How to Make Mouthwatering Pulled Beef for 5 Different Meals

This blog post has been requested by so many of my Instagram followers that I spent my weekend writing it for you guys! I couldn’t bear the thought of you all going one more day without this amazingness! The best part about this recipe is that it can be used for at least 5 different meals with very little prep, less than 5 minutes! I’ve used this pulled beef for arepas (pictured in this post), quesadillas, tacos, burrito bowls, and salads. By using a crock pot you spend 5 minutes prepping and then leave it alone until dinner time! So. Easy. In fact, it is so easy I might just have my 7 year old start making this meal….he he he.

Ingredients

  • 2lb Beef – I usually buy a chuck roast but other cuts will work too. Try to get grass fed!
  • Jalapeños, 1-2 depending on your desired spice level, chopped roughly
  • 1 Onion, chopped (totally optional! I had some extra that needed to be used so I threw it in)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 16oz jar chunky salsa (choose your heat level according to your preferences – mild, medium, hot), I love Fronterra brand
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp cumin powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Put the chuck roast in the crock pot. Cover the meat with all the ingredients. Don’t worry about mixing it around the meat too much. As the meat breaks down you can give it a swirl later if you want. It all stews and mixes together eventually. Leave in the slow cooker on low heat for 8-10 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours. Once it is cooked you can shred or pull the beef apart with two forks. If you happen to be home while the meat is cooking, you can also do this step earlier (after at least 5 hours cooking on low or 3 hours of cooking on high)and the juice gets into the center of the meat taster. Either way it will turn out mouthwatering. You can also double this recipe for lots of leftovers if you have a 6-7 qt crockpot. Not that you will have any food left….because it will be SOOOOOO good!! But….if you do, then freeze it in meal size portions sized for your family. This type of slow cooked meat with lots of juices freezes really well.Slow cooked grass fed beef is excellent for those following Paleo, Whole 30, Low Carb and many other healthy diets. Obviously you would have to tailor the rest of the meal to align with your diet.

Gluten-free: use corn only tortillas or serve over rice or greens

Dairy-free: leave out the cheese, if you are making arepas use an oil that is dairy-free like avocado oil.

Paleo/Whole 30/Low Carb: serve over greens, leave out the cheese

This is a family favorite, now it will be yours too!

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What’s For Dinner? Blackened Chicken Salad with Tomatoes, Avocado, Cucumber and Romaine


This is a super yummy, refreshing, light but satisfying, easy meal for those hot summer nights. Whether it’s a laid back weekend or a busy weeknight, this meal has become a staple in our house.

To make the chicken:

Use boneless skinless chicken thighs. Coat the chicken with a homemade rub co sitting of equal parts chili powder, cumin and paprika with salt and pepper to taste. I usually start with 2 Tbsp each and make a second round of needed depending on how much meat I make. Don’t be shy with the rub. The other night I made almost 4lb of meat so we could have leftovers for lunches and other meals.  You can either grill the meat or use a cast iron grill pan on the stove top. When the chicken is done either serve it warm on the salad or cool it down and serve room temperature. Personally, I like to cook it ahead of time because we are usually ot and about for the hours right before dinner.

The rest of the salad:

Chop romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, cucumber and avocado into bite size pieces. For the dressing you can either use a basic dressing made of avocado oil or olive oil with chopped cilantro, salt and pepper or a chimichurri sauce as a dressing.

Mix it all together and enjoy!

My seven and three year old eat this same dinner except like most young children, they don’t like everything mixed together. We just separate everything (and they don’t really eat lettuce yet so we leave that out.)

That’s it, super easy!!!

What’s For Dinner? Slow Cooker Chili Spiked with Veggies

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I love chili on a cold winter night, coated with gooey cheese and steaming in the bowl. After I graduated from nutrition school I began to see the potential in adding more nutrition to everyday meals. Hence, “Chili Spiked with Veggies” was born. It’s the perfect marriage between comforting, warm, tasty chili and healthy veggies. Even better, you can make the whole thing in the crockpot and it only takes about 15-20 minutes (depending on how fast you chop!)

Slow Cooker Chili Spiked With Veggies

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Equipment: Slow Cooker, 7 quart

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pounds ground beef, buffalo (grass-fed) or turkey
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 10-12 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup chili powder (use 1/4 cup for kids or those who don’t like a lot of “heat” to their chili)
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (again, use less for less spicy flavor)
  • 2 cans (each 28oz) diced tomatoes with juices
  • 2-3 small zucchinis, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped in small pieces
  • 1-2 carrots, diced
  • 4 cups (32oz) beef, chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cans (each 14oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Serrano or jalapeño pepper, minced (optional)
  • sour cream or grated cheese and chopped green onion or chives optional for garnishing

Directions

Brown the ground meat over medium-high heat either in the slow cooker insert (if it is OK to be used on stovetop – mine is and I love this function!) or in a skillet. Season with salt and pepper while cooking. If using a high fat content meat you may want to drain off some excess fat.

Reduce heat to medium, add the garlic and yellow onions to the meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, and cayenne and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, zucchini, bell pepper, carrot, and kidney beans. Add the broth and stir to combine.

Transfer the slow cooker insert to the base, or spoon the ingredients from the skillet into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.

Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper and more spices if desired. If you want even more of a kick to your chili, add an additional Serrano or jalapeño pepper (minced) to your chili for the last 15-20 minutes of cook time. Ladle the chili into bowls and garnish with your choice of sour cream, grated cheese, green onion and/or chives.

https://therealisticlunchbox.wordpress.com/

 

How to Make Simple Moong Daal


In this blog post I’m going to lean heavily on the fact that this blog is “realistic”…as in A) my kitchen is not large, commercial or perfect, B) my videographer is a 6 year old using my iPad (no fancy equipment or lighting here!) and C) I often have to cook with my kids because I’m the only adult at home with them and they have recently decided that they want to be a part of everything I do and can’t play by themselves anymore 😕. Although, I am happy when they are interested in cooking with me, it just adds an extra element or two. So, if you are possibly thinking that you can’t cook with kids, think again! It might be a little bit slower, messier and require a bit of prep beforehand but you will also be giving your children the gift of “real food awareness”. That cooking real food can be fun, yummy and healthy. They may not eat everything you cook at first….or much of anything, but the skills and memories they observe and acquire in the kitchen will stay with them forever. (Thanks for that Mom!) 

Ok, on to the reason you opened this blog post. If you don’t know what moong daal is (also known as mung daal), then it’s time I introduce you. Moong beans are legumes and are rich in fiber and folate. They also contain high amounts of protein, iron, magnesium, and Vitamin K. (1)  Moong daal is easily digested and therefore a great food for people recovering from illness.

Where to find moong beans? I shop at a local Indian market. Many “health food” stores and co-ops also carry moong (or mung) beans. This recipe uses the yellow kind (not the green ones). Often grocery stores can special order it for you as well. 


The Ingredients

1 Cup uncooked yellow Moong beans (also known as mung beans)

3 cups Chicken or Vegetable stock 

1 tsp sea salt

1/2-1 Onion – chopped finely

4 Garlic Cloves

2 tsp Turmeric

2-3 tsp Cumin seeds, toasted (toast in pan lightly on stovetop)

2 tomatoes chopped finely

Chili – totally optional (I leave it out when making this for my kids)

1/2 cup – 1 Cup Cilantro – chopped (more or less per your taste)

Ghee, or butter for frying


Directions

Soak the moons beans for 1-2 hours covered in room temp water with a spoonful of salt. If you are doubling or tripling the recipe, remember how much moong beans you started with because it will expand! 

Drain and rinse soaked beans. Based on how much moong daal you started with, triple the vegetable or chicken broth, add this and the turmeric and the sea salt with soaked moong beans to a large pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. 

—Here is a video – totally “realistic” of this step. https://youtu.be/Uh9_JYIGZ1g  3min 58sec long

While the broth/bean mixture is heating up, pan fry the onion, garlic, and cumin seeds for 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes and fry a little more (3-4 minutes). 

—Here is a video – again, I’m in my post-yoga workout clothes 😳 – of this step. https://youtu.be/PEEraokdXLU. 4min 37sec long

Add this pan fried mixture to pot and let it all simmer together partially covered for about 45-60 minutes.

—Here is a short video of this step – the kids are almost over it at this point…are you? https://youtu.be/qnwmkQjgvuM  1min 08sec long 

When daal has achieved the desired consistency (which is tough to describe exactly but the beans will be starting to get “mushy” but still retain some of their shape) remove from heat and stir in chopped cilantro. 
Now you can enjoy the daal by itself or over rice to make it a complete vegetarian protein (assuming you used the vegetarian broth). Serve with naan or paratha (optional). This dish is also great as a side dish to compliment other Indian dishes.  




NOTES

*This dish is gluten-free, dairy-free (if you use ghee most people with diary allergies are fine with this but if you have an extreme allergy use coconut oil), nut-free, and vegetarian (if you use the vegetable broth).

**In the videos we quadrupled the recipe and froze most of the leftovers in 16oz freezer safe mason jars (great for an individual serving!) This is a great way to cook once for many, MANY meals. 

***If you are cooking with kids, remember to SOAK the beans 1-2 hours before you want to start cooking them, PREP EVERYTHING, and make sure your kitchen workspace is clear and clean. This will make it a much more enoyable experience!

****Video Credit to Tejus Vachani, age 6 and the Sous Chef is Kai Vachani, age 3


Sources

1 NutritionData.com


Broccoli Pancakes

I am SO sick of my 2 year old (almost 3 year old) NOT eating veggies! His brother eats anything raw, and some cooked veggies but this little guy is a different story. I know I’m exaggerating, he does eat some veggies…smoothies, smoothies, Popsicles….wait, maybe he doesn’t eat that much? Well, we try, and I think we are doing OK, but just “OK” in my mind isn’t going to cut it. I mean, I KNOW the importance of veggies, both long term and short term. How intake of antioxidants and immune boosting nutrients can help him, how calcium can affect long term bone health, how….well, I could go on and on. This is the age old battle with toddlers, is it not?

Tonight I decided to take a stand. I WILL figure out a way that he LIKES to eat veggies. The force was strong with me tonight. And succeed I did. With the 2 year old. The 6 year old proceeded to critique the experimental broccoli pancakes like he was one of the “super tasters” (He’s NOT).

This was how it all unfolded.


I looked in my fridge and had lots of leftovers. These were the main veggies (plus the carrots which were getting old). I was wondering what to do with them….so I decided pancakes were a good idea.


I put it all in a bowl and mixed it together.


Then I pan fried it. Who DOESN’T like pan fried anything?!?


Finished product. The picture doesn’t do it justice. It is actually really amazing. But since my 6 year old “complained” I added some shredded cheese to batch 2….AH-MAZING. These will be in their lunches tomorrow.

 

Broccoli Pancakes

makes about 8 pancakes


Ingredients

1 cup finely chopped cooked broccoli

1 cup shredded raw carrot

4 eggs, whisked

4 Tbsp coconut flour (I’m pretty sure you could do any flour)

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup rice (pre-cooked), the one pictured here was leftover cilantro lime rice from Make Your Own Burrito Bowls

Dash of cardamom (because I can)

Salt and pepper to taste

Coconut oil for pan frying

(1/2 – 1 cup shredded cheese is optional)
Mix everything together, smack it into balls and squish in the pan to form pancakes. Fry on low-medium for 4-5 minutes each side.

That’s it. Now you and your kids are eating veggies.
This recipe is gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free if you omit the cheese!=

Serve cold in lunches or freeze and toast when you want some more!

What’s For Dinner? Quick & Easy Chicken Tikka Masala

Yup, it’s the timeless question heard throughout every home on a daily basis. And by timeless, I mean that there is always LESS TIME than you need in a day to accomplish everything you need to/want to and THEN you have to make dinner too? Jeez. Why do the kids have to eat every day…multiple times?!?!

I have come to really appreciate the time I USED to have in the kitchen. Now that I have two young children, I’m having to change my ways and figure out new methods of survival on a day-to-day basis. Here’s a no fail, easy, relatively quick and HEALTHY meal you can throw together on a weeknight. Even better, you can keep most of the ingredients in the freezer and the rest in your pantry so you don’t even have to go to the grocery store (with kids…this can be a challenge in itself at the end of a long day – or anytime of day). Winning!

Ingredients: broccoli, chicken thigh meat, Maya Kamal simmer sauce, brown basmati rice, coconut oil (or ghee for browning the meat).

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All three ingredients pictured above can be stored in the freezer to have readily on hand. They also thaw pretty quickly in a bowl of warm water if you forget to take them out in the morning. You can find Maya Kamal at various Whole Foods markets and various Costco warehouses (in a 3 flavor pack). I’m sure it’s found elsewhere as well. I love this simmer sauce because it has really great authentic flavor and really healthy, all natural ingredients.

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I highly recommend investing in a rice cooker if you plan on making a fair amount of meals at home. I can get the rice ready and set the timer in the morning and forget about it until it’s dinner time.

 

Method: If you don’t have a rice cooker, make sure you start the brown rice about an hour before you wan to eat. This only takes a few minutes and you don’t have to tend to it after it’s simmering. Cut the chicken into bite size or slightly larger pieces, brown in a pan with coconut oil before adding the simmer sauce. I usually let simmer about 15 minutes. Just make sure the meat is thoroughly cooked. While the chicken is simmering, steam your broccoli (I find 6-7 minutes depending on how you cut it is perfect). That’s it. Serve and enjoy.

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and yes….it is enjoyed by all ages.

DSC_0525**This meal is gluten-free

 

 

Muffin Tin Lunch

This is going to be short and sweet.

Sometimes it’s hard to get toddlers to eat what you want them to eat (i.e. healthy foods!) but you can’t force them to eat anything. In fact, encouraging them usually backfires, so I took another approach. Change up the presentation! It’s a pretty simple solution to a chronic problem. I’m not saying it will work every time, but your toddler will think it’s really fun to have a “new” lunch.

All you need is a half-dozen size muffin tin and some imagination.

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You can fill the cups with just about anything. Pictured here is turkey, clementine, carrots, hummus, crackers and cucumber. Have fun with it!

Day 1 Sugar-free

I’m back. I’ve taken quite the hiatus from my blog for many reasons. I’m not yet ready to talk about all of the personal reasons, the time for that will come. But other reasons include the holidays. Why is it that this time of year causes so many of us to fall back on bad habits and experience a regression in pursuing our goals? I guess taking a break from our normal patterns of life is not entirely a bad thing but in my case, it was. I started to slip on my dietary goals and just a bite or just one piece of dessert turned  into everyday. Yikes! Before I knew it I was having sugary desserts or treats every day and sometimes more than once a day. Enough! It’s about time I get back on track, so here I am on Day 1 of going sugar free. I have no intention of cutting out all the vices in my life (at least not at this moment) so I’m just focusing on sugar, which some say could be the worst evil of all.

Here is my healthy eating plan for today:

Breakfast: whole milk yogurt + sprouted grains granola, raisins, nuts, a dash of honey (not a refined sugar and healthy in moderation) and my coffee (I said I wasn’t cutting out all vices!)

Lunch: Green Smoothie + 2 fried eggs

Snack: green tea + wasabi flavored seaweed + pistachios + mandarin

Dinner: Homemade chicken noodle soup with kale

What are you doing for your health today?

What’s For Dinner? Quinoa Pesto Pasta

Have you cut-out pasta from your meal plans because you are afraid “of all the carbs” or because you are eating gluten-free? Well get ready to make a date with this pasta recipe. Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Organic Pasta is gluten-free and naturally high in protein (all quinoa is) and therefore lower in carbs so you can enjoy a well balanced, nutritious, quick and easy meal with PASTA again!

My favorite is the “Garden Pagodas” by this brand but any of the varieties will work for this recipe.

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What’s for Dinner? Spring Quinoa Salad

Are you tired of ordering pizza, subs, or Chipotle (yes, that’s me!) as your default meal? Are you looking to eat healthier this spring but don’t want to compromise taste in the process? Are you a novice in the kitchen but want to cook more, starting with “easy” meals? Well, if you answered yes to one or all of these questions than don’t stop reading! Continue reading