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

Simple Blueberry Breakfast Smoothies

A delicious and refreshing start to the morning

(Vegan, Autoimmune protocol friendly)

Close up of blueberries on a wooden table

The weather has been absolutely frigid for several days now… the kind of cold I can’t seem to shake, even in our cozy home. It seeps up through the tile on the floor, and seems to melt lazily in through our windows at night.

These would typically be the days when bowls of hot steel cut oats appear for breakfast at our house, filled with apples, cranberries, pecans, and chia.

(That sounds like some fairy makes these bowls for us, and they float down through the air to our dining table… just give me some wings…)

But for a short time, oats and nuts and seeds are off the table for me, so I’ve been trying to find a tasty alternative to brighten our mornings.

While this smoothie definitely does not help out with the chill (itself being quite cold), it is absolutely delicious, super healthy, and keeps us full for a surprisingly long time.

We are using coconut milk right now, but as soon as I start eating nuts again, almonds or walnuts and water will replace the coconut milk.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 large leaves organic lacinato “dino” kale, tough center stem removed (I promise, you can’t taste the kale!)

1 organic banana, peeled

2 cups frozen organic blueberries

1 can full fat organic coconut milk

Put all ingredients in the blender, adding water as needed (I usually add about 1/2 – 3/4 of a cup). Blend until smooth and enjoy! This makes plenty for both my husband and I.

What is your favorite healthy breakfast right now?

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

Mediterranean Bowls

Mediterranean dressing, tomatoes, and red onion beside a bowl of feta cheese, olives, and spinach

A dinner that’s quickly becoming a favorite in our home is Mediterranean Bowls…  Perhaps because I am a huge fan of all things BOWL.  This is like deconstructed casserole, my friends, or like a small scale buffet.  And the best part is I can actually make one easy meal and every. single. person. loves. it.

To make it super simple, I buy baby spinach and grape tomatoes for less cutting, but you can use whatever greens you like, and feel free to chop some big tomatoes, if you prefer!

My family loves roasted chickpeas (well, the portion of my family that will TRY roasted chickpeas loves them), so that’s a necessity.  Sometimes I go the extra mile for my meat eaters and do chicken souvlaki; sometimes I have no chicken in the house and they enjoy the meal anyway.

All in all, this is a super flexible dinner that can be pulled together quickly.  Add more elements, or take some out, whatever you wish!

To enjoy Mediterranean Bowls, prepare one serving bowl of each of the following:

Chicken Souvlaki (see recipe below)

Roasted Chickpeas (see recipe below)

Grape Tomatoes

Cucumber, cut in bite-sized chunks

Kalamata Olives, pitted whole or sliced

Finely diced Red Onion

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Baby Spinach

Cooked Farro (see recipe below)

Greek Salad Dressing (see recipe below)

Then all you need to do is sit back and let your family fill their bowls with the ingredients they want!  It’s miraculous, I’m telling you.  Bowls are miraculous.

For the chicken souvlaki, I’ve adapted a recipe from The Healthy Foodie that is really fantastic without any adaptation, I just need my life to be as simple as possible, so I skipped a few steps.

What you’ll need:

2lbs. chicken breasts, cut into chunks

2tbsp. lemon juice

2tbsp. white wine vinegar (I’ve also happily used ACV)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1tbsp. dried oregano

1tsp. Himalayan salt (other salt is fine too)

1tsp. freshly ground pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or put it together in the morning and let it sit all day.  When you’re ready to cook, just put it all in a covered pan (add a little oil, if you want — I prefer to use a copper pan and no oil) and cook, stirring/flipping once or twice, until chicken is no longer pink in the center.  Transfer to serving bowl.

For the roasted chickpeas:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drain and rinse one or two cans of chickpeas, according to your family size.  If you use oil, toss them with a tablespoon or two of avocado or extra virgin olive oil, but they turn out well without the oil too.  Spread them on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the following spices:  cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring once, just until they are starting to brown.  Transfer to serving bowl.

For the farro:

Rinse one cup of farro and place in a pot with 3 cups of vegetable stock (I like Vegetable Better Than Boullion).  Bring to a boil, stir, and reduce heat.  Continue to simmer for about 20 minutes until the grain is soft.  Transfer to serving dish.

For the Greek dressing:

I love this recipe from afamilyfeast.com.  I leave out the sugar and mint from the original recipe.

Mix together the following:  2 large garlic cloves, crushed; 2tsp. dried basil; 1tsp. salt; 1tsp. freshly ground black pepper; 1/4tsp. onion powder; 1tbsp. dried oregano; 1/8C. lemon juice; 2tbsp. red wine vinegar; 2tbsp. water; 1tsp. Dijon mustard; 1/2C. extra virgin olive oil (if desired, substitute more water to taste, if you prefer not to use oil).

If you don’t have the time or energy to make the dressing, using whatever store bought dressings are in your refrigerator will be just fine. Enjoy the gift of the grocery store.

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we do!

So much love,

~A

Mediterranean Bowls

A dinner that’s quickly becoming a favorite in our home is Mediterranean Bowls…  Perhaps because I am a huge fan of all things BOWL.  This is like deconstructed casserole, my friends, or like a small scale buffet.  And the best part is I can actually make one easy meal and every. single. person. loves. it.

To make it super simple, I buy baby spinach and grape tomatoes for less cutting, but you can use whatever greens you like, and feel free to chop some big tomatoes, if you prefer!

My family loves roasted chickpeas (well, the portion of my family that will TRY roasted chickpeas loves them), so that’s a necessity.  Sometimes I go the extra mile for my meat eaters and do chicken souvlaki; sometimes I have no chicken in the house and they enjoy the meal anyway.

All in all, this is a super flexible dinner that can be pulled together quickly.  Add more elements, or take some out, whatever you wish!

To enjoy Mediterranean Bowls for dinner, prepare one serving bowl of each of the following:

Chicken Souvlaki (see recipe below)

Roasted Chickpeas (see recipe below)

Grape Tomatoes

Cucumber, cut in bite-sized chunks

Kalamata Olives, pitted whole or sliced

Finely diced Red Onion

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Baby Spinach

Cooked Farro (see recipe below)

Greek Salad Dressing (see recipe below)

Then all you need to do is sit back and let your family fill their bowls with the ingredients they want!  It’s miraculous, I’m telling you.  Bowls are miraculous.

For the chicken souvlaki, I’ve adapted a recipe from The Healthy Foodie that is really fantastic without any adaptation, I just need my life to be as simple as possible, so I skipped a few steps.

What you’ll need:

2lbs. chicken breasts, cut into chunks

2tbsp. lemon juice

2tbsp. white wine vinegar (I’ve also happily used ACV)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1tbsp. dried oregano

1tsp. Himalayan salt (other salt is fine too)

1tsp. freshly ground pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or put it together in the morning and let it sit all day.  When you’re ready to cook, just put it all in a covered pan (add a little oil, if you want — I prefer to use a copper pan and no oil) and cook, stirring/flipping once or twice, until chicken is no longer pink in the center.  Transfer to serving bowl.

For the roasted chickpeas:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drain and rinse one or two cans of chickpeas, according to your family size.  If you use oil, toss them with a tablespoon or two of avocado or extra virgin olive oil, but they turn out well without the oil too.  Spread them on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the following spices:  cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring once, just until they are starting to brown.  Transfer to serving bowl.

For the farro:

Rinse one cup of farro and place in a pot with 3 cups of vegetable stock (I like Vegetable Better Than Boullion).  Bring to a boil, stir, and reduce heat.  Continue to simmer for about 20 minutes until the grain is soft.  Transfer to serving dish.

For the Greek dressing:

I love this recipe from afamilyfeast.com.  I leave out the sugar and mint from the original recipe.

Mix together the following:  2 large garlic cloves, crushed; 2tsp. dried basil; 1tsp. salt; 1tsp. freshly ground black pepper; 1/4tsp. onion powder; 1tbsp. dried oregano; 1/8C. lemon juice; 2tbsp. red wine vinegar; 2tbsp. water; 1tsp. Dijon mustard; 1/2C. extra virgin olive oil (if desired, substitute more water to taste, if you prefer not to use oil).

If you don’t have the time or energy to make the dressing, using whatever store bought dressings are in your refrigerator will be just fine. Enjoy the gift of the grocery store.

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we do!

So much love,

April