We just had a baby, so I’m looking for healthy meals (AKA high protein, moderate carb, moderate fat, unprocessed, with veggies) that I can make & freeze ahead for later. I pick a night to make the recipe for dinner, then double it and freeze the extra dish. My lean turkey chili has been a freezer-winner and I’m trying meatballs this week. So far, the unchallenged winner from my new repertoire is this healthier chicken pot pie.
I spiffed up my healthier chicken pot pie from a traditional pot pie in the following ways:
- Used way more meat – both chicken breasts and chicken thighs. *Note* It’s a popular misconception that chicken thighs are bad for you because they’re fattier – as long as you trim excess fat and take the skin off, chicken thighs only have a few more grams of fat per serving than breasts. They also have more of certain key nutrients that breast meat does not have.
- Used half the crust – I only use crust on top, which lowers the overall calories and fat in this traditionally heavy meal. Yes, the picture shows a two crust version… deception!
- No cream or butter in the filling – I use pureed, boiled potatoes to add creaminess. You can play with adding 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of full fat coconut milk, as well, but my “nutrition brain” feels that the coconut-free version fits into my family’s nutrition style more.
- Used whole grain flour and coconut oil in the crust, not white flour and butter.
Recipe for Healthier Chicken Pot Pie
Here’s my healthier chicken pot pie recipe, along with suggestions for different methods of freezing it! I’ve even included directions for a paleo option! Like it? Pin it for later! Looking for more recipes? Check here!
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 3 Chicken Breasts, cut or chopped into small pieces (I use meat shears).
- 6 Chicken Thighs, cut or chopped into small pieces (I use meat shears).
- ½ of a red onion, very finely chopped
- 4 Large carrots, peeled and chopped into small cubes (Or ~1 cup frozen chopped carrots)
- 4 Stalks of celery, chopped into small pieces
- ¾ cup to 1 cup of frozen green peas, depending on preference
- 1 large potato, peeled and boiled (to make paleo, you can use ½ head cauliflower, steamed)
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon pink himalayan sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3.5 Cups Whole Wheat Flour or Gluten Free Flour Blend (I suggest a 3:4 ratio of tapioca flour to almond meal or rice flour)
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Teaspoon himalayan Sea Salt
- ½ Cup Coconut Oil
- ½ cup very cold water, plus extra tablespoons to make the dough consistency just right.
- Add olive oil to a cast iron dutch oven, or similarly large pan, on medium heat.
- Add onions and saute until translucent.
- Add carrots and celery. Cook until they just begin to soften, about 8 minutes.
- Add the chicken, salt and pepper and let it brown. In the meantime, put the boiled potato in a food processor and process until very very smooth.
- Add the potato puree, frozen peas, thyme and rosemary.
- If there's excess water in the pan then reduce heat and simmer the water off.
- Divide the filling into two casserole dishes, baking dishes or pie pans. I used a 9" glass pyrex pie pan and a square baking dish.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Make sure the rack is in the center of the oven.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Add the coconut oil and cut it into the mixture. Alternatively, you can use a food processor.
- Whisk the eggs and add it to the mixture, stirring thoroughly.
- Add the ½ cup of very cold water. The mixture will most likely be dry, still. Add more cold water by the tablespoon, until the dough comes together - not too moist and not too dry.
- Divide the dough into two balls and roll out onto a floured surface.
- Fit the dough over the top of the filling in the casserole dishes, fitting it to the edges of the dish and sealing if you'd like. Poke a few holes in the crust.
- Bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 55 minutes to 1 hr 10 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling bubbles.
- ** TO FREEZE: You have choices.
- Freeze filling and raw dough separately. Freeze the dough rolled out between sheets of parchment paper. Add the dough just before cooking.
- Freeze pot pie filling with raw dough on top, uncooked. Let the filling cool before you put the dough over it.
- Freeze pot pie assembled and partially cooked... bake it for 30 minutes, remove it from the oven, let it cool and then freeze it.
- It will take less time to reheat the pot pie if you cook it first and then freeze it. However, freezing the crust uncooked is more likely to yield a crust that is crisp and not soggy.
Disclaimer: This post about Protein Packed Oatmeal Pancakes contains affiliate links to Amazon.com, which means that if you click on the link then I will receive a percentage of the proceeds from your purchase.
Pancakes are fun, but their nutrition profile is typically a downer: Mostly all carbs, hardly any protein, way too many calories. And that’s without syrup, honey or agave adding extra carbs/sugar. That’s why I came up with a recipe for Protein Packed Oatmeal Pancakes.
Making Them Better
Since eating a high protein diet is a HUGE part of maintaining a healthy body and a lean physique, I’m always looking for ways to take traditional dishes more protein-plentiful. I love oatmeal for a number of reasons, so I decided to make oatmeal pancakes that had a better ratio of protein to carbs. Try them out and let me know what you think!
Warning, they do not taste exactly like pancakes. They are light and fluffy, but they are not bready like a traditional pancake. You can taste the egg in them if you do not add garnish. If you’re looking for a traditional oatmeal pancake, check out my alternate recipe here.
But it works!!
My toddler loved these – especially because I used a cookie cutter to make them into heart shapes for Valentine’s day.
These are both gluten-free and paleo.
Protein Packed Oatmeal Pancakes
- 1 Cup Oatmeal OR ¾ cup oat flour
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 4 Eggs
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- ¼ to ½ cups water (or liquid of your choice)
- To make batter:
- Blend all ingredients together in a food processor, according to your manufacturer's instructions. Blend at the highest speed possible, so the batter is smooth and airy.
- Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, then add in coconut oil and the water (make it warm water). You may need to melt the coconut oil if it's not already liquid.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix well.
- To cook pancakes:
- Coat a skillet (I prefer cast iron) with the cooking oil of your choice. Heat the skillet on medium heat. Let it heat up before you add the batter.
- Pour the batter in and heat until bubbles form, then flip the pancake.
- Serve with the condiments of your choice. We use fruit and plain whole milk yogurt.
The western diet is heavy in carbs and processed food – most of my clients need to increase their protein intake. It’s easy to get “meat burn out” if you don’t have creative ways to prepare it, which is why I love making Healthy Spice Rubs.
Marinades and sauces add extra calories to meat dishes and have combinations of addictive nutrients that destroy your ability to stop eating when you’re satiated. Spice rubs are a tasty, calorie-friendly way to enjoy eating meat. Here are my favorite healthy spice rubs! .
Directions for Using Healthy Spice Rubs
Take the spice rub and coat the meat in it – really rub it in! Then, cook any way you prefer – baked, roasted, grilled, etc
CHOCOLATE & COFFEE SPICE RUB (BEEF, GROUND TURKEY, PORK, CHICKEN THIGHS)
1.5 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon unsweetened Ghirardelli Cocoa powder
1.5 teaspoons of your favorite coffee grounds
1 teaspoon brown sugar AND 1/2 teaspoon stevia powder, OR stevia only.
1/2 teaspoon ground pink himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
MOROCCAN SPICE RUB (BEEF, LAMB, PORK, CHICKEN THIGHS)
MEDITERRANEAN SPICE RUB (WHITE FISH, CHICKEN BREAST, SHRIMP, LEAN BEEF)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme OR 2 tablespoons dry thyme
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon lemon zest (grated skin of lemon)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1/2 to 1 teaspoon pink himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
PICKLE SPICE RUB (CHICKEN THIGHS, LEAN BEEF, PORK, GROUND TURKEY)
2 bay leaves, crushed in a mortar and pestle
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped OR 3 tablespoons dried dill
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon dry mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar or equivalent stevia powder, as preferred
1/2 to 1 teaspoon pink himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
This is my twist on broccoli puree with fresh mint, inspired by french chef Patricia Well.
As I gear up for my next NPC Bikini competition, I have a lot of broccoli on my plan. A LOT of broccoli. It’s a very light, nutrient-dense vegetable that’s perfect for nourishing the body while cutting calories and leaning out. Luckily, I love broccoli. However, I may not love it at the end of this prep if I can’t find other ways to prepare it – especially since my favorite way of preparing it uses oil, which is not available to me right now.
For me, it’s imperative to keep food boredom at bay when you’re cutting calories. I don’t coach contest preparation, so I am fortunate that I can make sure my clients have a lot of variety in their food – a luxury I don’t have right now. This recipe is certainly helping to make my “cut” easier.
Broccoli Puree With Fresh Mint
Now listen up – I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that this does not sound good. Mint? Broccoli? Together?? What? Give it a chance. There’s something truly enjoyable about it. Both broccoli and mint have earthy, rich flavors. Together, they create a nice combination. I like it so much, I’m even considering making this into a soup! Give it a chance and let me know what you think.
- 2 lbs broccoli, trimmed of leaves
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves with stems
- Sea salt
- Steaming Rack or Basket
- Food processor or blender.
- Steam the broccoli via your method of choice - I prefer using a steaming rack or basket. Place the rack over simmering water, cover the pot and cook for about 7-10 minutes. Don't let the broccoli get grey - it should still be green and a little crisp.
- Transfer the broccoli to a food processor.
- Add the mint and salt.
- Puree until smooth. Experiment with the texture - you might prefer it on the coarse side or completely smooth.
Broccoli Puree With Fresh Mint – Broccoli Recipes – Adapted from “Vegetable Harvest” by Patricia Well
Do you have a love for pancakes that remains unfulfilled because of dietary restrictions? Re-embrace this classic breakfast comfort food by making flourless pancakes. They’re moist, sweet and simple.
Even better, they’re packed with protein and low in calories – so you don’t have to limit yourself to one or two. Eat them plain or top them with your favorite syrup, fruit or yogurt. They’re grain free, so they fit into paleo and gluten free diets. The bananas make this recipe sweet, so this is most appropriate for the post-workout window if you’re trying to lose body fat. Don’t worry about that if you’re trying to build muscle or if you plan on feeding this to a growing kiddo!
The Finer Points
These cook up best if you make smaller pancakes and use cooking spray. I also find it’s important to use a spatula with a fine edge, like this pancake spatula. Spatulas with thick edges can’t get under the thin pancake and end up tearing it apart.
Have a batter disaster? Just scramble the batter and call it sweet scrambled eggs.
- 1 Banana, Medium to Large and Ripe - Riper bananas yield sweeter pancakes.
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Cooking spray, or 1 tablespoon of butter or cooking oil.
- Add the peeled banana to a blender or food processor with the eggs, vanilla and cinnamon.
- Blend until the mixture is smooth with little bubbles.
- Preheat a cast iron skillet or griddle to low heat.
- Add the cooking oil to the pan and coat it well.
- Pour the batter into the pan, ⅛ cup at a time.
- Cook the pancakes on low to medium heat until bubbles just begin to form throughout the pancake. Be careful not to overcook them or they'll stick to the pan - it may only take a few seconds.
- Use a spatula to flip the pancakes. Let them cook for just a moment on the other side.
- Remove from the pan and enjoy!
Are you dairy free? Paleo? Try this – it’s a dairy and sugar free paleo hot chocolate, without using any artificial sweeteners or chemical junk!
It uses canned coconut milk instead of regular milk. The medjool dates add a nice caramel flavor to the cocoa. They’re also naturally sweet! I think a lot of the flavor depends on the Cocoa powder you use. My favorites are Ghirardelli’s Cocoa Powder and Hershey’s Special Dark CoCoa Powder.
*Note: Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder has a disclaimer on the container saying that their special dark blend does not contain as many antioxidants as the regular blend.
This is a whole food recipe. I think you will enjoy your paleo hot chocolate!
As a side note, nothing says you HAVE to add the dates to this. My 3 year old will drink his completely unsweetened and still thinks it’s a special treat. Likewise, my husband has a taste for savory things and loves having it without the dates! I’d say no sugar means that’s REALLY paleo!
It’s also really good cold – it’s paleo chocolate milk!
Paleo Hot Chocolate Recipe
- 3 tablespoons canned coconut milk (make sure you shake it first so the cream is mixed evenly throughout the coconut milk - you may even want to blend it briefly, first)
- ¾ cup water
- 3 soft pitted Medjool dates
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon cacao powder
- Dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
- Put all the ingredients in a blender (Vitamix!!) and puree until very smooth. If you have a Vitamix, then turn slowly turn to Variable 10, then High and leave it on until the liquid is hot.
- If not, transfer it to a pot and heat it until it's just warm.
Just when you think you’ve tried everything, another strange food shows up in the grocery store. This time it was sun chokes, the bulbous root of the sunflower. Also called Jerusalem artichokes, I used them to make roasted sun chokes. These little babies are wholesome and cook up beautifully. They have a nutty flavor without any bitterness. Use them like you would use sweet potatoes and potatoes.
Sunchokes are surprisingly high in Iron, with one serving having 15% of your daily value. You can find them at certain grocery stores. I found mine at Kroger, pictured below.
I love roasting because I like to keep it simple when I try a new food. Simple means I can taste the true flavor of it.
Vikalinka also has a great recipe for Roast Chicken with Lemons and Sunflower chokes. The Nourish Evolutionhas a recipe for Caramelized Sunchokes with Meyer Lemon & Zest – I’m not a fan of the added sugar, but it’s worth looking at!
Roasted Sun Chokes
- 1 Package of Sunchokes
- Spray Olive Oil or "Homemade" Olive Oil Spray (ie a Misto)
- Himalayan Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Scrub and rinse the sunchokes. They've been sitting in the dirt for their whole lives, so get them good and clean!!
- Make slices ¼" thick.
- Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Line sheet with sliced sunchokes. Lightly spray again.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Roast in the oven until tender and starting to turn golden brown. Cooking times vary depending upon the oven. Mine cooked for ~18 minutes in a counter top toaster oven.