Italian Beef and Vegetable Soup

Italian Beef and Vegetable Soup

Isn’t it hard to believe that it’s almost Autumn already? We’ve already had several days that feel and smell like fall, but they’ve been interspersed with hot days. I do enjoy fall, but am not quite ready for summer to be over yet, even though it’s been a scorching one. Summer is definitely my favorite and I love the warm weather. But, I have a lot of exciting things on my plate this fall, so the anticipation of the changing season is sweet.

Next month, Jesse and I are headed down to the LA area to complete a week-long training with Jill Miller of Yoga Tune Up. We both have a lot of respect for Jill’s work and are grateful for the opportunity to train with her. Then, in November, I’m headed to NYC with a very dear friend of mine. We’re going to a conference called, “I Can Do It!” and are spending some extra time there for fun (it’ll be my first visit to NYC!). I’ll get to visit my second cousin who lives in Brooklyn as well. In December, Jesse and I are headed to Honolulu for a week of pure vacation. The ticket prices were a super good deal, so we decided to bite. We won’t actually be spending Christmas there, but will be there a little bit before.

Tonight, we’re headed to an Empire of the Sun concert at Edgefield, and I’m really excited! Jesse surprised me with tickets a couple months ago, and it definitely was a pleasant surprise. I get the evening off from work to go too, which is a nice change of pace for a Friday.

Meanwhile, enjoy the soup recipe and if it’s still warm wherever you are, tuck this one away for a chilly fall or winter day.



  • 1 Tbsp grass-fed butter or ghee
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 1.5 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1/2 lb Italian pork sausage
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 5.5 cups beef and/or chicken bone broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 box (~18 oz) unsweetened tomato sauce (I used this brand)
  • 2.5 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 medium zucchini, “noodled” with a spiralizer or julienne peeler
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped, plus extra for topping, if desired
  • Raw Parmesan cheese for topping, optional and if tolerated


  1. Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Sauté a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add the ground beef and pork sausage, breaking up the meat with a spatula. Add the sea salt, black pepper, oregano, thyme and cayenne to the mixture, and stir.
  2. Once the meat is browned, add the broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste and bay leaf. Stir well and then add the zucchini noodles and fresh basil. Simmer for about 25 minutes. Taste soup after simmering and adjust seasoning as necessary. Remove bay leaf when ready to serve.
  3. Garnish with extra chopped basil and/or raw Parmesan cheese for serving, if desired.

Simple Beef and Veggies Sauté


beef and veggie saute 2

It’s time for my trip home to Michigan! In fact, I left on a red-eye last night, and am currently sitting in the Detroit airport finishing this post. I have one more leg to get to my hometown of Alpena, but still have two hours to wait to catch the tiny plane there. I’m definitely tired and will probably need a nap later today. But, for now, I’m awake and drinking an Americano. Jesse has already been there for a week (he wanted to go for two weeks, but I decided to only go for one), so it was just the kitties and me last week, which is when I created this recipe.

Anyway, onto the food! It’s as simple as it gets, but the flavor is abundant. The coconut vinegar is what brings it all together, so don’t omit it. Whenever I feel like there’s a flavor missing, I usually just add coconut vinegar and it takes care of what was lacking. Truth be told, I’ve kinda had a crush on coconut vinegar for a little while now. The stuff is incredible. Also, the Maldon salt flakes at the end really make this dish wonderful too, but don’t let it be a deal breaker if you don’t have any. If you have avocado on hand, I recommend adding some slices on top as well because avocado is great with pretty much anything.

Cheers and enjoy!


  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 6-7 kale leaves, removed from stems and torn into pieces
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Several splashes of coconut vinegar 
  • Maldon salt flakes for garnish, optional

beef and veggie saute


  1. Melt coconut oil to a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and stir with a wooden spoon. Let cook for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Next, add the ground beef and break up the meat with the spoon. Season to taste with a little sea salt and black pepper. Continue to cook meat for about 5-7 minutes or until all the meat is nearly brown.
  3. Then, add the sliced zucchini and stir. Allow zucchini to cook a couple minutes and then reduce the heat to medium-low and add the kale and tomatoes.
  4. Stir well and add the coconut vinegar and cayenne, and season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Cook a minute or two more or until kale has softened a little bit.
  5. Serve and garnish with Maldon salt flakes on top. I also recommend avocado slices if you have some on hand.

Yields: 3 servings

Chicken Pesto “Noodle” Bowl


chicken pesto noodle bowl 2

I know I mentioned it already, but the summer heat has been insane in Portland! It has been consistently in the mid to upper 90s for many days now and it looks like it’s going to continue. I’ll be going home for a visit to Michigan in a couple weeks and I’m thinking it’s going to feel cold compared to what I’ve adapted to! It looks like temps in my hometown have been in the low 70s, but there’s also more humidity involved, so it usually feels warmer. Regardless of what the weather is like, it’ll be nice to be home for a visit.

Anyway, onto the food. I made this for dinner two nights in a row this past week because it’s so tasty and doesn’t involve any heat! It’s super easy and you don’t have to cook anything, unless you don’t have leftover chicken breasts in the fridge. If you don’t, then you have to cook a little bit, but at least it’s simple. I’d recommend either throwing some chicken on the grill or poaching it on the stove to get the job done.

Cheers and enjoy!


  • 1 batch homemade basil pesto (replace parsley with fresh basil)
  • 2 leftover boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, noodled with a spiralizer or julienne peeler
  • 1 medium heirloom tomato, chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place chopped chicken in a large bowl and mix with 2 Tbsp or so of fresh pesto. Place in fridge and let sit for a couple hours. (Note: if you don’t have time to let the chicken marinate in the fridge, skip it, but I recommend doing so if you can, so the chicken absorbs more pesto flavor).
  2. Shortly before eating, place the zucchini noodles in a colander and generously salt with sea salt. Place the colander in the sink or over a large bowl and let the zucchini “sweat” for 10-20 minutes. Then, squeeze out any excess water and divide the zucchini noodles among two bowls.
  3. Divide the tomatoes between the two bowls and add a little more pesto (probably 1-3 tsp per bowl or to taste). Then, divide the chicken mixture between the two bowls and mix well. Season to taste with a little sea salt and/or pepper, if needed.

Turmeric Ginger Chicken Stir Fry

chicken stir fry

Stir fry is such an easy and quick meal to whip up when I’m not sure what to make for dinner. It’s especially great when we have lots of different veggies in the fridge to work with. Bonus that it doesn’t have to heat up the house too much either, though I did make this before the weather turned extremely hot. During this time, it was just hot.

Meanwhile, can you believe it’s almost the Fourth of July? It always seems like summer flies by after the Fourth, doesn’t it? Anyway, we don’t have any plans nailed down yet, but might go to Hood River for the day. We’ll see.

What are you doing for the Fourth of July?


  • 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 large broccoli crown, chopped
  • About 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp coconut aminos (find here)
  • 1/4 tsp fish sauce (I recommend this brand, which has no gluten or sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp mirin (find here)
  • Drizzle of raw honey (probably about 1/2 tsp)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

chicken stir fry 2


  1. Melt coconut oil in a large pan or wok over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Stir until fragrant and sauté about 1-2 minutes. Then, add the cut-up chicken pieces and season with sea salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the coconut aminos, fish sauce, mirin, raw honey, ginger, turmeric and cayenne. Set aside.
  3. Once the chicken is nearly cooked through, add the carrots and broccoli. Mix well and sauté a few minutes. Then, add the zucchini and shiitake mushrooms, and stir well. Season to taste with a little sea salt and pepper.
  4. Pour in the sauce mixture and mix well. Continue to cook for a few minutes or until zucchini has softened a bit.
  5. Season to taste with more sea salt, pepper and/or coconut aminos, if needed.

Yields: 2 large servings


Perfect Pork Chops

perfect pork chops

One word on making perfect pork pork chops: brine. I had never brined pork chops until recently and let me tell you, it makes a huge difference. It’s totally worth the extra time and effort (very little effort though, really) because it makes the pork chops so much more flavorful and tender. If you’ve never brined pork chops before, I highly recommend giving it a go. It’s so easy to do and adds a great punch of flavor. If you try it, let me know what you think!

Meanwhile, hope everyone had a happy weekend and enjoyed rolling in the official start of summer. Hope all you dads had a great Father’s Day too!

Cheers and happy grilling!


  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1.5 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (this brand is my favorite)
  • 2 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • 2 thick bone-in pork chops (I used center cut pork chops)


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine everything, but the pork chops. Stir well, until salt and honey is dissolved.
  2. Place pork chops in a large zip lock bag and pour brine over top. Seal bag and gently slosh the mixture around to coat the chops. Place in fridge and let sit overnight or up to 24 hours. Move the mixture around from time-to-time to keep the chops well covered in brine.
  3. Remove the pork chops from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking. Discard the brine and rinse pork chops in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Turn on the grill and allow to heat up to medium. Place the chops over direct heat and sear for 2 minutes each side. Then, move to indirect heat, cover and cook for 5-7 minutes each side.
  5. Let chops rest 10 minutes after coming off the grill.

Yields: 2 servings




Chicken Coconut Mango “Rice”


Wow, it’s been exactly a month since I last posted…oops! I guess life got away on me a bit, but the past month has been great. I turned the big 3-0 on March 2nd and celebrated on my own (took the day off and got a 90 minute massage!) and with Jesse that day. Since my birthday was on a Monday, I celebrated with friends out in wine country the following weekend and it was a gorgeous 70 degree day. Work has kept me busier lately, but in a good way, though some days are definitely long and exhausting. All in all, I have no complaints, but I haven’t had with much time or motivation to experiment in the kitchen! Simple, quick meals and roasts in the slow cooker are pretty much my saving grace.

Meanwhile, this recipe turned out so delicious! The lime is very abundant and zesty, while the mango adds just the right amount of sweetness. It pairs well with the savory chicken and creaminess of the coconut milk. The house smelled wonderful while this was cooking, which I mostly attribute to the kaffir lime leaves. If you can’t find kaffir lime leaves, omit them and add a little bit more lime zest.


  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • About 6 cups cauliflower, riced in the food processor
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 4-5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 13.5 oz can full-fat coconut milk (I used this brand)
  • 1/2 cup chicken bone broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 Tbsp gluten-free fish sauce (I like this brand)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • Juice and zest of one small lime
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • Sliced green onion for garnish

chicken coconut mango rice


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the chicken and jalapeño, and season to taste with sea salt. Sauté until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. While the chicken is cooking, pour the coconut milk, broth, fish sauce, lime juice and zest, kaffir lime leaves and ground ginger into a small pot over medium heat. Mix well and simmer until the liquid has reduced down a bit.
  3. Pour the coconut milk mixture over the chicken and stir. After 1-2 minutes, stir in the cauliflower rice and season to taste with sea salt. Cook until the cauliflower rice softens slightly. Then, stir in the mango and cook about one minute more.
  4. Serve and garnish with sliced green onion.

Yields: 5-6 servings

Chicken and Italian Veggie “Rice”

Chicken and Italian cauli rice

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope all of you that celebrate Valentine’s Day had a great one. We don’t really celebrate or care much about it, but I always get Jesse some nice chocolates every year, just to be a little cheesy. He surprised me this year and gave me a raw honey-sweetened chocolate bar with a generous gift card to Athleta. I was not expecting it at all since he generally doesn’t get me anything (he’s done flowers once or twice in the past, but the cats eat them), so was shocked when he handed me a gift. It was so sweet of him and I was quite touched. The rest of my Valentine’s Day was spent at a friends house meeting her 4-week old baby boy. I took lunch over to her from Cultured Caveman, hung out with her little dude and talked essential oils with her (and her husband too!). She wasn’t able to come to the oils class I hosted a couple weeks ago since she had just had a baby, so I came to her. After that, I headed home for a bit and then Jesse and I met our friends for dinner at Besaw’s. We didn’t choose to go out to dinner because it was Valentine’s Day, but because we had all been wanting to get together, and it just so happened to work out that day. Anyway, it was a fun evening with good friends! It was a great day too!

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this recipe! It came together unplanned (like many of my recipes do) and to be honest, I really wasn’t prepared to take a picture of it, but snapped one anyway. Hopefully, I can remake this sometime soon and update the photo with a better one. I just know I didn’t want to wait any longer to share the recipe (I already waited a little bit) since I’m a bit overdue.



  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp grass-fed butter or ghee
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced
  • 1 small or medium head of cauliflower, “riced” in the food processor (I use this one)
  • 2 cups torn lacinato kale leaves with stems removed
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • Splash of chicken bone broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 tsp dried oregano, plus more if desired
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Melt 1 Tbsp of the butter or ghee in an oven proof skillet (I use and love this one) over medium heat. While pan is heating up, season chicken breasts with sea salt and pepper. Add chicken breasts to the hot pan and sear 4 minutes each side. Then place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts.
  2. While chicken is baking, melt the other Tbsp of butter or ghee in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and fennel, and sauté 3-4 minutes or until fennel is softened slightly. Then, add the kale and bone broth, and stir.
  3. After a minute or two, reduce heat to medium-low and add the riced cauliflower, oregano, and sea salt and pepper to taste. If needed, add a dash more bone broth. Then, add the chopped tomato and stir. Allow mixture to cook through a couple minutes and then keep warm over low heat until chicken is done.
  4. Once the chicken is done, slice into strips and serve on top of the cauliflower rice mixture.