Thursday, September 29, 2011

Immune Boosting, Kid-Friendly Recipe

My cooking style and methods have shifted quite a bit over the past year with a focus on traditional foods and using as many whole ingredients (organic fruits and veggies) as I can with every meal.  One technique I am working on mastering is making bone broth.  I have made a few batches and the results continue to improve.  I use a crock pot to make it, as it is easiest for me with my busy schedule and a toddler taking much of my attention away from the kitchen!  When using the crock pot, it is incredibly easy to make!  I cook up a whole chicken in the crock pot (a 4 lb chicken is easily enough meat for two meals for my family of three), pull the meat off of the bones once it is cooked and use them immediately to start my broth. 24 hours later (and completely hands-off) - I have homemade chicken broth ready to use or freeze!

When my little guy and I came down with our first colds of the season this past weekend, I bumped up our probiotic intake and Vitamin D supplements and then took a few containers of chicken broth out of the freezer right away.  From all of the reading I have done, I have learned that homemade chicken broth is packed with nutrients and has the healing components that a boxed or canned broth cannot provide. 

Chicken soup is not a favorite for my toddler, so I had to find something creative to do with it to make sure he ate his fair share!  I concocted the following recipe - it turned out flavorful but relatively "neutral" which tasted just right with the stuffy noses and coughs we were battling!  You can change this recipe up by adding different veggies or a different kind of meat, as well!

2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
(***1 cup of additional veggies, if desired)
2 small cloves of garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp of salt (no salt in my broth!)
1 lb of ground meat of choice (I used pasture-raised organic chicken)
2 cups homemade chicken broth
1 1/2 cups noodles, cooked (brown rice or your favorite noodle)
Fresh parsley, if desired

Boil the noodles and drain.  Meanwhile, warm saute pan to medium heat, add olive oil and saute onion until soft (***add any other veggies at this time, as well).  Press garlic and saute for 2 minutes.  Add spices and salt, saute for 2-3 minutes more.  Add ground meat and saute until cooked through.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer for 8-10 minutes.  Add cooked noodles and simmer for another 2-3 minutes, until most of the broth if absorbed.

Serve in bowls sprinkled with fresh parsley, if desired. Bump up the nutrition factor with a side of roasted veggies! Serves 3-4.

This post/recipe is linked up to a great blog called day2dayjoys and her post (posted on Wednesday) about boosting your immune system naturally.  It is also linked up to a blog called Real Food, Whole Health and their Fresh Friday Bites post! 

Saute onion

Add garlic and spices, salt

Brown meat with onion/garlic/spice mix

Add tasty, nutritious broth :)

Add noodles...
The result!  Nutritious comfort food when you have a cold or flu!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Menu Plan week of 9/26

I am thrilled that this is my first plan to be linked to the Just One Bite Facebook page!  For Just One Bite readers visiting my blog for the first time - welcome!  I hope that these menu plans inspire you to try some new meals with your family and even to reconsider making some recipes during the work week that you would not have tackled before!  I try to provide as many tips as possible for a busy working mom or dad to get these meals on the table as quickly as possible on work nights!

Monday:  Veggie Quesadillas with salsa and guacamole  (Use Daiya dairy free/soy free cheese if needed. (I love quesadillas because I can personalize them for myself, my hubby and my little guy!))
Tip:  prepare the filling in the recipe the night before, refrigerate in a Ziploc bag for easy clean up! 

Tuesday:  BBQ Meatloaf with green beans and rice
Note:  This will still be tasty without the sausage, although it does bump up the flavor!  I will only be using 3/4 cup BBQ sauce in this recipe - no need for all of that sauce...  it overpowers the meatloaf if you use more than this.  I will not use onion mix; instead I will bump up the flavor with 1 tsp. onion powder, 2 tbsp. fresh sage, salt and pepper.  Eliminate eggs (no need for substitutions) if needed.
Tip:  Blend meatloaf mix the night before.  This is a doubled recipe (2 lbs beef) - instead of two loaves, make meatloaf burgers out of half of the mix - freeze burgers before baking for a quick dinner a couple of weeks from now!

Wednesday:  Brats (leftover frozen) and hot dogs with kale chips and crock pot potato wedges

Thursday:  Pizza night (Premade Crusts (Rustic Crust or Trader Joe's pizza dough are good suggestions) for hubby and I and frozen homemade crust with Daiya Dairy-free/Soy-free cheese for my little guy)
Tips:  Pre-chop any toppings for your pizza the night before.  Blend some pureed veggies into the tomato sauce for added nutrition!  (I grate zucchini squash into mine!)

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Sweet Potato Chili (vegan!)  A favorite in our house...
Note:  A good one to prep the night before.  This recipe does NOT freeze well, so make it for one night and refrigerate leftovers, don't attempt to double the batch and freeze!  You will need to have some dried spices on hand for this so check the recipe carefully!

Sunday:  Whole chicken in the crock pot with broccoli and brown rice (Lundberg short brown or Medlies are our favorites)

For more menu planning inspiration, visit on Mondays!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Apple Sauce in your Crock Pot!

We visited an apple orchard this weekend and I purchased Macintosh apples so that I could make a big batch of crock pot applesauce.

After making this sauce, I made some tweaks to the original recipe that I used (although it turned out delicious, I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to these things).  I used a 3.5 quart slow cooker and filled it with sliced apples.  Here is my recipe:

10-12 cups cored, peeled, sliced apples (I used Macintosh)
1 - 1.5 cups cups water (more apples, more water...  I used 2 cups, would use less next time)
1.5 tsp cinnamon (I used more cinnamon than the original recipe called for and I'm glad I did!)
1/2 tsp nutmeg (I did not use this time, would add for flavor depth!)
1/2 tsp cloves  (I did not use this time, would add for flavor depth!)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 tbsp maple syrup (to taste) **My apples were on the tart side, so once I tasted the final product I added about 1 tbsp. maple syrup to sweeten it a little.

Mix all ingredients together, cook on low for 7 hours.  The apples broke down into a wonderful sauce (no need for additional mashing/pureeing!)  And it made my house smell wonderful!

This post is linked to:
Healthy 2day Wednesdays

Menu Plan Week of 9/19/11

Fall is definitely here...  we have rainy weather with cool temperatures today.  It makes me want to tuck in with a soup or stew!  I have mentioned it before, but I LOVE fall!  It gives me the chance to get back into the kitchen and layer on the flavor and it is officially crock pot season (although if you follow this blog, you know that I am a year round crock pot fanatic!

My menu plan shifted a little bit this week.  My hubby found a BOGO deal on ahi tuna, so we will be grilled that tonight.  The little guy will eat a grilled pork chop and we will compliment it all with rice and broccolini (I found fresh organic broccolini at Costco today!  $5.79 for a huge bag!  You'll see it on my menu again later this week).  In terms of highlights from last week, the quinoa burgers turned out fantastic - extremely easy! 

Last but not least, I am SO excited to reveal some news about a new partnership that I have engaged in with a mentor of mine.  I am excited to take my passion for menu planning and for helping people elevate wellness through nutrition and food to the next level!  Stay tuned!

For more menu planning inspiration visit

Menu for this week:

Monday:  Oven roasted chicken with crock pot squash (sub coconut oil for butter if dairy-free) and salad

Tuesday:  Breakfast for dinner!  Quinoa pancakes, bacon and fresh fruit

Wednesday: White Chicken Chili (leftover chicken from Monday!)  with side of broccolini
I am going to give this a shot with coconut milk and coconut oil for milk/butter... we'll see how it goes.  As is, it is a really delicious recipe!
tip:  this is good leftover, so if you make it the night before, just stick the pot in the fridge after it's cooled and warm it up on Wednesday evening!

Thursday:  Winging it

Friday:  Pizza night

Saturday:  Out to dinner

Sunday:  Slow Cooker Pork Chops and Squash (don't know what "Kitchen Bouqet" is?  Assume it's just a spice blend.  I'll use sage and rosemary with salt and pepper.  Sub in coconut oil for butter if dairy free!)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Menu Plan for 9/12/11

I hope everyone had a good first week of "back to school" or whatever transitions you may have been in last week!  This week is our transition week.  Lots of new things for my little guy - new child care at our church, a new Kindermusik class (which he LOVES so I am excited for that!) and we are going to meet a new pediatrician as well.  With all of Ben's health issues (food allergies, environmental allergies leading to asthma, etc.) we were looking to find someone who was more in line with the integrative approach that we are taking for him, which includes not only western medicine but a traditional, whole foods diet, supplementation, homeopathy and chiropractic care.  Through a referral, I am hoping that this new ped will be a good fit.  I never expect to find someone with western training who will be completely in line with everything we are going, but our current ped is basically against anything we do outside of her care which has been very discouraging.  I'll keep you posted on our meeting this week!

We will also be packing lunches for the little guy starting this week when he goes to his "school."  I am using a lunchbox (Bento box) I found here - I will keep you updated on new and creative ideas for packing lunches, and would love your ideas as well.  Thanks for a friend who led me to This Lunch Rox which is an amazing blog written by a working mom who makes incredibly creative lunches for her kids.  Definitely inspirational!  She keeps kids with food allergies in mind when she writes her posts.  I am excited to follow her.

Here is our plan for this week!  Check out OrgJunkie's blog for more menu planning inspiration - look for "allergy free" labels on the linked plans!

Monday:  Rosemary Sage Pork Chops with Saffron Zucchini and Herb Cous-Cous
Tip:  The Cous-Cous recipe sounds fancy but it is really easy - definitely something you can/should make the night before!  Add any protein to this side dish and you've got a great well-rounded dinner!

Tuesday:  Crock Pot Chili (missed on Sunday due to BBQ... and it was too hot for chili!) with green bean side
Tip:  Prep the night before, plug it in and go!

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday:  Quinoa Burgers with roasted carrots
Tip:  I'll make this easier by using already ground spices (yep, grinding my own spices is where I draw the line! :) - we'll use the egg replacer and no soy sauce - just add a little extra salt for flavor.  May add some garden fresh herbs for additional flavor!)

Friday:  Wing it!

Saturday:  BBQ with neighbors...  Grass fed burgers and brats, salad, corn on the cob

Sunday: Oven Roasted Chicken with crock pot squash (this is the best recipe I have used - back to oven roasting due to cooler temps!)  Replace butter in squash recipe with coconut oil or ghee for dairy-free.

Breakfast and Side Dishes!

I have been digging deeper for great breakfast and side dish ideas to keep things fresh on my weekly menus and have come across some great blogs, recipes, etc. in the process.  I want to share them with you to pass on the inspiration.  Note that most of these are new recipes, so I have not tried them but they seem like no-brainers!  I will be trying all of them in the coming weeks and will let you know if I have any tips or tweaks!

If you have eggplant for your garden or the farmers market, check out this Eggplant recipes site for some inspiration.  I did make the Eggplant dip already - creamy and delicious.  I just made it all in one pot after roasting the eggplant and use a hand blender to puree it.  Super easy.

With fall knocking at the door, it means that it is apple season - yay!  Check out this crock pot applesauce.  Great to make on the weekends... it will leave the house smelling wonderful!  Great for breakfast or a side dish (bonus!)

These crock pot potato wedges are also a great weekend addition to grilled meats and veggies.

I LOVE quinoa and I especially love the idea of making it for breakfast - thanks to "This Chick Cooks" for the idea (cute blog, too!)

I've been looking for a good overnight crock pot oatmeal recipe, and this one caught my eye because of hour easy it looks!  For dairy free, with coconut milk instead of half and half... and add a tablespoon or two of coconut oil right before serving for added richness.  Play with the combination of dried fruits, too!  This gluten free/dairy free version also looks delicious and interesting.

I know many of you have kids with food allergies at home.  This site, in general, is a great resource for recipes and tips for living with food allergies on a budget.  Check out Frugal Food Allergies!

This post is linked to:
Real Foods Whole Health Fresh Bites

Monday, September 5, 2011

Menu Plan Week of 9/5

Happy end of summer, everyone!  There is something a little sad about this but when it comes to cooking and meal planning it is an exciting time.  Soon, apples, squash, pumpkin and wonderful flavors like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves will be part of my meal planning repertoire.  Right now, all of the local fresh fruits and veggies are in season.  Soups and stews will be back on the menu, too!  For me, this is the best time of year to be in the kitchen!

This week I will make my first batch of chili (yay)!  Definitely try this recipe, I have tweaked it over time to come up with the right combo of seasonings (not very spicy so that my little guy likes it!) 

Many of us will be going back to packing lunches this fall!  Here is a great blog post from Real Kids Each Spinach with some great tips to keep you organized.  This is a blog I recently ran across - LOVE it! For more menu planning inspiration go to
Monday - Leftovers from our weekend BBQs!

Tuesday - Mexican quinoa with the fixings (guac, salsa, zucchini)

Wednesday - Pizza night (we are going to try dairy-free/soy-free cheese for my little guy, on top of homemade allergen-free crusts)
TIP:  Puree zucchini into the pizza sauce for great texture and flavor, and additional veggie power!
Thursday - Crock pot pork tenderloin, green beans, rice
TIP:  Prep the pork in the crock pot the night before - marinates overnight which makes it extra flavorful!  Plug in and go in the morning!

Friday - Dinner with my in-laws

Saturday - May be out?  Otherwise, winging it!

Sunday-  Chili!  (see bottom of the post linked here for the recipe!)