Real Food Whole Life

Slow Cooker Hearty Tuscan Chicken Stew (+ Instant Pot & Vegetarian Option)

RecipesRobyn DownsComment

Packed with protein and veggies, Slow Cooker Hearty Tuscan Chicken Stew is easy to throw together and makes the perfect one-pot meal.

Packed with veggies and protein, Slow Cooker Hearty Tuscan Chicken Stew is a delicious one-pot meal you can throw together in minutes. Instant Pot and vegetarian options, too! paleo whole30 grain-free

Hello Real Food Whole Life community!

How are you? 

It's been awhile, hasn't it?

Things have been a little crazy behind the scenes here as of late.

There's production of Feel Good Effect podcast; booking guests, prepping for interviews, conducting interviews, post-production, and sharing the show.

There's my lovely little family, and proud kindergartner who deserves my attention after a long day of school.

There's my day job.

And then there's this.

Yep, that's right, I'm currently smack dab in the middle of a 200 hour yoga teacher training. 

It's an all-at-once terrifying and exhilarating experience and I can't wait to share more of what I've learned with you here in the future.

Packed with veggies and protein, Slow Cooker Hearty Tuscan Chicken Stew is a delicious one-pot meal you can throw together in minutes. Instant Pot and vegetarian options, too! paleo whole30 grain-free

So with everything that's going on I've had less time to test and shoot recipes.

This recipe in particular gave me a heck of a time during testing, but after multiple failed attempts, I'm pretty excited to share this final version.

This one-pot meal is packed with protein and veggies, plus it's grain-free, paleo and Whole30 compliant.

I also added a vegetarian option to the recipe, so there are plenty of options.

Oh, and I tested a version in the Instant-Pot! 

I can't promise all recipes will go this route, but it was an interesting challenge playing around with it for this one at any rate.

Sending you all love and good vibes in the fall season ahead.

Now, let's make some Slow Cooker Hearty Tuscan Chicken Stew!

Packed with veggies and protein, Slow Cooker Hearty Tuscan Chicken Stew is a delicious one-pot meal you can throw together in minutes. Instant Pot and vegetarian options, too! paleo whole30 grain-free

RECIPE & FAMILY-FRIENDLY ADAPTATIONS


1 | Throw in some dark, leafy greens at the end of cook time to boost the fiber and green power. Think baby spinach, kale, or chard. 

2 | Deconstruct the soup and serve all the parts separately. Some diced chicken, cooked veggies, and broth on the side for sipping makes soup more palatable for resistant eaters.


THIS RECIPE IS . . .


Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free, Egg-Free, Sugar-Free, Paleo, Whole30, and Vegetarian (with adaptations)


Packed with veggies and protein, Slow Cooker Hearty Tuscan Chicken Stew is a delicious one-pot meal you can throw together in minutes. Instant Pot and vegetarian options, too! paleo whole30 grain-free

Slow Cooker HEarty Tuscan Chicken Stew (+ Instant Pot & Vegetarian Option)

Ingredients

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs*

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped yellow or red waxy potato

1 (15-oz) can diced fire-roasted tomato

1 (6-oz) can tomato paste

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (dried herb mix)

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

32-oz chicken or vegetable stock

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Just before serving:

¼ cup water

2  tablespoons arrowroot powder (can substitute cornstarch)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

To serve:

Extra virgin olive oil, for serving

Freshly ground black pepper

Slow Cooker Instructions

1. Add the chicken, carrots, celery, onion, potato, tomato, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, granulated garlic, stock, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt to a 6-quart slow cooker.

2. Cover and cook on high until the chicken and veggies are cooked through, about 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low (times vary depending on slow cooker).

3. Mix together the water, arrowroot powder, and balsamic until smooth. Pour mixture into the slow cooker, stirring to combine. Cover and cook on high an additional 5 minutes until the stew begins to thicken.

4. Remove the chicken and shred or dice. Add back to the slow cooker, stir, and taste, adding additional salt if desired. Serve warm with a generous drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground pepper.

Instant Pot Instructions

1. Cook the carrots, celery and onion for 5 minutes in 1 tablespoon of olive oil using the sautee function on your Instant Pot, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned.

3. Add the tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and granulated garlic, cooking for one additional minute, stirring occasionally minute.

4. Turn off the sautee function. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the water, cornstarch and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar) to the Instant Pot, stirring to combine.

5. Cook on high pressure for 6 minutes, then do a natural pressure release.

6. Turn off the Instant Pot and let it sit for 10 minutes before releasing remaining pressure.

7. Mix together the water, arrowroot powder, and balsamic until smooth. Pour mixture into the slow cooker, stirring to combine. Serve warm with a generous drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Makes 6-8 servings.

*For a vegetarian version, swap 2 (15-oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained in place of the chicken.

Inspired by this recipe from Sweet Peas & Saffron

One-Bowl Pumpkin Freezer Waffles

RecipesRobyn Downs4 Comments

Easy to make ahead, One-Bowl Pumpkin Freezer Waffles are paleo, grain-free, and just the thing for busy weekday mornings or leisurely weekends at home!

Easy to make ahead, One-Bowl Pumpkin Freezer Waffles are paleo, grain-free, and just the thing for busy weekday mornings or leisurely weekends at home!

Fall is here and we officially have a kindergartener!

Which means we are back on the school-schedule train and in need of some make-ahead breakfasts, pronto.

Enter freezer waffles.

Over the summer I picked up some freezer waffles to take on our vacation.

The cabin we were renting didn't have a proper kitchen and I didn't want to fuss with breakfast.

Well, let me tell you, these frozen delights were a revelation to my girl.

Apparently I've been depriving her all this time.

When we got home she, of course, requested them, so I set out to create a homemade version that was easy to make and packed with nutrition.

These waffles do the trick, and are full of all the good stuff--including a vegetable!

I went the grain-free route with these, but you could easily swap oat flour for the almond if you want to keep these nut-free (more details on how, below).

In order to make these freezer waffles, simply make a batch (or a double or triple), allow to cool completely, then freeze. 

Perfect for busy mornings when you only have a few minutes.

We like these with a light drizzle of maple syrup and a giant dollop of Pumpkin Spice Coconut Whipped Cream. Hello, yum!

I hope you give these a try soon. Now, let's make some One-Bowl Pumpkin Freezer Waffles!

Easy to make ahead, One-Bowl Pumpkin Freezer Waffles are paleo, grain-free, and just the thing for busy weekday mornings or leisurely weekends at home!

RECIPE & KID-FRIENDLY ADAPTATIONS


1 | For a nut-free option, use oat flour and this recipe, pouring the batter into a waffle iron.

2 | To freeze, allow waffles to cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the freezer, separating each waffle with parchment paper or plastic wrap. When ready to eat, reheat in a warm oven or toaster.


THIS RECIPE IS . . .


Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free, Vegetarian, and Paleo


Easy to make ahead, One-Bowl Pumpkin Freezer Waffles are paleo, grain-free, and just the thing for busy weekday mornings or leisurely weekends at home!

One-Bowl Pumpkin Freezer Waffles

Ingredients

¼ cup coconut oil, melted (or substitute butter)

1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups almond flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or substitute cinnamon)

1 cup plain, unsweetened milk (almond, rice, dairy; whatever you like)

Pumpkin Spice Coconut Whipped Cream (optional)

Instructions

1. In a large bowl stir together the coconut oil, pumpkin puree, eggs, vinegar, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Don't worry if the melted coconut oil solidifies when combined with cold ingredients; just make sure everything is well mixed. 

2. Add the almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice to the wet ingredients, mixing well to combine. 

3. Pour in the milk, mixing again until all the ingredients are well incorporated. If the batter seems too thick add a splash more milk to thin it out.

5. Heat a waffle maker. Ladle in the batter (amount determined by your specific waffle maker), and cook according to waffle iron instructions.

7. Serve the waffles immediately with a dollop of Pumpkin Spice Coconut Whipped Cream or keep warm in a 200 degree oven. To serve, drizzle with warm maple syrup, if desired.

Notes: Every waffle maker is different, so refer to instructions for batter amount and cook time. I used this waffle maker, with 1 cup batter, cooked for 10 minutes for this recipe.

For a nut-free option, use oat flour and this recipe, pouring the batter into a waffle iron.

To freeze, allow waffles to cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the freezer, separating each waffle with parchment paper or plastic wrap. When ready to eat, reheat in a warm oven or toaster.

Makes 4 large waffles.

Healthy Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken & Veggies

RecipesRobyn Downs4 Comments

Skip the processed ranch packets and make your own to use in this easy, delicious Healthy Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken & Veggies!

Skip the processed ranch packets and make your own to use in this easy, delicious Healthy Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken & Veggies! paleo whole30

Even though it's still hot, hot, hot here in Portland, we're gearing up for fall in a big way.

My little starts kindergarten the day after Labor Day, and between her school, my job, my husband's job, the blog, and a few new projects, it's looking like this season is going to be very full.

Whenever our schedule's get extra hectic the slow cooker is always my fallback.

Knowing I can throw a bunch of ingredients in the night before or morning of and having dinner warm and waiting for us makes all the difference in the world.

5 Most Popular Slow Cooker Recipes

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Grab the free guide, including itemized grocery lists + tips to streamline your process.

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This Healthy Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken & Veggies is one of our new family favorites and couldn't be simpler to make.

I like to whip up a double or triple batch of the ranch mix ahead of time so dinner prep is extra streamlined during the week.

The fact that this recipe uses a homemade ranch mix means you can skip all the processed junk in the store version, and keep this recipe paleo, dairy-free, and Whole30 friendly--just be sure to use a dariy-free yogurt in the dressing.

The ranch flavor of the cooked chicken and veggies is very subtle, making it great for people with sensitive palates. 

If you love big ranch flavor, though, you'll want to douse everything in plenty of the homemade dressing. Yum.

I hope you enjoy this one. Now, let's make some Healthy Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken & Veggies

Skip the processed ranch packets and make your own to use in this easy, delicious Healthy Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken & Veggies! paleo whole30

RECIPE & KID-FRIENDLY ADAPTATIONS


1 | Use boneless, skinless thighs in place of breasts if you prefer.

2 | Serve the chicken, veggies and Ranch Dressing separately on a plate for resistant eaters.


THIS RECIPE IS . . .


Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Grain-Free, Paleo and Whole30 Friendly


Skip the processed ranch packets and make your own to use in this easy, delicious Healthy Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken & Veggies! paleo whole30

 Healthy Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken & Veggies

Ingredients

Homemade Ranch Seasoning

2 tablespoons onion powder

¼ teaspoon granulated garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried dill

1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Chicken & Veggies

3 cups ½-inch diced yellow waxy potato

3 cups ½-inch diced carrots

¼ cup chicken stock

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or substitute boneless, skinless thighs)

1 tablespoon Ranch Seasoning, divided

½ teaspoon kosher salt

For the Ranch Dressing

⅓ cup whole milk, plain greek yogurt or non-dairy yogurt

1 tablespoon avocado oil mayo*

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons Ranch Seasoning

Instructions

1. Make the Ranch Seasoning by stirring together the onion powder, garlic powder, dried dill and salt until well combined. 

2. Place the potato and carrots in the base of a 6-quart slow cooker. Add the chicken stock and ½ tablespoon Ranch Seasoning, tossing to combine. Add the chicken breasts, sprinkle with an additional ½ tablespoon Ranch Seasoning and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. 

3. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6, or until the chicken is just cooked through. Times will vary depending on the make and model of your slow cooker.

4. Meanwhile, make the Ranch Dressing by whisking together the yogurt, mayo, apple cider vinegar, and 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Ranch Seasoning. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.

4. Remove the chicken and veggies from the slow cooker. Slice the chicken and serve with the veggies and sauce on the side for drizzling or dipping.

Note: The chicken and veggies will have a very, very mild ranch flavor after cooking. To boost the ranch flavor, drizzle the Ranch Dressing on top or serve alongside for dipping.

Serves 4-6

*Notes: I prefer avocado oil mayo because it's free from soy and other additives. If you don't have it any type of mayo may be used in its place.

6 Healthy Lunch Hacks to Boost the Protein and Cut the Sugar

Whole LifeRobyn DownsComment

Take the stress out of lunch packing with these 6 healthy lunch hacks to boost the protein and cut the sugar!

Take the stress out of lunch packing with these 6 healthy lunch hacks to boost the protein and cut the sugar!

This post is brought to you in partnership with  Stonyfield Organic YoKids. Stonyfield recently announced a sugar reduction throughout its portfolio of organic yogurts, starting with YoKids.

Thank you Stonyfield for sponsoring these healthy lunch tips and for reducing the sugar in your yogurts!

Take the stress out of lunch packing with these 6 healthy lunch hacks to boost the protein and cut the sugar!

1 | Cut Added sugar (when it's not necessary)

Added sugar is everywhere these days, from nut butters, jams, jellys, lunch meats, and even bread. 

The best way to spot added sugar is to read the ingredient labels and decide for yourself if it's worth it.

Then make some swaps. Grab a no-sugar added peanut or sunflower butter, swap sweetened turkey for a sugar-free option, and skip the bread with sweeteners added.

By skipping sugar where it's not necessary, you'll be reducing the overall sugar load of lunch, leaving room for little lunchbox treats here and there.

2 | Just Add Yogurt

Yogurt is one of my favorite ways to add protein and gut-boosting probiotics to any lunch.

Certified organic and Non-GMO Project verified, Stonyfield YoKids yogurt is my go-to because it has between 25% to 40% less sugar than leading kids' yogurt.

All the protein with less sugar? Love that!

I'm also a big fan of the fact that YoKids comes in so many options (cups, pouches, tubes, smoothies) too, so it's super convenient to grab and go.

Freezing YoKids pouches or squeezers and then packing them in lunches is also a great way to help keep lunch cool. Bonus: the yogurt is perfectly thawed in time for lunch.

Take the stress out of lunch packing with these 6 healthy lunch hacks to boost the protein and cut the sugar!

3 | Bump up the Protein

Adding protein to lunch is one of the biggest challenges I hear. These are a few ideas to bump up the protein, with little extra effort.

Turkey or Ham Wraps

Grab your favorite no- or low-sugar lunch meat and use it as a wrap.

Add thinly sliced cheese, cream cheese, thinly sliced carrots or bell pepper, avocado slices, or anything else you like, then roll tightly.

Secure with a toothpick if necessary.

Hard Boiled Eggs

Hard boil a batch of eggs over the weekend, then use them to bump up the protein any day of the week.

I like to include salt on the side for dipping, in order to kick up the flavor.

Or, try mashing the yolks up with hummus or mayo to make a quick deviled egg.

Roasted Chickpeas

Roasting a can of rinsed, drained and dry chickpeas is an easy way to add delicious plant-based protein to any lunch.

My go to recipe is 5-Ingredient Smokey Maple Roasted Chickpeas. Yum!

Multi-Purpose Hummus

Hummus has plenty of protein and is super versatile when it comes to lunch. Spread it in a tortilla with veggies, roll, then slice into bite sized pieces.

Or, try topping a bagel with a dollop, or packing it in a small container with veggies on the side for dipping.

We're partial to this Creamy Pumpkin Hummus. Delicious with the added bonus of veggies. Score!

Nuts, Seeds, and Bites

Nuts, seeds, and homemade energy bites are a another great way to pack in the protein.

Easy Sweet & Spicy Nut and Seed Clusters are a fav around here (skip the nuts and double up on the seeds if you have a zero-nut policy at your school).

One-Bowl Lunchbox Energy Bites are another easy favorite!

Take the stress out of lunch packing with these 6 healthy lunch hacks to boost the protein and cut the sugar!

4 | Swap in Naturally Sweetened Treats

Making your own muffins + energy bites is a great way to avoid extra refined sweeteners.

Some of our favorites include One-Bowl Double Chocolate Banana Bread Muffins and One-Bowl Honey Sesame Bites.

5 | Warm it Up

If you're in a sandwich rut, consider sending a protein-packed warm soup, stew or chili in a thermos (check out my favorites in the bonus section, below). Slow Cooker Turmeric Lentil Chili is a fav around here, as is Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Apple Cider Chili.

6 |  Let Fruit Shine

Fruit is an easy and nutrition-packed way to add sweetness to lunch without refined sugar.

Whole or cut fruit is a great place to start. Go with what's seasonal, and invite your child to the market to pick his or her favorite.

Then get creative: Add sliced fruit to a wrap or sandwich in place of jam, or make a mini-skewer by threading berries on a toothpick.

Bonus: Pack It Right

Questions about what we use to pack lunches? Here are my answers!

This four section metal bento box is our current favorite for preschool lunches.

We also like the larger version for older children or adults.

These leak proof condiment and dip containers are great for sauces and hummus.

Larger leak proof stainless steel containers for apple sauce, yogurt, and anything else that might leak.

Thermal stainless steel containers keep food warm if your child prefers something heated. Simply fill the container with very hot water, dump the water, then add warmed food, soup or stew and everything should stay warm until lunch.

Pack the items into an insulated lunchbox to keep things cold and reduce the chance of lids coming off.

We love these for younger children as they are durable and can go through the washing machine when spills happen.

We also use this larger size for older children and grownup lunches.

Finally, pop in a small ice pack to keep everything cool until lunch, a few utensils, and you're good to go.

Lunch Packing Cheat Sheet

Screen_shot_2016-08-15_at_8.24.03_pm

Download your cheat sheet to inspire and shop for real food lunches!

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Ditch the Complicated Meal Plan (and Try THIS Instead)

Whole LifeRobyn DownsComment

I want to tell you a little story. You see, this real food and whole living thing? It hasn’t always been easy for me.

After the birth of my daughter I was overwhelmed and out of balance. I knew something needed to change, but I had no idea where to start.

Between the demands of work and family, I struggled to find the time to get organized. I felt like I needed an extra 6 hours just to meal plan. And those were 6 hours I didn’t have.

I had no idea how to fit real food into my everyday. It all just seemed completely overwhelming.

Of course, I tried complicated meal plans, but struggled with unwieldy grocery lists and cooking new recipes each night.

Ditch the Complicated Meal Plan (and Try THIS Instead)

And I dreaded grocery shopping. And I felt guilty about the amount of unused food I ended up throwing away.

Then there was all the time I was devoting to it. After working all week there is no way I wanted to spend my entire weekend meal planning and prepping.

There had to be a better way.

Fast forward to today, and I spend less than 5 minutes pulling together a meal map for the week and jotting down an organized grocery list.

I breeze through the grocery store, grabbing exactly what I need, and nothing I don’t.

Meal prep is streamlined, and results in a fridge full of mix-and-match options that can be combined to create an endless variety of ready-to-go dinners, lunches, and snacks.

And I now I have more time for doing the things I love, while still living a real food, whole life.

I will never, ever waste my time and meal plan + prep the traditional way again.

I’ve finally ditched complicated meal planning in favor of a simpler, more streamlined system. Here’s how you can to!


1 | Create a Capsule Pantry

A capsule pantry is made of up a limited number of versatile ingredients that you love to eat, and that can be combined into a variety of easy, delicious meals.

Basically, know your pantry, fridge and freezer essentials, buy only what you need, and know how to use what you have.

More resources: How to Create a Capsule Pantry for Simplified Cooking

2 | Think about recipe building blocks, The Essential Six

The Essential Six are the fundamental building blocks of any recipe: sauces, protein, cooked veggies, raw veggies, grains + bases, and toppings + extras.

Thinking in terms of building blocks allows you to combine them into an infinite number different meals. Think bowls, tacos, pasta, salads, and stir-frys, just to name a few.

Using the Essential Six method allows you to efficiently shop, plan and prep, without wasted time or money.

As an added bonus, you can create a fridge and pantry filled with ingredients that actually go together, no matter what you’re cooking.

Plus, thinking of meals in terms of the Essential Six allows you to efficiently prep just part of a meal, without cooking the entire meals ahead.

More resources: 5 Meal Planning Myths (and Why It’s Not as Complicated as You Think)

3 | Don’t Meal Plan, Meal Map

Instead of setting out to create a complicated meal plan, think instead about creating a loose map to follow, with just enough structure to guide you.  

And, instead of planning for individual recipes, think about meal types such as tacos, pasta, bowls, stir-frys, and salads.  

Once you’ve decided on the meal types for the week, decide how you’re going to combine the Essential Six.

Choose a sauce to use, then move through the list by selecting a protein, veggies, and so on. 

More resources: Slow Cooker Lemon Herb Pulled Chicken + 3 Ways to Use It

Real Food Fix is your guide to simplify meal planning and prep.

If you want to take this process next-level, and receive guidance, recipes, and planning sheets, to make it easy, then Real Food Fix is your answer. 

Real Food Fix is your system to help you plan less, eat well, and feel good, every day. Here’s what it’s all about:

  • A streamlined, flexible process to make meal planning & prep fail-proof and fun

  • Over 50 easy-to-make, mix-and-match recipes that can be combined in a variety of ways

  • Over 30 examples of how to use the mix-and-match recipes to create real-life meals for really busy people

  • Tips for success, including how to set up your kitchen, reduce food waste, and more

  • Bonus customized plans for families, couples, and singles plus printable PDFs to stay organized

The Real Reason I Took a Break From Sharing Recipes This Summer

Whole LifeRobyn DownsComment

“Do you think I can do it?” This was the question I posed to Andrew in May. “Do you actually think I can? Press pause, let it go, trust that it will still be there?” 

“Yes,” was his response. “I think you can. I know you can.”

RFWL_Cover-Summer-Recipe.png

He was right, of course. I was able to let it go. To take 6 weeks off from creating, testing, photographing and sharing recipes every week, from writing and blogging and editing and posting and commenting and answering.

Pressed pause on the weekly Real Food Whole Life community newsletter.

Let Instagram slide. Posted once a week instead of everyday. Logged off for days at a time.

The truth is, I simply needed a break to recharge, say yes to some new projects, and celebrate this precious time with Andrew and Elle.

Saying no to say yes.

Here is what I know to be true: Life is full of tradeoffs.

My challenge this summer was to make an intentional choice to let somethings go.

To make space for the essential and the new.

Like jumping on water trampolines with Elle in the middle of Payette Lake.

And taking an 8+ mile hike with Andrew for the first time in just about forever. Just the two of us. Like we used to.

Skipping the car while on vacation and riding bikes to dinner, letting the dry central Oregon desert air dry my still-wet-from-the-shower hair. 

Giving little thought to dinner each night other than what protein and veggie combo we should throw on the grill.

Getting in the pool and celebrating my right-now body.

And giving life to a whole new project, the Feel Good Effect podcast.

Putting something down. Picking something else up. Creating space. Pressing pause.

And now? Now I’m ready to dive in again. I’ve got running through my head and so many new feel good posts and freebies for you I can’t wait to dive in.

With fall just around the corner, what tradeoffs are you making to feel good?

One-Bowl Flourless Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

RecipesRobyn Downs11 Comments

Decadent, rich, and made without a hint of flour or refined sugar, One-Bowl Flourless Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins are easy to make and are the perfect everyday treat!

Decadent, rich, and made without a hint of flour or refined sugar, One-Bowl Flourless Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins are easy to make and the perfect everyday treat!

Hello friends, how are you?

It's been a hot minute since I've posted a recipe here--since May 30 to be exact, when I shared this killer recipe for Slow Cooker Tropical Pulled Chicken.

In the meantime I've launched the Feel Good Effect podcast, have been working hard on new secret project, and (most importantly) connecting with my beautiful family.

Now that fall is just around the corner and back-to-school is knocking on the door, I am so excited to be back in the kitchen, whipping up new recipes to share with you!

And what better way to start than with One-Bowl Flourless Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins?

We started our zucchinis from seed this year, in the garage under grow lights hanging from the ceiling.

Each night Andrew and Elle checked on them, watered them, and gently, tenderly, coaxed them into being.

When they were ready the little baby sprouts were transplanted outside, and we willed the tiny plants to flourish with sunshine and water and the mandatory, daily slug patrol.

And now our reward: full grown zucchini-making monsters, sprouting more green squashes than we know what to do with.

We've been zoodling and grilling and roasting and of course, of course, making these amazing chocolate wonders!

What's left will be grated and stashed away in the back corner of the freezer, measured into in the perfect zucchini bread-making amounts, all ready for baking in the cold months when all we'll want is a taste of spring and those tiny little seedlings, bursting into existence. 

I hope you'll give this one a try soon, either with fresh zucchini or using your own freezer stash. Now, let's make some One-Bowl Flourless Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins!

Decadent, rich, and made without a hint of flour or refined sugar, One-Bowl Flourless Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins are easy to make and the perfect everyday treat!
Decadent, rich, and made without a hint of flour or refined sugar, One-Bowl Flourless Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins are easy to make and the perfect everyday treat!

RECIPE & KID-FRIENDLY ADAPTATIONS


1 | Peel the zucchini before grating to help the vegetable blend in.

2 | Swap oat flour for almond flour for a nut-free option.


THIS RECIPE IS . . .


Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Naturally-Sweetened, and Paleo Friendly  


Decadent, rich, and made without a hint of flour or refined sugar, One-Bowl Flourless Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins are easy to make and the perfect everyday treat!

One-Bowl Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

Ingredients

¼ cup melted coconut oil, plus more for greasing the pan

2 large eggs

⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce

⅓ cup pure maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 ½ cup finely ground almond flour*

⅓ cup cocoa powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup loosely packed grated zucchini

⅓ cup dark chocolate chips, plus more for topping**

Instructions

1. Heat the oven to 350F.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, eggs, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.

3. Add the almond flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir gently until just incorporated. Add the zucchini and stir again until just combined.

4. Add in the chocolate chips and stir to combine.

5. Fill each section of a 12-section muffin tin with roughly ¼ cup batter, then bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges begin to pull away from the sides and a toothpick comes out clean. 

6. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then cool the rest on a cooling rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Note: This batter can also be used to make zucchini bread. Pour the batter into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the edges begin to pull away from the sides and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack prior to slicing. 

I used this almond flour.

**Most chocolate chips include dairy. Be sure to use dairy-free if that's important to you.

How to Create a Wellness Routine (You Can Actually Stick To)

Whole LifeRobyn Downs4 Comments

Self-care. It’s one of those things we know we should be doing, but the idea of setting up a self-care routine can seem like just one more thing on the to-do list. 

Plus, when you look around the interweb, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that self-care requires a long soak in a tub filled with flower petals and crystals. 

Or a multi-step breakfast routine that involves 12 kinds of superfoods and a holistic nutrition degree.

Or hours set aside each day to meditate, journal and work out.

Which isn’t always realistic.

How to Create a Wellness Routine (You Can Actually Stick To)

Yes, these are options within the practice of self-care, but they don’t represent the only way to care and nourish yourself.

So instead, today we’re going to take a deep dive into getting started with a wellness routine. One that you can do and actually stick with, so you can take self-care off your to-do list and make it an essential part of your real life.

p.s. Listen to the Feel Good Effect podcast episode on How to Create a Wellness Routine (You Can Actually Stick To) to take this next level!


Part One: Set for Success


1 | It’s Not Self-Care, It’s Self-Compassion

Let’s reframe self-care as self-compassion. As a way to let go of self-judgement and criticism and embrace your life with kindness and understanding, knowing that to suffer, fail and to be imperfect is completely, perfectly human.

So why does practicing self-compassion matter?

Research (1, 2, 3) has linked self-criticism with depression, anxiety, body dissatisfaction, and various other forms of psychological distress. Self-compassion is a way to disrupt self-criticism and be gentle with ourselves. 

And, as it turns out, being gentle with ourselves doesn’t make us soft, it actually makes us more resilient.

Approaching a wellness routine grounded in self-compassion, then, allows you to forgive yourself when you miss a day or “fall off the wagon,” and will help you to build a sustainable practice that you can stick to over time.

2 | The Wellness Trifecta

Let’s think of wellness in three parts: food, movement, and mental wellbeing.

Yes, food is important. And yes, movement is necessary. But it’s the combination of all three that can really move the needle when it comes to your overall wellbeing.

When we over-focus on one area at the detriment of the others, we fall out of balance. 

By focusing on all three areas you can create your own, well-balanced wellness routine that addresses all areas of what it truly means to be healthy.

3 | Rethink Success by Recalibrating Goals

The all-or-nothing trap. We all fall into it one time or another. Maybe for you it’s in thinking about food. Or cooking. Or how often you work out.

No matter how all-or-nothing thinking looks like for you, we know it reduces the likelihood of success and does not contribute to feeling good.

Instead of all-or-nothing thinking, let’s focus instead on the parts and pieces you can do by using the Feel Good Goal Setting Process.

The Feel Good Goal Setting Process looks like this: 1) Ideal world, 2)  Happening now, 3)  Gentle goal, 4) Contingency goal.

Let’s break the Feel Good Goal Setting Process Down

1 ) Ideal world: This is your goal in the perfect world, when everything works out and goes according to plan. (Hint: This is usually the goal we set when taking on a new diet or exercise plan).

2 ) Happening now: This is what’s happening in your life right now.

3 ) Gentle goal: This is somewhere between Ideal and Happening now. The farther apart your Ideal and Happening now are, the more essential it is to identify a Gentle goal.

4 ) Contingency goal: This is your back-up plan. Something less than your gentle goal, but more than doing nothing.

Now let’s see what the Feel Good Goal Setting Process looks like in practice.


Part Two: Food & Movement


4 | A Fresh Start

We know it’s important to start the day with a breakfast full of protein, healthy fats and plenty of fiber, but it’s a meal that’s often skipped or filled with tons of sugar or carbs.

If you want your wellness routine to include eating a real food breakfast, use the journal sheet at the end of this post to set some Feel Good goals related to breakfast. 

Be sure to include your Ideal world goal, what’s happening now, your Gentle goal, Contingency goal, and a place to track progress (more on that soon).

5 | Nourish in the Middle

Up next, lunch. If you find yourself running through the drive-through or picking leftovers off your toddler’s plate, lunch may be a good meal to focus on as part of your wellness routine.

Use the journal sheet at the end of this post to set some Feel Good goals related to lunch, and be sure to include your Ideal world goal, what’s happening now, your Gentle goal, Contingency goal, and a place to track progress (more on that soon).

6 | Finishing Strong

Even if you have your breakfast and lunch game figured out, dinner can sometimes slip through the cracks, especially on busy weeknights.

I like to use Real Food Fix to map out our weekly meals, but I still employ the Feel Good Goal Setting Process to figure out the details.

Use the journal sheet at the end of this post to set some Feel Good goals related to dinner. As with breakfast and lunch, include your Ideal world goal, what’s happening now, your Gentle goal, Contingency goal, and a place to track progress (more on that soon).

7 | The Right Amount of Movement for You

As with food, movement is essential to any wellness routine. 

Maybe your goal is to add more movement to your day, or perhaps it’s to reduce the amount or intensity of exercise to focus more on connecting and feeling good in your body.

Regardless of your goals, use the journal sheet at the end of this post to set some Feel Good goals related to exercise or movement. As you did with food, include your Ideal world goal, what’s happening now, your Gentle goal, Contingency goal, and a place to track progress (more on that soon).


Part Three: State, Track, and Ground in Self-Compassion


8 | Tracking and Self-Compassion Practice

The last piece of establishing a wellness routine you can actually stick to is to track your stated goals and add a little self-compassion to the mix. 

So, for each Feel Good gentle and contingency goals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, movement), create a place to state your gals and to track daily progress. 

You can use the journal sheet provided at the end of this post to get started, or create your own personalized version.

Now, and here’s the key, add a line each day to add a note of kindness. Remember that self-compassion part we talked about at the beginning of this post? Here’s a chance to put it into practice.

If adding a note of kindness sounds silly, remember that most of us spend a significant amount of time engaging in self-critical or negative self-talk.

Adding a note of kindness brings self-compassion into our awareness, and gives us the chance to intentionally practice it on a daily basis.


Bringing It All Together


A wellness routine is so much more than individual acts of self-care. It’s about grounding your actions in self-compassion and focusing on the Wellness Trifecta: food, exercise, and mental wellbeing in an intentional way.

By taking the Feel Good Goal Setting Process and applying it to your own food, exercise, and mental wellbeing goals, you can craft a wellness routine that you can actually stick to and feel really good about doing it.

Remember, this is all about what works for you! You don’t have to focus on all the areas described above, you can take this framework and use it to create something that works in the context of your life.

To help you get started, I’ve created a free Feel Good Goal Setting Process journal sheet, which you can download below.

If you create a wellness routine using this process, let me know! I love hearing from you in the comments, on Instagram, or in the Feel Good Effect Facebook Community!