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Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

February 9, 2021

Classic lasagna flavor, with a rich grassfed meat sauce packed with veggies, layered with cream and noodles, all in the convenience of your slow cooker!

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna
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.

Brrrr!

Michigan born and bred has made us quite used to months of piles of snow and cold, but right around the middle of February, we usually dip well below even our threshold for cold air! These kids are pretty used to playing outside everyday no matter the weather, though, and we embrace the cold with warm campfires, cozy blankets…and comforting lasagna!

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

Warm lasagna made in the slow cooker!

Not that popping a casserole dish in the oven is that hard, but there is just something about being able to get dinner done before noon that makes me smile. Checking dinner off the list early in the day always makes me feel 10 steps ahead of the game, and this slow cooker lasagna will warm up even the most chilled to the bone kids and adults alike in just a few easy steps.

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Veggie packed but so kid friendly

I don’t mind a big salad to get our veggies in on lasagna night, but sometimes a cold salad just doesn’t work in February. And little kids eat cooked veggies easier than raw. This lasagna is super packed out with plenty of veggies, but chopped small, and sautéed until sweet, they are the perfect kid friendly way to get flavorful and nutrient loaded vegetables in on lasagna night. Just look at all that veg!

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

The Method :: The Veggie Meat Sauce

The veggie meat sauce can be made up to a day in advance. If you have a prep day, this is the perfect activity for that day. Or if you plan to make this for a school night, simply make the sauce the night before, so that you can just get everything into the slow cooker in the morning without any fuss. To make the veggie meat sauce, you’ll pull out all the sweetness and flavor from the veggies first by sautéing them in butter or olive oil. This time is precious, and will create so much flavor. Once the veggies are perfection, the beef will get browned, the sauce will be added, and a few minutes of simmering will pull all the flavor together.

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

The Method :: The Creamy Bechamel Sauce

If you are dairy free, you are in luck! You really can have a creamy element to your lasagna without dairy, and this creamy sauce is just the ticket to your creamy dreams! Make a quick rue with rice flour and butter (if you can have it) or olive oil, then whisk in some coconut milk. If you tolerate dairy, cream or milk work fine here. The creamy bechamel sauce comes together in mere minutes, and this too, can be made a day in advance so that you can build your lasagna easily.

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

The Method :: Building and Slow Cooking the Lasagna

Once you have the 2 sauces made, you are ready to go! Get a little of the meat sauce down on the bottom of the greased slow cooker, and then build 3 layers of lasagna noodles, bechamel sauce, and veggie meat sauce. If you tolerate a lot of dairy, you can add some cheese on top of each bechamel layer. This is totally optional. Two of my family members only tolerate sheep’s milk or goat’s milk cheese, which is pricy, so we just add some Manchego to the top of the lasagna and are happy! If you are completely dairy free, just leave the cheese off the top – it still tastes so good!

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

A note on the eggs

I know this is a weird ingredient, but in years of testing out slow cooker lasagnas, I have found a couple eggs whisked into my creamy sauce makes the lasagna set up better. I’ve even used up to 4 eggs! If you are egg free, I would suggest simmering the meat sauce down a bit more so there is less liquid. It does work without the eggs – you may not get perfect little square slices, but it works.

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

A note on prepping and timing

If you have a slow cooker that has a timer function, you are going to want to use that. I have a super old school slow cooker that does not have a timer, so I have to remember to turn my slow cooker off a the 4 hour mark. When the lasagna is done cooking on low for 4 hours, you want to let it rest with the heat off for at least 30 minutes, but I prefer more like 2 hours. It allows the juices to be soaked in by the noodles, and helps the lasagna to set. You really can make this an all day slow cooker meal while you are at work if you have a timer to shut off the slow cooker while you are gone. If you don’t, like me, you’ll want to save this meal for the weekend, or if you work from home like I do, just set a timer to remember to turn it off.

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

Lasagna Noodle Tips and GF Brands

So one of the things that my “type A” personality had to get over to make a slow cooker lasagna was that slow cookers are oval…and lasagna noodles are not. It about killed me the first time I broke some noodles up to cover the area needed in my slow cooker, and truth be told, it really doesn’t matter! It all comes out looking the same! By the way, if you are gluten free, you can use the Jovial GF Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles, or the Tinkyada Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles! Some regular grocery stores even carry these now!

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

Ingredients

For the Veggie Meat Sauce:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • ½ head cauliflower chopped small
  • 4 ounces of mushrooms sliced
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 – 32 ounce jar marinara sauce
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste

For the Creamy Bechamel Sauce

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour
  • 2 ¼ cups full fat coconut milk or regular milk
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 eggs whisked

For the Slow Cooker Lasagna

Instructions

Make the Veggie Meat Sauce:

  • Over medium high heat, warm the olive oil and then sauté the onion, bell pepper, cauliflower, and mushrooms for 5-7 minutes until fragrant and soft.
  • Add the garlic, spinach, and tomato paste, and stir to combine.
  • Add the ground beef with a big pinch of sea salt and pepper, and brown the beef, stirring it into the cooked veggies.
  • Once the beef is fully cooked, add the marinara sauce, stir to combine, simmer for 5 minutes, and then set aside.

Make the Creamy Bechamel Sauce:

  • Use a medium saucepan and melt the butter over medium high heat.
  • Whisk in the white rice flour, making a paste, and then gradually stir in the coconut milk, whisking along the way. Add the sea salt and pepper.
  • Keep the heat on high and whisk the mixture until creamy and smooth. This takes a minute or 2.
  • Turn the heat off. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and gradually add little bits of the egg at a time to the bechamel sauce whisking along the way until full incorporated.

Assemble and Cook the Lasagna

  • Spray the slow cooker with avocado oil spray before you assemble the lasagna.
  • Scoop enough of the veggie meat sauce onto the bottom of the slow cooker to generously cover the bottom.
  • Layer your uncooked lasagna noodles over the meat mixture. You’ll have to break up the noodles a bit to cover the area.
  • Pour about 1/3 of the creamy bechamel sauce over the noodles, and then scoop some of the veggie meat mixture over the top of the bechamel sauce, spreading it out to cover all of the surface of the noodles.
  • Add another layer of noodles, bechamel sauce, and veggie meat sauce.
  • Add the last layer of noodles, the last of the bechamel sauce, and the last of the veggie meat sauce, and then sprinkle with shredded cheese of your choice.
  • Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours. Turn the slow cooker off and let the lasagna rest for at least 30 minutes to soak in the juices and set up before cutting and serving. Up to 2 hours is even better and will still be hot!
Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

More real food recipe you might like!

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Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

January 9, 2021

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

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

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

Happy new year!

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

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

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

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

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

All in one skillet dinner in 20 minutes?!

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

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

The Method :: The Chicken

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

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

The Method :: The Flavorful Veggies

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

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

The Method :: The Dairy Free Cream Sauce

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

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

To pasta, or not to pasta?

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

Skillet Chicken and Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

Skillet Chicken & Kale with Garlic Mushroom Sauce

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

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

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

December 30, 2020

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

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

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

Happy new year!

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

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

Fancy presentation, easy peasy prep!

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

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

The Method :: The Roasted Squash

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

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

The Method :: The Filling

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

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

The Method :: Assembling and Roasting the Stuffed Squash

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

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

An Important Note on Squash Size and Doubling!

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

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

Can I Use Dairy or Cheese If I Tolerate It?

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

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

Creamy Paleo Stuffed Butternut Squash

Ingredients

For the Roasted Squash

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

For the Filling

For the topping

Instructions

For the Roasted Squash

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

For the filling

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

Assemble the stuffed squash

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

Notes

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

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

October 7, 2020

Put a fall spin on your favorite Taco Tuesday enchiladas with an easy and delicious and pumpkin enchilada sauce!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

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.

Jackets, jeans, and fuzzy hats…

Yup, we pulled out the ‘ol fall bin of outside gear this past week, and it looks like it’s pretty much here to stay! It kinda feels like I just put all of this stuff away, but the reality is, our fall season is pretty amazing, and we’ll take all the chilly autumn hikes and pretty fall colors as we can!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

A new spin on a family favorite!

Enchiladas are always a very enthusiastic dinner night in our house! Maybe a once a month treat during warmer months, they become more like an every other week thing when the weather turns cold. Last fall, I played around with the idea of a pumpkin base for the enchilada sauce instead of my original tomato based enchilada sauce, because I didn’t have tomato sauce in my pantry. The result was a very rich, perfectly decadent pumpkin enchilada sauce with subtle hints of the fall season. My crew was in love!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

The Method :: The Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce

In under 10 minutes, your pumpkin enchilada sauce will be done, and I think you are going to be floored at the rich flavor! You can make your sauce ahead of time on a prep day too. Just cook the aromatics in some butter and then simmer with canned pumpkin, broth, and warm seasonings. You’ll then use an immersion blender to smooth it all out into a velvety sauce for the enchiladas.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

The Method :: The Pumpkin Enchilada Filling

You’ll have to restrain yourself from sneaking spoonful after spoonful of this enchilada filling before you stuff your tortillas! The veggies cook down super sweet, not only giving the filling amazing flavor, but also packing out the meal with mineral rich veggies for the family! You can use whatever protein you wish! We purchase a half of a grass-fed cow each year, so I usually use our ground beef, but chicken or beans work great here too. Once the filling cooks, you will stir in some of the pumpkin enchilada sauce and some cheese, making a seriously addicting enchilada filling!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

The search for the best gluten free tortillas

If your household has to be gluten free, it is SO worth the little bit of time it takes to make your own tortillas with my new tortilla recipe! Most gluten free wraps that you get from the store are fussy to work with, and they are so expensive! You can make a batch of these tortillas up to a day in advance, and they will roll right up for you with the greatest of ease. You could also make them on a prep day and just stash them away in the freezer so that you can use them when you are ready.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

Feed a crowd!

I think this fun spin on a classic would be perfect to serve on Halloween night before trick-or-treating, or at any fall parties! The recipe as written feeds my family of 2 adults and 3 older kids for one meal with some leftover for one or 2 people the next day. If you have a smaller family or younger children, this will definitely feed you for 2 meals. If you are feeding a crowd, perhaps roll the tortillas tighter with less filling, or cut the tortillas in half so that the enchiladas themselves are smaller, party sized portions.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas
Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

Ingredients

FOR THE PUMPKIN ENCHILADA SAUCE ::

FOR THE ENCHILADAS ::

  • 2 tbsp butter or olive oil for cooking in
  • ½ medium onion diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • ¼ head of cabbage sliced into strips
  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 cup frozen organic corn
  • 1 heaping handful of baby spinach chopped
  • 2 cups of cheese divided
  • 1 recipe of the above Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce
  • 8-10 tortillas of choice depending on the size of your tortillas (I use my own GF Tortillas, but store bought is fine too)

Instructions

Make the Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce:

  • Melt the butter in a large sauce pot over medium high heat and add the onion and pepper with 1 tsp of sea salt. Cook the veggies until soft and sweet, about 7 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon and stir to combine, cooking for 1 minute.
  • Add the pumpkin, green chilis, and water, stir to combine and bring to a simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Turn the heat off and use an immersion blender or regular blender to blend the sauce until smooth. Sea salt and pepper the sauce to your taste.

Make the Enchilada Filling:

  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat, and add the onion, pepper, and cabbage with a big pinch of sea salt. Cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes until the veggies are soft and sweet.
  • Add the ground beef and cook through until browned.
  • Add the corn and baby spinach and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat until the spinach wilts and the corn is soft.
  • Turn the heat off and stir in ½ cup or so of cheese, and 1 ½ cups of the Pumpkin Enchilada sauce.

Assemble and bake the Pumpkin Enchiladas:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spread 1 cup of the Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish or casserole pan.
  • Scoop the pumpkin enchilada filling into your tortilla shells (I use my own GF Tortillas but store bought is fine too), roll them up, and line them up in the casserole pan. The amount of filling in the shells will depend on what the size of your tortillas are.
  • Once you have all of your enchilada tortillas filled and lined up, pour the remaining pumpkin enchilada sauce over the top of the rolled up tortillas and sprinkle with 1 – 1 ½ cups of cheese.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until the sauce and cheese are bubbling. You can put the pan under the broiler for a few minutes if you would like a pretty browned top.
Gluten Free Pumpkin Enchiladas

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Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan Dinner!

September 2, 2020

Skip the fussy prep and make skillet stuffed peppers with the most rich, delicious flavor, sure to make the whole family happy!

Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan 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.

Back to school and fall routines!

To say we were pumped for school to start this week is an understatement! This crew (and this momma!) thrive on routine, and while we absolutely enjoyed every ounce of our summer beach time over the last few months, the first day of school brought some of the biggest smiles I’ve seen in months! The promise of seeing favorite teachers and reuniting with friends was almost too much to handle!

Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan Dinner!

Long school days call for easy, comforting skillet dinners!

Re-thinking stuffed peppers into an easy weeknight prep skillet was born on a particularly long remote schooling day this late spring. The kids were capital D.O.N.E. and this momma had literally forgotten every ounce of 5th grade math from her youth, so a comforting, easy dinner was in store for all! Instead of actually stuffing the peppers, this fast deconstructed version is weeknight friendly, and *oh so* satisfying!

Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan Dinner!

One pan dinner – veggies included!

Because one pan was about all I had the time and energy for that day, I decided to stuff this stuffed pepper skillet with enough veggies to be able to say the whole thing was a full meal so that I didn’t have to make extra sides! Not only are the super sweet, kid friendly bell peppers scattered throughout, I also added a whole box of chopped baby spinach. The baby spinach wilts into the skillet meal, and the kids will never taste it. This is truly one of my secret weapons in getting greens into so many of my meals.

Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan Dinner!

The method

The secret to the rich, savory sauce for this skillet dinner lies in getting a good caramelization of the onion and garlic, and then using the seasoning combination with the coconut aminos to flavor the beef. Once this important skillet work is done, all you have to do is dump in veggies, rice, marinara sauce, and broth, and sit back and let it cook until the rice is tender. Of course adding the cheese at the end and sliding the whole skillet under the broiler is what takes this dinner over the top!

Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan Dinner!

Leftovers ideas

I’ve made these stuffed pepper skillets a hand-full of times during this summer, even though it screams fall and winter food! Every time I make it, the girls ask if I can put it in their thermoses for school lunches this fall. I’m a huge fan of “cook once eat twice,” so I’m all about that! The recipe as written makes a large skillet full, and my family of 5 usually has at least a couple of kid portions leftover for the next day. If you are a smaller family or have smaller kids, you’re sure to get 2 meals out of this!

Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan Dinner!
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan Dinner!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 ½ – 2 tbsp coconut aminos this is like a soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 – 5oz box baby spinach chopped
  • 1 ½ large or 2 small/medium bell peppers large dice
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 1 – 32 oz jar marinara sauce
  • 1 cup water or bone broth I do like to make about ¼ cup of this liquid a really dry red wine but that is completely optional. I think it makes the sauce even richer – totally up to you though!
  • 1 cup cheese of choice to top shredded

Instructions

  • Melt the butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a large, oven safe skillet (I use my 14-inch cast iron skillet. A dutch oven would work too). Add the onion and cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes until lightly golden and fragrant.
  • Add the garlic, cook for a minute, and then add the beef, Italian seasoning, coconut aminos, sea salt, cumin, and smoked paprika. Stir everything together, and cook until the beef is browned and cooked through.
  • Add the spinach and bell peppers, and stir to combine. Then add the rice, marinara, and water and stir until everything is combined well. Bring the skillet to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer with a lid on the pan until the rice is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  • Once the rice is cooked through, turn the heat off and give the skillet stuffed peppers a stir, tasting for salt to your taste.
  • Turn the broiler on in your oven to “HI.” Top your skillet stuffed peppers with shredded cheese and place the skillet under the broiler for 2-5 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden to your liking. Every oven broiler runs differently, so check the cheese around 2-3 minutes in case yours runs hot. Mine takes about 5 minutes.

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Skillet Stuffed Peppers :: An Easy, Healthy One Pan Dinner!
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30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

March 18, 2020

Busy week? This 30 minute BBQ chicken thighs and roasted veggie dinner is a full meal on 2 sheet pans!

30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

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.

So close we can smell it!

You know that feeling when you take a hike and you can just smell spring in the air?! When the kids get warm enough to pull jackets off after hiking and climbing trees for hours? There is just nothing like the feeling of making it through another Michigan winter season. It has thawed out a bit early this year, and I am totally here for it!

30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

Quick dinners & more outside time

Sheet pan meals are my go-to for busy days that I am not at home much. Everything for one meal on a couple of sheet pans? Sign. Me. Up. If you pop to the bottom of the recipe in this post, you’ll see just how many sheet pan meals are on the blog, and why I love them so much. And one of my sheet pan goals is always to make sure that everything can go in at the same time and cook at the same temp – I’ve got you covered on the prep time and simplicity, dear momma!

30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

The method :: The Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs

The chicken thighs can be prepped in less than 10 minutes *AND* can be prepped in the dry rub ahead of time – even up to 24 hours ahead of time. This means you can prep the meat the night before if you plan to be gone all day, or if you have nappers at home, you can get the chicken ready while babies are sleeping so that when dinner time arrives (aka “the witching hour” for those of you with babies!), all you have to do is toss the meat and veg onto the sheet pans and bake them off while you tend to the kids. Simply whisk the dry rub ingredients into a large dish, toss in the chicken thighs, and you can bake them off from there, or you can wrap the dish up and put it into the fridge until you are ready to bake them for dinner.

30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!
30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!
30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

The Method :: The Sheet Pan Roasted Veggies

This is about as easy as it gets – just chop, toss, and roast. You could chop the carrots and broccoli ahead of time, but you’ll want to do the potatoes right before you put them into the oven, or they will brown with air if you chop them too far in advance. The roasted veggies cook right alongside the sheet pan chicken thighs, and everything is done at the same time. The veggies can also be swapped out for whatever is in season or on sale. Once spring hits, you can swap the broccoli for asparagus! In the summer, take advantage of all that great farmer’s market produce! And in the fall, swap the potatoes for sweet potatoes or squash! You can serve everything as is, or add a pile of buttered rice if the kids need a little extra.

30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

How spicy is the rub?

This rub is really mild – perfect for kids. If you love extra heat, I would very highly recommend swapping the sweet paprika for another tablespoon of smoked paprika – that is my favorite way to eat this chicken, and I often make a separate batch of extra heat chicken thighs just for me! I love the leftovers sliced over a salad for lunch the next day.

30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

Chicken thigh sourcing

If you are lucky enough to grab thighs from a local farmer that keeps their chickens on pasture, that is always going to be the best bet! But, I also am not against the organic chicken thighs I’ve been able to find at Costco. It is a great price point, and it is so nice to have in the freezer for those times when I need a really quick meal for my family, and it will always be 1000% better than choosing take-out for dinner.

30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

Ingredients

For the Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken

For the Sheet Pan Roasted Veggies

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees and line a sheet pan with Silpat or unbleached parchment paper. You will need a second sheet pan for the veggies but you won’t need to line the second sheet pan.
  • Whisk the seasonings for the BBQ chicken in a large dish and set aside. Use a paper towel to pat dry your chicken thighs, and then place them into the dish with the BBQ rub. Mix the chicken thighs with the seasoning blend, coating each thigh completely. (You can do this hours or up to a day in advance, wrapping the dish up with plastic wrap and letting it marinate in the refrigerator.)
  • Place the BBQ rub coated chicken thighs on the Silpat or unbleached parchment paper lined baking sheet and set aside.
  • Toss the veggies with the olive oil, sea salt, and all purpose season on the second sheet pan, until coated evenly.
  • Bake both sheet pans in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes. If you cut your potatoes too large, that sheet pan might need an extra 10 minutes – be sure to make your potato cubes around ½ – ¾ of an inch.
30 Minute Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Thighs and Roasted Veggies :: 1 Dinner on 2 Sheet Pans!

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Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

February 24, 2020

Just like Asian take-out without the soy and gluten, this light, crispy coated white fish with fresh veggies has a gooey Asian stir fry sauce the kids will love!

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

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 tween take-out inquiry (and some Michigan winter love!)

Ah, these tween years are interesting, eh?! My oldest asked what “chinese take-out” was the other day, as her friends were gushing over something they had for dinner the other night. Hormonal girls and savory, salty, sweet, indulgent take-out! Sounds about right, yes?! I’m all for that umami goodness too, and during our school’s mid-winter break, I decided to show my sweet tween just what her friends meant by those to-die-for flavors. We mimicked that take-out with flying colors! We headed out for a mid-winter break hike and came home to take-out…real food style!

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish
Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

Having our cake and eating it too…

I’ll take any excuse I can to get brain nourishing wild caught fish into my kids. Truth be told, because we started them eating it so young, they would be happy clams if we fed them plan skillet cooked fish on the daily! It’s fun to change things up though, and instead of using chicken or beef for this take-out copycat, I pulled out some omega 3 rich wild caught Mahi-Mahi. Super delicious take-out style dinner, and super healthy? Talk about having our cake and eating it too!

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

Method :: The Fish

You’ll start your stir fry by preparing the fish. You truly could use whatever protein you have on hand from chicken to any fish. I’d stick with a firm fish like Mahi or salmon – cod is really delicate and might fall apart with the batter and cooking. This fish batter is a wet batter, and it doesn’t get any simpler. Just mix it up in a medium bowl and toss with the cubed fish. You can set the fish aside while you prepare the sauce and the veggies for the rest of the meal – once those are done the rest of the meal comes together super fast!

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish
Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

Method :: The Sauce

I think one of the reasons I love Chinese cuisine so much is because their approach to sauces is so right up my alley – toss everything into a sauce pan, whisk it up, and done. No fuss or crazy extra steps! For this sauce, you’ll whisk the ingredients and simmer a few minutes to thicken it up. You can make it ahead of time on a prep day too!

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

Method :: How to Cook The Crispy Fish

Coconut oil is the name of the game here, but you can use any high heat oil you like. I love the sweetness that the coconut oil gives the crispy batter, though my favorite high heat cooking fat is a good grassfed tallow or lard. Ghee works fantastic as well and has such a good flavor. Butter is going to burn too easily, and while I love a stir fry done in a good olive oil, to crisp this fish up, that delicate olive oil is going to burn a bit and get a funky taste. To cook the fish, simply heat the oil super hot and cook the fish in a couple batches until crispy. Use a wire rack or paper towel after cooking so the crispy fish doesn’t get soggy.

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

Method :: The Stir Fry

Once these simple sauce and fish part of the meal is set (and it truly doesn’t take more that 15 minutes!), then you are ready to assemble the stir fry. This part goes fast! Just stir your chopped veggies into some cooking fat and cook until bite tender and then toss with the crispy fish and stir fry sauce.

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish
Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish
Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

Serving options

This part is up to you! You can go the traditional route with white or brown rice, or even some gluten free ramen (try cooking your rice or ramen in bone broth to soak in extra nutrients, and be sure to add a generous pat of real butter to the rice!). Or you can eat it straight from the bowl sans the rice.

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

Ingredients

FOR THE FISH BREADING BATTER:

FOR THE STIR FRY SAUCE:

  • ½ cup water or bone broth
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp raw honey you can bump this up if you need more on the sweet side
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • ½ inch knob of ginger minced (or about 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
  • ¼ – ½ tsp red pepper flakes more if you like more heat
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch

FOR THE STIR FRY:

  • 1-2 tbsp ghee for cooking in or butter, olive oil, coconut oil
  • ½ medium onion sliced into strips
  • 1 medium bell pepper sliced into strips
  • 3-4 oz mushrooms sliced
  • 4 cups frozen green beans thawed

Instructions

MAKE THE BATTER AND MARINATE THE FISH:

  • Mix the starch, flour, baking powder, coconut aminos, and olive oil in a small mixing bowl. Toss the cubed fish in the batter, coating each piece, and set aside while you prepare the sauce.

MAKE THE STIR FRY SAUCE:

  • Whisk all of the sauce ingredients in a small sauce pan thoroughly until the starch dissolves. Put the sauce pan over high heat, and simmer until the sauce thickens, just a few minutes. Set the sauce aside until the stir fry is ready.

COOK THE FISH:

  • Heat your wok or large skillet over high heat, adding the coconut oil to get nice and hot. Cook the battered fish in 2 batches, flipping the fish to crisp each side until golden brown. This will take a couple minutes for each side. When you take the first batch out, set the crispy fish on a wire rack or paper towel so the fish doesn’t get soggy.

MAKE THE STIR FRY:

  • Heat your wok or large skillet over medium high heat and melt a tablespoon of ghee. Add the onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms and cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes until crisp tender. Add the thawed green beans, crispy fish, and the stir fry sauce, combine and simmer for 1-2 minutes.
  • You can serve your crispy fish stir fry over white rice, GF ramen, or just eat it from the bowl!
Gluten Free Asian Stir Fry with Crispy Fish

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