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How To Roast Crispy Pumpkin Seeds :: Plus 6 Different Flavor Variations!

October 17, 2022

Don’t throw those pumpkin seeds away! Roast them up for a zinc-rich, salty or sweet crispy snack that the whole family will love!

How To Roast Crispy Pumpkin Seeds :: Plus 6 Different Flavor Variations!

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.

All the October pumpkin fun!

My crew is just like pretty much every kid around October – perfectly pumped to dress up in a fun costume, carve into some messy pumpkins, and run around with their friends to all the neighbor’s houses! We also use SO many of those little pie pumpkins this time of year. I just love to add the creamy sweetness to a broth for delicious soups like pumpkin chicken noodle soup, and chicken & pumpkin corn chowder, or chilis like this Instant Pot chipotle chili. And, of course, pumpkin is so fun to bake with. There are multiple recipes on the blog you can search for, but our favorites are the pumpkin breakfast cookies, pumpkin scones, and these brand new pumpkin donuts!

How To Roast Crispy Pumpkin Seeds :: Plus 6 Different Flavor Variations!

What to do with all those seeds!

With as many pumpkins as we go through in our home (including Halloween pumpkin carving!), we always end up having roasted pumpkin seeds on hand for quick lunchbox additions or snacks at home, and you can really dress them up any way you like! From simple and salty, to savory and complex, pumpkin seeds are a pretty blank slate, and so easy to roast as well. You can also make them a fun, sweet pumpkin spice or cinnamon toast flavor for a healthier Halloween treat!

How To Roast Crispy Pumpkin Seeds :: Plus 6 Different Flavor Variations!

Allll the zinc – and so many other healthy benefits!

Pumpkin seeds are known in health circles for being packed with zinc. Our bodies need zinc for so many things, including immune health, so it is pretty amazing this crispy snack is available during this time of year while the kids are back to school! But, did you know that pumpkin seeds are also loaded with other minerals, including magnesium, which so many of us (yes, kids too!), are super deficient in? What a fun way to get some minerals in!

How To Roast Crispy Pumpkin Seeds :: Plus 6 Different Flavor Variations!

The Method :: Soaking the Seeds

After carving your Halloween pumpkin, or scooping the seeds out of your roasting pumpkins for baking, you’ll want to soak the seeds. Add a little salt to a bowl, dump the seeds in, and fill to cover with water. They need to soak for at least an hour, but you can leave them overnight too. You’ll be able to pull any leftover pumpkin flesh out much easier after soaking too.

How To Roast Crispy Pumpkin Seeds :: Plus 6 Different Flavor Variations!

The Method :: Rinsing the Seeds

Once the seeds have soaked, drain the water, and give them a good rinse. This is a good spot to pick out any leftover pieces of pumpkin flesh that are stuck to any seeds too.

How To Roast Crispy Pumpkin Seeds :: Plus 6 Different Flavor Variations!

The Method :: Drying and Prepping the Seeds to Roast

After you rinse the seeds, you can lay them out on a paper towel to soak up any dripping, excess water. You don’t need them bone dry, but use the paper towel to pat the tops of the seeds. Next, dump the seeds onto an unlined, ungreased baking sheet. You’ll toss the seeds right there on the baking sheet with butter and sea salt. You can also add any extra seasonings or flavors you wish to add at this point.

How To Roast Crispy Pumpkin Seeds :: Plus 6 Different Flavor Variations!

The Method :: Roasting the Pumpkin Seeds

Roast your pumpkin seeds for about 15 minutes, and then give them a good shake or stir to make sure everything gets roasted evenly. Then roast another 7-10 minutes until golden. The pumpkin seeds will crisp up more as they cool, and you can store them in the pantry for a good month.

How To Roast Crispy Pumpkin Seeds :: Plus 6 Different Flavor Variations!

Let’s talk about dressing them up!

While butter and sea salt will always be my “go-to” favorite for pumpkin seeds, sometimes it is really fun to give the flavor a spin – especially if you have a lot of them! Here are some ideas! {All of the instructions for dressing up your pumpkin seeds are in the recipe card below}

  • Pumpkin Pie Pumpkin Seeds :: This is super fun for Halloween night, with a crispy sweet flavor, it makes a yummy healthier treat option!
  • Savory Pumpkin Seeds :: With a little garlic and onion powder, your seeds will transform into a savory snack in the best way!
  • Cinnamon Toast Pumpkin Seeds :: This is another sweet option that works really well for Halloween night!
  • Pizza Night Pumpkin Seeds :: If you’re craving the flavors of pizza, this one will hit all those salty, herby notes you love!
  • Spicy & Sweet Pumpkin Seeds :: One of momma’s favs, the sweet heat is perfect for any fans of a little kick in the house!
  • Vinegar, Sea Salt, & Black Pepper :: Like vinegar chips! Need I say more?!
All of the instructions for dressing up your pumpkin seeds are in the recipe card below

How To Roast Crispy Pumpkin Seeds :: Plus 6 Different Flavor Variations!

Ingredients

  • Seeds from 2 pie pumpkins about 1 – 1 ¼ cup seeds
  • ½ tsp sea salt for soaking
  • 1 tbsp of butter or avocado oil
  • ½ – ¾ tsp sea salt for roasting
  • See below for savory/salty/sweet flavor options!

Instructions

  • Before roasting your seeds, you’ll want to clean and soak them for at least an hour. Cover the seeds with water in a small mixing bowl, and add about ½ teaspoon of sea salt to the water. Stir everything around, and let the seeds soak at least an hour, or up to 8 hours.
  • Drain the seeds in a strainer, rinse, and remove any pumpkin flesh left behind. Put the seeds on a paper towel to soak any excess water, and gently pat dry. They won’t get totally dry unless you let them sit out overnight (which you can do if you want!). I usually don’t and they crisp up just fine.
  • Pour the seeds onto a baking sheet, and toss them with melted butter and sea salt. If you are flavoring your seeds at all, you will add those seasonings here as well.
  • Spread the seeds out on the baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Stir the seeds around and bake for another 7-10 minutes until golden and fragrant. The seeds will crisp as they cool.
  • Store your seeds in an airtight container in the pantry for 2 weeks.

Notes

Here are some fun flavor variations!
  • Pumpkin Pie Pumpkin Seeds :: Pull the sea salt down to ¼ – ½ tsp, and add 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, and 1-2 tsp coconut sugar
  • Savory Pumpkin Seeds :: Add ½ tsp onion and garlic powder
  • Cinnamon Toast Pumpkin Seeds :: Pull the sea salt down to ¼ – ½ tsp, and add 1 tsp cinnamon and 1-2 tsp maple syrup
  • Pizza Night Pumpkin Seeds :: Pull the sea salt down to ½ tsp, and add 1 tbsp nutritional yeast, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp basil, and ½ tsp oregano
  • Spicy & Sweet Pumpkin Seeds :: Add a few pinches of cayenne to your heat preference, and ½ tsp paprika, 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • Vinegar, Sea Salt, & Black Pepper (Like vinegar chips!) :: Add a tsp or so of white vinegar, and a few pinches of black pepper to taste
How To Roast Crispy Pumpkin Seeds :: Plus 6 Different Flavor Variations!

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One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

October 16, 2022

No need to separately boil the pasta or make a separate sauce! This weeknight friendly, one pan gluten free baked ziti has a super fast prep, and even easier clean up!

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

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.

Fall weather is here!

I think we have made the final pivot from warm, summer weather into a cooler, and more crisp fall pattern – and my crew eats. that. up! They are true Michiganders and are perfectly giddy for fall, and the anticipation of those first snow flakes in the coming months! Their momma, on the other hand…well, she would prefer summer stick around, but if we are going to make a shift to cooler weather, then I’m going to take advantage and get my oven on!

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

Comforting oven meals on a week night time frame!

Because as the kids get older, man alive do things get busier! When they were little, we were home a lot more often, so flipping the oven on all afternoon, even on a weekday, was not out of the norm. The girls are older now, and each have their own passions to pursue, and of course zipping them around to hang out with friends is so important for this very social age as well! With a work at home mom that also likes to be involved at school (they are only at that helping out at school age for so long!), my plate is also happily full, and I’ve developed some really great, nourishing dinners to help me keep real food on the table, even on a busy weeknight.

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

Baked ziti in one pan?!

It’s like a dream, right?! Sometimes those pasta dishes seem daunting on a weekday just because you have to boil the pasta. I’ve taken the boiling step out of this super fun, kid favorite dinner, making this “dump it all in dinner” a perfect weeknight solution! Chop a quick side salad and your crew will have dinner on the table in no time!

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

Let’s get this simple one pot meal started!

You’ll want to use on oven safe casserole dish, braiser, or pot that has a lid. I like to use my pan that I can use stovetop as well so that I can brown the meat, and then dump the rest of the ingredients right in. If you don’t have a casserole pan or brasier that can be used stovetop, you can brown the meat separately, and then add everything to your casserole pan or baking dish to bake. Again, you’ll want a pan or pot that has a lid – if you don’t, you can use a baking pan and cover with aluminum foil.

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

Now for the “dump it all in” part!

Once the meat is seasoned and browned, just stir the rest of the ingredients in – yes, even the dried pasta and uncooked spinach! It will all cook together in the oven! Put the lid on your casserole, and you are free for 30 minutes to help kids with homework, pack lunchboxes, change a diaper, or even {gasp!} read a chapter of your book! Easy peasy, right?!

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

Can I veggie load this baked ziti?

This baked ziti has a load of spinach, and even some creamy pumpkin puree inside, so I tend to serve it with a side salad for simplicities sake. You absolutely can “veggie load” the sauce if you have hesitant salad eaters, or little ones not loving salads yet. My suggestion would be to use finely chopped cauliflower and shredded carrot which will all blend in super easy.

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

Let’s talk toppings for my dairy free friends!

Our family is dairy free for the most part, but we do tolerate sheep’s milk and goat’s milk cheeses, so I keep a lot of manchego on hand. My family also enjoys the Violife Vegan cheese that is coconut oil based with a great ingredient list. I don’t use a lot of vegan cheeses because of the ingredients, but this is a good one and tastes pretty great! You could also top your baked ziti with bread crumbs, gluten free bread crumbs, or a ground up nut combo.

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

One Pan Gluten Free Baked Ziti

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp friendly fat to cook in butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil
  • 2 lbs grassfed ground beef
  • 1– 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • Pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast optional – see Notes for details
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree fresh or canned
  • 2 cups bone broth or water
  • 1 – 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 2– 3 cups baby spinach You can finely chop this if you want it less noticeable
  • 12 oz dry pasta of choice We use GF rice pasta
  • 2 cups cheese of choice to top I use a Manchego since we tolerate sheep’s milk best. See Notes for dairy free options

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • You can make this entire dish in a stove top/oven safe casserole, braiser, or pot with a lid. If you do not have this, you can brown the meat in a skillet and transfer everything to an oven safe casserole pan with a lid or use aluminum foil.
  • Melt the fat in a large oven safe casserole pan or braiser over medium high heat, and brown the beef with the sea salt. Add the Italian seasoning, onion & garlic powders, and pepper, and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, and add the nutritional yeast, pumpkin puree, bone broth, tomato sauce, spinach, and pasta. Stir to combine and top with cheese.
  • Put the lid on your casserole, and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. I like to take the lid off at the end and put it under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the top and crisp up any edges too!

Notes

  • If you don’t use nutritional yeast, you can leave this out, or if you can have dairy, you can stir some cheese into the mixture.
  • If you are dairy free, you can top your baked ziti with bread crumbs, gluten free bread crumbs, or a ground up nut combo.
  • If you have little ones that don’t like to eat a salad along side dinners like these, you can definitely “veggie-load” this baked ziti wit a couple cups of finely chopped cauliflower or cabbage, or shredded carrots! 
  • I don’t even drain the grease from browning the meat, because it add so much flavor. We get a half side of grassfed beef every year for the freezer, and the meat from grassfed cows is super lean. If your beef lends a lot of grease, you can drain some of it.

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Fresh Pumpkin Donuts :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free

October 10, 2022

These super soft, super delicious pumpkin donuts are the perfect treat for all of your fall weekend adventures!

Fresh Pumpkin Donuts :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg 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.

It’s pumpkin time!

You never know what your going to get as far as the weather goes on pumpkin patch weekend, and this year it was probably the warmest we’ve ever experienced! I also never know what we’re going to get as far as what kind of pumpkins my little people pick out, and while I’m a traditionalist, and love an orange pumpkin, the girls always tend to find the coolest colors, varieties, and sizes just to stretch me 😉

Fresh Pumpkin Donuts :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free

A new pumpkin challenge!

As the girls get older, this time of year has gotten hard as they definitely know what they are missing when we take a pass on the pumpkin patch donuts. When they were little, we’d steer clear of the bakery area, and call it good. But, they know a little better now, and last year I ended up playing around with a new donut pan, coming up with some fun recipes so they could feel like they got to enjoy a special treat, and I could feel good about keeping the ingredients on the healthier side.

Fresh Pumpkin Donuts :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free

Roasted pumpkin or canned?

I’m an absolute sucker for fresh roasted pumpkin. I designed this pumpkin donut to make a good 15 donuts so that I only had to make them once per fall, freezing any leftovers, which absolutely makes it feel more do-able to go fresh on the pumpkin in my book. Canned pumpkin will work just fine as well, so go that route if you are shorter on time. If the kids have never seen a pumpkin go from the patch to the oven to a baked good though, it is so, so worth the time to do that! Simply pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees, use some good avocado oil or butter if you can have that on the flesh of the pumpkin, and roast flesh side down on a baking sheet for about 40 minutes until tender. You can scoop the flesh into a food processor or blender to puree from there. I don’t think you’ll turn back once you taste it!

Fresh Pumpkin Donuts :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free

Easy peasy, one bowl batter!

If you have been around these parts for very long, you know that I freely admit that I don’t enjoy baking – it is just not my thing! I love to cook, but baking is fussy and finicky, and I barely have the patience for it! So most of my baked items are super fuss free, including this one. You’ll whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl, add the wet ingredients to mix, and then get them into the donut pan! The batter is thicker than a muffin batter, but not as thick as a cookie dough.

Fresh Pumpkin Donuts :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free

Let’s talk donut pans and how to bake!

Silicone is the way to go from my experience. I had metal donut pans last year, and the middle part didn’t come up very high, so it made it hard to fill the pan and keep the hole in the center of the donuts in tact as the donuts rose. My silicone donut pans have a nice high center, and the donuts come out of a silicone pan SO easily too! Since the batter is thick, I have found it easiest to pipe the batter into the donut pan so that you get a really pretty, and smooth donut. If you don’t have piping bags around, you can snip the end of a zip top bag just as easily.

Fresh Pumpkin Donuts :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free
Fresh Pumpkin Donuts :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free

That topping though!

I have played around with a few different donut toppings for these pumpkin donuts, and just love the traditional donut glaze that has a fun shiny top – it really looks like a store bought or bakery bought donut! You’ll just melt some butter or coconut oil in warm coconut milk and molasses, and then whisk the powdered sugar into the pan. Keeping the glaze warm is key in getting a really pretty, smooth frosting top. As it cools, it will harden and have that shiny gorgeous finish! Here’s the deal though – if you have really little ones at home, they are not going to know ANY differently if these donuts are glazed or not. It’s really just a mildly sweet muffin without the glaze, and if I had small children or toddlers at home, I’d be leaving the frosting off – they will still love them!

Fresh Pumpkin Donuts :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free

Storage and freezing options

This recipe makes a good 15 donuts – my kids do NOT need 15 donuts! You can certainly halve this recipe, but I like to freeze them. It’s nice to do a fun treat on pumpkin patch day, and then freeze some for Halloween morning! That is one less thing you have to make on Halloween, and they really do freeze up well. I freeze them with the frosting on, but you can also just freeze the donuts once they cool, and then make fresh glaze when you pull them out.

Fresh Pumpkin Donuts :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free

Fresh Pumpkin Donuts :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free

Ingredients

For the Pumpkin Donuts:

For the Brown Sugar Icing:

Instructions

For the Pumpkin Donuts:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray your donut pans with avocado oil spray. This recipe makes about 15 donuts. You can halve it if you need!
  • Whisk the flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a medium mixing bowl.
  • Add the pumpkin puree, coconut milk, avocado oil, vanilla extract, and apple cider vinegar, and mix to combine.
  • Snip the tip of a piping bag or Zip Top bag to make a thick circle for the batter to come out of. Scoop the batter into the piping bag, and pipe the batter into the donut pan. I filled my silicone molds up to the top.
  • Bake the donuts at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops are golden.
  • Let the donuts cool for a few minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely before glazing.

For the Brown Sugar Icing:

  • Put the coconut milk, butter, and molasses in a small saucepan, and melt together, whisking along the way.
  • Turn the heat off, add the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth.
  • You’ll want the glaze to stay warm so that the donuts will dip easily, so I just keep the glaze in the sauce pan and dip the donuts from there. Dip the donuts, let the glaze run off into the saucepan, and then set on the cooling rack to dry.

Notes

  • Canned or fresh pumpkin puree will work just fine in this recipe. If the kids have never seen a pumpkin go from the patch to the oven to a baked good though, it is so, so worth the time to do that! Simply pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees, use some good avocado oil or butter on the flesh of the pumpkin, and roast flesh side down on a baking sheet for about 40 minutes until tender. You can scoop the flesh into a food processor or blender to puree from there. I don’t think you’ll turn back once you taste it!
Fresh Pumpkin Donuts :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free

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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!

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Our Favorite Herbal Tea for Kids

August 20, 2022

Our household favorite herbal teas, with lots of tips for using herbal tea with kids!

Our Favorite Herbal Tea for Kids

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.

Over the years, you’ve watched our girls grow up before your eyes, and one of the things you may have noticed when I share breakfast bar set-ups, or our infamous “Breakfast Cookie Friday” tradition, is the herbal tea on the counter, or little teacups in the girls’ hands. A warm cup of “something” to go with breakfast, or as an afternoon pick-me-up, is always comforting, and with back-to-school rhythms commencing, I thought this might be a useful resource for you!

Our Favorite Herbal Teas for Kids

A few considerations before we get started

I just wanted to preface that I am not a doctor, naturopath, or herbalist. I’m going to share herbal teas that I have found that my girls really enjoy, herbal teas that have been recommended by our functional medicine doctor or herbalist friends, and teas that I have found work really well for my kids. Every kid is different, and I would just keep that in mind as you read through. I keep away from caffeinated tea for the kids, and stick to gently steeping the teas. For instance, for the most part I’ll steep tea for the girls for a few minutes so it isn’t as “strong,” or if it has steeped a while, my girls will dilute it with some water if need be. As they get older, I find them diluting it less, and enjoying a stronger tea. I never used honey to sweeten the girls’ tea, but if you prefer to do that, you may!

Our Favorite Herbal Tea for Kids

The benefits of herbal tea for babies

Babies, toddlers, kids, and teens alike can all benefit from being introduced to herbal teas. In my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings, I show you how I introduced my babies to little sips of different herbal teas off a spoon or teacup using colic or tummy calming herbs, fever supporting herbs, as well as mineral rich nourishing herbs. It’s a great way to broaden their palate to the taste of tea, and can help gently address any tummy ailments, colds, and overall health. If you have a baby in the house, I encourage you to pick up Nourished Beginnings, and use that as your starting point, as there are tips and instructions specific to using herbals with babies that will be helpful to you.

Our Favorite Herbal Teas for Kids

The benefits of herbal tea for toddlers

One of my favorite things about using herbs for any age is how easy they are for the body to absorb. When used appropriately, they are gentle and easy on the body, as well as very effective. And for little ones like toddlers who don’t have a reference to sweet beverages like soda or juice (hopefully!), tea can be a super fun beverage “treat” that you can feel good about. I also found herbal teas useful when my toddlers were fighting off a bug. It was something easy to get into them when all they wanted to do was drink instead of eat. Talk about that 2 birds and 1 stone thing! Hydrating, replacing minerals lost, as well as addressing symptoms through herbs is so helpful when a toddler is ill.

Our Favorite Herbal Teas for Kids

The benefits of herbal tea for kids

Similar to toddlers, herbal teas can be an easy way to address symptoms in your children in an easy to administer, as well as easy to digest and absorb way. I have found sending a diluted cup of tea in the girls’ water cups for school to be helpful on so many occasions. At the beginning of the school year adding some relaxing herbs to keep their first day jitters calm. During those sniffly months to add an immune system supporting tea to keep them bolstered. During testing weeks to use focusing or calming herbs. Or while they are on a hot and sweaty field trip or long day outside to use mineral rich, replenishing herbs.

Our Favorite Herbal Teas for Kids

The benefits of herbal tea for teens

As the girls have grown, I have started explaining to them more about how different herbs can help them, how to pick what tea they need, and how to listen to their body. I wish I had started explaining herbs a little younger than I did, because I really think they can learn so much even as little ones, but start where you are! Giving these older kids and teens the tools they need to target how they are feeling with herbs is a priceless life skill they will take with them when they leave the home. For instance, as my oldest has entered puberty, we have talked about herbs that will support her during every week of her cycle. Helping our girls feel empowered instead of helpless with how their body changes each week is going to make such a difference in how she views this season of her life. Helping teen boys and girls learn how to use herbs to support times of stress, times of joy, times of hard work, times of illness, and times of rest is also going to serve them well as they enter their young adulthood.

Our Favorite Herbal Teas for Kids

To tea bag or loose leaf…that is the question!

This part is up to you, but I do have a few thoughts to help you make your choice!

  • If you have little ones that “want to do myself” I do find that tea bags are less fuss, less mess, and you’ll be more likely to stick to it. I did use a little tea infuser and loose leaf for a while, and my little ones were mild mannered enough to handle it, but it does get messy, and it is more time consuming. The tea bag brands I list in this post all use UN-bleached tea bags, and have been tested for safety (ie no chemicals or junk).
  • If you have a certain herb, or blend that you come to find that you use on the daily, or more often than most, it will save you money to buy in bulk loose leaf, and make it yourself. I do this with nettle and hibiscus because we love the blend of those 2 herbs, and use it often.
  • Tea bags make for a tidy “tea corner” using a little organizer next to your electric tea kettle. It becomes an easy “self serve” spot for the kids to help themselves once they are independently fixing their own tea.
  • If you plan to loose leaf, I have found scooping herbs from the bags they come in, into jars with lids is neater and easier to use.
Our Favorite Herbal Teas for Kids

Electric kettle game changer!

I started using an electric kettle when my oldest was really in a “do it herself” stage. While I didn’t mind helping her stir a pot of soup here and there, boiling a kettle of water everyday was time consuming and, on those major “toddler days,” daunting. Using an electric kettle meant she could fill up the water, flip the switch on, and then “help” me pour the water in her cup. And your teens will enjoy how fast the water boils using an electric kettle. 😉

Our Favorite Herbal Teas for Kids

Onto our favorite household teas!

This is by no means a complete list. There are so many great tea blends out there. The brands listed here are organic, and use safe, unbleached tea bags, and so, in general, if you find another blend in the same brand that you want to try, it should be good to go, so try it out!

Our Favorite Herbal Tea for Kids

Organic India Tulsi/Holy Basil Tea Blends

Tulsi (sometimes called Holy Basil) is an adaptogenic herb, meaning it aides the body during stress by restoring and supporting. The Organic India brand carries just the singular Tulsi herb in a tea bag, but it also has several blends that my kids enjoy on the regular. I would say that in addition to making Nettle Hibiscus infusions in our house, these teas get used the most.

  • Tulsi Sweet Rose :: This tulsi blend uses rose and chamomile to make a soothing, calming blend. If you have a little one who has a sensitive heart, this is a beautiful blend for them.
  • Tulsi Sleep :: This tulsi blend uses ashwagandha and chamomile to support restful sleep. If you have high strung kids that have a hard time settling for bed, this is a great one to use at dinner time. One of my girls finds this blend helpful to have with her breakfast before school to calm her if she is experiencing anxiety about testing or changes.
  • Tulsi Hibiscus :: This tulsi blend simply has hibiscus added to the adaptogenic herb. Hibiscus tastes really yummy to kids, makes for a fun reddish pink color, and is a good source of vitamin C!
  • Tulsi Raspberry Peach :: This tulsi blend also includes hibiscus and elderberry with some natural flavoring for a really palatable tea for kids. It is a nice one to introduce to older kids that might turn a nose at more herbal tasting teas, and you’ll get the stress response supporting tulsi herb in there too!
Our Favorite Herbal Teas for Kids

Yogi Organic Elderberry & Lemon Balm Immune & Stress

Let’s face it, when our bodies are under the weather, that is a form of stress. So an herbal blend that addresses both the immune system and adrenals makes sense, right? This herbal tea not only tastes really good, it is a wonderful tea to keep around during the fall and winter months when the kids at school are passing bugs around. The girls will take this in their water bottle to school often during the winter months. This herbal blend also has a good amount of ashwagandha which I have found to be one of my favorite adaptogens for stress support.

Our Favorite Herbal Teas for Kids

Yogi Organic Honey Lemon Throat Comfort

The herbs in this tea are great to have around when you have that post-nasal drip feeling, scratchy throat, or cough. More than just “honey lemon,” this tea blend also has cherry bark is great for soothing coughs, and echinacea for supporting the immune system to do it’s job. Stevia leaf also makes this tea feel “sweetened” without adding any sugar.

Our Favorite Herbal Teas for Kids

Yogi Organic Mango Ginger Digestion Support

Ginger root is known for soothing an upset tummy – but it can also be known for being on the “spicy” side for kids. I only have one kid that enjoys straight ginger tea, but this blend is so great for kids, with dried mango right in the tea blend to tone down the ginger. This is a great tea for tummy upset, but I find the girls grabbing it even if they don’t have a sore tummy because it does taste good! Ginger is a wonderful “anytime” herb, so this is a good one to keep around. (This blend DOES still have the ginger as the main ingredient, so if you have little ones, it can be “spicy” if you steep it for too long – just a couple minutes to start is all you need, or if you happen to steep it longer and it tastes too ginger-y, just water it down a bit.)

Our Favorite Herbal Teas for Kids

Yogi Organic Relaxed Mind

I think of this one when I think of racing thoughts. If you have a child that is more high strung, a child who’s brain cannot “turn off”, or, as my husband likes to call it…you can literally see the wheels spinning in her brain making smoke (!), then this is a great blend for them (or you!). It also uses some berries so it has a nice flavor for kids.

Our Favorite Herbal Teas for Kids

Yogi Organic Relaxing Pumpkin Spice

Ok, so you’re enjoying your once or twice per fall “pumpkin spice latte,” and your kids want to have something fun too! This tea tastes so yummy, and it actually serves some purpose too! I love that! I can’t think of anyone that can’t benefit from relaxing herbs, and this blend not only tastes like a fun pumpkin spice drink, it also has chamomile and passionflower (one of my favorite calming herbs!) for relaxing. Make a big pot of it on Christmas Eve night and you can have a fun drink that also relaxes the kids!

Our Favorite Herbal Teas for Kids

Sleepy Teas

There are plenty of “sleepy tea” blends out there, and I wanted to share a few of our favorite, safe ones to drink that my girls like the taste of. Sleepy teas aren’t just for sleep either. While they are helpful for promoting restful sleep, they are not necessarily like a “knock you out” kind of a feeling. I mentioned above that my more “high strung” kiddo finds sleepy tea helpful to drink with breakfast if she is feeling anxious for a test day at school, or something new. More of a “bring you down a few notches” versus making you drowsy!

  • Organic India Tulsi Sleep :: This sleepy tea uses the adaptogenic herb tulsi blended with ashwagandha and chamomile to support restful sleep.
  • Organic Yogi Bedtime :: I mentioned above how well we find passionflower to be useful for calming nerves and promoting good sleep, and this blend has passionflower and valerian, making it one of my favorite sleepy tea blends. This blend does have some stevia so it tastes sweeter, and you may find the kids like the orange flavor pretty well.
  • Traditional Medicinals Organic Nighty Night :: Another option, and found in a lot of grocery stores, this blend uses passionflower, chamomile, linden, and catnip to promote easier sleeping.
Our Favorite Herbal Teas for Kids

Gentle Detox

Kids don’t need (and shouldn’t be) heavily detoxing. (In fact, adults shouldn’t be either!) But, there are some gentle herbs that can support the liver as it gets rid of toxins in the body, and that is a great thing to do!

  • Traditional Medicinals EverdayDetox Tea :: A blend of classic liver detox herbals with lemon peel to make it taste better, this is is a nice and gentle detox blend.
  • Yogi Organic Berry Detox Tea :: Dandelion root is the most common of liver detoxers, but it can taste bitter – in fact some adults like to use it as a coffee substitute! I have 2 kids that actually like the taste of dandelion root teas, but I would imagine many kids will need a little help to enjoy it. This berry detox tea tastes great, and you can get the herbal benefits of some gentle liver detoxers too! They also make a Peach Detox Tea too!
Our Favorite Herbal Teas for Kids

Nettle/Hibiscus Infusions

A staple for the girls water bottles throughout the year, I make half gallon jars of nettle/hibiscus infusions often. Nettles are a mineral rich, overall health herb. And because nettles pull histamines down, they are great for kids with seasonal allergies too. Nettles can taste pretty “grassy” on their own, so blended with more pleasantly tasting hibiscus, it is more palatable for kids.

Our Favorite Herbal Teas for Kids

Healthy Cycle (for pre-teen/teen girls)

I will be the first to admit that it took me years to learn about my cycle, how it works, why it works the way it does…and how to fix things that needed fixing. I am an 80’s kid, and 90’s teen, so I won’t even go there and tell you how we managed our cycles when I was a teen. And THAT is why I’m dedicated to helping my girls NOW, while they are pre-teens and teens, instead of walking into it blind and searching for answers in their adulthood. While I’m pretty new to having a cycling teen in the house, I’d like to share how we’ve navigated it so far, and I’ll update along the way if we come across anything else useful!

  • Yogi Organic Red Raspberry Leaf :: Red raspberry leaf tea is well known for supporting the uterus during menstruation. It can ease and soothe cramping pain. While we have only experienced some mild cramping so far, the difference this tea makes has been noticeable in my teen – enough that she has chosen to take it in her water bottle to school before. While the goal is to have minimal symptoms (severe PMS over the course of a few months is a red flag that something needs addressing!), it is absolutely normal for a newly cycling teen to have some ebbs and flows of cramping as her body starts cycling, and figures hormones out. Red raspberry leaf tea tastes a bit like black tea – it is on the bitter side. If you find that it works but the taste turns your teen off, try a drizzle of raw honey and squeeze of lemon or orange to brighten it up.
  • Traditional Medicinal’s Healthy Cycle :: I was trying to find a red raspberry leaf tea that tasted a little better than just plain red raspberry leaf, which can be on the bitter side. I wanted to be able to share something that even teens that are new to herbal tea might enjoy. My oldest actually really enjoys the plain tea, but I will tell you right now that my middle one will not when it comes her turn. I found this blend and I really like it for a couple reasons. It has a fun citrusy, minty flavor, and it has the benefits of some gentle liver detoxers like dandelion root. Anytime there are hormones changing, the liver needs to be in tip top shape to handle the hormone dumping. If there are liver clogs or stagnation, you’re sure to have more intense symptoms. I love the extra nourishing nettle in there, as well as relaxing herbs like chamomile (which I think we would all agree we need during our period!)
Our Favorite Herbal Teas for Kids

Ever changing, ever growing…

As I learn and grow with the girls, I’ll try to keep this post updated! As stated above, this list if tea options is definitely not the only options. If I come across something new that we like, I’ll be sure to share!

Our Favorite Herbal Tea for Kids
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“Anytime” Fry Sauce! :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

August 9, 2022

Say “yes!” to this fry sauce anytime! This healthier ingredient, restaurant style sauce is perfect for fry dipping, salad dressing, burger topping, and more!

"Anytime" Fry Sauce! :: 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.

Summer staples!

I know that my “long-time” readers know how much our family adores summer. We live for our Lake Michigan beach right next door, the powdery sand, crystal fresh water, and near perfect summer temps! We also love walking through our little beach town to window shop, and one of the things the girls notice more as they get older are some of the yummy looking foods on the plates of people dining outdoors! We went for a rare-for-us out to dinner at one of these spots for the 4th of July this summer, and the girls were introduced to the concept of “fry sauce.” They were obsessed, and I just had to figure out how to make it at home…with ingredients that I felt comfortable with them having more than just one time!

"Anytime" Fry Sauce! :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

So what’s so wrong with restaurant style or store by fry sauce?

Well, nothing really, if you are only going to have it for a special treat one time. But if you are wanting to replicate this fun dip for a homemade burger & fry night at home on your menu plan on a regular basis, making it with ingredients that don’t inflame might want to be on your radar. The last thing any of us need, including kids, is more inflammation. Most store bought and restaurant style sauces, dips, and dressings are made mostly with inflammatory, rancid oils like canola, sunflower, or soy. These oils have a great shelf life, and are cheap for companies to save money, but they wreck havoc on our bodies, causing fiery inflammation and free radicals to roam.

"Anytime" Fry Sauce! :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

But I just don’t have time for one. more. homemade. thing….

I so get it, dear momma. I really do. Which is why I wanted this fry sauce to be made in under 5 minutes. You’re already making the steak or burgers, and the fries, so this quick dipping sauce can be made while the burgers are grilling in just a few minutes. Or even the day before. It is a big serving too, so you can stash it away in the fridge for weeks and pull it out when you need it. It even works double time for you because it can be a salad dressing, or burger topper too!

"Anytime" Fry Sauce! :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

The “Anytime” Fry Sauce prep ::

Everything into a small mixing bowl, and stir to combine! That’s it! Truly! This can even be a prep item for the kids to make while you are fixing the rest of dinner.

"Anytime" Fry Sauce! :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Mayo options and other swaps

Primal Kitchen Mayo (we get this from Costco), or Sir Kensington’s Avocado Oil Mayo are healthier choices here using good fats versus rancid, inflammatory fats. If you prefer to make your own, you can try my traditional mayo recipe in my cookbook, The Little Lunchbox Cookbook, or my Egg Free/Dairy Free Paleo Mayo, or my Egg Free Dairy Based Mayo. Also, if you prefer to skip the ketchup in the recipe, try a tablespoon or 2 of tomato paste mixed with some honey for a more natural sugar option. 

"Anytime" Fry Sauce! :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

The possibilities are endless!

Why do we call this “anytime” fry sauce? Well not only am I happy to let the kids have this fry sauce “anytime,” it actually can be used for so many other things “anytime” too! It is so versatile! Of course use it for your french fry dipping, but my girls love it on a salad, on top of a burger, or using for veggie dip!

"Anytime" Fry Sauce! :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Tell me about those FRIES!

These sheet pan french fries are a staple recipe in my home, and I think you are going to love them! Easy peasy method, and a special trick used to ensure the crispy fry factor (without the extra time of pre-soaking the fries!). Making your own fries also allows you to control the oil used. Just like with store bought or restaurant dipping sauces, french fries from restaurants or the freezer at the store are typically cooked in junky oils. I don’t know about you, but I like to have fries more than just once! When you make them with healthier oil, you can serve them more often without the inflammation spike.

"Anytime" Fry Sauce! :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

“Anytime” Fry Sauce! :: Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Ingredients

  • 1 cup healthy mayo of choice See "Notes" section for recommendations!
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 cup ketchup See "Notes" section for alternatives if needed
  • 1-2 tbsp mustard

Instructions

  • Whisk all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. If you want it thinner, I like to splash in pickle juice. This dip/dressing keeps in the refrigerator as long as your mayo has a good "best by" date.

Notes

More real food recipes you might like ::

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Lunchbox Packing Tips for Back to School

July 13, 2022

Start your child off on the right foot for eating lunch at school with these easy to follow, practical tips for lunchbox packing!

Lunchbox Packing Tips for Back to School

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 lists

Pencils, paper, glue, scissors, markers…it’s enough to make your head spin, isn’t it?! Honestly I don’t remember supply lists being this intense as a kid, but I probably wasn’t paying much attention to it either! We love our teachers though, and really want them to have all the tools they need to help our kids be at their best for school, and I think sometimes the school lunch thing gets a little over looked.

Lunchbox Packing Tips for Back to School

It really does matter

And I say this with all the love that I have for you dear momma. Because I know there is a lot on your plate, and I know what it is like to be an overwhelmed mom. But even more important than the brand of pencil that the teachers want your kid to have for the school year, is having a child that is well fed for a full school day. It’s that whole hierarchy of needs thing, ya know? If a child is hungry, they can’t focus for squat, and that fancy paper or folder you bought for them isn’t going to matter if they can’t make it through their afternoon. Those school days are long for any school aged kid, and we want to set them up for success with full bellies and fed brains so they can make it through.

Lunchbox Packing Tips for Back to School

Sustainable lunch packing rhythms

What goes into their lunch does matter, but, especially for any moms reading this that are newer to having school aged children, I want to help you be successful at lunchbox packing for the whole school year – not just the first week. So let’s dive into some practical thoughts I have for you, now that I have 2 middle schoolers and my last little one in elementary school!

Lunchbox Packing Tips for Back to School

Give your child time to practice using their lunch gear

Multiple years of being room mom in early elementary classrooms has taught me many things – and one of them is this tip! If you are reading this post and it is summertime, purchase your child’s lunchbox now so that you can pack it up for your summer outings (or even just lunchtime at home!) to practice how to use it! Latches, zippers, pouches, buttons, lids – those take time for little hands to figure out, and it will save them time when at school. Also be sure they know how to properly close their water bottles so you don’t end up with a soggy backpack on the way home! If you need lunch gear suggestions, take a peek through my Lunch Gear Resource Guide! It’s free!

Lunchbox Packing Tips for Back to School

Consider lunch gear & foods that don’t involve a lot of separate containers to open & close

Speaking of practicing lunch gear! One thing I have noticed in these classrooms, is that kids with lunches packed in multiple food containers, or lunches packed in containers with multiple compartments that need to be opened and closed, took longer to eat. If you are in the market for lunch gear, and have little ones, this is a good thought to consider before buying. If you need some lunch gear recs, here is my Lunch Gear Resource Guide with multiple suggestions to help you decide!

Lunchbox Packing Tips for Back to School

Pack familiar food

If you have been around here for a while, you know that I am all about helping your children become adventurous eaters! However, the first week of school is not the time to try out new foods. Think about your little one’s first days of school – even the entire first year or so. There are so many new things going on, rules to remember, friends to meet – it is SO. MUCH. Their little brains can only regulate so much at once! You throw a new food on top of all that and they may think “Hmm, I just can’t do one more new thing right now, and this feels scary, so I’m just not going to eat it.” And it really could be something they would like if they weren’t so overwhelmed! Just try new stuff out at home first. Serve it for dinner, and the talk about how you would like for them to help you pack it in their lunchbox some time.

Lunchbox Packing Tips for Back to School

Understand your child’s school snack and lunch schedule

This is a big one because everyone’s school schedule varies. Does your child have a morning snack time? When is snack time in relation to lunch time? This will all determine what and how much you pack for lunch. You know your child best. If the kids have a snack at 10 and eat lunch at 11:30, then perhaps you need to make the snack small so they are still hungry to eat their lunch at 11:30. Or maybe you split the lunch up into 2 smaller meals so they get part of their lunch at snack time and the other part at lunch. They may have lunch closer to 1pm, so you might want their morning snack to be a mini meal so they can make it to 1pm. Also find out how much time your child will have to eat that lunch. This will help you pack accordingly. Regardless of how we feel about a 10-15 minute lunch time (I think we would all agree that is pretty rough for a little kid!), if that is how it is at your school, you’ll want to be sure to pack easy to eat foods that pack a filling punch so your child is ready to focus for the rest of the school day.

Lunchbox Packing Tips for Back to School

The 2-minute lunchbox tour

Before packing that lunchbox into their backpack, open it up and show your child. Ask them what they think are the foods in there that will help them feel good for the afternoon and focus for school. Help them learn where the protein is, and important bites that will help them so they can start there. That way, if they don’t have time to finish, they will have at least gotten something filling in. This 2-minute lunchbox tour can happen the night before while you are packing the lunchbox together, or it can happen in the morning before you pack it up in their backpack! Before you know it, they’ll have so much more body awareness and independently know what kind of foods help them feel their best.

Lunchbox Packing Tips for Back to School

Macro balance

And speaking of foods to help them feel their best! Every child has different macro ratio needs – but all the macros matter for growing kids. So just take a quick scan of the lunchbox each day and be sure it’s all in there – fats, protein, and carbs. It all matters! If you need some great balanced lunchbox inspiration to see some examples, you can check out my cookbook, The Little Lunchbox Cookbook! Inside there are 60 different lunchbox examples, all balanced with what your child needs to get through their day.

Lunchbox Packing Tips for Back to School

My child is coming home with a lot of leftover food consistently – what should I do?

Kids’ appetites can ebb and flow depending on growth spurts, illness, life changes, sleep, etc. Noticing some food coming home every once and a while is normal, but if they are bringing food home day in and day out, here are some things to think about:

  • Re-evaluate your child’s snack and lunch time schedule, and portions. Is your child eating a big morning snack only to have lunch an hour later? Are the portions you are sending realistic for your child? How long are they allowed for eating? Re-visit the above section called “Understand your child’s school lunch and snack schedule,” where you will find more information on addressing each of these.
  • Help them realize their hunger after school. If they are crabby or emotional in the car on the way home, seem sleepy, or tell you they are “starving,” and you notice they didn’t each much of their lunch, help them make that connection! Kids aren’t always body aware enough to realize that not eating lunch is why they feel so crummy. Present it nicely – no shame. But remind them they will feel so much better when they focus on their food at lunch time.
  • Ask them why! “Hey, I noticed that there is a lot of lunch left in your lunchbox – did something happen at lunch time?” Don’t make them feel badly for not eating – just ask them. There may be a good reason!
  • Chatty Kathy’s or Ken’s! Sometimes that reason is that you might have a “Chatty Kathy” or “Chatty Ken!” Ask them who they sat with at lunch. This age does not understand the time management of lunch at school yet. Help them understand that with time, they will learn how to manage talking with their friends AND eating at the same time! Sometimes just making them aware is all you need to do.
  • Reconsider hard to eat foods for little ones. As a health food leaning blogger, you know that I value getting veggies into kids. But there are so many ways to do it in an easy to eat way, OR maybe save larger veggie portions for at home when they have more time. Your goal in a school lunchbox is to get the most nutrient dense food into your little one in the amount of time that they have to eat. It is easier to eat cooked veggies versus raw, so my kindergarteners were rarely bringing raw veg and dip or salads. They were bringing blended soup purees to slurp with a straw, or leftover roasted veggies from dinner. Or frozen veggies that thaw. It is faster, and easier to eat, which leaves them less stressed.
  • Help them prioritize with the 2-minute lunchbox tour. Leftover food is going to happen sometimes, but I’d rather them leave the strawberries than leave the sandwich – you know what I mean? That is the reason for the 2-minute lunchbox tour! See the above section about the 2-minute lunchbox tour and learn how to help your child learn what part of their lunch will help them feel their best for the afternoon so they start with eating that first.
  • Some foods are just “at home foods.” Listen, my kids adore sardines and liver pate – but I’m not going to do that to them! Unfortunately, to most children, those are just really weird foods to pack, and it might make your child uncomfortable if they are constantly getting questions about unfamiliar foods. I’m definitely not saying pack junk food every day! But I am saying, if there is a food that is consistently coming home, check with your child and see if they are not comfortable with bringing it to school. I think I ask my girls yearly if they really do want me to pack tuna salad for lunch – one of their favorites, but clearly doesn’t smell the best! Every year they surprise me by saying they want it, but I am perfectly fine with making certain food “at home food.”
Lunchbox Packing Tips for Back to School

Tips for navigating lunchbox questions at school

It’s inevitable, that if you focus more on whole foods in your child’s lunchbox, you are bound to get a few wandering eyes and curious kids asking your child questions about their lunch. Here is how we have approached that at our house.

  • Remember that kids are genuinely curious. Especially for younger children that truly aren’t at the “peer pressure” age yet, they might just truly wonder what it is! This age group is so blunt, aren’t they?! If they have never seen something before, they have no filter, and they are going to ask! Remind your preschooler through 2nd grader this, and help them understand that some kids might not have had the chance to try that food yet! In fact, I have found that the kids asking these questions are the ones coming to school with the same thing for lunch everyday…perhaps they are even wishing that they could have a variety of lunch like that.
  • Ask them how they feel about the food. I always ask this question when one of the girls says “so and so asked what this was.” Nine times out of 10, when I ask them how they feel about “that green soup” or a pinwheel roll up, or even olives, my girls have answered, “well I love it” about that food. So we talk about that! Just because other kids might not like something, or don’t know what it is, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it! Positively start teaching them about gently standing up for themselves by eating foods they enjoy, even if others think it’s strange.
  • “At home foods” are ok! In the section above, I described some examples of “at home foods” that we have labeled in our house. Leaving some of the “less popular” healthy foods for at home, is totally fine. We want our children to be confident in their food choices, but we don’t have to cross the line!
Lunchbox Packing Tips for Back to School

Questions?

I’m all ears! If I didn’t hit on a lunchbox issue that you are having, please ask! And if there is something not listed here that you have found helpful with lunchbox packing, please share! Teachers, we want to hear from you too!

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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

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Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened – No Added Sugar!

June 11, 2022

This strawberry banana ice cream is all of the banana split flavors you love in one scoop! And this dairy free ice cream is only sweetened with whole fruit – no added sugar needed!

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

We. Made. It.

Just *look* at those faces, my friends! Those are the faces of the last day of school, and we are pumped about the next couple of months of beach sand between our toes, sunshine on our faces….and summer ice cream!

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

A fun, fresh ice cream for summer!

We are *oh so close* to our Michigan strawberry season, but when I made ice cream last week, we weren’t quite there yet. So when the girls asked for strawberry ice cream for the first days of summer, I decided to combine the few strawberries I had with banana. The result is a sweet, creamy ice cream bursting with the flavors of a banana split! So fun!

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

So let’s talk about sugar…

Last summer, I started playing around with the idea of date sweetened ice cream to avoid added sugar in our beloved ice cream on a hot day. My kids were shocked that the ice cream was only sweetened with fruit, and it became an almost weekly staple for a fun, frozen weekend treat. When we use whole fruit to sweeten where we can, we can avoid huge the dramatic blood sugar spikes that white sugar can cause. The fiber in the fruit slows the spike, and I’ve definitely noticed how much of a difference that makes – even compared to honey-sweetening. For this strawberry banana ice cream, adding a whole banana to the dates adds even more yummy, sweet flavor, and my kids were all over this!

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

Those beautiful red strawberries!

I can hardly wait for fresh summer strawberries, but for this batch, I used frozen. Both work great, so use what you have. I didn’t add any sugar to the strawberry sauce that gets swirled into the ice cream because the ice cream itself is plenty sweet. To get the strawberry sauce made, simply simmer with some lemon juice for about 10 minutes until it cooks down.

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

Homemade summer ice cream game changers!

Because let’s face it…the last thing you need is something fussy on your plate whilst managing the summer activities for the next 2 months! So let’s ditch the multi-step ice cream approach and toss it all the blender! This method makes an ice cream base in minutes, which makes the thought of making homemade ice cream much more tolerable, yes?!

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

The ice cream maker investment

I am not a huge fan of multiple kitchen appliances on my counter. For the most part, I’m quite minimalistic when it comes to my kitchen. But my ice cream maker?! I’ll always recommend this one for any real food kitchen, because homemade ice cream is an easy swap for store bought – and way more cost effective than any healthier options in the store. I’ve had my ice cream maker for about 10 years, and it still works great. I’d say I have about the middle of the road when it comes to ice cream makers – there are some that are less expensive, and definitely those that cost more.

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

The strawberry swirl method

Once your ice cream is churned, we need to get that pretty little strawberry ribbon in there! Just put half of your ice cream mixture into the bottom of your freezing container, and then spoon half of the strawberry sauce on top in little dots. Use a spoon to gently swirl the sauce, and then layer the rest of the ice cream on top. Spoon the rest of the strawberry sauce on the top, and swirl again. This ensures those yummy strawberries are in every bite!

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

Ice cream container options

You can freeze your ice cream in any empty container that you have! For years, I froze ice cream in empty coconut oil jugs. I liked using old loaf pans for easy scooping for a period of time too. If you make ice cream often, I think you would enjoy getting an ice cream container like these for easy storage. 

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

Swaps and switches!

One question I think some might ask is how strong the banana flavor is. I would say with the 1 banana, the banana flavor is pleasantly mild. If you prefer a stronger banana flavor, adding another banana would definitely work. I would suggest making the ice cream base as is, and then tasting it once blended – you can always add another banana if you want. I also wanted to mention that if you want to use oat milk, cashew milk, macadamia nut milk, or almond milk, any of those will swap for the coconut milk fine. If you tolerate dairy, you can swap the non-dairy milk for whole milk or cream.

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened – No Added Sugar!

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Make the strawberry sauce first so that it can cool while the rest of the ice cream is being made. Put the strawberries and lemon juice in a small sauce pan and bring the heat to medium. Use a potato masher to squish the strawberries into a sauce as it cooks. Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes to reduce down. Set the sauce aside to cool for later.
  • Put the rest of the ingredients into a high speed blender and puree until smooth.
  • Pour the ice cream mixture into your ice cream maker, and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions, until the ice cream is thick, and the consistency of soft serve ice cream. My ice cream maker takes about 30 minutes to do this.
  • When the ice cream is done churning, pour half of the ice cream mixture into your freezer container (see Notes for container suggestions). Spoon half of the strawberry sauce over the ice cream, and lightly swirl it so that it is distributed evenly. Then, pour the rest of the ice cream mixture into the container, and swirl the other half of the strawberry sauce into the ice cream
  • Freeze the ice cream at least 3 hours before serving. Let the ice cream container sit at room temp for at least 15 minutes to make scooping easier.

Notes

  • I would say that the banana flavor is pleasantly mild. If you prefer a stronger banana flavor, you could add another banana.
  • Want to serve in an ice cream cone? There are so many gluten free ice cream cone options these days – our regular grocery stores around here even carry them so do some looking around!
  • You can freeze your ice cream in any empty container that you have! For years, I froze ice cream in empty coconut oil jugs. I liked using old loaf pans for easy scooping for a period of time too. If you make ice cream often, I think you would enjoy getting an ice cream container like these for easy storage. 
Strawberry Banana Ice Cream :: Dairy Free & Fruit Sweetened - No Added Sugar!

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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

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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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Sheet Pan Teriyaki Meatballs & Roasted Veggies :: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Refined Sugar Free

March 8, 2022

A whole dinner all on one sheet pan! The kids will love these sweet, sticky teriyaki meatballs and sweet roasted veggies!

Sheet Pan Teriyaki Meatballs & Roasted Veggies :: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Refined Sugar Free

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

Real life, real food

For those of you who have followed me for a while on social media, you know that our family has been in the building and moving process for the last year – with the last 5 months living somewhere other than “home.” I haven’t overly talked about it, as I like to keep things zeroed in on our real food goals in this space, but let me just be real for a minute! Having a family, moving, cooking in someone else’s kitchen, and trying to keep “normalcy” for the kids…its a stressful, full-time job! While life has been a little extra busy, I’ve found it harder to blog, but what I *have* found, is that you all do enjoy these simple, everyday meals that are the only thing I have had time to write up for you, and that makes me super happy. It tells me that you are real people, not just looking for the fancy shmancy “health” food treats…you are looking for real food for everyday life!

Sheet Pan Teriyaki Meatballs & Roasted Veggies :: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Refined Sugar Free

Momma’s secret weapon for a busy weeknight…

Sheet pan dinners! Oh sure, the Instant Pots are all the rage. And quick skillets are great too. But seriously…dump it all onto a sheet pan and it cooks while you tend to other matters in the house or with the kids? Sign. Me. Up. I cannot tell you how much I adore that whole “kill two birds with one stone” thing – and sheet pan dinners allow me to get dinner in the oven, and be hands free for other things while it cooks.

Sheet Pan Teriyaki Meatballs & Roasted Veggies :: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Refined Sugar Free

What is teriyaki?!

In short, this sweet, sticky sauce is Asian inspired, and it usually used to toss with simple stir fry. I have found over the years that it is a great way to get veggie hesitant kids to try a stir fry, and it couldn’t be easier to make. Traditional teriyaki sauces or those that you find in the store will be soy based, which we avoid in our house, so years ago I developed a teriyaki sauce that we could enjoy in our house. I hear from you all frequently that your little ones adore it!

Sheet Pan Teriyaki Meatballs & Roasted Veggies :: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Refined Sugar Free

The Method :: The 5-Minute Teriyaki Sauce

Making versus buying this sauce may seem like a redundant extra step, but not only can the teriyaki be whisked up in 5 minutes, it can be made days in advance. Simply add all of the teriyaki sauce ingredients to a small sauce pan and whisk until thickened. Primal Kitchen does have a soy free, great teriyaki sauce if you prefer to buy it! It doesn’t usually fit in my budget, so I tend to just make my own.

Sheet Pan Teriyaki Meatballs & Roasted Veggies :: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Refined Sugar Free

The Method :: The Veggies

The sky is the limit here! For this dinner, I used what I had left in my veggie bin this week. I would definitely encourage you to try the purple onion and cabbage – they both get so sweet and kid friendly with roasting! It is a great budget saver as well! Get all the veg cut up into slightly larger than bite-sized pieces, and just toss them on the sheet pan with some olive oil.

Sheet Pan Teriyaki Meatballs & Roasted Veggies :: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Refined Sugar Free

The Method :: The Meatballs

These meatballs are SO delicious, and you can just roll them up and place them right on the sheet pan with the veggies! It doesn’t get any easier than that! The meatballs can also be made in advance – you can even freeze them if you have a prep day and want to stock up. That way on a busy weeknight you just have to pull them from the freezer.

Sheet Pan Teriyaki Meatballs & Roasted Veggies :: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Refined Sugar Free

The Method :: Brushing the Teriyaki Sauce, and Roasting

Once your meatballs are rolled up, brush some of the teriyaki sauce on each of the meatballs so their tops are covered – we aren’t looking for perfection here by the way! Then drizzle the rest of the teriyaki sauce over the veggies in the pan and roast the sheet pan off for 20 minutes.

Sheet Pan Teriyaki Meatballs & Roasted Veggies :: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Refined Sugar Free

Serving suggestions

We love to serve our teriyaki stir fry over rice, but if you prefer grain free, it is absolutely delicious over a baked sweet potato (or regular potato). I also think a little rice ramen (Costco carries this brand btw) would be incredible! Another way to serve would be to add another sheet pan of veggies to roast right along with this sheet pan and just have extra veg.

Sheet Pan Teriyaki Meatballs & Roasted Veggies :: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Refined Sugar Free

Prep ahead tips

While the actual roasting of this dinner is just a quick 20 minutes of hands free time, there are a couple of steps to get to that point, and you can do some of it ahead of time. You can make the teriyaki sauce days in advance so that part is done – you could even chop the veggies on a prep day so that it dumps in the pan fast. The meatballs are definitely something that can be rolled up ahead of time and frozen on a prep day. This sheet pan meal would also make a great meal prep for mom’s lunches all week to pull from. Make it up on a Sunday, and warm it up everyday for lunch!

Sheet Pan Teriyaki Meatballs & Roasted Veggies :: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Refined Sugar Free

Sheet Pan Teriyaki Meatballs & Roasted Veggies :: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Refined Sugar Free

Ingredients

For the 5 Minute Teriyaki Sauce ::

For the Veggies ::

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 purple onion cut into ½ inch thick strips
  • ½ small head of cabbage cut into ½ inch thick strips
  • 2 bell peppers cut into 1 inch strips and then halved to make them bite sized
  • 2-3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 medium/large carrot peeled and julienned (or bite sized pieces in the shape you like)

For the Meatballs ::

  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup GF panko bread crumbs or GF flour blend
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees and get a large sheet tray out. The sheet tray does NOT need to be lined with parchment or greased.

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees, and get a large sheet tray out. The sheet tray does NOT need to be lined with parchment or greased.

Make the Teriyaki Sauce ::

  • Put everything into a small sauce pan, and bring the heat to high.
  • Use a whisk to stir every so often until it comes to a simmer, then continually whisk for about 1 minute until the sauce thickens. Turn the heat off and set the sauce aside.

Get the veggies ready ::

  • Toss all of the veggies with the olive oil on a large sheet tray so that the veggies are coated evenly.

Make the meatballs, assemble, and bake ::

  • Mix all of the meatball ingredients in a small mixing bowl until combined evenly.
  • Roll 1 – 1 ½ inch meatballs and place them on the sheet tray with the veggies – they can rest right on top of the veggies or on the sheet tray.
  • Brush each meatball with the prepared teriyaki sauce, and then drizzle the rest of the sauce over the veggies on the sheet tray.
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

Notes

  • If you don’t have access to good GF Panko crumbs, you can use any GF Flour Blend, or something simple like rice flour or even cassava flour if you are grain free.
  • Meal prep tips! You can make the teriyaki sauce days in advance so that part is done – you could even chop the veggies on a prep day so that it dumps in the pan fast. The meatballs are definitely something that can be rolled up ahead of time and frozen on a prep day.
  • The overall consensus for my kids is that the teriyaki sauce as written here is overly sweet for them – I think it tastes like a normal teriyaki you’d buy in the store which is why I left it as is. If you have little ones at home that aren’t trained toward sweet yet, I’d pull the sweet back a bit!
  • Change up the veggies to what is in season!
Sheet Pan Teriyaki Meatballs & Roasted Veggies :: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Refined Sugar Free

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Sausage & Potato Breakfast Casserole :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free

February 22, 2022

An egg free, dairy free, and gluten free breakfast casserole that everyone can have! This delicious sausage & potato casserole is filled with mineral rich veggies and protein packed sausage too!

Sausage & Potato Breakfast Casserole :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg 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.

Weekend hikes & weekend breakfast routines!

Every weekend for as long as the girls were babies, my husband has taken Saturday morning breakfast making, and if you are a mom, I don’t have to tell you how much I craved those Saturday mornings! He has always made a frittata and hashbrowns, and I don’t even care that it is the same thing every weekend, because I am not the one making it! The girls just adore frittata and it works. We have a super hot, filling breakfast, and make our way to the woods for a long weekend hike (or when it’s the summer we hit the beach!)

Sausage & Potato Breakfast Casserole :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free

Egg troubles

Those frittata Saturday’s are still a fan favorite in our house, but over the last 2 years I have come to the conclusion that while I can digest eggs, and they don’t make me feel yucky, every time I bring them back into my diet, my thyroid antibody numbers skyrocket…they are just inflammatory for my body. I also know that I have so many egg free readers in this space that either can’t have them because they hurt your body, or you have found they are inflammatory for you. So this winter, I’ve worked on a breakfast casserole of sorts that does work for me, and I’m so excited to share it with you! My entire family pounds this skillet down every time it’s served, so even if you can have eggs, I think you’ll enjoy this one!

Sausage & Potato Breakfast Casserole :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free

Easy prep, pretty presentation!

I really hope to help you see how you can make this a weekly part of your meal prep to last for more than one meal. I know it looks fancy, but I promise you can make this without a ton of time in the kitchen. During your kitchen prep time for the week, you can get this casserole into a casserole dish, and leave it in the refrigerator up to a day or so until you are ready to bake it. Or you can bake it on your prep day, and eat from it all week long. Especially if you double the recipe, this could be a game changer for your weekday breakfast routine!

Sausage & Potato Breakfast Casserole :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free

The Method :: The Sausage & Veggies

To get your casserole started, you’ll want to brown the sausage. If you don’t have a clean source of ground pork sausage, you can use my DIY Sausage Seasoning Blend and make your own using ground pork or beef. In fact, I used ground beef for the pictures shown in this post – the seasoning blend is fantastic! After you scoop the browned sausage out of the pan, you’ll use the drippings that are loaded with flavor to cook your veggies in!

Sausage & Potato Breakfast Casserole :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free

The Method :: The Shredded Potatoes

I use a combination of white and sweet potatoes for the casserole, and you can see pictured here, that I like to use my food processor shredding attachment to make this faster. I’m not a huge fan of the ingredients added to frozen hashbrowns, but if you have a good source of them with good ingredients you are comfortable with, then you should be able to thaw them out to use for this recipe. I’d say shoot for a good 3-4 cups.

Sausage & Potato Breakfast Casserole :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free

The Method :: Assembling the Casserole

Once your sausage and veggies are cooked, and the potatoes shredded, you’ll want to combine them together. I find this easiest to do in a mixing bowl, versus trying to mix it all up in the skillet. Combine the sausage, veggies, and potatoes, and return them to the pan.

Sausage & Potato Breakfast Casserole :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free

The Method :: The Dairy Free Cream Cheese Sauce

Whisk up the dairy free sauce ingredients and then pour that over the casserole, and you’re ready for the oven!

Sausage & Potato Breakfast Casserole :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free

Prep ahead tips & doubling for a crowd

There is absolutely nothing like having breakfast all ready to go for a week. If you are someone that doesn’t mind eating the same meal for breakfast everyday, then dear momma, I recommended prepping this for yourself to scoop from everyday! If you like to eat the same as the kids each day, then double up, and eat from this meal for a day or 2 until it is gone depending on how many kids are in your crew and how hungry they are! Like I said above, this recipe as written in my 12-inch skillet gets devoured completely by my family of 5 in one sitting. Double this into a 9×13 pan if you think you’ll need more, or are cooking for a crowd!

Sausage & Potato Breakfast Casserole :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free

Sausage & Potato Breakfast Casserole :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free

Ingredients

For the Sausage & Hashbrown Skillet Casserole ::

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground sausage See the Tips for making your own if you don’t have a good source
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 medium bell pepper diced
  • 1 head of broccoli chopped small
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 cups baby spinach finely chopped
  • 2 medium russet potatoes shredded
  • 1 small sweet potato shredded

For the Dairy Free Cream Cheese Sauce ::

  • 1 ½ cups full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup full fat coconut yogurt you can use more coconut milk here if you don’t have access to coconut yogurt
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp potato starch or tapioca starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne if you like the heat. I light on this and then add more to my plate so it isn't too much heat for the girls – I like it spicy!
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Instructions

  • I make the entire casserole in a 12-inch cast iron skillet, but if you do not have one, you can use an oven skillet on the stovetop and then pour everything into an oven safe casserole dish. If you will be using the casserole dish, be sure to grease it before pouring the casserole in.
  • Warm some olive oil in your skillet over medium high heat and brown the sausage. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the browned sausage out of the pan, leaving the drippings behind. You’ll want 1-2 tablespoons of the drippings in the pan to cook the veggies – if you have more than that, you can drain some of the grease out.
  • After the sausage is browned, and removed from the skillet, add the onion, bell pepper, broccoli, and a pinch of salt to the skillet, cooking over medium high heat until the veggies are soft and sweet – about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and spinach to the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant and the spinach is wilted.
  • Next, the cooked sausage, veggies, and shredded potatoes and sweet potatoes need to be combined. I find this easiest to do in a large mixing bowl versus trying to stir it together in the skillet. Transfer the cooked veggies, sausage, and shredded potatoes to a large mixing bowl and combine well.
  • Return the sausage/veggie/potato mixture back into your cast iron skillet (or if you are using a casserole dish, pour the mixture into that instead), and spread out evenly.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, measure out the Dairy Free Cream Cheese Sauce liquids, and then whisk in the nutritional yeast, potato starch, and seasonings until smooth. Pour the Dairy Free Cream Cheese Sauce over the sausage/veggie/potato mixture in the skillet. It should spread evenly but you can use a spoon to ensure everything is covered well.
  • Bake the casserole, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. The top will be golden brown. Let the casserole rest on the counter for 5-10 minutes before cutting in.

Notes

  • This recipe as written fits in my 12 inch cast iron skillet. For a casserole dish, I’d say use smaller than a 9×13 pan, and you’ll be good. 
  • If you want to double this recipe (which I would do if you have a bigger family than mine, or if you are making this for a crowd), you can double it into a 9×13 casserole pan.
  • If you don’t have access to a clean source of ground sausage, you can use my sausage seasoning blend, and add it to ground pork, or ground beef. What is actually pictured in this post is my seasoning mixed into ground beef because that is what I had.
  • You can use all sweet potato, or all russet potato depending on what your crew likes!
  • If you have access to a clean source of frozen hashbrowns, I think this would still work if you thaw them out. Just watch the ingredients for any extra oils or starches that might be added and whether those are ok in your diet.
Sausage & Potato Breakfast Casserole :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free

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Strawberry Valentine’s Day Waffles :: Gluten & Dairy Free and Naturally Flavored!

February 8, 2022

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with super yummy naturally flavored strawberry waffles that are gluten free, dairy free, and packed with protein!

Strawberry Valentine's Day Waffles :: Gluten & Dairy Free and Naturally Flavored!

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 fun, new kitchen toy, and a special Valentine’s Day treat

Earlier this winter, I noticed these adorable mini heart waffle makers on sale right around the same time that I created the Hot Cocoa Waffles with my mini snowflake waffle maker. I enjoyed creating that recipe so much, that I decided I needed to come up with a Valentine’s day flavor for the heart shape, and it has been fun to play around with!

Strawberry Valentine's Day Waffles :: Gluten & Dairy Free and Naturally Flavored!

One of my favorite ways to naturally flavor and naturally dye!

I just love using freeze dried fruit for naturally flavoring and dying food! The process for freeze drying is very simple, and does not ruin the integrity of the fruit. The fruit is place in a freezer, untouched, until it dries out – it’s that simple! The result is a super dry, crispy fruit, that blends into a fine powder or crumbles into a fun sprinkle topping. I get my freeze dried fruit at Trader Joe’s typically, but you can get them online and price compare, and they are in many grocery stores now. I have also freeze dried my own in the summer when berries are in season, and it is so easy!

Strawberry Valentine's Day Waffles :: Gluten & Dairy Free and Naturally Flavored!

Let’s talk about waffle color!

So my first attempt at making these waffles made me a little disappointed – I really wanted them to turn red – or at least pink! I do think that freeze dried raspberries might turn them a bit more of a color, but in order to have bright color, you’ll have to use a natural dye. All of my natural dyes are still packed away in storage (yes, we are still waiting for our house to be finished!), so I just stuck with the freeze dried fruit, and also used it crumbled on top for color!

Strawberry Valentine's Day Waffles :: Gluten & Dairy Free and Naturally Flavored!

The Method :: The Fluffy Egg Whites

If you are familiar with my other waffle recipes, you know this is a part we don’t skip! Yes it’s an extra bowl, and a few extra minutes, but the secret to fluffy waffles is those whipped egg whites, and it is so worth it! Separate your eggs and blend until fluffy!

Strawberry Valentine's Day Waffles :: Gluten & Dairy Free and Naturally Flavored!

The Method :: Finishing the Waffle Batter

Once you whip your egg whites, you can blend the wet ingredients, and add that into your dry ingredients. The dry ingredients include your blended freeze dried strawberries, so don’t forget to add those! Then, you will fold the fluffy egg whites into the batter, and you’re ready to make your pretty waffles.

Strawberry Valentine's Day Waffles :: Gluten & Dairy Free and Naturally Flavored!

The Method :: Making the Waffles

If you are using the little mini waffle maker, I found that a couple of tablespoons is all you need to fill it up. Of course you can use a regular waffle maker, and use more to make bigger ones – in fact, before this little mini maker, I use to just make big ones and cut hearts out with a cookie cutter, and that absoluetely works too!

Strawberry Valentine's Day Waffles :: Gluten & Dairy Free and Naturally Flavored!

Now let’s dress them up for the occasion!

My favorite way to dress Valentine’s Day waffles is with a drizzle of coconut butter and little heart strawberries. My coconut butter was packed away (no, we were not planning on the house taking this long!), so I grabbed the canned coconut whipped cream from Aldi to make a pretty topping. A little crumble of more freeze dried strawberries makes a pretty “sprinkle” and some heart strawberries made the plate even prettier! The coconut butter really is my favorite though, and it looks like a little “frosting” touch – if you have little ones in the house, I would really recommend trying this on waffles and pancakes because it is such a great, low sugar, good fats way to dress them up. My girls still love it to this day!

Strawberry Valentine's Day Waffles :: Gluten & Dairy Free and Naturally Flavored!

Strawberry hearts…help!

As simple as this is, I knew there might be someone that might not know how, so here is a little visual for you! I remember looking up this method a long time ago when my girls were toddlers and I wanted to give them a special Valentine’s Day treat without the sugar, and I hope this helps you too! Just slice the green stem off, and then hull the strawberry – there are special hulling tools for this, but I just use a paring knife. Once you slice the strawberry in half, you can cut a little “V” into the top and voila! A strawberry heart!

Strawberry Valentine's Day Waffles :: Gluten & Dairy Free and Naturally Flavored!

Freezer tips

Listen, if I’m going to spend the time next to my little mini heart waffle maker to make a dozen little mini heart waffles, I’m gonna get some use out of them, amiright?! Double up and freeze them, dear momma. You can do this days in advance from Valentine’s Day, and it is one less thing to make on the special day.

Strawberry Valentine's Day Waffles :: Gluten & Dairy Free and Naturally Flavored!

Other ideas for your heart waffles!

Other than breakfast, these waffles will make a super cute heart “sandwich” in lunchboxes if Valentine’s Day lands on a school day. I froze mine and plan to pull them out the day before to make PBJ’s, but you could totally make coconut butter and jam waffle sandwiches too. I also think that the heart waffles could be so cute using my hot cocoa waffle recipe made into a dessert of sorts. I’m thinking a drizzle of dark chocolate and the heart strawberries! Chocolate and Valentine’s day go hand in hand!

Strawberry Valentine's Day Waffles :: Gluten & Dairy Free and Naturally Flavored!

Strawberry Valentine’s Day Waffles :: Gluten & Dairy Free and Naturally Flavored!

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, maple syrup, 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 Heart Waffle Iron as pictured above, I have found that about 2-3 tablespoons 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 strawberries and a squirt of the canned coconut whip from Aldi or Trader Joe's. So Delicious brand has a great Coconut Whip as well! Or you can make your own by whipping coconut cream with maple syrup until fluffy! I also love drizzling melted coconut butter on waffles and pancakes, and think that would be a great "frosting" look-alike option! If you have babies and toddlers at home, I would definitely train their palate for coconut butter over syrup – this is how my girls still eat them!

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.
Strawberry Valentine's Day Waffles :: Gluten & Dairy Free and Naturally Flavored!

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Copycat Trader Joe’s® Everything But the Bagel Nut Duo!

February 5, 2022

All of the yummy “Everything but the Bagel” flavor with a cleaner oil and no corn syrup! Copycat that Trader Joe’s® Nut Duo for your own pantry!

Copycat Trader Joe's® Everything But the Bagel Nut Duo!

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 Trader Joe’s® trip, and a fun, new snack!

Every first of the month, a couple of friends of mine and I hop in the car and head out for our monthly Costco and Trader Joe’s trip! We live a good 45 minute drive from the closest of either of these stores, so we make a morning of it once a month, and try to stock up until the next month. I am not a huge TJ’s shopper – I’ll grab a couple things here or there, but every once and a while I’ll find a fun snack, and this month was one of them. I was cautiously hopeful as I turned the bag of the TJ’s “Everything But The Bagel” Nut Duo to check out the ingredients…because my usual disappointment with these kind of stores, and these kind of snacks, is that the oils used are junk, and there is usually added sugar. This one checked both of those disappointing boxes, and I set the bag back down. I couldn’t stop thinking about the fun flavor that those nuts could be though….

Copycat Trader Joe's® Everything But the Bagel Nut Duo!

A new kitchen experiment!

While I continued my shopping, I passed the spice isle, and decided to grab the “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning, and just try to make my own. Trail mixes are so easy to put together, and while the convenience of grabbing a bag off the shelf is always nice, making my own would save the budget *big-time* (because these specialty items are always over-priced), and I could also add a healthy snack to our pantry rotation on a regular basis instead of just once, because the ingredients are fantastic when you make it at home!

Copycat Trader Joe's® Everything But the Bagel Nut Duo!

Why do food companies use these ingredients, and why do we want to avoid them?

Cheap and readily available. It really boils down to the dollar bill. Cheap oils like sunflower, soy, and safflower oils, as well as sweeteners like corn syrup are so cheap and easy to get, that it really hits the bottom line for these companies in a good way for their profits. When it comes to sweeteners, corn syrup is as cheap as it gets, and it tastes super sweet, so they don’t need to add a lot to make it super palatable to people. Corn syrup sky rockets blood sugar even more than table sugar, and is almost always GMO, so it is just really important to avoid if you can. Sunflower oil “looks” healthy – I mean sunflower seeds are healthy right?! But the way these seed and veg oils are processed makes them super unstable on the shelf, and they go rancid so quickly. When we eat these kind of rancid oils on a regular basis, it causes a lot of inflammation in the body. Free radicals fly everywhere and it inflames. (One caveat to this, would be if you see a truly cold-pressed – sometimes called expeller pressed – sunflower oil. The cold pressed process on the sunflower oil keeps the integrity of the fats so they don’t go rancid – this is very hard to find in products though!)

Copycat Trader Joe's® Everything But the Bagel Nut Duo!

So how do we replace the bad stuff, and still get a yummy product?

It is so much easier than you think! Swap the sunflower oil for a healthier oil, and swap the “sweet” for a more natural sweetener (or leave it out). In the case of this nut trail mix, the oil part was easy. I almost always use coconut oil for my trail mixes because it is so good for our bodies, and it doesn’t change the flavor to us. If you are really sensitive to the flavor of coconut, you might want to use butter or avocado oil. Even a good olive oil would be fine for this recipe. As far as swapping the corn syrup, I tried the recipe without a sweetener at first, because I figured it was a savory snack, and didn’t need it. I was right on the flavor, BUT there is something the corn syrup did for the TJ’s snack that was lacking in my first attempt. The stick factor!

Copycat Trader Joe's® Everything But the Bagel Nut Duo!

How to get that crunchy “stick” to the trail mix

Because the “Everything But the Bagel” Seasoning is larger pieces, you really need a way to get it to stick to the nuts, or it just ends up in a pile on the sheet pan. Most trail mixes that need to make a “candy like” crunch coating use egg whites. And you could totally do that and leave the sweetener out in this recipe if you want. BUT…I have so many egg free readers, and I really wanted to figure out a way to make this without the egg whites. I tried coconut sugar to start, since it has a lower glycemic index, but the candy like coating did not happen, so the seasoning fell to the bottom of the pan. Then I remembered that the secret to the crunchy coating on my Coconut Cluster recipe was maple syrup, so I tried that…success! It’s really just a couple of tablespoons for the whole batch, and I’d say that is totally worth it!

Copycat Trader Joe's® Everything But the Bagel Nut Duo!

Egg white method

The trail mix can be made without the maple syrup, but the seasoning does not stick to the nuts very well in my experience. It is worth the stick to have that little crunch and flavor together! If you need it to be sugar free, and can have eggs, you can swap the maple syrup for 1 whisked egg white, and that will accomplish the same thing. I have so many egg free readers though, so I had to figure out a way to make this without the whites! If you can have eggs, the egg whites is a great way to get the seasoning to stick without using maple syrup.

Copycat Trader Joe's® Everything But the Bagel Nut Duo!

Can I use any nut combo, or swap for seeds?

Absolutely! The Trader Joe’s® “Nut Duo” uses almonds and cashews, so that is what I used – but please use whatever nuts you have in your pantry. And I would actually encourage switching the combo up every time you make it, so that you are getting different nut or seed nutrients! If you are nut free, use pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp, etc! I really think it would be a fun mix to change things up for you!

Copycat Trader Joe's® Everything But the Bagel Nut Duo!

Copycat Trader Joe’s® Everything But the Bagel Nut Duo!

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, toss all of the ingredients together until well combined.
  • Spread the mixture out onto a large, unlined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 325 degrees. Take the sheet pan out, stir the mixture around, and bake another 10 minutes until the nuts are fragrant and lightly toasted.
  • Leave the trail mix to cool completely before touching it. The maple syrup will cool and harden, sticking the seasonings to the nuts. Once the trail mix has cooled, you can store it in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 2 months.

Notes

  • I used the Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel seasoning, but you can find that blend just about anywhere now, and there are lots of homemade, DIY blend recipes online that you can find on Pinterest! Use what you can find or what is available to you.
  • The trail mix can be made without the maple syrup, but the seasoning does not stick to the nuts very well in my experience. It is worth the stick to have that little crunch and flavor together! If you need it to be sugar free, and can have eggs, you can swap the maple syrup for 1 whisked egg white, and that will accomplish the same thing. I have so many egg free readers though, so I had to figure out a way to make this without the whites!
  • You can swap the coconut oil for melted butter, avocado oil, or olive oil if you prefer that, or have that on hand.
  • My Everything But the Bagel Seasoning did have some salt added to it. Since the nuts are unsalted, I found the mix still needed some salt, which is why there is salt in the recipe. If you use a different brand of Everything Bagel seasoning, just be sure to account for this, and if yours does not have salt added, you may want to adjust the salt amount.
Copycat Trader Joe's® Everything But the Bagel Nut Duo!

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One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

February 4, 2022

Busy weeknights were made for dinners like this! Just one pan and a 5 minute prep for a creamy, decadent, baked chicken and broccoli dinner!

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

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.

Just because I’m a food blogger and cookbook author…

…doesn’t mean that every meal is fancy. Does that surprise you? I know that sometimes when I talk to people, I feel like they are surprised that I don’t make fancy dinners every night. Behind this screen is a super real momma, with a super real 3-school-aged-kid schedule, and a super real budget. So while I do love to blog fun, new recipes to get everyone excited about eating real food, I have to remind myself sometimes to pull back to my “roots” and just blog some of my real, everyday food as well. Because *that* my dear friends is how we do real food everyday. You’ll burn out from it if you don’t have some of these really easy dinners up your sleeve!

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli
My super real 3 kids that keep me busy! 😉

All real food on a budget is the name of the game!

Because the real food part really does matter. Sure, we’ll do some out to dinners occasionally, or even some store bought packed snacks, but for the most part, I try to follow that whole 80/20 thing, and in my house its more like 90/10, because my experience has been that real food is actually more affordable than going out to eat, buying packaged and processed food, and even more affordable than boxed “healthy” dinners.

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

5 Minute Prep? Yes please!

YES, I absolutely think it is important that we *slow* down and enjoy cooking in our family kitchens again. I’m a huge advocate of the family dinner table, and going back to showing kids how to cook, where their food comes from, and the beauty of preparing food for our families. But that doesn’t always have to mean an all day slow cooked roast, or a fussy prepped lasagna. It can simply be chicken prepped with some yummy seasonings, and drenched a cream sauce that was whisked up in minutes!

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

The Method :: The Chicken & Broccoli

To start your dinner prep, you’ll rinse and pat dry your chicken breasts and prep them right in the pan you will be cooking in. Coat the chicken in some olive oil, and season to your liking. I left some seasoning instructions, but truthfully, this is one that I don’t measure – I’m talking grab the seasoning jars, and just sprinkle along as I go! Once the chicken is seasoned, you’ll spread the broccoli around the pan, and get the sauce made.

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

The Method :: The Dairy Free Cream Sauce

This is as easy as it gets! Measure it all up in your liquid measuring cup, give it a whisk, and pour it over the chicken. You can play around with the amount to your taste, and if you want more sauce, just make more! If I serve this meal with pasta, I tend to lean more toward the 2 cups of coconut milk so that my pasta has plenty of sauce to soak in.

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

The Method :: Baking the Chicken

Once the sauce is in the pan, you’re ready to bake. And that means you’re hands free for 25 minutes! You can either help kids with homework, boil the pasta for the chicken meal, or you can sit with a book for a few minutes! If you plan to serve your chicken with baked potatoes or sweet potatoes, just be sure you get those in the oven about 10-15 minutes before the chicken so they have enough time to get soft – I like to cut them in half or quarters to be sure they roast fast enough.

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

Serving suggestions!

Serving this meal over your pasta of choice works so well and feels so decadent! A lot of the times, I serve over a baked potato or sweet potato, which can bake at the same temperature as the chicken. Depending on the size of your potatoes, and how you cut them, you’ll need to put the potatoes in before the chicken, I usually bake small sweet potato halves, so I put them in about 15-20 minutes before the chicken goes in, OR I bake them on a prep day and just warm them up when the chicken is cooking.

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

Let’s talk real life

Because I want you to actually make this! Earlier this week, I shared to my Instagram how I prepped this chicken dinner before I left to pick kids up from school. The beauty of a recipe like this is that it can be prepped a day or so in advanced, and put in the fridge until you need it. I prepped the pans for this dinner, left to get the kids, and came home to pop it in the oven. You can also bake this meal off, and eat lunch off from it all week long, dear momma. THIS is how we can get real food into real life mommas, my friends!

One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

Creamy Baked Chicken & Broccoli

Ingredients

For the Chicken & Broccoli ::

For the Dairy Free Cheesy Cream Sauce ::

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Put the chicken into a 9×13 baking dish, and coat with the olive oil. Sprinkle the seasonings evenly over the top – no I don’t typically mix the seasonings separately, and I don’t usually even measure. This is just sprinkle and go on a busy day for me 😊
  • Place the broccoli florets around the chicken in the pan, nesteling it down on the sides of the chicken and around the pan.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, measure out your coconut milk, and then add in the rest of the Cream Sauce ingredients. Whisk the cream sauce to combine right there in the liquid measuring cup, and then pour the sauce over the chicken and broccoli
  • Bake the chicken, uncovered, for 25 – 30 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken. Chicken is supposed to have an internal temperature of 165 degrees, so I tend to take it out around 160 degrees, and let it continue cooking to the 165 while it rests. No I don’t tend to take the temperature, but you can!
  • Once the chicken is done baking, let the pan rest about 5 minutes or so before cutting so the juices have a chance to redistribute back into the chicken.
  • Serve your creamy baked chicken & broccoli over your choice of pasta, baked potato, or sweet potato! See the Notes section for tips on baking the potatoes at the same time as the chicken.

Notes

  • You can swap the coconut milk for whole milk or cream if you can have the dairy. I’m not sure how almond milk would taste, but it should still make a good cream sauce if you prefer that.
  • You can swap the chicken breast for chicken thighs if that is what you have, or you prefer that taste – you’ll just want to pull the cook time down to about 15-20 minutes since those are smaller.
  • You can swap the tapioca starch for arrowroot starch, potato starch, or corn starch. If you leave the starch out, you will not get a creamy sauce – it will be runny.
  • Serving suggestions! Serving this meal over your pasta of choice works so well and feels so decadent! A lot of the times, I serve over a baked potato or sweet potato, which can bake at the same temperature as the chicken. Depending on the size of your potatoes, and how you cut them, you’ll need to put the potatoes in before the chicken, I usually bake potato halves, so I put them in about 15-20 minutes before the chicken goes in, OR I bake them on a prep day and just warm them up when the chicken is cooking.
One Pan Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

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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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One Pan Paleo Chicken Divan Casserole :: Gluten, Grain, Dairy, & Egg Free!

January 4, 2022

This no fuss Paleo Chicken Divan Casserole is one of those “dump it all in,” one pan wonder dinners you can make even on a week day!

One Pan Paleo Chicken Divan Casserole :: Gluten, Grain, Dairy, & Egg Free!

Building progress, and winter comfort food made “busy life” easy!

We’re truckin’ along on the new home build, and with these new walls finally up, came a new sense of relief that soon (well, maybe more like soon-ish!), we’ll be “home.” There’s something about winter that makes me want to hibernate, and because of that, I’ve been busy in the kitchen creating comforting winter meals that not only help me feel like I’m cozy in my own home, but also work for a really busy season of life.

One Pan Paleo Chicken Divan Casserole :: Gluten, Grain, Dairy, & Egg Free!

Chicken Divan…a childhood classic!

I don’t know one Mid-West adult that hasn’t grown up on some sort of version of a chicken divan casserole. I’m not even sure where it originated from, but in the Mid-West, a casserole is like a 6th food group. So, as a Michigan born and bred kid, it is pure childhood nostalgia for me.

One Pan Paleo Chicken Divan Casserole :: Gluten, Grain, Dairy, & Egg Free!

Mid-West Casserole flavor, without the processed Mid-West casserole ingredients…

The biggest problem with most Mid-West casseroles from a health stand point, lies in those BPA lined red cans of creamed soups that are loaded with really crummy preservatives, and ingredients that are just not necessary. Years ago, I perfected a healthier condensed cream of chicken soup so that I could re-create all of my favorite casserole dreams, and that recipe is still so great! There is really nothing wrong with making that recipe to use in casseroles (it can even be done dairy free!), and there really isn’t even anything wrong with a little cheese in your casserole…that is, unless, you don’t have the time for a homemade canned creamed casserole assembly, and you don’t tolerate dairy well!

One Pan Paleo Chicken Divan Casserole :: Gluten, Grain, Dairy, & Egg Free!

A faster, even tastier way to casserole!

I think one of the draws to a classic Mid-West casserole is the “dump it all in” style of prep work. We all have busy lives and dinner sometimes really does need to be that fast. While I loved the homemade “canned” condensed creamed soup I created years ago, I found myself having times where I just didn’t have it on hand, and really wished I could run to the store for a can! A couple winters ago this happened, and I decided to try making the creamed soup right in the pan that I was going to make the casserole in, and I truly haven’t looked back since! Everything went into ONE pot, there wasn’t any extra cooking or pans, and it was even faster than before!

One Pan Paleo Chicken Divan Casserole :: Gluten, Grain, Dairy, & Egg Free!

One pan meal, creamy and delicious, *and* gluten, grain, and dairy free?!

Ah! You guys are going to just fall in love with this method, and I’m actually looking forward to hearing about any variations you make to use this method with your favorite childhood casseroles. I really feel like making the cream sauce in the pan, and then adding everything in, is a game changer, and can be used with just about any casserole. The secret to the rich, velvety cream sauce is all about using a little potato starch to thicken up your broth and coconut milk. It takes literally minutes to make, and the addition of the nutritional yeast adds a cheesy flavor without the dairy. The result is really decadent, and feels just like every casserole sauce you’ve had!

One Pan Paleo Chicken Divan Casserole :: Gluten, Grain, Dairy, & Egg Free!

The Method :: The Cream Sauce

If you have an oven save casserole pan that can be used stovetop, you are literally going to be making a one pan meal! (And if you don’t, you can still make this! You’ll just be making your cream sauce separately on the stove top and then adding it to your casserole dish!) You’ll saute your onion, carrot, and celery right in the pan to create some deep flavors, before adding the garlic and seasonings. Once you stir in the potato starch, you’ll add the broth and coconut milk to thicken the sauce. It really does just take a couple minutes to thicken the sauce. Simmer your sauce for a few minutes to develop the flavors, and you’re ready to assemble the casserole to bake!

One Pan Paleo Chicken Divan Casserole :: Gluten, Grain, Dairy, & Egg Free!
Saute the veggies right in the oven safe casserole pan!
One Pan Paleo Chicken Divan Casserole :: Gluten, Grain, Dairy, & Egg Free!
This is the finished cream sauce! So velvety!

The Method :: Assembling the Casserole

That’s right! You aren’t going to be browning your meat separately, par-cooking the potatoes, making a separate sauce, or doing anything else outside of this pan! Once your cream sauce is thick, you can turn the heat off, and stir in the potatoes, broccoli, and chicken, all completely uncooked. Pop a lid on your casserole, put it into the oven, and you’re free for the next 30 minutes to get that homework done with the kids, change the baby’s diaper, or read your toddler a book!

One Pan Paleo Chicken Divan Casserole :: Gluten, Grain, Dairy, & Egg Free!
That’s right! Once the cream sauce is made, you just stir the uncooked potatoes, chicken, and broccoli right in!

The Method :: Baking the Casserole, and Adding the Topping

You’ll bake your casserole with the lid on for 30 minutes and then add the crunchy almond topping. If you are nut free, you can just leave the topping off, or use sunflower seeds. Once you sprinkle the topping on, bake the casserole for another 15 minutes, and you can even use the broiler for the last few minutes to get that golden crust on the top! From there you are ready to serve.

One Pan Paleo Chicken Divan Casserole :: Gluten, Grain, Dairy, & Egg Free!
The topping gets sprinkled on, and then back into the oven for the last 15 minutes!
One Pan Paleo Chicken Divan Casserole :: Gluten, Grain, Dairy, & Egg Free!

One Pan Paleo Chicken Divan Casserole :: Gluten, Grain, Dairy, & Egg Free!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter ghee, or olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and diced
  • 1 celery stalk diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp potato starch tapioca starch or arrowroot starch would work here too
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast divided
  • 3 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 cups full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup bone broth or water
  • 3 medium yellow potatoes sliced thin into rounds (I don’t peel them, but you can)
  • 3 chicken breasts cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 ½ heads broccoli cut into florets about 5-6 cups
  • ¼ – 1/3 cup almonds blended into a fine meal

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. You’ll need a large oven safe casserole dish or large cast iron skillet to cook with on the stove-top and then transfer to the oven. If you don’t have one, you can make the sauce in a skillet and transfer everything into your casserole dish when you are ready to bake.

Make the Cream Sauce ::

  • Melt the butter in your large casserole dish over medium-high heat, and add the onion, carrot, and celery with a big pinch of sea salt. Cook over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes until the veggies soften.
  • Add the garlic, and cook for a minute.
  • Add the potato starch, 1 ½ tablespoons of nutritional yeast, Italian seasoning, paprika, and pepper, and stir to coat the cooked veggies. Add the coconut milk and broth and stir until the sauce thickens. This takes a few minutes. Low simmer the sauce to allow the flavors to develop.
  • Taste the cream sauce and season to your liking. This cream sauce SHOULD taste like a very salty, condensed cream soup – it needs to be on the salty side because it will be seasoning and flavoring the unseasoned chicken and potatoes.

Assemble the Casserole ::

  • Turn the heat off the stove-top, and stir in the potato rounds, being sure that each of the potatoes are coated in the cream sauce.
  • Stir in the chicken breast cubes and broccoli next, coating everything in the cream sauce, and distributing everything evenly in the pan.

Bake the Casserole & Make the Topping ::

  • Place a lid on your casserole dish, and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • While the casserole is baking, blend up your almonds into a meal, put the almond meal into a small bowl, and stir in ½ tablespoon of nutritional yeast. This is your topping – set this aside for later.
  • After the casserole has baked for 30 minutes, take the lid off, sprinkle the almond/nutritional yeast topping, and put the casserole back in the oven for 15 more minutes without the lid.
  • After the casserole bakes the last 15 minutes, turn the broiler on high for up to 5 minutes to get the top nice and crispy and golden brown if you want too!

Notes

  • The Nutritional Yeast adds the “cheesy” flavor you are used to in a traditional chicken divan/casserole. You can leave it out, but you will want to season your cream sauce with a bit more sea salt.
  • If you have mushrooms around, I love adding them in with the carrots, onions, and celery part of making the sauce – I did not have them on hand the day I made this, but it does add an element of of the flavor you get from a can of mushroom cream sauce.
  • You can swap some of the broccoli for cauliflower or green beans for a change up!
One Pan Paleo Chicken Divan Casserole :: Gluten, Grain, Dairy, & Egg 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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Tween & Middle School Gift Guide! :: Super Fun, Opened Ended, Screen-Free Gift Ideas for Every Tween & Teen!

November 27, 2021

Super Fun, Opened Ended, Screen-Free Gift Ideas for Every Tween & Teen!

Screen Free Tween & Middle School Gift Guide! :: Super Fun, Opened Ended Ideas for Every Kid!

Raising Generation Nourished…

It’s more than just the food, though that is typically the focus around here! Today, I thought I’d take a little step aside from the recipes, and focus on another aspect of raising a nourished generation. A generation that is creative, focused, and content. A generation that has just so much good ahead of them. Their future is so bright.

Screen Free Tween & Middle School Gift Guide! :: Super Fun, Opened Ended Ideas for Every Kid!

Contented kids

Not long ago I received a private message on my Instagram asking how I’ve raised kids that are so “content.” She mentioned it always felt like my kids found joy in the simplest of things – digging in the sand at the beach, stirring a pot of soup, taking a hike…simple childhood. She was curious how a 12 year old could be happy with such simplicity. We aren’t a completely screen free home – we definitely enjoy a good movie! And my kids have their favorite shows. We even play the occasional educational computer game. But over 12 years into this thing, I do think that part of my kids’ joy in simple childhood play has to do with limited screens. They aren’t the enemy, but open-ended play is vital to kids that don’t need to be constantly entertained with a screen. Contented kids that are ok with being “bored” because those are always the moments where creativity shines the brightest. I have seen it with my own eyes, and I would go back and do it all over again to see that in my kids.

Screen Free Tween & Middle School Gift Guide! :: Super Fun, Opened Ended Ideas for Every Kid!

You do you momma!

I am most definitely not here to mom shame. Every household has a different rhythm, and every child has different needs. If you have video games in the house, and that is working for you, great! If your kids have tablets, and that is working in your home – totally fine! What I am here to do, is give you some ideas for under the Christmas tree that my upper elementary/tween/middle school aged kids have enjoyed and are enjoying right now, that I really think any kid will have fun with, whether they are into screens or not. I hope to give you some ideas to put something different under the tree next to the other items.

Tween & Middle School Gift Guide! :: Super Fun, Opened Ended, Screen-Free Gift Ideas for Every Tween & Teen!

Tweens & Middle School ages

Years back I created a Montessori Inspired gift guide for younger children when my kids were little, and I thought it was time to do an update! My older two are 12 and 10 and this list was so fun to put together with them. They helped me pick out their favorite activities in our home now, and we messaged with friends of both boys and girls of this age group to find out what their favorite screen-free activities were too. I hope you find something fun to put under the tree for the kids this year that will stimulate the child that is within them, foster creativity, and give them purpose!

Screen Free Tween & Middle School Gift Guide! :: Super Fun, Opened Ended Ideas for Every Kid!

STEM/Science/Building

The number one thing my children along with every momma that I texted said for this age group was…LEGOS! Every last one of them. My 12 year old still asks for Legos every holiday and birthday, and she pulls them out all the time. This age is literally built for STEM mindset, and it is why so many schools focus on innovation days, science fairs, and STEM clubs from 4th grade through middle school. There are so many to list – I would love to hear your tween and teens favorite STEM items to add to this list – please comment below if you do!

Screen Free Tween & Middle School Gift Guide! :: Super Fun, Opened Ended Ideas for Every Kid!
The solar robots became a favorite sometimes even over Legos over the last year (age 12)

Crafts

Our crafting collection started around my oldest’s 6 year old year, and has become such a staple inside activity in our home over the years. Those “I’m bored” moments almost always land in the Rainbow Loom box, Perler bead bin, or with a sketch pad and markers.

Screen Free Tween & Middle School Gift Guide! :: Super Fun, Opened Ended Ideas for Every Kid!
Rainbow Loom bracelets she made to sell!
Screen Free Tween & Middle School Gift Guide! :: Super Fun, Opened Ended Ideas for Every Kid!
All the perler beads, all the time!

Board Games & Puzzles

This is definitely not an inclusive list! Please comment below with other favorite board games – we are always looking to add to our collection too!

Screen Free Tween & Middle School Gift Guide! :: Super Fun, Opened Ended Ideas for Every Kid!

Outdoors/Movement

No matter the weather where you live, fresh air is an important part of childhood. It will create habits that will last into adulthood, and that, my friends is where raising a nourished generation starts. I would love to know what your tweens and teens like to do outside so I can add to the list for our readers! Use the comment box below!

Screen Free Tween & Middle School Gift Guide! :: Super Fun, Opened Ended Ideas for Every Kid!

Safe Skin Care/Self Care

I started putting little self care things in the girls’ stockings starting pretty young. A new bar of soap or a fun nail polish to start, and as they are getting older it is getting even more fun. You can do the teen girl stuff in a safe, non-toxic way so easily these days too! Use the EWG Skin Deep website to check ingredient safety, but for the most part, these are the brands we love and use in our house.

Books

This was the hardest list to tailor down when I asked the girls’ their favorites. I do have a household of very big readers, and I am here to tell you I really do think it is because when I get the “I’m bored” look, if they aren’t pulling a craft out, they are pulling out a book because we don’t have tablets around. I will often say on a rainy day “go get sucked into a book” and they haul up in a beanbag for hours! Here are some of our favorites both in our home and ones the girls have had to read in school at the upper elementary and middle school ages so far. Please let me know what your tweens are reading! I have one adventure lover that needs action and Harry Potter-like books, and another that prefers more imagination, and less thriller like books!

Screen Free Tween & Middle School Gift Guide! :: Super Fun, Opened Ended Ideas for Every Kid!
Fun lights to make a cozy reading nook is a great gift idea too!

Cooking & Baking

Of course this is near and dear to my heart, but I literally haven’t met a tween that doesn’t like to bake or do something in the kitchen. It is part science/STEM, part mess, and right up their alley! I’d love to know what your tween and teens are making in the kitchen and what tools they love the most that would make great gifts! Please comment below!

Screen Free Tween & Middle School Gift Guide! :: Super Fun, Opened Ended Ideas for Every Kid!
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Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones

November 21, 2021

These buttery scones have a special cranberry orange twist the whole family will love!

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones

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.

Holiday season transitions!

And are we ever ready for them! Right around Thanksgiving I get the urge to totally nest in the house and just hibernate for a month! We certainly get outside for as much fresh air as we can, but we also cozy up inside, and enjoy all the traditions of the holidays that we can. Last year we played around with a new cranberry scone recipe for our Christmas brunch, and I just had to share it with you all at the beginning of the holiday season so that you can enjoy it for Thanksgiving day breakfast and also for all of those Christmas brunches!

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones

A classic combination stirred into our household favorite scone recipe

A couple years back, I was able to perfect a fun scone recipe that I lovingly called our FunFetti Birthday scones. Those scones have become quite the household birthday request, and that fall I dressed the scones up for Halloween making a pumpkin scone! This summer, I also used some of our freshly picked summer berries to make a mixed berry scone that was just so much fun. I’m one of those “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of people, and since we love the base scone recipe so much, I decided to make our scones a bit more festive last Christmas brunch with a classic holiday combination – cranberry orange!

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones

The Method :: The Orange “Buttermilk” Mixture (The Wet Ingredients)

You’ll start your scone recipe by whisking up the wet ingredients. Buttermilk has a special way of magically making scones soft but still crispy on the outside, as well as giving them the “fluff” they need without using eggs. We don’t keep milk around here much, so I just make my own “buttermilk” using coconut milk, and it is so easy. Just put a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a liquid measuring cup, and pour in the coconut milk until you hit the 3/4 cup mark for this recipe. Then you’ll add the juice from an orange or clementine until you hit the 1 cup mark (using 1/4 cup of juice). Whisk this with the vanilla and that is your orange infused buttermilk to fancy up these scones! **Just be sure that you zest your orange or clementines before you juice them! You’ll need the zest later!

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones
(Stir up the wet ingredients)

The Method :: The Dry Ingredients & Cutting the Butter In

Set your liquid ingredients aside and whisk the dry ingredients next, including the orange zest. Then comes the butter part! Keep the butter in the fridge until you are ready to do this step so that it stays cold. Cut the butter into cubes, and use your pastry cutter or hands to incorporate the fat into the flour. It will not get wet yet – you’ll just see pieces of butter chunks through the flour. You’ll notice in the next few pictures, including after rolling the scone dough out that you can see little piece of butter – that is ok!

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones
(Whisk the dry ingredients)
Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones
(Cut the butter in)

The Method :: Finishing the Scone Dough & Rolling it Out

Once you cut the butter into the flour, you’ll add the liquid ingredients you stirred up earlier. You’ll get a shaggy dough that you can start with your rubber scraper, and then finish with your hands by kneading. Flour your counter, and form a disk with the dough. You can roll your scone dough out to 1-2 inches high depending on how high you want your scones to be. Use your hands to form around the outside to make a circle.

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones
(Add the wet ingredients and stir to combine)
Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones
(Knead, and then roll out the scone dough)

The Method :: Cutting the Scone Pieces

I like to use a pizza wheel to get the pieces evenly cut, but a knife works just fine here too. I do think a knife might make cutting through the dried cranberries a little tricky and might pull some of them out of position – the pizza cutter rolls right through. Place your scones onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and you are ready to bake.

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones
(Cut the scones)

The Method :: Baking the Scones

Once you cut your scones, you have a couple options. You can freeze the scone dough here if you are making this in advance. This is the perfect task to get done ahead of time before a holiday brunch or party! Or you can bake them right then! Just a half hour in the oven – keep an eye on them around 20 minutes in case our ovens run differently. You want a golden crust on the outside.

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones

The Method :: The Orange Glaze

Let the cranberry orange scones cool completely before drizzling the glaze. That way it won’t melt into the scones, and instead it will create a fun, hardened glaze drizzle on the top. Whisk the juice from the orange and the powdered sugar to get the consistency you want, and then drizzle. It will take about 20 minutes for the glaze to harden.

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones
Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones

Can I make these without butter?

Yes my friends! While butter is obviously incredible (!!), I do know that some friends can’t have the dairy. I have used cold palm shortening before without any issues. I do like to add a pinch more of salt to the dry ingredients when I use the palm shortening since I usually use salted butter for my scones.

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones

Can I use fresh cranberries?

Absolutely! I use dried cranberries because fresh are quite a bit more tart, and the base scone recipe doesn’t have a lot of “sweet” to it. I think if you plan to use fresh cranberries, you might want to bump the sugar up a little in the dough, but if you really enjoy that tart punch, go for it!

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones

Tips for serving at a Christmas Brunch & Freezing Instructions

Hosting a holiday brunch can feel like a lot of steps. But with something like a scone, you really can make a lot ahead of time, and knock one recipe off the list early! The scone dough can be frozen ahead of time. Like weeks in advance even! Just make the recipe to the point where you cut the scones out, and freeze flat on a sheet tray. Then take the frozen triangles and pop them into a freezer bag until you need them. You also can bake the scones and freeze them that way – they do thaw really nicely and still taste good. If you plan to make the scones and not freeze them, you can store them up to 2 days before serving by storing in an air tight container.

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones
Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk or coconut buttermilk to make 3/4 cup of buttermilk, put 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar in a liquid measuring cup, and fill with full fat milk or coconut milk to the 1 cup line. Stir together and let it sit while you get the rest of the ingredients together
  • 1/4 cup juice from orange or clementine be sure you zest first before juicing to use the zest for a later step
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups Namaste GF Flour Blend fluff the flour before measuring so it isn’t packed down
  • ¼ cup organic pure cane sugar plus a little more for sprinkling the tops of the scones if you wish
  • 2 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp zest from an orange or clementines this is the zest from 1/2 orange or 2 clementines
  • 8 oz cold butter 2 sticks, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup organic powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tsp juice from an orange or clementine

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Make your buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup first if you don’t have store-bought buttermilk. To the butter milk add 1/4 cup juice from an orange, and the vanilla, and stir to combine. Set this aside for later.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, cane sugar, baking powder, sea salt, and orange zest
  • Use a pastry cutter or your hands to cut the cold butter into the flour. You want to still be able to see small pieces of butter throughout. See the picture above for reference.
  • Stir the dried cranberries into the flour/butter mixture, and then pour the buttermilk/orange/vanilla mixture into the flour/butter/cranberry mixture. Use a rubber scraper to mix. I use the rubber scraper to start, and finish with my hands gently.
  • Flour your counter, turn the dough out onto the floured surface, and gently make a disk with your hands. You can use a rolling pin to gently roll the dough to about 1-2 inches thick, and then use your hands again to shape the disk into a perfect circle.
  • Cut the disk into eighths, and place the triangles onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with a light coating of milk or coconut milk, and sprinkle with a little sugar if you wish.
  • Bake the scones at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until the edges are golden. Cool the scones completely before icing.
  • To make the icing, whisk the powdered sugar and orange juice in a small dish and drizzle over the tops of the cooled scones. The icing will dry and harden within about 20 minutes.

Notes

  • The scones freeze very well! Just cool completely, put the icing on and let it harden, and then freeze them in freezer bags.
Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones

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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!

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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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