Green Lentil Curry

I’ve been in a pantry cleaning mood lately. I didn’t say organizing. You can ask my husband – organization is NOT my skill set. But I’m trying to make use of ingredients we have hanging out in the back of the pantry. You know those things you need for a recipe, you use a tiny bit of, then you forget about them? Those things.

So when I found green lentils that, for the life of me I can’t remember what we used them for, I decided to go searching for a way to cook them.

I found the original recipe here, and apart from the green curry paste, I had all the ingredients I needed on hand – total win. I added a few different things to the recipe, took away some others, and the result is a flavorful, hearty dish that is thicker than soup but just as warming. Continue reading “Green Lentil Curry”

Healthy Holiday Sides with Carrots and Sweet Potatoes

Carrot souffle and sweet potato bake that are grain free, dairy free, and refined sugar free? Yes, please!

Now, before you head to the recipes, I have to say one quick thing. I know it’s a pain when you are looking for a recipe and the blogger spends all this time with the description and build up and pictures and you’re like, “Just get to the dang ingredients, Karen!”

But after I say this I’ll be done – and you can go on your merry way to try out these recipes.

I get annoyed with the phrase “healthy” in regards to food choices during the holidays. Holidays are celebratory, and if you’re stressing out about whether something is “healthy” or not, and you’re panicked about every ingredient in your meal, you’re less likely to be able to digest the nutrients from that meal.

Stressing about food is the opposite of health, in my opinion.

That being said, it seems to me that every year I get busier with celebrations. We have countless parties, and all of them feature lots of food and lots of alcohol. Because monitoring my mental health is always priority for me, and I will do whatever I can to fight seasonal depression, eating loads of sugar and drinking sugary alcoholic beverages can be taxing on my mental stability.

Consuming lots of sweet treats and drinking alcohol frequently during the month of December will throw off my sleep, make me less well-rested the following day, and then cause my cravings to skyrocket – perpetuating the cycle. So while I don’t want to stress about my food, I do want to be MINDFUL about what I’m choosing and how those choices will make me feel afterward. (For more on eating for mental health and my thoughts on that, check out the Sparking Wholeness podcast episode 10.)

Which leads me to the recipes.

img_3057

Continue reading “Healthy Holiday Sides with Carrots and Sweet Potatoes”

Quick and Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Last week my husband and I decided to get creative, save money, and utilize different items from our freezer and pantry that were taking up space.

Well, maybe it was my idea to get creative. He just liked the money-saving part.

img_2561Anyway, I found some organic boneless chicken thighs in our freezer, along with some pantry items that could be useful, and threw together a white bean chicken chili that was so good I knew I needed to post here for my own reference, if anything!

What surprised me about this chili is how creamy it ended up being. I didn’t add any cheese or sour cream, but something about the combo of the white beans and bone broth made it thicker than a usual tomato-based and dark bean chili.

 

*Note: While beans may be aggravating for some people if consumed too frequently, they are still a great source of folate, minerals, and fiber – and white beans in particular are great at slowing the glucose response in the body. All these benefits are crucial for mental WEALTH. Continue reading “Quick and Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Chili”

Favorite Slow Cooker Potato Soup

Brrrr – it’s cold outside in Dallas, so you know what that means for me??? Time to post a soup recipe!

I wish I knew where this recipe came from, to give credit where credit is due. But I don’t – I’ll just say my family requests this every time the weather cools down a bit, and this recipe has always been a hit in my coaching groups.

It’s gluten free, dairy free, and SUPER filling. You can sub the white potatoes for sweet potatoes – or even Japanese sweet potatoes!

img_0525

When I worked away from home full time, I prepped all ingredients the night before, stored them in the fridge, then dumped them in the crock pot the next morning, set on the lowest setting.

These days I throw it all together and cook on high for 4 hours.

img_0513

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Italian sausage (or breakfast sausage or grass fed beef)
  • 10 slices bacon
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 32 ounce carton broth (beef has the most flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk, refrigerated to separate cream

Directions:

  1. Cook sausage in pan.
  2. Cook bacon in pan or bake on 375 for about 35 minutes until desired crispness.
  3. While those cook, chop potatoes and onions.
  4. Place everything in slow cooker except bacon, kale and coconut milk.
  5. About 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving, add kale.
  6. A few minutes before serving, add just the separated coconut cream to the slow cooker.
  7. Chop bacon in small pieces and serve on top of soup. **Some people throw the bacon in at the beginning with everything else, but I think it has more flavor as a garnish.

Delicious Dessert Nachos

My newest discovery in foodie land is the amazing Japanese sweet potato. Maybe it appeals to me because it’s purple on the outside (my favorite color), maybe it’s just because it’s unique, but either way – it is an extremely versatile friend in my kitchen. This guy has the ability to go sweet OR savory – no easy feat.

Because I’ve always loved a good sweet treat, I decided to go in the sweet direction. It makes it fun for kids, too! My 2 year old had to fight me for the last few bites of these “nachos.”

As usual, I used my air fryer for this recipe, but it’s doable in the oven too – might just take a little more time to get nice and crispy.

You can use peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower butter, whatever your favorite is. Trader Joe’s has a fabulous mixed nut butter that would be good on this too! The chia seeds give it some crunch, and the coconut/honey combo complete the flavor explosion. If you really want to get crazy, sprinkle some cocoa powder on top! Oh, the options!

img_7391 Continue reading “Delicious Dessert Nachos”

Brainpower Bombs

Okay, I really don’t know what to call this creation. I was in the mood for something sweet, kind of like a Perfect bar, but those are pretty pricey. I figured I could come up with my own version.

They’re tasty, filled with fat and fiber, and my kids wouldn’t stop eating them. What’s not to love? Also, it’s a dump and blend recipe… which I’m always a fan of.

(Side note – I wish I could plate my food with decorative flowers and greenery and sprinkles of coconut and cacao… but photography isn’t my gift. Plus these things don’t sit long without being eaten.)

img_6740

Continue reading “Brainpower Bombs”

Simple Salad Dressing Tips

If you and I toured the grocery store together for a little education on label reading and what to avoid and what to include, one of our first stops would be the salad dressing aisles.

Why? Well, most salad dressings are LOADED with ingredients that will do much more damage to your health and well-being than good. ESPECIALLY those lovely labels that trick you with words like “light” and “reduced fat.”

Now, knowing that most veggies contain fat soluble vitamins, which means we NEED fat to absorb them, why in the world would we throw on a dressing that is reduced fat?

>>Pause here. If you are following ANY kind of eating plan that promotes light or reduced fat dressing, it’s time for a new plan!<<

Don’t get me started. One of reasons I hated salads for years is because they never filled me up for more than an hour (there are other reasons I go into here, but I won’t go there now).

When I load my salad up with the RIGHT kind of fat, I feel fuller longer. It’s better for my mental health and way tastier. Most bottled dressings contain canola oil, soybean oil, and/or a bunch of random artificial chemicals and sugar. For example, even the Newman’s Own Olive Oil Blend, which seems to be a pretty safe option, contains soybean and/or canola oil added to it!

My favorite brands for dressings with yummy brain fats are Primal Kitchen and Tessamae’s. I’ve heard Bragg vinaigrette is awesome, but I haven’t tried it yet.

It is much cheaper and nourishing to my body and brain to make my own dressing. I put the ingredients in a small mason jar, shake them up, and store it in the fridge. I don’t like soggy lettuce and a lot of dressing, so I may use less than some.

Keep your oil and vinegar to a 3:1 ratio, and get creative with spices! Here is my favorite combination.

Favorite Salad Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or apple cider, red wine, etc)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Dash of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, lemon juice, lime juice, get creative!

Combine in a mason jar and shake. Serve immediately or store in fridge for up to a week.

 

 

Fatty Coffee

Why in the world would I load my coffee up with fat? Does that sound weird and backwards to you?

Well, I’ve been doing it for almost two years now and it has changed my health in many ways. Here are some benefits I’ve noticed:

  • Less “hanger,” more blood sugar control
  • Decreased sugar cravings
  • More alert mentally
  • Able to practice intermittent fasting, which increases my BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor)
  • It gives my brain the right kind of healthy fat it NEEDS for optimal function

Also, it tastes really really good. Like my own homemade foamy latte.

When I start my day with a processed refined grain like cereal or a bagel or English muffin, which I did for many years, I would be hungry within a couple hours and my brain would be mush.

Starting my day with fat-fueled coffee (also known as “bulletproof coffee”) fills me up so I can prolong my brain-boosting fast, it provides butyrate and MCT oil for brain health, and it keeps my blood sugar from going crazy because I don’t need to sweeten it! I have energy throughout the day and I have a clear head to make more brain-nourishing nutritional choices.

Here’s the thing that throws people off – this IS intended to replace a meal. But listen to your body. If you are hungry right after, EAT! Fuel yourself with high quality animal protein, a healthy fat, and colorful fruits and veggies. Sometimes I prolong my fast by drinking my coffee this way, sometimes I’m ready to eat not long after. Every day is different, depending on the activity level.

This coffee is not intended to be a starvation/weight loss tool. It is just another option for those who are already drinking coffee and loading up on artificial flavors with creamers and sweeteners. Those will fail your blood sugar, every time.

This is an alternative that will make you feel good and provide health benefits. For so many, coffee provides the highest amount of polyphenols they will consume in a day. So let’s make it even better!

Here’s how I do mine: Continue reading “Fatty Coffee”

Muffins with Sneaky Veggies

When it comes to meals, I’m alllll about getting in as many veggies as I can. That’s why I love these muffins over any other kind I’ve made with my kids. They contain all kinds of prebiotic fiber from the vegetables, as well as flax and gluten free oats – so their good bacteria can flourish. They’re gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free. The recipe may seem lengthy and time-consuming at first, but now I just throw everything in the blender and the result is sooooo worth it!

img_0668

Since I started working on my bonus baby’s gut a year and a half ago, I’ve definitely learned a lot about cooking and baking. We don’t use enriched flour anymore, due to the gluten and folic acid, we don’t have dairy in the house (other than Kerrygold butter, a great source of butyrate), we buy organic as much as possible, and we limit refined sugar and processed foods. They also take the BEST methylated multivitamin/probiotic chewable ever.

I have seen massive results in my 2 and a half year old’s health. He was well on the road to asthma at a year old, needing breathing treatments just about every month with a chronic runny nose. I’m happy to say that at the time I typed this, we have gone 3 months without a breathing treatment and he hasn’t had a runny nose in far longer…and the pollen count in Dallas is at a crazy high.

I’ve adapted this recipe and doubled it from the version I first saw here. The original calls for almond butter, but have you seen the price on organic almond butter??? I sub organic peanut butter, Costco brand, and it works great. For sweetener, I think organic maple syrup brings an added richness raw honey doesn’t have. I love raw honey for the health benefits, but again – you’re using a lot in this recipe and that stuff ain’t cheap.

Continue reading “Muffins with Sneaky Veggies”

Grain-Free Goulash (AKA Upgraded Hamburger Helper)

It may not look all that picture perfect, as it’s kind of a brown blob, but trust me when I say – this grain-free version of goulash/hamburger helper is LEGIT.

I really hate the word goulash. Say it out loud. GOO-LAWSH. Gross. But hamburger helper makes me think of the cute little hand with a face – anyone remember that? My mom says when she made goulash I disliked it, but I don’t remember that. When I made this, the scent took my mind to a happy place in my childhood.

img_9513

It took about 15 minutes to make and it is such a tasty, whole-food-packed version of the original. Cauliflower goes in place of the pasta. If you think that’s disgusting, or you fear your people won’t eat it like this, you could probably do a bit of undetectable riced cauliflower to keep the veggie content up, and then stir in cooked pasta instead of cauli florets. It will still be delicious! Continue reading “Grain-Free Goulash (AKA Upgraded Hamburger Helper)”