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January 2015 · Rachel's Nourishing Kitchen

Month: January 2015 Page 1 of 2

My Top 10 Healthy Snack Upgrades for Super Bowl {Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free}

My husband, Bill, is a die-hard Packers fan and, being from Baltimore, I’m a Ravens fan.

My hubby and his friend Josh after the Packers won the 2010 Super Bowl. My sister, Jane, and I celebrating after the Ravens won in 2012.

My hubby and his friend Josh after the Packers won the 2010 Super Bowl. My sister, Jane, and I celebrating after the Ravens won in 2012.

As you might imagine, given the outcomes of the recent playoff games, neither of us is all that excited for this year’s Super Bowl matchup.

Sure, we’ll watch it with friends and hope for a good game and some funny commercials, but it won’t be the same as if one of our teams had made it to the big game.

Even though the excitement for the game isn’t there, Super Bowl parties always mean FOOD, so here I am with some recipes for you!

I pulled together my favorite dips, snacks and potluck-style dishes that are great upgrades to typical Super Bowl party food. They’re crowd-pleasing AND nourishing 🙂

super bowl snacks

Like everything on this blog, all of these recipes are dairy-free and gluten-free AND get a big thumbs up from Bill, family and friends!

Creamy Queso Dip – A friend of ours FROM WISCONSIN liked this “cheeze” dip…even though it doesn’t contain any dairy! If someone from Wisconsin likes a non-cheese cheeze dip, then I think it’s safe to say anyone will.

Protein-Packed Pumpkin Spice Dip – This recipe is so good it was selected to be in an ebook this winter! I love the taste of pumpkin, and even though it’s winter and not fall, I’m still a big fan of this dip and think your friends will be, too. Serve it with sliced apples or pears and you’re good to go.

Raw Caramel Apple Dip – This is my go-to dip to bring to most parties. People love it and are always surprised to find out the ingredients. It’s silky, sweet and slightly salty…and is made from only 5 ingredients!

Elevate Your Tailgate Buffalo Hummus – I showed my coworkers how to make this at a cooking class this fall, and they loved it! If you’re looking to upgrade your buffalo chicken dip, try this healthier version instead 🙂

Taste the Rainbow Super Food Salad – You can keep this one simple and just use the basic ingredients (dressing + kale + shredded carrots + pumpkin seeds), or you can add all the other stuff. When I bring this salad to a party, I always get requests for the recipe afterwards.

MYO Chipotle-Style Bean Burrito Bowl – When I teach my How to Eat Healthy Without Going Broke workshop, I always serve this dish, and people rave about it. In one class, someone even said, “I don’t like black beans or avocado…but I loved this.” It’s a great potluck-style option to bring – double the recipe for a crowd!

Basil-Walnut Pesto Sauce with Cucumber Slices – People DEVOUR these. I first made them for my anti-inflammatory cooking class in the fall and then brought them to a Christmas party. They were gone within an hour. Trust me on this one – these will be a hit.

Paleo Pecan Pie Poppers – I whip these up as a convenient “on the go” snack and love the combo of crunchy, chewy, sweet and salty. These may not be the most conventional appetizer choice, but think of them as a healthier and sweeter version of a “popper.”

Green Goddess Guacamole – Guacamole is pretty much one of the best things ever, isn’t it? I didn’t even try it until I was in my mid-20s because I thought it was made with mayonnaise, which I’ve never liked. Turns out, it’s amazingly delicious 🙂 Whether you make this recipe or one of your own, guacamole is a great healthy dip that’s full of healthy, beauty-boosting and energizing fats.

And last but not least, there’s always crock pot chili – a great option to bring to any party or potluck. Serve with a dollop of guacamole or some diced avocado 🙂

chili 2

How to Make Your Own Almond Milk & Why I Ditched Dairy {Step-by-Step Video!}

Mother’s milk is an integral part of our first food memory. It single-handedly sustained and nourished us through our initial months and years of life.

It’s no wonder we have such an emotional tie to milk and the products made from it. 

From Polly-o string cheese and Parmesan cheese to yogurt, ice cream, and frozen yogurt, I loved dairy products for most of my life. If you had told me there would be a time when I wouldn’t eat them, I would have told you that you were nuts 🙂

almond milk 2

But ever since I cut out milk products three years ago, I’ve felt better than ever.

For years, my body was sending me signals that I basically ignored and never knew were connected to my body’s intolerance to dairy. When I cut it out, my sinus congestion disappeared, I stopped getting bronchitis twice a year, and my post-nasal drip went away. That meant no more Sudafed, Advair, Mucinex or Tylenol Cold & Sinus – all medications I used to take multiple times throughout the year.

My skin and digestion also improved significantly – less dryness and zits and less bloating and gas (just being honest!). Giving up dairy is also one of the reasons I was finally able to get off of medicine I used to take daily to control acid reflux.

Since cutting out dairy, I’ve had to find tasty alternatives to something most of us drink or use in things like smoothies every day – milk. I’ve been drinking almond milk for years but always bought the boxed versions from the grocery store.

almond milk1

During my culinary nutrition program this fall I was finally inspired to make my own almond milk. It was easier than I thought. I just had to do it.

In the video below, I show you exactly how to make almond milk in a step-by-step, foolproof way. I also share my favorite natural sweeteners and flavor enhancers to add to almond milk to make it taste delicious.

Resources From the Video

almond milk banner


1 cup raw almonds
6 cups filtered water (2 cups for soaking, 4 cups for blending)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sweetener of choice: 1-2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup, raw honey or coconut nectar OR 2 pitted Medjool dates


  1. Soak almonds in 2 cups of water at least 3 hours or overnight.
  2. Rinse almonds in colander and then pour nuts into blender. You don’t NEED a high-speed blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec to make this, but it helps.
  3. Add 4 cups of water to blender and blend on high for about 1 minute.
  4. Position nut milk sack over a large bowl or 8 cup measuring cup and pour liquid from blender into nut milk sack. Pull drawstring at top and GENTLY squeeze milk out of sack, leaving the pulp in the sack.
  5. Rinse blender and then pour strained milk back into blender. Add sweetener of choice and vanilla extract and blend for 10-15 seconds.
  6. Drink immediately or store in a glass jar in the fridge for 3-5 days. You can also pour the milk into ice cube trays and freeze it so it lasts longer and then add it to smoothies without worrying about it going bad 🙂

The Easiest and Cheapest Way to Make Your Own Vegetable Broth

Until about a month ago, I had never made my own vegetable broth.

I always bought boxes of broth at the grocery store for about $3 a pop because I assumed it was too much work and way too difficult to make it myself.

Turns out I was wrong!

Not only is it easy, but it’s also CHEAP. The secret is using vegetable scraps you would have probably thrown away, so you don’t even have to spend extra money 🙂

I learned about this technique when I attended a soups and stocks cooking class at Pure Sweets & Co. in Philadelphia earlier this month.

It’s just one of the ways they make using all organic vegetables more sustainable and affordable because they use the ENTIRE vegetable…no waste!

Once you see how EASY it is to make your own broth, I bet you will actually do it!

veggie broth banner


  • Scraps, peels, stems, skins, ends, nubs from a variety of vegetables (garlic, onions, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, celery, herbs, squash, turnips, broccoli) – use a variety or you will have a one-note broth 🙂
  • Water

scrap soup how to pics


  1. Save your scraps. Whenever you are prepping vegetables or herbs, put all of the stuff you would normally throw away (butts/ends, stems, skins, tops, leaves, peels) into a bag and store the bag in your freezer.
  2. When you’re ready to make your broth, simply fill about 1/3 of an 8-quart pot with the vegetable scraps and the rest with water. If you have extra fresh veggies like carrots, onions, or parsley, you can chop them up and throw them in, too.
  3. Bring pot to a boil then lower heat to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for 1-2 hours. The longer it simmers, the richer the flavor will be.
  4. Let broth cool to room temperature, then strain off the vegetables so you’re left with just broth. Compost the scraps.
  5. Pour the broth into glass jars, leaving AT LEAST 2 inches of air above the broth before you seal it, so the broth has room to expand in the jar once you freeze it. If you don’t leave enough room, the jar could crack from the pressure…which may have happened to me once already…Oops! (By the way, we swear by this canning jar funnel to prevent spills. It’s totally worth it.)
  6. Store broth in the fridge for up to one week or in the freezer for up to six months.

We had lots of scraps…sooo now we have about 32 ounces of vegetable broth 🙂 Stock up on those mason jars for storage! You can find them at Home Goods, Michael’s, Target, Walmart, and online.

Do you have any favorite soup recipes or requests? I have white bean and fennel soup and creamy butternut squash recipes coming up soon. Let me know if you have any requests!

Cozy Crock Pot Lentil Chili: Set It And Forget It! {Vegan, Gluten-Free}

I love my job! I have so much fun sharing my passion for healthy eating and delicious, nourishing food with my co-workers, our clients, and with all of you! 🙂

Yesterday, I taught a new workshop called Eating for All-Day Energy.

We talked about the challenges of having low energy and what we tend to eat and do when we feel that way. In most cases, we reach for another coffee or snack without giving much thought to how those choices impact our energy.


I shared my top four secrets for eating for energy and will be sharing the first of those with you today.

Many of us are riding “the blood sugar roller coaster,” dealing with a series of cravings and energy spikes and crashes all day long. We often feel tired, irritable, moody, and not as energized or focused as we’d like to be.

blood-sugar roller coaster

The truth is, what we eat affects us.

If we want to feel energized, then we have to FUEL and NOURISH our bodies with foods and drinks that give us energy.

So, here’s tip #1:

To have all-day energy, stabilize your blood sugar by having the following combination of foods at each meal:PFF

When we eat meals that have protein + healthy fats + fiber, we stabilize our blood sugar and help it release slowly over time rather than dealing with sudden spikes and drops. (I’ll be sharing more details about exactly how blood sugar works in a future post but wanted to keep it limited for today.)

  1. Protein (nuts: almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, cashews; seeds: pumpkin, chia, hemp, flax, sunflower, sesame; lentils, peas, beans, tempeh (recipe to come!), nut butters, and grass-fed/farm-raised meat, poultry, eggs, and fish)
  2. Healthy Fats (nuts and seeds, avocado, nut and seed butters, wild caught salmon, pasture-raised eggs, extra virgin olive oil, coconut milk, coconut oil, guacamole, tahini (sesame paste), ghee (clarified butter), grass-fed butter if you can tolerate some dairy)
  3. Fiber (vegetables, especially leafy greens; summer squash; cruciferous veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower; fruit, especially berries, peaches, cherries, apples, pears and plums; beans, peas, lentils; gluten-free grains like quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, millet, oats, and amaranth).

At the end of the class, I shared two demos of recipes that will keep you full AND sustain your energy, including this yummy chili.

Everyone loved it! It’s easy to make, too. You just have to saute a few vegetables and spices for about 10 minutes and then dump everything into a crock pot for 8 hours. Set it and forget it! 🙂

chili 2

This meal is a GREAT option for stabilizing blood sugar, especially if you serve it with some diced avocado on top. There’s PROTEIN in the lentils, FIBER in the lentils and vegetables, and HEALTHY FATS in the avocado.

Lentils fill me up more than just about any other food, too, so you might find the same to be true for yourself.

Don’t let yourself be intimidated by the length of this ingredient list – 1/3 are spices, 1/3 are common veggies, and the rest is pretty basic, too. The only things you might have to buy are the lentils and roasted red peppers…and maybe the tomato puree and diced tomatoes if you don’t already keep them on hand for things like marinara sauce. Every grocery store sells those ingredients.

This is a hearty, filling, heart-warming, nutrient-rich meal. Enjoy it for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

crock pot chili

chili 3


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (add more if you like more of a “kick”)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can or jar tomato puree, no sodium added
  • 1 (28-ounce) can or jar crushed or diced tomatoes, no sodium added (I like Pomi brand)
  • 2 roasted red peppers, diced
  • 2 cups dried green lentils or French lentils
  • 1 teaspoon 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Optional: avocado slices and scallions for toppings


  1. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and carrots and saute until onions are soft, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, and cayenne to vegetables and saute for another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add tomato puree, crushed or diced tomatoes and roasted red pepper and stir to combine.
  4. Transfer mixture from saute pan to crock pot. Add lentils, maple syrup, bay leaf and water. Stir to combine all ingredients.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  6. Remove bay leaf and stir in salt before serving.

Top with diced avocado and chopped scallions for a good dose of healthy fat and a pop of color!

Do you have a favorite chili recipe or energy-boosting snack or meal? Feel free to share below 🙂

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Apple Crisp {Gluten-Free, Paleo, Vegan}

With all of the cold weather we’ve been having lately in Baltimore, I’ve been in the mood for warming, grounding comfort foods.

Apples are one of those foods that are perfect this time of year, and baking them brings out the fullness of their flavor, especially when paired with flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg.

Most fruit crisps are made with gluten-containing flour and refined sugar, so I wanted to upgrade them by sharing this recipe with you.

This apple crisp melts in your mouth, and it’s gluten-free, paleo, vegan and refined sugar-free.

Enjoy! 🙂

applecrisp apples



  • 8-10 apples, cored and cut into 1/2 inch-thick thick slices (a combo of Pink Lady and Granny Smith would be great!)
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot starch (can use corn starch if you don’t have arrowroot but I highly recommend arrowroot starch for thickening!)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • Âź cup lemon juice (+ 1 tablespoon for lemon water to prevent apples from browning)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (solid)


  • 2 cups almond meal (I ground up 1 cup of almonds in my food processor until they reached a fine texture)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts and seeds (any combo – I used a combo of walnuts, pecans and pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, solid


  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Set apples in a bowl of lemon water until ready to use, so the apples don’t brown. Once all apples are sliced, drain apples in a colander and put them in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Mix cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and arrowroot starch in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly on top of apples. Then pour maple syrup and 1/4 cup lemon juice on apples, tossing evenly to coat.
  4. Pour apples into an ovenproof 9 x 13 baking dish and sprinkle a few clumps of coconut oil on top. Cover with foil and bake for 45-60 minutes or until apples are fork tender.
  5. Meanwhile, place almond meal, nuts/seeds, cinnamon, and salt, in a food processor and process until combined.
  6. Place topping in a bowl and add the maple syrup and coconut oil. Massage everything with your fingers until it starts to form a crumble.
  7. Remove baked apples from oven and remove foil. Sprinkle crumble evenly across the top, covering the apples.
  8. Return dish to oven and bake uncovered for another 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the apples are soft when pierced with a fork.

Happy Blogiversary To RNK! Top 10 Posts of the Year & Exciting Updates for 2015

I can’t believe it! It’s been exactly one year since I started this blog. 140 posts later, that means…


When I clicked “Publish” for the first time on January 14, 2014, I had no expectations of how Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen would develop or grow. Here’s how it began:

I’ve started this blog to share what I’ve learned.  I love sharing how eating (and cooking!) wholesome, nourishing, real food can be affordable, fun, and doable. We can look and feel better and be healthier by making some simple changes.

I take a holistic approach and consider how everything we do is connected, so most of the posts on here will be about food – new recipes we’ve tried, staples in our pantry, kitchen gadgets we love, books and movies that are inspiring us, and helpful tips, tricks and knowledge we’ve learned along the way.

Other posts will be about life beyond food, about lessons I’ve been privileged to learn that have shaped the way I see the world and experience life. I will be honest and vulnerable. 


I jumped in without much of a plan and very little knowledge about how to do this blogging thing. (It took me two hours to figure out how to get the little Pinterest icon to show up on the side bar!)

I knew that I liked to write and had a desire and passion to share what I’ve learned along my health and food journey.

I’ve personally experienced the benefits of upgrading my diet (adding in the good stuff!) to nourish my body and transform my life.

I’ve remained open to listening to my body and what it is trying to tell me about how to help it be well and optimize my health. I don’t just want to “get through” my days – I want to thrive through them.

And from what I’ve learned and lived, I can say with confidence that what we eat affects us, our health, our energy, our mood, and our ability to fight off disease and illness.

One of my goals has been to be a consistent, positive voice about eating wholesome food – to be someone who provides hope that it is possible and inspiration to keep going.

I appreciate the kind words and comments so many of you have given me over the past year – from taking the time to leave feedback about a recipe or post or simply sharing one with your friends or family.

My friend Lindsay sharing a fun, smiling picture on Facebook along with this kind comment! "Yummy Caribbean Island breeze smoothie for breakfast. Thank you Rachel Druckenmiller for the recipe! We loved it! I highly recommend."

My friend Lindsay sharing a fun, smiling picture on Facebook along with this kind comment! “Yummy Caribbean Island breeze smoothie for breakfast. Thank you Rachel Druckenmiller for the recipe! We loved it! I highly recommend.”

Tahini, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, and Medjool dates might not have been at the top of your grocery list at the beginning of this year, but chances are you’ve at least attempted to find one of them or have even used one in a recipe.

We build confidence as we give ourselves permission to try new things, including food. Maybe we won’t like it…but what if we do?

And this is coming from a formerly picky eater – someone who would have never tried something like kale, collard greens, or curry powder.

As we look back on the past year, here are the top 10 blog posts based on the number of views from you, my readers. I’ve also included a brief poll below, so you can give me YOUR feedback about what you’d like to see more of in 2015.

top posts2014

  1. How I Lost 20+ Pounds, Got Back to My High School Weight & Kept It Off 
  2. Eat Your GBOMBS (Anti-Cancer Eating Tips!)
  3. Top 10 Places for a Healthy Lunch in Baltimore & Beyond!
  4. Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss Balls
  5. My Energizing Morning Detox Drink (AKA Fire Cider)
  6. MYO Chipotle Style Bean Burrito Bowl in 7 Minutes or Less!
  7. How to Stock a Healthy Pantry: My Top 10 Everyday Essentials
  8. Comfort Food Classic Makeover…Creamy Caulifredo Sauce
  9. Taste the Rainbow Super Food Kale Salad
  10. 6 Keys to An Amazing Marriage: How We Nourish Ours

As year #2 of blogging begins, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your support, encouragement, and kindness and to give you some exciting updates for 2015!

  • The blog is getting a facelift! I’m working with a web designer to help me “brand” Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen! From designing a logo and picking my colors to creating a more user friendly interface (like including Print Recipe buttons!), we will be working together to completely revamp the look and feel of the blog, so it really reflects me and my mission. You’ll see the new and improved look in March, but the blog will still be up and updated with new posts in the meantime.
  • I’m serving as a guest speaker at a Women’s Retreat in Gettysburg in February 2015 and will be speaking about Eating for Energy, Beauty & Optimal Health. I can’t wait!
  • I will be hosting/teaching more cooking classes and cooking parties covering a variety of themes – all featuring deliciously dairy-free and gluten-free foods that everyone will love! Sign-ups will be available directly on the blog. Let me know if you’re interested in doing a cooking class with your friends!
  • I will continue sharing gluten-free, dairy-free real food recipes and give you tips and tricks for upgrading your diet so you can nourish your body.
  • I will be doing giveaways and contests of some of my favorite foods, so you can learn more about them and try them yourself. I’ll promote ONLY what I use personally, so don’t worry about this turning into an ad.

I’d love your feedback on what you’d like to see more of in 2015! I already have ideas up my sleeve but please take a second or two to fill out the little survey below. Thank you again for your support! 🙂

Thank you again! Here’s to a healthy and happy new year! 🙂

Energizing Blueberry Beauty Blast Smoothie {Paleo, Dairy-Free}

Smoothies are a simple way to “upgrade” your diet, adding in lots of nutrients that keep our bodies clean, energized, and healthy. Since cutting dairy out of my diet, I miss creamy foods, so smoothies are an easy way for me to get that creamy texture I love.

My hubby and I have them for breakfast most mornings. We change them up, so we are getting a variety of nutrients from different fruits, vegetables and super foods.

This smoothie has a lot going for it, including being anti-inflammatory and detoxifying AND being loaded with what Dr. Fuhrman refers to as the healthiest foods on the planet GBOMBS.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman and other functional medicine doctors and nutritionists, inflammation and toxicity are the two reasons most of us are sick and holding on to extra weight, so we want to load up on foods that help us reduce them, and this smoothie does the trick!

blueberry smoothie

Check out the amazing health benefits of the ingredients in this smoothie:

Blueberries are one of the best foods you can eat. They are low in sugar and their high antioxidant power helps protect your heart and contains potent anti-cancer compounds. In fact, berries are considered one of Dr. Fuhrman’s GBOMBS foods – the most powerful anti-cancer, anti-fat storage foods you can eat.

Avocado, hemp seeds, and flax seeds are excellent sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 and monounsaturated fats that are not only good for our skin, hair and body but also for our brain (our brain is 60% fat!).

  • Hemp seeds are an excellent source of protein (and won’t cause you to fail a drug test! You can even look at purchasing a home tca drug test to check for yourself if you undergo regular drug tests due to work, for example.)
  • Flaxseed is also loaded with fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar (key to staying energized!), keep us feeling fuller, and promote healthy digestion.

hemp seeds

Leafy greens like spinach are one of the most nutrient-dense, disease-fighting, health-promoting foods in the world. They are detoxifying, anti-inflammatory (“cool” the body), cancer-fighting, oxygenating, alkaline (reduce acidity in our body), and loaded with anti-aging antioxidants and nutrients.

  • It’s important to rotate your greens, too. Check out this link for tips on how to do that. I like to rotate between kale (baby and regular), spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard and Romaine lettuce.

Pineapple. The magic of pineapple is an enzyme called “bromelain” (say it, “BRO-ma-lane”). This enzyme breaks down proteins and foods and is a natural detoxifier (AKA body gunk cleaner outer). It also helps improve circulation and reduce mucus, which builds up in our digestive system, sinuses, and respiratory system. Clearing out mucus is important for overall health and beauty. Click here to learn more about pineapple.

blueberry blast energy flax top

Blueberry Beauty Blast Smoothie

  • 2 cups baby spinach (loosely packed)
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup pineapple (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds (shelled)
  • 1/2 tablespoon flax seeds
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender in the order listed and blend until evenly combined, about 45-60 seconds. Add more almond milk, as needed.

**If you don’t have a high powered blender, blend the liquid and greens FIRST and then add the other ingredients.**

Easy Chicken & Broccoli Skillet {Paleo, Gluten-Free}

One of the questions I’m often asked is, “What are some ideas for quick, easy and healthy dinners my whole family will like?”

Bill and I cook dinner for ourselves most nights of the week, and despite the fact that we love to cook and enjoy being in the kitchen, we value quick and easy meals, too.

This meal comes together in under 30 minutes!

What I like most about this meal is that all of the ingredients are familiar. Sometimes when we start “eating healthy,” we mistakenly think all of the food is going to be “weird,” and we struggle to believe our family will eat it.

Not so with this dish.

The onions brown and caramelize beautifully, which enhances their flavor, the chicken is tender, and the broccoli is perfectly cooked and still bright green (overcooked army green broccoli doesn’t look or taste appetizing!).

We served this alongside a hearty greens salad with arugula, shredded carrots, and toasted pumpkin seeds.




  1. Season chicken strips with pepper.
  2. In a large skillet, cook chicken and onion in the oil over medium heat until the chicken is done, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes, sea salt, broccoli, and lemon juice. Cook, covered, 7-10 minutes. Ours was done in 7 🙂

Why I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions {And What I Do Instead}

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.

For someone whose job is centered around inspiring and guiding other people to be well and improve or change their lives and health, that might seem odd.

After reading this, I guarantee you’ll think about New Year’s Resolutions differently than you ever have before.

Two years ago, my husband and I were walking around Hamden, an eclectic neighborhood in the heart of Baltimore, on New Year’s Eve. We ventured into a bookstore/cafĂŠ, and I stumbled upon a book that would forever change the way I thought about the concept of resolutions.

It was called The Desire Map.

As I flipped through the first few pages, I came upon the author Danielle’s story of turning away from the checklist style many of our New Year’s Resolutions tend to take.

Instead of focusing on what she wanted to DO that year, she asked herself a different question.

How do I want to feel?

Inspired by that question, my husband Bill and I reflected on our own responses at our annual New Year’s brunch after first recapping all of the fun memories and moments from 2014 in our gratitude jar, a tradition we started two years ago.

Our gratitude jar. We collect memories in it throughout the year and write them out in a journal at the end of the year.

Our gratitude jar. We collect memories in it throughout the year and write them out in a journal at the end of the year.

After brainstorming words that capture how I want to feel, I narrowed them down to the top five words that energize me the most and came up with my “core desired feelings.”

It’s different than making a fleeting resolution because it gets at “WHY,” what’s really driving my desire to make changes in my life.

Here are my 5 core desired feelings:


When we get clear on how we want to feel and why, we can be more intentional about deciding what we can do to generate those feelings.

So, that’s what I did.


“Sending out light; shining or glowing brightly”

Luster, light, brightness, brilliance, flow, joy, elation, delight

I did a visualization exercise a month or so ago and imagined my “ideal day” – what it felt like, what it looked like, how I would spend it. In that exercise, I pictured lots of physical openness and light in the spaces around me.

Not only do I want to bring light into my physical space (by expanding and opening up our kitchen – I can’t wait!), but I also want to be someone who has a glow and sense of joy about me.

We all know people like that. They literally light up a room, have a physical glow about them, and just seem to bring light and life wherever they go. I want to be that kind of person. I want to radiate in that way.

To be radiant is to be unapologetically bright, bold, and intentional. When something is radiant, it overflows with light that can’t help but spread. This year, I’m going to “go for it,” put myself out there, and be me.

How do I generate feelings of radiance?

By spending time with other people who are on fire about what they do and are passionate about making the world a better place. Continuing to take a positive, building approach to health vs. instilling fear in people about their health choices. Sharing my story and health journey and how I’ve overcome and learned from my challenges. Regularly expressing gratitude and appreciation for the people and things in my life. Nourishing my body with foods that heal me and help my skin glow.


“The quality of being certain or definite”

Clearness, lucidity, sharpness, crispness, definition, precision, purity

I’ve taken on a lot over the past year. In addition to having a full-time job, I started a health coaching and consulting business on the side, began writing this blog, regularly blogged for two other companies, and completed two certification programs, one of which lasted almost four months.

I’ve learned a lot this year, but at times, I’ve felt distracted, unfocused, and frenzied.

I’ve fallen into the comparison trap of paying more attention to what other people are doing to find success rather than laser focusing on my unique gifts and skills and on what I can offer. Someone else is farther along than me or has more clients or has created some super cool product or program I “should have” created.

Comparing ourselves is incredibly draining.

For the first time in almost six years, I’m taking a break from certifications and school. I’m going to look back on ALL the incredible things I’ve learned.

Instead of trying to be all things to all people, I’m going to get clear on what makes me come alive, what intensely interests me, what best uses my gifts, skills and knowledge.

How do I generate feelings of clarity?

Spending time with mentors who know me, believe in me and respect me and who will ask me tough questions about how I can best put my passion, skills, and knowledge to use. “Unplugging” and stepping away (sometimes physically getting away) to refocus and give my mind a break. Taking stock of my strengths and focusing my time and attention on improving those rather than comparing myself to other people. Getting better at what I’m best at. Because my faith is important to me, praying and asking for direction and discernment and then being still enough to hear the response. Doing less of the things that drain me, rob me of my energy, and aren’t the best uses of my time or skills.


“Proceeding smoothly, continuously, effortlessly”

Free-flowing, effortless, easy, natural, smooth, free, unconfined

As I’ve struggled to arrive at a sense of clarity, I’ve felt the opposite of “flowing.” I’ve felt confined, stuck, pushing through just to get through.

It hasn’t felt smooth. It hasn’t seemed effortless. It hasn’t been easy.

“Flow” is also a concept in positive psychology. We might better know it as “being in the zone.”

When we’re “in the zone,” we’re fully immersed in what we’re doing. We feel and perform our best. We’re laser-focused, fully present, aware and involved, oblivious to time, creative and confident.

Flow feels effortless.

How can I generate feelings of flowing?

I experience “flow” when I’m giving a nutrition presentation to a group, teaching a cooking class, talking and teaching about food and health, cooking, spending time with others who are passionate about their work and purpose and whose missions align with mine, writing, singing, taking morning walks and doing yoga.

Instead of feeling stuck or clogged – physically, emotionally, and mentally – I want to feel like what I’m doing is effortless, free-flowing, and unconfined. Also don’t solely think this is the only way people can work through their flow troubles, I’ve known authors that have previously had deals that still look to try and confirm future contracts for their upcoming book as they’re still writing it, with the likes of literary agents or going straight to a publishing house. Some people can still feel like they are free and unconfined within different boundaries. Ultimately it’s how you know yourself to be able to continue reaching your next milestone.

(Want to learn more about flow? Check out this TED Talk from the man who came up with the concept).


“Forming a relationship or feeling an affinity”

Linked, banded together, coupled, joined, united, related

As someone who has historically been content doing things on my own and being independent, I’ve learned that seeking connection with others is one of the ways I can be my best self.

When I feel connected, I feel close, safe, wanted, supported, understood. We were meant to be connected, to be in community with others.

How do I generate feelings of connection?

Really listening to Bill and giving him my undivided attention when we’re talking. Being fully present when we’re together. Going on trips together to new places. Checking out new restaurants or trying new recipes at home. Making alone time and date nights a priority. Taking Sunday evening walks and catching up about the week. Making our weekly small group a priority, as we “do life together” with our friends from church, opening up about our vulnerabilities and sharing our joys. Surrounding ourselves with other couples who love each other well and build each other and us up.

Spending time with people who “get me” and know me – people who don’t judge me but who see all of the light and potential in me and do what they can to support it and help it grow. Serving others by volunteering in the community. Networking with people who are passionate, supportive, and encouraging. Being open to learning something from everyone I meet. My final core feeling triggered an emotional response in me that I wasn’t expecting.

When I arrived at my final feeling – WORTHY – I stumbled across this definition:

“Good enough”

And that’s where I stopped, and the tears started welling up.


THIS has been my wound and my struggle throughout my life, since I was a kid.

Feeling worth it. Feeling good enough.

I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and information and would be a perpetual student if I could. But it goes deeper than that. The drive to consume more knowledge is fueled in part by my feeling of inadequacy and the sense that I’m not enough – that I don’t know enough, am not capable enough, am not skilled enough, am not good enough.

“If only I learned this thing, THEN I’d be ready. Then, people would respect me. Then people would take me seriously. Then people would want to work with me and pay me what I believe my time and effort is worth.”

It’s exhausting to feel like I’m constantly trying to prove myself.

How do I generate feelings of worthiness?

Talking to people who believe in me, respect me, know me and my heart, and want the best for me…and then embracing what they tell me. My friend Erin is particularly amazing at doing this for me. We all need a friend like that.

Writing it down or literally speaking it out loud to myself – YOU ARE ENOUGH. YOU ARE WORTHY of fill in the blank (love, sacrifice, success, forgiveness, praise, money, your deepest desires).

But most importantly, by reminding myself of the TRUTH – even if I never “accomplish” anything else in my life, I have value and worth because I am.


If I want to have a sense of clarity, be radiant, experience flow, and feel connected, I have to first believe that I’m worthy, that I’m good enough.

So there you have it. Those are my core desired feelings, my intentions for the new year.

How about you? Are you done with New Year’s Resolutions? Tired of feeling discouraged by February about all the things you didn’t quite accomplish despite the best of plans?

Check out this guide to walk you through the process of mapping out YOUR core desired feelings. You might be surprised by what comes up for you!

What are three to five words that capture how YOU want to feel in the coming year? Feel free to share your words in the comment section below!

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