Monday, January 27, 2014

Slow Cooker Acorn Squash Stew

Acorn Squash Stew in the Slow Cooker

I shared this recipe first via my January 2014 newsletter. I didn't take pictures at each step in this recipe because I wasn't thinking about my blog - it was during the latter part of the holidays and I had taken a break from writing / publishing. I shared a teaser image on Instagram the day of and several friends asked me to share the recipe. So, here I am writing for my blog. I hope you like the recipe as much as my family of 3 enjoyed eating the stew.

1 pound of ground turkey (or omit)
1 acorn squash (see prep tip below) cut into chunks
1 can of chickpeas (I used one but wanted more, so 2 cans)
3 cups of DIY vegetable stock (recipe here)
2 large tomatoes, diced
14 oz tomato sauce 
1 cup of grated carrots (about 2 large carrots)
1/2 cup of grated daikon radish (can omit) + 1 cup chopped
1/2 cup of diced onions
2 tsp minced garlic
1 T EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1-2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
3 tsp cumin, divided
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (can do more if you like heat)

Tools: Pot, Skillet and 6 qt Crock Pot

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 6 hours


I. Acorn squash - Cut in half with chef's knife. Scoop out seeds. Boil water in a pot and put the halves in for about 5 minutes. Safely remove and let cool. Peel the skin with a sturdy Y peeler like this. Cut into chunks. (Boiling the halves helps soften the skin so it's easier to peel.)

II. Ground Turkey - Cook the 1/2 cup of diced onions and the 2 tsp minced garlic in the 1 T of EVOO in the skillet until golden brown. Add the ground turkey and 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp cumin, and the 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes. Cook thoroughly. (Does not need to be drained.)

III. Stew - Turn crock pot on low heat and pour in the 14 oz of tomato sauce, the diced tomatoes and shredded carrots, and if using, diced and chopped daikon radish. Season it with the 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp black pepper. 

Add the acorn squash. When the ground turkey with onions and garlic is cooked, add to the crock pot. Give it a good stir and season it with the rest of the cumin and sea salt. 

Cover and cook on low for 5 and a half hours. Stir every hour or so. 

IV. Add chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). Rinse thoroughly then add to the crock pot in the last half hour of cooking. Cover. 

Notes: If you omit ground turkey, you will want more chickpeas (2-3 cans). Omitting the ground turkey, will make this stew 100% vegetarian. Chickpeas are a good source of maganese, folate, and fiber. Their protein source is low but they're great for steadying blood sugar and aiding in digestion. 

The hints of cinnamon among with the savory ingredients gives it a slight Moroccan or Indian cuisine flare. You can add more spice if desired. Just balance it out with the cinnamon. It is easy to go overboard with the cinnamon so just increase 1/4 tsp at a time. 

You can serve this stew alone, with jasmine rice, or bread. 

As a mom to a 5 year old, it's important for me to provide nourishment through food for his growing body - which I'm sure most of you can relate to. It's also satisfying when he sits through an entire meal without complaint or asking if he can eat only a few more bites. He ate his serving (the size of his balled up fist) and then a little more along with some bread. My husband had two servings and was happy to see how much I made so that we'd have leftovers for a few days. Learn more about the portion control via the L.E.A.N. way here

I must share this tidbit before I sign off. My husband asked, "What kind of potatoes did you use?" I said, "I didn't use any potatoes. It was acorn squash." He said, "It tasted just like potatoes!" 

I do receive a small commission from if you purchase anything through their site using one of the links above (read my full advertising disclosure here). 

Thank you very much for your generosity in helping to offset the costs of website upkeep, so that I can keep sharing wellness resources with my community and beyond.

Subscribe to my blog here to never miss a post.

Choose, eat, and live well! =) 

Be sure to watch for my post on the differences between manganese (the nutrient found mostly in chickpeas) and magnesium. It'll also talk about the foods you can find these two necessary nutrients in. You already know about one (chickpeas) and there's a nice surprise if you like something sweet! Stay tuned!! 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Garbanzo Bean Poppers

Every Friday is 'share day' at my son's school and he can bring in an item (or a few) from home for the letter (sound) of the week. This particular week, G, was the letter and we agreed on two items that he'd bring with permission from his teacher. 

Our goal was to make our first batch of chickpea (aka garbanzo bean) poppers and serve green smoothies. His teacher agreed that these were nice ideas for share day and that she would help with bringing in half of the ingredients for the green smoothies.

My son helped me make the poppers on the evening before and then the next day, we prepared the green smoothies together in the classroom. 

2 cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbs of oil of choice 
2 tsp of coconut sugar (you can use organic cane sugar) 
1 tsp of cinnamon

1. Heat oven to 450*. Make sure the garbanzo beans are dry before roasting in the oven or you'll find that they'll burn (as a few of ours did that weren't completely dry). Lay them on a cookie sheet in a flat layer and roast for at least 30 minutes. They should brown. You may need to shake the pan a few times to ensure even roasting. 

2. When they're done browning and are somewhat crunchy, drizzle the oil of choice over the garbanzo beans and shake the pan to evenly coat. Place the coated garbanzo beans in a bowl. 

3. Mix the cinnamon with the natural sugar of choice then dust the garbanzo beans with the mixture tossing the beans in the bowl for even coating. 

4. They should be cool enough to eat now. Store in an air tight container or eat them right away!

Notes: This was my first time making these and I will be experimenting with different recipes. I'd like to recreate the poppers I had once that were made with cayenne and lime juice. Someone mentioned a rosemary and sea salt flavor. There will be two other popper recipes on my Let's Get Snacking post in February. Stay tuned (and subscribe to never miss a post)! 

Bonus: The cost to make this real food snack is nominal at best. Two cans of garbanzo beans cost about $3 and then the other ingredients you probably already have on hand. The snack will feed 3-4 people. Easy math. Less than a dollar per serving. 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Got leftover chicken? Let's make a meal in under 20 minutes!

It's been a long exhaustive day and you've got dinner to make for your family. You don't eat out and you've already had sandwiches for dinner this week, what do you make? 

If your ingredients look something like this, you can make a meal in under 20 minutes. [Be sure to save this recipe for future use.] You can use any leftover lean protein for this recipe. Using leftover lean protein is the time saver in this recipe. 

Leftover (or new) jar of spaghetti sauce
Pasta (your choice)
Veggies on hand (I used onions, garlic, and zucchini.)
Fresh or dried herbs 
Heart Healthy oil (olive oil is an Omega 9)
Leftover chicken breasts 

1. Boil water for your pasta. 
2. Dice garlic and onions and add to a skillet on medium heat with 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil and herbs of your choice (I used fresh basil and dried oregano). Cook onions until slightly golden brown. 
3. While onions and garlic are cooking, cut up the chicken breasts and prepare your veggies. 
4. Add chopped veggies to the onions and cook for a few minutes stirring occasionally. 
5. Pour the spaghetti sauce over the vegetables in the skillet. Stir. 

6. Add the diced cooked chicken to the sauce, stir and cover. Let marinate on low heat while pasta is boiling. 

7. Drain pasta. Plate it and if you like, top with some butter (we do). 
8. Top with chunky sauce. 

9. Buon appetito! 

Be sure to subscribe to my blog so that you don't miss recipes and other helpful tips in your journey to wellness. (Please verify your account when you subscribe.)

If you're interested in learning more about how to choose quality, real foods for your family, you may enjoy my online L.E.A.N. start "Nutrition Simplified" classes. You can learn here

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Friday, January 17, 2014

How to Make Chili Like a Boss

Southwestern Butternut Squash Chili

Vegetarian, gluten and dairy free options

I was looking at the butternut squash in my window for a few days wondering what I'll make with it. Usually I roast it as seen in this post but today I decided to make a chili with the squash as the star ingredient. 

There are a lot of ingredients in this chili and you can add or subtract where you see fit. I know that it will still come out delish! I did not use any pre-made spice / chili packets but I did resort to using some ingredients from a can. (I try to avoid cans due to the BPA in the lining.) Plus, I burned 3 pots of black beans from the dried variety. I'm sticking with cans for awhile at least for beans and some other ingredients. 

Does the act of peeling a butternut squash scare you? It did me until I found this quick demo by Simply Recipes then I went out and purchased a new peeler as seen here

You can make this a 100% vegetarian chili by omitting the ground turkey. 
You can also make this a dairy free chili by not adding the greek yogurt and shredded cheese. The chili alone is gluten-free. 

Please use organic ingredients whenever possible. Many times organic ingredients cost less than their conventionally grown counterparts (even canned foods). 

1 medium onion, diced (I cannot live without my chopper; get it here.)
2 tsp garlic minced
4 cups of vegetable broth, divided (DIY here)
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 can of diced tomatoes with green chilis
1 butternut squash, cut, cleaned, peeled and chopped 

1 lb ground turkey (without added seasonings)
4 tsp cumin, divided
4 tsp dried oregano, divided
4 tsp garlic salt, divided

1 14 oz diced tomatoes (plain)
1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
1 8 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
8 oz frozen corn

2 tsp chili pepper

Optional toppings:
Plain Greek yogurt
Shredded cheese

1. Brown the diced onions in the 2 tablespoons of EVOO on medium heat. 

2. When onions are brown, add the 2 teaspoons of minced garlic. Cook 1 minute.

2. Add 2 cups of vegetable broth and bring to a simmer.

3. Add the diced bell peppers and diced tomatoes with green chilis.

4. While flavors are melding, cut, clean, and peel the butternut squash as seen in the helpful link from Simply Recipes above and add to the pot and cook for 10-15 minutes until squash is nearly al-dente. Stirring occasionally. 

5. While squash and first 5 ingredients are cooking, brown the ground turkey with 2 teaspoons of cumin, garlic salt, and oregano. 

6. While turkey is browning, drain and rinse the black beans. Set aside. 

7. When squash is al dente, add the can of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and let it simmer for 10 minutes. 

8. Add ground turkey and black beans to the pot. Give it a good stir. 

9. Add the other 2 cups of vegetable broth (or up to the thickness you'd like).

10. Add in corn (can omit). Stir. 

11. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of chili pepper, cumin, oregano, and garlic salt. Stir. 

12. Cover and cook until squash is the texture you like. I cooked mine for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. 

The chili can stand alone no problem! It is filling and packs flavor without too much heat (spice) - it was satisfying for my 5 year old. I added the toppings that gave it the true southwestern flare! Another option is to toss it with rice and wrap it in whole wheat tortillas. You can make your own tortillas here from Homegrown & Healthy.

I do receive a small commission from if you purchase anything through their site using one of the links above (read my full advertising disclosure here). 

Thank you very much for your generosity in helping to offset the costs of website upkeep, so that I can keep sharing wellness resources with my community and beyond.

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Recipes featuring oats as the star ingredient

Recently I visited with Chloe of How We Flourish where I shared some gems I found on Pinterest. One of my favorite breakfast foods is oats! But, I'm sure you get like me at times and you're bored with oatmeal. So on Chloe's blog I have shared a few of my favorite finds along with my personal spin on a coconut (did I get your attention here?) banana oatmeal bake recipe. 

Grab the recipes here

Don't forget to follow Chloe on her Facebook page. 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Baked Salmon Packets

Did you know that fish that smells and / or tastes fishy is probably rancid or not really frozen at its freshest? Many of my clients won't eat fish because it has a fishy smell. I had the pleasure of living overseas and visiting farmers markets on a regular basis. The fish was caught that morning with their eyes still in tact, they didn't smell like fish. If I wasn't looking at the dead fish, I wouldn't know it by smell alone. It wasn't until I got back to the states that I learned that fish is not supposed to have a fishy taste (or smell). It seems that this the norm in many cases. 

Dr. Bill Sears says that salmon is the cleanest and safest fish to eat to ensure we're consuming our Omega 3s. Our body cannot make Omega 3 on its own. We must get it from outside sources. Omega 3s are found in marine and plant sources. If we are to consume from marine sources, we should know which fish is lower in mercury. For salmon, Dr. Sears says that it should always be cold water fish that has been wild caught (just say no to farm raised!). Dr Sears orders from Vital Choice. 

Per Nordic Naturals, the following types of fish are low in mercury: artic cod, anchovies, butterfish, catfish, clam, crab (domestic), crawfish/crayfish, croaker (Atlantic), flounder, haddock, hake, herring, mackerel (N. Atlantic , perche (ocean), salmon  sardine, scallop, shad, shrimp, sole (Pacific), squid (calimari), tilapia, trout, and white fish / whiting. 

Please see my blog post on the importance of Omegas 3s - the L.E.A.N. way!
Tonight I served mashed real potatoes with skins on, spinach pesto balls, and baked salmon. The recipe for the spinach balls can be found here and the mashed potatoes are made with real butter, milk, sea salt and cracked black pepper. I redid my spinach pesto balls after this version came out too crunchy. It's imperative that you don't let them overcook. Be sure to visit my recipe for the how-to. 

The recipe for the salmon is on this post.

4 two ounce cold water, wild caught salmon filets
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
2 tbs of real butter, melted
1/2 tsp basil 
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup veggie broth (you can make it yourself here)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp of Himalayan pink salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. 

1. Prepare 4 foil packets. Fold and pinch the sides to make a small boat. Season filets with salt and pepper. Place one filet in each foil packet.

2. In a bowl, mix butter, basil, garlic, and broth. Let flavors meld for a few minutes. Divide this mixture over the fish in the foil packets. 

3. Sprinkle the diced tomatoes over the fish then add a squeeze of lemon juice per packet.

4. Seal the packets.  

5. Bake foil packets for 20 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork. 

6. Remove from oven and wait a few moments before opening foil packets due to the trapped steam. Caution: It will be hot. Buon Appetito!

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Spinach Pesto Balls

Who doesn't love green veggies? Wait, let me rephrase that. Is there anyone else out there that loves green veggies as much as I do? 

I could eat my veggies prepared the same ways over and over but I know my family would tire so I try to come up with new dishes (or side dishes in the case of this recipe) so they'll be more apt to eating more of the good stuff daily. 

While pinning, I found a recipe for spinach balls from The Kitchen is my Playground. So, though this recipe isn't my original idea, the way I prepared mine could be considered my idea. I always need to my put my personal spin on recipes especially savory dishes and I only share recipes (original and adaptations) when they come out delicious!! 

Spinach Pesto Balls

3 cups of fresh spinach, prepared (see step 2 below)
1 tbs of EVOO 

1 cup of plain Panko bread crumbs 
2 eggs
1/2 cup diced onions
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp cracked pepper
1 heaping tbs of basil pesto (get recipe here or store-bought (label read))

1. Preheat oven to 360*.

2. Prepare fresh spinach with the 1 tablespoon of EVOO in a Vitamix or similar processor for two minutes.  If using a Vitamix, push leaves down towards blades with the tamper.  The leaves should be smashed and slightly wet when done. Place aside until ready to add.

3. In a bowl, add all ingredients and mix thoroughly by hand. It will be a dark green color. 

4. Use one tablespoon of spinach pesto mix per ball then roll in the palms of your hands. Bake in a mini-muffin pan for roughly 20 minutes. 

5. They will be done when the tops are slightly brown. Cool in pan for 10 minutes as they'll continue cooking. Remove. Eat! 

The exterior is slightly crunchy while the middle is nice and moist. This recipe makes an excellent appetizer, side item, or a green-yellow light snack item. See Traffic Light Eating for more information on L.E.A.N. healthy eating. 

Yields: 24 spinach pesto balls. 

Choose, eat, and live well! 

What to look for when you label read? For starters, avoid (or limit) the top 4: high fructose corn syrup, anything hydrogenated, artificial dyes, and artificial sweeteners. More is taught in detail in my L.E.A.N. Nutrition Simplified classes. Registration is open. Six or more participants are required per workshop. $60 per participant for 6 weeks of nutrition education via the Sears Wellness Institute and taught by yours truly, Jessica David, certified health coach. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My Top 13 from 2013

From January to December 2013 - I'm sharing the posts that gained the most views and +1s from my community -- YOU! I'm thinking these will still be popular into 2014, what do you think? Please click on the links to visit the original posts. If you learn something new, leave a comment.

From January 2013: Raw, Unadulterated (unfiltered) Honey from a beekeeper in Temecula, CA. John and Laura Doughty offers honey (filtered and unfiltered; 3 flavors: Sage, Buckwheat, and Orange), bee pollen (call in advance because this may change), and beeswax. Outside of bees, they offer firewood in the Fall and Winter months. They're located at 34385 Cooperman Circle, Temecula, CA 92592.

Still in January: Watermelon Radish (recipe). If you've never had this kind of radish before, you can see above why they're called watermelon radish! So pretty!!  Fun fact about me: I once said that I would never eat a radish! At that time, I had NO idea that there were more varieties than the red bulb kind. I can now say I enjoy Daikon and Watermelon Radish!

From February: Cleaning Your Vitamix (Naturally). As an owner and almost daily user of the Vitamix 5200, I find that the simple dish soap with water tends to add build up or gunk to the inside of the container over the course of several washes. So, I've come up with a cleaning solution and it's all natural. Click on the title to learn more! 

From April: Cleaning with Natural Products like baking soda and vinegar. From mattresses to grout and deodorizing rooms and body are all in this one! Several Facebook pages are recognized in this post. 

From April: My Experience with No-Poo. My hair is long (middle of my back), is thick, and is naturally wavy. I have never dyed my hair (yes you read that right! A licensed cosmetologist whose never dyed her hair!!) and before moving to the dry desert my hair was very healthy; never a split end, radiant, and soft! 

From May: Why We Need to Eat More Vegetables. Recipe included. Besides tasting great, they are nutrient dense – they pack a lot of nutrition in one bite with very few calories! A half cup of vegetables offers the best health building substances: nature’s vitamins and minerals also called phytonutrients. 

From June: Zucchini Lasagna. Zucchini lasagna with six other vegetables. No pasta. No beef. Very little dairy (can omit). 

From August: YUM-O! Pesto in the Vitamix. This happens to be one of the most pinned images on my Pinterest account too. Are you following? Get the pin here. One of the best ways to make pesto is in a Vitamix (im my humble opinion). It only takes a few minutes from start to finish. Visit the link to first learn about the benefits and storage then try the recipe. A bonus: Dish options will follow. 

From August: Score! Homemade DF (dairy-free) Pancakes made with plant protein. Serve with pure maple syrup and buon appetito! Tips: *I used 100% plant based protein found in the Juice Plus+ Complete. The protein is chickpea, pea, rice, tofu (non-GMO). You can substitute milk of your choice. If you do buttermilk (**make your own) it is the same measurement or you can use 1/2 cup plain yogurt with 1/2 cup cow's milk; however, they will no longer be dairy free. ** For a cup of buttermilk, squeeze 1 heaping tbsp of lemon juice into measuring cup then pour milk to the 1 cup line. The rest of the ingredients are found in the link. 

From October: Roasted Veggie Chicken Bake. Includes recipe and herb preservation tip. 

From October: Clean Transformation Challenge #ctransc Accountability Group. 
Do you want a healthier outlook?
Do you want a clearer complexion?
Do you want more energy?
Do you want stamina to boost your fitness levels?
Do you want to lose inches?
Do you want to reduce sugar cravings? 
Do you want to drink more water? 
Do you want to sleep better?
What do you want?

From November: DIY Powdered Sugar (with one ingredient). 

From December: Make Your Own Body Butter (only 4 ingredients). Information about preservation of ingredients and rancidity. Also included in the link are small businesses who make EOs. 

Subscribe to my blog to never miss a post. 
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Download my free eGuide when you subscribe to my monthly newsletters for free.

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Help Fund Tesa Kurin's Midwife Clinical Internship with Conveying Awareness

Fundraiser: Tesa Kurin's March Trip to the Philippines 

- Midwife Clinical Internship

(Registration for the online L.E.A.N. Nutrition Simplified class is now closed; however, 
you can make a donation direct to a doula's future to become a midwife by supporting
her internship through GoFundMe donations.)

Jessica David (blog owner) is linking arms with Tesa Kurin (pictured above) to raise money for her clinical internship to the Philippines in March. 

Tesa requires $2,500 to make this trip happen. As of 1/13 she has raised $950 and has already purchased her plane ticket. More information on her trip is on GoFundMe.  

UPDATE: Registration is now closed for my online LEAN Nutrition Simplified January 2014 class but I encourage you to make a donation to Tesa's cause directly.

I will be able to donate just over $100 to her cause from the 7 paid registrations. 

If you'd like to find out how your wellness cause or non profit can qualify for a fundraiser in 2014 - contact me! 

Jessica will donate 25% of the proceeds in exchange for paid participants in her online LEAN Nutrition Simplified class to an approved wellness cause or non profit.

WHAT is L.E.A.N.? 

Dr. Bill Sears (author, speaker and pediatrician and Stage IV colon cancer survivor) is the creator of the L.E.A.N. program. Dr. Sears has written over 40 books and titles include: The Baby Book, The Family Nutrition Book, The Vaccine Book, Healthiest Kid on the Block, etc. He created L.E.A.N. to teach nutrition that is backed by science. 

L.E.A.N. stands for the 4 pillars of health which is taught by a Certified Health Coach (me, Jessica) from the Sears Wellness Institute: 

-Lifestyle (Eating / Living well isn't a diet, fad, or trend - it becomes part of you / your lifestyle.)
-Exercise (Get moving, learn ways to incorporate exercise / fitness into your lifestyle.)
-Attitude (It's important to keep a positive attitude on your journey to wellness. Having an open mind is key.)
-Nutrition (What we eat (or don't eat) affects our wellness.)

WHO is a good fit for this online workshop?

The L.E.A.N. Start class is best for families with children, care takers of children (schools, daycares, churches, etc.), medical professionals who oversee children and those who are wanting to start a family; however, the material can be used by anyone because it’s easy to learn and implement.

Each session will include a healthy recipe you can easily duplicate at home, as well as hands-on-learning experiences to help you be a savvy shopper getting the most nutrition for your money. 

The participants will LEARN valuable strategies that will help them:

+ Experience improvements in overall health;
+ Have fewer sick days and less time away from work or school;
+ Reduce medical expenses;
+ Find a weight control plan that actually works;
+ Experience more active and truly energetic lives! 

WHY choose my online Nutrition Simplified workshop?

+ Accessible. + Personable. + Applicable. + Flexible. 
+ Encouraging and Educational!

Criteria: Must be able to read, speak and write in English. Must have internet access. There are no refunds. The online workshop runs for 6 weeks. I teach one session a week. It is somewhat self paced but in order to stay on topic, you'll be required to login and actively participate in the forums at least twice a week. I will be available to you for questions and online and offline discussions at no extra charge during the six weeks. Once the online workshop is over, you'll have up to 3 weeks to go back and review any information that was covered then the classroom will expire.

How to Get Involved / Register?

Contact me via my blog.

What will be covered in this class? 

+ Traffic Light Eating (a 3-color system that teaches quality of foods not quantity) and Portion Control.
+ Breakfast and Grains (Will also discuss controversial ingredients to reduce or avoid.)
+ Veggies and Fruit (Ways to eat more of them, talks about importance of fiber.)
+ The Skinny on Fat (at L.E.A.N. we don't avoid fat, we eat the right kind of fat - the good fat. Which fats are considered good are discussed.)
+ Power up with Protein and Play (The importance of protein (animal and plant) and play (exercise) is essential for growth, learning, concentration, rebuilding muscles, etc.)
+ Water (Reducing sugar consumption, and drinking more water and why this is important.)

Share this event. If you're interested in learning if your organization is a good fit for my fundraising events in 2014, message me. 

More details on your L.E.A.N. coach: