Hearty Beef and Veggie Chili

This chili is an all-time favorite at our house for two reasons: It’s incredibly easy to make and it’s delicious.

Oh, and it contains a huge helping of veggies in it, which makes my little nutrient-density-loving heart happy.

My kids love it topped with cheese and I love it served over brown rice or a sweet potato. We even eat it with Frito-style chips sometimes. It is also something that is super easy to freeze and thaw, so I almost always make a double or triple batch of it. This let’s us have a super fast meal on a weeknight if needed, that’s still super healthy.


  • 1 lb of high quality ground beef or bison
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 2 cans of pinto beans
  • 1 8oz can of diced green chilis (optional)
  • 16 oz of diced root veggies of your choice (for this, I love using the Healthy 8 veggie blend from Trader Joe’s. Here’s a copycat recipe in case you don’t have TJ nearby or need ideas)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP chili seasoning
  • 16 oz organic beef bone broth


Open all of the cans of beans, chilis, and tomatoes. Drain the water from the beans, but do NOT drain the tomatoes or chili.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and brown the ground meat, until it is cooked through. Add in the diced onion and stir occasionally until the onion softens and releases its water. Then add in the chili seasoning and stir until everything is evenly coated.

Add in the 16oz of chopped root veggies. Cover and cook until the veggies are softening (but not cooked through). If the veggies or meat is sticking to the bottom of the pan, you can add a few oz of the beef stock in this step to prevent that.

Once the veggies have begun to soften, add in the diced chilis if you are using them. Mix thoroughly. Next, add in the diced tomatoes and all of the beans. Stir the mixture to evenly distribute.

Finally add in the remaining bone broth and bring the chili to a simmer. You can simmer in as little as 10 minutes, or wait up to two hours to serve if you keep it over very low heat. You can also add the chili to a crock pot at this point and cook on low heat for up to 6 hours.

If you made a double batch, separate half of the chili out to freeze once is it cooked. Wait until it is cooled to room temperature before placing in a freezer bag and freeze it flat for easiest storage and thawing.


Quinoa Three Ways

Quinoa is a pretty common staple in our house. It makes a wonderful side dish and it is also a nutrient dense whole grain that is quick to cook and versatile. When cooking quinoa, you can soak it before cooking in plain water for one to eight hours to reduce cooking time, increase digestibility, and reduce phytic acid (which impairs the absorption of iron, zinc and calcium). You cook quinoa like rice: 2 parts liquid to 1 part quinoa, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Here are a couple of our favorite ways to prepare this nutritional powerhouse!

Olive Oil and Herb Quinoa

  • 2 cups of quinoa (I love to use tri-color quinoa for this one because it looks pretty)
  • 2 cups of chicken bone broth (or stock)
  • 4 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBSP of Herbes de Provence
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the quinoa in plain water for at least one hour (can be soaked overnight). When ready to cook, rinse the quinoa in a mesh colander and place in a saucepan. Add the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Add the olive oil and Herbes de Provence to the quinoa and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the fresh parsley, if desired and serve.

Coconut Quinoa

  • 1.5 cups of white quinoa
  • 1 14 oz can of full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)

Soak the quinoa in plain water for at least one hour (can be soaked overnight). When ready to cook, rinse the quinoa in a mesh colander and place in a saucepan. Add the coconut milk and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer until the milk is absorbed. Garnish with the unsweetened coconut flakes, if desired.

Citrus and Beet Quinoa

  • 2 cups of red quinoa
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 medium onion
  • 5 roasted beets (you can find these pre-cooked in the produce section, or you can roast your own)
  • 1 orange
  • 1 TBSP of coconut oil
  • 2 tsp of either coconut sugar or maple syrup
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 oz of feta cheese (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the quinoa in plain water for at least one hour (can be soaked overnight). When ready to cook, rinse the quinoa in a mesh colander and place in a saucepan. Add the vegetable stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed.

Cut the onion into thin slices and set aside. In a separate pan, heat the coconut oil. Add the garlic and onion to the pan and sauté until the onion releases it’s water, then add the maple syrup or coconut sugar. Continue to sauté until the onion turned golden brown (about 15 minutes).

Cut the beets into slices. Zest the orange peel and juice the orange. Combine the quinoa, onions, beets, orange juice and zest, and feta and mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.


Egg Roll in a Bowl

In January, I participated in a nutrition challenge through my gym which was centered around the paleo diet. One of the best things about this challenge was picking up some new recipes that have since become staples in our house.

We absolutely love this “Egg Roll in a Bowl” recipe. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare from pulling the ingredients out of the fridge untill it is ready to eat. I love serving it over black rice (which you would leave out if you were eating strictly paleo). The best part of this recipe is that it is absolutely loaded with veggies, including the nutritional powerhouse cabbage.

We make this using extra firm organic tofu, but you can also make it using ground pork or turkey if you want to use meat. (I would recommend using meat over non-organic tofu to maintain the overall healthiness of the meal.)


  • 1 TBSP sesame seed oil
  • 2 TBSP avocado oil
  • 1 TBSP grated ginger (or 1/2 TBSP powdered ginger)
  • 3 TBSP rice vinegar
  • 3 TBSP coconut aminos (or substitute low-sodium soy sauce)
  • 1 TBSP fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 package of extra firm organic tofu (12-16 oz – if using a meat, 1 lb of ground pork or turkey)
  • 2 packages of shredded cabbage (a tri-color coleslaw blend with carrots added is what we like the best)
  • 2 cups of sprouts (optional)
  • 3-5 green onions, chopped
  • 1-2 TBSP sesame seeds


Remove the tofu from the packaging. Using a kitchen towel (or paper towels), dewater the tofu by wrapping it in the towel and gently squeezing the block to remove the excess moisture. Slice the block into strips.

Heat the sesame seed oil and avocado oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the ginger to the oil and let it brown for about 30 seconds. Add the tofu and sauté for 1-2 minutes so that it browns slightly. The tofu strips may break during this, which is ok. (If you are using a ground meat, brown the meat until it is cooked through)

Add both packages of cabbage to the skillet. Add the rice vinegar, coconut aminos, and fish sauce. Cover the skillet and simmer for 3-5 minutes. (If you are using the sprouts, add them to the skillet after 3 minutes and recover.) While the cabbage is simmering, you can chop the green onions.

Remove the lid and turn over the veggies in the skillet so that the veggies on the top can absorb some of the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, recover and simmer for another 3-5 minutes.

Garnish with the green onions and sesame seeds. This can be served alone or over your favorite whole grain. Enjoy!



Un Fancy Grains

There are two main types of grains that we love to eat in our house: brown rice and quinoa. They are both delicious, whole grains so they provide long lasting energy without blood sugar spikes and drops. They aren’t the fastest grains to cook up on a busy weeknight however, so here are the ways we “hack” cooking these grains so we can enjoy them regularly without a huge time investment.

The first easy grains hack we use is the simplest: We always have a couple healthy varieties of pre-packaged options on hand. These can be reheated in 3 minutes or less as a quick side. I use these options when we are having a “takeout effort” kind of night (the ones where I have less than 15 minutes to get dinner on the table). When choosing “instant” options, it’s important that you pick items that have high quality ingredients. Make sure that they do not contain a lot of vegetable oils (soy, corn, safflower, etc.) and are preferably organic. Read the labels carefully!

The next level for cooking grains is to make pre-soaked quinoa. This will cook in about 15 minutes, so it is pretty easy to incorporate in on a weeknight, but requires a little bit of pre-planning. In the morning before you leave for school/work, you place the dried quinoa you will be cooking in a container and cover it with water. You can then leave this soaking in the water until dinner time (in the fridge covered if fine). When you are ready to cook, you drain the quinoa with a strainer and add it to your pan. Add 2C of liquid for each 1C of dried quinoa and bring to a boil. Once the pan in boiling, turn the heat to low and cover the pot. The quinoa is done when the liquid is absorbed.

You can use plain water, chicken or beef stock, vegetable stock, or even coconut milk to cook your quinoa. Whichever liquid you use will give some extra flavor to the grain. You can also season the quinoa with any of your spice blends after it is cooked. Mix it up so that it doesn’t get “boring” and so that it matches whatever style of protein you are making for the night!

The last option that we like is brown rice. We always use brown rice instead of white because it is a whole grain and has a lower Glycemic Index (GI) than white rice. This means it will help to keep your blood sugar steady rather than change it drastically. Brown rice takes the longest to cook (up to 45 minutes) so you will need to plan accordingly if making it from scratch.

The “hack” that I like to use with brown rice is to cook a large batch of it using a rice cooker. I then save half or 2/3 of what we cooked for use later in the week (reheating it for the win!) It keeps in the fridge for 5-7 days when cooked. You cook brown rice with the same 1:2 ratio as the quinoa (one cup of rice to 2 cups of liquid).


Un Fancy Baked Chicken

As a part of my Un-Fancy Recipe series, I talked about baking protein for a main course. The basic recipe involves a package of boneless and skinless chicken thighs, your oven preheated to 375F, and a pyrex dish. You place the chicken in the dish and cover with whatever “toppings” you want to use to make it flavorful. Then bake uncovered for 35 minutes and voila! Delicious chicken!

Here are some of our family favorites for “toppings” for the chicken

Artichoke chicken: Cover with a jar of marinated artichokes. You can actually dump the entire jar on the chicken, liquid and all

Greek Chicken: Cover with a jar of pitted Kalamata olives. You can dump the entire jar over the chicken as well, but if there is a lot of liquid, you may want to drain a bit of that first

Curry Chicken: Drizzle chicken with about 2 TBSP of avocado oil. Sprinkle 2 TBSP of curry powder over the chicken. You can use your hands to make sure the spice and oil evenly coats the chicken.

Summer Herb Chicken: Drizzle chicken with about 2 TBSP of Olive Oil. Sprinkle 3 TBSP of an herb blend over the chicken (we like Herbs de Provence, Sunny Paris Seasoning, and Fines Herbes)

Italian Chicken: Cover chicken with some Italian Seasoning (Past Sprinkle Seasoning). Add a half jar of marinara sauce over the chicken.

Pesto Chicken: Cover with a jar of pesto sauce.

You can also make some great baked chicken options using chicken breasts in much the same way as you do with the chicken thighs. When using chicken breasts, I like to cut them in half first so they are not as thick. This ensures they will cook correctly in the 35 minute timeframe.