Recipes

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

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.

Health & Wellness, Healthy Kids, nutrition

How to make snacks work for you instead of against you

Ahhh snacks. We generally love them. But these little things have the ability to either make or break our healthy eating journey. When you are eating the right type of snacks, the type that fuel your body rather than tax it, they are great! But too often, snacks are made up of “not food” – highly processed or nutrient lacking stuff that can set us up for failure for the rest of the day. When you snack on refined, processed “food-like substances” you end up triggering blood sugar spikes (and subsequent drops), which wreaks havoc on your hormones. This sets you up for cravings and for overeating at meal times, not to mention the hungry feeling you get when your blood sugar drops rapidly.

So if we want to be only eating “good” snacks, what the heck are those then? First, we want our snack to be as close to the whole food as possible (think whole apple is better than apple sauce is better than apple flavored cereal). We also want our snack to be a balance of fat, protein, and carbs. You want at least two of the macronutrients represented in your snack. So instead of just an apple, pair an apple with nut butter (carb and fat). This is what helps to keep our blood sugar stable and what allows us to feel full for longer. Here are some examples of what good snacks look like:

  • Apple slices and nut butters
  • Apple and cheese slices (remember to go for the organic and full fat cheese)
  • Veggie sticks and hummus (favorite veggies at our house are baby carrots, sugar snap peas, grape tomatoes, bell pepper slices, mini sweet peppers, zucchini sticks, cucumber slices – there is a ton of variety possible here!)
  • Any of the veggies above and guacamole
  • Banana and peanut butter on a sprouted grain bread
  • Probiotic beef sticks with baby bell cheese
  • Hard boiled eggs (alone or with guacamole)
  • Sardine or tuna salad with whole grain crackers
  • Tomato slices and mozzarella
  • Full-fat, plain organic greek yogurt with berries
  • A handful of nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, etc)
  • Dates stuffed with nut butter or goat cheese

Aaand now I’m hungry…

Hopefully the examples above help to show how your are pairing a quicker burning carbohydrate (the fruit or veggie) with a fat or protein source to get the most bang for your buck out of your snack. After all, you are taking time out of your (extra busy) day to eat, so let’s make that food work FOR you instead of against you!

Now to talk about all the other stuff that is constantly marketed as snack food to us. Much like Voldemort is HeWhoShallNotBeNamed, these should actually be called ThingsThatAreNotReallyFood. In this category, I am talking about stuff that is highly processed, high in sugar and refined carbs, and low in nutrients. The list includes stuff like chips, pretzels, goldfish (yeah, I went there), GoGurts or those sugary low-fat Yoplait things, granola, candy bars (actually, in the long run snickers do NOT satisfy), 98% of the “health” food bars on the market, cookies, little debbie anything, breakfast bars, pop tarts, the 100 calorie packages of XYZ junk food, fruit snacks, cereal, and the list goes on.

Maybe some of you are annoyed that I listed some of your go-to items on the list. But here is the #truthbomb: these foods are not doing anything for your overall health and wellness. They aren’t helping you to fuel your body and your day so that you have the energy you need to live your life. They may taste good for a minute, but there is mountains of evidence that they are damaging to your health in the long run. They make it harder for you to eat healthily later in the day, they recondition your tastes to make you crave more junk, and with that reconditioning, they take the enjoyment out of actual good nutritious food. This is an area where I say moderation is NOT a thing, you really don’t want to eat this type of junk at all. If your honest with yourself, you probably already know this deep down. #sorrynotsorry

And now that I’ve lost half my readers, lets talk about the secret weapon to staying on track with your health and nutrition goals: the emergency #snackstash

If you have been working on your nutrition overall, you know how frustrating it is when you are caught late at work, or traffic hits, or errands with the littles take 1000x longer than expects and you are out of the house and STARVING. It’s even worse when you also have ultra hungry kids with you. So you go looking for something to eat NOW and you try to make the best selection from what is available, but only have bad options. Or what’s even worse is when you are so hungry, you can’t even care anymore about what you eat as long as you eat it. This situation is incredibly frustrating and I know that I’ve often felt pretty crappy afterwards, not only because the food isn’t the greatest, but also because I “messed up” or “slipped up” or had no “willpower” to resist.

To prevent this from happening, we want to keep a set of “emergency” snacks with you at all times. I accomplish this in two ways: I have a special snack drawer at work that I keep stocked with a bunch of shelf stable options and I have a set of go-to items that I always keep in the diaper bag (or my work bag if I’m out without the kids). Here’s a picture of my snack drawer at work and some of the options I keep with me when running around with the kids.

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When developing your emergency #snackstash you want to keep a couple things in mind. If you are getting shelf stable options, you want to find things that are as unprocessed as possible (like the Rx bars, the probiotic beef sticks, and the olives). Finding a high quality protein powder “meal replacement” mix can also be a good idea for work, especially if you work in an unpredictable environment like I do (where if something breaks at 4pm, you may have to stay until 9).

The second, and probably more important thing to realize when creating the #snackstash is that a LOT of whole food items that we refrigerate actually do not need to be refrigerated continuously. Things like small apples, cuties, and bananas can be taken around in a bag and survive easily due to their exterior skiing. Fresh veggies like snap peas, baby carrots, and grape tomatoes will be 100% fine unrefrigerated for 24 hours (or longer), so you can tote those with you. The baby bell cheeses (the ones with the wax coating) are good for up to 8 hours outside of the fridge (which is one of the reasons they are so popular with hikers). You can also get a mini insulated container for stuff like hard boiled eggs. You can also bring along individually sized packets of hummus, guacamole, and nut butters to complete your snacks on the go!

One more note on the #snackstash – as busy moms, we are probably pretty used to carrying around snacks for our kids. I want to encourage you to look at those snacks as well and change them out if they fall into the unhealthy category. To be blunt: if the snack isn’t healthy enough for you to be eating, it’s not healthy enough for the kiddos either. My go-to options for our girls (ages 5 and 2) are fruit and veggie blend pouches, Rx bars, the probiotic beef sticks, and baby bell cheese. With kids, you don’t necessarily have to change out all of their snacks at once (although sometimes that rip-the-band-aid-off approach is the least stressful). You can introduce a new healthy option every few days to see what they will like. As you are introducing new options, use up whatever the unhealthy option is and when it’s gone it becomes “Sorry, we are out of XYZ. What would you like instead?” #juststopbuyingit

Whew, that was a LOT of information in one post. I hope you found it helpful! Please comment below and let me know what you think. And once you have created your emergency healthy snack stash, take a picture and post it on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc and tag me so I can see your hard work! Use #snackstash and #nutritiondoula so I can find it – good luck and have fun!

Recipes

Veggie Heavy Pasta Salad

This recipe is absolutely perfect for the end of the week during the summertime. It’s a light, refreshing meal so it goes over great on those extra hot summer days. It’s also an amazing way to use up leftover veggies from earlier in the week. I love this recipe because it packs a good amount of veggies into it without having to cook a ton of different things.

The recipe calls for 6-8 cups of chopped veggies. You can split these up in whatever way you prefer (and use whatever you have on hand). This allows you to throw together a healthy dinner without any additional trips out for special ingredients. I like to choose several different colors for the veggies, so the salad looks as great as it tastes.

Here is a list of the various veggies we have used: artichoke hearts, asparagus, baby spinach, bell peppers (raw or grilled, any color), broccoli (blanched), carrots (blanched or cooked), celery, cucumber, egg plant, fennel, jicama, olives, onion, grape or cherry tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, summer squash, zucchini. You can use any kind of veggie that is a family favorite as well!

Ingredients

  • 1 16oz bag of pasta (we like roti best, because the dressing and spices stick well to it)
  • 6-8 cups of diced vegetables (the more variety the better!)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 TBSP of avocado oil mayonnaise
  • 3 TBSP of avocado oil
  • 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TBSP of Herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • salt to taste

Instructions

Chop any vegetables that need to be diced and set aside. Juice and zest the lemon. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente. When the pasta is cooked, drain using a calendar and rinse with cold water until the pasta is cool. (Pro tip: if you have any hard raw veggies that need to be blanched like broccoli, carrots, or cauliflower you can place them in a bowl and pour the boiling pasta water over them to do the job while you are rinsing the pasta).

In a large bowl, whisk the avocado oil mayonnaise and the apple cider vinegar together. When the mixture is smooth, add in the avocado oil and lemon juice and blend thoroughly. Add the Herbs de Provence, pepper, and salt and whisk the dressing until everything is well blended.

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Add the shredded chicken to the bowl with the dressing and stir until the chicken is well coated. Add the pasta to the bowl and stir until the chicken is evenly distributed and the large chunks are broken up. Mix in the veggies. Add the lemon zest over the top and enjoy!

Recipes

White Bean Chicken Chili

Chili is always a favorite in our house, especially in the winter. I love it because it’s simple to make and I can hide extra veggies in it for the kids. The kids and hubby love it because it’s delicious. This is a twist on a traditional chili recipe that is mild but flavorful. It’s also relatively easy to make in a double or triple batch. If you do this, you can freeze a portion so that you’ll have an “instant” home cooked meal on a hectic weeknight down the road.

The recipe below makes a mild chili (not spicy at all). If you want more kick and flavor, you can double the amount of spices and add another can of green chilis to the pot. My husband and I prefer the recipe with the spices and chilis doubled, but the girls like the mild version better. Either way, I hope you love this one as much as we do!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 parsnips, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 15oz cans of white beans, drained and rinsed (we like one can of white kidney beans and one of great northern beans)
  • 1 4oz can of roasted green chilis*
  • 1 1/2 cups of shredded chicken
  • 1 cup of frozen corn
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups of chicken bone broth (if you like a thicker chili, use 1 1/2 cups. You can use chicken stock if you don’t have bone broth available)
  • 3 TBSP of lime juice
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin*
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper*
  • 1/2 tsp salt*
  • 1/2 tsp paprika*

*double these ingredients if you like your chili flavor to be stronger

Instructions

Add the olive oil, garlic, spices, and chopped onion to a large pot and place over HIGH heat. Cover the pot for 1 to 2 minutes and then stir the onion and spice mixture frequently, until the onions are soft and well coated.

Add the shredded chicken to the mixture and continue to sauté with the onions until the chicken is coated with the spice mixture (about 2 minutes). Next, add the broth, the green chilis, and the parsnips to the pot. Reduce the heat to a MEDIUM level, cover and allow to simmer for 3-5 minutes.

Finally, add the lime juice and the remaining ingredients to the pot. Stir the mixture until evenly mixed. Cover the pot until the chili is boiling, then reduce the heat to LOW. Stir the chili and scrape the bottom of the pot with the spoon to make sure no portions of the chili are stuck to the bottom. Recover the pot and allow the chili to simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

That’s it! This chili can continue to simmer on the stove top on LOW heat for up to an hour, as long as you stir it occasionally.


You can serve this alone, with some shredded cheese or a dollop of sour cream, or over rice or baked potatoes. It is also great if you garnish it with a bit of chopped cilantro. How do you love to eat this?

Recipes

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

This is a favorite in our house for a couple of reasons. First, it’s really easy to make AND it’s easy to make double/triple batches of it. It freezes well so you can easily cook once and stock up on your freezer ready meals. It hides a ton of delicious veggies and our kids LOVE it (who doesn’t love a meal where kids eat broccoli without complaint?) and finally, it’s a “one pan meal” so cleanup is super easy.

I hope you enjoy this one as much as we do!

Ingredients

  • 2 C of rice (we like to use 1 1/3 C of brown rice and 2/3 C wild rice in ours)
  • 4 C of chicken stock
  • 3 C of shredded chicken
  • 2 Bags of Frozen Broccoli Floretts (about 32 oz)
  • 2-3 C of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1/2 TBSP of Fox Point Seasoning*
  • 1 TBSP of Shallot Pepper Seasoning*

*if you don’t have these, you can substitute salt, pepper and onion powder to taste


Instructions (non-freezer meal)

Preheat the oven to 350F

Add the rice and the chicken stock to a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the moisture is absorbed and the rice is cooked. (Or, cook this in a rice cooker.)  When the rice is finished, add the olive oil and fluff the rice until it is thoroughly coated.

While the rice is cooking, chop the broccoli florets into small pieces. This can be done while the broccoli is still frozen.

In a large bowl, combine the oil coated rice, the broccoli, and the shredded chicken. Mix these together until they are evenly distributed. Add in the seasoning and stir again until it evenly coats the mixture.


Place about 1/3 of the mixture as a layer in the bottom of an oven safe dish (we like pyrex for these). Sprinkle a layer of cheese over the casserole. Repeat layering the mixture and cheese in the dish until it is used up (about 3 layers).

Bake in the oven uncovered for about 20 minutes, until warmed through and the cheese is melted.

Enjoy!


Freezer Meal Instructions

To make this into a freezer meal, follow the instructions above but layer the casserole in a freezer AND oven safe dish (we still like pyrex for this or you can use an aluminum pan). Then seal the pan and freeze until you are ready to eat.

To prepare after freezing: heat the oven to 400F. Cover the casserole tightly with foil and place in the oven. Cook for 50-60 minutes. For the last 10 minutes of cooking, remove the foil.