I make these. So fun! Truly though, use what you have in your pantry before you go out and buy something else. That is the beauty of this recipe – use what you have!

Breakfast Cookies - 6 Ways!

Freezer friendly!

Do yourself a favor, and go ahead and double up this recipe once you know that the kiddos give them the ok! These cookies freeze up fantastic. My method is typically to make them on a Thursday night and double up. Then I only have to make breakfast cookies every other week or so. Freeze up what you don’t use on Friday morning and next Friday’s breakfast is set!

Breakfast Cookies - 6 Ways!

A note for my nut free friends!

I would love to hear from my nut free readers how your swap tries go. Breakfast cookies are some of my favorite kind of recipes because they are VERY forgiving. Meaning, I think you could try some swaps and still always have an edible cookie that tastes good. You can swap the almond butter for sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) or tahini (sesame seed butter), and swap the nuts for pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or even shredded coconut. The almond flour is going to be your call. I think finely ground up seeds would work just fine here, or you can try another flour of your choice. You are going for a cookie dough consistency as pictured above. Remember that the almond flour that you are replacing is oily and not super absorbent. So if you choose to use something that is dry or very absorbent, back off on the amount. If you are fully nut AND seed free, I would try coconut butter for the almond butter, coconut shreds for the nuts, and for the almond flour, just swap for another flour of your choosing. The chia seed can be left out completely and still turn out.

Breakfast Cookies - 6 Ways!

Almond Raisin Breakfast Cookies

This basic recipe has nuts and dried fruit found in most anyone’s pantry! If your kids aren’t raisin kids, try mini chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips!

Breakfast Cookies - 6 Ways!

Almond Raisin Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper.
  • Blend the coconut oil, almond butter, and honey until smooth.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until combined.
  • Form the cookies in your hands, flattening them to the shape and size that you want. They do puff a little but not too much – just make them about the size that you want them to be, and then place them on your lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes for small cookies, and 15 minutes for larger cookies, or until golden on the tops. Cool the cookies on the pan for 5 minutes before placing them on a cooling rack to cool completely. They firm up as they cool, and hold their texture very well.

Notes

  • If you prefer less nut texture, you can blend up the almonds to more of a fine chop.
  • You can swap the almond butter for any nut or seed butter that you like.
  • If you are egg free, this egg should be easily replaced with a flax egg or egg replacer.
  • These breakfast cookies are good at room temp in an airtight container for 3 days. They freeze up great as well, so leftovers can be put in the freezer.

Apricot Pistachio Breakfast Cookies

One of our newest favorite combinations, this one is such a fun change up! We are able to find shelled pistachios at Costco, as well as apricots, so this cost effective variation is definitely hopping on our rotation!

Breakfast Cookies - 6 Ways!

Apricot Pistachio Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper.
  • Blend the coconut oil, almond butter, and honey until smooth.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until combined.
  • Form the cookies in your hands, flattening them to the shape and size that you want. They do puff a little but not too much – just make them about the size that you want them to be, and then place them on your lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes for small cookies, and 15 minutes for larger cookies, or until golden on the tops. Cool the cookies on the pan for 5 minutes before placing them on a cooling rack to cool completely. They firm up as they cool, and hold their texture very well.

Notes

  • If you prefer less nut texture, you can blend up the pistachios to more of a fine chop.
  • You can swap the almond butter for any nut or seed butter that you like.
  • If you are egg free, this egg should be easily replaced with a flax egg or egg replacer.
  • These breakfast cookies are good at room temp in an airtight container for 3 days. They freeze up great as well, so leftovers can be put in the freezer.

Banana Walnut Breakfast Cookies

Reminiscent of banana walnut bread, only this breakfast cookie version is perfect for on the go! Such fun flavors – bananas are always a kid favorite!

Breakfast Cookies - 6 Ways!

Banana Walnut Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper.
  • Blend the coconut oil, almond butter, and honey until smooth.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until combined.
  • Form the cookies in your hands, flattening them to the shape and size that you want. They do puff a little but not too much – just make them about the size that you want them to be, and then place them on your lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes for small cookies, and 15 minutes for larger cookies, or until golden on the tops. Cool the cookies on the pan for 5 minutes before placing them on a cooling rack to cool completely. They firm up as they cool, and hold their texture very well.

Notes

  • If you prefer less nut texture, you can blend up the walnuts to more of a fine chop.
  • You can swap the almond butter for any nut or seed butter that you like.
  • If you are egg free, this egg should be easily replaced with a flax egg or egg replacer.
  • These breakfast cookies are good at room temp in an airtight container for 3 days. They freeze up great as well, so leftovers can be put in the freezer.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Breakfast Cookies

Oh yes, I went there! This one is for momma…and I suppose the kids can have one too! Treat yourself dear momma! Cacao nibs are little bits of pure chocolate without the sugar added and packed with antioxidants, but don’t fear! The mild sweetness from the cookie and the freeze dried strawberries are in every bite and make those little bits of cocao nib taste just like sweetened chocolate!

Breakfast Cookies - 6 Ways!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper.
  • Blend the coconut oil, almond butter, and honey until smooth.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until combined.
  • Form the cookies in your hands, flattening them to the shape and size that you want. They do puff a little but not too much – just make them about the size that you want them to be, and then place them on your lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes for small cookies, and 15 minutes for larger cookies, or until golden on the tops. Cool the cookies on the pan for 5 minutes before placing them on a cooling rack to cool completely. They firm up as they cool, and hold their texture very well.

Notes

  • You can swap the almond butter for any nut or seed butter that you like.
  • If you are egg free, this egg should be easily replaced with a flax egg or egg replacer.
  • These breakfast cookies are good at room temp in an airtight container for 3 days. They freeze up great as well, so leftovers can be put in the freezer.

Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Breakfast Cookies

This breakfast cookie is another that has seeds and dried fruit that are staples in many people’s pantries! I love the fun seed color, but you can blend them up if you wish.

Breakfast Cookies - 6 Ways!

Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper.
  • Blend the coconut oil, almond butter, and honey until smooth.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until combined.
  • Form the cookies in your hands, flattening them to the shape and size that you want. They do puff a little but not too much – just make them about the size that you want them to be, and then place them on your lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes for small cookies, and 15 minutes for larger cookies, or until golden on the tops. Cool the cookies on the pan for 5 minutes before placing them on a cooling rack to cool completely. They firm up as they cool, and hold their texture very well.

Notes

  • I leave the pumpkin seeds whole, but you can chop them if you wish!
  • You can swap the almond butter for any nut or seed butter that you like.
  • If you are egg free, this egg should be easily replaced with a flax egg or egg replacer.
  • These breakfast cookies are good at room temp in an airtight container for 3 days. They freeze up great as well, so leftovers can be put in the freezer.

Pecan Fig Breakfast Cookies

And last, but certainly not least…my youngest *very* favorite breakfast cookie with her *very* favorite fruit in the whole wide world…figs! We always have the big bag of dried figs from Costco on hand, so this is an easy one to make for the littlest hands in the house – and you see the look on her very happy little face how happy she was to eat her food photography prop at the end!

Breakfast Cookies - 6 Ways!

Pecan Fig Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper.
  • Blend the coconut oil, almond butter, and honey until smooth.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until combined.
  • Form the cookies in your hands, flattening them to the shape and size that you want. They do puff a little but not too much – just make them about the size that you want them to be, and then place them on your lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes for small cookies, and 15 minutes for larger cookies, or until golden on the tops. Cool the cookies on the pan for 5 minutes before placing them on a cooling rack to cool completely. They firm up as they cool, and hold their texture very well.

Notes

  • If you prefer less nut texture, you can blend up the pecans to more of a fine chop.
  • You can swap the almond butter for any nut or seed butter that you like.
  • If you are egg free, this egg should be easily replaced with a flax egg or egg replacer.
  • These breakfast cookies are good at room temp in an airtight container for 3 days. They freeze up great as well, so leftovers can be put in the freezer.
Breakfast Cookies - 6 Ways!

More real food recipes you might like!

Batch Up Meals Breakfast Ideas Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Lunch Ideas Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips RGN Meal Plans school lunches

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}

January 30, 2021

Learn how to build a 2 week meal plan for your family centered around whole, real food found in the winter, busy schedules, and nourishing families!

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.

Finally!

After 7 years of blogging, 2 cookbooks, and countless in person workshops…I’ve made a meal plan! *Sound the trumpets and throw a parade!* I know so many of you have asked throughout the years, and I just never did it because really I never thought I was much of a meal planner. I have always had a bit of a “framework” in my head, gone shopping and bought seasonal food on sale for the week, and then built my week around that – for the last 11 years that I have had children in the house! But more and more of you are asking, and I decided that there definitely could be some value in showing you how I keep our menu seasonal to fit in our budget, as well as show you how I build a week of meals for a normal, “real world” family of five!

Raising Generation Nourished 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}

Balancing Macros {Fats, Protein, Carbohydrates}

Healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates – they all matter when it comes to kids. It’s all about the balance/ratio that works for you and your family. This will look different for each family – and possibly each child! We are talking about normal, healthy children, without inflammatory diseases, etc here. There are special circumstances where a spurt of a more “keto” or other type eating style would benefit a child, or an adult working on healing some things. But for most normal children, a good balance of all 3 macros is the key to stable moods and blood sugars, really good sleep, and laser focus for every life activity. Keep in mind that growth spurts, seasons of stress/sports/extra activities will make the ratio need for each macro vary for your child. Listen to their body – kids are smart. Most of them don’t live to eat, they eat to live. And they crave what their body needs at that very moment. So make your meal planning mantra…“Make every bite count!” When you look at any given meal, are all 3 macros represented in a healthy way? If so, you are on your way!

Raising Generation Nourished 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}

Portion Size Considerations **VERY Important – Don’t skip this section!**

One of the reasons I have always hesitated making meal plans trying to portray portion size and meal prep for every kind of family. Every kid has different appetites (even within the same age group!), and every family has a different number of kids at varying ages! The way that I made meals when I had very small children in the house is actually quite different than how I make meals now. The meals are the same, but my method is different. Back then, I used to have way more leftovers! I think I ate leftovers for breakfast almost daily. Or we had leftovers for dinner at least 2 times per week. I’m lucky to get 1 dinner of leftovers for my whole family of 5 these days with 2 pre-teens in the house! I have to be intentional if I want leftovers. That means purposely doubling or tripling something so that I can use the meal again. SO! With that in mind, if you have older children or MORE children in the house than my 3, you may want to consider doubling some of what I have listed. And if you have just a toddler or 2 in the house, know that you probably won’t have to make as many dinners as I do! You’ll have more leftovers to pull from.

Raising Generation Nourished 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}

Meal Planning Baby Steps

If you pull up this meal plan and feel overwhelmed, slow down, and breathe a minute. Baby steps is key to not quitting. Most of the people that I polled wanted all 3 meals represented, and 2 weeks or more at a time. But if you are new to cooking and real food, you might need to back off on changing everything all at once. This is the real world, and I get that momma. This can be done without overwhelming time in the kitchen. Promise. I don’t have time for it, and kitchen work is part of my job! I don’t want you to quit, so please read through these thoughts!

  • Don’t change everything overnight – even if you are a jump in with both feet kind of person. Start out with one meal of the day. Maybe just start with fixing your breakfast routine. Once you have a rhythm set for that meal that feels good to you, then you can move onto lunch, or dinner.
  • Sit down with the whole family and make a menu TOGETHER. Everyone gets a favorite somewhere in the week. TELL THEM why – they will understand! You could go in so many different life skill directions in this conversation too. Everything from helping them see how good their bodies will feel eating real food, to helping them see how planning meals out helps the family budget.
  • Don’t shy away from a “rotation.” Once you figure out your rhythm…trust me it is like auto-pilot and so nice! You’ll see some similarities within each week, and you’ll see how I plan Sunday breakfast and dinners to help me on Monday every week. There is plenty of variety and change, so that things do get boring, but there is also some predictability. There are some things that look the same but have veggie or fruit switches depending on what I find on sale or in season, and you can do the same according to where you live.
Raising Generation Nourished 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}

A quick note about location, seasonal food, and availability

I found out real quick when I started doing my weekly shopping trip Stories on IG how vastly different food cost, availability of food, and seasonal differences are depending on location! I love getting messages and learning about how food is bought all over the world! Please keep in mind that where I live may not be where you live. Where I live, buying a half grass-fed cow for the year is affordable for many, and very available. That is definitely not the case everywhere. So where you see beef on my menu, you may have to swap for a different protein, or whatever meat is the best you can afford. I have readers from Europe that ask why we don’t eat much lamb, and people from East and West Coasts of the US that ask why we eat fish only occasionally. Both lamb and fish are quite costly where I live, so it is just not something that fits more than just weekly, if that. In the winter you will probably never see summer fruit like berries, or spring veggies like asparagus, because it is out of season in the frozen tundra of Michigan, and very expensive. Stick with the seasonality of where you live, buying the very best you can WITHIN the budget that you have for your family. Don’t go broke eating real food – you can do this smart within a budget.

Raising Generation Nourished 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}

SO! Let’s get started!

Here is a PDF for you to download of my full 2 Week Winter Inspired Meal Plan with links to recipes included. {See below this section for a blank version if you want to fill in your own!}

Want to build your own meal plan?

Go for it! My way of doing meals is definitely not the only way! And my recipes are not the only recipes around! Here is a blank PDF for you to print and fill out your own.

Winter Inspired Dinners to Swap in the Dinner Section

I know that not every single dinner idea on my blog or in my cookbooks is everyone’s cup of tea, or perhaps you have other ingredients available or in season right now where you live. So here are some other dinner ideas to swap for the dinner section of the meal plan that fit with the idea of “winter inspired!” OR, fill in your own family favorite meals! Most of this list is from right here on the blog. Any recipe links that have a page number are from my cookbooks. Those with page numbers in green are from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook, and those with page numbers in pink are from Nourished Beginnings.

Raising Generation Nourished 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}

Stay tuned…

YES, I would like to make more of these! Stay tuned for another winter inspired meal plan in the coming weeks, and then I’ll jump into spring inspired meals when we get there! Since I am newer at making meal plans for sharing with readers, I would love to have your feedback so that this is as relevant for you. Let me know how you like the layout, etc. If I’m going to spend the amount of time I did to put this one together, I want to make sure they are going to be used!

Raising Generation Nourished 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}
Batch Up Meals Breakfast Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Holiday Recipes Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

September 22, 2020

Super soft and fluffy pancakes with a fresh apple twist and warm fall flavors!

Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

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.

Apple abundance!

Michigan apple trees are quite literally bursting with fruit this year! We are having fun apple orchard hopping each weekend, supporting as many of our favorite farmers as we can…and having a lot of fun in the kitchen with apple recipes too!

Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

Breakfast goals

When I’m creating breakfast recipes for my kids, I usually have a few goals in mind. Sometimes I’m creating fun “every once and a while” recipes like apple coffee cake to be enjoyed on the weekend, that might be more on the “treat” side of things. Most of the time, however, when I’m recipe developing, I have school mornings and growing kids in mind. That means I don’t just want a pancake that will create a carb overload – I want every bite to count. That means a good balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, and that can get a bit tricky when you are picky about texture.

Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

Power packed ingredients with a super fluffy finish

The stars of the show in these pancakes are nutty, warm buckwheat and almond flours. Buckwheat is a seed that has a warm and nutty flavor that works so well with apples. There is a nice balance of protein and fiber making for a filling ingredient. It blends well with mild tasting almond flour, which also gives some healthy, filling fat and soft texture. Serve a stack of these pancakes with a side of eggs or sausage, or just have them alone with a pat of butter, nut butter, or coconut butter! Either way, the kids will be full and focused all morning!

Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

The Method :: The Egg Whites

Don’t skip this part! The key to super fluffy pancakes is just taking a minute to whip the egg whites separately. You’ll fold the egg whites into the batter at the very end, and I promise you will be glad you did when you see how light and fluffy your pancakes are.

Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

The Method :: The Apples

From apple chunks to applesauce, I’ve tried just about every kind of apple pancake almost every fall season. I have found over the years that my favorite way to make apple pancakes is with shredded apple. It doesn’t weigh down the pancake like applesauce does, and keeps them light and fluffy instead of soggy like they get when you use chunks. So grab a grater and quick give them a shred – the flavor of apple permeates every bite of light, fluffy pancake!

Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

The Method :: The Batter

Once you’ve separated your eggs, and whipped the whites, you’ll blend the wet ingredients, and then add in the dry. The batter will feel a bit thicker than usual pancake batter, but moisture will be added with the apples and egg whites, so hang tight and don’t be tempted to add more liquid! Once you stir the apple shreds in, then you can gently fold in the egg whites to make a super light and fluffy pancake batter for your griddle.

Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

Pancake finishes

Here are some ideas!

  • Traditional butter and maple syrup – you can’t go wrong with that!
  • Coconut butter! If you have little guys at home, they will think this is like frosting – super sweet and loaded with friendly fats and fiber, it is so good for them!
  • Whipped cream or coconut whipped cream – this is usually how I serve pancakes on a school morning to avoid sugary maple syrup. You don’t get as much sugar that way, and it still tastes fun! You can dust the top of the whipped cream with cinnamon too.
  • Nut or seed butter and a dusting of cinnamon!
  • Sautéed apples with cinnamon would be fun too!
Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Separate your egg whites into a small mixing bowl, while putting the yolks into a medium mixing bowl. Beat the egg whites with an electric hand mixer until soft peaks form in the egg whites – this will take about a minute. Set the egg whites aside.
  • Add the coconut milk, ACV, coconut sugar, and molasses to the medium mixing bowl with the yolks, and blend until smooth. Add the almond flour, buckwheat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and sea salt, and blend to combine. This will feel thick, but do NOT add more liquid – the apples and egg whites will do that!
  • Fold the shredded apple into the pancake batter using a rubber scraper, and then gently fold the whipped egg whites in until smooth and fluffy.
  • Coconut oil or butter your hot griddle or skillet over medium heat, and cook your pancakes. I use a small ladle to pour mine. A ¼ cup measuring cup works well too. Cook the pancakes until you see little bubbles on the sides, about 1 minute, and then flip, cooking another minute or so until the pancakes are cooked through and golden brown.
  • Top your warm pancakes with butter and maple syrup! My kids were totally into a topping of coconut butter on theirs one of the times I served these too.
  • To freeze the pancakes, cool them, and then put into freezer bags to freeze. To warm up leftover pancakes, put them on a baking sheet into a warm oven.
Gluten Free Fresh Apple Pancakes

More real food APPLE recipes you might like ::

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How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

September 9, 2020

Easy to make, super soft, gluten free flour tortillas with only 5 ingredients!

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, 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.

Sweet friends, and a special story…

(Preface :: I got permission from mom to share these girls’ important story and the picture below. Please be the amazing supportive community that my readers always are to this dear friend of mine with positive, uplifting comments.)

See the sweet girls with my crew in the picture below? We met this precious family during Caitlyn’s Young 5’s year at school, and you know those friendships that just click in place like they were always meant to be? Their momma is amazing, and our kids just go together like peanut butter and jelly. Earlier this summer, this family finally figured out what was making their 2 sweet little girls’ tummies ache so much, and experience so much digestive distress all the time from early toddlerhood…a new, VERY positive Celiac diagnosis. For both girls. Talk about life coming to a screeching hault in order to learn all things gluten free! I watched as this strong momma bear gutted her kitchen of all utensils, pots, seasonings, appliances, and foods that might have traces of gluten on them or in them, and then joined her for a shopping trip to fill her kitchen with safe food for her babies.

I have to admit, I was thinking this shopping trip would be super easy. I’ve been gluten free for…gosh, has it really been 15 years?! You’d think an old gluten free pro would be able to help a newly diagnosed celiac family grocery shop. What I found was that gluten free shopping when you have a gluten sensitivity is VERY different from gluten free shopping when you have an autoimmune Celiac disease. SO many packaged gluten free items are NOT made in dedicated gluten free facilities. For people that can’t even have a trace of gluten residue, that is a prescription for disaster. And there were a few times this summer that they found out just that – even foods that we thought were gluten free, definitely “glutened” these sweet girls, making them very sick. Anything that wasn’t labeled “made in a dedicated gluten free facility” was absolutely out of the question.

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

A Gluten Free Tortilla Challenge!

Over a decade ago during my new gluten sensitivity diagnosis, I tried my hand at some homemade gluten free tortillas, but honestly the abundance of store bought gluten free tortillas has sky rocketed as “gluten free” has become more popular, so I chalked up tortillas as one of those store bought conveniences that I would take advantage of. There is a variety of “gluten free” tortillas out there, but as I shopped with my friend, we found that there were NONE with healthy ingredients that were made in dedicated gluten free facilities. NOT ONE! This really frustrated me! It’d been a long while since I tried my hand at homemade tortillas, but I really wanted to create something that my friend could safely use for her girls. Gluten free flour blends have REALLY improved in the last 15 years, and I had a feeling Namaste would be a really good candidate to trial with tortilla making.

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

5 Ingredients?!?!

Just 5 ingredients?! YES, dear momma, because I want you to be able to make this weekly or bi-weekly, or monthly – whatever your prep day looks like. I don’t want you to dread it or put it off because it feels like a fussy project. I had that friend of mine in mind with 2 Celiac daughters who can’t just pop into the store and grab a quick bag of tortillas. She doesn’t have a choice, but she also has a life to live, kids to take care of, a house to run…and needs realistic kitchen projects so her girls can eat safely. The ingredients are affordable and accessible, and the method couldn’t be easier!

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

The Method :: The Dough

This super soft, pliable dough will blow you away! It is really forgiving, and rolls out easily. Whether you plan to use a rolling pin or a tortilla press, you’ll find the dough really easy to work with. Simply mix all of the dough ingredients in a mixing bowl. I start with my spatula, and then finish by kneading with my hands. When measuring the water, I wanted to mention that to make it easy, I fill a 2-cup Pyrex liquid measuring cup to exactly 3/4 cup mark, and then use a tablespoon to add the 2 tablespoons of extra water. If you don’t do this your dough will be tougher and drier. If you use a full cup of water, your dough will be too wet – trust me and do the exact measurement!

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

The Method :: Rolling Pin or Tortilla Press!

In my recipe card, I included both rolling pin and tortilla press methods. I borrowed a friend’s tortilla press so that I could test it out both ways. I do feel like I was able to get the tortillas a bit thinner using my rolling pin. I did 3 batches with the tortilla press, and found that I could get them thinner by rotating the pressed tortilla, and also making sure I pressed down for a good 5 seconds wait. I would LOVE to hear about tortilla presses that you love, and/or tortilla press techniques for a novice press user, so please comment below in the comments section! I’m still on the fence for purchasing one for myself! The rolling pin method is super easy, though I have to admit finding the right tortilla press could change my mind. You’ll want to work with parchment paper when rolling your dough out with either method because adding a floured surface will fuss with the texture of the tortilla. Roll the ball of dough in your hand, flatten it slightly on your counter or the tortilla press, and then either roll it out, or press it out! Get the tortilla dough as thin as you can, and then you are ready to cook. If you are rolling your dough out with a rolling pin, I love using my 8-inch soup pot lid to cut a perfect circle! You can toss the dough scraps back in with the dough to keep making more tortillas.

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free
Pinch off a 2 1/2 inch ball of dough and roll it until smooth.
How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free
Lay a Silpat on the counter to keep your parchment from sliding. Slightly flatten the dough ball with your hand before your roll it out.
How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free
Place parchment over the top of the dough and roll out as thin as you can.
How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free
Use an 8-inch soup pot lid to cut a perfect circle!
How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free
Toss the scraps back in the bowl with the rest of the dough to roll out more tortillas!

The Method :: Cooking the Tortillas

The tortillas cook up so fast! Just a minute on each side over medium heat, and you’re done. It is important to use a dry pan! Don’t oil your pan at all! Keeping the tortillas soft and warm while you cook all of the tortillas is as easy using a tortilla keeper (so inexpensive!), or a simple plate covered with a towel. I have been able to make tortillas quick in the morning or afternoon when I have a minute, and they stay warm until dinner using a tortilla keeper.

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

Tortilla Storage

Use your fresh tortillas right out of your tortilla keeper or plate, warm and soft! Leftovers are best kept frozen to maintain moisture, softness, and pliability. What I have found is that you can toss the leftover tortillas into a freezer bag, and they don’t even stick together in the freezer bag! When you want to use a tortilla, simply take a frozen tortilla out and it will thaw within 20 minutes. You could warm in the oven or a pan too if you wish.

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

Ideas for using your tortillas!

Other than the obvious Taco Tuesday night (which is an absolute must!), the possibilities are endless for these tortillas! Here are some ideas!

  • Considering GF bread is really difficult to make, and super expensive to buy, using these tortillas as sandwich wraps, is probably the must functional use that I can think of. From tuna salad and chicken wraps, to ham and cheese and even PBJ, you can make any sandwich into a tortilla roll-up! You can find my “Kid-Approved Apple & Tuna Salad” and “Sweet & Sour Chicken Wrap” recipes in my cookbook, “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook!”
  • Quesadillas! There is a really great “Garden Party Quesadilla” recipe in my cookbook, “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook,” using a really yummy, simple bean spread and roasted veggies, or you can make your own up!
  • Pinwheels! Little kids love these, but I’m telling you right now, my 11-year old also adores pinwheels! They are so fun and easy to eat! You can try my egg salad pinwheels, or in my new lunchbox cookbook, “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook,” you can try my “Healthy Chicken Salad Pinwheels” or “Colorful Rainbow Pinwheels!”
  • Tortilla Chips! Check out my tortilla soup recipe and see how you can crisp your tortillas up to make chips for scooping and dipping!
  • Tortilla Pizza! Check this one out for a really easy Friday night pizza night!
How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free
Tuna Salad Wrap in a lunchbox!
How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free
Garden Party Quesadillas in a lunchbox! Recipe is in my cookbook, “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook

Ingredient swap thoughts

I am sure that other gluten free flour blends will work with this recipe, though different blends have different ratios of flours, so you may need to play around with the amount just a touch to get the right consistency if the flour absorbs differently than Namaste. For the most part, any GF Flour Blend that has xanthan gum should behave about the same (the gum gives that “gluten-y texture” to the tortilla. The palm shortening is important. Coconut oil or butter just won’t give the same outcome. I really would just stick to the palm shortening. You can find organic, sustainable palm shortening here.

How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

Gluten Free Flour Tortillas

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat a large skillet over medium heat while you mix the ingredients. Put all of the ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and use a spatula to combine. Once the dough comes together, knead the dough with your hands until it is all incorporated well. If you are in a very humid, wet environment, you may need to add a tablespoon or so more of flour if your dough feels too wet and sticky. I had to do this in the warmer, summer months.

ROLLING PIN METHOD ::

  • Lay a Silpat mat on the counter, and tear 2 pieces of parchment paper. Lay one piece of parchment down on the Silpat. (The Silpat will keep the parchment paper from sliding all over your counter while you roll!)
  • Pinch off a palm-sized, 2 ½ – 3 inch ball of dough, and roll the ball of dough in your hands until smooth.
  • Put the ball of dough on the parchment paper and flatten with your hand slightly. Place the second piece of parchment paper over the dough, and roll out as thin as you can get the dough, around 1/16th to 1/8th inches. Use an 7 or 8-inch pot lid to cut out a perfect tortilla circle!
  • Place the rolled-out tortilla circle in the hot skillet (do NOT oil the skillet!), and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. You can roll out a second tortilla ball during this time if you want. Or you can roll all of the tortillas out first, and then cook. When the tortilla has finished cooking on both sides, place it in a tortilla keeper or on a plate with a towel covering the plate to keep the tortillas warm and soft.

TORTILLA PRESS METHOD ::

  • Tear 2 small pieces of parchment paper and lay one of them on the bottom of the tortilla press.
  • Pinch off a palm-sized, 2 inch ball of dough for an 8-inch tortilla press (if you have a larger tortilla press make your dough ball about 3 inches), and roll the ball of dough in your hands until smooth.
  • Put the ball of dough on the parchment paper that is on the tortilla press, and flatten with your hand slightly. Place the second piece of parchment paper over the dough, and use the tortilla press to press the tortilla down, holding for 5 seconds. Open the press, rotate the tortilla 90 degrees, and press again.
  • Place the pressed tortilla in the hot skillet (do NOT oil the skillet!), and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. You can press a second tortilla ball during this time if you want. Or you can press all of the tortillas out first, and then cook. When the tortilla has finished cooking on both sides, place it in a tortilla keeper or on a plate with a towel covering the plate to keep the tortillas warm and soft.

STORAGE ::

  • Use your fresh tortillas right out of your tortilla keeper or plate, warm and soft! Leftovers are best kept frozen to maintain moisture, softness, and pliability. What I have found is that you can toss the tortillas into a freezer bag, and they don’t even stick together in the freezer bag! When you want to use a tortilla, simply take a frozen tortilla out and it will thaw within 20 minutes. You could warm in the oven or a pan too if you wish.
How To Make Gluten Free Flour Tortillas :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free, Soy Free

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Summer Broccoli Salad

August 2, 2020

This light and fresh broccoli salad is perfect for hot summer days!

Summer Broccoli Salad

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 2020…

It sure wasn’t what we thought it was going to be, eh? (See there’s that northern accent coming out in me!) While summer 2020 wasn’t what many of us dreamed it would be, we *did* decide to make the best of what we could actually do, and as it turns out, it was a pretty amazing summer! Hiking, waterfalls, cold and rocky Lake Superior shorelines, and hot powdery sand beaches along Lake Michigan…the outdoors wasn’t canceled and we were totally here for it!

Summer Broccoli Salad
Summer Broccoli Salad
Summer Broccoli Salad
Summer Broccoli Salad

A new summer staple!

I know we are inching our way toward the start of another school year, but there is still plenty of warm weather ahead, and I thought I’d share a new salad obsession of mine! I’ve perfected it this summer and I can’t wait to share it with you!

Summer Broccoli Salad

The busy momma kind of food prep…

My gracious has the last few months been a bit…extra…on us mommas! I made this salad up on a particularly busy week. I wanted to be able to pull a veggie side out of the fridge for myself without any prepping, and this salad has become a staple for me this summer! A shake up in the jar dressing and just 4 veggies to chop, this summer broccoli salad is something everyone has time for.

Summer Broccoli Salad

But will the kids eat it?!

Bonus! This broccoli has been a big hit with the kids as well! The super fun colors, and kid friendly dressing makes this broccoli salad easy on young taste buds. I can see packing this broccoli salad in school lunchboxes as veggie side this fall! I would recommend chopping the salad pieces quite small if you plan on your kids eating it. If the pieces of veggie are too big, it will make it harder to manage for kids. So as much as I love a big strip of onion in my salad, diced will work better for littles. And that extra chop of the broccoli and cabbage will make it easier for kids to eat.

Summer Broccoli Salad

The Method :: The Salad

Just chop and toss – it really is that simple! You can add or subtract veg based on your preferences. I have added sunflower seeds before, and even a hard boiled egg to my bowl.

Summer Broccoli Salad

The Method :: The Honey Mustard Dressing

I use a small 8 ounce jelly jar to measure and shake up my dressing. It is so fast and at this point in the summer I have it memorized because the ingredients are so simple! The dressing is sweet and tangy – perfect for everyone on the family. And instead of the heavier creamy broccoli salad dressings we are all used to (nothing wrong with those!), this light and crisp dressing is perfect for hot summer days.

Summer Broccoli Salad

Storage and serving

The broccoli salad is ready to eat as soon as it is tossed, and it keeps so well for about 5 days. This makes a great prep day item so that you can ensure that you have some veggie side to go with your lunch or dinner every day. I love that this salad doesn’t get soggy even with the dressing on it! If you prefer, you could just add the dressing when you are ready to eat it. The dressing will keep in the fridge for weeks.

Summer Broccoli Salad

Summer Broccoli Salad

Ingredients

FOR THE BROCCOLI SALAD

  • 4-5 cups of chopped broccoli florets
  • ¼ head of cabbage sliced into strips
  • 1 large carrot shredded
  • ¼ red onion sliced into strips (or diced if you like smaller pieces)
  • ½ cup manchego cheese Or whatever cheese you have on hand. You can leave this out if you are dairy free!

FOR THE HONEY MUSTARD VINEGARETTE

  • 3-4 tbsp raw honey
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 – 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar I liked more bite of vinegar, but my younger girls ate this happier with 1 tbsp
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp sea salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Put all of the broccoli salad ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
  • Put all of the dressing ingredients into a jar with a lid and shake vigorously to combine. You could use an immersion blender if you wish. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Start with ½ of the dressing and add more to your liking. It really depends on how much dressing you like on your salad. I use the whole jar most of the time. Any leftovers taste great on any salad you make and will keep in the fridge for weeks.
  • This broccoli salad will keep in the fridge for about 5 days. Make some on the weekend and use it as your weekday lunch veggie each day!

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Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

March 9, 2020

Keep the pantry stocked with these easy 10 minute prep, nut free school zone safe, crunchy buckwheat and apricot granola bars!

Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

Early spring?! We’ll take it!

It sure feels like spring has sprung rather early in these parts, and while I know there is a very good chance we will still see a March snow storm where I live, we’re soaking in every ounce of any sunshine and 40 degrees that is thrown our way with complete and utter delight!

Busy kids and healthier on the go snacks

Spring is a very *busy* time of year for my crew, and having grab-and-go snacks on hand that won’t sugar crash my growing kids is truly the name of the game. Real food fats, proteins, and healthy carbohydrates to sustain and satiate active kids, while still tasting good isn’t as hard as it sounds. Keeping fast and easy hard boiled eggs, fresh veggies with fatty dips, and even some healthier choice packaged store-bought snacks on hand keeps us from blowing our budget on empty calorie snacks and kids that are hungry every hour of the day. When we “make every bite count,” filling our kids up on food that satiates, they won’t be asking for snack after snack.

Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

Homemade, made easy

It’s no secret, I’m passionate about seeing kids filled up on nourishing, real fats, sustainable protein building blocks, and energy fueling real food carbohydrates. But I am also a real mom, with 3 very real kids, and this truly is a very real family behind this computer or phone screen that you are reading. There needs to be a balance between store bought everything and homemade all the things if it is going to be sustainable. This quick, 10-minute prep granola bar is made for busy families! The granola bars also store in the pantry, just like regular granola bars, so they will be just as convenient for the kids to grab for lunchbox packing or snack time.

Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

Star players

So let’s talk about this fun granola bar change up, and why it is a great idea to keep ingredient variety in our diets. Instead of an all oat based granola bar, I’m focusing on mineral rich seeds for this crunchy, satisfying version. One of my girls has a nut free snack time at school this year, and while nut free is easier than you think, I have also challenged myself to create some seed only snacks (like these copycat coconut clusters) for her this year to change things up. Buckwheat is a seed packed with minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. I feel like it is a really overlooked, mineral rich ingredient, and it has a nutty, toasted taste when baked into a crunchy granola bar. I’ve also added mineral rich pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds to add to the nutrient variety and flavors, and of course some traditional oats make these pretty granola bars picture perfect. The kids will love these honey toasted seeds in a convenient little bar, and the dried apricots are a fun little surprise sprinkled throughout!

Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

The Method

You’ll start by pouring all the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl. I use my food processor to buzz up the pumpkin and sunflower seeds, so this part goes fast. After you melt the coconut oil and honey over the stove, you’ll pour that over the dry ingredients and stir them to coat everything evenly. The granola mixture gets pressed into the pan and you can tend to other kitchen tasks or the kids while it bakes! After the granola bars cool completely, you can cut the bars in the sizes you like. The beauty of making your own granola bars is being able to control the size of the bars you like. I tend to make squares so that they can be a small snack or a small addition to lunchbox since my kids are still young. This works well for toddlers too since a large granola bar can be a lot to finish. If you have older kids, you can make regular sized bars.

Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free
Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free
Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

Swap thoughts

Even if you aren’t in a nut free school or have kids at home with nut allergies, I would love to see you try these seed based bars! The nutrient diversity is good for your gut and growing bodies. That said, if the you have nuts on hand to use up, I do think that they will swap in this recipe for the seeds. If they are bigger nuts like almonds or walnuts, you might want to use a heaping ¼ cup of nuts to make up for the small seeds that fill up the quarter cup. If you don’t have dried apricots just yet, raisins should work just fine, though if you get a chance the apricots are so fun and pretty too!

Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees and line an 8×8 baking pan with unbleached parchment paper.
  • Put the oats, buckwheat groats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, buckwheat flour, and apricots in a medium mixing bowl, and set aside.
  • Melt the coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan and then pour over the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. Stir the granola bar ingredients thoroughly so that everything is coated with the coconut oil mixture.
  • Pour the granola bar mixture into the lined pan and press the mixture down using the bottom of your half cup measuring cup so that everything is pressed into the pan evenly. Pay attention to the sides and corners so that everything is straight and even.
  • Bake the granola bars at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Do NOT cut the bars until they have cooled completely. The will harden as they cool and be easier to cut. Once the bars have cooled completely to room temp, pull the sides of the parchment paper so the granola bars come out in one square. Use a long sharp knife to cut the granola bars into the sizes you want.
Nut Free Crunchy Buckwheat and Apricot Granola Bars :: Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free

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Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

February 11, 2020

Fast and easy prep white chicken chili with a smooth, creamy texture, and out of this world flavor!

Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

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

Winter hikes & (kid friendly!) warm chili

I’ve learned that if I just don’t get out in it, I become a big grump by February my friends. So we pull on the winter gear and trudge through the snow, no matter how deep it is. Every weekend. Some winters we can barely tolerate 20 minutes the cold is so bitter and the snow is so deep. Other winters, like this year, we are left wondering if this really is still Michigan or not with the mild(er) temps and small dusting of snow! No matter the winter, a warm bowl of chili is always a good idea during the darkest months of the year!

Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

An old recipe made (so!) much easier!

White chicken chili has been one of my favorite slow cooker recipes for years. The creamy broth base is super kid friendly, and my version is not only packed with chicken, but boasts a load of veggie variety that contributes to it’s amazing flavor. With busy schedules that come with the territory of having older kids and not as much time at home, I was finding that I wasn’t making my favorite white chicken chili as much because it did feel a bit time consuming!

Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

Enter the Instant Pot, and an easy peasy secret to the creamy broth!

When I wrote that recipe, oh so many years ago, the Instant Pot was not even a thought! Since my trusty IP has become my go-to for our favorite regular chili, I decided it was time to give my favorite white chicken chili a face lift – Instant Pot style! And since I don’t always have time to make the cream of chicken soup for the creamy base, a little coconut milk and potato starch did the trick so well!

Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

Dump it all in!

Other than a quick little saute to pull some flavor and sweetness out of the veggies in the beginning, this recipe is a dump and go! *Cue the busy mom applause!* The beauty of the Instant Pot is quick cook times and flavorful, juicy meat outcomes, and this recipe does not disappoint. Simply put all of the ingredients into the IP after sauting the veggies, place the raw chicken breasts on top, and when the Instant Pot is done pressure cooking, you’ll have easy to shred chicken to stir into your chili!

Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

A note on the heat (and to bean or not to bean!)

This recipe is mild in heat and very kid friendly. I left the jalapeno as optional in case your kids are sensitive to heat. I use just one jalapeno in mine, and while I’d love a bit more heat to my bowl, I want my kids to inhale the chili too! I tend to add a hit of cayenne or chili flakes to my bowl to heat it up. One of my tricks to “cooling down” a bowl of chili for little ones is to be sure you top the chili with sour cream. The cool, fatty dairy cuts the heat well. You can use coconut yogurt or coconut milk if you are dairy free. This recipe as written does not contain beans, but if you want to add some white beans, you may!

Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

Storage and school thermoses!

This white chicken chili freezes really well! I love that this hearty chili can be packed in school thermoses on a cold winter day! They play so hard outside at recess! You can pack a side of cheese or sour cream to add on top in the thermos too. To freeze the chili, cool the chili to room temperature, and store in freezer safe containers.

Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp ghee to cook in butter, coconut oil, olive oil, or tallow/lard work too
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper diced
  • 1-2 small jalapenos optional if you like the heat
  • 5 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp potato starch Not potato flour. Tapioca or arrowroot would work here too
  • 2 tsp taco season I use my own DIY blend
  • 2 to matillos diced
  • 2 small zucchinis large dice
  • 1 – 4oz can green chilis
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 3 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts 1 lb
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • Cilantro, lime wedges, and avocado slices per preference to garnish (optional shredded raw cheese or sour cream if you tolerate that)

Instructions

  • Turn the Instant Pot on to “saute” and melt the ghee. Saute the onion and bell peppers with a pinch of sea salt for about 5-7 minutes until fragrant and soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Turn the Instant Pot “off,” and stir in the taco season and potato starch until the veggies are coated. Stir in the tomatillos, zucchini, broth, and coconut milk, and then set the chicken breasts in the liquid.
  • Put the lid on the Instant Pot, and close the valve. Turn the IP on to “Soup,” and bring the time down to 20 minutes. The IP will take about 5 minutes to come to pressure before counting down the 15 minutes. When the 15 minute timer is up, turn the IP off and let it naturally release for 5-10 minutes before releasing the rest of the valve pressure.
  • Take the chicken breasts out of the IP, shred them with a fork, and then return the shredded chicken to the IP, stirring the chicken into the chili. Season the chili to your taste and garnish each bowl with cilantro, lime, and avocado slices per your preference.
Easy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

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