Soup, soup and more soup!
That's what we've been having on the menu around here!
The cold weather really brings out the need to have truly comforting meals, specially at dinner time and a steaming bowl of vegetable soup is always a safe choice. I like to use whatever vegetables are in season and, sometimes, I also add something more substantial for a complete meal like mini meatballs, kidney beans or small shaped pasta.
This time I wanted to keep it simple and clean.
I had some protein for the main dish so I just went with basic vegetables for a nutrient dense soup and a nutritional boost for the whole family. Giving the children a cup of soup is a great way to amp up their vegetate intake and it also helps to limit the amount of food they have in one sitting.
If you're having a plate or bowl of soup before the main course you'll be having less of it, controlling your portions and allowing you to feel satisfied with natural, "good for you" food.
1 sweet onion
chicken broth (enough to cover the vegetables - I used one and a half carton of good quality broth)
1/2 orange bell pepper
3 medium sized white potatoes
3 cups white cabbage
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
freshly chopped parsley
1 - Start by prepping all the vegetables that are going to go into the pot. Peel and dice the onion, carrots and potatoes.
2 - Heat the olive oil on a non-stick pot and add the chopped onion. Let it cook for about 5 minutes and add the carrots, the bell pepper and about 1 Tbsp of chopped parsley.
3 - Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and add the diced tomatoes along with all of the tomato juice from the can. Mix everything together and add enough chicken stock to cover the vegetables. Taste the liquid to adjust the seasoning, if necessary, and let it cook in medium heat for about 15 minutes.
4 - Add the diced potatoes to the pot and the previously shredded or roughly chopped cabbage. Cover and let it cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
5 - After the soup has finished cooking turn the heat off and add a handful of chopped parsley for a burst of freshness or add it in each individual plate, when serving.
As I'm writing this post I'm already thinking about the next batch of souping I'm cooking up for next week! I'm leaning towards the fish and seafood soup because it is a complete meal in itself and it is one of my son's favorites.
Of course, I'm always tempted by this recipe of roasted tomato soup or the cozy and super decadent onion soup, which I will now have without the cheese since I gave up dairy almost a year ago. I'm still trying out vegan cheese options but I'm looking for clean products and I haven't really been able to find them...
I hope I've inspired you to try a batch of this wonderful soup or any other that I've published. I'm always amazed at how many soups we can come up with just using the most simple and clean ingredients.
Fall flavors and seasonal produce are my go-to's lately.
I love butternut squash, in particular, and I'm always trying to find different but simple ways to cook it, adding some of the other seasonal staples. Cranberries are sweet and tart at the same time and are the perfect pair for the sweet and buttery taste of the butternut squash. Adding some sage leaves just gives it the perfect final touch and makes these bowls a super comforting meal on a cold day when you just feel like having something special for lunch or dinner.
I also added some walnuts that gave this whole dish a nutty and warm flavor. I love nuts and I always try to incorporate them into my daily meals as a source of healthy fats. They are a great complement for our daily diet, as long as we do some portion control not to have too much calories just from nut intake.
Nuts are high in natural antioxidants, like polyphenols which may protect cells and LDL cholesterol from damage. They can also help reduce inflammation and and are high in fiber which are all great benefits for such mighty tiny little things! I love all kinds of nuts but I'm particularly fond of walnuts, pecans and almonds.
When I make a smoothie bowl for breakfast, for example, I always make sure to top it with seeds and nuts and also some freshly cut fruit and a drizzle of honey - it's a perfect way to start the day and I have a nice serving of healthy fats and nutrients from the fruit too. I use almond or coconut milk since I gave up dairy after realizing how inflammatory it was to me. When I have something else for breakfast I always find a way to incorporate nuts in, at least, one of my daily meals and I must say that I can't even imagine my daily diet without them!
As for my kids, my oldest also loves nuts and usually adds them to his oatmeal with honey, in the morning. My youngest is still not on the nut wagon but she'll get there, eventually! I always like my kids to try everything I cook so they can experience a wide range of flavors and textures and sometimes what they don't like one week becomes their favorite thing the next one!
Talk about ever changing tastes!
One of my goals as a mom of two young children is to teach them how to eat healthy and to make healthy choices. As long as they have the basic notions I believe they'll grow up with the right mindset and, hopefully, will become responsible adults who care about what they feed their bodies.
As for this recipe, the kids are not too fond of butternut squash so mom and dad had these amazing little lunch treats all for themselves! And what a treat that was!
1 small butternut squash
1/2 cup dried cranberries (look for the natural ones, with no added ingredients/sugar)
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup halves walnuts
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp all spice (all natural)
1 - Start by preheating the oven to 450 F.
2 - Peel the butternut squash, cutting it in half and then, after removing the seeds, dice it in small size chunks.
3 - Add the squash pieces to a large bowl where you'll be mixing all the other ingredients.
4 - Add all the other ingredients to the bowl: the cranberries, walnuts and the sage leaves roughly chopped. Season with the salt, pepper, garlic powder and all spice.
5 - Mix everything together and lastly add the olive oil, giving a very good mix after that to incorporate all the ingredients.
6 - Fill a greased baking tray with the butternut squash mix - I used two medium sized souffle bowls which also work perfectly if you're going to make this as single serve meals. I just brushed the inside of the bowls with a bit of olive oil and added the butternut squash mix.
7 - Take the butternut squash filled bowls to the oven to bake for about 30 minutes. Check every 5 minutes after the first 20 so you can adjust the baking time to your own oven - times can vary a bit depending on the oven you have.
8 - After the cooking time has finished and the butternut squash has a beautiful brown color on top , turn the oven off and remove the bowls from the oven.
I had one of these amazing Fall festive cups for lunch, with a perfectly fried organic pasture raised egg on top - the creaminess of the egg yolk was the scrumptious final touch over the brown and toasted butternut squash! Just forgot to take a picture of the said amazing egg!
These squash bowls can also be made with other roasted vegetables. Just play with your favorites and add some different spices to make different combinations for the whole family.
This is a dish that reheats very well so you can easily fit in into your Sunday meal prep and use it during the week to build your weekly menu: add some of your favorite proteins or have it has a breakfast bowl just by adding one or two fried eggs! Just check the post I tagged above, about meal prep, to get an idea about how simple your week meals can get if you start meal prepping over the weekend!
As for me, this is a perfect side dish that allows me to make a whole meal out of it too and that is one of the advantages of thinking about versatile meals - being able to switch the menu with a few staples is what allows me to keep my sanity on busy weeknights!
Just in time for Thanksgiving I tried this new stuffing recipe and it is a keeper!
As most of you know, we don't have any family with us, here in the US, so we spend this holiday season by ourselves. We enjoy the four day weekend and always try to do something fun with the kids, like go roller skating, going to the movies and, of course, having a Thanksgiving dinner as a family. We always go out for dinner and last year we found the perfect place: good food, great service and a family friendly place to have an amazing dinner together.
I always buy a turkey but I save it for when we have visits coming by and I always try to give the recipe a twist!
This year I decided to try a whole30 friendly stuffing with a cauliflower base, some more vegetables and a whole lot of pecans! I love the contrast between savory and sweet and this stuffing really does the trick - salty cauliflower and veggie mix and sweet dried cranberries are the perfect combo! Add some crunchy pecans to the mix and you have a winner, just right there!
This recipe must be made in a pan that can be transferred from the stove top t the oven: I used my cast iron pan which I love to use in this kind of recipes. I always get the impression that food gets even more flavor for being cooked in a cast iron!
I served this as a side dish not really as stuffing inside the turkey. The texture is perfect and the secret is not to overcook the cauliflower rice - if the mix seems a bit dry just add some chicken broth to make it a bit more loose, but not too much! There's nothing worse than mushy cauliflower rice!
I hope this recipe comes in handy and that you'll be able to give it a try for your Thanksgiving dinner. It's a healthy recipe with whole ingredients that, I hope, will please everyone.
1 small sweet onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 celery stalks
salt and pepper
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
3 cups of cauliflower rice (I just used a whole cauliflower, cut it in medium size chunks and riced it on the food processor by using the "pulse" function a few times, until the texture was perfect to use)
1/3 cup dried crnaberries
2 Tbsp chopped pecans + extra to use as a topping for the stuffing
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 - Preheat the oven to 450 F.
2 - Peel and finely dice the onion and the carrot. Dice the celery too and get the olive oil in the pan.
3 - Heat the olive oil for a minute and add the onions first. Cook them for a couple of minutes and add the carrot and celery. Season with salt, pepper, the thyme and half of the garlic powder. Cook in medium heat for about 6-8 minutes.
4 - Add the riced cauliflower, the chopped pecans and the dried cranberries and mix everything together. Cook for about 8 minutes and, if you see that the mixture is getting to dry, just add a bit of chicken stock (maybe 1 or 2 Tbsp) to help cook the vegetables without burning them.
5 - Turn off the heat and add the pecans as topping for the stuffing. Place the pan in the oven to roast for about 20 minutes. This will give the pecans, and the whole dish really, a deeper and stronger flavor.
6 - Add the pomegranate seeds to the top of the stuffing and serve as a side dish together with the other Thanksgiving fixings!
Doesn't that look good?
Who said cauliflower is boring never tried it like this! That's for sure!
I really love cooking chicken based meals! It is such a versatile protein that allows us to make thousands of recipes with it and never be bored! From all the things I can cook I don't think there's anything more bland than plain than chicken breasts. That is why I usually go with chicken thighs, to have a more flavorful and rich meat which always enhances the flavor of any other ingredient you'll add to it.
Last week I tried this super easy and quick recipe and it was a hit with the whole family. I rely on my Instant Pot to have fast and healthy options that I can cook up during those weeknights when I don't have anything left from my Sunday meal prep or if I ended up not having enough time to meal prep at all.
This recipe was enough for a dinner for the 4 of us and 4 additional servings for the next day lunches. I cooked up some jasmine rice to go with the chicken.
6 big chicken thighs
1 big sweet onion
2/3 big can of crushed tomatoes
freshly chopped parsley
1 can of pitted black olives
1 + 1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 cup Jasmine rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp freshly chopped parsley
1 - Prep all your ingredients so you can fill up your Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Peel and dice the onion, wash and chop the parsley, strain the olives from the can and check to see if there are any visible pits showing; I've had some surprises with this kind of olives so I make sure to always check this every single time.
2 - On the bottom of the pan brush some olive oil and place the chicken thighs over it: cover with the diced onion and season with salt, pepper and the garlic powder.
3 - Cover the chicken thighs with the crushed tomatoes and the freshly chopped parsley - I used about 2 Tbsp and added some extra when serving up on each individual plate. I'm a herb lover so I always load up on fresh herbs on my own plate!
4 - I added the chicken stock, closed the lid and set the Instant Pot to the "Poultry" program, for 20 minutes.
5 - After the program finished I released the steam by the quick release method, opened the lid and added the frozen peas. Close the lid and set the pot to the "Poultry" option again for another 5 minutes. After that time, release the pressure on the pot and add the pitted black olives, closing the lid and just letting everything finish cooking for about 10 minutes, with the remaining interior heat from the pot.
6 - While the chicken was cooking I got my rice cooking: I took the chicken stock to a boiling point and added the jasmine rice to the pot. Seasoned with salt and let it cook according to the instructions, about 12 minutes or until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is fluffy. I added some freshly chopped parsley just before serving and mixed the rice with the fresh herbs so the flavor got all over the rice, not just on top.
This is a pretty simple dish with natural and healthy ingredients and that can be cooked quickly for a comforting family meal.
If you wish to skip the rice cooking process you can also go with potatoes, cooked together with the chicken! In that case, you must wash the potatoes, pat them dry with a cloth and chop them in small chucks. Add the chopped potatoes together with the frozen peas and the 5 min cooking time should be perfect to get them cooked through but not mushy.
I love giving my food a bit of a quick so I love adding some red pepper flakes or hot sauce to my own food, on my own plate. When cooking just for me and the hubby I add it to the food when cooking it but if it's a meal for the kids too I add it separately so they can eat theirs regular and we can have ours spicy.
I hope I get you to try this recipe out because it really is a winner!
If you're currently on a whole30 round you can't have the peas or the rice so you can substitute those for potatoes and leave the regular version for when you're off a round, if you see that legumes are not an issue for you.
It's all about balance and what works good for each one of us.
Today I'll be trying out some side dishes that are sometimes the star of a meal but often get forgotten about when I post my recipes! Sometimes you have like a simple protein option like grilled chicken breast or roasted chicken and just need a good, simple but perfect side dish to go with it so I'll be working on giving you perfect options for that.
Some of my favorite recipes are the most simple ones!
Delicious and comforting food is easy to cook and the only requirements really are using the ingredients and flavors that your family loves. During the cold weather season I love meals that I can prepare quickly so it won't take a lot of time to prep up on a week day. Even so there is always a way to make it prettier and to make it look festive so that at, dinner time, you can get some wow's from the kids and a round of applause from your family!
In the case of this Shepard's pie mini bowls you can simply cover the cooked meat and sauce mixture with the mashed potatoes but if you have a little bit of time and can use a pipping bag (I used a cut up Ziploc bag because I couldn't fin my pipping bag, so much for my organization skills!) to make it into pretty velvety mashed potato flowers! Just be sure to let the mash cool down a bit before doing this step so you won't end up burning your hands!
1 lbs ground beef (I used the one I got from Butcher Box)
1 medium sized sweet onion
1 garlic clove
1 medium can of natural tomato sauce
salt and pepper
freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp olive oil
I really make my mashed potatoes without measuring anything!
I'll steam my peeled potatoes in the InstaPot for about 10 minutes and, after getting the pressure out by the fast releasing method I mash them with a potato masher and add some almond milk, about a Tbsp of ghee (you can use regular milk and butter if you're not dairy-free). The amount of milk really depends on how runny or sturdy you like your mash - more runny means more milk and more sturdy requires less milk - just add a bit at a time so you can control the texture to your liking. In the end I season the mashed potatoes with salt, pepper and a bit of freshly ground nutmeg which, I think, gives it the perfect final touch. Like I said I didn't measure anything but I'd go with 1 lbs potatoes, 1 cup milk and 1 Tbsp ghee.
1 - Peel the potatoes and get them steaming on the InstaPot (use the rack to place the potatoes above the water and use about 1 cup of water) or on the stove top, depending on what method you prefer and usually go for. While the potatoes are cooking get the meat sauce going.
2 - Peel and finely dice the onion, the garlic clove and the carrot. Get the olive oil heating in a non-stick pan and add the onion first. Cook them for about 3 minutes until the onion starts changing color and becoming translucent. Add the garlic clove and the diced carrot and let cook for about 8 minutes.
3 - Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside. Heat another Tbsp of olive oil and cook up thee ground meat until it gets these little brown and super tasty edges! Season the meat with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
4 - Add the previously cooked vegetables to the pan and mix everything together gently. Add the tomato sauce and about 1/2 cup of freshly chopped parsley. Mix and let this simmer for about 20 minutes in low heat. If you notice that your mix looks a bit dry just add a bit of bone broth or regular chicken broth to make it a bit more loose.
5 - While the meat sauce is simmering make the mashed potatoes. Turn off the InstaPot and remove the potatoes to a non-stick pot. Use a masher to get them mashed according to your taste, more chunky or smooth and add the milk and ghee. Season with salt, pepper and about half a tsp of freshly ground nutmeg. Heat this up for about 3 minutes and set aside in a bowl so it cools down a bit while you get everything together to assemble the mini bowls.
5 - Taste the meat sauce to make sure that it's at your taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
6 - Get your assembly line going for the mini bowls or, if you prefer, you can also serve this Shepard's pie in a big roasting pan or deep dish. Place some of the meat sauce to fill about 2/3 of the cups and then use a pipping bag to spread the mashed potatoes on top.
7 - Get the Shepard's pie in the oven for about 5 minutes under the broiler making sure that you check it after this time to see if the top of the mashed potatoes gets brown but not burnt! We must always keep whatever we have under the broiler at plain sight because it really is a very quick process.
8 - Serve the Shepard's pie with some freshly chopped parsley on top to make it pretty and even more tastier!
This is a super comforting dish and it's the perfect family meal. It is also a very versatile dish and you can add or remove some of the ingredients to make this recipe your own - just add some green peas, cut green beans, peppers or sweet corn to give it a twist or use sweet potatoes for the mash and you can get dozens of variations of this recipe! It is a great recipe to use those turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving that's just coming up next week.
It is also a very good dish to make in double batches and freeze to keep at hand for those weeknights when you don't really feel like cooking or don't really have the time to do it. Wrap up each cup in plastic wrap or aluminium foil and identify each cup with the date of cooking and the oven temperature and cooking time just to make it even more practical.
This really is a favorite at my house and the kids absolutely love mashed potatoes so I'm trying to put up some more recipes with it so we can have a bit more diversity of meals with this super comforting staple.
As for myself, I'm thinking about a sweet potato casserole with nuts...it sounds just perfect!
Until then I'll also be planning some meals to prep for mid December. We'll be having my mother-in-law visiting from Portugal and I'll be trying out some new recipes because she is always ready to try new foods and she is a really foodie like myself, which makes her visit a really exciting time of the year...besides being the holidays and getting the kids to have their grandmother for 3 weeks all for themselves!
On this snowy day be warm and eat good food - that always sounds like a good advice!
Oh, well! The cold weather that came in through last week was all I needed to get on the comforting soup band wagon! Is it just me or to face off these cold nights the best thing to have at hand is a big bowl of steaming hearty soup?!
I try to make a batch of soup every week so we can get a cup of it before our main dish. However, usually that soup is made with a vegetable base, then pureed and sometimes I add some leafy greens, like spinach or kale, and cook it down for an extra 10 minutes or so.
These days I've been feeling like having a whole meal soup!
By adding potatoes, extra veggies or pasta you can get a super comforting and satisfying meal that will work out well as a family dinner. If you feel like adding something else, a slice of garlic bread is always a safe choice and the kids are always up to it!
I was roaming around at a local supermarket by my kids' Portuguese school (they have lessons now, for a couple of hours, two days a week, since there's nothing like cultivating our mother tongue, as well as speaking English during the day, at school), last Tuesday. I couldn't believe when I got to the fresh fish stand and I saw this amazing looking salmon head! I knew I had to get it and I immediately though about making a fish soup out of it.
As I've mentioned before, we love eating fish but it is a really pricey item, here in the US. I'm always amazed at how expensive a fish meal is for the whole family and, usually, I'd pay over $30 just on salmon for a salmon dinner for the four of us. Well, for this beautiful and big salmon head I paid under $3! Isn't that a bargain?! I guess most people aren't used to eating it here and, therefore, it becomes really inexpensive. Great for me because I got this great fish portion and cooked up a really hearty soup that was enough for 8 portions.
If you haven't tried fish head you should really try it out because it's where you'll find the most tasty "meat" of the fish! It is somewhat of a task to, after cooking the fish head, take out all of the bones and get the meat aside for the soup, but it so worth it, I guarantee it!
There's nothing like trying something new and, if you never had it, how can you really say you don't like it?! That is something I always tell my kids and I also follow along those lines with foods that I haven't tried before.
For this soup I used my Instant pot and it worked out perfectly! It's so convenient to just dump all the ingredients in the pot and program it - all I had to do after that was to pick out the fish and take out the bones, after the cooking time came to an end, and add some fresh parsley to give the soup a fresh touch and that was it!
Simple, natural, quick and good tasting food!
1 salmon head (pick out a fairly big one, with a good portion of meat at the end of the head)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 big sweet onion
1 large carrot
2 small bell peppers (I used orange)
1/2 can sweet corn
1 can organic fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1/2 lbs red potatoes
1/2 Tbsp Primal Palate New Bae seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp ground pink Hymalyan salt
1 vegetable "Bou for You" cube
filtered water to cover the vegetables and almost all of the fish head (this will depend on the size of the pot and any additional ingredients you might want to add)
1 - Prep all the vegetables so you can then dump everything in the pot! Peel the onion and the carrot and roughly chop them. Reserve. Wash and chop the peppers and add them, alongside with the onions and carrots the the bottom of the pot. Drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil.
2 - Drain the corn (if you're using canned corn, like I did) and add it also to the pot.
3 - Add the fire roasted tomatoes to the pot. Wash the potatoes and cut them in medium sized chunks. Add to the pot and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and the New Bae Seasoning.
4 - Wash and chop the parsley and cover everything with it. Crush the seasoning cube and lay it all over the other ingredients.
5 - Check the salmon head for some visible scales or bones. After doing that and removing any undesirable bones add it to the pot and add filtered water to cover all the vegetables and half the fish head.
6 - Program the pot, choosing the "soup" program for 25 minutes. After the program ends use the fast release system and take the salmon head out of the pot to remove all of the fish meat that you can. Check the pot for any additional bones and after having all the meaty parts together add them to the soup.
7 - Serve the soup in big bowls and add some more freshly chopped parsley. A slice of good quality bread is also great for dipping in the soup broth!
Apparently, for some people, seeing a fish head may be disturbing and that is why I'm posting this picture at the end of the post, so that everyone can get to read the recipe and not have to look at the piece of fish. What I really like is fresh and natural food and fish is exactly that, in its whole because it such a complete source of protein.
If you prefer you can also use fish portions or fillets to make this soup, you don't have to use fish head.
I can't tell you how good this soup turned out!
I also added some red pepper chili flakes to my steaming bowl of fish soup and it was the perfect final touch! I love spicy food, specially during the cold weather season! Next time you're at the fish market grab a good looking salmon head and try some fish head soup for something different and surprising!
As most of you, who have been following me for a while know, I'm a super fan of "meal prep Sunday".
Taking some hours off to cook and prepare everything you and your family will be having during the week really is something that can take away all the stress from cooking on weekdays or nights and give you the reassurance of having great and healthy food and snacks available at all times.
I try to think about the amount of lunches/dinners we'll be having at home, as well as school and work lunches, meals and snacks. Since doing my first whole30 I try to limit the processed food we eat and usually reserve those options for the weekend, as a treat.
We've always been used to eating mostly healthy food, cooked at home and with wholesome ingredients. Cooking was always something that was part of my life, growing up, and I've always loved to do it, either by helping my mom out when I was a kid or doing it now for my family. My kids also love to help around the kitchen and my son, Mr. J, keeps telling my that he wants to be a Chef when he grows up! Lets see if we can make the spark last and keep the kids more and more excited about food and making healthy choices.
When meal planning and prepping for your family there are some main points that you should have written down. I've writing this blog post about meal prep and I always go back to the basics when I start my plan:
What do I need to know in order to build by meal plan for the week:
After getting this essential information you must also think about the order in which your meals and food will be eaten. Some of the things that might get spoiled easily must be eaten first, as well as raw leafy greens, like arugula and spinach. I always prep my raw veggies for the week and keep them in airtight containers and they last throughout the whole week.
I just got an amazing set of clear glass food storage containers and I absolutely love them! I will be needing to buy some more of the bigger sizes and one of the reasons I love them so much is because I can see exactly what each container holds without having to open or move it! That way I don't forget about eating something that's in a colored plastic container, hidden from plain sight!
I wrote this blog post throughout the week and, at the end of the post, I'll be able to tell you exactly how many meals I got with this specific meal prep. I'll also be creating a shopping list for it and I'll be giving the option of getting some more information on my meal prep and new recipes by entering your email on the box by the end of the post so you can get all this amazing information in your inbox!
Let's move on and get into the delicious details of my family's weekday meals!
Every week I try to cook up, at least, a batch of soup. It's an excellent way to get some more vegetables in your diet because when I say soup I don't mean "hamburger soup" or "tortilla soup" but a vegetable based soup. This is also great to control the amount of food you eat because if you're having a plate of healthy and satiating soup before your main dish you'll probably be able to eat a bit less of your main dish and, this way, control the amount of food you eat in one sitting.
This week I was missing this amazing roasted tomato soup and I decided to cook up a batch that was enough to fill two tall plastic containers - I'm still midway through changing all of my food containers to glass!
I love tomato soup but I'm not a fan of a heavy version of it (with added cream) and this light but super flavorful version is just perfect! I gave up dairy since completing my whole30 and I really don't need it. The prolonged cooking process of this soup (roasting, simmering and simmering again after blending it) gives it a creamy texture and an amazing deep flavor.
I also cooked up a batch of carrot soup with fresh watercress. I made a basic vegetable soup base with carrots, onion, garlic and zucchini, blended it with my immersion blender after cooking the vegetables in bone broth for approximately 20 minutes and then added the watercress and cooked for an additional 10 minutes on low heat.
Making vegetable soup is so easy and simple and it is a great way to enrich your daily diet. Give it a try and mix your favorite veggies and get eating some delicious and comforting soups to go with the colder weather that is getting closer and closer by the day! For the colder days try this super yummy Onion soup or this hearty meatball soup that is a whole meal by itself...I love soup season!
I always like to have fresh raw veggies to have as a snack, both for me and for the kids. The notion that a snack doesn't need to come in a package is something that I've been trying to pass on to my children. Of course they eat those snacks too but I always try to make them like a weekend treat event and not a daily eating habit.
Fresh veggies are great for kids and come in so many colors that helps us build colorful and beautiful lunches that are healthy but super tasty too. Either by themselves or with some hummus or good quality ranch dip I always send two or three different kinds of veggies in the lunchboxes - I try to ask the kids if there's a preference for the next day because kids' tastes are ever changing, right?!
This week we chose celery, bell peppers, carrots, radishes, green beans and cucumber. We usually have grape tomatoes too, but this week our farmers market didn't have a good batch so we passed on those. All I have to do is wash the veggies (except the carrot which I peel), pat them dry with a "unpaper towel" (I love these ones, from Marley's Monsters and they're my secret to having gone down to 1 roll of paper towels every couple of months!) and cut them up. I store them in glass or plastic containers and they really last all week long -- the celery and carrot hold pretty good even longer.
These veggies are an essential component of the kids' lunchboxes and they're also great for a quick snack, which some hummus or cheese. Pick your favorites and include them in your weekly meal prep to make your snack time easier and quicker.
There are so many vegetables available all year long that there's no shortage of cooked veggies for our weekly menus! I love roasted and grilled veggies and this week I chose roasted acorn squash and sweet potato, grilled eggplant, boiled mini corn on the cob (great for dinner and paired with a cup of soup!), sauteed garlic kale, roasted mushrooms with thyme and garlic and boiled mixed veggies.
The mixed veggies is something that I always like to have in my freezer because they make those quick lunches doable and super easy! Mixed with a hard boiled egg and 1/2 a can of tuna they make up for a satisfying and nourishing lunch, both for kids and adults.
I also grilled some asparagus (simply seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder) and roasted a whole cauliflower, cut up in medium pieces and seasoned with curry powder and turmeric, which is a great anti inflammatory .
In the big glass square container there's a whole spiralized zucchini. This is a pretty expensive item to get at the supermarket, if you buy it already spiralized but it's so cheap and easy to make it at home that it really is a pretty good investment to get your own spiralizer and do it yourself. A lot of vegetables can be spiralized, like butternut squash, carrots, beets and turnip.
I use one pretty similar to this one and this even offers more blade variety so you can get different shaped veggies!
Cooked extra sides
Besides the vegetables I also cooked some quinoa and white rice to go with the prottein sources and the veggies. I also ended up coking up a batch of smashed potatoes and the kids absolutely loved it, I'll be cooking those up again a lot during the winter time!
This an extremely easy recipe for potatoes and all you have to do is boil the potatoes in salted water and after straining all the water out just lay all the potatoes in a baking tray lined with parchment paper. With a potato masher squash each potato until it gives in and spray the potatoes with some olive oil. Put the potatoes under the broiler for about 10 minutes or until you see they're getting crunchy and golden - keep an eye on them because the broiler can be really fast doing its work!
Cooked protein sources
One thing that you'll always see on my weekly meal prep is hard boiled eggs! It's such a great and portable source of protein and it's great to incorporate in almost every meal or to have as a snack - I usually cook up half a dozen and by the following day they're almost gone! Tuna or chicken salad with a hard boiled egg is usually one of the meals on repeat for the kids' lunchboxes because it's pretty easy to put up in the morning and everyone loves it.
I also cooked up a smoked kielbasa sausage, basically just pan searing it, with no added fat. It's also a great option to add to any plate with veggies and rice, for example. The chicken breasts I grilled were enough to make a batch of chicken fried rice and are also a perfect meal to heat up in the microwave during the week or to send in thermos containers to school or lunch.
I was in the mood for cooking some comforting meals and a medium batch of ground beef with tomato sauce was the perfect solution for that - it goes great with the smashed potatoes, over some spiralized zucchini or with the plain white rice or quinoa. As I've mentioned before I'm totally focused on keeping "food boredom" away and that's why I'm always trying to build up different meals with my meal prep items - I'm not one to eat the same meal 3 days in a row but if I have the opportunity to use the same protein base and mix it with different veggies and sides that makes it perfect!
This week the kids were asking for hot dogs so I changed it a bit and baked some pigs in blankets with some store bought refrigerated dough. Paired with a bowl of soup this make up for a great dinner and I also love to send them for lunch, with some raw veggies and fresh fruit.
How many servings/meals did we get from this meal prep?
After all of this you must be asking yourself this really important question:
How many meals did this weekly meal prep rendered?!
So you can have a very accurate idea of how many meals/servings I got out of each item on this meal prep I'll give you a full description of what we had and how we paired our main and side dishes:
As you can see we had a total of 22 meals and 14 servings of soup for the whole week, which was great for a 4,5 h meal prep work. This is one of the reasons I stick to this routine - there have been weeks when I wasn't able to meal prep and the result was a chaotic week with stress mornings prepping lunches and a lot of cooking during the weekdays which is something that I try to avoid!
I know that it might sound daunting prepping for that long in a day but, trust me, it is totally worth it!
This is an amazing way to make sure that you and your whole family have healthy and balanced meals and snacks at all time! Whenever you feel like eating something you'll be able to open the fridge and take something out that is good for you and quick to pick up.
To make this meal prep easier for you I've listed all the items used on this meal prep. If you wish to receive an email with the full list just fill out the form below with your name and email address and you'll get everything delivered to your inbox. The full grocery list needed and, as a bonus, for those of you that enter the email address I'll also be putting up a document with most of the recipes I used on this 4,5 h meal prep, so you can give it a try and test them with your family! Those will be sent separately and, probably, during the next week.
Once again I hope that this blog post is somewhat of an incentive to get you on the "meal prep train" and to also help you with some healthy and quick meal options for the whole family. I'll be publishing some more weekly meal prep posts and also weekly menus with different recipes so you can choose from a wider variety of meals and ingredients.
My whole30 journey was what triggered me to start doing this and it is something that I always try to pass on to my friends and family - eating healthy everyday is possible, it just needs time, organization and prep time!
What better way is there to welcome Fall then cooking up a hearty meal with pork chops and apples! It's a winning combination and with premium quality meat it just gets loads of extra points for flavor and tenderness of the meat!
I've recently got my first Butcher Box and I'm totally devoted to telling all about it to my friends and followers. Having a busy life is no longer an excuse for not getting high quality meat! With the Butcher Box subscription service you can get a box of 100% grass-fed, grass finished beef, heritage breed pork and free range organic chicken delivered to your doorstep every month or every other month, whatever option fits your family the best.
You can personalize your box and mix your favorite cuts of meat in order to fit it to your household and you can always choose some add on's like no-sugar bacon, which has been a staple at our house since I've done my first whole 30 program. I truly recommend this because with our busy schedule it can be hard to have the time to go to the butcher and buy great quality cuts of meat - with this service you are sure to get what you order and, if you're a meal planner like me, it just makes our life so much easier!
You know what cuts of meat you're getting so you can plan ahead and write down your meals for the week; apart from that you'll just need to make your produce list and make a run to the farmers market or your local supermarket to get the rest of your ingredients for the week's menu.
It'll come out at approximately $6/serving which is a great value for such high quality meat and, as you can see in my video that I'm sharing in the link below, the steaks are huge as are the pork chops, so you'll get a few meals out of those cuts! Also, the chicken breast comes in 3 pre-portioned packs so you can use them independently and cook them on your meal prep in different ways so you can have different options to choose from during the week. You can cook up some chicken soup with one of the packages and grill some strips for the week's lunches and lunchboxes and still be left with a package left!
On my first order, that I shared in this video, I got:
If you're interested in giving it a try and signing up to get to know a bit more about Butcher Box, just click here and, if you subscribe the service until the end of September, through my link, you'll get FREE ground beef for life!
How cool is that?
With this offer you'll get, with each box that gets delivered at your house, 2 lbs of 100% grass-fed and grass-finished ground beef for free! Just imagine the variety of meals you can cook up with ground beef, specially in the colder months: soups, chili, meatloaf, lasagna...so many options! So, don't waste a minute and click on the link above to get your offer but don't forget that you only have until September 30th to do it!
As soon as you get your first box you can try this recipe for yourself! Grab your Butcher Box now and start meal planning for the next month!
4 boneless pork chops (I used the "Butcher Box" heritage breed pork chops)
4 big white potatoes
1 small butternut squash (about 1+1/2 cup)
1 lbs Brussels sprouts
3 large Gala apples
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp smoked paprika
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
a few sage leaves for the pork
1 - Preheat the oven at 400 F.
2 - Prepare the vegetables to use them cover the baking sheet. Wash the potatoes and cut them in chunks, peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds and cute it in small pieces. Wash the Brussels sprouts , remove any damaged leaves and cut them in half or in quarters if they're too large. Try to have all the vegetables in same size pieces so they'll cook evenly.
3 - Place all the vegetables in a big mixing bowl and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and fresh thyme. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and mix everything in order to get a bit of it in all the vegetables; if necessary add some more. Add half of the paprika and give everything a last toss before transferring the vegetables to the baking sheet, previously brushed with olive oil.
4 - Wash the apples and cut them in fourths. Take out the core and seeds and slice them, keeping them in a bowl of water with lemon juice until placing them on the baking sheet, so they won't oxidize and turn brown. When the vegetables are on the baking sheet place the apple slices around the tray and between the vegetables, after removing them from the lemon water.
5 - Place the pork chops in a glass container or bowl and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and thyme leaves. Add a bit of olive oil and the juice of 2 clementines and 1/2 lemon.
6 - Place the meat over the vegetables and cover it with any remaining juice. This will help the pork chops to cook without making them dry and keeping them juicy and with a lemon/orange hint flavor. Place some sage leaves on top of the pork chops and place the baking sheet in the oven. Cook for about 25 minutes or until the meat is cooked.
7 - For plating just take a bit of everything and slice the pork chops in medium slices. the ones I used were big, so 1 was enough for 2 people. Get the vegetables on the bottom of the plate, cover with the pork chop and sprinkle some freshly chopped cilantro for a hint of green. Use any remaining juices to drizzle over the meat.
This was the perfect recipe to welcome Fall of 2018! The roasted veggies, the flavorful and tender meat, the apples and the sage were a superb combination of warm and cozy flavors.
There's so much simplicity in sheet-pan meals that they really are one of my go-to's for busy schooldays - getting all the ingredients together and popping everything in the oven while everyone gets settled from school and sports activities is perfect!
No weeknight dinner stress and mommy gets a load of compliments on the healthy and hearty meals cooked for the whole family.
Just to give you a notion of the number of meals I got from this sheet pan dinner, it was enough for one meal for all of us, another for my lunch the next day and I still got three more individual servings out of it. All in all, 7 servings which was pretty good for the price that I payed for all the ingredients. That is one of the other reasons why I love sheet-pan dinners so much, they really stretch the food out!
Give it a try and let me know what you think of this recipe!
Happy Fall everybody!
Lets talk about a very particular organ meat - liver!
I, personally, love it and have been eating since I was a child. Back in Portugal my mom always cooked several kinds of organ meat, occasionally, like tongue, liver and kidneys and I've always appreciated eating those kind of dishes.
Some people find it having a very strong taste and, if you do so, you can always leave the liver soaking in milk for about an hour or two before cooking. This will soften the taste, for sure. I usually don't do that because I like it just as it is and so does my husband. The kids usually like it when I make it simple, just grilled, but today I'm trying them out with a mushroom gravy, so lets hope they like it too!
Having a diverse diet is very important in order to get all the vitamins and minerals that our body needs to keep functioning well, without any deficiency. Organ meats are particularly rich and they are the most concentrated source of almost every nutrient, including important vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and essential amino acids. Even if you usually don't buy this kind of meat give it a try and start be testing this recipe and see if you want too try the other meats as well. I'm trying to get some good quality kidneys and tongue, through my usual local butcher, so I can show you some recipes to incorporate them.
I also find it curious that I tend to cook up dishes like this during the colder season. They are easy to incorporate in comforting dishes that make up for a wholesome and nourishing family meal and that's what we are suppose to look for in a season where our body may be most susceptible to imbalances. They go very well with a variety of vegetables and make it easy to use sweet potato, broccoli rabe and cabbage as side dishes to help balance things out.
For this recipe I decided to use the oven to roast the carrots, a pot to boil the potatoes and a big pan to cook up the liver and onions. Also, a small pot for the gravy! This may seem like a lot of tools and equipment to go through but if you start roasting the carrots first, you'll be able to start the liver and onions and boil the potatoes at the same time, it's just a matter of getting everything together and in the same place so you have everything you need at hand.
You can also roast the potatoes alongside the carrots and that will be perfectly fine, too! I just prefer this way to cook the potatoes and the last time I cooked them my kids asked for seconds because they came out so good. It's a very simple but delicious side dish!
1 lbs fresh liver
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onions
2 garlic cloves
2 mushroom gravy cubes (I used this ones, from ...)
2,5 cups water
1/2 lb Bella mushrooms
BOU mushroom gravy (check it out, here)
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp freshly chopped parsley
1 bunch of carrots
1-2 Tbsp honey (I used the Bee Seasonal "Aroeira" variety)
1.5 lbs small potatoes
Salt and 1 tsp garlic powder season the potatoes
1 - Start by preheating the oven to 400 F.
2 - Wash the carrots and cut out any bad buts that you might find. If you're using a bunch of carrots, like I did, take some time to wash the greens thoroughly because they can be really earthy and you have to get all of that dirt out. Pat them dry and place the carrots on a baking sheet - season with salt, garlic powder and brush or spray with some olive oil. Cook for about 35 minutes.
3 - After placing the carrots in the oven start cooking the other components of this dish. Get a medium pot filled with water, add some coarse salt and boil the potatoes for about 15-18 minutes, checking the tenderness of the potatoes with a fork to check when their cooked. Strain the potatoes and add about 2 Tbsp of freshly chopped parsley, tossing the potatoes around the pot so that the herb gets evenly distributed throughout all the potatoes.
4 - Cut the liver into strips and cook them in a non-stick pan, coated with some olive oil. Cook the liver in batches not to overcrowded the pan and season the meat with salt, garlic powder and freshly ground pepper.
5 - While the meat is cooking cook up the gravy in a small pot. Add 2.5 cups of water, 2 cubes of BOU mushroom gravy and turn on the heat, on medium, until the cubes start dissolving into the water to form the gravy. At this point you'll have to whisk it to make sure yo son't get any lumps in the gravy. Turn the heat off and return to the meat.
6 - Remove the cooked meat to a glass container or plate and add some more olive oil to the pan to cook the onions. Saute the sliced onion and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and fresh thyme leaves - I absolutely love thyme so I use a lot of it, just use the amount you're use to and you'll get a pretty flavorful caramelized onion. It took me about 15 minutes to cook the onions, in medium heat.
7 - In a big pot place the cooked liver strips, the onions and the gravy. Mix this all together and cook it up a bit more, in slow heat, for about 20 minutes. Check the seasonings and rectify, if needed. I just added a few more sprigs of thyme.
All you have left to do is drizzle the warm roasted carrots with the honey for a sweet touch and your meal is ready to plate.
I found the sweetness of the carrots to pair perfectly well with the distinctive taste of the liver meat. It is a perfect combination and adding perfectly boiled and aromatic small potatoes just makes this meal even more amazing!
This recipe will be on my go-to list for cold weather meals and I'm already thinking about some more comforting meals to whip up and show on the blog. Soup and stew season is upon us so I guess I'll be sharing some yummy suggestions for our fall welcoming in the upcoming weeks.
What about you?
Do you and your family like eating liver and incorporating it into your family meals? I'd love to know what you think and, if you happen to give this recipe a try, please let me know what you though of it!
The weather has been changing around here and the cooler days had me craving a warm and cozy bowl of rice and beans! On a rainy day what can be better than sitting on the couch with a warm meal made from wholesome and natural ingredients?
Most of the times I find simple recipes to be the best ones - they are so effortless but yet so rich and tasty! Another thing that makes me life easier during the week, and specially on the colder months, is my Instant Pot. I love it and use it all the time to steam vegetables, cook up a batch of soup or make delicious stews and dishes like this one.
Some people have been asking me about my Whole30 experience and if I'm still eating the same way now. I'm not - however, I've changed my relationship with food, which was one of my main goals by doing it as well as finding trigger foods for my chronic migraines.
I don't use food as an emotional backup and I can perfectly control what I eat without feeling pressured or deprived: I eat what I feel like eating and the only thing that still is somewhat forbidden to me are chips...I seem to have to eat them if I have them around, so the trick is NOT to have them around, it's as simple as that! It is not only because I feel like I can eat a lot of chips at once but also the fact that, after eating them, I don't feel that well and that is enough of a reminder that they are not good for me and so, I should stay away from them!
And now, the recipe for this scrumptious and simple meal.
1 pack of spicy sausages
1 cup basmati brown rice
2 large carrots
3 celery stalks
1 small can of red beans
4 cups + 1/2 cup bone broth (I used the "Osso Good Bones" classic variety)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp Primal Palate Jerk Seasoning
freshly chopped parsley
organic fresh spinach leaves
1 - Start by peeling the carrots and chopping them into bite size pieces. Wash and cut the celery stalks into small pieced and add these vegetables to the stainless steel pot, from the Instant Pot.
2 - Add the basmati brown rice and about 1/2 chopped parsley to the pot and season with the spices, salt and pepper.
3 - Cover all the ingredients with the bone broth and give them a stir to get everything well combined.
4 - Put the cover on the pot and seal it until you hear the lock sound. Place the vent attachment in the cooking position and set the Instant Pot on the Rice mode for 15 minutes.
5 - While the rice is cooking cut the sausage into medium sized pieces and saute in a non-stick pan. I didn't use any fat because the sausage has enough fat that gets released during the cooking process.
6 - After the "Rice" program has ended use the quick release method to release all the pressure from the inside of the pot and when the valve drops it is safe for you to open the lid. Open and check that the rice is cooked; if it needs a bit more time to cook just close the lid again and let the rice sit for another 5 minutes, it should be enough to get it a bit softer.
7 - Serve up this comforting dish in a bowl and add some extra veggies if you like! In my bowl, I placed a handful of fresh baby spinach - when I placed the rice and beans on top of it the heat from the rice was enough to get the spinach a bit cooked but leaving it still with a bit of a crunch, which I particularly love! Sprinkle with some fresh chopped parsley for a fresh touch and an aromatic finish which goes perfectly well with the warm spicy sausage.
After getting my rice cooked I, immediately, transferred it to a large skillet to prevent it from overcooking with the residual heat from the Instant Pot. As for the amount of food cooked on this meal, it was enough for 7 individual portions which was great for such a simple and economic dish.
That is one of the major advantages of using rice as base for a meal - it does stretch the meals and 1 cup of rice goes a long way!
This is a very nourishing meal and you can use your favorite veggies or sausages to adjust it to your family's preferences. If you'd like just keep it vegetarian, adding bell peppers or butternut squash, for example. I'me acostumed to brown rice and it's the only kind I eat now, after my Whole30 - apparently I'm getting the whole family on board which is, definitely, another WIN for this mommy!