Butternut Squash Soup

Autumn brings some of my very favorite seasonal fruits and vegetables.  Eating produce that’s in season has all kinds of benefits:

  • Full of flavor because it’s being grown naturally and locally
  • Packed with micronutrients – aka the vitamins and minerals that give your body nourishment and protect you from disease.
  • Much cheaper. If you’re trying to eat all organic, changing your meal planning seasonally will help your budget as it tends to be less expensive.

Some of the best flavors of fall are in season right now: pumpkin, apples, cranberries, sweet potatoes, beets, pears, kale, brussels sprouts, and squash. Butternut squash, for example, is full of vitamin A (helps protect your eyes from degeneration), vitamins C & E (antioxidants that boost your immune system), potassium (good for blood pressure), magnesium (good for your muscles) and fiber (helps aid digestion).  Today, I’m sharing a super easy three-step recipe for Butternut Squash Soup.

Butternut Squash SoupIngredients:

  • Medium sized butternut squash (pick one that feels heavy for its size and with thick, hard skin)
  • 2-3 cups bone broth (or chicken broth)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp sage

Preparation:

  1. Cut butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds.
  2. Place halves cut-side up on a pan covered in aluminum foil and put in 425 degree oven – roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until tender enough to stick a fork through.
  3. Scoop the roasted squash out of its skin and put in a bowl with all other ingredients. (If broth is cold, warm in a pot over the stove and you can just mix the soup there.) Use an immersion blender to mix everything together and it’s ready. You can also put all ingredients in a regular blender.

Feel free to garnish with bits of bacon, manchego cheese, or roasted pumpkin seeds.  Enjoy!

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

Tortilla SoupLast Sunday, we finally got some beautiful cool Fall weather here in Austin, so, of course, I had to make one of my favorite super simple soup recipes: Chicken Tortilla Soup.

This recipe is filled with protein, is Paleo compliant and the broth is amazing for supporting your bones, ligaments, joints and skin, as well as providing lots of valuable vitamins and minerals. It’s a perfect quick & healthy meal that your family will love!

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of bone broth – find my homemade crock-pot bone broth recipe here
  • Meat from whole chicken (shredded) – find my easy crock-pot chicken recipe here
  • 1 can organic diced tomatoes (Mexican style)
  • 1 can organic tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup diced fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (or grass-fed butter)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1-2 teaspoon(s) cayenne pepper, depending on spiciness preference
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Optional: You can also add some chopped veggies – carrots & kale are my favorites in this soup

Preparation:

  1. Dice onion and garlic and put in large soup pot with coconut oil.
  2. Saute garlic & onion on medium heat until onion is soft.
  3. Add all other ingredients and simmer for at least 30 minutes (or cook in crock-pot on low all day for even better flavor!)

Tortilla ChipsGarnish with a squeeze of lime, freshly grated raw cheddar cheese and some salty tortilla chip crumbles.  When it comes to tortilla chips, there is only one brand that I can recommend… I am beyond excited about Jackson’s Honest NEW tortilla chips cooked in coconut oil.  They are the only brand that makes tortilla chips with coconut oil; all the others use super toxic vegetable oils.  Plus, they are organic, made with non-GMO corn and gluten-free. I found them at my local Whole Foods – you must pick up a bag!

Enjoy!!

Game Day Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken & KaleI’m always a little bummed when Labor Day arrives and brings an end to summer, but then I remember the good news – football has finally returned!  Lounging around all weekend, going to tailgates and attending watch parties can make it hard to eat healthy, but I try to take the challenge as an opportunity to create new versions of typically not-so-healthy foods.  Today, I’m sharing an easy twist on fried chicken that will totally satisfy your finger-food cravings.

Ingredients:

  • Approx 1 lb organic chicken (breasts, wings & drumsticks will all work for this!)
  • 2 organic, pasture-raised eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil

Preparation:

Rinse the chicken and then pat dry.  If you are using chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch thick strips to make tenders.

Whisk the eggs in one wide, shallow bowl.  In another bowl, mix the coconut flour and spices.

Take each piece of chicken and coat it with egg, let excess drip and then dredge it through the flour mixture until completely coated.  Place these pieces on a new plate, put on your apron and you’re ready to fry ’em up.

Heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat on the stove in a frying pan.  For some extra flavor, I love to add a tablespoon of bacon grease to the oil.  You’ll know the oil is ready when you add a piece and it sizzles. Add 3-4 pieces to the pan and let it sizzle for 3 minutes per side.  Work in batches so the oil stays hot…. once those 3-4 pieces are done, you can add the next round.

Once you remove the chicken from the frying pan, place it on a baking sheet (best to add parchment paper underneath for easy clean-up).  If you made chicken tenders, they are likely ready to eat right-away, but thicker cuts, especially those bone-in, may need some time in the oven to finish cooking.  Use a meat thermometer to test so you don’t overcook.  I usually put drumsticks & wings in a 325 degree oven for just 5-10 minutes.

This fried chicken is crispy, tender and flavorful with just a bit of kick. Plus, it is gluten-free, paleo and full of health benefits from the coconut oil it’s fried in!

Best served with an ice cold kombucha & kale chips… Enjoy!

Coconut Curry Chicken

Coconut curry chickenToday, I’m sharing another quick & easy recipe that’s full of healthy ingredients & perfect for a weeknight dinner: Coconut Curry Chicken.  This dish packs the flavor and two superfoods with some amazing health benefits:

Coconuts are full of antioxidants that helps your heart, skin, mouth, and immune system by fighting & preventing infection. The list of healing abilities goes on and on… read more here. I use coconut oil in place of all vegetable/canola oils (they have free radicals that are super harmful!), but I also often use coconut milk as a dairy-replacement.

Curry powder spice mix contains turmeric as the main ingredient.  Turmeric has been widely used in Indian medicine for centuries; one of its components – curcumin – is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Research has shown that curry powder can aid in the “prevention of cancer, protection against heart disease, reduce Alzheimer’s disease symptoms, ease pain and inflammation, boost bone health, protect the immune system from bacterial infections, and increase the liver’s ability to remove toxins from the body.” (Source)  I also take a curcumin supplement daily and it helps greatly with my back pain.

Ingredients:

  • ~1 lb organic, pasture-raised chicken breasts (boneless/skinless)
  • 1 can (14 oz) unsweetened organic coconut milk
  • 1 can (14 oz) stewed & diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons organic curry powder
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • salt & pepper
  • veggies (optional): yellow or red bell peppers, asparagus, mushrooms, snap peas are all great

Preparation:

  1. Cut chicken breasts into 1/2 inch chunks, season with salt & pepper.
  2. Crush garlic cloves & dice onion.
  3. Add above ingredients to a skillet with coconut oil and coat with curry powder
  4. Cook on medium heat until chicken pieces cooked through (usually less than 10 minutes)
  5. Add can of coconut milk and tomatoes and stir to combine.
  6. If you are going to add veggies, add those now.
  7. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 20-40 minutes, depending on the time you have… the longer the more flavorful.
  8. Serve in a bowl on its own or over rice.

The coconut milk cuts the spice of the curry, so it ends up mildly sweet and full of flavor. The leftovers are even better the next day, so you can savor every last bit. Enjoy!

P.S. While the smell of curry while you are cooking this will make your mouth water, I’m not the biggest fan of waking up to it in the morning… diffusing some lemon essential oil is always in order after I make this dish at my home.

Lemon Cream Pasta

I can’t believe it has been over a year since our trip to Europe.  I so miss the days of walking everywhere, drinking wine & cappuccinos and eating ALL the pasta.  My favorite part of the trip was a 5-hour private cooking class in Lucca, Italy – check out my brother’s travel blog for all the yummy details!  When I am craving comfort food, my new go-to is the lemon cream sauce we learned to prepare.  It’s light and perfect for summer. Today, I’m sharing it prepared two ways.  The flavors in both of these recipes will blow you away… they certainly don’t taste healthy. Plus, both of these recipes can be made in 30 minutes, so it’s perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.

For the Lemon Cream sauce…

Simmer the zest of 1 lemon in a tablespoon of butter or coconut oil for one minute on low heat.

Then add 4 tablespoons of bone broth (or white wine).  I always have bone broth on hand and try to use it as much as possible… it’s a super-food that helps with digestion, supports our immune system, remineralizes our teeth, and is vital for our connective tissues (ligaments, joints).  Simmer for another minute.

Next, add 1 cup of organic heavy cream, the juice of half a lemon and a pinch of sea salt (I use pink Himalayan salt). Bring to a low boil, whisking frequently, to reduce the cream.  After 10 minutes, remove from heat and let it sit – it will continue to thicken as it cools. While the sauce is sitting, you can make the pasta.

Veggie Noodles with Italian Sausage

For a completely grain-free version, you can make “noodles” from squash & zucchini.  I use this julienne peeler to make the veggie strings, but of course you can use a spiralizer if you’re fancy.  Then, saute the “noodles” in a bit of olive/coconut oil over medium heat for a couple of minutes just until they are soft. Season with salt and toss with the warm sauce.

Complete the meal by topping with sliced organic Italian chicken sausage for some protein.

Veggie Noodles with Lemon Cream Sauce

Einkorn Pasta with Kale & Pancetta 

Despite the fact that so many people are having problems with the gluten in modern wheat today, not all gluten is actually bad.  Societies have eaten wheat for the centuries and been entirely healthy… even Jesus broke bread!  Over the years, wheat has been hybridized to increase crop yield and is now high in they type of gluten to which most of us are intolerant.  There is an ancient version of wheat that remains unhybridized and contains a completely different, more digestible version of gluten.  This is the traditional wheat that our ancestors ate and were nourished by.  Many with gluten allergies & intolerances are even able to eat Einkorn wheat without reaction. Read more here.

Anytime I want to enjoy real pasta, I make Einkorn pasta. I buy mine at Whole Foods or Natural Grocers and it’s prepared just like any other pasta.

To complete this meal, I saute sliced pancetta (or turkey bacon) and kale, then toss with the pasta and lemon cream sauce.

Einkorn with Kale and Pancetta

Happy cooking!

Easiest Egg Drop Soup

Egg Drop SoupWith all this rain lately, I’m all about eating soup like it’s cold outside. I recently discovered (out of necessity- aka no groceries) a super easy recipe for those days you don’t feel like cooking or just need a quick immune boost.

This version of egg drop soup is quite healthier than the sodium-filled version you’ll find at your local take-out spot, but still packs all the flavor and lots of protein. The base is bone broth – one of the four pillars of authentic world cuisine; here’s quick summary of why it is so healthy:

Animal bones contain a protein molecule called glucosamine.  Glucosamine, the main ingredient in arthritis meds and joint supplements, helps build and repair joints and also triggers the growth of new collagen. Collagen provides structural support for our bones, tendons and ligaments, and gives our skin shape, texture and youthfulness. By simmering the nutrients out of the bones, joints and cartilage slowly, you are able to safely extract the minerals and vitamins (magnesium, vitamin D & calcium) and make a bone broth filled with glucosamine & collagen – these not only help prevent issues, but also rebuild and repair your skin, hair, bones & arteries.

You’ll also notice that this recipe is completely soy-free.  I went soy-free a couple of years ago to avoid the effects that the toxic processing & GMOs were wreaking on my hormones.  Read more here.

Ingredients:

Simply put a bowlful of bone broth in a pot and bring to a boil.  While you’re waiting, crack open your eggs and whisk them in a separate bowl. Once the broth is boiling, add the salt and coconut aminos.  Then, turn off the heat (if using an electric stove top, also remove from the burner).  Next, put the whisk in the broth and start swirling the liquid as you slowly pour the eggs into the center of your cyclone. You’ll see that the eggs cook immediately, but not too much that they’re scrambled. Ta-da – you’re done.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

Healthy, Fast: Snap Kitchen

One of the best things about being a wellness & food blogger is all the awesome people I get to meet who think and feel the way I do about health.  It is so encouraging and reaffirming to keep on my journey towards true health.  About a month ago, the CEO at Snap Kitchen stumbled upon my blog and was compelled by my story, so I was invited to meet the head chef, see their kitchen and have lunch with their Marketing Director and Chief Dietitian last week!  It was a great experience, getting to enjoy a yummy wild-caught Salmon salad loaded with local veggies & goat cheese, and hear about their philosophy and passion for nutrition.  I got to share how changing my diet changed my body, so drastically improving my health and about why I started this blog.  They are fellow “foodies” who share in a desire for great tasting, good-for-you food.

If you haven’t heard about Snap Kitchen, consider yourself told.  It’s a place where you can stop in and get fresh, pre-packaged meals that are totally healthy and portion controlled.  The ingredients are right on the label of each container, and there’s nothing on there that you have to question; it’s all real food.  As a gal who reads labels constantly, this is such a relief – it’s not full of “modified,” something-“ized,” or other chemically altered ingredients.  I saw their kitchen and there was nothing I wouldn’t have in my own.  There was no freezer and extremely few “pantry” items – mostly spices. Plus, most of their ingredients are organic and local, which makes me confident about the level of nutrition I’m getting and supporting the farms in my community. I had a delicious egg white breakfast bite earlier this week with huge leaves of spinach that were so garden fresh. Their menu is seasonal and based on the freshest ingredients they can get, so you’ll never get bored with all they have to offer.

The meals come packaged in BPA-free plastic containers that can be reused and are quick to warm up in the microwave.  For me, they are the perfect weekday lunch.  I can grab it on my way out the door each morning, rather than leaving it up to how much time I might have to go grab something nearby or sticking with my boring everyday salad.  This week, I enjoyed crispy chicken “breaded” with nuts over veggies, beef stroganoff with greens and butternut squash & turkey macaroni.  Having grown up on comfort food, I crave it constantly and love finding guilt-free versions of those meals that actually taste good.  I can’t wait to try their quinoa “mac & cheese” and vegetable lasagna.

This is what my husband picked when we visited... I wish I had quite his love for kale!
This is what my husband picked when we visited… I wish I had his love for kale!

As I’ve mentioned before, I am paying particular attention to avoiding inflammatory foods, and Snap Kitchen is perfect for that.  They don’t use canola/vegetable oil – only olive oil and grapeseed oil for their cooking (if only I could convince them to use coconut oil!), they use very little sugar, the soy is easy to spot in the few meals it’s in and with lots of paleo and vegan/vegetarian options, I can get the protein and veggies I need while avoiding grains and not sacrificing taste.

If you are a fan of My Fit Foods (or just looking for a better on-the-go option), I highly recommend you try Snap Kitchen.  You will appreciate the real ingredients in their foods, knowing that you are really getting the nutrition you need to be healthy.  Portion control isn’t everything, y’all.. this is all about getting well.  Plus, if I’m being honest (I don’t make any money from this blog, so I can say whatever I want, right?), the food simply tastes better.  

If you’re in Austin or Houston, you’ve got to check it out and let me know what you think!