Working late or do your kids have after-school activities?  One-pot meals can be your best friend, especially in the colder fall and winter months.  Stews and soups in particular can be as simple as they are flavorful.  They are often made with things you have handy in the pantry or leftovers in the fridge or freezer.  The following are some tips and tricks to get your started on a warm hearty dinner.  Be sure to double up on your batches so you can freeze some for later or take it for lunch the next day!

  • Start with sauteing some onions, shallots, green onions, and/or garlic in a generous scoop of coconut oil over medium heat to get your one-pot meal started. For a richer flavor, cook them in rendered bacon grease, chicken schmaltz, or beef tallow. If using ground beef or stew meat you can brown it along the way too.
  • Use homemade bone broth: chicken, seafood, beef, or vegetable.  This gives you all the amazing nutrients and nourishing benefits of the gelatin and amino acids.  If you don’t have time to make homemade broth or realize you don’t have any left in the freezer you can substitute in Kettle and Fire broths as they use bones and slowly simmer them so they are full of amazing nutrients – get 20% off online with APLACETOBE20OFF
  • Making chili or another tomato-based stew? Add cooked diced tomatoes or cooked beans. (Look for tomatoes packaged in jars and cooked beans are available in BPA-free cans)
  • Add a heartiness and velvety texture to your meal by stirring in cooked and mashed pumpkin, butternut squash, or sweet potatoes. (save time and by them ready to go in BPA-free cans.)
  • Dried herbs are delicious in stir fry, stews and soups, and spices like ginger and turmeric are as flavorful as they are aromatic (not to mention their amazing anti-inflammatory properties!).  Of course you need chili powder if you are making any type of chili whether it be turkey, chicken or beef based which are great staples for the cold weather in our house!  Add herbs and spices with the broth to give them time to marry with the other ingredients.  (Skip the fresh herbs as they cannot withstand the higher heat simmering.)
  • If you want to add a starch like rice or quinoa remember you might need an additional 30-50 minutes to cook, so if you’re including them be sure to leave enough time. Wild rice takes about 40-50 minutes and is a great option for stews—it won’t absorb so much of the broth the way brown rice will. Or add quinoa during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
  • Quick-cooking legumes like lentils need about 20 minutes to simmer. If you’re adding cooked beans to your stew, you can usually add them in toward the end of cooking.
  • Root veggies take about 10 minutes to simmer and soften up.  Peel and cube potatoes, parsnips, turnips, beets, or whatever root you like. Organic carrots can be scrubbed and sliced before adding as well.
  • Frozen veggies take about 10 minutes of simmering time.  Frozen corn, carrots, peas, pearl onions—you name it—are great additions to stews.
  • Hearty greens like kale and collard are welcome additions to stews. Chop them coarsely and add them during the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking.
  • I often like to thicken soup with coconut milk, and unlike dairy milk, coconut milk won’t curdle.  Check out this Thai Style Coconut-Chicken Soup Recipe
  • And of course don’t forget those tableside garnishes, like chopped avocado, onion, cilantro or shredded raw cheese!

Try this simple to make Crockpot Chili my kids love!

Crockpot Chili

3            cups kidney beans (if canned get BPA-Free or cook them prior to adding)

½          onion, diced

1            pound grass-fed, organic, ground beef

3            cups organic, diced tomatoes

⅓           cup organic tomato paste

½           cup organic, homemade beef broth

3            teaspoons chili powder

3            teaspoons cumin

Sea salt, pepper, cayenne pepper to taste

Drain and rinse beans before placing them into a crock pot.  Sauté onions in coconut oil for a couple minutes and then add the beef to brown along with it.  Once meat it browned, drain, and then add to crock pot.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir.  Cover and cook in crock pot on low for 5-6 hours.

Serving Suggestions:  Serve with garnishes of sour cream, raw cheese, chopped onion, and/or jalapeno peppers.