With the busyness of this time of year, I am finding myself far more called to creating nourishing, comforting food that doesn’t eat up half the day in prep work, but that also cooks quickly and leaves us time for all the other crazy tasks we have on ours lists right now. This time of year I just want the most comforting foods, soups and stews, roasts and other hearty, seasonal meals. This Instant Pot Beef Stew is basically the best ever version of all of this! Ready in under an hour, it’ll taste as if had been cooking ALL day long.
Last year I got myself the Instant Pot, after hearing from so many people how amazing it is. I am still, after a year, learning all the things it can do. I recently began playing with the sauté feature, which allows you to sear meat, before pressure cooking it. I find this seals in the flavor and the caramelized flavors from the browning really brings more depth and richness to the overall dish. Plus, it gives us little brown bits to deglaze, which is one of my most favorite things to do when cooking.
This is comforting, winter food at it’s finest. It actually reminds me of being a kid, this is the food we grew up on. My mom made a killer beef stew on the stove top. It tastes of love, coziness and comfort.
Today is an exciting day! Well yes, it’s election day. Which is obviously HUGE, I hope for my American readers that you’ve already gone out and voted. But, it’s also book release day for my friend Alexis of Lexi’s Clean Kitchen. Her debut book Lexi’s Clean Kitchen hits stands today and this is an absolute must for your kitchens. Featuring over 150 delicious paleo-friendly recipes to nourish your life, this cookbook brings the focus to achieving health and happiness through the simple concept of eating clean. With a collection of fresh, creative yet practical and approachable recipes, Lexi makes eating at home, easy, tasty and fuss-free.
For those of us with gut issues, Lexi has a similar path to her healthy lifestyle, so her story brings feelings of familiarity and with that that instant connection. Lexi’s Clean Kitchen delivers an abundance of healthy meals packed with amazing flavor, like Thai Meatballs, Classic Chili, One-Pan Arroz con Pollo, Maple-Glazed Salmon, and Sriracha Lime Chopped Chicken Salad, with healthier options of your favorite indulgent foods, like French Toast Sticks, Perfect Waffles, Birthday Cake, Easy Sandwich Bread, and more!
As we head into the holidays, the focus obviously shifts to any and all dishes for entertaining. Side dishes and treats, mains and snacks. ‘Tis the season of all the eating! The Miso Roasted Brussels Sprouts are begging to be the star at your Thanksgiving or Christmas meal! Trust me, this is a veggie that can steal the show!
I enjoy creating the sweets and treats recipes, because let’s be real, the joy that healthy treats can bring is palpable. I’d like to wrap that feeling up with a pretty bow and give it as a gift. That said, when it comes to the holidays, my heart will forever remain with sides and veggies. I love a good, plant-based side dish. So much room for creativity in the vegetables. The mains are usually pretty traditional, those are generally on lock down. I just truly enjoy the challenge of creating exciting enough veggie dishes that will please the masses and especially those that won’t be the forgotten soldier at a table full of meaty mains and their carb-loaded friends. I literally have made it my mission when I feed people to make the vegetable(s) the first thing to disappear from the plate, rather than the last. This dish 100% is successful at doing exactly that.
This Slow Cooker Caramel Apple Butter is the perfect way to celebrate the season’s most abundant fruit, but this isn’t your mamma’s apple butter. With a rich, honey sweetened caramel mixed right in, you’ll find notes of rich, caramely goodness paired with the traditional spicy and tart apple butter.
We are home and still getting settled after our whirlwind trip to Europe. It was absolutely glorious, incredible, magical and so inspiring. I came home with a heart full of memories, sore feet from so very many miles of exploring and a head full of ideas for recipes inspired by all of our delicious meals. While the jet lag has been a bit brutal (8 hours time difference is no joke), what has been an even greater challenge is getting back into it all. Not the work, my usual healthy eating or my daily fitness routine, I jumped right back into all of those – they are so important to my mental well-being and were sorely missed in those 10 days away. Rather, I again found myself plagued by something interesting upon my return, something that seems to happen nearly every time I step away for an extended period of time. The much needed break from the internet, the constant connection and the need to check in across the various platforms throughout the day, it all obviously disappears when I am off adventuring. It helps that with international travel we were limited in our data usage, and of course the time difference plays a role, as well, but being busy and present, this perfect combination renders the vast, never-ending virtual world essentially non-existent to me and I love it. I often look forward to that aspect of vacation as much as I do the travel itself.
Sometimes it’s the un-recipes, the simple, uncomplicated eats that are the most coveted around here. With fall being a hustling and bustling time, I know we all struggle to slow down, to hit pause even and enjoy the best of the season, but it’s so important. Fall will be over before we know it and we will be in the thick of the holidays. I don’t want to rush it. I want to enjoy every bit(e) of it.
While I have no issues with embracing pumpkin-everything this time of year, I also find that apples don’t get nearly enough of the autumnal love! Probably my most favorite of all the fruits, apples are impeccable this time of year and a source of so many great nutrients, including vitamins A & C and various minerals including lots of potassium, and a solid showing of calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. They are high in fiber and apple pectin has detoxifying qualities, making it used often in cleansing formulas. Apples are a sweet mini-multivitamin of sorts, bringing a little bit of everything. I always recommend apples that are organic and unsprayed, as most conventional apples are heavily sprayed with pesticides.
Disclosure: Post sponsored by Crock-Pot® brand slow cooker & Mirum Shopper, but all opinions are my own. Please see below for additional disclosure.
Besides the usual fall foods we all get excited about, pumpkin-spiced everything, apples everywhere and of course, squash, I personally find most exciting, that fall once again opens the door to comfort food! Those soul-warming, hot, hearty meals that feel like a hug from your favorite family member.
Fall always brings me back to aromatic, warming meals that celebrate the slowing down that comes with the cooler weather. I have always loved and admired that Mexican cuisine not only celebrates creative and powerful flavors, but also it’s the kind of food that brings family together with “oohs and ahhhs”. Meals featuring meats typically cooked all day, tended to with care in anticipation of the entire family coming together and celebrating. These Slow Cooker Fall Carnitas Tacos bring together classic flavors with an unexpected twist from traditional fall ingredients.
Living in California, worrying about not having access to the fresh local herbs in the winter, isn’t exactly an issue, but I do remember what it was like living in New York. The minute the first frost hits in the early fall, there is a scramble to save plants and there is a huge sense of loss when you can no longer just walk into the yard and snip off your favorite fresh herbs. If you are
luckysmart enough to have your fresh herbs in pots, you can just bring those in, otherwise you can kiss them goodbye until the start of the next season.
This simple method for preserving fresh herbs is a really great way to keep the fresh flavors of your summer garden or the local farmers market – all through the fall and winter. When thawed or just heated right up from frozen, these frozen cubes work great in stews, sautés, soups, roasts and more. Besides being super helpful and functional, this project is super fun and very simple – it would be a really great and educational project to do with kids.
Regardless of how cold it gets where you live, this is such a great, money-saving way to make the most of your herbs. For me, I love this method of preserving because oftentimes I will buy a large amount of fresh herbs for a recipe that I am testing, however if there are any leftover, they tend to go bad or get sad and wilted before I can get to them again.
With the start of fall just mere days away, I am reveling at the thought of my favorite season of eating! Fall food is pure comfort, to me. Squash, potatoes, apples, pears, pumpkins, cranberries and all the other goodness. I just can’t get enough.
Thinking about this season soup comes to mind quite often. Soup is one of my favorite things and while I know gazpachos and chilled soups are a thing, they aren’t the same. I love a good, steamy, cozy bowl or mug of comforting soup and by the time summer is wrapping up, it’s about all I can think about.
Do you keep with your standard, classic, traditional Thanksgiving dishes or do you like mix it up a little every year? I generally stick with the classics – turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and of course, pumpkin pie – these are non-negotiable for me. From there, I like to have a little fun with the other sides. I mix it up with the salad and the green beans and I always try to do something a little unexpected with the squash.
This year, I am not hosting Thanksgiving, we are mixing it up a bit and headed to Mexico, to celebrate with our very good friends, Dan and Debbie, and their family. I am definitely planning to bring a few classic gluten-free dishes to share, but I eagerly await to see what else they may need and I will offer from there.
There is something about the fall and the winter and the cooler weather they bring, that not only elicits those feelings of cozy comfort, for me it also brings a desire to gather and share nourishing food, with others. With the holidays on the horizon, this love of community and connection is strong and needed, in these darker, cooler months ahead.
Earlier this month I hosted Gather, a women’s retreat here in Southern California. Beyond teaching yoga every morning, I also had the wonderful pleasure of preparing all of the delicious, seasonally-inspired food for all of the meals we shared together. Mostly vegetarian and exclusively gluten-free, the meals highlighted light, comfort food, the flavors of the fall and as always when I am cooking, nutrient-rich, whole foods. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve got a lot for you today. I have the first-ever pancakes on Tasty Yummies, a few life lessons, a #virtualpumpkinparty and one of my favorite healing superfoods! Here we go….
Have you ever had a day, or a stretch of days where you are overloaded with life lessons, messages and moments that stop you dead in your tracks, to smack you upside the head with a little nugget of goodness, before sending you on your way, again?
I have had a lot of those lately. Little lessons and hidden reminders, that bubble up to the surface within the most mundane of moments and oftentimes coming out in the midst of the most frustrating challenges. It could be that I have been attempting to be more aware in the present in the moment, being open to what’s around me, rather than living in my head and getting caught up in letting my mind wander (which is something I often do). Whatever the cause, these little reminders have been exactly what I need, lately, exactly when I needed them.
These beautiful and delicious, Grain-free Pumpkin Spice Pancakes, they were the culmination of so many reminders for me this past week. The first attempt at making these, I found myself swearing and angry. I had wanted to make waffles but they just weren’t working out, so I attempted to just make pancakes instead, as long as I had the batter. Pancakes weren’t what I had wanted and it wasn’t part of the plan – so, at first I really let it bother me. After a few deep breaths and in realizing that I had inadvertently created really delicious pancakes, I found myself really grateful for the mistake. On the second creation, I was super happy with how the pancakes came out again, but in editing the photos I realized that I should have chosen a smaller plate, the pancakes were getting lost in a sea of pattern from the large plate. I nearly scrapped the entire recipe and I found myself in tears, at my computer! In hindsight and in writing this out, I realize just how silly and insignificant this all seems and how ridiculous I may sound, but, as usual I am finding, in the simplest of moments, the biggest lessons are learned, so I wanted to share some of these sweet lessons that were brought to me this week.
1) Be OK with the Imperfections in Life.
I have to admit something to those that may not know me personally, I can be a bit of a perfectionist at times. Part of why you have never seen a pancake recipe here on Tasty Yummies, is my need for certain things to be perfect (in my own mind, that is). I worried that my pancakes wouldn’t be perfectly round and that people wouldn’t make them if they weren’t big and fluffy. I feared if I didn’t have the perfect shot of the perfect stack of pancakes, the syrup ever so delicately dripping over the edge, they would be a failure. So, although I make pancakes at home all the time, I had opted, in over 5 years of sharing recipes here on TY, to not share any of my pancake recipes, for not wanting to have to photograph them, worried that they would be wonky and imperfect.
As I was asking my food blogger friends for tips on making perfectly round, pristine pancakes, I was reminded by my dear friend Sherrie, to just ’embrace the imperfections!’ I recalled in her beautiful reminder, that I myself am drawn to the social media feeds and the blogs where life isn’t illustrated as “perfect”. To me, the authenticity of the creator shines through in the imperfections and those are most often where I find myself relating and connecting with someone vs. the perfection so often carefully crafted and curated for viewing in the public light.
I decided that like me, no one else reading this blog is “perfect”. You probably have lumpy, not-so-round, imperfectly perfect pancakes all the time at your house. I’d be willing to bet, however, even in their imperfections, like my homemade pancakes, that yours still taste incredible, and everyone that you serve them to are happy to eat them, just the same.
2) Less Really Can Be More.
It doesn’t always have to be about the big stuff in life. Bigger and more, they aren’t always better. Take these tiny, cute little pancakes – they may be dwarfed by the pretty patterned plate, they may be smaller than a traditional pancake, but these orange-hued, subtley-spiced, seasonal pancakes, they pack a punch, both in flavor and nutrition.
The Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, like these pancakes, it too packs a punch. With just one ingredient, in my mind, it beats out all other “superfood protein blends” you’ll find at most stores, often loaded with synthetic ingredients, unnatural “flavors” and colors and who knows what else. Collagen Peptides are not only a great source of clean protein and essential amino acids, they are also great for your skin, hair, nails, immune system, digestion and since I have added to my daily diet, they have played an integral role in healing my gut and my overall health, this year. This powerful, healing superfood doesn’t need anything added to it to boost it, it is tasteless and can be added to smoothies, baked goods, or simply to a glass of water.
3) It is Not Happiness That Makes Us Grateful. It is Gratefulness That Makes Us Happy.
Finding gratitude in the challenging moments of life, this can be hard at times. Next time you are in the midst of a challenge, stop to recognize that every moment is a given moment and that moment in itself, is a gift. We can’t buy moments, no one gives them to us, they are there for us and within each and every moment we have an opportunity to be grateful.
In the car three days ago, in a moment of stressful errand-running after the failed waffle debacle, I flipped the radio to local NPR affiliate and I caught the end of the TED Radio Hour, this past week’s theme was “Simply Happy”. I heard the end of this beautiful speech from David Steindl-Rast, that I have heard so many times before and the feelings of gratitude for the timing of this story, immediately flooded over me. Suddenly where I was struggling with feelings of failure and feeling stressed about the imperfections, my focus shifted to being so grateful and so happy that I get to do what I love every day, even in the moments of stress and challenge. When I left the house I was agitated and frustrated and by the time I returned home, my face was filled with a smile and my heart nearly exploding out of my chest.
I am all about the simple lately. Quick fixes, simple snack, meals without fuss. I want to enjoy the flavors of nourishing whole foods, with the seasonal ingredients I have on hand and minimal prep. It’s been a hectic month or so.
I haven’t had a moment to tell you guys, but I am back in school! As of this month, I am enrolled in the Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Program with the Nutritional Therapy Association to become a Certified Nutritional Therapist. I have long dreamt of finding the proper program where I could continue educating myself in a manner that would certify me to work even deeper with people, seeking to heal their bodies through a real food diet and a more foundational perspective.
I myself have been on a long and continued path towards healing my body. 10 years of trials and tribulations, ups and downs, diagnoses and at times, challenged guidance. While my own healing journey is far from over, with new discoveries on what works best for me still being made weekly, I have so much I want to share and yet, so much still I want to learn, both for myself and for the countless others whom I meet and want to help.
I could talk for hours about what I have learned already just a few weeks into the program and just what enrolling in this program means for me, moving forward, but I digress, I have a stack of homework and this post is supposed to be about dip. That said, please know that I will be sharing my experiences with this program and the curiculum here o the website. I will be sharing a monthly journal of sort, of the progress of my time in the program, for those that are curious in possibly joining yourself and for those that may just be curious in how what I am learning may be of help to you. So stay tuned for that. In the meantime, I have this super simple, seasonally-inspired snack for you. Read the rest of this entry »
Happy Fall Equinox!! It’s here, my most favorite time of the year. So much change is in the air right now as we are moving from the busy, summer months of being outside and going non-stop, into the cooler, slower months of comfort and cozy. Staying in, watching movies, cuddling up with a hot mug of homemade soup and of course, pumpkin spice everything!
I have a very serious question for all of you… how in the heck is September almost over? Actually, make that two questions, I also want to know where the summer has gone? The Autumnal Equinox is just two days away and I honestly feel like summer just began. It probably doesn’t help that it has been a very busy summer and I have been traveling for most of this month. 12 days in a row were spent away from my home as I explored Maine, visited my family in New York, then returned home to quickly leave a mere 12 hours later, to visit a ranch and explore the adorable small town, Julian, CA.
I always find the end of September and the start of October to be a highly charged time for me, with lots of energetic shifts. Not only is change in the air with the start of a new season, but the fall equinox celebrates the equality of light and dark. As the sun shines directly on the equator, we experience (nearly) equal hours of daylight and darkness, all across the world! How cool is that? Because of this, the shift into fall focuses our energies on balance and as a libra, this equanimity is vital to my very existence. I thrive in the balance and I find myself at my best, most aware and most creative at this time.
Over the past few weeks I have had many reminders, presenting themselves in many different forms, to “honor yourself”. It’s easy in the busy time of summer to get lost in a sea of plans, to constantly be honoring promises to others and to fill the long days with socially-charged commitments. Summer is so focused on putting ourselves and our creations out into the world, feeding them and encouraging their flourishing growth in all the light surrounding us. I find as we transition toward darker days, the need to pause, to go within and to harvest our creations from these previous months. This time of rebalancing of our lives is the best for shifing our focus toward honoring our self. Armed with this knowledge of this time, the readings, reminders and messages, I have been able to focus on my energy inward these past few weeks. I have started to give myself the room to honor me and it has given me the space to see much more clearly.
Beyond this balance and the start of this energetic shift, with this new season I also very much enjoy the very literal harvest taking place, of the foods we eat and are creating. Apples and winter squashes, warming spices, stews, soups and baked goods. After our trip to Julian, CA at the end of last week, a town known for it’s apples, I was feeling inspired to create an apple pie with the beautiful apples we brought back. I planned to create a grain-free pie reminiscent of the slice of delicious gluten-free Apple Boysenberry Crumb Pie I had from a small bakery off Main Street. As I finished the last few bites of this pie, I dreamt of filling my own kitchen with the spicy, comforting aroma that filled this tiny little gold-mining town. Sadly, mother nature had other plans for me with her 100 degree summertime-like temperatures. While I really wanted to create this pie to share with you, I couldn’t imagine turning my oven on and slaving over peeling apples and rolling out dough. I chose to instead create another recipe, honoring the swing season. This special, but brief time where summer and fall meet.
At our core, we are all balance. It’s how we are meant to exist, it is necessary to our survival. It is how we choose to live our lives, in the most simplest of forms, that take this delicate rhythm away from it’s natural state. As I was creating this recipe, it struck me, like a huge truck in fact, I am truly the epitome of a libra and a middle child, through and through. I like when things are even and balanced, I like to see all sides, I like the middle and I love the way life feels when equanimity is at the forefront. The scales may flutter about, but ultimately I don’t feel right when my life is not in balance. I firmly believe that when life is imbalanced, this is when we suffer mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. When I am not in balance, I am not connected to the world. When I am not connected to the world, I get lost in myself and it never ends well.
This Spiced Rum Fig Kombucha Cocktail is just another example of how I truly embody the idea of balance, even in the most casual of moments in life. It’s something I crave even in the play time, I seek it and I am drawn to it, oftentimes in a completely subconscious manner. I’m sure, if you’ve been visiting this website for sometime, you see these very trends in my food. Many paleo recipes, yet lots of vegan, after many grain-free recipes will might find some grains, with a dozen vegan recipes, you’ll log on to find meatballs. There are sweets, but after too many, you won’t find them for a while. Many times I add a food to a recipe, just for a balance in color. I like to include ingredients that offer a compliment to balance another strong element. This is just how I live my life. Sometimes this need for balance will even show up in a dessert like a cake with some greens snuck into it or cookies with zucchini. It’s balance. My body craves it. The extremes, they just don’t work for me.
Swiss Chard often gets overlooked as just another green and I constantly find people confused as to what it is or how to cook with it. In my opinion, chard needs far more attention than what it gets. Why is kale getting all the love, anyway? This vitamin-packed, leafy vegetable is actually part of the chenopods, a subfamily of flowing plants that beets and spinach also belong to. Like beets and spinach, chard is packed with antioxidants and vitamins and it’s beautiful, colorful rainbow stems are just perfection.
The other great thing about chard is that you can eat all of it. Stems and leaves. It’s another, as I like to call it, “nose-to-tail veggie”! (see also my Charred Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto)
For me, carrots fall into the category of vegetables that I simply don’t give enough love! I find myself thinking of the boring, mushy steamed carrots we were served as kids and I find myself bored before I even take a bite.
I tend to forget how amazing roasted and charred carrots can be. That roasted goodness, where the carrots get tender but still retain a bit of their bite in the middle. The slightly caramelized brings out the natural sweetness of the carrots.
With this being only our second winter in California I am pleasantly surprised this year by the cooler weather and the rain. It really feels wintery to me (in comparison to our usual warm and sunny days). As much as I know we needed the rain and I of course wanted it, I really just was starting to believe it didn’t actually happen here.
Last year was pretty much just hot and sunny the entire winter season, very little rain, it basically just felt like a continuation of the rest of the year. I assumed that was the norm and was really only bummed about it because I was missing comforting winter foods like soups and stews and other winter weather favorites.
This year we have had some wonderfully welcomed grey and chilly days, complete with rain and the need for cozy-time. I’m talking a hot fire, lots of blankets and comforting hot foods and drinks. I have made lot of soups and my love of hot drinks has been taken to a new level. In fact, while I write this, I am sipping away on a steamy mug of dairy-free hot cocoa, while under a cozy blanket, in front of the roaring fire place. I know, I know, those of you dealing with single digit temperatures and loads of snow, probably think this Southern California girl who hails from Buffalo, NY, should shut up about rainy 50º weather, but it’s all relative, friends. Promise.
Well, Thanksgiving is officially done and over (insert sad face) and everyone is already onto Christmas (ok, insert happy face). Self included. We decorated the entire house this weekend, inside and out. That said, it is still Autumn, people. Despite the gnarly winter storms that have already clobbered the east coast, we still have another three weeks of fall. I feel like poor fall always gets rushed. We want to hang onto the last bits of summer and then we rush into winter with the holidays. My point is, how quickly we discard all things pumpkin for gingerbread, egg nog, peppermints sticks and the like, the minute Thanksgiving is over.
Many winter squashes and pumpkins are still in season and need our attention. Don’t leave them in your dust in favor of a Peppermint Mocha, quite yet. You can have your holiday yummies too, but just remember that pumpkins and other winter squashes are still in season. Need more convincing not to ditch these orange beauties just yet? Read this amazing History of Pumpkins from my friend Tori Avery for PBS Food.
This healthy, fall-inspired Autumn Harvest Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette, is the perfect way to enjoy all of the many amazing flavors of the season in one flavor-packed healthy salad. It is light enough to not leave you heavy and weighed down, but also hearty enough to be a meal on it’s own. This makes 2 large meal sized servings or 4 side salad-sized servings. I like to make this salad and dress the servings individually so I can enjoy the leftovers later. This was the perfect lunch during a long day of yoga teacher training, a few weeks back.
Lately, this is one of my most favorite ways to enjoy raw kale and I find even those not super crazy about the superfood green, absolutely love it in salad like this. The key is to massage the kale to get rid of the toughness and the bitterness. Yup, I said “massage”! No, you don’t have to whisper sweet nothings to it or buy it dinner first, just a good ‘ol fashioned no-strings-attached massage.
Squash season is my favorite of all the seasons! I honestly have a really hard time believing that squash is good for me, that it isn’t one of those foods you absolutely LOVE, but really know in your heart you should enjoy in moderation, like white potatoes or chocolate cake! This time of year, I find myself planning all of my meals around what squash we are going to eat.
Lately, I have been enjoying these beautiful Chile Delicate Squash Rings for breakfast with an egg , I made a bit pot of this Butternut Squash and Roasted Red Pepper Soup for lunch and I have been roasting butternut squash like it’s my job. Of course, though I haven’t yet, I will be making my popular Butternut Squash and Chickpea Slow Cooker Curry very soon, too! I could go on and on telling you the ways I have prepared squash over the last few weeks but instead I will share this amazing, simple new recipe with you.
This recipe features two of my favorite varieties of squash, at least this week, acorn and delicata. I love how sweet and delicate they both are and I love that you can eat the skin on both varieties. Both of these squash are insanely versatile and are wonderful in a savory dish, but just as good with a little maple syrup and some fresh cinnamon and nutmeg.