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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

More real food recipes you might like!

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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

More real food recipes you might like! ::

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

November 15, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly soup routine

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

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

The Veggie Line-Up!

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

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

The Method :: Roasting the Veggies

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

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

The Method :: Blending the Soup

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

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

The Method :: Finishing the Soup

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

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

Freezer friendly?

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

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

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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Roasted Pumpkin Chicken Noodle Soup

October 12, 2021

Give your chicken noodle soup a flavor upgrade using roasted pumpkin to create a creamy and sweet kid friendly broth!

Roasted Pumpkin Chicken Noodle Soup

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

Autumn changes and family transitions!

There are just “barely there” hints of the leaves changing colors around these parts in the last few weeks, and as we watch the autumn transition in Michigan, our family is moving into new transitions as well! We aren’t leaving our sweet little beachy town that we love so dearly, but we are moving into a new home, and while the build finishes in the next couple of months we will be making all of the transitions that come along with moving a family of five, while trying to keep a sense of normalcy for the kids.

Roasted Pumpkin Chicken Noodle Soup

Comfort food

It is absolutely a thing, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with easing the stress of temporary life happenings with a bowl of something familiar and comforting. One of my kiddos was having a particularly hard time with the thought of leaving her bedroom for someone else, and after we talked it through, and worked through all the life skills one little 10 year old can muster, we talked about what we could possibly move on with that evening and have for dinner. Her choice was chicken noodle soup, and that just made my real food momma heart burst. I want my kids to think of the food from home when they think of comfort, and this just hits that mark for me!

Roasted Pumpkin Chicken Noodle Soup

Classic chicken noodle with a comforting, creamy fall twist!

I just happened to notice the little pie pumpkin still sitting on my counter that needed to be used up, and decided to give it a quick roast to stir into the broth of my chicken noodle soup. Sure, a can of pumpkin would do the trick, but filling the house with that roasted pumpkin flavor after a day of hard emotions was exactly what my family needed. There is also nothing like the depth, sweetness, and creamy texture that you get from putting a roasted pumpkin puree into a soup broth. It is one of my tricks to incredible soup broth in 3 soups here on the blog – the Beef & Kale Soup, Smokey Sweet Pumpkin Corn Chowder, and also the Autumn Harvest Chicken Stew, and I just knew it would take this chicken noodle soup to the next level!

Roasted Pumpkin Chicken Noodle Soup

The Method :: Roasting the pumpkin

There is really nothing easier. And pumpkins are easier to cut than a thick butternut squash – promise! Just cut the pumpkin in half, and butter the flesh. Sprinkle the pumpkin flesh with salt and pepper and also a bit of cinnamon. YES, cinnamon in a chicken noodle soup! There is just the slightest hint of warm sweetness that will knock your socks off when it simmers with the sage once it’s in the broth. It’s truly everything about fall that we love!

Roasted Pumpkin Chicken Noodle Soup

The Method :: The pumpkin puree

While your pumpkin roasts, you’ll make the base of the soup. It is a very classic chicken noodle soup base with a slight twist because the sage brings the comfort level up about 10 notches! After you pour the pasta into the broth to cook, you’ll scoop your pumpkin flesh into a blender and to puree until smooth. Give the kids a taste if they have never tasted roasted pumpkin before – be warned you may not end up with much left for the soup though! It is one of my girls very favorite side dishes all fall and winter long!

Roasted Pumpkin Chicken Noodle Soup

Finishing the soup off

Once you’ve blended your cinnamon roasted pumpkin, you’ll add the puree to the soup broth while the pasta finishes cooking. The squash will melt right in, giving a sweet creaminess to the broth. But we’re not done there! Once the pasta is cooked, and the heat is off, a generous splash of creamy coconut milk adds to the decadency of this soup, and you can also wilt in some finely chopped spinach. The spinach leaves zero flavor, but adds pretty color and a pop of nutrients too!

Roasted Pumpkin Chicken Noodle Soup

A few tips for prepping ahead for faster soup making

From start to finish, this soup may not be the most weeknight friendly in prep considering the roasting time for the pumpkin, BUT you CAN do a couple of things to prep ahead before the week so that you CAN make this soup on a weeknight. Firstly, the pumpkin can be roasted and pureed days in advance. Pop it into the oven on the weekend when you are at home, and stash it away in the fridge for later in the week. The chicken can also be a prep ahead item. If you don’t have leftover chicken, you can brown up chicken breast cubes right in the soup pot before you make the soup, or make it days ahead of time. There are multiple ways to cook a whole chicken every week in order to have leftover chicken for weekly meals! If you aren’t in to a Sunday dinner roasted chicken, you can cook a whole chicken in your slow cooker, or cook your whole chicken in your Instant Pot!

If you don’t have leftover chicken, you can brown up chicken breast cubes right in the soup pot before you make the soup. Remove the browned chicken and start the soup from there. There are multiple ways to cook a whole chicken every week in order to have leftover chicken for weekly meals! If you aren't in to a Sunday dinner roasted chicken, you can cook a whole chicken in your slow cooker, or cook your whole chicken in your Instant Pot!

A note about our favorite fall squashes!

Dear momma, squashes are not just “baby food!” If you have veggie hesitant kids, greens are not the easiest place to start in my humble opinion! Squash not only tastes amazing, they are absolutely loaded with minerals. These kids need real, and substantial fuel. Squash will replenish electrolytes, fill them up with slow burning carbohydrate fiber, and open their palates to the idea of veggies tasting good. Give the kids a spoonful of that roasted squash before you add it to the soup – I really think you are going to see how a buttery cinnamon roasted pumpkin can quickly become a veggie favorite for your crew.

Roasted Pumpkin Chicken Noodle Soup

Roasted Pumpkin Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter divided (you can use ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, or avocado oil if you are dairy free)
  • 1 small/medium pie pumpkin halved and seeds scooped out
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 large carrot diced
  • 1 large celery stalk diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp ground sage
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken I use leftovers from our weekly roasted chicken
  • 2 quarts bone broth
  • 2 cups dry pasta of choice I use the GF Jovial Rice Spirals
  • ½ cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 big handful of baby spinach finely chopped
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Place your halved pumpkin flesh side up in a baking dish. Rub 1 tablespoon of butter over the flesh and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon sea salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and some cinnamon. Roast the pumpkin at 425 degrees for 50 minutes, until the flesh is fork tender and fragrant. While the pumpkin roasts, you can prepare the rest of the soup.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large soup pot over medium high heat, and add the onion, carrot, and celery with a pinch of sea salt. Cook the veggies over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until the veggies are soft and fragrant, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, thyme, and sage to the soup pot, stir to combine, and cook for a minute or two.
  • Add the cubed chicken and bone broth, and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, and reduce to a simmer to cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta starts cooking, you can prepare the pumpkin to add to the broth.
  • Scoop the pumpkin flesh out of the shell and into your food processor or blender. Blend the pumpkin until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree to the soup pot where the pasta is cooking and stir to combine.
  • When the pasta is cooked to al dente, turn the heat off, add the coconut milk and chopped spinach, stir to combine, and season with salt and pepper to your taste.

Notes

  • If you don’t have leftover chicken, you can brown up chicken breast cubes right in the soup pot before you make the soup. Remove the browned chicken and start the soup from there.
  • There are multiple ways to cook a whole chicken every week in order to have leftover chicken for weekly meals! If you aren’t in to a Sunday dinner roasted chicken, you can cook a whole chicken in your slow cooker, or cook your whole chicken in your Instant Pot!
  • You can use regular milk or cream in place of the coconut milk if you are not dairy free.
  • You can use canned pumpkin if you wish – about 1 cup of puree. The roasted flavor from cooking a pumpkin is super worth it in the flavor though just fyi!
  • Save your pumpkin seeds to roast! I like to soak them in sea salt and water, toss with avocado oil, sea salt, and cinnamon on a sheet tray, and then cook at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes.
Roasted Pumpkin Chicken Noodle Soup

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Stuffed Butterkin Squash

September 21, 2021

A cross between a butternut squash and pumpkin, this little stuffed butterkin squash is sure to be a kid favorite!

Stuffed Butterkin Squash

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 hikes and meal routines

We’re getting into the season of layers here in Michigan! We start out in hoodies and by the end of the hike the kids have peeled off all the layers to enjoy the golden warmth of the fall sun! We have a Sunday routine of hiking every weekend, and in the fall that routine also includes a roasted chicken for Sunday dinner. One of my favorite things to do with the leftover chicken is make an easy filling for a stuffed squash, and this week, we make it very weekday friendly – meaning super simple! So I thought you might like to see how to do it!

Stuffed Butterkin Squash

Stuffed squash basics!

While a stuffed squash looks fancy, I promise you this is a busy mom’s dream dinner. Comforting and satisfying without the fuss and time of usual comfort dinners, makes for the perfect weekday meal. Really, a stuffed squash is just a roasted squash filled with a protein/veggie stir fry, and topped with cheese or crispy topping. Its dinner all in one, hitting all of the protein, fat, and carbohydrate needs for growing kids. Win-win! You can truly use any squash, and once you try it, you’ll see why there are 3 other stuffed squash recipes on my blog, and one in my cookbook, Nourished Beginnings!

Stuffed Butterkin Squash

Ok, sounds good! But what in the world is a butterkin squash?!

We discovered these cutie little squashes a couple years ago, and it has become a family favorite. The butterkin squash is a cross-breed of butternut squash, and pumpkin – get it? Butter-kin! In my taste palate opinion, while it has more of the shape of a pumpkin, it tastes more like a butternut squash – buttery smooth, and sweet. It has a really kid-friendly texture and honey sweet taste. If you don’t have access to a butterkin squash, you can make this stuffed squash with a butternut squash, pumpkin, or acorn squash – all equally delicious!

Stuffed Butterkin Squash

The Method :: Roasting the butterkin squash

I promise the cutting part is not intimidating, so long as you have a proper knife! I will also promise you that while it is much faster to just plop any squash in the Instant Pot to pressure cook away, the flavor and texture that you will get from properly roasting a squash is second to none – the kids are going to inhale this! Using a sharp knife, slice around the width of the butterkin squash, so that you have the top and bottom, equal transverse halves. Scoop the seeds out, and put them into an oven safe baking dish or cast iron skillet. You can have the kids spread the butter all over the flesh of the squash, and then sprinkle it with salt and pepper. You’ll roast the squash for 50 minutes, which gives you plenty of time to make the filling – in fact you will probably have time to clean up and do other things as well!

Stuffed Butterkin Squash

The Method :: The stuffed squash filling

The sky is the limit here! This week called for the simplest of the simple. I just needed basic. Some weeks I like to get fancy with more veggie variety, but I just didn’t have it in me this week, and truthfully those kind of dinners are sometimes the best. I had a lot of spinach to use up, and mushrooms just jive so well with that, so I went with it. Use whatever you have in your veggie bin – this filling is a great way to use up leftover veggies from the week and clear the fridge out. You’ll cook the veggies in butter until fragrant and golden, and then add the chicken, garlic, and spinach. This filling really only takes 15 minutes to cook, and it can be done ahead of time too! I like to use a few splashes of broth for flavor and moisture since leftover chicken can be dry. The result of the broth cooked down with the mushrooms, onions, and garlic leaves a very flavorful filling for your sweet squash!

Stuffed Butterkin Squash
Stuffed Butterkin Squash

The Method :: Stuffing the squash, and finishing the topping

Once your filling is cooked, and the squash is done roasting, all you have to do is load up the squash with the filling – don’t be shy! Pack it in! And then you can sprinkle the topping on. Again, on this day I needed simple. I used the Ian’s Gluten Free Panko Breadcrumbs mixed with freshly grated parm, and called it good. You can do all cheese if you want, or there are some notes in the recipe card for a topping idea that is both grain and dairy free if you need that. Once you sprinkle your topping, get it up under your oven broiler for a few minutes, and you’re ready to eat!

Stuffed Butterkin Squash

Leftovers?!

If there happens to be any leftovers (a rarity in my house these days!), they truly make *THE* best breakfast the next day topped with a fried egg. Seriously heaven. It could also make a great leftover lunch too. If you think far enough ahead, you could technically roast off 2 full squashes and double the filling if you want more leftover (or have a bigger family!)

Stuffed Butterkin Squash

Stuffed Butterkin Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butterkin squash cut in half across the width, seeds scooped out
  • 2 tbsp butter divided
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 4 ounces mushrooms sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 2-3 cups leftover cooked chicken shredded or finely chopped (you could also brown up ½ pound of chicken beforehand)
  • 3-4 cups baby spinach or baby kale chopped small
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 2-4 tbsp bone broth stock, or water for cooking in
  • ¼ cup GF Panko bread crumbs see notes below for grain free option
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese see Notes below for dairy free option
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Place the halved butterkin squashes flesh side up in a baking dish, and spread 1 tbsp of butter over the flesh of the squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast at 425 degrees for 50 minutes. While the squash roasts, you can make the filling.
  • To make the filling, melt 1 tbsp of butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and mushrooms with a pinch of salt and cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes until fragrant and golden.
  • Add the garlic and the chicken, stir to combine, and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the spinach, thyme, and splashes of bone broth and cook until the spinach wilts and the broth cooks off – this takes a few minutes.
  • When the squashes are done roasting, turn the oven off, and take the baking dish with the squash out. Scoop the chicken/spinach skillet mixture into each half of the butterkin squash, patting the filling down into the middle.
  • Whisk the GF Panko breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese together in a small bowl and sprinkle over each squash half.
  • Put the stuffed squashes under the oven broiler on “HI” for 3-5 minutes watching carefully for a beautiful golden color. Every oven broiler can run differently so take a peek after a couple minutes in case yours runs hotter.

Notes

  • I like to use leftover chicken from my weekly roasted whole chicken. It makes meals like this so fast and cost effective to stretch that one roasted chicken dinner into 2!
  • If you don’t have leftover chicken, you can brown up about ½ pound of chicken or beef.
  • If you are dairy free and/or grain free, you can swap the gluten free panko crumbs for 3 tbsp almond flour mixed with 1-2 tsp olive oil.
  • This is such a simple veggie mixture for this stuffing. If you have different veggies on hand, go ahead and swap! Stuffed squashes are a great way to empty the leftover veggies in the fridge from the week.
Stuffed Butterkin Squash

More real food recipes you might like ::

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Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Fall Inspired Part 1}

September 7, 2021

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

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Fall Inspired Part 1}

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

Getting back into the groove…

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

Before we get started!

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

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Fall Inspired Part 1}

School staples, and some lunchbox shortcut favorites

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

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

Staple store bought lunchbox sides

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

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

Staple dressings and dips

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

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

Veggie Soup Swaps

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

Copycat Alphabet Soup recipe from The Little Lunchbox Cookbook!

So let’s kick off this Fall Menu Plan!

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

Want to build your own meal plan?

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

Dinner swaps!

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

Pot Pie Soup dinner!
Batch Up Meals Breakfast Ideas Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Lunch Ideas Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips RGN Meal Plans

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 2}

July 12, 2021

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

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 2}

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

Summer lovin’!

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

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 2}

START HERE!!!

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

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 2}

Let’s talk summer outings and packed summer lunches

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

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 2}

Take advantage of your evening down time

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

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 2}

SUMMER MEAL PLAN PART 2!

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

Short and sweet!

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

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 2}
Breakfast Ideas Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Lunch Ideas Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips RGN Meal Plans

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 1}

June 12, 2021

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

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 1}

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

Sun, sand, and flip flops!

Those of you that have been around here for a while know that we spend most of our time at the beach in the summer! We don’t go through months of piled up snow for nothing! We truly live it up on some of the most gorgeous powdery sand beaches of our hometown during the summer months while the girls are home from school. Busy, fun summer days don’t mean we pull back on nutrition goals, though! In fact, these kids play so hard in the summer, I find I’m thinking about how to boost them even more during the summer.

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 1}

Our summer schedule…and how yours might look different!

Everyone’s summers look different. Some families don’t have a lot of change with parents working, so instead of going to school for the day, the children are at day camps for the day. That is great! Some families are at home more and have more time to put into meals. That’s great too! And many of us fall somewhere in the middle. Since I work from home, there is a bit more flexibility, though the work still needs to get done (with children at home and a house to still run!). It can get a bit sticky, but we have a flow that has worked well for us, and I hope to inspire you to work with what you have to keep real food on the table, no matter the schedule. Whether your schedule looks very different from the rest of the school year, or things are business as usual, I hope to show you how our family functions with meals during the warm summer months – and while the abundant produce is around!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 1}

How does summer change our family meal plan?

I look forward to summer mornings the most. All school year long, we have a time table to keep in order to get to school on time, so in the summer we truly enjoy slower mornings. Some families don’t have that flexibility, and that’s ok! Sometimes, as a work from home mom, I get up early to knock out some work before the kids get up. But, for the most part, coffee on the porch in my PJ’s is totally the summer morning flow, and I’m absolutely here for it. We swap warm winter oatmeal for cooler yogurt with power packed add-in’s, and some hot weather options like smoothies to swap for egg casseroles that don’t heat up the house, but are still nutrient dense. I do still cook though. You’ll see my thoughts below on “cooking” during the summer, and if that isn’t your jam, do what works for you! For my household, there are a few days a week that I like to still lightly cook for the morning meal for variety and to get an abundance of produce in. ***By the way! If your kiddos are taking packed “school lunch” type lunches for summer day camp each day, you might get more lunchbox inspiration with warmer weather ideas in my Spring Meal Plans Part 1 and Part 2. In the summer, our lunches aren’t always the pack-able kind since we are at home more, but you will find a lot of inspo in the spring when my girls are in school still! ALSO! My friend Kristin from Live Simply has GREAT summer lunchbox ideas on her Insta for her Florida kiddos (insert REALLY hot weather!) that do more day camps in the summer – great, hot weather summer lunchbox ideas there!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 1}

Tips for cooking in the heat

Just like many of you, our summer weather is warm. Actually, as frigid as our frozen tundra is in the winter, you’d never believe the humidity that Michigan can get – it truly feels like walking through a tropical rainforest sometimes! So, in the summer we do tend to do naturally do a bit less “cooking” than in the winter months, but I think some may be surprised that there is still some cooking going on during the warm months here.

  • Our ancestors would have cooked over open fires outside all year long, and I kind of take that thought process as we are looking at meals in our house during the summer. As “modern day” moved our kitchens from the outside to the inside, there may have been a shift to more convenience foods or pantry staples during the hot summer, but I encourage you think about how your ancestors, before kitchens being located in the homes, would have naturally eaten.
  • If you have a grill that is a great start! Cook outside to keep the house cool, just like your ancestors would have done!
  • Since we have modern day kitchens, we also have the convenience of having appliances that don’t heat the house up like a pressure cooker Instant Pot, or slow cooker. Take advantage of that!
  • If you’re going to cook, make it stretch into other meals. You’ll notice in the meal plan that if I’m putting my oven on in the summer, I’m making that meal stretch into the next day so I don’t have to turn it on again. I’ll split a whole chicken to cook in the oven in 1 hour instead of all day, and then use that meat for an easy meal the next day.
  • I think one of the biggest differences you will notice in my summer meal plan versus the rest of the school year, is that since the girls are home for lunch, I tend to do either quick dinner leftovers, or a quick pan saute of all those beautiful summer veggies to serve tossed with pasta, or grilled chicken. It is a huge budget saver to just use what veggies are in season, and skip all the lunchbox specialties and snacks. Sure, it’s fun to make granola bars, or energy bites, or pack healthier choice packaged snacks for school, but in the summer, simple pan cooking is budget friendly, and actually much faster than you think. Besides, I would rather be at the beach than baking granola bars!
Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 1}

What’s with the pan sautéed veggies on the meal plan, and how do you do it?

I mentioned above that since the girls are home for lunch during the summer, I tend to do pan cooked summer veggies for lunch a lot, unless we are on an outing with packed lunchboxes. It takes less than 10 minutes, and when you get those in season veggies it is SUCH a budget saver. To make pan cooked summer veggies, melt some butter, olive oil, or coconut oil in a pan over medium to medium high heat. Add the chopped veggies with a pinch of salt, and just cook until tender crisp. If your kiddos are younger ages, you can cut the pieces smaller, and cook them through a bit longer so they are softer to eat, but this is how I have served summer lunch since the girls were just 1 years old! You can grill chicken, fish, or burgers to serve with the veggies, or even serve them with a PBJ – we absolutely do that too!

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

More help means more outside play! Get the kids involved!

This really should be an all year thing, but especially when the kids are done with school work for the summer, it’s the perfect time to learn new kitchen skills – AND help with getting meals done so you can play outside more! No matter the age, everyone can help with something. My older girls take care of a couple of breakfasts per week, while my youngest helps me prep just about any meal. And I never wash a breakfast or lunch dish in the summer. <– Read that again! It’s true! When they were younger, did these tasks always “help” me? NOPE! A lot of times it took longer and made a bigger mess. But the skills they learn when they are little are SO helpful as they get older. You can check out this post for some help on navigating teaching your kids how to help you more in the kitchen!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 1}

Remember to think about WHERE you live, and how things grow where you live…

Where I live may have a different growing season than where you live. Summer where you live might also look differently than where I live. We have a very abundant summer growing season in Michigan. While it is pretty slow going in the winter, we can pick vegetables and fruit to our heart’s content all summer long. There are U-Pick patches, farm stands, and farmer’s markets on just about every corner, bursting at the seams through the first part of fall. If that isn’t how it is where you live, that’s ok! Just keep that in mind as you look at our meal plan, and just tailor the produce part to your environment!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 1}

Tell me about those popsicles on the meal plan!

They are literally whatever fruit we are picking that week, blended up, and frozen. That is truly how I roll in the summer! There is nothing fancy to it. We have had this ice pop container for years and years, and still use it all summer long to this day. Blend up whatever is in season, and the kids can have a frozen, in-season summer fruit after lunch in the summer. Give this easy blend up and pour task to the kids to do, and take one thing off your plate!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 1}

SUMMER MEAL PLAN PART 1!

Here is a free PDF of Summer Meal Plan Part 1! Right below the image will be a blank version, in case you want to fill in your own!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 1}

Want to build your own plan?

Here is a FREE Blank PDF Meal Plan so you can sit down with your family and fill in what works for you!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Summer Inspired Part 1}
Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Instant Pot Lunch Ideas Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Fresh Green Bean Salad

May 19, 2021

Warm or cold, this fresh green bean salad is the perfect veggie side dish change up any time of the year!

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

Our summer happy place

We endure a pretty long cold season in order to enjoy quite possibly the most amazing place in the world to spend summer – the beautiful coastline of Lake Michigan! There is really nothing like it! We have finally hit a warm spurt and it doesn’t even matter that the lake hasn’t warmed up yet! My crew is all in, and we are ready for a few months of sandy barefoot days.

Fresh Green Bean Salad

A summer produce favorite

Green beans are one of the only garden items I can grow like weeds. Our dune-sandy soil is so hard for growing some things, but green beans – I can do that! The girls adore green beans too, so it really works out! As your summer green bean harvest starts coming in, or you see piles of them at the local farmer’s market, grab a big bag full, and try out this fun veggie side with your summer BBQ, or a big juicy burger!

Fresh Green Bean Salad

Simple ingredients

Summer is definitely not the time to be spending loads of time in the kitchen. We only get a few months out of the year to really enjoy all that warm sunshine, so I want to be outside as much of our summer days as possible! This summer salad can be put together in 10 minutes and just hang out in the fridge to be your easy lunch or dinner side dish all week. A simple pound of summer green beans, pretty cherry tomatoes, and a handful of walnuts get tossed with a pantry friendly dressing that shakes right up in a little jar. It doesn’t get much simpler than that – perfect for summer!

Fresh Green Bean Salad

Green bean steaming method options

For this green bean salad, I very lightly steam the green beans. You could potentially serve them raw, but I do find that the dressing soaks in a bit better and is better over the course of days if you give the green beans a light steam, or at the very least, a quick blanch. Here are some steaming options:

  • For the INSTANT POT put 1 cup of water in the bottom of the pot, put the green beans in the steamer basket inside the pot, put the IP lid on, and seal the valve. Press the STEAM feature and bring the time down to “0” minutes. The IP will come to pressure in about 5 minutes in and then be done since you set the time to 0. Release the valve immediately.
  • For an ELECTRIC STEAMER, or if using a STEAMER BASKET OVER BOILING WATER, put the green beans in the steamer and set the timer for 5 minutes.
  • You could also blanch the green beans if you really want a very crisp bean salad.
Fresh Green Bean Salad

Fuss free prep

10 minutes! I promise! Maybe even less if your veggies are already washed up! While your green beans have a quick steam, you’ll make the dressing. You probably already have all of the ingredients right in your pantry to shake up the dressing in the jar. Once the dressing is ready, the cherry tomatoes get sliced, and the walnuts can get a quick chop. Then you’ll toss the lightly steamed green beans with the dressing, tomatoes, and walnuts, and you’re done!

Fresh Green Bean Salad

Serve it cold or warm!

If you happen to get a chance, enjoy a few bites of your freshly tossed green bean salad while it’s warm! Absolute heaven! If it feels like 100 degrees outside, I’m sure the chilled salad fit your menu the best, but if you happen to change up your meal plan in the winter, you can enjoy the cozy warmth of the salad right out of the steamer.

Fresh Green Bean Salad

Nut free friends, and other swaps!

If you are nut free, swap out the nuts for sunflower seeds to add some texture to the salad. I also think that if you have the time to give the walnuts or sunflower seeds a quick 2 minute toast in the saute pan, you’ll really enjoy the flavor that brings. If you are a household that can do dairy, parmesan is a fun addition. And if your kiddos are more Ranch style salad kids, I say swap the dressing for your favorite healthy Ranch if that will make them more willing to try a new salad – you’re still a fantastic momma in my book! You can try my classic Ranch, or, if you are dairy free, use this Paleo Ranch or this better choice store bought Ranch.

Fresh Green Bean Salad

Fresh Green Bean Salad

Ingredients

For the dressing:

For the green bean salad:

  • 1 lb fresh green beans trimmed and cut in half
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes halved
  • ½ cup walnuts coarsely chopped
  • 1 recipe of the dressing from above

Instructions

  • Put all of the dressing ingredients into a small mason jar with a lid and shake vigorously for 1 minute until combined. Set the dressing in the fridge to chill while you make the rest of the salad.
  • Steam the green beans to crisp tender. You could do this a few different ways. For the INSTANT POT put 1 cup of water in the bottom of the pot, put the green beans in the steamer basket inside the pot, put the IP lid on, and seal the valve. Press the STEAM feature and bring the time down to “0” minutes. The IP will come to pressure in about 5 minutes in and then be done since you set the time to 0. Release the valve immediately. For an ELECTRIC STEAMER, or if using a STEAMER BASKET OVER BOILING WATER, put the green beans in the steamer and set the timer for 5 minutes. You could also blanch the green beans if you really want a very crisp bean salad.
  • Once the green beans are lightly steamed, add them to a medium serving bowl, and toss with the cherry tomatoes, walnuts, and dressing. You can use half the dressing if you want it lightly dressed, or all of it – I would recommend starting with half to see how you like it! Sometimes I use about half and keep the other half for a salad later in the week. Keep in mind that the dressing will soak into the veggies a little bit too. You can eat the salad warm, or chill in the fridge.

Notes

  • This salad stays good in the fridge for 5-7 days. Make some up on a busy week to pull from all week long!
  • You can use a tasteless healthy oil, such as avocado oil, if your crew doesn’t love the taste of olive oil. 
  • This salad and the dressing double up for a crowd very nicely. This amount feeds my family of 5 for a side dish plus a little leftover.
  • Balsamic vinegar makes a delicious swap for red wine vinegar to change things up. White wine vinegar is another way to change it up a bit.
  • Lemon or lime juice will work but I do love the lime the best!
Fresh Green Bean Salad

More real food recipes you might like ::

Breakfast Ideas Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Lunch Ideas Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips RGN Meal Plans

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Spring Inspired Part 2}

May 13, 2021

Use this fresh, spring inspired meal plan for your growing family!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Spring Inspired Part 2}

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

Finally!

I know you all have been waiting longer than you have wanted for Part 2 of this spring meal plan, and I thank you for your patience! It’s been a whirlwind of a spring – a welcomed whirlwind, with zoo visits, birthday celebrations, and lots of parks!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Spring Inspired Part 2}

Read this first!

While we are creeping closer to needing summer meal plans, I still wanted to show you how to spin off that Spring Meal Plan 1 into this Spring Meal Plan 2. I had purposely put some food items on Meal Plan 1 that could be flowed another week to keep the time in your kitchen down, and I wanted to show you how to do that. I also added in more meal double duty in Part 2, and I really think you will like this flow! If you have not checked out Spring Meal Plan 1, you’ll want to take a peek at that first – this meal plan will make a bit more sense after seeing that!

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Spring Inspired Part 2}

Yes, we are still in school!

I know many of our friends to the south are wrapping the school year up in the next week or so, but up here in Michigan we don’t start school until late August, and so we are packing those lunchboxes until about mid-June in these parts! You’ll see our lunch routine change up a little bit in my summer meal plans, but for this meal plan, keep in mind the girls’ lunches in the plan are still packed up for school.

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Spring Inspired Part 2}

Let’s talk about special days and swapping treats!

I wanted to use my spring meal plan space to talk a little bit about special days! We have 2 spring birthdays in our house, and we absolutely want to celebrate that! If you have special celebrations, no matter the time of year, please swap some special meals in your these meal plans! As a for instance, perhaps the weekend of a special birthday you swap the breakfast for birthday scones or a coffee cake. And there may even be a night that you get to take the family out for a special birthday dinner, or end of the school year celebration.

Gluten Free Funfetti® Birthday Scones! :: Gluten, Egg, & Nut Free

FAQ’s!

If you haven’t taken a peek at the first 2 meal plans I created this year, there is some helpful information in both of those. Even if you don’t need winter inspired meals, you’ll want to check out the information on how to balance macro-nutrients for your kids, meal planning baby steps, food availability, (all of these points are in the Winter Meal Plan 1 post), and also how my husband fits into the meal plan as a commuter (in Winter Meal Plan 2).

Kid Friendly Veggie Loaded Tacos

SPRING MEAL PLAN PART 2!

Here is a free PDF of my Part 2 Spring Inspired Meal Plan! Right below the image will be a blank version, in case you want to fill in your own!

Want to build your own plan?

I’m all about that! here is a free blank PDF of the meal plan so you can sit down with the family and create your own plan of attack!

SUMMER is almost here!

I’ll be back soon with some summer inspiration very soon!

Raising Generation Nourished 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}
Condiments Dinner Ideas Lunch Ideas Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips school lunches

Dairy Free Caesar Dressing

April 20, 2021

Free from common allergens, this delicious dairy free Caesar dressing is also gluten free, soy free, nut free, egg free, and fish free!

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

Spring teases, and a need for some dairy free staples

I *think* we’ll see the last of our cold weather snow flurries this week, and we can finally say we are on our way to some consistent spring like temps here in Michigan! We spent a cool but pleasant weekend hiking and even playing at the beach, and while I watched my crew race up and down the shoreline, I was thinking about just how far I’ve come in a health related sort of way.

Dairy Free Caesar Dressing

A marathon, not a sprint

As I watched my kids sprint across the sand, I thought about how I had to change my thought process toward getting healthy so long ago. More of a “sprinter” in all things life, I have had to grow and change my method to more of a marathoner’s mindset. And you know what? Sprinters and marathoner’s are both great athletes. But when it comes to healing decades of growing up in a conventional, standard American health sort of environment, sprinting is only going to lead to more injury. It takes time to heal decades. I’ve had a recent set back toward the end of winter, and while I’m on my way, I have had to learn the hard way that while I’d like to sprint myself back into feeling my normal, a marathon mindset is really where it’s at.

Dairy Free Caesar Dressing

Peeling back the layers

I have had more than one natural minded practitioner remind me that most healing journeys are like peeling onions. There are layers and layers of them, and before you can get to the center root of the onion, you have to get through the surface layers first. A chiropractor friend reminded me of this last week, and I’m hoping someone here needs to hear it too. There are layers of natural elements, like diet, mineral balance, and hydration. And there are also layers of lifestyle, such as sleep, stress, and activity levels. I’ve been working on the later, with over-exercising and not paying enough attention to stress…a very tough admission for this “Type A!” One layer I DO know how to help with, however is food. And if you need to have inflammatory foods out of your diet for a period of time for healing, I’ve got you covered, dear momma. I have been there, done that, and I have some recipe tricks up my sleeve that I hope will help you!

Dairy Free Caesar Dressing

Our favorite Caesar, done without dairy

One of the first recipes I posted to this blog was a recipe for Caesar dressing. It was *the* dressing helped me successfully get my husband off store bought dressings years ago, and has been a staple around here for a while. But the dressing has dairy and egg, which can be inflammatory for those that are healing. Over the years when I have had seasons like I am in right now where I need to strictly be dairy free, I have played around with other ways to make it without the cheese, sour cream, and eggs, and I’m finally getting it here on the blog! This Caesar dressing is a handful of years in the the trial and error making, and I can proudly say it is free from dairy, gluten, soy, nuts, and egg…and it still passes my Caesar dressing critic husband’s taste test!

Dairy Free Caesar Dressing

Dairy Free Caesar Dressing Method

It really doesn’t get any easier than a 5 minute prep, and I’m pretty sure that whether you are on a healing journey or not, less work is music to your ears! I don’t even use measuring cups. Simply use the marks on the side of a pint mason jar and measure to the 1/2 cup mark for the olive oil. Then spoon in your coconut yogurt until the line hits the 3/4 cup mark. The rest is all measuring spoon, and goes so fast. Finally, you’ll use a simple immersion blender to emulsify the dressing into the dreamiest creamy texture!

Dairy Free Caesar Dressing

Important Notes!

Please take the time to read through the Notes section in the recipe card! I have been making this dairy free version of Caesar for a while, and I took the time to write down some of my thoughts on swaps and switches, as well as how to tailor this dressing to fit your unique taste palate!

Dairy Free Caesar Dressing

Dairy Free Caesar Dressing

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a pint mason jar, measure the olive oil to the ½ cup mark, then add the 1/4 cup of coconut yogurt to fill until the ¾ cup mark on the mason jar (you could use measuring cups too, but this is my favorite way, and is less to clean up!).
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and use an immersion blender to emulsify until creamy and combined. Blend with the immersion blender for about 30 seconds to a minute.
  • Store the Caesar dressing in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Notes

  • If you are egg free, leave the yolk out and add an extra couple tablespoons of coconut yogurt for the creaminess.
  • If you don’t have an immersion blender, you could add all of the ingredients EXCEPT the olive oil to a food processor or blender. Then, while the blender is running, you can drizzle the olive oil into the blender so that it can slowly emulsify the dressing until creamy.
  • Add an extra tablespoon of lemon juice if you like your dressing tangier. The recipe as written is very kid friendly, but I love extra tang, so when I make it for myself I use 2 tbsp – about a full lemon.
  • Add an extra tablespoon of nutritional yeast flakes if you want the dressing to taste cheesier.
  • If you don’t have coconut aminos, you can leave this out, but it does add a depth of flavor that I just love – traditional sardines would add this too if you have those.
  • If you want to use a neutral/flavorless oil, avocado oil works well and is safe, healthy oil. The olive oil flavor gets pretty covered up by all of the other ingredients, but I know some kids might be sensitive to that taste, and avocado oil is flavorless. Really good olive oil is known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties, so I always ready for the olive oil when I can, and my kids really like the taste of it.
  • I get the big, 32oz tubs of plain, unsweetened coconut yogurt from our local grocer for a very budget friendly price. Many regular grocers are carrying this now, just take a look!
Dairy Free Caesar Dressing

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Kid Friendly Veggie Loaded Tacos

April 14, 2021

Learn how to get veggies into taco night with this kid friendly method of veggie loading taco meat!

Kid Friendly Veggie Loaded Tacos

Taco night and our first spring dip in the lake!

Lake Michigan is 37 degrees, and that, my friends, means I’m barefoot in the beach sand trying to soak in some early spring sun rays while these little Michigan born and bread kiddos of mine are in the water and happy as little larks! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I can help you with those main staples that are on everyone’s meal plan list, by amping up the nutrient level while still keeping them kid favorites.

Kid Friendly Veggie Loaded Tacos

Taco Tuesday…Amplified!

I would venture to say that most households have a staple taco night. It is an easy kid favorite, familiar, and obviously so delicious too! Sometimes I over look the obvious staples to blog because I figure everyone knows how to make a taco right? But do you know how to make a taco that isn’t just meat a cheese? Something that will get some mineral rich veggies and fiber into the kids without the kids complaining? Without having to add the taco meat to a salad? Not that there is anything wrong with a salad, but I’ve been in those little kid years, dear momma! I know salads are not always first pick. And toddlers don’t always digest or chew salads very easily. They also will be full after one or 2 taco shells with taco filling…so let’s get more in every bite!

Kid Friendly Veggie Loaded Tacos

Making every bite count…taco style!

Little kids have little bellies. And while I have been the witness to bottomless pit kid appetites, when my girls were very little I found out very quickly that 1 or 2 tacos was about all their bellies could hold, so I had to make those bites count. The secret to veggie loading tacos is all about mixing the meat with veggies that have been cooked with the right technique….a slow, flavorful sauté. Sure, this does add about 10 minutes to your cook-time, but it will be so worth it. And one of the best parts about taco meat is that it can be done in advance on a prep-day, and even frozen for easier weeknights!

Kid Friendly Veggie Loaded Tacos

Older kid & teen benefits

Veggie loading tacos isn’t just beneficial for filling up little bellies. Those growing teenagers can seriously put the food away! Filling them up on protein is important, but fiber rich veggies will help fill up those appetites and help them feel fuller longer. Another benefit to veggie loading the meat is that the added extra veggie mineral nutrients is so vital to the function of all of their organs – hello teenage hormones! Hormones need these mineral nutrients from veggies to function properly, and this is a great way to get those in. And even better if your teen likes a big taco salad – double the veg!

Kid Friendly Veggie Loaded Tacos

Two Birds, One Stone…Veggie Loading & Budgets!

While my main focus in veggie loading these tacos is to get more veggies into your kids, I want to also help you see that this method of making taco meat really stretches that pound or 2 of ground beef for your hungry crew. My family of 5 can pound out a pound of taco meat and then some. But when I veggie load taco meat, not only does the volume of taco meat almost double, giving us more to fill into those taco shells, it is also getting fiber rich veggies into hungry bellies to fill them up.

Kid Friendly Veggie Loaded Tacos

A note about taco seasoning

You can swap the DIY taco seasoning for 1-2 packets of taco seasoning – just be real careful on those ingredient lists – staying organic usually helps with avoiding MSG, GMO’s, and other fillers. Also keep in mind that packets (even many organic ones) add starches, so you will need more bone broth or water because those starches thicken things up. I keep a jar of my DIY taco seasoning doubled or tripled up in my cupboard so it is easy to pull out on taco night.

Kid Friendly Veggie Loaded Tacos

Tips for families with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers

Dear momma, if you have an older baby or toddler, I would invite you to take my “jump in with both feet” method of feeding littles, and just add the veggies in without taking too much care to dice them up super fine. Obviously make it small enough for them to handle in their mouths, but I truly believe that my girls never batted an eye at any meal, from spaghetti to tacos, being “veggie loaded” in their lives because we started them out that way. Babies and toddlers have ZERO frame of reference for what a “taco” should look like. <—Read that again! If this is all they have ever known, it is exactly what they will grow up being used to! In fact when I veggie load these tacos, I typically double the spinach in this recipe – feel free to add more if you wish.

Kid Friendly Veggie Loaded Tacos

Tips for families with older kids and teens

If you have older kids used to “normal” tacos I have a few tips for you to ease them into this idea!

  • First of all, don’t make it a big deal – you make it a big deal and they will feed off that. I would actually just try the taco meat with the chopped veggies, and if they ask what it is, simply tell them! Don’t try to hide it – that really creates some trust issues. Just treat them like normal human beings, and be honest with them.
  • If you know for sure this is going to be a battle, try starting out with half of the veggies recommended here and work up to the full amount. As I said in the section above, this is actually toned down from my usual amount of veggies, but you can bring it down a couple of notches to work up to the full amount.
  • Try using a food processor to really finely chop the veggies so they are truly barely noticeable. Once the taco season is in the mixture, there is zero veggie taste – promise. But I know that some kids have texture issues, so perhaps making the veg super small will help ease those kids into this. In all actuality, the sauté and simmer cooking times really make the veggies very soft and manageable, but I do know that some children can be veggie detectives 🙂
Kid Friendly Veggie Loaded Tacos
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Kid Friendly Veggie Loaded Tacos

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp friendly fat for cooking in butter, olive oil, avocado oil, tallow, etc
  • 1 small onion diced
  • ½ small red bell pepper diced
  • ½ small head of cabbage sliced thin or shredded
  • 1 large carrot shredded
  • 2-3 cups baby spinach finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 4 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1 cup bone broth or water
  • Sea salt/pepper if needed to taste

Instructions

  • In a large skillet, melt the fat over medium heat. Add the onion, pepper, cabbage, and carrot with a big pinch of sea salt, and cook over medium high heat until the veggies are soft and sweet. This will take about 5-10 minutes depending on how small you chopped the veggies (smaller chopped veggies will cook faster).
  • Add the spinach, garlic, ground beef, taco season, and broth to the pan. Break up the beef, and cook the veggies, beef, and broth together for over medium high heat, until the broth comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, stirring occasionally until the beef is cooked through, and the broth is reduced all the way down so that the taco mixture isn't runny. This takes about 10 minutes.
  • Serve your veggie loaded taco meat with traditional taco shells (we love these blue corn shells or yellow corn shells) or soft shell tortillas with toppings, or over a big salad to make a taco salad (use this French dressing or Fiesta Dressing for the salad!)

Notes

  • Instead of chopping, you could put all of the veggies in a food processor to chop up super small. This is a good technique for kids that don’t like “pieces” in their food, or have aversions to veggies. They will cook down and get so small you’ll never see them this way.
  • You can swap the DIY taco seasoning for 1-2 packets of taco seasoning – just be real careful on those ingredient lists – staying organic usually helps. Also keep in mind that packets add starches, so you will need more bone broth or water because those starches thicken things up.
  • When my kids were little, they always struggled with managing a taco and it’s fillings! I got these little taco holders and they are game changers! 
Kid Friendly Veggie Loaded Tacos

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Rainbow Broccoli Salad

March 24, 2021

All of the colors of the rainbow in this healthier choice broccoli salad with less sugar, no dairy, and lots of fun, flavorful veggies kids will love!

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

Glimpses of warmer weather

Michigan likes to do this thing in the spring, where it plays around with 60 degrees one day, and back down to 30 degrees the next day. But my goodness, has spring ever been nice to us this year so far! Lake Michigan is thawed out, our toes are in the sand, and we are ready for warmer weather sides, like fresh spring and summer salads!

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

A better choice broccoli salad…that still tastes amazing!

I’ve been a sucker for a creamy broccoli salad even as a kid. Most broccoli salads are loaded with cheese, bacon, loads of dairy, and sugar…a lot of sugar. Usually anywhere from a quarter to half cup of white sugar is in the typical broccoli salad recipe. What’s not to love about that, right?! I knew when my oldest got to the age where she could manage salads and raw veggies to eat that I had to figure out a better way to make one of my favorite salads with way less sugar. And not that there is anything wrong with cheese, bacon, and dairy, but there is something wrong with the picture when the star of the show in a salad is anything but the veggies. I wanted to teach my girls that salads and veggies can taste amazing without being covered up by sugar.

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

Tips for making raw salads like broccoli salad kid friendly

Be sure to pay attention to the Notes section in the recipe card of this post. There are tips and tricks mentioned that will make salads like this easier for little kids to eat, and your older kids will be more likely to accept this new food keeping some things in mind:

  • When chopping the broccoli and cabbage, remember that if you have real little ones, taking the time to finely chop the veg will really help with their ease of being able to spoon the salad and manage chewing it in their small mouths! As they get a little older, you can leave the pieces bigger.
  • If your kids are funny about the pungency of onion pieces, sub the finely chopped onion for 1-2 tsp of onion powder. My kids love the flavor of sweet onions raw when they are cut up small, but I know that is not always the case. If you have littles, don’t shy away from at least trying. This is how my girls’ palates were formed young! Mince them up and try it!
  • Change up the veggies! Beets and tomatoes swap well for the red. I love using roasted butternut squash for the orange, and did this often when the girls were very little – the sweetness is amazing for little ones and the soft squash is so easy to chew. You can use green cabbage too! Add a little bite of pretty fruit to the bowl if you think the kids will like that. My girls typically complain the salad is too sweet when I do this, but yours might like it! My favorite is pineapple or apple, but raisins and blueberries work nicely too.
Rainbow Broccoli Salad

The Method :: The Dressing

One bowl side dishes are totally my jam. The dressing consists of 4 simple ingredients that get whisked up right in the bowl that you will serve the salad in. Less dishes, and less prep time! The creamy base is lightly sweetened with a spoonful of raw honey instead of white sugar, and it is plenty sweet. Keeping the vinegar amount lower helps with not needing to add as much sweetener as well. I prefer more of a bite to my broccoli salad, so I tend to add a splash of vinegar to my bowl. You can always add some raw shreds of apple or pineapple to the salad if the kids are already used to a sweet broccoli salad. Using fruit is a much better choice than adding more sugar.

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

The Method :: The Veggies

I think you’ll find that chopping the veggies really small is worth the time that it takes. The kids will be able to spoon it easier, and your little ones will chew smaller raw veggie pieces easier this. Chop the veggies up and toss them with the simple dressing and the salad is ready to eat!

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

Yogurt and Mayonnaise Options

There are so many ways to make the creamy base for the dressing suit your dietary needs. If you don’t have any dietary restrictions, plain yogurt and your favorite healthy oil based mayo will do the trick. If you are dairy free, you can swap the regular yogurt for full fat coconut yogurt, or just use all mayo and thin it out with a little splash non-dairy milk like coconut milk or a nut milk. Our favorite store bought mayo using healthy fats is Sir Kensington’s Avocado Oil Mayo that we get for a great price at Costco. There are so many avocado oil mayonnaise choices for great prices now though, even if you don’t have access to Costco. If you are egg free, store bought mayo can be super tough. But I have a solution! There are 2 egg free mayo options on the blog. This Simple Egg Free Mayonnaise is dairy based if you can have that. And this Paleo Mayo is dairy and egg free.

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

More than just a dinner side!

Meal prep this Rainbow Broccoli Salad on Sunday, and you can use it for your a lunchbox veggie side for the kids, and also for your lunches. This kind of preparing helps keep kitchen food prep time at a reasonable amount for busy families. Broccoli salad packs fantastic in lunchboxes, and is such a great change up from regular veggie sticks. To pack Rainbow Broccoli Salad in a lunchbox, I would suggest a leakproof container, or something that seals the sides a bit. For my youngest’s Rover Planetbox shown below (she is 7), we use the little silicone cups that come with the Planetboxes that seal up to the sides. The salad is not drippy, but just in case a little condensation is there, it will prevent little drips. My older girls (almost 12 and 10) have the larger, Launch Planetbox, and they use the bigger Rounds bowl with a lid that the Planetboxes come with for their salads since they are bigger. When packing for little kids, remember the veggies don’t need to be the star of the show for a long school day and a short lunch period. I save bigger veggie portions for her breakfast and/or dinners. Time is of the essence when at school, so I want her filling up on protein and fat packed bites of food. My older girls can eat a bit quicker so they pack bigger salads.

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

Rainbow Broccoli Salad

Ingredients

  • ½ cup full fat yogurt or coconut yogurt
  • 1/3 cup avocado mayonnaise see Notes for homemade mayo options
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • ½ small onion finely chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper diced
  • 1 large carrot peeled and shredded
  • 1 head of broccoli florets chopped to bite sized (see Notes)
  • ½ head of a small purple cabbage sliced into thin, short strips (see Notes)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste if needed

Instructions

  • Whisk the yogurt, mayo, vinegar, and honey in a medium mixing bowl until smooth.
  • Toss the veggies with the dressing in the mixing bowl, and taste for salt and pepper. Serve the salad right away or hours later – as the flavors marry, the salad gets even better!
  • Store your Rainbow Broccoli Salad in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes

  • If you are egg and dairy free, try my Paleo mayo! Or if you are egg free but can have dairy, you can try my egg free, dairy based mayo. Any clean, crisp vinegar will work for the dressing.
  • If your kids are funny about the pungency of onion pieces, sub the finely chopped onion for 1-2 tsp of onion powder. My kids love the flavor of sweet onions raw, but I know that is not always the case. If you have littles, don’t shy away from at least trying. This is how my girls’ palates were formed young! Mince them up and try it!
  • Try multiple colors of bell peppers to boost the color even more! When chopping the broccoli and cabbage, remember that if you have real little ones, taking the time to finely chop the veg will really help with their ease of being able to spoon the salad and manage chewing it in their small mouths! As they get a little older, you can leave the pieces bigger.
  • Change up the veggies! Beets and tomatoes swap well for the red. I love using roasted butternut squash for the orange, and did this often when the girls were very little – the sweetness is amazing for little ones and the soft squash is so easy to chew. You can use green cabbage too!
  • Add a little bite of pretty fruit to the bowl if you think the kids will like that. My girls typically complain the salad is too sweet when I do this, but yours might like it! My favorite is pineapple or apple, but raisins and blueberries work nicely too.
Rainbow Broccoli Salad

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Creamy Cabbage Soup

March 15, 2021

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

Creamy Cabbage Soup

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

It’s been over 15 years.

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

Back to the basics

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

Creamy Cabbage Soup

Breakfast Soup

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

Cabbage…nutrient packed and anti-inflammatory

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

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

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

Creamy Cabbage Soup

Simple, easy soup making method

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

Creamy Cabbage Soup

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

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

Creamy Cabbage Soup

Creamy Cabbage Soup

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

February 17, 2021

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

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

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

Winter Inspired Part 2!

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

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

Winter Inspiration

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

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

A note about my husband!

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

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

Warm meals for cold days

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

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

Let’s talk about lunchbox food products!

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

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 2}

SO! Let’s get started!

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

Want to build your own meal plan?

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

Winter Inspired Dinners to Swap in the Dinner Section

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

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

Spring is right around the corner!

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

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

Nourishing 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}

January 30, 2021

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

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

Finally!

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

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

Balancing Macros {Fats, Protein, Carbohydrates}

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

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

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

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

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

Meal Planning Baby Steps

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

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

A quick note about location, seasonal food, and availability

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

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

SO! Let’s get started!

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

Want to build your own meal plan?

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

Winter Inspired Dinners to Swap in the Dinner Section

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

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

Stay tuned…

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

Raising Generation Nourished 2 Week Meal Plan {Winter Inspired Part 1}
Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Nourishing Staples Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

January 9, 2021

Add this easy, 20 minute skillet chicken and kale with garlic mushroom sauce dinner to your busy weekday menu!

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom 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.

Happy new year!

I took a look back at some of my new year recipe posts over the years this week, and I noticed a trend. They are all about getting back to the grind, eating well, but with kids in mind. Because those little guys don’t feed themselves, and they sure as the sun aren’t going to eat a boring kale salad everyday just because you have a few health goals 😉 {Go on ahead and call the real food police on that one – they already know I am not a fan of kale salads 🙂 }

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

Get the kale in, but in a kid friendly way!

The kids need to eat dinner too – and you don’t want to be a short order cook, I’m guessing. Veggie variety is the key, dear momma. Those kids don’t need kale everyday – and quite honestly, neither do you. We have a variety of veggies, every color of the rainbow, available to us for a reason. Those colors equal different nutrients, so it is important to change it up. But on those days that you’re going to get those dark green leafy nutrients in, you might as well make them taste amazing…amiright?!

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

All in one skillet dinner in 20 minutes?!

YES please! We all need yummy weeknight dinners that are easy to make, and don’t fill up the sink with a load of dishes. You’ll need a pot to boil your pasta in if you choose to serve with pasta, but the rest of the dinner is done in one skillet in about the time that it will take the boil the water and cook the pasta – and that is a recipe for the perfect weeknight dinner!

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

The Method :: The Chicken

I have a secret place in my heart for the delicious flavor of seared chicken thighs, but if you are more of a chicken breast person, you can totally use that. Simply whisk the seasoning in a shallow dish, coat the chicken, and sear it off in a super hot skillet. The key to the flavor is allowing it to form a little golden crust!

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce
Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

The Method :: The Flavorful Veggies

There is just something magic about a hot skillet, sliced mushrooms, and a little time. The golden color after cooking mushrooms is big flavor that will infuse the creamy sauce along with the garlic – don’t skip this part! It doesn’t take long! And one of the reasons I chose fast cooking veggies like kale and frozen green beans is so that you don’t have to spend extra time cooking that part. You’ll simply add the kale into the pan after the mushrooms turn golden and make the rest of the sauce. The green beans will cook while the sauce simmers. And bonus! All of these veggies have fat soluble vitamins – so eating them with the fatty cream sauce not only makes them easier to eat for kids, it makes the vitamins absorb better for their growing bodies!

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce
Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce
Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

The Method :: The Dairy Free Cream Sauce

I know what you’re thinking…how can you get a cream sauce without dairy?! I also know what your first thought will be when you see coconut milk. Let me be the first one to tell you – I am not a fan of coconut…of any kind! So let that be the proof that the sauce doesn’t taste like coconut – it really takes on the flavors of the rest of the skillet, and just leaves a super creamy heaven for the chicken and veggies to soak in. {You can call the real food police on the coconut admission too…they already know it isn’t my fav!} And a quick note for those that tolerate dairy – cream or whole milk will work just fine here if you would rather use that.

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

To pasta, or not to pasta?

If you have kiddos, and they can tolerate pasta of any kind, I’m thinking you’re going to find the dinner goes down even easier mixed with some fun pasta! Whether you like regular pasta, or gluten free, there are so many healthier choice varieties these days, and if you are off pasta for a bit, you can just serve your plate without the pasta. I think it tastes amazing over a baked potato or sweet potato.

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

Skillet Chicken & Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 5-6 boneless chicken thighs
  • 4-6 tbsp olive oil ghee, or butter
  • 6 oz mushrooms sliced
  • 2-3 cups chopped kale
  • 5 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup white wine broth would be fine here
  • 1 ¼ cups full fat coconut milk or cream/milk
  • 2 handfuls of frozen green beans
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooked pasta of choice to serve over About 3 cups dry pasta. I use the Gluten Free Jovial or Tinkyada rice pastas

Instructions

  • Whisk the basil, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper in a large dish until combined. Pat dry the chicken thighs and toss them with the seasonings in the dish until the chicken is coated well. You can do this up to 24 hours in advance. If you season the chicken in advance, put plastic wrap around the dish and place it in the refrigerator until you are ready to make dinner.
  • Melt 4 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the seasoned chicken thighs to cook until both sides are golden brown on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side. Take the browned chicken thighs out of the skillet onto a plate and set aside while you cook the veggies and sauce. *Keep all the leftover oil and browned bits in the skillet to cook the rest of the veggies in – so much flavor!
  • Melt another 1 tbsp of ghee in the skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes until the mushrooms are fragrant and golden. Add the kale and garlic and cook for a minute or two.
  • Bring the heat up to medium high, and add the wine to deglaze the pan, simmering for a minute or 2. Add the coconut milk and green beans, stir, and bring to a simmer. Put the cooked chicken thighs in the skillet sauce, and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  • Serve the chicken with mushroom garlic sauce over cooked GF pasta of choice. If you are grain free, you can serve this over a baked potato or sweet potato!

Notes

  • If you have fresh green beans versus frozen, you’ll just have to cook them in the pan a bit longer but it does work.
  • You can use spinach instead of kale, but it does cook up faster, so just add it at the end to wilt in.
Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

More real food recipes you might like!

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Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

December 30, 2020

Healthy comfort food for your dinner rotation! Stuffed Butternut Squash packed with flavor, and creamy without the dairy or gluten!

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & 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.

Happy new year!

How about a new dinner idea for your menu rotation this winter? We’ve been enjoying these stuffed butternut squashes all fall long, and my girls have devoured enough of them that I thought it about time to share the recipe with you!

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

Fancy presentation, easy peasy prep!

I know the idea of a stuffed squash seems time consuming, but it really is very little hands-on time. The oven does most of the work for you, and you can get so much done while dinner is in the oven! You could even roast the squash on a prep day if you do that, so that it is ready to go during the week. This also makes the perfect weekend comfort dinner when you do have a bit more time at home!

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

The Method :: The Roasted Squash

A simple slice down the length of the butternut squash is all the cutting you need to do for this squash dinner. No peeling or dicing – my kind of dinner prep! After you scoop the seeds out, rub some olive oil over the flesh and sprinkle salt and pepper and you’ll be hands free while the squash caramelizes and sweetens in the oven.

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

The Method :: The Filling

While your squash is roasting, the filling can be made in about 15 minutes. That gives you plenty of time to clean up the kitchen, help with homework, or tend to kiddos while the squash finishes roasting! To make the filling you’ll sweeten your aromatics before adding some grassfed ground beef. The nutritional yeast adds a cheesy flavor to the cream sauce without cheese! Heaven! Once the veggies and beef are cooked, you’ll coat them in potato starch so that the coconut milk will thicken once it hits the pan. You can swap an starchy flour you like here from tapioca to arrowroot. I leave the broccoli to add until the end so it doesn’t get too mushy. If you prefer your broccoli very soft you could add it earlier. The creamy filling is just so decadent and flavorful!

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

The Method :: Assembling and Roasting the Stuffed Squash

Once your squash is finished roasting, you’ll easily be able to scoop little spoonful’s of the soft squash into your skillet filling. This does 2 things – it makes a perfect little well for the skillet filling to stuff into the squash, and secondly it stirs into the skillet filling, making it even creamier and buttery in taste! After stirring the squash into the filling, you can “stuff” the squash! A little sprinkle of the almond flour based topping and the stuffed squash is ready for the oven!

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

An Important Note on Squash Size and Doubling!

Most of the time when I am grocery shopping, I pick out the short, fat little butternut squashes. I would consider them to be “small” butternut squashes. The recipe as written uses a small butternut squash, and feeds my family of 5 for one meal. If you need more servings, this recipe doubles very easily. You could use 2 small butternut squashes, or one large. I feel like the large butternut squashes take longer to roast, so when I do want more leftover, I tend to just make 2 small butternut squashes in a large, 9×13 baking pan, so they cook faster. And let me tell you, the leftovers are *ahhh-mazing* for breakfast the next day, dear momma!

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

Can I Use Dairy or Cheese If I Tolerate It?

Absolutely! I know many, like myself, find too much dairy to be inflammatory, so typically this time of year, my body is ready for a little dairy break after the holidays. If you tolerate cheese, that makes such a yummy topping for the stuffed squash. We did that a couple times this fall with some Manchego, a sheep’s milk cheese that my dairy sensitive daughter and I tolerate very well. You could also sub real milk or cream for the coconut milk if you have access to that.

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!
Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash

Ingredients

For the Roasted Squash

  • 2 tsp olive oil butter is ok here if you tolerate that
  • 1 small butternut squash halved and seeded
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

For the Filling

For the topping

Instructions

For the Roasted Squash

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Rub the olive oil over the 2 halves of squash, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a baking dish for 40 minutes at 425 degrees until soft. You can make the filling while the squash roasts.

For the filling

  • Warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat, and add the onion and pepper. Sprinkle some sea salt and cook over medium high heat for 5-7 minutes until fragrant and soft.
  • Add the garlic and cook for a minute
  • Add the ground beef, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and coconut aminos and cook until the beef is browned. Stir and break up the meat into small pieces as it cooks.
  • Once the beef is browned, stir the nutritional yeast and potato starch into the mixture, and combine until everything is coated well. Pour the coconut milk and broccoli into the pan and stir until the coconut milk thickens, a couple of minutes. The broccoli will still have some bite to it, but it will cook more in the oven – if you add too early it will get too mushy.

Assemble the stuffed squash

  • Once the squash is done roasting, scoop some of the flesh into the filling mixture in the skillet and stir to combine. Make enough room in the squash to be able to “stuff” it, leaving some squash around the sides and bottom.
  • Once the squash has been stirred into the filling mixture, scoop the ground beef mixture into the squash to stuff it.
  • Mix the topping ingredients with a fork in a small dish, and sprinkle over the top of the squash. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 12-14 minutes, until the topping is golden.

Notes

  • If you need more servings, this recipe doubles very easily. You could use 2 small butternut squashes, or one large. I feel like the large butternut squashes take longer to roast, so when I do want more leftover, I tend to just make 2 small butternut squashes in a large, 9×13 baking pan, so they cook faster.
  • If you tolerate cheese, that makes a delicious topping too!
Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

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