Easy and Delicious Bacon Bruschetta Chicken

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Who’s sick of cooking the same old, same old and is ready for something new and EASY? You can’t tell, but I’m raising my hand. I am currently in training for a new whole food nutritional program I will be launching soon, so I’ve been playing with some recipes, changing things up, and throwing together new things to incorporate (as usual) as many colorful veggies as I can in one meal.

The original version of this recipe I received courtesy of my friend Megan, from a detox program I ran a few years ago. It’s versatile, because it works for people who have issues with gluten or dairy, and it’s so easy and fast – who doesn’t love that?

Even my picky three-year-old loves this recipe! He likes it with jasmine rice, which is a pantry staple in our house!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lb boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto, homemade or store-bought (dairy or nut free? Use basil paste or fresh basil)
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a Dutch oven, season chicken liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. Layer chicken, seasoning, garlic, basil pesto, tomato, and bacon.
  4. Place lid on top and cook in oven for 1-1 1/2 hours until chicken is cooked through.
  5. Serve with rice, pasta, or my favorite – cauliflower rice!

*For crock pot option, follow directions above and cook 4-6 hours.

That’s IT. Now, if you are like me, it will need more seasonings than the recommended amount above. So play with it; add what you like. And as always – let me know what you think!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

For the Love of Aldi

Dear Aldi, how I love thee! Let me count the ways.

  • Affordable
  • Simple set up, easy to maneuver
  • Great selection of organic and gluten free items

We started shopping at Aldi during the seminary days, the years when we had waffles or hot dogs for dinner and Doritos casserole was a staple (insert a thousand cringe faces here… yes, it’s a casserole made with Doritos, chicken and sour cream). While it was hard to get used to the idea of inserting a quarter into the shopping cart and bringing our own bags, it eased the burden of a tight budget that was based on a single income teacher salary.

Fast forward to today. Aldi has evolved at about the same rate my own nutritional philosophy has. It’s kind of cute actually. As I grew to understand the importance of organic produce and products, so did Aldi. As I learned about my need (and my children’s need) to limit inflammatory gluten, Aldi offered assistance. As I began eliminating extra ingredients like processed vegetable oils, high fructose corn syrup and GMO corn and soy for my mental well-being, Aldi had me covered. It’s like we’re grocery soul mates, really.

So I figured I’d share some of our favorite staples, the things we get every week. And full disclosure – Richard is the one who does the grocery shopping most of the time. But because he has learned that he feels better eating things with cleaner ingredients, he has become a master shopper!

Continue reading “For the Love of Aldi”

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!

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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.

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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)”

Dump and Blend Pumpkin Custard

I’m not one of those pumpkin-with-everything girls, but I do love pumpkin pie. This pumpkin custard is reminiscent of that, but it is gluten free, dairy free, and hassle-free! Just to show you how easy it is, I’m going to shut up and throw out the ingredients and directions NOW. No need to tell a cute story with it, though I will say this is a great dish to bring to a breakfast potluck in lieu of a sugary, carby insulin rocket. 🙂

img_3460 Continue reading “Dump and Blend Pumpkin Custard”

Creamy Chicken Spaghetti Squash

I dared myself to make a dairy-free, grain-free chicken spaghetti recipe, and I totally nailed it!

This dish is creamy, flavorful, and comforting just like the chicken spaghetti I used to make that was filled with mounds of cheese and edible food-like substances.

Time out. In case you don’t make old-fashioned chicken spaghetti, I’m talking about cream of “fill-in-the-blank” soup. Those ingredients are not real food!!! The words “modified,” and “dehydrated mechanically separated” make me pause. Disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate come with a host of unfavorable side effects, including migraine headaches. Then factor in genetically modified soy, chicken, and dairy…no thanks.

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So back to my creation. Instead of spaghetti, I use spaghetti squash. Instead of a canned, cream soup I use… CASHEW SAUCE. It is delicious. So delicious, my 2 year old dipped his Veggie Straws in it. Trust me. That is a very good sign for him.

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Continue reading “Creamy Chicken Spaghetti Squash”