snowy trees in winter

Winter Comfort Foods

This is usually about the time of year when I start to feel like winter lasts forever and there is no end in sight.  Especially when the groundhog predicts 6 more weeks of winter!  Luckily, as with most problems in my life, I can usually find a way to fix it with food.  😉 


But, seriously, I know that a lot of people struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (or more aptly referred to as “SAD”).  I do, too.  I mean, sure, I try to tell myself things like, “The trees look so pretty all covered in ice!” or “Another snow day means I get to spend more time connecting with the kids!”  And those things are true and they even work to cheer me up for a while.  But, at this point, I am just done. with. winter.  


Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system.  Moving on!  And since winter is certainly not done with us just yet, we all need to find ways to keep looking on the bright side!


I’ve started thinking of wintertime as a hibernation period for myself.  A time of year where I allow myself to sleep more, slow down, do less, read more, and eat lots of comforting food.  Warmer, flavorful meals that fill your body up and leave you feeling better about life.  Sometimes, this is in the form of a dessert.  But, more often, it is in the form of a soup or stew or – my new favorite this winter – a curry dish.  If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve been trying out lots of curry dishes this year! 


Today I am sharing two comfort food recipes that I hope will help you (and me!) get through the next 6 weeks of winter.  The first recipe is for a slow cooker butternut squash soup.  I made this recipe over the holidays when our family was all in town visiting and came over to our house for dinner and a gift exchange.  I have a serious case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) when it comes to parties and gatherings so I love to choose slow cooker recipes that can be prepared earlier that morning or even the night before.  That way, when the guests are mingling and talking and laughing, I can be right there with them instead of being stuck in front of the stove stirring a pot or putting the finishing touches on a fancy dish. 


For this particular recipe, you can peel and chop the ingredients up to a day ahead of time and put them right in the crockpot to store in your fridge overnight.  In the morning, just add the liquids, pop the crockpot insert into your slow cooker and turn it on.  Even if you’re not entertaining, this is a great way to have a warm, comforting soup ready for you when you get home from work on a cold, winter weeknight!



If you’ve never prepared a butternut squash before, or just wondered if there is a “right” way to do it – there’s not.  But here is how I like to break it down when I need a peeled and cubed butternut squash for a recipe.



If you do end up trying this butternut squash soup recipe, I highly recommend topping it with these chickpea “croutons” from My New Roots.  We love making these for soup or salad toppings, or even just to have around for a healthy snack!



Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup
  1. 6 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  2. 3 carrots, chopped
  3. 1 cup scallions, shallots, or mild onions
  4. 8 fresh sage leaves (or 1 tablespoon dried sage)
  5. 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary)
  6. 3 cups vegetable broth
  7. 1 cup dairy or non-dairy milk
Optional toppings
  1. roasted pumpkin seeds
  2. crumbled bacon
  3. yogurt
  4. roasted chickpeas
  1. Place all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
  2. Remove from heat and blend soup using an immersion blender until smooth. Serve with the toppings of your choice. Enjoy!
  1. Makes: 6-8 servings
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/


The second recipe that I am sharing today is for Vegetarian Loaded Baked Potatoes.  This is another great example of a healthy version of a comfort food that will leave you feeling full and satisfied!  



Vegetarian Loaded Baked Potatoes
  1. 6 large potatoes, scrubbed
  2. 1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 1 green bell pepper, diced
  5. ½ cup onion, diced
  6. ½ cup carrot, diced
  7. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  8. 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  9. 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
  10. 1 tablespoon honey
  11. 1 teaspoon chili powder
Optional toppings
  1. sour cream
  2. shredded cheddar cheese
  3. chopped chives
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and pierce with a fork on all sides. Bake for 45-60 minutes, turning once, until tender when pierced with a fork or knife.
  3. Place lentils in a medium saucepan and cover with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer gently, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes, until tender. Strain off any extra liquid.
  4. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the pepper, onion, carrot, and garlic until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, soy sauce, honey and chili powder and simmer for 15 minutes, until sauce has thickened and reduced slightly.
  5. Add cooked lentils to tomato mixture and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes, or until mixture is warmed throughout.
  6. Cut a slit in each potato and top with vegetable-lentil mixture. Top with additional toppings, if desired. Enjoy!
  1. Makes: 6 servings
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/


For the rest of this cold winter, you will find me warming up in the kitchen next to our woodstove cooking something comforting and delicious…


What is your favorite winter comfort food?  

Apple Cider Mimosas

A Look Back – Our Favorite Holiday Recipes


Hey Everyone! I’ve been meaning to post a few of our favorite recipes from the holiday season.  I realize that January is almost over already (where does the time go?!) and I’m just now getting these out to you but – better late than never!  Besides, there is always another opportunity to try a new recipe – whether it’s for a party, a special holiday, a date night, or just because you are feeling inspired to cook tonight!  So I hope that you try out one or more of these healthy and delicious recipes and let us know how they turn out!


First up are two brunch recipes.  We had these apple cider mimosas twice over the holidays when family was crammed into our warm kitchen together and we wanted to toast the fact that we were all together in one place.  They are super easy with only a few ingredients and can easily be made alcohol-free for the kiddos in your life. 


Apple Cider Mimosas
  1. 1 tablespoon cane sugar
  2. 1 teaspoon apple pie spice (see below to make your own)
  3. 1 champagne bottle, chilled (use sparkling juice or water to make this drink alcohol-free)
  4. 2 cups local apple cider, chilled
  1. Combine sugar and spices in a small, shallow dish and mix together with a fork or whisk. (Make sure the dish is bigger in diameter than the rim of your glasses.) Set aside.
  2. Pour a small amount of water into a second shallow dish and set next to the bowl with the sugar and spice mixture. Wet the rim of each glass by dipping just the rim first into the shallow bowl of water and then into the sugar and spice mixture. Repeat with all of the glasses.
  3. Into each glass, pour the champagne until all the bubbles have settled and the glass is half full. Top off each glass with apple cider. Cheers and enjoy!
Homemade apple pie spice
  1. 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  2. 1/2 tablespoon ground allspice
  3. 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  4. 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  5. 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  6. 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  7. Combine and store in an airtight container with your spices in a cool, dark space.
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/


One of my favorite local breakfast spots is Karlton Café in Quakertown, PA.  The menu changes seasonally at this restaurant and their fall menu included a Three-Potato Skillet Hash, which I loved!  After having it for the second time in a row, I came home and searched online for similar recipes to try on my own.  I came across this one from one of my favorite food blogs and couldn’t wait to try it out.  We made this skillet hash for a brunch during our family gift exchange. 


Sweet Potato Skillet Hash
  1. 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  2. 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  3. 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  4. ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy!)
  5. 2 large red onions, cut in half and then thinly sliced
  6. ½ teaspoon sea salt
  7. 6 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  8. 1 cup water (or vegetable broth)
  9. ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  10. Optional toppings: chopped avocado tossed with lime juice, hot sauce, fried eggs
  1. In a large cast-iron skillet, melt the oil over medium heat. Add the cumin, coriander and red pepper and cook until fragrant, only about 1 minute. Add the onions and salt and stir to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they have caramelized, about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Add the sweet potatoes and toss to mix with the onions and spices. Add water or broth and cover skillet with a lid. Let cook undisturbed for 15 minutes to allow sweet potatoes to steam. (You may still want to peek through the lid periodically to make sure that the liquid has not dried up and the bottom is not burning. If so, add more liquid and replace lid for remainder of cooking time.) At the end of 15 minutes, if the potatoes are not cooked through, put the lid back on and cook for another 5 minutes or so, adding more liquid if necessary. If there is still liquid in the pan remaining, simply remove the lid and allow it to cook off.
  3. Just before eating, sprinkle with cilantro and serve with the toppings of your choice. Enjoy!
  1. Makes: 8 servings
  2. (barely adapted from mynewroots.org)
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/


Now on to the side dishes.  Both of these recipes contain kale, which might be my all-time favorite fall veggie.  I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me talk about it by now!  We served this potato dish as a side dish at our family Thanksgiving gathering and everyone agreed that it won the award for tastiest new recipe of the holiday!  The flavors may seem bold and differing greatly from your traditional mashed potato recipe but please give it a try and I think you will be pleasantly surprised!


Kale and Potato Mash
  1. 6 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  2. 2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
  3. 2 red onions, cut in half and then sliced
  4. 6 cups kale, thick stems removed and leaves chopped
  5. ½ cup milk
  6. 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  7. salt and pepper, to taste
  8. 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  9. ½ cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  1. In a large pot of water, boil the potatoes for 15 minutes, until fork tender.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the red onion for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the kale and cook while tossing until wilted, about 5 minutes. (You may need to add the kale in batches and wait for each handful to cook down a bit before adding more.)
  3. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Add the milk and mustard. Mash the potatoes and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the kale and onion mixture. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with feta and hazelnuts. Enjoy!
  1. Makes: 6 servings
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/


We served the following dish alongside the ham at Christmas dinner, as well as riced cauliflower, corn casserole, cranberry-apple chutney, and homemade pumpkin pie.  Yum!


Quinoa and Kale-Stuffed Acorn Squash
  1. 4 acorn squash, cut in half crosswise and seeds discarded or saved for later
  2. ground cinnamon, salt and pepper, to taste
  3. 1 cup quinoa
  4. 2 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves chopped
  7. 1 cup pecans (toasted, if desired), chopped
  8. 1 cup dried cranberries
  9. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place squash halves on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little bit of oil and sprinkle cinnamon, salt and pepper over each one. Rub in the oil and spices. Turn squash cut side down and bake for 30-45 minutes, until fork tender but not cooked so long that they start to lose their shape.
  3. Meanwhile, place quinoa and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Let stand for another 5-10 minutes before removing lid and fluffing with a fork.
  4. While quinoa cooks, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté garlic and kale, tossing often, until garlic is aromatic and kale is wilted, about 5 minutes. (You may need to add the kale in batches and wait for each handful to cook down a bit before adding more.)
  5. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and toss with kale mixture, pecans, cranberries, and lemon juice.
  6. Spoon quinoa mixture into each squash half and serve. Enjoy!
  1. Makes: 8 servings
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/