Real Food Whole Life

One-Bowl Blueberry Lemon Pancakes

RecipesRobyn DownsComment

Tender, lightly sweet, and bursting with berries, One-Bowl Blueberry Lemon Pancakes are simple to whip up and make for the perfect healthy weekend treat.

Tender, lightly sweet, and bursting with berries, One-Bowl Blueberry Lemon Pancakes are simple to whip up and make for the perfect, healthy weekend treat.

We are on a bit of a pancake kick around here.

Elle is going through a growth spurt, and seems to be a bottomless pit when it comes to her favorite meal. 

I'm grateful for her appetite, since there are definitely times when I can't get her to eat even one bite. 

It's funny how children's appetites seem to ebb and flow during different time in their development, and I always try to take advantage of her "hungry" times to fill her belly with as many real food recipes as possible.

Pancakes are definitely at the top of list when it comes to Elle's favorite meals, so we've been making batch after batch, and then freezing what we don't eat so we can reheat on busy weeknight mornings.

We love these One-Bowl Blueberry Mini-Muffins so much I thought I'd create a pancake version, with a little lemon to add some zing.

The flavor in these pancakes is spot on, and a healthy sprinkle of juicy blueberries really takes things over the top.

I like to serve a steaming hot stack of these lovelys with a drizzle of pure maple syrup for Elle and a smear of almond butter + blueberry jam for me. So good!

I hope you'll try this one soon. Now, let's make some One-Bowl Blueberry Lemon Pancakes!

Tender, lightly sweet, and bursting with berries, One-Bowl Blueberry Lemon Pancakes are simple to whip up and make for the perfect, healthy weekend treat.
Tender, lightly sweet, and bursting with berries, One-Bowl Blueberry Lemon Pancakes are simple to whip up and make for the perfect, healthy weekend treat.

RECIPE & KID-FRIENDLY ADAPTATIONS


1 | Swap in any fresh berry or chopped fruit you have on hand.

2 | Top with maple syrup, or almond butter and blueberry jam. Yum!


THIS RECIPE IS . . .


Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, and Vegetarian


Tender, lightly sweet, and bursting with berries, One-Bowl Blueberry Lemon Pancakes are simple to whip up and make for the perfect, healthy weekend treat.

One-Bowl Blueberry Lemon Pancakes

Ingredients

⅓ cup melted coconut oil, plus more for greasing the pan

3 large eggs

⅓ cup pure maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 cups oat flour*

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest

⅓ cup unsweetened almond milk**

1 cup fresh blueberries

Pure maple syrup for serving (optional)

Instructions

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla extract and lemon juice.

3. Add the oat flour, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. Stir until well incorporated. Pour in the milk and whisk until just combined.

3. Heat a large pan or griddle over medium heat. Add a bit of coconut oil, then ladle ¼ cup batter into the pan for each pancake. Top each pancake with a sprinkle of blueberries.

4. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until small bubbles start to form on the top of the pancake, then flip and cook on the other side for an additional 3-5 minutes, until golden brown on both sides. Continue with the remaining batter.

4. Serve the pancakes warm, with additional blueberries and maple syrup if you like.

Makes 6 medium or 12 small pancakes.

*Make your own oat flour for this recipe by placing 2 cups whole rolled oats in a blender and blending until a coarse flour forms. 

You can purchase pre-made oat flour at many grocery stores and natural food markets or online

If you are gluten-free be sure to buy oats that are specifically labeled gluten-free.

**Substitute any kind of unsweetened milk to keep this recipe nut-free.

Chopped Kale Salad with Tahini Citrus Dressing

RecipesRobyn Downs4 Comments

Easy to make ahead and packed with flavor, Chopped Kale Salad with Tahini Citrus Dressing is just the thing to pack for lunch, a picnic or a potluck.

Easy to make ahead and packed with flavor, Chopped Kale Salad with Tahini Citrus Dressing is just the thing to pack for lunch, a picnic or a potluck.

I'll admit it, I'm not a huge fan of kale.

At least not raw kale. It's hard to chew and just doesn't taste that good, at least to me.

I know how power-packed it is, though, so I'm always looking for ways to make the dark, leafy greens more palatable.

A rich, flavorful dressing definitely helps (hello Tahini Citrus Dressing!) as does massaging the kale with a few tablespoons of dressing.

Massaging the kale helps to break it down, makes it more tender, and adds flavor. Definitely worth trying this method if you haven't already.

Tons of other crunchy veggies and sweet fruit also help take kale to the next level, and a sprinkling of toasty almonds seals the deal with flavor and more crunch.

In addition to making kale crave-worthy, I love that this salad can be made ahead and packed for lunch on the go, taken to a picnic, or wrapped up for a potluck.

You'll probably end up with some extra Tahini Citrus Dressing, and I've provided some ideas for how to use it in the notes below.

The amount you use in the actual salad is really personal preference, so taste as you go until you find the right balance for you.

I hope you'll give this one a try soon. Now, let's make some Chopped Kale Salad with Tahini Citrus Dressing!

Easy to make ahead and packed with flavor, Chopped Kale Salad with Tahini Citrus Dressing is just the thing to pack for lunch, a picnic or a potluck.

RECIPE & KID-FRIENDLY ADAPTATIONS


1 | Add 2 cups cooked brown or wild rice along with the remaining dressing for a yummy twist.

2 | Use any remaining dressing for another batch of the salad, or as a dressing for salads, bowls, veggies, chicken or fish.


THIS RECIPE IS . . .


Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free, Egg-Fee, Soy-Fee, Nut-Free (omit the almonds), Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo and Whole30 Friendly


Easy to make ahead and packed with flavor, Chopped Kale Salad with Tahini Citrus Dressing is just the thing to pack for lunch, a picnic or a potluck.

Make-Ahead Kale Salad with Tahini Citrus Dressing

 

Ingredients

For the Dressing

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup fresh orange juice

3 tablespoons tahnini*

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 medium garlic clove, grated or finely minced

¼ cup olive oil

For the Salad

4 cups tightly packed, thinly sliced kale

1 cup chopped apple

1 cup chopped grapes

1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage

1 cup chopped sugar snap peas

1 cup grated carrot

⅓ cup chopped toasted almonds

Instructions

1. In a medium bowl whisk together the lemon juice, orange juice, tahini, salt, and garlic. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, and continue whisking until smooth. Alternatively, add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

2. Add the kale and 3 tablespoons dressing to a large bowl. Massage the dressing into the kale, squeezing and kneading until the kale is bright green and tender.

3. Add the apple, grapes, cabbage, snap peas, and carrot. Add ¼ cup dressing, tossing to combine. Taste and add additional dressing if desired. The amount of dressing is personal preference, so continue tasting and adding until you find the right ratio. (Use the remaining dressing for another batch of the salad, or as a dressing for salads, bowls, veggies, chicken or fish).

4. Add the almonds, toss, and serve. If making ahead, add the almonds right before serving, along with a splash more dressing to brighten the flavors.

Makes 5-8 servings.

*Tahini is sesame seed paste, and is often found near the nut and seed butters or the ethnic food aisle of the grocery store. Be sure to stir well in order to combine the oil that has separated before using.

Feel Good Effect: Moment Journaling

Feel Good EffectRobyn DownsComment

The Feel Good Effect is a series exploring the habits, tactics and mindsets that you can use in your real life to feel good, everyday.

How it works: Each week I adopt a new Feel Good practice and trial it in my own life for 2 weeks. At the end of the 2 weeks I share what I did, how it went, and the Feel Good Effect.

Feel Good Effect: Moment Journaling

Feel Good Week 5: Moments Journal


Feel Good Practice 


Noticing and recording a special or meaningful moment each day.


Time Commitment


5 minutes.


Set-Up


Minimal. Just a designated place to record the list each day.


Cost 


Nothing, as long as the list is recorded electronically or in a currently owned journal. 

Otherwise, between $8 to $20 if purchasing a designated journal.


Why I Tried It (The Science)


I came across a quote a few months ago that suggested that life, at least in retrospect, is simply a series of moments.

The idea that life is made up of moments was both profound and intriguing to me, and the act of capturing them immediately came to mind as a way to more intentionally reflect on these moments.

Part of the bigger goal of the Feel Good Effect is to slow down and focus on the joy in daily life, as I, like many of you, feel like some days zoom by so fast that I can hardly remember what happened.

This perpetually business, combined with constantly planning for what’s next, can take our attention away from what is actually happening in our life right now.

The idea of Moment Journaling, then, came to me as a way to slow down and find beauty in the now.

And, as I researched more, I found several research-based benefits of the practice.

First, it naturally increases mindfulness as we become more intentionally aware of what is happening in our life as we experience it so that we can record our moments in journal.

By being mindful in the present moment we can’t worry about what’s next or ruminate about the past - we just live our life as it is right now.

Practicing this type of mindfulness has been shown across several studies to decrease symptoms of stress, physical pain, depression, and anxiety, and has actually been shown to increase brain volume and activity in the prefrontal cortex - a brain area that plays a critical role in effectively managing stress and negative emotions.

Similar to Gratitude Journaling, the second benefit of recording moments is that it inevitably leads us to appreciate all the good things that happen throughout our day more, which not surprisingly makes us appreciate life more.

It turns out that intentionally taking a few moments to appreciate the good, interesting, or even challenging things that happen to us each day leads to significantly increased positive emotions, optimism, emotional self-awareness, spirituality, and satisfaction with life.


My Feel Good Experience


The first step in Moment Journaling is to begin to pay attention to special or meaningful moments throughout the day.

Perhaps it’s the compliment received from a friend, or the fact that you tried something new despite obstacles, or maybe it's holding hands with your child, or perhaps a sweet comment from your partner.

The second step is recording the moment in a designated place at the end of each day.

I found that identifying a moment each day took a bit of practice and intentionality, but after a few days the habit of noticing special moments became a natural process.

Looking for little moments each day also allowed me to be more reflective and thankful for the small, beautiful interactions and occurrences that fill my life. 

Spending a few minutes in the evening recording the moment proved to be such a positive addition to my evening routine, and helped me to end the day with gratitude.

The fact that I only need to record one moment each day also took the pressure off, too, which allowed me to stick with it even though I'm not a committed journal keeper.

For me, most moments seem to relate to my daughter and the funny or special things she says or does, or to my relationship with my husband. A few moments also represent the work I am doing to push out of my comfort zone and try new things

Below is a little excerpt from the two weeks. Each moment taken alone seems small, but together they tell the story of everyday, and having them recorded in one place allows me to reflect gratitude for the small things and to be more present overall.

Feel Good Effect: Moment Journaling

Moments Journal: 14 Days

1 | Elle getting up, getting dressed, and making her bed without being asked. She’s becoming such a big kid!

2 | Listening to one of my favorite podcasts and dreaming big about what’s possible.

3 | Day date with Andrew to the location where we got married. Sitting in a small slice of sun, eating tots, drinking cider together.

4 | Sunday morning pancakes with Andrew and Elle. The three of us, eating breakfast together at the kitchen island.

5 | Elle asking: “Mama, can you give up the blog and instead help people stop throwing trash in the ocean and so we can help the animals?” I love that she is so conscientious and that she still thinks I am capable of such big things.

6 | Learning something new (podcast editing) and persevering even when it’s hard and difficult.

7 | Elle’s sheer, unbridled excitement about hearing thunder for the first time.

8 | First podcast recorded!

9 | Dreaming big with Andrew. His belief in me is amazing and something I am so grateful for.

10 | Elle riding all the way around the river on her scooter, and the two of us eating lunch together in the sun. When did my baby turn into my best friend?

11 | Kind and supportive emails + comments about the podcast. Having a community of people who believe in something is the coolest thing.

12 | Signing up for a conference and taking a risk on myself.

13 | Prioritizing time for a girl’s weekend with my BFF.

14 | Elle telling me, “Mama, someday I’m going to have a blog and I’m going to call it Whole Life Real Food.”


Challenges


Other than the initial effort required to identify and remember daily moments, there weren’t any challenges associated with this practice.


Feel Good Effect


Reflecting on and capturing moments each day helped me to stay more present in my daily life, to take more notice of the beautiful and fleeting, and to experience more gratitude for the life I am living right now.

I’m not much of a journal keeper, so writing just one small moment took the pressure off and allowed me to sustain the practice daily.

I love, too, that I’ll have this journal in the future to remind me of the small details of today. The little things that make up life that otherwise can slip away.

It’s an easy practice to adopt, and one that I hope to continue daily. 

Overall Feel Good Effect: High

Want to try this Feel Good practice for yourself? Subscribe for free, exclusive access to the Feel Good Practice Journal Pages Library!

Are you going to try Moment Journaling? Share your experience below!

Summer Berry Salad with Vanilla Bean Dressing

RecipesRobyn Downs4 Comments

Beautifully simple and packed with flavor, Summer Berry Salad with Vanilla Bean Dressing is elegant, easy, and will take your salad game next level.

Beautifully simple and packed with flavor, Summer Berry Salad with Vanilla Bean Dressing is elegant, easy, and will take your salad game next level.

I am absolutely wild about this salad, my friends.

The combination of tender greens, juicy berries, crunchy almonds, tangy goat cheese, and a citrusy-vanilla bean dressing is both simple yet elegant, and is a dish that will have you and your friends raving.

The vanilla bean dressing is what really takes this salad over the top, and is so unexpected and incredibly flavorful that you will find yourself making it again and again.

At first thought, vanilla bean may seem like a strange addition to a salad dressing, but trust me, it works!

The flavors in this salad are inspired by a mama-daughter lunch date that Elle and I had a few weeks ago at the Nordstrom Cafe.

Every once in a while we have a special weekend date day, just the two of us, and on this particular mama-Elle date day we were shopping for a few things and decided to stop for lunch at the Cafe.

A salad with vanilla bean dressing caught my eye, and I knew I had to order it. The flavors were amazing and I immediately set out to recreate it at home.

After some experimenting, I landed on a version that allows the vanilla bean to shine through, and is punctuated with natural sweetness and tang from citrus.

I served a test version of this salad at Easter brunch a few weeks ago and it was the hit of the party. I hope you will enjoy this one as much as we did. Now, let's make some Summer Berry Salad with Vanilla Bean Dressing!

Beautifully simple and packed with flavor, Summer Berry Salad with Vanilla Bean Dressing is elegant, easy, and will take your salad game next level.
Beautifully simple and packed with flavor, Summer Berry Salad with Vanilla Bean Dressing is elegant, easy, and will take your salad game next level.

RECIPE & KID-FRIENDLY ADAPTATIONS


1 | Serve this salad as a side all summer long. It also make a lovely addition to a brunch spread.

2 | For a main dish option, serve topped with grilled chicken or fish, or with white beans or chickpeas. 


THIS RECIPE IS . . .


Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free, Soy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free (omit the nuts), Grain-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Paleo and Whole30 Friendly (omit the cheese)


Beautifully simple and packed with flavor, Summer Berry Salad with Vanilla Bean Dressing is elegant, easy, and will take your salad game next level.

Summer Berry Salad with Vanilla Bean Dressing

Ingredients

For the Vanilla Bean Dressing

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoon fresh orange juice

¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard

⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

Seeds from one vanilla bean*

¼ teaspoon salt

For the Salad

5 oz baby spring greens

⅓ cup sliced strawberries

⅓  cup blueberries

¼ cup toasted slivered almonds

¼ cup crumbled goat cheese (optional)

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

1. Make the dressing by combining the lemon juice, orange juice, olive oil, vanilla seeds, and salt in a blender. Blend on high until well combined.

2. Toss the greens with about half the dressing, being careful not to over-dress. Top with the berries, almonds, and goat cheese (if using), and serve immediately with freshly ground pepper to taste.

3. Offer the extra dressing on the side for drizzling, or save the remaining dressing, tightly sealed in the fridge, for up to week.

*Vanilla bean seeds really do made this dressing.

Feel Good Effect: Laugh Every Day

Feel Good EffectRobyn DownsComment

The Feel Good Effect is a series exploring the habits, tactics and mindsets that you can use in your real life to feel good, everyday.

How it works: Each week I adopt a new Feel Good practice and trial it in my own life for 2 weeks. At the end of the 2 weeks I share what I did, how it went, and the Feel Good Effect.

Feel Good Effect: Laugh Every Day

Feel Good Week 4: Laugh Every Day


Feel Good Practice 


Laugh every day.


Time Commitment


30 seconds to 2 hours.


Set-Up


Finding funny inspiration--videos, books, movies, tv shows, or other activities.


Cost 


Free to $20 and up depending on whether you purchase books, movies, etc. or if you find funny content that’s free.


Why I Tried It 


Laughing is important for our health! It feels good, of course, and it actually reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body and brain.

Lower levels of cortisol, can in turn, lead to improved brain function.

In one study, simply watching a 20-minute funny video significantly reduced cortisol levels and improved memory and learning in older adults.

Laughter can also improve relationships, and not just because we like being around people who seem happy.

Research has shown that watching a funny video clip makes people more likely to share more openly and honestly about their thoughts and feelings.

Another reason to laugh more? It’s contagious – in a good way.

When we laugh around other people it instantly activates brain areas associated with smiling and laughing in those people.

So just by laughing we automatically make others smile and laugh and spread positivity in the world.


My Feel Good Experience


I don’t laugh enough. This is the truth. I don’t know when this serious side took over, but somewhere between work, motherhood, and all the other responsibilities of adulthood I seemed to have stopped laughing.

Elle of course makes me smile daily, and her silly 5-year-old ways make me giggle, but laughter has definitely slipped from my life, and I was excited by the idea of bringing it back.

I started by gathering funny inspiration: YouTube videos, Netflix recommendations, book suggestions, and comedy shows.

Then I asked friends and family for suggestions in person and via Facebook, which turned out to be a fun way to gather ideas and to connect with my community by sharing humor.

Then, every night during the 2-week period I set aside a half hour at night to laugh. I’d tune into a show, watch some YouTube, or read a few chapters from a book. 

After a few days I started eagerly looking forward to my evening laughing practice, and found that the more I laughed, the easier it came--both during the practice and throughout the day.

My husband also commented that he enjoyed hearing me laughing at night, and I often recruited him into the practice (well, I really just forced him to watch a bunch of YouTube videos), and it was really fun to laugh together.

Even on bad days I found the laughing practice to be uplifting, a feeling that lasted well beyond the funny experience.


Challenges


Since I wasn’t in habit of looking for funny inspiration, gathering shows, videos, books and the like the beginning of the practice was a bit tricky.

I found that asking for recommendations from friends and family to be a great place to start and a great way to connect and laugh together.


Feel Good Effect


Focusing on laughing every day not only lifted my mood during the laughing itself, but seemed to contribute to a more light-hearted feeling throughout the day.

Also, the habit of looking for funny things provided more opportunities to laugh more in general, and to find the funny.

Finally, my laughing practice had a positive feel good effect on those around me, which in turn made me feel good. 

Overall Feel Good Effect: High

Want to try this Feel Good Practice for yourself? Subscribe for free, exclusive access to the Feel Good Practice Journal Pages Library!


Is laughing a daily Feel Good practice for you? How do you incorporate it into your routine? What positive effects have you experienced as a result?

 

 

 

6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Carnitas

RecipesRobyn Downs4 Comments

Simple to prepare with easy-to-find ingredients, 6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Carnitas takes just minutes to prep, and the results are insanely delicious. 

Simple to prepare with easy-to-find ingredients, 6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Carnitas takes just minutes to prep, and the results are insanely delicious. 

There is a lot of recipe testing that happens on weeknights at our house, and as a result Andrew and Elle end up eating their fair share of mediocre meals that never make it to the blog.

Testing slow cooker recipes is especially tricky, since I can't tinker with the recipe once everything goes in.

But every once in a while I land on a recipe that the entire family devours on the very first try.

Enter 6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Carnitas. Chicken is our go-to when it comes to slow cooking, but sometimes we need a little variation, and carnitas seemed like a really good place to start.

I wanted to keep the ingredient list as short as possible, while still keeping a ton of flavor and I have to say, this recipe nails it.

Simple to prepare with easy-to-find ingredients, 6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Carnitas takes just minutes to prep, and the results are insanely delicious. 

After the pork gets a braise in the slow cooker, it's shredded and then run under a hot broiler to crisp it up and add extra caramelized flavor.

Whatever you do, do not skip the broiling step! It takes a really yummy pulled pork to a whole other level. Trust me here. It's worth the extra step.

When I served this tender, flavorful, crispy pork to my family they hardly even said a word during dinner, as they were too busy digging in.

Elle said it was her favorite dinner ever, and Andrew just gave me an enthusiastic head nod in between taco bites.

The only problem now is that I can't go back to recipe testing for awhile because this is the only thing they want to eat!

I hope you will give this one a try soon. Now, let's make some 6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Carnitas! 

Simple to prepare with easy-to-find ingredients, 6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Carnitas takes just minutes to prep, and the results are insanely delicious. 
Simple to prepare with easy-to-find ingredients, 6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Carnitas takes just minutes to prep, and the results are insanely delicious. 

RECIPE & KID-FRIENDLY ADAPTATIONS


1 | Use pork loin roast if you prefer a leaner option, or pork shoulder for a more traditional version.

2 | Use the caritas however you like. It's a great filling for tacos, burritos, bowls, or with roasted veggies. Serve it separately on a plate with toppings on the side for resistant eaters.


THIS RECIPE IS . . .


Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free, Grain-Free, Paleo and Whole30 Friendly


Simple to prepare with easy-to-find ingredients, 6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Carnitas takes just minutes to prep, and the results are insanely delicious. 

6-Ingredient Slow Cooker Carnitas

Ingredients

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon mild chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 pounds pork loin roast or pork shoulder 

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

¼ cup fresh orange juice

Optional accompaniments: Tortillas, avocado, queso fresco, pickled jalepeno, lime wedges, thinly sliced cabbage, salsa.

Instructions

1. In a small bowl, stir together the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and salt. 

2. Rub the spice mixture on all sides of the pork. Place the pork in a 6-quart slow cooker, then pour in the lime and orange juice, turning the pork to coat.

3. Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours, or low for 8-9 hours, or until the pork shreds very easily with a fork.

4. Remove the pork from the slow cooker. Shred with two forks, then add back to the slow cooker, stirring to combine with any remaining juices.

5. Place the shredded pork on a foil lined, rimmed baking sheet. Broil on high for 10-15 minutes, stirring once, or until the edges of the pork begin to crisp and brown. Keep a close eye to avoid burning.

6. Serve warm as a filling for tacos, burritos or in bowls.

Notes: All slow cookers are different, so you may need to adjust the time up or down depending on your particular model.

Makes 6-10 servings.