Tag Archives: Dinner

Making over Taco Night. Twice.

Clean eating | Dairy-free option | Soy-free option | Gluten-free option | Nut-free

My girls LOVE Taco Night. Something about being in charge of their own meal and what goes in it. Not to mention it’s messy, which makes it fun. But I’m going to be honest: it’s not always been my favorite. First, the taco seasoning packets. Gross, am I right? Have you seen those ingredient labels?! Well, Alton Brown’s taco seasoning takes care of that REALLY quick. And clean too! Make it once and keep it in a small jar or even a little Ziploc bag to use a couple tablespoons at a time.

Second, as a mom, I find that once I’ve assembled everyone’s burritos the way they want them, once I get mine assembled and sit down, the meat is cold. That’s where this new crock pot recipe comes in. It features the same taco seasoning as our usual ground turkey, but the meat stays warm as long as I need it to! Plus more veggies! It came from an unlikely source: one of those easy video recipes you see in your Facebook feed that are usually semi-homemade, from processed ingredients. But with this easy and clean taco seasoning, it’s a cinch to keep the artificial junk out.

Clean Taco Seasoning

Original recipe here

  • up to 2 Tbsp. chili powder, depending on how spicy you want it
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika (he uses hot smoked, I use Hungarian–both are delicious)
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • up to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, depending on how spicy you want it
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl or jar.
  2. Store in an airtight container (jar or Ziploc bag) for up to 1 month.

Slow Cooker Easy Chicken Fajitas

Adapted from here

  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved
  • 2 Tbsp. taco seasoning (see above)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 10-oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained (check the ingredient label on this one; sometimes spices and preservatives are added here)
  • For serving: tortillas (use whole-grain or gluten-free and check ingredient labels for hidden soy and other junk), cheese, sour cream, beans, avocado slices, or anything else that sounds tasty!
  1. Place half of the sliced peppers and onion in the bottom of your slow cooker. Lay the chicken on top, coating on all sides with taco seasoning. Top with garlic, drained tomatoes, lime juice, and remaining peppers and onion.
  2. Cover and cook on HIGH 3-4 hours.
  3. Remove chicken and cut or shred, then return it to the crock pot for 10 more minutes (on LOW) to absorb more of the juices, while you prep your toppings.
  4. Assemble tacos/burritos/fajitas however you want!

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Clean, Dairy-Free Chicken and Dumpling Soup.

Clean eating | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free

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Winter has finally reached Florida! We woke up to temperatures in the low 40s, and after spending most of December in the 80s–including a record high 86 degrees on Christmas, for crying out loud–it feels magnificent. Time to bring out the soup! This is what we had for dinner tonight.

This soup (albeit not the clean version) was a comfort-food lifesaver during the cold months we lived in Switzerland. It was nice to have something familiar when we were feeling homesick, and it was easy enough to make in our tiny blue rental kitchen with limited kitchen tools that it made frequent appearances on our little linoleum table.

I’ve adapted the original recipe to make it clean and dairy-free. Also, because we all know the dumplings are the best part, for our little family I usually cut the soup recipe in half but keep the dumpling recipe whole so there’s enough for everyone to enjoy.

Chicken and Dumpling Soup

Adapted from here

Soup:

  • 1-2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3-4 large carrots, scrubbed well and chopped
  • 1 small to medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, raw or cooked (see variations in instructions below)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour + 1/2 cup cold water, to thicken broth
  • heaping 1/2 cup frozen peas

Dumplings:

  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • heaping 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 cup minus 1 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add vegetables and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chicken broth, water, and chicken (if using uncooked chicken). Bring to a simmer and cook 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  2. Meanwhile, start the dumplings. Add vinegar to a measuring cup and fill to the 1-cup line with almond milk. Let sit several minutes until curdled. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add oil to almond milk and stir. Then gradually add wet ingredients to dry, stirring as you go, until a soft dough is formed. You will not need all of the liquid.
  3. Remove the chicken from the soup to a plate. Add salt, thyme, and pepper to the soup.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and cold water, then whisk into the hot broth. Stir in frozen peas, bringing it back to a simmer, then cutting up cooked chicken and adding it to the soup.
  5. Working quickly, drop teaspoonfuls (yes, teaspoon–they’ll expand right away) of dough all over the surface of the boiling soup. Cover the pot and simmer 12-15 minutes without lifting the lid to allow the dumplings to cook.
  6. When the dumplings are fully cooked, lift the lid and break dumplings apart with your serving spoon. Serve immediately.

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Crock Pot Chicken-Chickpea Curry.

Clean Eating | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free | Gluten-free

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Happy New Year! Anyone else feeling a little sluggish after all of the treats and traveling and lack of schedule? I’m beyond ready to get back on track and back in control of normal, healthy life.

This easy crock pot meal is a staple in our home, especially on Thursdays when we have swimming until 5pm. I love being able to come home to this delicious smell and serve up a warm, comforting, healthy meal to my wet-haired, often shivering–yes, even in Florida–young ones. I make the rice before we leave and it’s still warm when we get home to eat. The chicken practically shreds itself when you stir in the final ingredients, and the sweet potatoes soften to make the texture rich and creamy.

Crock Pot Chicken-Chickpea Curry

  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 8-oz can tomato sauce OR 1/2 can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • optional: up to 1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 med. onion, thinly sliced
  • 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • cooked brown (for clean eating) or Basmati rice
  1. In the bottom of your slow cooker, whisk together first 6 ingredients until incorporated.
  2. Add chicken, onions, chickpeas, and sweet potatoes; use tongs to toss until coated with curry mixture.
  3. Cook on low 8 hours or high 3.5-4 hours.
  4. 5 minutes before serving, stir in peas and lemon juice, shredding chicken with the tongs.
  5. Serve over warm rice.

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Easy Paleo Slow Cooker Beef Stew.

Paleo | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Clean Eating | Gluten-free | Nut-free

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Lesson one: No amount of processing can save a poorly lit photo. (Thanks for nothing, Standard Time.)

Lesson two: However it may look, this stew tastes incredible. And it’s easy. And clean, paleo, low-glycemic, dairy-free, soy-free, and kid-approved!

Browning the beef beforehand sounds like an extra step, but it is SO important to the full flavor of this dish. And it’s a quick way to get your kitchen already smelling delicious before you even turn on the crock pot! Put this one on your list for the cold, busy weeknights ahead. (Please send some of that cold down here to Florida!)

Paleo Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Original recipe here

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs stew beef (cubed)
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into large dice
  • 8 carrots, peeled and cut into large dice
  • 1 onion, cut into large chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp fresh, chopped)
  • optional, to thicken broth: 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the beef chunks, season with a little salt and pepper, and sear on all sides. Dump into your slow cooker and cover with the remaining ingredients, except tapioca starch.
  2. Cook on high 5-6 hours, or on low 8-9.
  3. Optional: if you want to thicken the broth, 30 minutes before the end of cooking time, whisk the tapioca starch with 2 Tbsp water. Pour the mixture into the stew, stirring gently, until distributed throughout, and allow it to resume cooking.
  4. Remove bay leaves and enjoy! In the unlikely event that there are leftovers, they reheat beautifully.

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Magic One-Pot Pasta.

Meatless | Clean | Vegetarian option | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free

Have you read the children’s book Strega Nona, by Tomie de Paola? The main character is a grandmother witch who has a magic pasta pot. She sings a song to it, and it magically fills with fresh, hot pasta:

Bubble, bubble, pasta pot–
Boil me some pasta, nice and hot.
I’m hungry and it’s time to sup;
Boil enough pasta to fill me up.

Her bungling assistant, Big Anthony, thinks he knows her secret, but he forgets one crucial step and soon the whole town is swimming in pasta!

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We love that book. And we love pasta! When I first introduced my girls to this recipe, I called it “Strega Nona pasta,” because it’s magic, just like hers! This pasta won’t magically appear in your pot, but it takes so few steps that it might as well. And at least you don’t have to worry about it overflowing and filling your house!

I love that I can dump all these fresh, delicious ingredients into a pot, turn on the burner, and when the timer goes off, I have a magical pot full of fragrant, hot pasta, ready to eat–I don’t even need to drain it!
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“Strega Nona” Pasta

Original recipe here

  • 12 oz. whole-wheat spaghetti (I throw in a couple handfuls of short pasta, like whole-wheat rotini, for my little ones as well)
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 cups (1 pint) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil, chiffonade (cut into ribbons)
  • up to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I use 1/4 tsp)
  • up to 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp good-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups chicken (or “no-chicken” or vegetable) broth
  • optional: fresh grated parmesan
  1. Dump all ingredients into a large pot with tall sides. If your pot isn’t wide enough for your spaghetti to lie flat, break the spaghetti in half.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat; boil 10-12 minutes or until pasta is cooked and much of the liquid is absorbed.
  3. Serve immediately, topped with parmesan if desired.

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Black Bean and Corn Enchiladas.

Vegetarian | Clean eating | Dairy-free option | Soy-free | Gluten-free option

Meet my husband’s favorite meal:

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Ok, so it’s really hard to make enchiladas look sexy, but trust me, they’re awesome. The key is the homemade enchilada sauce. I love restaurant enchiladas, but never loved how they tasted when I made them at home using the canned sauce. The homemade stuff a total game-changer. I make a double batch so that I can freeze half of it for another time. For our family, I can get away with stretching the filling to two 9×9 pans–one for now, and one to either give away or freeze for later (the Hefty foil pans are ideal for either use). So when I double the sauce, I get enough for four dinners’ worth of deliciousness!

Keep this one clean with whole-grain tortillas and less-processed chicken broth in the sauce. Make it truly vegetarian with “no-chicken” broth. Make it dairy-free with vegan cheese: we use Daiya cheddar shreds and it tastes similar enough that my husband and kids don’t pitch a fit. Make it gluten-free with the right tortillas.

Black Bean and Corn Enchiladas

Enchiladas: adapted slightly from here.

  • tortillas of choice
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
  • 6 oz (1 1/2 cups) shredded Mexican blend cheese or Daiya shreds, divided
  • heaping 1/2 tsp cumin
  • heaping 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 cups enchilada sauce (below)
  • 1/4 cup onions strained from sauce (see below)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and spray a baking dish (one 9×13 or two 8x8s).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the beans, corn, 4 oz (1 cup) of the cheese, spices, and strained onions. Use a fork to mash some of the beans so that mixture is chunky and incorporated, keeping some of the beans whole.
  3. Lay a tortilla flat and spoon about 2 heaping Tbsp (or more, if you like a larger filling-to-tortilla ratio) into the center. Roll it up and place seam-side down in the prepared baking dish, then repeat until dish is filled.
  4. Pour sauce over enchiladas (if preparing 2 pans, pour 1 cup over each pan), then top with remaining shredded cheese. (If freezing, wrap well with foil and plastic wrap and freeze at this stage. Then thaw 24 hours before baking.) Bake, uncovered, 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted.

Enchilada sauce: adapted from here. Tip: Double it!

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-3 Tbsp chili powder, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 15-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chicken (or no-chicken) broth
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for a few minutes, until just beginning to brown around the edges. Add the garlic, spices, and salt; toast until fragrant, about a minute.
  2. Stir in the tomato sauce and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Remove sauce from heat and pour through a strainer set over a bowl. Use a rubber spatula to press the onions into the mesh and force out more of the sauce. Save about 1/2 cup of the onions to mix into the filling.
  4. This makes about 2 cups sauce. It keeps in the fridge for up to a week, or the freezer for up to 3 months!

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Oldies but goodies, revamped.

With the new direction we’re taking, I thought I’d go back into some of my old favorites and bring them back in our new light. All of these are dairy- and other allergen-free, and most are clean and unprocessed. All are delicious and totally family-approved.

Sw008eet potato pancakes – These are perfect for fall, and for switching things up on the pancake front for breakfast or “brinner.” I recently gave them a clean makeover, and I honestly think they taste better than before!

peanut butter ballsPeanut butter protein balls – A perennial favorite in our house. I always have a batch sitting in the freezer to thaw a few for us to eat. If you have a new mama in your life, these are perfect for quick, easy energy during those ravenous first few weeks of breastfeeding; plus, the flax and oats help with milk supply.

creamy tomato basil pastaVegan creamy tomato-basil pasta – “Vegan” used to be a dirty word in our house, but once we got past that, this is quite possibly the perfect weeknight pasta dish, especially when you’re dealing with dietary restrictions. I dial the garlic and basil down from the original recipe and throw a couple handfuls of short pasta into the water with the spaghetti to keep the little ones happy. This was the first meal where my little one ate exclusively “grownup” food!

chicken curryChicken curry – I seriously love yellow curry. Good thing, because for awhile it seemed like the only MSPI-safe restaurant food in the U.S. was Thai curry! I think my girls got sick of curry after awhile. If you don’t have delicious Thai takeout nearby, this one is easy, delicious, and family-friendly because you can adjust the spices up or down.

banana swirlOne-ingredient ice cream – Quick, easy, lots of ideas to change it up, and dairy-free! I think this will come in handy as my MSPI baby starts to notice more that sorbet isn’t the same thing as ice cream and wanting some too.

peanut butter cookies 1Flourless peanut butter cookies – Sometimes, as a stressed-out mom of a newborn, who felt like I couldn’t eat anything, ever, I just needed a treat. Or several. Dairy-, soy-, and gluten-free, these fit the bill for dietary-restriction-sufferers. And the protein was great for nursing!

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