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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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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Spring Reset

Over the last couple of years, I have learned how transformative the power of food is for this “broken brain” of mine. Using food as fuel has benefited my mental stability in so many ways. Adding in specific anti-inflammatory foods is a game-changer…and I can’t keep this knowledge to myself.

My new 12 day coaching group starting April 8 will take you through the same “brain health boot camp” I went through not long ago.

This group will give you an arsenal of tools to improve mental clarity, help you pay attention to your hunger signals, decrease inflammation and benefit whole body health!

This coaching group will give you personalized attention for only a fraction of normal client costs. Bonus – you’ll receive coaching from two holistic health coaches in this group!

Contact me for more information.

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)”

The BEST Egg Roll in a Bowl Recipe

Don’t let the name scare you away. I’ve never been a fan of egg rolls. But this dish – major fan. In fact, I’ve tried just about every variety out there on the interwebs, and this is my favorite. My kids love it. The adults love it. It’s a win.

(Just to be clear, my kids also like sushi and dislike pasta with red sauce. So take their feedback with a grain of pink Himalayan sea salt, okay?)

My FAVORITE things about this meal: it takes about 15 minutes to make (start to finish) clean up is simple, and it’s extremely filling and satisfying.

I don’t like to use pork too much because I don’t trust the sourcing/toxicity, so sometimes I’ll use grass fed beef and that’s good, too. The most flavorful meat to use in this is ground breakfast sausage. Again – toxin alert for you purists. But it’s soooooo delicious.

As far as cabbage goes, I prefer a head of green cabbage because it’s so cheap and cabbage is one of the “Clean 15,” so you don’t have to freak about buying unorganic. Pre-shredded bagged cabbage works too, but as long as you have a good knife, save your money!

I’ve used a blend of purple and green cabbage with shredded carrots, and that’s good too. You really can’t go wrong. You could add mushrooms or broccoli or any other vegetable you’re in the mood for.

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Basic Frittata for Not-So-Basic Mamas

I love a good one skillet meal. I love easy. I love minimal prep. This is why the frittata is becoming my BFF.

Here’s the thing about this frittata – I’ve done it a few times, with a variety of ingredients. And it always tastes yummy. So while I DO have an ingredient list and directions, know that it is completely malleable to fit your needs or desires.

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Slow Cooker Pork “Al Pastor”

I’m going to admit something that may seem outrageous to some of you: I don’t always love slow cooker meals. I love the convenience factor, but I don’t love the texture of the meat. Shredded meat is not my favorite, and sometimes it turns out dry and hard to chew.

Not this recipe.

This easy-to-blend marinade is so flavorful and delicious that the pork turns out PERFECT. This recipe is another one adapted from Keto Quick Start (see the Keto-rific Chicken Tenders here). In the original recipe, pork is supposed to be cubed and marinated, then roasted in the oven at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, then broiled for 2-5.

Let me admit something else – I don’t like cutting raw meat. It grosses me out and I avoid it if I have to. So to be able to throw the pork butt in the slow cooker and top it with the marinade on low for 8 hours was a much easier solution.

Continue reading “Slow Cooker Pork “Al Pastor””

Keto-rific Chicken Tenders

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with the ketogenic lifestyle for brain health purposes. The husband wanted to lose some Christmas weight, so having him on board has helped me to dive in and try new recipes. We typically eat Paleoish and Ketoish at our house anyway, just because we feel good on whole food, but going completely grain free and refined sugar free (and alcohol free) has taken things to the next level.

Spoiler alert – 3 weeks in and we feel amazing. Both of us are sleeping like rocks. I’m full and fueled throughout my day, and my mood is leveled. Now, this all could have to do with a new adaptogenic herb-based product we’re taking, but I think the nutritional changes affect soooo much!

I found this recipe for chicken tenders in the book Keto Quick Start, available here. I followed the instructions completely except chose to use ghee to cook the tenders in, and it was a perfect addition! The flavor on these tenders are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. They weren’t dry at all, like some chicken tenders I’ve tried in the past. If coconut is a problem for you, you could probably bread them in almond flour and they’d still be tasty. But man, that flaked coconut fried in ghee left over on the pan is just mouthwatering!

All 5 family members loved them and ate them up. Do you know how tricky that can be???

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Ancestor’s Stew

The blood of my ancestors is in this crock pot stew. Kidding. But seriously, I did some DNA testing a while back and found out I’m 50% British/Irish… so there is really nothing better for me than beef stew (other than whisky of course – kidding again)!

Stew is a comfort food for me. I spent many, many years hating beef, but I always loved the stew my grandma made. I think she would be pretty proud of this recipe I concocted, as I once told her I would never ever cook with raw meat (it totally disgusted me).

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I used beef bone broth as the base (because gut health), switched out extra potatoes for a turnip and some radishes, and added my favorite herbs – oregano, thyme, and ROSEMARY. Continue reading “Ancestor’s Stew”

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

I spent about 36 years of my life hiding from beef, specifically steak. I am 37. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered how much I love grass fed beef and even some types of steak. My body feels SO GOOD on beef. I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but for me, I’ve found brain food I was missing for a long time.

(Side note – benefits of grass fed beef include higher omega 3s for brain health and higher conjugated linoleic acid, which means reduced cancer risk, decreased “bad” cholesterol, improved blood sugar, and increase in muscle! It’s also high in B12, which is super important for those of us with the MTHFR mutation.)

These philly cheesesteak stuffed peppers are soooo easy to make and can be finished in under 30 minutes. They are keto-friendly for my keto-loving friends. If you don’t do cheese, no worries. They are delicious without, as my dairy-free 2 year old can tell you.

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