Taco Bowls

Taco bowls are a simple dinner and can suit a variety of dietary needs

Avocado cut in half on a counterI know, I know, what’s with all the bowls? Everything is being made into a bowl! But I’m telling you, bowls make dinner better! From gluten free, dairy free mostly vegan me, to my dairy loving son, and my carnivorous daughter, we have a wide range of palates to satisfy… and bowls do the trick!

You can switch up ingredients to meet any dietary challenge. Autoimmune Protocol? No problem, just fill your bowl with green leafies, and top with meat (skip the taco seasoning or make an AIP version), olives, onions, and avocado. Sprinkle it all with some freshly squeezed lime juice and a little salt, and you are AIP-friendly! Vegan? Leave out the meat and dairy and check your chips. Keto? I really don’t know exactly what you all do… Skip the carbs and eat the veggies and ALL the fats? You get the idea. Bowls are gloriously flexible.

Taco bowls are really just trendy taco salad, but they are a favorite in our home. Just put each ingredient in its own serving dish and let everyone build their individual bowl to suit!

Here are the ingredients I include:

1 lb. ground beef, browned and seasoned with homemade taco seasoning

1-2 cans of black beans (depending how many bean eaters I am having around the table) …dried beans that have been cooked, seasoned, and frozen also work great! If I’m on top of things, I make a big batch in the InstantPot to freeze in smaller amounts. Cans happen when I’m not planning ahead so well.

Lettuce of your choosing (I like red leaf lettuce or baby spinach)

Chopped tomatoes

Chopped avocado with some fresh lime juice

Sliced black olives

Frozen corn, thawed, or canned corn

Shredded cheddar or a Mexican blend of shredded cheese

Chopped green onions

Plain yogurt (our substitute for sour cream)

Salsa of your choosing

Tortilla chips

Hot cooked rice

That’s it! So simple. And everybody’s happy. Taco bowls!

What would you put in your bowl?

So much love,

~April

Acceptance and Resistance

Acceptance could be the most important New Year’s resolution for all of us

Close up of praying mantis on wood siding

Let’s talk about acceptance and resistance, shall we? And let’s get real. Today I hurt all over… my left elbow, my back, my neck, my right ankle and foot, my knees, my head, my hands, my abdomen. My hands and arms tingled and felt numb. I was home with my littlest guy who wanted to jump on me, slide down my legs, hang on my arms, but everywhere he touched hurt.

It hurt my body to play with my baby.

And I have not done very well at acceptance. Nope. I have resisted this bullishly for months, and today was prime resistance material. In fact, by this evening I was angry. I do not want this to be a real thing. I do not want to feel this way. I completely sabotaged my healing diet by eating Christmas candies and cookies filled with sugar and gluten.  I drank a rum and Coke.  It is New Year’s Eve and I want some semblance of “normal.”

And as I brushed my teeth, grumbling about the unfairness of life, melting into my own pity party like it’s its own New Year’s celebration, Eckart Tolle’s words came loudly into my mind… “whatever the present moment contains, accept it as though you had chosen it…”

Chosen it?!?? What would it look like if I had chosen this? Why in the world would I have chosen this???

And then, quietly, like a silent tidal wave, I was overwhelmed once again with a realization (because I simply don’t catch on quickly, my friends, not at all)… this whole thing is an invitation to take care of myself like I never have before. To notice my body, give it what it needs, move it, feed it, sit it only on soft seats, and give it many pillows. It is a chance unlike any other to nurture myself.

I know that self-care is important as a caregiver. I have tried to practice good self-care for many years. But this thing takes it up a notch… or ten. This thing is demanding my attention and forcing my focus on deep self-care. I cannot be the caregiver my son needs for the rest of my life if I don’t take care of myself now, figure out this body of mine, and give it what it needs.

So, this year, my New Year’s resolution looks a little different. This year, my goals are not big in the traditional sense. This year my goal is to fully accept this thing… to listen to and care for this one body of mine.

We all have ways in which we resist ourselves, turning away from our deepest needs as if they aren’t real. For some of us, it is the need for emotional connection that scares us most. For some of us, our need for food gets ignored. We kick against our needs as if somehow being human is itself wrong or a nuisance. We work harder, longer, faster, and get exhausted, but we can’t pause long enough to really refuel. We resist being the vulnerable, limited beings we all are.

But somehow it is really those very vulnerabilities and limitations that we need. We need the humility. We need the realization of how much we need others. We need the unity of understanding how connected we all are. We need the openness, kindness, and compassion these things can grow in us.

We need acceptance.

Acceptance of ourselves in all of our glorious complexity. Acceptance of our weaknesses and the things that make us tender. Acceptance of others, in all of their complexity, glory, and flaws.

Tonight we celebrate the end of a year and the beginning of a new one. Whatever the past year has held, it is closing. We are being given a fresh start, a chance to try new things, to begin again.

We have an opportunity to practice acceptance rather than resistance. To move peacefully instead of reactively.

How do you want to begin again? In what ways do you need to accept yourself and your needs? Who or what motivates you to do that well?

So much love,

~A

Vegan Lentil Masala

Close up of orange and yellow carrots and a bunch of tomatoes on a table

(GF, oil free, sugar free)

This recipe is adapted from Red Lentil Masala with Spinach from naturallyella.com

This is a meal I would make weekly. It is SO good! SO GOOD. The key is pinch of yum’s masala paste, found here: pinchofyum.com/life-changing-30-minute-masala-sauce

I always have some of this masala paste in the freezer to make cauliflower masala, veggie tikka masala, pinch of yum’s vegetarian meatballs, and before I started the vegan thing, chicken tikka masala. Lindsay was not exaggerating when she called this “life-changing.”

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 “puck” frozen masala paste (about 1/3C.)

1 small red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup lentils

1 cup vegetable broth

1/2-1 teaspoon salt

2 cups fresh spinach, packed

Hot rice

Combine all except coconut milk and spinach (and rice, of course) together in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stirring occasionally, bring to a boil, then add coconut milk, reduce heat, and simmer at least until lentils are soft. Turning down to low and allowing it to sit on the stove for a while is even better. About 30 minutes before serving, cook rice in a separate pan. A few minutes before serving, add spinach to the masala, allowing it to wilt, and stirring to incorporate.

This recipe doubles well and tastes even better the next day!

So much love,

~A

Pasta Bowls!

Close up of tri-color rotini pasta

This has been a fun meal my whole family enjoys. Again, with the bowls. Seriously. Flexible, simple meals free of complaining.

This particular bowl is highly adaptable… choose your pasta: regular, gluten-free, egg, shapes… You can do Alfredo bowls or Marinara bowls, or olive oil and herb bowls, or offer all of those as toppings.

I like to sauté some mushrooms, onions, spinach, shrimp, and fresh tomatoes all separately and with some minced garlic for additional toppings. You can offer some grated Parmesan cheese as well, or even try a vegan Parmesan option.

Serve this with a fresh green salad, maybe some French bread, and just about any human could sit down at your dinner table and find a way to enjoy filling their belly.

Each of the following components can be placed in a serving dish for folks to fill their own bowls. As you fill serving dishes, they can be placed in the oven to keep warm as you sauté the next ingredient. Amounts will vary based on the number of people you want to serve and what those people love to eat. The good news is that leftover bowls are great for work lunches the next day, so when in doubt, make more 🙂

Components of Pasta Bowls:

Pasta of your choice, cooked, drizzled with a bit of olive oil, and stirred through to keep the sticking to a minimum

Alfredo Sauce (recipe below)

Marinara Sauce (recipe below)

Olive oil with oregano, basil, thyme, salt, and pepper (I don’t actually measure here… you do you)

Shiitake, cremini, or baby bella mushrooms, sautéed with minced garlic

Onions, chopped or sliced and sautéed (or, if you have time, caramelized!)

Baby spinach sautéed with minced garlic

Fresh tomatoes, chopped and sautéed with minced garlic

Shrimp sautéed with mince garlic

Grated Parmesan cheese

Vegan Parmesan cheese (recipe below)

For the Alfredo sauce:

In saucepan, melt 4T (1/2 stick) of butter over medium heat. Stir in 1 can of condensed milk and 1/2C. Parmesan cheese, continuing to stir until cheese is melty. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: if you prefer Alfredo sauce that doesn’t separate, add a couple tablespoons (or up to 1/4C.) of flour… simply place flour in the saucepan at the beginning and stir to combine it with the melting butter.

For the Marinara Sauce:

18oz. tomato paste

4-6C. water

2tsp. of each, basil, oregano, and parsley

1tsp. of each, salt and sugar

1/2tsp. thyme

1/4tsp. pepper

1 bay leaf

1/4C. red wine (optional)

Combine all together. This can sit all day on low on the stove or in a crockpot. Taste and season more as desired.

For the vegan Parmesan:

(From Minimalist Baker — http://www.minimalistbaker.com)

Place 3/4C. cashews, 3T. nutritional yeast, 3/4tsp. salt, and 1/4tsp. garlic powder in food processor and process until everything is a fine meal. Store in refrigerator to maintain freshness.

I hope you and your family enjoy pasta bowls as much as we do!

So much love,

~A

Vegan Thai Red Curry

(This recipe is adapted from COOKIE + kate)

I LOVE cooking, but anything that gets cooked at my house these days has to meet some really stringent criteria:  it has to be vegan, gluten free, sugar free, quick and easy to make, and delicious enough for my meat and dairy eating husband to also enjoy it.  I have given up on the final one, which is that my kids would love it too.  My 23 year old stepson is up for trying new things any time he is around, and my two year old will usually give things a tiny try, but my 12 and 14 year old kiddos are a completely different story… we’re talking plain noodles, pickles, and potato chips here, folks.  It is not pretty.

This recipe meets all my attainable criteria with flying colors.  It is SO good, SO easy, and SO healthy!  We make it with 4 cups of jasmine turmeric rice, which my 14 year old will consume on a good day.  Everything else gets chopped and thrown in one pot.  The longer it sits on the stove, the better it gets, so if your world is anything like mine, that means you can make it when you have 15 minutes and then forget about it other than the occasional stir.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 cups jasmine rice

2 tsp. turmeric

1 small onion, your pick, I use yellow

2 bell peppers, I like red and yellow for the color

3 carrots

4 good-sized handfuls of fresh baby spinach

2 T. Thai red curry paste (note:  if it is important for you, look for a vegan and GF variety)

2 T. soy sauce (remember the vegan, GF part again, if you want)

2 T. lime juice

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 can (7 oz.) coconut milk

7 oz. almond milk, or the rest of the can of coconut milk, your choice

7 oz. water

Mix rice, turmeric and 4 cups of water in a separate pot.  If making and serving immediately, go ahead and cook the rice.  If making ahead of time, cover the pot and let it sit until 30 minutes before supper time.

Chop the onion, peppers, and carrots into pieces of similar size.  Put all ingredients (other than rice and turmeric) into a pot.  Cover, turn heat on medium low, stirring occasionally.  Once it is cooking well, turn down the heat to low and let it sit, stirring occasionally, until you are ready to eat.  That’s it!

I hope you enjoy this super easy, super healthy dinner as much as we do!  And be sure to check out cookieandkate.com for their original recipe, beautiful pictures, and more awesome whole food recipes!

So much love,

~A

Vegan Thai Red Curry

(This recipe is adapted from COOKIE + kate)

I LOVE cooking, but anything that gets cooked at my house these days has to meet some really stringent criteria:  it has to be vegan, gluten free, sugar free, quick and easy to make, and delicious enough for my meat and dairy eating husband to also enjoy it.  I have given up on the final one, which is that my kids would love it too.  My 23 year old stepson is up for trying new things any time he is around, and my two year old will usually give things a tiny try, but my 12 and 14 year old kiddos are a completely different story… we’re talking plain noodles, pickles, and potato chips here, folks.  It is not pretty.

This recipe meets all my attainable criteria with flying colors.  It is SO good, SO easy, and SO healthy!  We make it with 4 cups of jasmine turmeric rice, which my 14 year old will consume on a good day.  Everything else gets chopped and thrown in one pot.  The longer it sits on the stove, the better it gets, so if your world is anything like mine, that means you can make it when you have 15 minutes and then forget about it other than the occasional stir.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 cups jasmine rice

2 tsp. turmeric

1 small onion, your pick, I use yellow

2 bell peppers, I like red and yellow for the color

3 carrots

4 good-sized handfuls of fresh baby spinach

2 T. Thai red curry paste (note:  if it is important for you, look for a vegan and GF variety)

2 T. soy sauce (remember the vegan, GF part again, if you want)

2 T. lime juice

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 can (7 oz.) coconut milk

7 oz. almond milk, or the rest of the can of coconut milk, your choice

7 oz. water

Mix rice, turmeric and 4 cups of water in a separate pot.  If making and serving immediately, go ahead and cook the rice.  If making ahead of time, cover the pot and let it sit until 30 minutes before supper time.

Chop the onion, peppers, and carrots into pieces of similar size.  Put all ingredients (other than rice and turmeric) into a pot.  Cover, turn heat on medium low, stirring occasionally.  Once it is cooking well, turn down the heat to low and let it sit, stirring occasionally, until you are ready to eat.  That’s it!

I hope you enjoy this super easy, super healthy dinner as much as we do!  And be sure to check out cookieandkate.com for their original recipe, beautiful pictures, and more awesome whole food recipes!