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Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

September 4, 2019

Fill those cool, crisp fall weekend mornings with the smell of fresh gluten free apple cinnamon coffee cake!

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

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

Summer good-byes

It is always so hard to pull those hoodies out for the first time after a summer filled with sandy toes, tank tops, and beachy glows, but thankfully Michigan is really good at easing us into the thought of fall. We’ll dance between 50 and 70 degrees until November, and that is perfectly fine with me. The beach will still call our name for at least the next month, and we’ll answer with more beach hikes and rock hounding in hoodies versus swimming and water play!

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

New fall beginnings

The thought of fall has me longing for apple all the things, so instead of focusing on the changing weather and fading sun, I decided to bring you a new apple recipe, in hopes of filling your fall weekends with a fun new breakfast idea for those cool crisp mornings. My kids were perfectly giddy when I brought home the first bag of apples they’d seen since late winter, and we set to work right away coming up with a fun apple themed coffee cake this year!

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Perfect coffee cake texture – easy peasy technique!

So I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this is an easy weekday school morning breakfast (though if you prep it into the pan the night before it could work!), but I will promise you that this recipe is not as fussy as the beautiful presentation makes it seem, and you will be blown away by the soft texture and warm sweetness, of course making it the perfect accompaniment to your Saturday coffee or Sunday brunch cup of tea.

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

The method

It is worth taking the time to make the 2 separate layers to a coffee cake if you are wanting to have the pretty swirl of cinnamon-y sweetness running here and there throughout your coffee cake. It makes a dreamy presentation when cut, and the flavor is out of this world. Start with making the cinnamon sugar pecan topping with crushed pecans. The buttery pecans balance out the warm sweetness of the coconut sugar and molasses – absolute heaven. You’ll spread a layer of the honey sweetened cake batter into your pan and then sprinkle apples and the pecan sugar topping. Layer another spread of the cake batter and sugar sprinkled apples on the top and then the magic happens! Gently swipe and swirl through the batter with a butter knife and you’ll have a coffee cake straight out of your favorite bakery!

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Notes and swaps

  • You can swap the pecans for walnuts or almonds. If you are nut free, I think pumpkin seeds would be nice, or you can leave them out all together.
  • Not only do I love the warmth of coconut sugar, I love that it is lower on the glycemic index. If you don’t have it around, or you don’t have access to it, you could use turbinado, rapdura, or organic cane sugar. I think maple sugar would be lovely too.
  • If you can’t have eggs, I do think this recipe would work with 2 “flax eggs” – it may not puff up as much but it will still bind and taste great.
  • I think this coffee cake would also be lovely with some firm but ripe pears.
Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Print Recipe
5 from 10 votes

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake



  • ½ cup pecans crushed (I just use my half cup measure to crush them in a bowl or baggie)
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp molasses



  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and butter or coconut oil an 8×8 baking dish.
  • Make the pecan topping by using a fork to mix the topping ingredients in a bowl. Set this aside.
  • Blend the yogurt, coconut oil, eggs, honey, and almond extract in a medium mixing bowl until smooth and creamy.
  • Add the flours, baking powder, and salt, and blend until just combined.
  • Spread half of the coffee cake batter into your greased baking dish. Sprinkle half of the apples, gently press them down, and then sprinkle half of the pecan topping over the apples. Spread the other half of the batter over the apples, then put the other half of the apples and pecan topping on the batter. Use a butter knife to make swirls throughout the coffee cake.
  • Bake the coffee cake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Check your coffee cake around the 35 minute mark in case our ovens run differently – dark pans cook faster too. Let it cool 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

More real food APPLE recipes you might like ::

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Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

August 15, 2019

This simple, staple gluten free blueberry muffin will be a hit on your breakfast menu rotation!

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

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 blueberry bliss…and a new RGN project!

Happy August, my friends! I cannot wait to share this new, fun blueberry muffin with you – it is sure to be a school morning staple! But first! We have had a whirlwind of a summer filled with sprinklers, park play, of course all the beach time…and a new book deal! I am so excited to be able to share with you where I have been pouring my heart this summer. It’s been quiet around the blog for good reason, and I promise you that this new lunchbox concept cookbook is going to be worth the wait! I’ll be sharing more over on Instagram throughout this process, giving you snippets of peeks during recipe development, and I’m so honored to bring this piece of my home to you.

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

On to the blueberries!

Because man alive did we have to wait for them this year! Michigan had a slow start to produce season because of the cold and rainy start to the summer, but it sure has been worth the wait with these gorgeous Michigan blues. Since we are so close the school year with these late blueberries, I decided to come up with a new, fun school morning blueberry muffin that will work right out of the freezer, and also pack in lunchboxes well. Win-win!

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

My school morning blueberry muffin checklist…

If I’m going to be using these for school mornings, they need to be fast to prep, and hold up well to travel, lunchboxes, and the freezer. Most often on school mornings that involve muffins, I’m pulling them from my freezer stash. Whenever I bake, I make sure to stash at least a few a way, so that I have something to pull from when I need fast breakfasts. These blueberry muffins have a super soft texture, and keep well in the freezer.

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Because flavor matters…

I’ve tried lots of different sweetening options and landed on coconut sugar or maple sugar being my favorites. The subtle warmth is the perfect light sweetener for a school morning so that blood sugars don’t go through the roof, but also keep kids happy.

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Fruit swaps?!

I am so excited to play around with this muffin base with other in season fruit…namely apples that will be in season this fall. I think this muffin recipe will be very versatile to whatever fruit you have laying around, including dried fruit from the pantry later this winter when nothing seems to be in season. From banana slices, to strawberries, I look forward to updating this post throughout this year to let you know what works! If you happen to try a new fruit in the blueberry’s place, let us know how it works out in the comments below.

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Flour swaps

If you cannot have the almond flour, you can use all Namaste, just use half the amount of the almond flour amount (1/2 cup). I preferred the texture of the muffins with the almond flour, but the all Namaste flour muffins did turn out. If you need a grain free version, you will love these buckwheat flour blueberry muffins! If you do not have to be gluten or grain free, these are the loveliest sprouted grain blueberry muffins from Nourished Kitchen!

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

A new journey…

I’m so grateful to this community for patiently waiting this lunchbox book out. I am thinking of every single one of your kiddos and mine as I write every word, and my hope is that this book will be the most loved, tattered, torn, dripped on, and dog-eared cookbook in your library!

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins
Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins
Print Recipe
5 from 8 votes

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins


  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar plus more to sprinkle the tops if you wish (Turbinado, maple sugar, or sucanat would work too)
  • ½ cup melted butter or olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract or another tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup buttermilk You can make buttermilk by putting 1 tbsp ACV in a liquid measure and then filling to the ½ cup mark with coconut milk or raw milk
  • 1 cup Namaste GF Flour Blend
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup of fresh blueberries


  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and line a muffin tin with silicone muffin cups, or unbleached paper cups.
  • Blend the eggs, coconut sugar, butter, and extracts in a medium mixing bowl, about 1 minute.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients except the blueberries and blend until just combined, and then fold in the blueberries.
  • Scoop the batter into your lined muffin tin. If you want to sprinkle the tops of the muffins with more coconut sugar, you can do that at this time too.
  • Bake the muffins at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and spring back to touch.
Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

More real food blueberry recipes you might like!

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5 Summer Platters For Cool and Easy Lunch or Dinner!

July 11, 2019

Keep playing and turn the stove off! Enjoy these 5 summer platters filled with nourishing bites for a cool and easy summer lunch or dinner!

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 fun and summer FOOD!

I feel like we have hardly been home this summer! This is my first summer without a napper in the house in a DECADE! What?! You know what that means? It means that instead of hanging out at the beach for the morning, then scurrying home with tired crabby kids that need lunch and a nap, I have kids that can seriously hang, spending all day at the beach, park, splash pad, zoo…you name it! THAT my friends is a game changer – and so stinkin’ much fun! But it also means I need to have some meals up my sleeve that are fast to prepare, and summer friendly (read – no cook because it really does get hot in Michigan – promise!).

5 Summer Platters For Cool and Easy Lunch or Dinner!
5 Summer Platters For Easy Hot Weather Lunch or Dinner!

3 birds, 1 stone!

We started making summer lunch platters a couple summers ago, and these quick meals really hit both of those needs. They are both summer friendly/no-cook, as well as fast to prepare! And a bonus third point…they are so FUN! I know at least for my kids, having a presentation change up from the same lunchboxes all year, as well as some new summer foods, make coming to the lunch table even more enjoyable.

5 Summer Platters For Easy Hot Weather Lunch or Dinner!

So what is a summer lunch platter?

If you want get super fancy, this is basically like eating charcuterie board style! A bit on a smaller scale and, at least in my case, with less fancy/expensive food because we like to make these at least twice a week. Grab a big plate or even just your big wooden cutting board, and load it up with small bites that everyone can share. Community eating always goes over well with little ones, so don’t shy away from trying this with your toddlers. Eating should always be a fun experience, and they will love this. Fill the plate up with a variety of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, healthy fat), in ratios that your family enjoys eating.

What do I do if my kid will only pick one thing off the plate?

  1. Be pro-active. If you have never served a platter meal before, start with some ground rules before the eating even begins. If you have toddlers through age 5, be very specific. For example, let them know that they need to take at least 2 pieces of protein, 1 piece of green veggie, 1 piece of other color veggie, 1 fruit, and that fat has to be somewhere on their plate whether that be as a dip or somewhere else (This was an example only! Use whatever ratios work for your family!) The choosing is still up to them, but you are helping them learn the importance of variety and portioning. As your children get older, you should be able to be a bit more general – they need to have veggie, fruit, fat, protein, for example. My girls have been eating this way for years, and I rarely need to say anything anymore. They will actually check their plates for variety like they are on auto pilot without my cue! I will even hear them remind each other to make sure they take a green veg and another color. They are doing my mom job quite nicely! Ha!
  2. Put the ball in their court. If the children do not cooperate with creating a healthy variety on their plate, then in my house, they haven’t shown that they are independent to enjoy a fun lunch like this, and mom will have to go back to making their own plate for them. YES, I have had to have this conversation with my toddlers! You’re in charge, dear momma! Once they have demonstrated independence with following the instructions, then they are free to create their own plate! There is still a ton of wiggle room within setting those parameters of having all of the macro-nutrients on their plates. My girls’ plates always look vastly different from each other! I have one that is always packed with all the protein – but she still gets her veggies and fruit in. I have one that loads up the veggies and I still have to remind her about getting a bite of protein on her plate every once and a while. Every child has different needs, and you can help them learn the importance of the macro-nutrient variety while listening to their body’s needs for more of a certain food.

The possibilities are endless

They truly are, and while I’m planning on showcasing 5 platter meal examples in this post, within each platter there are so many different ways that you can change things up. Use whatever veggies and fruit are in season or on sale near you for that week, and rotate your protein and fat sources! Not only does that keep the routine from getting boring, more importantly, you are changing up the nutrients that your family is getting for more variety.

On to the platter ideas!

Again, these are only to spur your inspiration. Pull from each platter what YOUR family loves and make your own! These are examples from actual lunch platters the girls have enjoyed throughout this summer so far!

Platter #1 :: Scoop City!

Kids love to scoop and dip, and the scooping and dipping options are endless here! Use lettuce leaves, crackers, bell pepper “boats”, carrot sticks to scoop and dip. The dipping is where the meal magic is – you can really load up the brain building fat, and sustaining proteins here. Top to bottom this platter is:

5 Summer Platters For Easy Hot Weather Lunch or Dinner!

Platter #2 :: Real Food “Lunchable!”

Think crackers, cheese, and meat where you can make little cracker sandwiches! Kids are always all over these kind of meals. (I am too!) Top to bottom, this platter is ::

5 Summer Platters For Easy Hot Weather Lunch or Dinner!

Platter #3 :: Stuff Your Own Pita Platter!

Spread the inside with some hummus, and then stuff with with a pretty rainbow of veggies and salty cheese! Top to bottom this platter is ::

  • Grapes
  • GF Pita Bread (We get the Sami’s Bakery GF Pitas at our local health food store)
  • Hummus (I absolutely have a quality store bought here, but you can certainly make your own hummus! I get the Lilly’s Hummus which is made with olive oil versus soy/corn/canola/sunflower oils, in the big tubs at our health food store.)
  • Rainbow carrots
  • Baby bell peppers
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Cheese (Pictured is the Kerrygold Dubliner from Costco)
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomato slices
  • “Ants on a log” (Celery sticks with any nut or seed butter, and topped with raisins)
5 Summer Platters For Easy Hot Weather Lunch or Dinner!

Platter #4 :: Lunchtime Fiesta!

Mexican flavors are always a hit with kids! In this platter I made Instant Pot Refried Beans – basically my refried bean recipe made in the IP versus the stove. You could use leftover taco meat too. And while the chips are fun too, give those cabbage leaves a try as a “soft taco shell” for the beans, guac, and salsa – it is so good! Top to bottom this platter is ::

  • Apples
  • Tortilla chips (we get these organic from Costco)
  • Refried beans (this recipe makes a lot and it freezes great for an easy pull out lunch!)
  • Cabbage leaves
  • Salsa (I get organic salsa from our grocery store)
  • Carrot sticks
  • Bell pepper “boats” (these also work great as a vehicle for the beans and guac!)
  • Guacamole (You could buy a quality store bought version too!)
5 Summer Platters For Easy Hot Weather Lunch or Dinner!

Platter #5 :: A European Vacation!

That’s right, my friends. Momma’s pretending like we are blissfully sitting in an Italian Cafe dipping bread in gorgeous European olive dipping oils… Ahem…back to reality! This is truly one of the girls’ favorite platter concepts and every drop of that oil is gone by the end of lunch – talk about a brain boost! Top to bottom, this platter is ::

  • Cherries (truly just do whatever fruit is in season – it happens to be cherry season right now!)
  • Tomato slices with sea salt and pepper
  • Grassfed Kielbasa (we get this from Costco)
  • Goat Cheese
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Baby bell peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Carrot sticks
  • Olive oil dipping oil (see the recipe below!)
  • Strips of pita bread for oil dipping (You could use whatever bread or crackers your family enjoys!)
  • Broccoli
  • Applegate pepperoni (I get this from our local health food store)
5 Summer Platters For Easy Hot Weather Lunch or Dinner!

Seasoned Olive Oil for Bread Dipping



  • Whisk everything in a shallow bowl good for dipping bread!


Olive oil sourcing does matter. If you are in the USA, look for the COOC label to ensure your olive oil isn’t cut with other cheap oils. We like the Bari Organic Olive Oil which is available at most grocers now. Recently, California Olive Ranch Olive Oil, which I have used up until a few months ago, lost their seal and I cannot trust their process right now. I have recommended them in the past and do not at this time. 

More real food SUMMER recipes you might like!

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Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

June 28, 2019

You’ll be blown away at the flavor of these pineapple watermelon popsicles – no added sugar needed and allergen friendly!

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

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

A leftover bowl of fruit, and sweet summer bliss

How is it possible that we have already been out of school 3 weeks?! I also stepped away from this space to help my crew settle into summer routine, and I missed you all too for that long! We’ve been enjoying every ounce of the sunshine, local parks, and all of our favorite Lake Michigan beaches! Of course those long summer days sometimes lead to forgotten bowls of fruit, and we have been cooling off with super fun blends of fruit popsicles most days of the week to use it all up.

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

A new household favorite fruit blend!

Hands down one of our favorites has been watermelon and pineapple! Who knew?! There was a stretch of a couple weeks where our grocery store had them on sale as buy 1, get 1 one free (!), and that kind of summer bounty definitely calls for a frozen treat!

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

All of the flavor without adding sugar!

Because truly it doesn’t get any sweeter than a fresh pineapple, and when you are using watermelon as the “liquid” for blending, it gets even sweeter. So these popsicles are literally all fruit based – go ahead and pop these out of the freezer every time that ice cream truck rolls around! The kids will be so geeked, and you can feel good about not loading them up on food dye and high fructose corn syrup filled pops from the ice cream truck.

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!
Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

Just 2 ingredients and a loaded freezer

No fuss is the name of my game in the summer. I want to be outside playing and soaking the sunshine as much as I can. Whenever I can fill up my 10-pop popsicle mold with leftover fruit, I’m filling my freezer. Just a quick blend and pour and it’s done. I have a little shelf in my freezer during the summer dedicated to popsicles, which also allows my kiddos to serve themselves…#winning!

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

Let’s talk about popsicle molds!

I’ve had my 10-pop popsicle mold ever since I realized how quickly 3 kids can go through popsicles – 3 kids times 5-7 days a week…you do the math! I have had this 10-pop mold for a while now, and love it. Grab a box of wooden craft sticks super cheap, and you’re set. If you have older kids, or a gaggle of kids that gather at your house during the summer, you’ll want to grab that one! There are so many fun popsicle mold shapes though – sit down with the kids and pick something out that works for you!

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!
Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

A few notes on your TODDLERS!

While I love my big, 10-pop popsicle mold, I DO, however, remember those days of having smaller children, and that 10-pop popsicle mold makes big kid sized popsicles. Mini popsicle molds are a lifesaver with toddlers and older babies because there is less waste and dripping. I had these mini popsicle molds with the easy to hold handles – they were so nice when I had little ones! I also found these teething pop molds that are even smaller – perfect for older babies.

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!
One of MY babies with a mini popsicle! So nice for teething babies and little hands! (This recipe is in THIS POST and makes more like “smoothie popsicles”)

Freezer stocking tips

Remember that whole shelf just for the popsicles trick I mentioned earlier?! That whole kids serving themselves thing?? Stock up different flavors (see the bottom of this post for a whole list of flavors!), making a bunch of popsicles here and there throughout the week! Once the pops are frozen, run the popsicle mold under a little warm water to ease them out, and then wrap them up in plastic wrap (or beeswax wrap if you prefer to use that). They stay individually wrapped this way, and easy for the kids to grab.

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

Raising independent kitchen helpers (if you only read 1 thing in this post – read this!!!)

One quick note before we get to the recipe! Early on in this mom gig, I spent a lot of time talking about getting your kids in the kitchen. I remember, more than anything, thinking that the result would be that the girls would remember that time spent together, and that they would hopefully pick up a few kitchen skills that I never had along the way. But as my older girls have reached the ages of 10 and 8 years old, there are days that I am in awe of just how much they are capable of. Your 10 year olds can have popsicle making on their chore chart, dear momma. <—Read that part again! What a fun “chore” to have responsibility of! One less thing off your plate, and this fun task feels less like a drag while still building independence in your kids. And YES include the clean up as part of that chore. If you have little ones, start small. Let them help you put the fruit in the blender and push the button. Let them wash up the counter. Putting the wooden sticks in the popsicle mold will absolutely take longer, but it will not only help them feel useful, it is great fine motor work!

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!
Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!


  • 4 cups watermelon rind removed, and cubed
  • 3 cups pineapple rind removed, and cubed
  • Optional raw honey or other sweetener of choice to sweeten to taste if needed (I haven’t been sweetening these for my kids, but if you have kids that are used to really sweet popsicles, you might want to add a few tablespoons. I made one batch with raw honey that was delicious.)


  • Blend the fruit (and honey if using itogether to puree completely. I use the “juicing” button on my Blendtec, but just blending it through smooth on a regular blender works too.
  • Pour the pureed fruit into your popsicle mold. If your blender blended high speed enough to make some fruit “foam” form at the top, you can spoon that off, and add more fruit puree. Put the tops/sticks onto your popsicle mold, and freeze overnight.


  • This recipe fits my 10-pop popsicle mold perfectly. If you are going to make this for more of a mini popsicle mold (or these super cool, small “teething pop molds” for your little ones, you could cut the recipe in half or even quarter it.
  • I like to run the popsicle mold under the hot water tap for just a few seconds to loosen them from the mold when pulling the frozen popsicles out.
Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!

More real food POPSICLE recipes you might like!

Pineapple Watermelon Popsicles :: Allergen Friendly & Refined Sugar Free!
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Gluten Free Honey Nut Granola

May 31, 2019

Little bites of honey nut granola, reminiscent of childhood cereals, made with healthy, real ingredients, perfect for yogurt topping and on the go snacks!

Summer splendor and warm weather breakfasts

We are counting the days down. We just have to get through 4.5 more days of school and we are free for carefree summer bliss for the next couple months! Warm, muggy summer mornings call for cool and quick loaded yogurt bowl breakfasts, and this breakfast bar yogurt concept has become a summer morning staple at least a couple times per week during the warm months of the year. We stir in all sorts of great add-ins, and granola just happens to be a favorite of the girls.

Gluten Free Honey Nut Granola

An old, childhood breakfast favorite with a real food twist

Oh come on 80’s and 90’s kids…you know what I’m talking about. The cold breakfast cereal that so many of us had in our bowls as little kids – Honey Nut Cheerios! While I didn’t set out for this granola to taste like a nostalgic cereal from my childhood, I was totally blasted to the past when I took the first bite. A cross between those honey sweetened O’s and another childhood favorite – Honey Bunches of Oats – these crispy little granola bits are certain to remind you of childhood.

Power packed ingredient line up!

While we love a good granola base focused on oats, I wanted to create something with a bit of diversity. Why, you ask? Well, beyond adding a super fun crispy crunch and amazing flavor, adding some different grains, nuts, and seeds in the mix also creates a breakfast platform that offers a variety of nutrients instead of just one or two. So let’s talk about these great, sometimes forgotten, players!

Buckwheat Groats

Buckwheat is a seed used in many Asian culture’s cuisines. If you have ever enjoyed soba noodles before, or one of my cherry buckwheat muffins, you’ll know that the nutty sweetness is irresistible, and as it lightly toasts in the oven for this granola, it crisps into that familiar “kasha” cereal like texture. Buckwheat has an impressive protein content for such a small seed, and since it also boasts fiber nutrition, it makes a really perfectly balanced superfood bursting with minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins. You can typically buy buckwheat groats in bulk at any health food store, or you can get organic buckwheat groats online. You can also buy sprouted buckwheat groats for even more optimized nutrition.


Millet originates in Chinese and African cuisine, seen most often in couscous dishes, as well as porridge dishes and breads. Millet contains prebiotic fiber, essential for feeding the good bacteria in your digestion. This sometimes forgotten super grain is a good source of magnesium and calcium as well as B vitamins and antioxidants. Millet is has a more mild nuttiness, and takes on the flavor of whatever you are using with it to cook in – in this case it gently crisps up in the granola and tastes of honey and nuts! You can pick up hulled millet in bulk at most health food stores, or you can buy hulled millet here online. I have never been able to find sprouted millet, but you can sprout it yourself if you wish.

The oats, nuts, & seeds

Of course we love the simple, and humble oat as well. Amazingly, these days you can find sprouted oats very easily – this is my favorite brand. Using sprouted oats optimizes nutrition and is easier on digestion, but if you can’t find sprouted oats, you can certainly use a regular rolled oats. For the nuts and the seeds, use what you have in the pantry, but I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and change things up too! I found the buttery flavor of walnuts and classic almond flavor together give the granola the taste of the cereal that we all know and love really well. But I wanted to add in the sunflower seeds for some variety. I also made this once using Brazil nuts in place of the almonds and loved the outcome. If you are completely nut free, try pumpkin seeds, flax, and sunflower to change things up. There are so many to try in both the nut and seed family that you can really bring a variety of nutrients to your granola.

The process

While making your own granola may feel daunting, and look fancy, it is truly one of the easiest kitchen swaps you can make from buying store bought. Not only does it allow you to control the sugar content, it also allows you to use safer, healthier oils. Even many of the “healthy” looking granolas at the store are made with junky fats like canola, sunflower, and safflower oils. We use simple coconut oil in this recipe, but you could easily use olive oil, butter, or avocado oil. Simply toss the dry ingredients into a bowl with the melted fat and honey and it’s ready to go. Stir it around a few times and a half hour later you have granola for stashing away in the pantry. This recipe lasts my family of 5 a good couple of weeks or longer!

Can I skip the grains?

Sure! One of my favorite things about making granola is that it is super forgiving. If you need to be grain free for your household, you can swap the oats and millet for any combination of the following. (Buckwheat is technically a seed, and is not in the wheat family as it is not a grass. It is actually in the same family as rhubarb! Some in the paleo community consider it a pseudo-cereal, but I’ll leave whether you want to consider it a grain up to you! I go by what my family tolerates and feels good on, and we love buckwheat – if it doesn’t agree with you, by all means swap it out!)

  • Unsweetened shredded coconut, or coconut flakes
  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Cashews
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Hemp
  • Flax seed (chia seeds are already in the recipe in a good amount — I wouldn’t add any more than what is already written)

LOVE the granola yogurt breakfast bar idea?!

Here are a few more granola recipes to try, to change things up a bit!

Print Recipe
5 from 15 votes

Gluten Free Honey Nut Granola



  • Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees and set out 2 large sheet pans.
  • Put the oats, buckwheat groats, millet, nuts, seeds, and coconut sugar into a large mixing bowl, and set aside.
  • Melt the coconut oil in a small sauce pan, turn the heat off, and stir the honey to melt in. Add the extracts to the oil/honey and stir.
  • Add the melted coconut oil/honey mixture to your dry granola ingredients in the large mixing bowl, and stir to combine well.
  • Spread the granola mixture onto 2 large baking sheets and bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes. Stir the mixture and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Stir the mixture one more time and return to the oven for 10 more minutes. Remove the sheet trays from the oven and let it cool completely. It will crisp up as it cools. Store the cooled granola in an air tight container.
Healthy Kids and Teens Holiday Recipes Occasional Treats Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake

May 24, 2019

Fluffy, silky sweet honey cake with a starburst of tart rhubarb!

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake

Spring’s first garden harvest, and celebrating a decade of my first spring baby…

I almost choked on my coffee as I just typed that. A decade? How can that possibly be? Ten years ago, Chloe made me a momma, and literally nothing will change my life quite like that day did. I truly know of no other person in my life with a heart like this kid – if you’ve ever crossed her path you know that you leave a better person every time. My sweet first born just happens to adore the rhubarb in our backyard that always seems to be ready to harvest right around her birthday. Last year we made creamy rhubarb ice cream (topped with rhubarb sauce!), and the year before that rhubarb water kefir soda. This year, we decided to celebrate her 10th birthday with a special cake swirled with sweet local raw honey, and decorated with a sunburst of rhubarb at the top!

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake
Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake

Fresh picked

Whether you pick the rhubarb right out of the backyard, or the local farmer’s market, be sure to snag a few stalks with a super bright pinkish red hue to make the sunburst at the top of your cake really stand out. Rhubarb color can vary even from the same plant with some stalks boasting a bright green fading into pinks and reds, and others standing out with an almost shocking red color. The rhubarb’s lip puckering tartness is tamed with baking, and when married with a sweet, raw honey, the flavor is reminiscent of sweet tarts, and almost that kettle cooked caramel flavor.

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake
Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake

Some notes about the honey

If you’ve never tasted a local honey from the area where you live, I would absolutely encourage you to visit your farmer’s market and ask for some samples. I love visiting new places and getting a taste of what the honey bees in that area are picking up. This cake will take on a hint of whatever honey you choose, so be sure to use one that you enjoy the flavor of. If too many flower notes are overwhelming to you, choose something lighter. If you love that flowery essence, by all means infuse this cake with that!

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake

Achieving a fluffy honey cake

Because I wanted that gorgeous honey to really shine with the rhubarb, I knew there was potential to make this cake dense by the weight of the honey. My first few attempts were, although tasty, a bit on the dense side. Gluten free baking has a way of hefting the weight of baked goods too, so I had that going against me as well. I decided to try a trick that I use in my gluten free waffles – whipping the egg whites to a whipped cream consistency. It worked beautifully, and the result is a light and airy honey cake where you can actually taste hints of honey swirled throughout!

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake
Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake

Fun garnishing ideas

We opted for the dramatic powdered sugar look for this cake, though a few of my cake attempts were drizzled with raw honey for a really pretty sheen added to the top. We chose the powdered sugar to celebrate Chloe’s birthday, and she adored dusting the top of her cake with that.

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake

Rhubarb placing tricks

I played around with multiple arrangements of the pretty rhubarb stalks on the top of my cake attempts. My biggest recommendation would be to slice the stalks for the top of the cake thin the long way. If you have thick rhubarb stalks you make even have to do more than that. Putting thick stalks up on the top makes the top a bit soggy in my opinion and those thick stalks can get a fibrous texture. Slicing the rhubarb thin allowed for easier decorating, a really sharp looking finish, and just the right tart rhubarb flavor to the top that cuts into ever sweet honey cake bite!

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake
Print Recipe
5 from 16 votes

Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake



  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a 10-inch springform pan or 10-inch cake pan with parchment paper and butter the sides.
  • Put the egg yolks into a medium mixing bowl and set aside. Put the egg whites into a small mixing bowl and beat until fluffy. Set the egg whites aside.
  • Add the olive oil, honey, coconut sugar, coconut milk, and almond extract to the egg yolks, and blend until smooth and creamy.
  • Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt to the wet ingredients and combine with a spatula – some lumps of flour are ok. When the batter is combined well, gently fold the whipped egg whites into the batter until just combined.
  • Smooth half of the cake batter into your springform pan, and sprinkle the cubed rhubarb over the top evenly. Smooth the other half of the cake batter over the top of the sprinkled rhubarb.
  • Arrange the stalks of rhubarb on the top of your cake how you like. I recommend halving or quartering your stalks of rhubarb length-wise, depending on the thickness of the stalks. If you leave them as is they get mushy and hard to manage/arrange in the pan. Making them thinner baked up prettier and the slices cut nicely. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown, and springs back to touch.
  • After the cake cools 10 minutes in the pan, you can turn it out to a cooling rack to cool completely. You can garnish the top with a drizzle of raw honey or dusting of organic powdered cane sugar when it is cooled.
Gluten Free Rhubarb Honey Cake

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Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!

May 16, 2019

This kid friendly, week night easy mango marinade and sauce is perfect for fish, chicken, veggies and more!

Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!

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.

Frog hunts, sunshine, and fresh, fast dinners!

That pretty much sums up the last few weekends in our house, enjoying some steadier spring temperatures, and the scheduling fun that comes with the month of May and three kids in school! What is it about May?! All the trips! All the concerts! All the after school fun! And you know what? My girls love it ALL. May is so fun. But just because we are busy doesn’t mean I can set meal planning on coast…in fact just the opposite.

Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!

Brain fuel for busy kids

When things get busy, it can be easy to pull out easier meals, and we absolutely do healthier hot dog dinners, and grilled burgers in the warm months of the year when we want to be outside versus in the kitchen all day. But with just a few minutes of prep, you can have just as quick of a dinner, that tastes just as fun for the kids, and packs some big time brain fuel for growing kids. While this mango marinade and sauce will work for chicken, and tastes amazing with mineral rich veggies that we all need too, I like to use it with wild caught fatty fish – brain fuel!

Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!

Two minutes to fresh mango marinade!

If you have a blender, you can make this marinade in 2 minutes flat! Just dump it all in and puree! It’s so fast, that you can prep it in the morning before everyone heads out the door for the busy day, or do it before you go to bed the night before. It only needs about 30 minutes to marinade your fish, but up to a day is even better. Then all you have to do when you get home is a quick pan sear of your fish or chicken!

Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!

Double up!

Because this mango marinade also makes an amazing sauce for your sides of veggies, rice, or as a dip for your fish or chicken! If mangos are on sale or in season near you, double up for a meal, and then freeze some for another time as well.

Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!
Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!
Print Recipe
5 from 36 votes

Mango Marinade & Sauce



  • Everything into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.

Ok, I’ve got my marinade! Now how do I make dinner???

Simply pour the mango marinade over the top of your favorite wild caught fish or chicken, and let the meat marinade for at least 30 minutes or up to a day. You can marinade veggies in this for kabobs too. See the recipe below for very basic dinner – change things up based on what you have in house and what is in season near you.

Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!
Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!

Quick sides?

Because whats a quick dinner idea if the side dishes are fussy and long to prep? Here are some great side dish ideas for your mango fish!

Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!
Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!
Print Recipe
5 from 36 votes

Mango White Fish with Roasted Veggies


  • 1 recipe of the above Mango Marinade you can double the sauce recipe if you want extra for mixing into the veggies or rice, or for dipping the fish
  • 1 lb wild caught white fish such as Mahi Mahi or Cod
  • 3 tbsp ghee butter, or olive oil to cook the fish in (I like to use ghee)
  • 1 lb brussel sprouts halved or quartered depending on the size (broccoli and asparagus will work here too – use what is in season)
  • 1 lb carrots cut on the bias
  • 3 tbsp butter for the veggies
  • Sea salt and pepper for the veggies to taste


  • Marinate your fish anywhere from 30 minutes to a day in advance. Pour 1 recipe of the mango marinade over the fish in a bowl or freezer bag. I like to cut the fish into the size portions that my girls eat. Seal the bowl or bag and set the fish in the refrigerator to marinade until you are ready to cook it.
  • When the fish is done marinating, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and toss the veggies on a sheet pan with the butter, sea salt, and pepper. Roast the veggies at 400 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes depending on how big the veggies are cut.
  • To cook the fish, heat up a large skillet and the cooking fat over medium high heat. When the pan is very hot, add the fish directly from the marinade. Don’t scrape off the marinade – in fact I dip it in and scoop some of it out onto the fish while it cooks. Cook the fish 2-3 minutes on each side. Cook time will depend on the size and thickness of your fish. If your fish is larger/thicker than what is pictured here, you will need more like 5 minutes each side.
  • Plate your cooked fish over long grain white rice, or with a side of sweet potato or baked potato, and the roasted veggies. You can toss the roasted veggies and/or the rice with another batch of mango sauce.
Fresh Mango Marinade and Sauce :: Perfect For Fish, Chicken, Veggies and More!

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Gluten Free Oat Bran Muffins :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free

May 9, 2019

Soft and sweet with nutty knobs of bran, these gluten free oat bran muffins will become a weekly breakfast staple!

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

A last minute idea, a new recipe, and some love for every teacher

I’m not very much of a last minute person. Oh, sure, I don’t use an elaborate meal plan, but I have an idea or a framework for most weeks. But when it comes to planning something like an event, I’m a details person. Earlier this year I was assigned to “Teacher Appreciation Day” at our school, typically a luncheon at some point during Teacher Appreciation Week. Having all 3 kids in full time school this year has given me some extra hours to help out at school, and last week I had this revelation…1 day of celebrating our teachers simply wasn’t enough. I am in awe every time I help at that school. My village. I wanted to do something each day of the Teacher Appreciation Week. With a tight budget, a couple mom friends, and determined personality, my mind was made up, and we made it happen! We already had the pot luck style luncheon set up, I had a super talented thrift store super shopper friend that found some great gifts for one day, a beautiful gardening friend that brought flowers one day, and…probably the most anticipated day of the week – this Friday, myself and 7 other parents are doing a “recess take-over” giving the staff an extra long lunch while we man the playground duty! Gold!

Muffins and coffee

A simple muffin. A cup of dark coffee. It is so simple, but you guys the day during that Teacher Appreciation Week that we brought in boxes of coffee from a local coffee shop and 4 dozen simple oat bran muffins, you would have thought we brought them the world. These sweet teachers’ faces were priceless. I wish you all could have seen the picture. In fact, I’m challenging you to make your *own* picture. These teachers are capital D.O.N.E for this year, and to surprise them with a simple coffee and muffin on a Tuesday morning would absolutely fuel their hearts to get through one more week.

So let’s talk about these muffins!

Super cost effective (I had a budget to stick to, remember?!), healthy, filling, and the most important thing when you are baking for someone else…they are delicious! Bran muffins should have a warm, molasses-y sweetness to perk them up, and I was so happy with how the coconut sugar brought that warmth and fun flavor without adding a ton of sugar. Those knobby bits of oat bran throughout add a lovely nuttiness as well.

The softness secret, and that beautiful rise though!

Buttermilk. A simple soured milk gives these muffins a soft texture despite the coarse bran, and you can make it yourself if you don’t have access to quality buttermilk. In fact, you can even make it with dairy free milk if you need to be dairy free. I love the fatty richness that coconut milk has, and soaking the grains in that coconut buttermilk made for such a rich, satisfying muffin. A quick whisk of some apple cider vinegar and milk, and that’s it! The acid in the buttermilk also acts as a soaking medium for the grains. If you choose to soak the grains in the buttermilk over night, you’ll be rewarded with an easier food for your digestive system to manage as the phytic acid is broken down.


Sure thing! Since I was making these muffins for a crowd, I left them as is, because some people aren’t fans of dried fruit. But I made a batch of the oat bran muffins for my girls with chopped dried apricots and the girls thought they hit the jackpot! We made a batch with chopped dried figs as well – my youngest’s favorite by far. You could use raisins, dried blueberries, or chopped dates as well.

Freezer friendly

I made 2 double batches of this muffin recipe for that Teacher Appreciation morning, and they really held up for the 2 days that they sat in a bag on the counter. If you are going to make more than you need, I would recommend putting extras in the freezer right away, however because it will lock in all of the moisture. These muffins will make great grab and go lunchbox add-ins and breakfast on the go with hard boiled eggs!

Print Recipe
5 from 15 votes

Gluten Free Oat Bran Muffins :: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free



  • The night before you want to make the muffins, put the oat bran and GF Flour in a medium mixing bowl. Make “buttermilk” for soaking the oat bran and flour by putting 1 ½ tbsp of ACV in a 2 cup liquid measuring cup and pouring coconut milk in until you reach the 1 ½ cup mark on the measuring cup. Whisk this together – this is “buttermilk.” Pour the buttermilk over the oat bran and GF flour, and mix together. It is thick – do not add more liquid. Cover your bowl and set on the counter overnight, 8-12 hours. This soaking process breaks down the phytic acid in the grain making it easier on digestion over time.
  • The next morning pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and line a dozen cup muffin tin with silicone muffin liners or unbleached paper liners.
  • In a small mixing bowl beat the eggs, coconut sugar, and vanilla with electric beaters. Add those wet ingredients to the soaking oat bran/flour mixture and blend slowly to combine. The oat bran/flour mixture will feel dry and thick at first, but the liquid will loosen it up. I start with the beaters and finish with my spatula.
  • If you are adding dried fruit to your muffins, you can add them at this time.
  • Scoop the muffin batter into your muffin pan and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. The tops will be golden brown and spring back to touch. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5-10 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. You can freeze leftover muffins in freezer bags.

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Wild Caught Salmon Meatballs with Simple Pesto

April 28, 2019

Turn wild caught fish into your kids’ favorite dinner with salmon meatballs and simple pesto for dipping!

Quick dinners and warm weather herbs

We are all about extra beach time during the warm months of the year. We are just at the tip of beach season in Michigan, and on those gorgeous spring days that feel like summer is knocking at our door, I swap our favorite slow roasted dinners for fresh spring and summer meals.


I’m telling you…make anything into a meatball and kids will be all over it. Needing to get more greens in? Try a meatball! Need to add some nourishing liver to your diet? Yup – those same kale stuffed meatballs have liver too! My girls truly adore wild caught salmon – as evidenced by so many salmon recipes on the blog, but if you have kids tentative about fish, I invite you to give this a try! Salmon is a summer staple because it is so quick to fix, and these meatballs are no exception.

Simple ingredients & no fuss!

I learned a couple years back that the *best* salmon burger is made by hand chopping the meat instead of pulverizing or blending it, and NOT using eggs for any binding. The salmon is first chopped into bits about the size of ground beef, and mixed with some simple seasoning. A splash of olive oil to add some fatty moisture and some tapioca for a soft texture and to hold in some of the moisture and that’s it. It will take you no longer than the time it takes the oven to pre-heat to roll up the salmon meatballs and then dinner is done in 15 minutes!

Dips for all the days!

Because if there is anything I know about kids, it’s that they *big puffy heart* love to…dip! So if they are going to dip these delicious, nourishing salmon meatballs, let’s give them something equally as mouthwatering and bump the nutrition past the same ‘ol ketchup stand-by. Something like pesto! I would totally even serve the meatballs on toothpicks for dipping in the pesto – what fun for the kids!

{And as a side-note, if those kiddos of yours will only eat the salmon meatballs with a side of ketchup, by all means roll with that – I would rather them get that brain nourishing fatty fish into their growing bodies than none at all. If you do the polite bite thing in your house, I would definitely give that a go with the pesto first (don’t even put the ketchup out as an option), but pick your battles, momma!}

But back to the dreamy pesto…

I truly can’t think of anything we use our garden herbs for more in the summertime than pesto. It makes such a great, nourishing, budget friendly lunch with a side of bread or crackers and veggie sticks. And big time bonus…my older girls can make it without mom’s help! *All the moms in the house cheer!* Basil itself is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, but the kids don’t necessarily care about those details – make them a part of *planting* and tending to that garden basil, or picking the basil out at the farmer’s market this summer, and ownership will take over as the star of the show. Basil is one of the first seeds my oldest has asked for to plant the last couple of spring seasons, and it is solely for the purpose of her beloved pesto! Using pesto as a side dish dip or scoop-able dressing is also a great way to get olive oil into the kids’ diets. A proven brain booster, this power-packed mono-unsaturated fat is super tasty and mild – perfect for kids.

Time saving tips

  • The pesto can be make super quick while the salmon meatballs are baking in the oven.
  • The oven temp is perfect for cooking other veggie sides along with the salmon meatballs, so make your oven do double time. The timing of the meatballs cooking is the perfect timing for spring asparagus, or summer zucchini or broccoli.
  • Or, skip the oven baked veggies, and just make some quick side salads such as Paleo Coleslaw, Olive Garden Copycat Salads, or kid favorite Ranch dressing drenched salads (use this Paleo version, or this classic version using dairy!)
  • The salmon meatball mixture can be made up the night before and sit in the fridge until everyone is home from work and school – that way all you have to do is roll them up and bake them off.
  • The salmon meatball mixture freezes well! Roll up the salmon meatballs and freeze them on a sheet tray. Then pop the uncooked frozen salmon meatballs into a freezer bag.
Print Recipe
5 from 12 votes

Wild Caught Salmon Meatballs with Simple Pesto



  • 3-4 wild caught salmon fillets skinned (about 1 – 1 ¼ lbs of salmon)
  • 2 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley if you have fresh parsley, use 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp dried dill if you have fresh dill, use 2 tsp chopped leaves of the fresh dill
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper


  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • Heaping 1/3 cup walnuts If you have access to pine nuts use 1/3 cup of that. Pine nuts would be the more traditional way of making pesto – I don’t have access to quality pine nuts, so I usually use organic walnuts
  • ½ cup raw cheese or goat cheese shredded
  • ¼ tsp sea salt start here and you can always add more to taste depending on the saltiness of the cheese you are using.
  • Pinch of pepper to taste
  • 1-3 cloves of garlic (If you are a garlic fanatic do the 3 – you won’t regret it! It does add a slight spicy bite since raw garlic has some heat to it – it is my favorite way to eat pesto. If you have kids eating the pesto, use 1 clove of garlic. Two of my girls love the garlic packed version, while my youngest still feels like it is a bit spicy for her and will gobble it down with just 1 clove. If you are new to pesto, start out with 1 clove – you can always add more if you want more garlic flavor.)
  • ½ cup olive oil



  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper
  • Skin and cube up your salmon. Then run a chopping knife through the cubed salmon until the bits are small but not to a puree. The texture should resemble that of ground beef.
  • Combine the chopped salmon and the rest of the salmon meatball ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Roll the meatball mixture into balls and place them onto the Silpat lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the salmon meatballs at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your meatballs. 


  • Put the basil leaves and walnuts into your food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
  • Add the cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic, and pulse several times to chop through until everything is very small and combined well.
  • With the food processor running, use the oil drip top on your food processor to slowly add in the olive oil. This will allow the oil to emulsify, thickening the pesto, and keeping everything sticking together so the oil doesn’t separate. If you prefer the oil to be more separate from the herbs (I like it this way too!) you can just do a quick blend through or even just stir in the oil.

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Gluten Free Buckwheat Pancake Mini Muffins With Berry Dipping Sauce :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free

April 16, 2019

A healthy buckwheat pancake, in the perfect “little hand sized” package – mini muffins!

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.

Birthday girl!

I’m pretty sure I get more excited about the girls’ birthdays than they do 🙂 I love remembering being pregnant with them and experiencing their birth stories, and telling them about how they were when they were babies! This sweet and spunky middle kiddo of mine turns 8 next week, and we started celebrating a little early with a fun breakfast idea that is totally up her ally…

On. The. Go.

If you look up busy bee in the dictionary, I’m pretty sure Claire’s picture would be right next to it. From the day I felt her strong, *non-stop* kicking in utero, to her blazing fast, “sunny-side up” delivery, never-ending toddler years, and now these smart as a whip school age years, we are definitely kept on our toes with this one, and on-the-go breakfasts have become a specialty of mine in her honor.


Absolutely! While we love a slow start Saturday filled with a fluffy stack of pancakes, in reality, busy weekday mornings just don’t have room for that. Last year we created *the* pancake mini muffin – a perfect, portable substitute for that fluffy pancake stack. I hear from you guys all. the. time. about how much your kids love them, so I’m giving you another option to add to your rotation to get some new ingredients into the mix!

A new ingredient line-up…

So many of you have messaged me asking how to make my original pancake muffins egg free and/or grain free, so this version is dedicated to you. But wait! If you don’t happen to be a “free” anything household, these delicious buckwheat pancake muffins are still for you too! Food rotation is so important to get a variety of nutrients into your family. Eating the same thing over and over again can wear on the gut, and can create imbalance in your nutrient levels.

What is buckwheat?

Despite the sound of it’s name, buckwheat flour is ground up buckwheat seed – it’s a seed, not a grain! Many people that cannot tolerate gluten or grains can tolerate buckwheat, and it has a host of nutritional benefits. Buckwheat has an impressive protein content and is packed with essential minerals our bodies need to function at it’s best. Even if you can tolerate gluten/grains, it is a good idea to rotate your food around. Using the same flour day in and day out in your baking will wear on the gut. Change things up a little! The buckwheat gives these muffins a mildly sweet, nutty flavor, and the vanilla and warm coconut sugar make them taste like pancakes!

Allergen friendly!

It is pretty tough to get a muffin to look like a muffin without eggs, my friends. Let alone feel like a muffin and taste like a muffin! But for some reason, I have found that buckwheat batters have some “stick” to them almost like a chia seed, so the egg binding isn’t always needed. And add in a bit of baking powder to react with an acid, and you’ve got yourself a nice puffy muffin top without the egg rise!

Little kids love to dip!

That is no secret to you, I’m sure, dear momma! So instead of dipping these little pancakes in a load of sugary maple syrup, we’re going to cut the sugar down and use some fruit, and then mix it with some fat to keep blood sugars balanced. Use whatever berries are in season near you, or thaw out some frozen berries to use if it is wintertime. The sauce takes no time at all to make, and you can customize it to your kids’ taste for sweet. If you have really littles in the house, I’d skip the added honey all together. If you have teens in the house used to sweeter foods, that touch of honey will really bring out the berry’s sweetness, and it will still be less sugar than dousing them in maple syrup before a school day.

Not just for breakfast!

This recipe as written fills my 48 cup mini muffin pan! That, my friends, is the epitome if the whole “cook once, eat twice” mantra so many of us try to live by on busy schedules. The girls enjoyed taking the leftovers from breakfast in their school lunch the next day topped with butter, and with a thermos of soup. They freeze fantastic too, so if you don’t have a need for the extras right away, just pop them in a freezer bag for another time.

A note on the soaking

If you are newer to the more traditional real foods movement, this whole soaking process is probably new to you. In a nutshell, soaking grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds is an ancient practice that helps reduce gut disturbing phytic acid, making digestion more sound over time. It takes only minutes to prepare, though remembering to get the flour soaking the night before is part of the process! And because I totally, and utterly understand that, I’m going to step out and be a little taboo for a minute…if you are a hardcore traditional foodist, you’ll want to cover your eyes for this part… Skip the soaking if that means you’ll make these instead of opening a box of cereal, dear momma. I’d rather have you make this healthy, nutrient dense breakfast for your kids without the soaking versus not making them at all. If you are totally into the soaking, go for it! I actually love it because it means most of the recipe is made the night before.

Print Recipe
5 from 11 votes

Gluten Free Buckwheat Pancake Mini Muffins With Berry Dipping Sauce :: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free




  • 1 cup berry of choice quartered if large like strawberries
  • 2-4 tsp raw honey or coconut sugar depending on how sweet your berries are
  • 1-2 tbsp butter optional if you don’t tolerate dairy



  • The night before you want to make the muffins, put the buckwheat flour, milk, vinegar, and salt in a medium mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Cover with a lid and let the mixture soak overnight 7-10 hours. This soaking process helps break down the phytic acid in the buckwheat seed making it easier on digestion over time.
  • The next morning, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees, and spray a mini muffin tin with avocado oil spray or use mini muffin liners
  • Stir in the rest of the ingredients to the soaked batter, and spoon the batter into your prepared muffin tin.
  • Bake the mini buckwheat pancakes at 350 degrees for 15 minutes (if you are making regular sized muffins, bake for more like 25-30 minutes). Let the muffins cool for a couple minutes, and then turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. You can keep the muffins in an airtight container for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for months. 


  • Everything into a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally, letting the sauce simmer and break down for about 3-4 minutes. A potato masher helps this along well.
  • Taste the sauce for sweetness, and then blend until smooth. The berry sauce will keep up to a week, chilled in the refrigerator. 

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Probiotic Rich Fermented Red Onions & 10 Minute Sheet Pan Fish Tacos!

April 10, 2019

Sheet pan fish tacos topped with tangy, probiotic rich fermented red onions are a match made in heaven!

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Beach days, rock hunting, & fish tacos…

We made it. Our feet were grounded on the Lake Michigan shoreline all weekend, and we couldn’t be more full of joy! While we spend most of our spring and summer days with our feet in the soft, powdery sand of our hometown shoreline, we do love to beach hop to some special places along Lake Michigan with a more rocky landscape so that my rock hunters can find special treasures! My oldest has become quite the geologist in the last few years, with such a love for collecting different rocks and fossils. And my oldest also couldn’t think of a better way to re-fuel after our first spring beach day than fish tacos!

The obsession began a few summers ago…

We were enjoying a rare to us night out at a restaurant after a long, hot beach day, and my oldest, who was about 6 at the time, ordered fish tacos. They were just about the biggest hit you could ever dream of for her, and she still talks about them to this day. They had the avocado crema, mango salsa, and those pretty little pickled red onions sprinkled on top – the works! She was obsessed, and I just knew I had to duplicate them for our menu rotation after that!

The real deal “pickled” red onions

Quick little refrigerate pickled red onions are great, and truly is nothing wrong with them, but what if there was a way to make them the “real deal” way? Instead of pickling them in vinegar for the sour punch, letting nature do it’s work with a little sea salt and water, and allowing the natural, good bacteria in the vegetable ferment the onions to tangy perfection – the way your ancestors would have preserved and “pickled” onions! And let me tell you…the tangy, sweet, salty, crunchy red onions make *the* best fish taco topping!

A quick fermentation 101

It’s as simple as making a little salt water brine to suspend your onions, a clean, air tight space to allow the science to happen, and a little time. When you add the salt water brine to vegetables, the good bacteria in the vegetables starts eating away at the natural sugars in the veggie. The lactic acid left behind from this veggie sugar metabolizing gives the vegetable a tart, tangy taste, and is also just so amazingly good for our bodies! It is a great way to keep beneficial bacteria in our gut flora (probiotics), and it balances stomach acid.

Ok, so what do I need to get started fermenting my onions?

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

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

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

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

Do the kids like them?

Well, 2 out of my 3 give these little onions 2 thumbs up. My youngest is still warming up to them, but onions are strong in the first place, and probably aren’t a great fermented food to start out with for really little guys. My suggestion for littles and fermented foods is to start out with fermented carrots and sauerkraut. Sour pickles and fermented asparagus are fantastic options that are kid friendly too. I also loved this recipe for Ranch Dressing made with Kefir (a style of fermented milk) to dip your veggies in! The littles will love it, and you can feel good about what their gut being nourished. All in all, be inspired to give even the smallest of children in the house a try of fermented foods. My girls were eating small shreds of sauerkraut and shredded fermented carrots by the age of 9 months old, and developing that taste palate is priceless.

Fermented onions first, then onto the tacos!

So grab a mason jar and get some fermented red onions going! Then plan a fish taco night into your menu plan this month and just wait until you see how fun fish taco night is! Here is the recipe for the fermented onions, and the tacos will follow.

Print Recipe
5 from 32 votes

Probiotic Rich Fermented Red Onions :: The Perfect Topping for Fish Tacos, Salads, Wraps, and More!


  • 1 pint warm water
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 large red onion sliced
  • 1 tsp sugar optional


  • Dissolve the sea salt in the warm water.
  • Put the sliced red onions and sugar into a mason jar, packing them in tightly.
  • Pour the salt water brine over the onions leaving a half inch to inch of headspace at the top.
  • Add your fermenting weight over the onions in the brine to be sure the onions stay submerged. If you do not have a weight, just be sure the onions are completely submerged in the brine or you will get molding.
  • Put your fermenting lid on the jar (I use pickle pipes) and leave in a warm space in your kitchen on the counter or in a cupboard for 1-3 weeks. You can taste the onions along the way to get your preference of tartness. If your house is warmer, it will ferment faster, and if your house is cooler, it will take longer. Everyone has a different taste for fermented foods. Your fermented onions should smell oniony and taste pleasantly tangy/sour. The longer you ferment the more beneficial bacteria will be present. I ferment my onions around 3-4 weeks if it is winter time and cooler in my house, and it takes more like 2 weeks in the very warm summer months.

But getting back to those fish tacos!

A couple months back, I had dinner with some friends at a local restaurant. It was all about conversations that didn’t revolve around slime, school work, or Hatchimals; glasses of wine, and great food – it is such a necessity of mom life to do this! One of my friends and I ordered the fish tacos, and, after we quite literally devoured them, I had a renewed desire to get a fun, family friendly fish taco recipe to the blog!

Sheet pan prep for busy families

…Because fish tacos on a Wednesday night is just the bees knees, and I promise it will be *the* thing that gets you through the rest of the week. Just a quick slice through some wild caught white fish, a toss through some taco season of your liking, and 10 minutes at the most in the oven. That is weeknight dinner at it’s best.

What kind of fish?

Any wild caught white fish will do, though we have certainly enjoyed fish tacos with wild caught salmon! Use whatever your family likes to eat. We pick up wild caught mahi-mahi, cod, and salmon at Costco. We also have a local fish monger that has the fish here and there. Check around where you live, and ask! Fish mongers are always happy to tell you about where their fish comes from!

Fish Taco Bar topping ideas!

  • Shredded cabbage or lettuce
  • Coleslaw
  • Fermented Red Onions (Recipe is below!)
  • Raw cheese or goat cheese
  • Guacamole
  • Shredded carrots (or ease your littles into the fermented topping idea by using shredded fermented carrots – my youngest eats them this way)
  • Salsa
Print Recipe
5 from 32 votes

10 Minute Sheet Pan Fish Tacos



  • 4 fillets of white wild caught fish such as cod or mahi mahi Cut into strips, or bit sized chunks if you have little ones at home.
  • 3-4 tsp taco seasoning I use my own taco season mix.


  • Shredded cabbage or lettuce
  • Coleslaw
  • Fermented Red Onions (See above recipe)
  • Raw cheese or goat cheese
  • Gauacamole
  • Shredded carrots
  • Salsa


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line your baking sheet with Silpat, or spray with avocado oil spray, or lightly grease with butter or coconut oil.
  • Toss the cut up fish with the taco season and spread the pieces of coated fish onto the sheet pan. Bake for 10 minutes. If you made smaller pieces for little kids, you will have a shorter cook time.
  • Serve on your favorite tortillas with toppings of your choice!
My sweet tween, happily inhaling said fish tacos after the photoshoot 😉

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Spring Onion Soup

April 3, 2019

Spring onion soup made sweet and mild, perfect for sipping on a cool spring day!

It’s no secret that spring takes it’s good ‘ol time sprouting around here…

We bounce between winter coats and boots one weekend to hoodies and tennis shoes the next! While we await a more consistent warmer spring air around these parts, I’ll share one more warming soup for the spring season.

What are spring onions?

Spring onions (also called scallions) are just early onions, harvested before the onion bulb forms. You can find spring onions with a slightly larger bulb than what is pictured here if you can find them at farmer’s markets. This is more typical of what I can find organic in a grocery store around here, and either works great for this soup. Spring onions have more of a mild onion flavor, so we love eating them raw on salads in the summer, and it makes for a very sweet and mild onion soup – perfect for adults and kids alike.

The process…

This spring onion soup couldn’t get any simpler as far as ingredients go. A simple potato crisped to perfection for flavor in sweet butter. A gentle and flavor enhancing saute, and a quick simmer with some fresh baby spinach for color and nutrients. A blend through with an immersion blender or in your regular blender, and you have a super smooth, sip-able soup for your mug, or the kids’ tea cups that will warm your belly and nourish your body with spring at it’s best.

But will the kids like it?

If you have older kids that enjoy a French Onion soup, they will love this mild onion soup flavor. If you have little guys, say age 3 and under (even your 9 month old’s are in this category – perfectly safe to try if baby has started some bone broth and veggies just fine!), I say ladle some of this gentle soup into a little tea cup with a straw and let them have at it. Introducing my babies to veggie soup purees from very young is, I’m almost positive, why they accept just about any new veggie soup puree I put in front of them. Including this one, which was a new soup for them. “New” foods can be a struggle for ages 3-6, and my 5 year old was not an exception. She did ask what it was, but knew that she just had to take a couple of “polite bites” to try the new food, and if she wasn’t a fan she could be done. As it turns, out she slurped down 2 small bowl-fulls and asked for it in her thermos for school. My oldest asked if there was any left the next morning for breakfast…like her momma, she is becoming, I tell ya!

Breakfast soup?

This beautiful and delicious spring onion soup has been a favorite breakfast of mine over the last month while I’ve perfected my ingredient ratios for you. Super hot in a mug with a side of hard boiled eggs and a muffin to be exact! Bone broth rich soup is a wonderful way to start the day, and truth be told, as the weather turns warmer, I’ll be swapping my breakfast soups for smoothies more often, so I’m savoring all I can of this beautiful season.

Topping ideas

SO many possibilities here! Our favorite so far has been the sweet and salty bite of shaved Parmesan or your favorite cheese on top. If you don’t tolerate cheese, you can add some nutritional yeast flakes during blending to add the cheesy bite. We also loved a swirl of tangy coconut yogurt. You could do sour cream if you wish too. A sprinkle of sunflower seeds gives great crunch as well.


If you see an abundance of spring onions this season at your farmer’s market for those amazing in season prices, take advantage and double or triple this soup up. It freezes fantastic, and I even think the flavor enhances with time!

Print Recipe
5 from 15 votes

Spring Onion Soup


  • 3-4 tbsp butter, ghee, or olive oil to cook in
  • 1 russet potato cubed
  • 4 bunches of spring onion chopped, including whites and greens included)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 quart bone broth
  • 3 handfuls of baby spinach
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste
  • Garnish with cheese of your choice, or dollop of sour cream or coconut yogurt


  • Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium high heat, and add the potatoes with a big pinch of sea salt. Cook until the potatoes start to slightly brown and crisp. This will take a good 5-10 minutes depending on how big you cubed your potatoes.
  • Add the spring onion and garlic, stir, and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant and the spring onion wilts and the whites soften.
  • Pour in the wine, scrape up any bits at the bottom of the soup pot, and lightly simmer for one minute.
  • Add the bone broth and spinach and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, blend the soup with your immersion blender or regular blender, and then sea salt and pepper the soup to your taste.
  • Top the soup with your choice of cheese or a dollop of sour cream.

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Spring Instant Pot White Bean Soup :: Stovetop Directions Included!

March 28, 2019

Light and refreshing spring flavors, creamy and comforting without being heavy, this Instant Pot White Bean Soup is your answer to cool spring days!

We had our feet in Lake Michigan this weekend!

Well, let me rephrase that…my Michigan born and bred kids had their feet in the “just starting to thaw” Lake Michigan waters that were registering in at an invigorating 32 degrees Fahrenheit 🙂 I enjoyed my thermos of coffee from ashore in my winter boots! They are like a moth to a flame to this beach, and I love watching them enjoy it in every season!

Cool spring days meals

Spring has a way of really messing with us here along the lakeshore. We see that sun finally peeking out, and most Michiganders trade snow boots for beach flip flops at a mere 40 degrees. The girls saw the slightest bit of water thawed at the lake, and their boots and socks were off faster than I could say “barley thawed.” The sun is deceiving with chilly air still hanging around, so warm meals with spring freshness has become a bit of an expertise of mine.

The key to warm spring meals…

Despite the cool air, our body clocks definitely still shift in the spring. So the key for me has been to invite those fresh spring flavors into light spring soups. We enjoy spring Nettles and garlic in this roasted asparagus and garlic stinging nettle soup. We make fresh skillets of spring veggies, and this spring I’ve been using my Instant Pot a bit more since, well…life, right?! I created this Instant Pot leek asparagus soup with fresh lemon that we have been literally guzzling by the mug full weekly – it is so addicting! And this week, we enjoyed this lighter version of bean soup.


Ummm yes, because, at least where I live, March is notorious for spring colds, the last of the flu viruses, and various other bugs that kids like to pick up. Packing nourishing, healing bone broth based soups in our lunchboxes for school, or soup bowls for dinner is vital at this time of year. If you have never made bone broth before, please check out how easy it is to make with these recipes either in your Instant Pot OR slow cooker!

Creamy and comforting bean soup without the heaviness…just in time for spring!

Because I really do feel the shift from winter to spring – while we crave those heavier comfort foods during the cold winter months, our bodies shift in the spring to the desire of refreshing spring food. This brothy soup is light and airy, with a bit of creaminess to the broth for comforting and amazing texture. Kids tend to like soups with a creamier feel, and this one will not disappoint. The spring dill and bright lemon juice finish at the end is fantastic.

Instant Pot OR Stovetop!

Because I’m hearing from more of you on my last IP post that stovetop is still your main cooking jam, and I *big puffy heart* love that! You are my people! I love my stovetop cooking, and while my Instant Pot has made it’s way to a permanent spot on the counter, if I have the time, I will choose the stovetop every time. Please see the Stovetop directions below to adapt this recipe to how you cook!

Print Recipe
5 from 17 votes

Spring Instant Pot White Bean Soup :: Stovetop Directions Included!


  • 2 cups dry navy beans
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3-4 tbsp butter to cook in bacon grease, olive oil, ghee, or other cooking fat of your choice will be fine
  • ½ large onion diced
  • 1 large carrot or parsnip peeled and diced
  • 1 large celery stalk diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic minced
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp dried dill
  • A pinch to 1/4 or more tsp of red pepper flakes depending on your heat preference this amount leaves the soup with a very mild kid friendly heat.
  • 1 ½ quarts bone broth
  • Juice of ½ lemon about 1-2 tbsp
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale de-ribbed and chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste



  • Put the 2 cups of dry navy beans and sea salt in a medium bowl with warm water to cover by 2-3 inches. Let the beans soak for 8-10 hours, then rinse and strain and set them aside until they are ready to add to the IP.
  • Turn the Instant Pot on to “Saute,” add the butter to melt, and then add the onion, carrot, and celery with a pinch of sea salt. Saute for 5-7 minutes until fragrant and soft.
  • Add the garlic, paprika, dill, and red pepper flakes, stir and saute for 1 minute. Turn the IP to “Off.”
  • Pour the drained beans and bone broth into the IP, stir to combine, put the IP lid on, and turn the valve to closed.
  • Turn the Instant Pot on to “Soup,” and leave the time at 30 minutes. The Instant Pot will automatically turn on, and will take about 10ish minutes to come to pressure (depending on how cold your broth is) before counting down the 30 minutes. When the time beeps that the 30 minutes is done, turn the Instant Pot “Off,” and leave the valve closed and lid on to naturally let the pressure release. This gives the beans time to finish cooking and locks flavor in. After about 15 minutes, you can open the lid.
  • Ladle out about half the soup, puree it in a blender or with a hand-held immersion blender, and return the pureed soup to the pot. Add the lemon juice and kale to the soup and stir. The heat from the soup will wilt the kale, and you can season your soup with salt and pepper to your taste.


  • Put the 2 cups of dry navy beans and sea salt in a medium bowl with warm water to cover by 2-3 inches. Let the beans soak for 8-10 hours, then rinse and strain and set them aside until they are ready to add to the soup.
  • Warm a soup pot over medium heat, add the butter to melt, and then add the onion, carrot, and celery with a pinch of sea salt. Saute for 5-7 minutes until fragrant and soft.
  • Add the garlic, paprika, dill, and red pepper flakes, stir and saute for 1 minute. 
  • Pour the drained beans and bone broth into the soup pot, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer until the beans are cooked and tender. This will take 45 minutes to an hour. Stir occasionally and check the beans for done-ness.
  • Ladle out about half the soup, puree it in a blender or with a hand-held immersion blender, and return the pureed soup to the pot. Add the lemon juice and kale to the soup and stir. The heat from the soup will wilt the kale, and you can season your soup with salt and pepper to your taste.

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Sheet Pan Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets :: Egg Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Grain Free & EASY Prep (NO Breading or Dredging!)

March 21, 2019

Fuss free, fast prep, freeze-able, and {oh so!} kid friendly in taste sheet pan gluten free chicken nuggets!

Glimpses of spring…

We can almost taste it! It really is melting! We are seeing consistent SUN, and sweet friends, spring is so close we can hardly stand it. Our beautiful frozen Lake Michigan beach is thawing out, and we can hardly wait to get our feet into it’s powdery sand.

Spring BUSY

As we started coming out of winter hibernation mode, and spring activities started blooming (<– see what I did there! 🙂 ), I had a panic moment looking at the rest of March, April, and May and had to take a minute! While those toddler and baby years were…a LOT…it really has nothing on tween years with a couple of school aged kids on the side. I know I’m totally in for it when they are all in their teens, but I’m loving that I get to ease into that one kid at a time!

Prep ahead goals

I will be the first one to admit that I literally live for standing stove side to cook. I know that isn’t everyone. It is therapy for me. I do make a point to get my “therapy” cooking into my schedule at least once a week, but a little #RealLife for you…I can’t do that every day. I decided to play around with a little idea I had for nuggets that I could make ahead for the freezer for busier school activity evenings, and make it as fuss free as possible. Bonus if they were simple enough to batch up and throw into lunchboxes too!

Fuss free kitchen time

The first day that I had planned to make these nuggets my day completely fell apart. It happens right?! I originally was going to do the typical “breading” for these nuggets, “dredging” them in something grain free, and decided to scrap that whole step all together because I was short on time. Big time bonus – they turned out even better with out that time consuming step, so this prep truly is fuss free.

No skimping on nourishment here!

Even though my goal was to make something that could be easily prepped for the freezer, for dinner, or lunchbox add-ins, I didn’t want to create something with empty calories. These busier months before summer break at school require big time fuel for growing and active kids. They need real food that packs a punch. I bulked up these chicken nuggets with a load of sweet potato for slow burning energy to fuel those growing kids. It also helps the meat budget when you can pack in some veggies and make the meat stretch.

The perfect texture!

Oh that texture you guys! It was one of the first things the girls mentioned when I started trying this recipe out – and I don’t have “picky” eaters. Nugget texture matters – these are not dry, have the perfect chew, and the flavor is out of this world. There is a slight sweetness from the sweet potato without adding any sugar or even honey, and they don’t taste like sweet potato. The secret is adding a bit of fat (coconut oil) to make up for the leaner chicken or turkey, and soaking up the moisture from the sweet potatoes with a little coconut flour. The result is a great chicken nugget texture that even the pickiest toddler nugget connoisseur will enjoy.

Freezer Tips

There are 2 ways you could freeze the chicken nuggets – choose which works best for you!

  • Your first option is mixing the meat mixture, form it into nuggets, and freeze flat on a baking sheet. When the nuggets are frozen, pop them into a freezer bag to store in the freezer. You can bake them off from the frozen state for dinner adding an extra 5-10 minutes.
  • OR you can mix and bake the nuggets fully, and then freeze them already baked off. I can see myself doing this for easy lunchbox add-ins. They are already cooked and you can toss them in to lunchboxes frozen – they will thaw by lunchtime.
Print Recipe
5 from 18 votes

Sheet Pan Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets :: Egg Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, Grain Free & EASY Prep (NO Breading or Dredging!)


  • 1 lb ground turkey or chicken I pick up organic ground turkey at Costco
  • 2 tbsp room temp coconut oil
  • 2 cups finely shredded sweet potato I just use my box grater. This ends up being 1-2 sweet potatoes depending on the size
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper


  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees
  • Everything into a medium mixing bowl and combine well.
  • Scoop small portions of the meat mixture (size of ping pong ball), roll into a ball, and then flatten onto a Silpat lined or parchment paper lined baking sheet. You can make the nuggets any size (and shape) you want. The nuggets do not spread out or puff up, so make them the size/shape/thickness you want.
  • Bake the nuggets for 12-13 minutes, flip them over using tongs, and then bake another 11-13 minutes depending on the size of your nuggets. Let them cool a few minutes before serving.

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Instant Pot Spring Leek & Asparagus Soup :: Gluten and Dairy Free!

March 7, 2019

Instant Pot leek & asparagus soup pulls the best flavors of spring with a quick pressure cook prep time!

Snow Day number 7,458…

Another lake effect snow storm, polar vortex, whatever you want it call it…is in the books! In March. It’s Michigan…I get that. By March I’m definitely over it, and I’m so ready to bring you some bright, fresh spring recipes! Since it is so cold here, we’ll start with spring produce in soup form to keep us warm, m’kay?!

Whatever state is sending us spring produce…THANK YOU!

We adore you. No really we do. Because we won’t see fresh Michigan asparagus until almost May, and I just can’t go that long without some spring in my life! When I saw the first asparagus sale from at the store a couple weeks ago, I snagged what I could and to the girls’ complete delight we had roasted asparagus with dinner that night – something other than winter veggies! They were in heaven! Leeks and lemons are such a bright and fun spring addition to this smooth and creamy soup too – it’s like spring in a bowl!

Flavors that will blow you away

It is just so good. This soup – you will want cup after cup after cupful. The mild leeky onion allows the rest of the veggies to really shine through, and that tangy bright lemon and yogurt put it over the top. Once you try the little hit of lemon in your asparagus soup, you’ll never go back. This soup would be a great appetizer or soup course item for Easter brunch or dinner. Your guests will be wondering what it is that is making the flavor so amazing, and it is really that combination of the perfect balance of sweet veggies, tangy finishes, and delicious herbs. It will vanish before their eyes!

Instant Pot quick!

I cannot wait to make this soup all spring long! If you happen to snag a great in season deal on asparagus this spring, you can really stock up your freezer with asparagus soup. Shopping veggies in season is defintely how to keep your real food budget in check. And since we can make the soup easily in our Instant Pot, the though of making it all season long doesn’t sound daunting! If you have the 8 quart, I bet you could double this recipe!

The perfect, kid friendly (and not so veggie loving person friendly) soup!

I made this soup on the “soup-ier” side so I could drink it from a mug easily, and so my younger girls could easily use a straw for their school lunch thermos. When my girls were older baby and toddler ages, they really loved eating soups like this with a straw. Between the pressuring cooking time and the blending of the soup, I promise there are no asparagus “strings” left and it is super kid friendly in texture. While I absolutely believe in making sure kids are exposed to every food texture, I understand how those bigger asparagus spears can be kind of stringy. The texture of this soup is soup smooth and creamy – perfect for kids and adults alike!

Freezer Friendly!

Absolutely fill your freezer with at least a couple quarts of leftover soup when you make it! When late fall and middle of winter hit your home, it is SO nice to pull out a jar of spring flavors to change up your menu! To freeze the soup, I like to cool it to room temp, and then fill BPA free freezer quart containers. If you freeze in glass jars, just be sure to leave the lid off for 24 hours in the freezer so it has room to expand and not break your jar. You can put the lid on once it freezes completely.

Print Recipe
5 from 21 votes

Spring Leek & Asparagus Soup :: Gluten & Dairy Free!


  • 3-4 tbsp friendly fat to cook in I prefer the flavor of a combo of butter and olive oil. Ghee is lovely too.
  • 2 large leeks ends and green tips removed, sliced into rounds and rinsed of sand (Use the white and light green part. If you don’t have leeks 1 medium onion or a couple shallots would work well.)
  • 3 cloves of garlic peeled (no need to chop – it will all get blended up in the end)
  • 2 bunches of asparagus woody ends removed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small/medium yellow potato cubed
  • 1 ½ quarts bone broth
  • 1 tsp dried dill if you have access fresh use about 2-3 tbsp
  • ¼ cup full fat coconut yogurt regular yogurt, crème fraiche, or sour cream (you can use raw milk or coconut milk if you don’t have these, but the tang of the fermented creams is lovely)
  • Juice of ½ lemon use about 1 tbsp
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste


  • Turn the Instant Pot to “Saute,” and melt the butter/oil. Add the leeks and saute for 5 minutes until fragrant, soft, and sweet. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, and then turn the Instant Pot “Off.”
  • Add the asparagus, potato, bone broth, and dill, stir to combine, and put the lid on the Instant Pot. Be sure the valve is closed, and turn your Instant Pot on to “Soup.” Bring the time down to 10 minutes. (The IP will start automatically from here. It will take about 5-10 minutes to come to pressure depending on how cold your broth was, and then will start counting down the 10 minute pressure cooking time.)
  • When the 10 minutes of pressure cooking is done, release the valve and take the lid off. Blend up the soup using your immersion blender or regular blender until it is smooth.
  • Stir in the yogurt and lemon juice, and then taste for salt and pepper. You can sea salt and pepper the soup to your taste, and serve.

More real food SPRING recipes you might like!

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Gluten Free Lemon Coffee Cake :: Paleo Friendly & Honey Sweetened!

February 28, 2019

Soft and lightly sweet gluten free lemon coffee cake with ingredients you can feel good about!

A bit of fresh citrus to brighten our long winter!

These long Michigan winters! We sure do make the best of it, but by the end of February we long for something to brighten our moods a bit! I’ll always be forever thankful for whatever areas of California and Southern states are sending the citrus our way during February each year, because we really enjoy it!

A fresh and bright new breakfast!

Lemons and honey are a match made in heaven, and this lemony sweet coffee cake is no exception! I have fallen in love with the grain free combo of cassava and almond flours together lately. You won’t miss the regular flour with the soft, almost “gluten-like” texture of this coffee cake. And the honey sweetened lemon brightness is the perfect start to the day!

Quick prep & low fuss!

Because real life, right momma?! Whether you are making this coffee cake for a special Easter brunch, or your weekend breakfast, the prep time won’t take you all day in the kitchen with these simple ingredients. Even the crumb topping is a simple mix into a bowl!

Ingredient swaps and tips

  • You can swap the 2 cups of grain free flours for 2 cups of Namaste GF Flour blend if you do well with grains. I love the resistant starch of cassava plus the fat and protein in the almond flours, but understand not everyone can tolerate those. I also plan to make the coffee cake with just the GF Flour blend as well as I truly think rotating our food ingredients and not always eating the same thing is important!
  • Egg free friends, this recipe only has ONE egg! Woot! That means a flax egg, gelatin egg, or other egg replacer should work just fine. I even think an applesauce egg would be ok.
  • I seriously love almond extract with the flavors of this coffee cake, but if you don’t have that around, vanilla extract will work too.
  • The crumb topping is super forgiving and customize-able. I have done coconut shreds mixed with some of the flour. I have done blended walnuts mixed with some of the flour too – you can use what you have on hand.

Freezer friendly

I did take some leftovers of one of the batches that I made of this lemon coffee cake to freeze, and it thawed out great. If you have an abundance of lemons, you sure could double this up into 2 square pans so you can freeze some slices of coffee cake for busy school day mornings.

Print Recipe
5 from 15 votes

Gluten Free Lemon Coffee Cake :: Paleo Friend & Honey Sweetened!



  • ½ cup softened butter or organic palm shortening if you can’t have butter/dairy
  • 1/3–1/2 cup honey coconut sugar will work here but will change the color of the coffee cake
  • 2 ½ tbsp lemon zest I had 2 lemons so this was what I got from 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp almond extract vanilla extract would be fine – the almond is SO good though
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup full fat coconut milk or raw milk if you can have dairy
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup juice from lemons I used 2 lemons
  • 1 cup cassava flour
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 2 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • ¼ tsp sea salt



  • Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees, and grease a 2 quart baking dish with butter, coconut oil, or palm shortening.
  • Blend the butter, honey, lemon zest, and almond extract in a medium mixing bowl until creamed.
  • Add the egg, coconut milk, ACV, and lemon juice, and blend to combine.
  • Add the flours, baking powder, and sea salt, and blend until just combined, and then pour the coffee cake batter into the greased baking pan.
  • Combine the crumb topping ingredients int a small bowl, and sprinkle over the top of the coffee cake.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes, or until the middle is set and the top is lightly golden brown. Cool the coffee cake at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving. The coffee cake holds together and firms up as it cools. 

More real food LEMON recipes you might like ::

  • Simple Fermented Lemonade
  • GF Lemon Breakfast Cookies
  • Paleo Lemon Poppyseed Mini Muffins
  • DIY Electrolyte Drink
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Creamy Garlic Butter Salmon :: Dairy Free Option Included!

February 7, 2019

Gorgeous wild caught salmon drenched in an elegant, smooth, and creamy garlic butter sauce!

A winter for the books!

Six consecutive days snowed in from school, and 3 days of ice in a row cancelling school the following week. YOU GUYS…we are so accustomed to snow (and a lot of it!) here on the Lake Michigan shoreline, and typically we can trudge through to school in just about any winter weather, but the last couple of weeks have truly made this a winter we will never forget!

A cozy winter dinner

By that second ice day, there had been an accumulation of almost 2 weeks of fun school activities and dates canceled, and we were ready for some warm comfort food! My kids truly needed a brain boost to lift their spirits, and wild caught salmon always makes them smile.

Easy weeknight prep for any occasion!

Whether you are snowed in, celebrating Valentine’s Day at home, or just have a house full of kids that need an omega 3 fatty fish boost in an amazing cream sauce, this salmon dinner is for you. The prep truly is weeknight fast for any busy work and school day, taking only 20 minutes to make! The elegant cream sauce would make any special dinner night at home perfect with pretty asparagus spears and glasses of white wine too.

How to make perfectly pan seared salmon

The magic lies in a super hot skillet, and I’m convinced ghee makes the best crust and flavor. Start by getting your ghee or other cooking fat super hot in the skillet and put the salmon that has been pat dry and seasoned with salt and pepper right in. After it has crisped up and sealed in the flavor on both sides, set the salmon aside to make the cream sauce. There is nothing like the flavor that comes from pan searing salmon, and all those bits from searing will cook right into the dreamy sauce.

Creamy, dreamy sauce without the dairy!

Unless you can tolerate dairy that is, of course! Because you can make it either way. Dairy free friends, I promise you won’t taste the coconut milk – there is so much amazing garlic goodness paired with ghee or olive oil, wine, and sweetly sautéed veg, that all you will taste is amazing flavor. We thicken the sauce with tapioca which makes the velvety sauce so elegant and special – and trust me, I’ve had my fair share of gummy tapioca sauces – this is NOT one of them! It is so silky and amazing.

Optional change ups

  • If we hadn’t gotten iced in, I would have picked up some mushrooms to saute in with the onion and garlic – it is my favorite way to make this dish. You will love it!
  • You can add some Parmesan cheese to the finished dish if you tolerate dairy ok!
  • I have used sun-dried tomatoes versus fresh before, and it is SO good. And a great way to make this dish in the winter when fresh tomatoes can be pricey or not have that summer sweetness.
  • You can add steamed broccoli to the finished dish for more veggie boost.
  • Asparagus is my favorite veggie add in. During those first days of spring when the air is still cool and crisp, but the first of that spring asparagus is coming in, this warm salmon meal with asparagus is so comforting.
Print Recipe
5 from 15 votes

Creamy Garlic Butter Salmon with Dairy Free Option Included!


  • 3 tbsp ghee or butter, olive oil, or pastured lard/tallow
  • 4 large wild caught salmon fillets cut in half if you have little ones at home
  • Sea salt and pepper for the salmon
  • 3 tbsp butter or more ghee
  • ½ medium onion diced
  • 7 cloves of garlic minced
  • ½ pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • ½ cup white wine bone broth would be fine here, though the flavor of the wine in here is fantastic if you can do it
  • 1 ½ cups coconut milk or raw cream/milk
  • Heaping handful of baby spinach or baby kale
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch or arrowroot starch mixed in a couple tbsp water for the slurry to thicken
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste


  • Get your large skillet nice and hot and melt your ghee in the pan. While the skillet is warming up, pat dry your salmon fillets and sprinkle both sides with sea salt and pepper.
  • Put the salmon in the hot ghee, skin side down for 2-3 minutes until crispy, then flip the salmon over to the flesh side. Cook for another 3-4 minutes until the flesh has a golden brown crust. Take the salmon out of the pan and set aside on a plate while you make the sauce. If your salmon is larger cut or thicker, you will want to bump up your cook time to more like 5 minutes each side.
  • Melt the butter in your skillet over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Mushrooms are a nice touch here too that we enjoy. Cook the onion and garlic in the butter for a few minutes until fragrant and starting to get golden brown.
  • Add the wine and tomatoes and bring to a simmer for 4-5 minutes to blister the tomatoes a bit, and cook off the alcohol in the wine. Be sure to scrape up any bits at the bottom of the pan – flavor!
  • Add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes. Add the baby spinach or kale, along with the tapioca starch slurry to thicken the sauce more. Stir frequently until everything thickens – you can add more wine or water if you want to thin the sauce out any.
  • Sea salt and pepper the sauce to your taste, and add the salmon fillets back into the pan to warm back up. Serve your salmon over white rice or rice noodles, over a baked sweet or white potato, or over a bed of steamed or roasted broccoli or cauliflower.

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Gluten Free Valentine’s Day Brownie Cookie Cut-Outs

February 1, 2019

The possibilities are endless with your favorite brownie flavors in an easy to work with gluten free cookie cut-out dough!

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.

Friday nights, little girls, Valentine’s Day excitement…and chocolate!

It’s just a match made in heaven right?! I decided to start working on this little brownie cookie concept the week before we had a house full of girls over to play after school, and the timing was just perfect! You just can’t do Valentine’s Day with a gaggle of girls without chocolate, and these cookies were just so fun!

A cookie dough you actually want to work with!

I’m all about fuss-free when it comes to sweet treat baking. I know it can be fun to get all fancy with 100 different steps and a really cool finish, but most of the time, I prefer an easy to deal with dessert, and this cookie dough is so lovely. You can knead it and roll it out multiple times without getting dense or crumbly, and the cut-outs don’t break. Just 8 ingredients is definitely my kind of recipe too!

The perfect texture!

Ok, so I know people can be really (really!) funny about their brownie textures! There’s those cake texture people, fudgy texture, and there’s just something about that brownie “chew!” These cookies are definitely more of a “cookie” feel, but you can tailor your finish the way you like! Less cook time and they will be nice and soft – it still feels like a cookie, but if you like a cake-like brownie, this one is for you. And if you go a bit longer on the cook time, you will get this amazing light crisp to the outside with a great “chew” to the inside. SO good!

Fun topping ideas!

Because it’s Valentine’s day right?! While the cookies are seriously amazing and perfect as is, you could certainly give the tops a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Just put some powdered sugar in a sift, and dust the tops. You could also make an icing if you prefer. Leave it plain white, or you can see how we dyed these great Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies with naturally dyed pink frosting here.

Freezer friendly!

YES these have been freezing great, dear momma! You know what that means? Oh yes…make that second batch while you have the kitchen counter a mess, and freeze that extra set just for your afternoon coffee 😉 They are super yummy right out of the freezer. It also means you can make these up way ahead of time and be ready for that Valentine’s Day school party!

Cookie Cutter options!

We typically use a medium sized heart cut-out for my aged girls. I have this set of heart cut-outs, and you can even make the cookies “sandwich” style by cutting out smaller ones inside the bigger ones to make them like “Linzer” style cookies with frosting in the middle. When my girls were smaller, more toddler ages, I had these fantastic small cookie cutters. That way they still feel like they are getting a WHOLE cookie, or even 2, versus you cuttting a big one in half, and they are smaller so they aren’t getting a portion that isn’t appropriate for their size. The smaller cutters are also perfect for classroom parties where there are going to be multiple treats and the kids don’t need a huge cookie.

Swaps and tips

  • I am pretty sure organic palm shortening will swap for the butter if you are dairy free
  • I have a feeling coconut sugar will swap for the organic cane sugar if you want to try keeping the glycemic index lower. Coconut sugar will darken the cookie a bit more, and will change the flavor a bit – coconut sugar has a warmer, molasses flavor. I would not lower the sugar amount anymore than it is, or the texture will be off. These are cookies, after all, and it is a once a year treat. The recipe makes at least 2 dozen cookies so it’s pretty spread out – and you can always make them smaller for your little guys! See the above section for ideas on how to make that happen.
  • I’m sure other GF flour blends will swap for the Namaste. I am not sure how to swap a whole wheat or Einkorn as we cannot have gluten. If you give that a try, let us know in the comments how you swapped for it, so others who can have gluten can know how to do it!
Print Recipe
5 from 23 votes

Valentine’s Day Brownie Cookies



  • Cream the butter and sugar with a hand mixer, and then add the eggs and vanilla. Blend until creamy and well combined, about 1 minute.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, and blend to combine the dough. Scrape the bowl down, turn the dough out and form into a disk. Wrap the dough or cover it in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  • When you are ready to cut out your cookies, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Toss some of the GF flour blend onto a clean surface, and roll out your dough – just like sugar cookies, only I made mine just slightly thicker – you can see in the pictures above. Put the cut-out cookies onto a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, depending on how thick you made your cookies, and how you want the texture to be. I’ve done about 6 batches with varying times – if you go lower time, they will be softer but still hold together well like a cookie, and if you go a little longer, they will be slightly crisp/firmer on the outside with some “chew” to the brownie inside – they are still soft this way, but it is a different feel. The cookies do firm up once they cool a bit. Cool on the tray for a couple minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to completely cool. You can leave the cookies as is, dust powdered sugar over the top, or frost with icing when they are cooled completely.

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Healthy Salty and Sweet Trail Mix :: No added sugar!

January 22, 2019

From lunchbox additions and afternoon pick me ups, to game day munchies and movie night snacks, this salty and sweet trail mix is the perfect healthy choice!

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.

Lunchbox ruts…

Dear momma, I am so feeling you! Halfway through the year, and that lunchbox rotation is starting to look a little blurry, the kids are bored of the same thing, and you are just squinting your eyes at any glimpse of summer break on the horizon 😊

Even real food bloggers need a fresh idea!

Because I’m human too. And I have a full schedule, 3 completely different kids, and seriously those lunchboxes don’t pack themselves! My youngest started asking for “trail mix” in the last few weeks, and I had an idea of what she was asking for. Usually I just take the easy route and pack the girls a hand full of nuts or seeds with a few pieces of raisin and call it “trail mix,” but my youngest was referring to a trail mix she fell in love with a while ago…

A healthier take on an old stand-by…

A year or so ago, Costco carried this cleaner than most trail mix that I had grown accustomed to having in my rotation for the girls’ morning school snacks, or as a quick lunchbox addition. Like Costco seems to be so good at doing, right when you get into a rhythm of using something of theirs that you love…they take it away! Amiright?! To be honest I didn’t love that the dried fruit in the mix had sunflower oil, but for the most part the mix was pretty clean, and it was nice to use once a week as a quick snack or lunchbox filler. Really this mix isn’t that hard to duplicate! I decided to grab a cleaner, healthier fat to make the trail mix feel rich, and make it fun with different pieces of dried fruit for the sweet, and a hit of sea salt for the salty – that makes for a fun snack!

Let’s break it down!

You can really swap the nut/seed/dried fruit combo for anything that you have in your pantry. I love having a big variety to take advantage of all the different vitamins and minerals that nuts and seeds have to offer, without overdoing it on one particular kind. If you are nut free, just use all seeds, and if you can’t have something on the list, simply swap it out. And as far as the dried fruit goes, the sky is the limit as long as it doesn’t have added sugar in my book, so go for it! I can hardly wait until strawberry and blueberry season so that I can dry some of those out to add to the mix!

Speaking of the fruit…

Dried fruit is super sneaky. You have to really look at the ingredient labels and be sure you aren’t getting sunflower oils and added sugar. Just be careful – I’ll add a link to each of the dried fruit elements that we love using here, and I’ll add a few more that I think work great too. All of these are oil and added sugar free! For the most part, I get the dried fruit between Costco and Amazon.

  • Raisins
  • Dried mango (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)
  • Dried apple (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)
  • Dried goji berries
  • Dried apricots (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)
  • Prunes (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)
  • Dates (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)
  • Dried bananas (Sometimes called banana chips – I use these as snacks with pouches of Justin’s almond butter for lunches too!)
  • Figs (to use these in the trail mix, just chop them up into bite sized pieces)

To bake or not to bake?

If you are short on time, this mix truly does just come together to toss without the cooking fat and sea salt, and you’re good to go. Many of you with toddlers in the house can start out this way! As the kids get older and their palates mature, having that salty/sweet combo with the richness from a little butter makes a handful of trail mix go from good to amazing! When the girls got their hands on this, they literally thought we were having a treat. I’ll be packing this up in little containers for a popcorn swap the next time we visit the movie theater because it definitely is a nice salty and sweet snack. While I think butter or ghee has the best flavor, avocado oil or olive oil would work the same way. Use what you can!

Soaked/Sprouted Nuts and Seeds

All of the nuts and seeds that I use in this trail mix have been soaked and dehydrated (with the exception of the shelled pistachios). When I first started learning about real food years ago, I learned about the process of soaking in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook as something that our ancestors would have done. The soaking takes the phytic acid in the nuts and seeds down a few notches, making them easier to digest. If that feels outside your real food comfort zone just yet, don’t work yourself up over it. Just use what you have or buy and make this fun recipe! If you are a traditional foodie, you will want soaked or sprouted nuts/seeds. My process to make the soaking process simple and fast, is that when I buy the bags of organic nuts/seeds from Costco or Amazon, I soak and dehydrate them right away. They stay in containers in my pantry so that I can take a quick handful for lunchboxes, or scoop them out for a recipe like this!

Other fun add-in ideas

You can really dress the trail mix up for whatever you are using it for! This basic framework is great for everyday, if you are going to have a bowl of it out at a party or on game day, add in some healthier choice chocolate chips is fun (this does have added sugar just fyi if you have to watch that). I also think coconut flakes are a fun addition and when I have those around I like to add those in with the baking process to make them crispy like chips.

A quick note about saving money and where to shop

Nuts, seeds, and dried fruit can be super pricey if you aren’t careful. We want to have good stewardship with our real food budget, and so I suggest shopping around diligently to find your best priced source. For where I live, it is really between Costco and Amazon, though there are a couple of items with better pricing at our local grocer, such as the dates listed in the dried fruit above. In the links below in the recipe card, any of the nuts that you see with the “Kirkland” organic brand linked, I get at Costco. The rest of the nuts/seeds I buy on Amazon to save money. These items come with a lot, so build up your stash a little at a time, and you will be able to have more variety in your trail mix with time! 

Print Recipe
5 from 18 votes

Healthy Salty and Sweet Trail Mix



  • Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.
  • Pour the nuts, seeds, and dried fruit right onto a baking sheet (NO Silpat or parchment paper for this recipe), and then toss with the melted butter and sea salt so that everything is coated evenly.
  • Divide the trail mix between 2 large baking sheets, spread the trail mix out, and bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes. Stir the trail mix around (I just shake the pans a bit!), and then bake another 5-7 minutes.
  • Let the trail mix cool completely and then store in an airtight container.

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Instant Pot Poblano Potato Soup

January 15, 2019

Poblano potato soup is winter comfort food…with a Mexican twist and in a fraction of the time with your Instant Pot!

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

A fresh week, a delicious soup, and a brand new cookbook…

For this real food blogger, it really doesn’t get any better than that – specifically that last part. A sparkling new cookbook filled with so many amazing possibilities! My dear blogging friend for so many years, Emily, from Recipes to Nourish sent her second cookbook, “Amazing Mexican Favorites with Your Instant Pot” to me this weekend, and authentic Mexican food makes this momma so happy!

Fun Mexican favorites…and some new ideas!

I’ll be the first one to admit that my Mexican food comfort zone revolves around the basics…tacos, fajitas, and maybe a little tortilla soup, so I was really happy to step out of my comfort zone and learn a few new food ideas from this beautiful cookbook. There are so many great taco, burrito, and fajita ideas that I can’t wait to learn how to make in my Instant Pot, but there are also a handful of recipes that I have never heard before…and that my friends, is where the magic lies…

Giving your kids the gift of a broad taste palate…

Here’s the deal dear momma! When your goal is creating broad taste palates for your kids, it goes so much further beyond just eating their broccoli at dinner. I honestly didn’t know how the girls were going to like this soup, but what I DID know, was that they were going to happily come to the dinner table that night, even if there was new food in their bowl. Mealtime has been, and always will be positive, and they have been exposed to a variety of flavors from early on. The flavors in this book are super authentic, and this soup is bold and SO amazing…and all 3 of them liked it – my oldest in this picture ate 2 bowls (she adored it!).

That spark in her eye…

She asked to look through the book more and I love that it sparked an interest for a different culture of food. We talked about where Rudy, Emily’s husband, has family roots, and while she knew where Mexico was on the map, it was really cool to see her eyes light up learning about the food culture there. THIS is where it’s at dear momma. Don’t be afraid to put different cultures of food, bold and bright as they may be, in front of your kids. They will grow into adults that appreciate the variety in culture that surrounds us, and have a deep appreciation for food!

Winter comfort food…with a Mexican twist!

SO, let’s talk about this amazing Poblano Potato Soup! I have definitely had my fair share of potato soups – we LOVE creamy and comforting potato soups in the winter – but THIS! This potato soup has the most delicious Mexican twist to it. The smoky paprika flavor, and the mild, sweet heat from the poblanos was so surprising to me. It really was so different…and we adore this soup!

Breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Since I made the Poblano Potato Soup for the first time at the beginning of the day, I ended up eating the bowl of soup for my breakfast with a side of eggs and figs – it was so satisfying, not to mention FAST using my Instant Pot! The fiber and slow burning carbohydrates in potatoes along with the cooking fat and my side dish protein made for a really balanced meal. My girls ate theirs with fish sticks for dinner – it was a real hit!

A quick note on the heat for your littles

All 3 of my girls loved the taste of this soup at first. Like I said earlier, my oldest ate 2 bowls and really enjoyed every single bite. My younger 2 girls, who are still a bit sensitive to heat, started heating up after about 3 bites. They both said they wanted to keep eating it but their mouth felt too spicy. I asked Emily personally where the heat was coming from – was it the poblanos or was it the smoked paprika? She is thinking it is more the peppers, so I am planning on making this soup again and cutting back on the poblano peppers by 1 or even 2. My poblanos were…HUGE – as you can see in the photo above! It could have just been that too! I LOVE that each recipe in the cookbook has a spicy heat level attached – mild, medium, and hot. This soup recipe is labeled as “medium,” and so it makes sense that my littles found it to have more heat than they are used to. I felt like most of the recipes in the book were labeled as mild, and the ones that are labeled hot or medium, are easily adjusted for heat if you have little guys not used to it.

Notes for my dairy free friends

Since we don’t tolerate dairy, I did swap the cream for a mix of coconut yogurt and coconut milk – I think all coconut milk would be fine too. I did not taste the coconut. I also left the cheese out. I think it would taste even more amazing with the cheese, so if you can tolerate the dairy – enjoy that!

Print Recipe
5 from 13 votes

Poblano Potato Soup


  • 3 poblano peppers
  • 3 tbsp 42 g butter, ghee or avocado oil
  • 1 leek white and pale green parts only, sliced
  • 5 fresh garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp dried dill
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 russet potatoes peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups 1 L chicken broth or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup 230 g sour cream or 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
  • ½ cup 55 g shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ lb 225 g pan fried Spanish style chorizo, sliced into small pieces

Optional Toppings

  • Sour cream
  • Freshly chopped cilantro


  • Preheat the oven to broil with a rack in the highest position.
  • Place the poblano peppers on a baking sheet and broil until they start to blacken, about 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle, carefully peel the blackened skin off. Remove the stems and discard. Coarsely chop the peppers, then set them aside.
  • Add the healthy fat of your choice to the Instant Pot and press “Sauté.” When the fat has melted, add the leek, sautéing for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the garlic, salt, dill, paprika, cumin and black pepper and continue to sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Press the “Keep Warm/Cancel” button. Add the potatoes, roasted peppers and broth.
  • Place the lid on the Instant Pot, making sure the steam-release valve is sealed. Press the “Manual” button and set for 9 minutes. When the Instant Pot is done and beeps, press “Keep Warm/Cancel.” Using an oven mitt, “quick release”/open the steam-release valve. When the steam venting stops and the silver dial drops, carefully open the lid.
  • In batches, ladle the soup into a blender, taking care to fill only about half of the blender (hot liquids will expand, so please use caution). Blend on a low setting just until puréed and combined. Add the puréed soup back to the Instant Pot and press “Sauté,” bring to a boil and give it a few stirs. Add the sour cream and cheese and stir until fully combined. Turn off the Instant Pot by pressing “Keep Warm/Cancel.”
  • Serve immediately garnished with browned chorizo and the toppings of your choice.


Notes: For a vegetarian version, omit the chorizo and use vegetable stock instead of the chicken broth.

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Sheet Pan Spatchcock Maple Mustard Chicken and Roasted Veggies

January 10, 2019

Sheet pan spatchcock maple mustard chicken is one healthy meal all on a couple sheet pans!

January thaw…

I live for them. Well technically, I live for the opposite 5 months out of the year where we get to be at the beach every week, but in the winter months, a January thaw somewhere in the midst of our frozen tundra is pretty predictable, and it’s something I totally look forward to. We enjoyed just that this past weekend with over 40 degree temperatures! A few long hikes was exactly what our holiday dazed bodies needed, and we enjoyed watching a calmer side of Lake Michigan, trails that weren’t icy or frozen, and even a few glimpses of some sun.

A winter sheet pan dinner

While 40 degrees is quite the heatwave for Michigan in the winter, we were still chilled to the bone when we came home, and flipping the oven on to roast some dinner for an hour was just what we longed for. I live for sheet pan dinners – a whole meal on a couple of sheet pans? Sign me up. This meal is low fussy and absolutely delicious. Warm, winter comfort food that can make an appearance on your weekly dinner menu throughout the cooler months of the year!

Spatchcock, butterflied, split…

Whatever you want to call it, we just love a juicy butterflied chicken! Splitting the chicken spatchcock style is easier than it looks to do, and it cuts the cook time down by about 1/4 of the time! Instead of a whole afternoon to slow cook, in around an hour, you can have super crispy, delicious skin with juicy and flavorful meat on the inside. All you have to do is use kitchen shears to snip down the backbone of the chicken, and you’re set!

The key to super juicy meat….

That butter! You can use olive oil or ghee of course, but if you tolerate butter, you are going to want to slide that right under the skin and let it baste the meat while it cooks. You’ll be so glad you did!

The maple mustard sauce!

Of course we’ve all heard of honey mustard, but have you ever tried maple mustard?! It is just amazing, and I can almost guarantee your kids are going to be completely in love. Slightly sweet and sticky, the outside of the chicken gets basted in this super kid friendly glaze that will have everyone asking for seconds. And with just TWO ingredients to whisk up in less than a minute, this easy peasy change up to a spatchcock chicken will be something you can actually put on the dinner menu rotation that you have time to make.

Make it a whole meal on a tray momma!

I’m telling you, once you go sheet pan dinner, you’ll never look back! I use sheet pan dinners more often than my Instant Pot or slow cooker – combined! *GASP*. Yep. Toss it all on the tray and hands free? Yes please! You can change up the veggies to what you have on hand – here are some ideas!

  • Cubed butternut squash and brussel sprouts (pictured in this post)
  • Cubed sweet potatoes and broccoli
  • Carrot or rainbow carrot “coins,” cubed potatoes, and chopped kale (add the kale at the end – last 10 or so minutes since it doesn’t need as long to cook)
  • Root veggie mix up! Just toss all those glorious winter roots on the tray – parsnips, rutabaga, carrot, beet! The possibilities are endless and changing it up not only keeps the meal interesting, it gets a variety of nutrients into your family!

Alllll that veggie prep…how do I do it on a busy schedule?!

I’ve got you covered, dear momma! I certainly don’t have time to be in the kitchen all day, but it is worth taking at least some time to get some real food on the table. If you really want to make it happen, it can be done! Here are some tips!

  • Prep the veggies the night before. I timed myself prepping the squash and brussel sprouts for this recipe, and it took me under 10 minutes. That is do-able before bedtime – and you can have the kids help you! I picked veggies for this meal that wouldn’t go bad getting cut up the night before – just pop them in a container with a lid and all you have to do when you get home from school or work is dump it on the tray.
  • Train the kiddos! Yes, dear momma! Get those little sous chefs in there to help you out. Put it on the big kids’ chore list to peel the squash when they get home from school, and have the littles scoop the seeds out. Whatever works. And let this be a message to my mommas with littles that are reading this…train them NOW, so that when life gets even busier when they start school (YES you heard that right – it gets BUSIER when school starts!), you have some trained helpers to get the meal on the table.
  • You can also buy veggies like this that have been pre-cut – if that makes your life easier, it fits in your budget, and it lands this recipe on your dinner menu instead of take-out, go for it my friend!

Treat yourself to some sheet pans for your new sheet pan dinner menu!

I use sheet pans more than almost anything else in my kitchen. Having 3 or 4 large sheet pans is a must in my kitchen, and you’ll see at the bottom of this post there are SO many different ways to make a sheet pan dinner – lots of variety! ALSO! You will want to roast your veggies on just the baking sheet – do not use a Silpat mat or parchment paper. They will steam this way and not roast, and you want that roasted flavor. You can roast the chicken on a silpat for easier clean up. The Silpat mats are also great for baking on your sheet pans.

Print Recipe
5 from 18 votes

Sheet Pan Spatchcock Maple Mustard Chicken and Roasted Veggies



  • 3 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup


  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 small onion, sliced into 4 rounds
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 recipe of the Maple Mustard Sauce from above You may make more separately for dipping later if you wish


  • 1 medium/large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 lb brussel sprouts, stems cut off and quartered (broccoli would work nice here too)
  • ½ purple onion, sliced into thick strips
  • ¼ cup melted butter or ghee
  • Sea salt/pepper to your taste


  • Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees and make sure you have your 3 oven racks in the middle of the oven.
  • Whisk the Maple Mustard Sauce ingredients together and set aside.
  • Split your chicken by cutting down each side of the spine to remove the backbone. (You can see how this looks in the picture above). Put the chicken breast side UP on a baking sheet, press the chest down flat, and place an onion round under each breast and leg. Put 1 cup of water on the baking sheet as well.
  • Loosen the skin of the breast using your fingers, and put about 2-3 tbsp of butter under the skin (see the above image). Brush a thin layer of the maple mustard sauce on the chicken (use about ¼ of what you made), and place in the 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.
  • While the chicken is cooking, you can get your veggies ready. Toss the veggies with the butter/salt/pepper on a large sheet pan, and then split the veggies between 2 sheet pans. If you leave them super piled up and crowded they won’t cook as fast and won’t get the yummy roasted flavor. Use 2 sheet pans. If you have a smaller crowd to feed, you can use less veggies and cover 1 sheet pan.
  • When the chicken has cooked for 20 minutes, take it out, brush on more of the maple mustard sauce, leaving about ¼ of it behind for one more coat at the end. Put the chicken back in the oven along with the veggie sheet pans, and roast everything for 30 minutes.
  • Take the chicken out, brush on the last of the Maple Mustard Sauce, give the veggies a quick stir, and roast everything for another 5 minutes.
  • Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before cutting – you can leave the veggies in the oven to stay warm.

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Instant Pot Cauliflower and Kale Soup :: Stovetop Directions Included! :: Gluten and Dairy Free!

January 4, 2019

Make super smooth and creamy cauliflower and kale soup in a fraction of the time with your Instant Pot!

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

Winter hikes, and warm bowls…

At this point in the year, my little Michigander children expect snow…and lots of it! Every once and a while we experience a “barely white” Christmas, and this year was one of them. With the last 2 weeks off from school, they’ve been less than impressed with the lack of fresh powder, but thankfully that leaves roads clear enough to visit some of our favorite hiking places to move around. We warmed up with warm bowls of this super smooth and creamy cauliflower and baby kale soup after a hike this weekend, and the rest will be saved for school lunchbox thermoses, and momma’s breakfast.

A mind-blowing breakfast revelation….

Those of you that follow my Instagram much in the last few years know that soup is on my breakfast plate most days of the week – especially in the cooler months of fall, winter, and early spring. Years ago a nutritional therapist that I was working with opened my eyes to just how many more vegetable minerals and vegetable fiber our bodies need on a daily basis, and one of the ways I have figured out to get veggies into this not-so-smoothie-loving girl’s plate is to use soup.

A new breakfast favorite!

Ever grab a head of cauliflower at the market only to forget about and find it a few days later with the beginnings of those little brown spots on it? Just me?! Well, it happened to me a couple months back in the thick of the beginning of the holiday season, and I decided to use the whole head up in one shot so it didn’t go to waste. I used what I had in-house, and this delicious soup was the result – and became my breakfast for the rest of the week! It has been a nice change up from my typical breakfast soups, which also means veggie nutrient variety for my body, and that is always a win.

What I eat with my soup for breakfast

When I eat soup for breakfast, I like to have it with sides of just about anything! That keeps things interesting, so you don’t get bored. Fried eggs or sausage, a healthy muffin or breakfast cookie…even dinner leftovers will work. Leftover soup warms up quickly, and can go with you in a to-go mug too.

Ok, breakfast soup for mom, but will the kids eat it?!

Well devour it is more like it in my house, but yes, this soup is super kid friendly. If your kids aren’t big soup for breakfast eaters, pack it along in their school lunchbox thermos, or serve it with dinner. It’s a great way to get in more veggie variety with an easy to eat, flavorful soup. The texture is super smooth which most kids prefer, and the flavors are pure and delicious versus super complex. Your toddlers/babies can use a straw if they want to do it themselves. Veggie soup purees were some of my girls’ very favorite first foods, and because we started out young, they crave these mineral rich soups!

Kale? But why?!

The baby kale (or baby spinach if that is what you have) just adds more nutrients to the soup without changing the flavor. Baby kale/spinach is super mild and wilts right into hot soup – I add it to many of my soups because it is an easy way to get those dark green leafies in! It obviously changes the color, but its nice to add more nutrients without any fuss to the flavor. You can certainly leave this ingredient out if you don’t have it around, or if the kids are going to complain about the soup being “green” 🙂

The key to amazing flavor from the Instant Pot

Get those veggie basics down into some flavorful fat on the “saute” feature first. You’ll be so glad you did because the difference in flavor is very different than if you were to just toss everything in and go. Pulling the sweetness out of the carrot and onion builds the flavor in the soup which is why it is so tasty without a bunch of complex seasonings.

Chop and GO!

One of my favorite parts about soup purees, is that the veggie prep is really carefree. You don’t need a fine, perfect dice on your veggies. It all ends up getting pureed in the end, so just a quick, coarse chop will do.

Some for now, and some for later

This cauliflower and kale soup freezes great. This batch was eaten for lunch after our hike, I packed a serving away to have for my breakfast the next day, and I packed a quart away into the freezer for another time. That is probably the only true meal planning tip you’ll ever hear from my end! Whenever I make veggie soups, I always pack a quart away into the freezer for another time. I pack thermoses for the girls twice a week, and having soup in the freezer helps with that!

Print Recipe
5 from 17 votes

Instant Pot Cauliflower & Kale Soup




  • Turn the Instant Pot on, and press “Saute.”. Put the ghee into the pot to melt, and add the onion and carrot with a big pinch of sea salt. Cook the onion and carrot on the “Saute” function for 5-7 minutes until they are soft and sweet. Add the garlic, stir in, and then turn the “Saute” feature “Off.”
  • Once you turn the “Saute” feature off, add the cauliflower and bone broth, and put the Instant Pot lid on. Turn the valve to closed, and press the “Soup” button. Bring the time down to 10 minutes. The Instant Pot will automatically turn on, taking about 10 minutes to come to pressure before counting down the 10 minutes of pressure cooking time.
  • When the Instant Pot is done pressure cooking, release the valve to let the pressure out, and take the lid off the Instant Pot. Add the coconut milk and baby kale, and use your immersion blender to puree the soup until it is smooth. Add sea salt and pepper to your taste after you puree the soup.


  • Melt the ghee in a large soup pot, and add the onion and carrot with a big pinch of sea salt. Saute the veg until it is soft and sweet.
  • Add the cauliflower and bone broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes until the cauliflower is soft, and then turn the heat off.
  • Add the coconut milk and baby kale, and use an immersion blender to puree the soup until it is smooth. Add sea salt and pepper to your taste after you puree the soup.

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20 Minute Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas

December 29, 2018

Just 2 sheet pans and a super easy recipe for 20 minute sheet pan steak fajitas!

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.

Fresh, new year menu!

True to my typical “Happy New Year” blogging style, we’re keeping things kid/family friendly, super delicious, and do-able for “real families in the real world.” I’ve got some great meal ideas for you to plug into your meal plan for the winter that will keep real food on the table, and everyone in the family happy.

A healthy menu that will STICK in the new year

Because really, if your new year healthy eating goals aren’t sustainable, they will be thrown out the window by January 27th – right?! Easy does it, and baby steps are always (always!) the way to go. Jumping onto the latest diet, or food trend bandwagon sometimes gets you a great kickstart. Go ahead and do a Whole30 if you need to break the sugar habit, or get some food elimination for a period of time on GAPS or Paleo if you need to do some gut healing. But BIG PICTURE, friends. It’s really just all about real food…

Real food that works for YOUR body

That is going to look different for everyone, but the main point here is…would your great-grandparents (or for some of us great-great-grandparents) have eaten it? If they did great. If they didn’t, I’m out for the most part. Simple real ingredients? YES! Mile long list of fake food-like ingredients? I’m out. It really can be that simple. Simple, real food eaten in a balanced way without over-doing one food group, item, or nutrient is always the way our ancestors would have eaten.

So let’s talk about fajitas!

And more specifically lets talk about SHEET PAN fajitas, because boy, oh boy will this blow your mind! We sure do love our Instant Pot for quick, healthy meals on busy days (you will be seeing a lot of those around the internet in the next few weeks!), but truth be told…sheet pan dinners are STILL my go-to on busy weeknights. You can’t beat oven roasted flavor (sorry Instant Pot!), and it doesn’t get much easier than throwing it all on a sheet pan.

The season blend…

The fajita season blend here is super easy to make, and very kid friendly in taste. On purpose! I love me some fajita heat, but if I made them as hot as my husband and I like it, the girls would be a no-go. So this blend is mild on the heat without skipping that amazing fajita flavor, and you can add more heat to your liking (or a squirt or 2 of sriracha to your personal fajita to spice it up!).

The key to juicy, tender grass-fed round steak…

It’s all in the marinade and the cook method. The marinade breaks that tissue down a little bit (you could also tenderize your meat if you want), not only adding a load of flavor, but also making it more tender to chew. And then a super quick, hot broil is the perfect way to lock the steak’s juices in without making it tough.

Serving options (and some wrap/tortilla ideas!)

Here are some of our favorite tortillas/wraps to rotate around!

But don’t just limit yourself to wraps. Sometimes I don’t have them in house, or we just want a change up, and the fajita steak and pepper filling tastes so good on top of a baked potato or sweet potato – in fact the sweet potato is on of my girls’ favorite serving methods.

Topping ideas!

  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Raw cow or goat cheese
  • Fresh chopped cilantro/parsley
  • Sour cream
  • Sriracha
  • Lime juice
Print Recipe
5 from 11 votes

20 Minute Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas




  • 1 lb grass-fed round steak or flank steak
  • 2 tbsp Fajita Season Blend from above
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime


  • 4 medium bell peppers, cored, de-ribbed, and cut into strips
  • 1/4 large head of cabbage, cut into strips
  • 1 medium/large purple onion, halved and cut into strips
  • 3 tbsp ghee, melted
  • The rest of the 1-ish tbsp Fajita Season Blend from above


  • In a small bowl, whisk together the Fajita Season Blend, and set aside.
  • Put the Steak/Marinade ingredients into a glass container with a lid (or a freezer bag), stir to combine, and set in the refrigerator to marinate at least 30 minutes, or up to a day. If you have a busy day, get the steak marinating before you leave for the morning, so it is ready to cook when you get home.
  • When you are ready to make the fajitas, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Toss the Veggie ingredients together on a large sheet pan, and then divide the veggies onto 2 large sheet pans so they are spread out well for roasting. Roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
  • Take the veggies out of the oven, and combine the veggies onto ONE sheet tray, scooting them over to cover just half of the sheet tray. Put the marinated steak onto the other half of the sheet tray, and broil on HI for 4 minutes until the steak is cooked to your liking (this leaves just a slight pink in the middle. If you make thinner strips of steak than what is shown above, you will want to cut the broil time down by a minute or 2.)

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Gingerbread Granola :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

December 20, 2018

Gingerbread granola is perfect for your last minute gift giving, and a healthier “all holiday season long” breakfast!

Last minute momma…

Oh man, you guys. I am usually never the person to be “last minute” on gift giving, but this whole having 3 kids in school thing has made me…not as organized, ironically! I think I figure I have all this time during the day to get stuff done, and it gets pushed off to get work done, or clean the house, or…well you get the idea! This year I really did think that I had all of my gift set, and then remembered I hadn’t covered all of the teaching staff that our family so desperately loves! Once again, that whole all 3 kids in school thing…times a teacher and assistant in each class, plus office staff and the beloved specials teachers. These people are a part of my village and I love to take care of them!

A granola tradition

We’ve been jarring up granola for teachers for years – since my 4th grader was in preschool! It is such a simple gift that everyone will love. I always picture these hard working teachers sitting back with their coffee and a big blanket enjoying their first breakfast of the well deserved 2 week holiday break on us! We usually make this cranberry orange granola for Christmas, and this honey rhubarb granola for the end of the school year. It is always so loved, and the girls like making it.

Short on time!

Because those well loved recipes require soaking (read, time), and I was short on that commodity, I decided to use sprouted oats, so we could skip the soaking step (if you have regular oats, you can still make this too!). I also didn’t have cranberries or oranges on hand for the cranberry orange granola, and with a little one that had to stay home with an upset tummy, there was no store running on this day. I scanned through my cupboards and when I got to the spices, I hit the jackpot! Gingerbread flavor. No special store runs – I bet you have all of these ingredients right in your pantry! I also decided to forgo the dehydrator and just bake this granola. It went super fast, only taking just over 20 minutes to finish! I had the entire granola mixed, onto trays, and fully baked in a half hour.

Homemade gift giving

The kids can truly help make this granola from start to finish, and then scoop it all up into mason jars with a pretty ribbon for their teachers. It is so special to be able to let them say “I made this!” when they hand over those jars! Of course, this crazy momma did wait last minute and ended up making it for the girls, but I’ll be having them jar it up and write notes on the jars which is just as special. It is such a simple gift, and so many people get sweets and treats for these kind of gifts – it’s a nice change up to give them something with holiday flavors that can be used as an actual meal!

How to use your gingerbread granola

  • Top your breakfast or snacktime yogurt or coconut yogurt with it!
  • Pour raw milk or coconut milk over a bowl of your granola!
  • Mix it with coconut, nuts, and seeds to make a trailmix for holiday road trips!
  • Pack it up in lunchboxes or morning snack boxes throughout December for a fun Christmas snack throughout the season!

Sprouted versus regular oats

If you only have regular oats on hand, I’m totally going to tell you to use them (this is the Non-GMO brand of oats that I use). I would rather you make this with regular oats, then not make it at all and have to buy something for a gift at the store. If you have time to order, we love these sprouted oats, and I keep them on hand for times that I don’t have time to soak. Once isn’t going to be the end of the world not to soak, but over time it is a good idea to eat your oats soaked or sprouted for easiest digestion.

A note on the “sweet”

This granola is a bit sweeter than I typically make our “everday” granola. When I created this, I was keeping gift giving in mind, which a lot of the times means people that are not used to mildly sweetened foods. I made a second batch for my girls and backed off on the coconut sugar and maple syrup by half and it tastes really good still. Do not back off on the molasses – this is what gives the gingerbread flavor! If you have really little guys around the house that you will be making this for, I would consider backing off the sweet by a bit. As written, this granola totally tasted like a treat to my girls – ha! It is nice a sweet, and perfect for a sour/tart bowl of yogurt. Or to give as a gift to someone who is more used to sweet breakfast cereals.

Merry Christmas to you and your family!


Another year has literally flown by, and I am so honored to continue to be able to write in this space, and share conversation with you all. Healthy and happy new year to you!

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Gingerbread Granola :: Gluten & Dairy Free!

We've been jarring up granola for teachers for years - since my 4th grader was in preschool! It is such a simple gift that everyone will love.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy-free granola recipe, gluten-free granola, pecan granola
Servings: 20 servings


  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 1/2 cups oats I like to use sprouted oats for best digestion over time
  • 3 cups pecans coarsely chopped (you could use other nuts and/or seeds here.)
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar regular organic sugar would work here too. Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index and has a great warm flavor
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves


  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  • Melt the coconut oil, maple syrup, and molasses in a small sauce pan. Turn off the heat, and add the vanilla extract.
  • Combine the rest of the ingredients (the dry ingredients) into a large mixing bowl, and then stir in the melted coconut oil/syrup/molasses, until all of the dry ingredients are coated.
  • Spread the granola mixture onto 2 large baking sheets and bake at 325 for 10 minutes. Take the trays out, stir the granola, and then return to the oven. Bake for another 13 minutes. Take the trays out, stir the granola, and then let the granola cool completely. It will crisp up more as it cools. Store your granola in airtight containers up to a month in the pantry, or months in the fridge or freezer.

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