Main Dishes

Easy Slow Cooker Italian Chicken

Chicken in a slow cooker is always an easy way to have dinner simmering, ready to serve and sending wonderful aroma of comfort food - right when you walk in the house from the day! No mess, no fuss, just filling and delicious healthy dinner for your family tonight.

This recipe is designed to serve 4-6 people, but you can easily adjust the size by choosing less or more chicken amounts. (For example: Cut recipe in half if there’s only 2, double if you want to feed up to 8.)

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Here’s how to make it…


  • 4 chicken drumsticks + 4 thighs, skinless (if you purchase chicken with skin-on, just pull it off prior to putting in the slow cooker!)

  • 1/2 cup white wine (for a dry recipe, you can swap sherry wine vinegar or

  • 1 medium white or sweet onion, sliced in rings

  • 4 cloves garlic, mashed

  • 2-3 bay leaves, dried

  • 1-28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes, no added salt

  • 2-3 Thyme sprigs, leaves removed or 1/2 tsp dried thyme

  • 1 Tsp Oregano

  • 1 Tsp Garlic powder or granules

  • 1 Tsp Onion powder

  • Sea or Himalayan pink salt, cracked black pepper

  • Garnish with fresh basil and ground Parmesan if desired.


  1. Put all ingredients in the slow cooker, pouring the tomatoes and wine over the chicken, then placing the onions and spices over all of it.

  2. Put the heat on low, and cook for 6 hours or so. Ready to serve!

  3. To keep it gluten-free, serve over veggie noodles - like spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. If you enjoy pasta on occasion, try one of these healthier pasta options for a delicious and simple dinner! (One of the suggestions there is still gluten-free!)

Let us know what you think of this simple, but tasty recipe! We’d even love to see your personal pics of how it turned out on our Facebook page FRESH Start for Health!

ReFRESHing Chicken Salad Recipe

More energy per bite, in a low-calorie snack or no-cook main dish?

Yes, please!

This ReFRESHing Chicken Salad Recipe is easy to throw together using leftover roasted chicken (even from the store-bought type works) or shredded chicken from the slow cooker, instant pot or even good-old-fashioned stove-top cooked.

At my house, we serve it with gluten-free crackers and cucumber slices, wrapped up in a butter lettuce leaf like a green taco, or on a slice of Dave’s 12 Grain bread (for my non-gluten-free family members!)

Can’t wait to hear how you choose to enjoy this nutritious, easy snack or meal at your family’s table!


Here’s how to make our

ReFRESHing Chicken Salad Recipe


  • 1.5 to 2 cups chopped or diced cold chicken (shredded or roasted)

  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced

  • 1-2 green onion stalks, finely diced

  • half handful Pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds - we buy ours at the grocery store bulk section)

  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

  • 1/4 apple, diced fine (choose a sweet apple if you like sweeter tasting salad, or a tart one if you like it more sour-tasting)

  • 2 Tbsp Greek Yogurt (or to your taste - can also use mayo if you prefer)

  • Sprinkle of each: FRESH cracked black pepper, Himalayan Sea Salt

  • Optional - to add a little heat, one sprinkle of cayenne or chili pepper


Stir all ingredients together and either serve immediately, or you can refrigerate to serve later or take to a gathering.

This ReFRESHing salad makes a wonderful easy-grab lunch for the family’s busy days as well, as it can easily be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for a few days, up to a week.

Nutritionally, it provides energy through the high protein, healthy fat and fiber combination of the ingredients, yet leaves you feeling light instead of over-full!

Grilled Chicken Thighs & Apricots

As the days grow warmer, we tend to migrate outdoors for family meal time in the southwest desert sunshine.  A favorite dinnertime plan around here, grilling is a "cool" way to keep family dinners “hot” (and keep the heat of cooking out of the kitchen!) 

This recipe is an easy way to sweeten up an old go-to: chicken thighs! Enjoy this Grilled Chicken Thighs & Apricots recipe with your own family as an everyday favorite, or wow your summer company with the visual appeal and taste of this superstar dish!

It looks like such a fancy dish, but actually only takes about 15-20 minutes to have ready. Easy and practical is how we do it here in the FRESH Start test kitchens!

Grilled Chicken Thighs & Apricots

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How To Make It


  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • 1/4 cup lower-sugar apricot jam (briskly stirred with 1/4 cup water to make nectar)

  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh mint (optional)

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1 Tbsp apple cider

  • 1/2 tsp curry powder (optional)

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 4 medium apricots, halved and pitted

  • 2 green onions, chopped

  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios (optional)

  • 1/2 tsp dijon or yellow mustard


  1. Making the sauce: Combine half the nectar, half the mint, the olive oil, vinegar and curry and garlic in a bowl and whisk briskly together. Place the chicken thighs in a gallon-size plastic bag, and pour the mixture in the bowl over them. Seal bag, turn it to coat all the chicken, and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

  2. Remove chicken from the bag and throw away the used marinade.

  3. Grill chicken on low-medium heat for about 12-15 minute or until no longer pink (180 degrees F on meat thermometer)

  4. Turn the thighs once midway through grilling.

  5. During the last 5 minutes of grilling the chicken, place the apricots on grill, flesh side down and grill until lightly browned and softened.

  6. For finishing sauce: combine the remaining half of the nectar in bowl with the green onions, pistachios, and mustard and whisk them all together. Drizzle over chicken and apricots right before serving.

NOTE: As with all our recipes, cutting costs and keeping it simple stay at the center - feel free to make this recipe without the pistachios, curry and any of the other higher-cost ingredients if necessary. It’s still a tasty and filling dish even if altered!

IMPORTANT: Our recipes are always portioned to serve around 4 people. Just double the ingredients if you’re feeding a larger family or cut them in half if it’s for 1-2 adults.

What do you think, does this recipe sound like a winner?

I would love to hear about your family's favorite grilling recipes and tips over on our community Facebook page FRESH Start for Health!

Beef and Poblano Rice One-Pot Dinner

Wait til you try this simple, delicious, whole-family-loves-it dinner recipe - you’re going to thank me! Ha! I discovered this 30-minute treasure while “trying out” a dinner-in-a-box service that was the best one I’ve tried yet. (But I just find I can’t continue those services due to my incessant need to re-invent every recipe I try!)

So here is the Coach Bess - re-invented version of this one-pot dinner that the whole family loves!

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How to Make Beef and Poblano Rice


2 poblano peppers
1 lb lean ground beef (90/10 and grass fed, preferably)
1 1/2 cups basmati rice (can use brown basmati - will just be a different texture)
2 1/2 cups water (or beef broth if you want more flavor)
1 Tbsp seasoning (I used hamburger seasoning mix that has chili powder, garlic and onion powder in it)
1/3 cup sour cream
2-3 green onions, diced finely
olive or avocado oil
kosher salt, black pepper


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and make sure the rack is centered in the oven. Have a large dutch oven or cast iron pan ready to use, because you will first prepare this dish on stove top, then put the pan directly into the oven to finish it.

Halve the poblanos, remove seeds and ribs, and dice into 1/2 inch squares or so. Heat 2 Tbsp avocado or olive oil over medium-high heat in the pan. Add in the poblano pieces, and let them saute, stirring only a couple times, for about 5 minutes or until tender.

Add in the ground beef and cook for 5 minutes or so, or until fully browned. Scrape to the side of the pan.

Add the dry rice and the Tbsp spice, and “toast” it over the heat for about 2 minutes, only stirring once or twice. Stir together with the ground beef and peppers mixture and toast for another minute.

Stir in the water or broth, and bring the entire mixture to a quick boil over high heat. Once boiling, carefully remove from stove top heat and place entire pan of mixture into the pre-heated oven. Place lid on it, and bake for about 17 minutes, or until all the water or broth is absorbed.

While the rice dish is baking, stir together a couple tablespoons of water with the sour cream, making it slightly runny for easy drizzling. Season with salt and pepper.

Once the rice is done, remove from oven and serve within minutes and after fluffing the rice with a fork. Drizzle the sour cream and sprinkle the green onions over it. Mmmmm!

BONUS TIP: for added nutritional goodness, slice up a fresh avocado, salt them, and serve alongside or over dish.

What do YOU think?

Easy enough to try out? I personally love the easy cleanup and simple process of this one-pot recipe!

Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl {FRESH Start Style!}

So per the usual, I was a little behind the healthy-times and it took me til this year to try a poke bowl!

Yes, I know, they’ve been the rage for a lot longer than that…but alas, it is what it is! Now that I’ve tried one and loved it (and coerced happy-hubby recipe-taster into loving it too!) it’s fast becoming a regular around here. Now to get the kids to love it…they’ll eat it if I serve a bit of grilled chicken in place of the tuna for them…still a fast and easy family dinner!

What I love about this dish is that it’s NO-cook - the kitchen and YOU stay cool while you make a filling, healthy, FRESH dinner dish! And hubby loves to take the leftovers the next day for work.

ahi tuna poke bowl



  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil 

  • good shake of crushed red pepper flakes

  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced

  • good shake of sesame seeds, plus more for garnish


  • 1-2 ahi tuna steaks (palm-sized) - depending on how many people you’re feeding - use one steak for each person

  • cooked brown rice

  • fresh spring greens or romaine or spinach

  • fresh cucumber, sliced

  • sugar peas, sliced thin (diagonally)

  • shredded carrots

  • avocado

Here’s how to make it:

Step 1: Mix up all the sauce ingredients to use as marinade for tuna.

ahi tuna poke bowl marinade ingredients
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Step 2: Dice up the tuna into 1 inch chunks. Marinate in sauce for about 15-30 minutes.

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Step 3: While the tuna is marinating, chop and dice the rest of the fresh ingredients and begin plating (time-saving tip: I buy pre-packaged greens and pre-shredded carrots to save even more effort on this dish!)

ahi tuna poke bowl chopping ingredients

Step 4: Once everything is chopped, spoon some rice into the bowl, lay some greens around it, then place the tuna and desired toppings over the bed of rice and greens.

I usually just lay out the ingredients buffet-style, and let everyone make their own bowl to their liking of amount and what’s in it…then they can drizzle more sauce over it!

ahi tuna poke bowl ingredients buffet style

I can’t wait for you to try this super-easy dish and then let us know if you are a converted poke bowl lover as well! Post a comment right here and tell us what you think of this fresh and easy dish!

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Mango & Chicken Napa Salad

Light dinner-making just got easier than ever, with this toss-and-go Mango and Chicken Napa Salad recipe! Your family will enjoy this one-bowl meal that is packed with fiber, lean protein, and delicious healthy fats! The flavor is unique and light, creating a tasty dish your loves will ask for again!

Bring it to your next gathering as a healthy, lean addition to the table!

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  • 1/3 cup low sugar orange juice

  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

  • One head napa cabbage, sliced thinly

  • 2 cups sugar snap peas, sliced thinly and diagonally

  • 2 cups shredded chicken or diced grilled chicken

  • 1 medium mango, sliced

  • One handful coarsely chopped fresh mint

  • One small bunch of green onions, sliced diagonally

  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds


To make the dressing: whisk together the juice, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and half of the sesame seeds in a small bowl. Set aside.

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To make the salad: thinly slice up the napa cabbage and peas, toss together with the chicken, mango, mint and green onions. About 30 minutes to an hour before serving, toss everything together and then refrigerate so that the marinade can flavor the salad ingredients. Sprinkle the rest of the sesame seeds over the recipe right before serving.

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For the chicken in this recipe, you can either use grilled chicken leftover from a previous meal, or shredded cooked chicken made easily in a slow cooker.

If you like a little heat, you can always add crushed red pepper into this recipe, or even a little bit of curry paste into the dressing.

To save even more time and effort, you can always replace the Napa cabbage and sugar peas with a pre-chopped cabbage salad mixture in a store-bought kit! Toss in shredded bits of a store-bought roasted chicken and voila! You're eating dinner - EASILY!

This recipe was found originally in the Eating Well magazine, and tweaked to be FRESH Start friendly...we'd love to hear what YOU think of it! 

How to Grill Chicken & Salmon

Grilling is one of the reasons I enjoy summer so much. The fact that I live in Arizona means I get to do more of it than just during the summer months too! Yep, I’m able to grill year ‘round here. Talk about a happy girl!

Have you discovered the benefit of grilling for a healthier dinner meal plan? SO easy, so light, so yummy!

Here's some specific ideas to help you make healthier (and yummier) salmon and chicken on the grill for your healthy dinners at home.

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How to Create Tender, Savory Salmon on the Grill

  • If salmon is frozen, thaw completely.

  • Pre-heat grill to medium-high heat, lay salmon filets out on flat pan or plate.

  • Squeeze 1 full lemon evenly over the salmon.

  • Sprinkle 3-4 garlic cloves, minced, over the fish.

  • Press the garlic into the flesh.

  • Sprinkle freshly cracked black pepper over salmon and salt lightly.

  • Sprinkle ground onion, ground garlic, paprika and a light shake of chili powder if you like a little more flavor.

  • Place salmon on light spritz of olive oil on aluminum foil packet on grill (if it has skin, you can place directly on grill plate - tastes better this way, in my opinion.

  • Your fillets are now ready to grill slowly over low heat, for about 15 minutes, or until done.

Additional Tip: Use fresh herbs, like dill, for extra flavor over salmon.

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Grilling Tips for Pull-Apart Chicken Breasts

  • Buy full boneless skinless breasts instead of tenderloins to save money.

  • Cut chicken breasts into 2-3 pieces (tenderloin-style) to promote quicker cooking and portion control.

  • Marinate breast pieces in a small amount of Italian salad dressing. I use Italian dressing because it’s a neutral flavor, keeps the chicken moist and from getting slimy/tasting weird as the week progresses.

Make Ahead Tips: Grill enough on Sunday for meals through Wednesday, then midweek, grill a new batch for the remainder of the week’s meals.

Cooking ahead like this cuts your prep time down and is a delicious grab and make option for those days you don’t want to be in the kitchen too long. 

Cooking for meals ahead of time will give you a quick protein choice for soups, salads, pastas, and sandwiches. It will be easier to stick with a healthier meal plan when you have these ready to grab and add, versus cooking them separately for each day’s meals.

Tenderness Tip:  Be sure to grill the chicken until JUST done (they’ll be white, NO pinkness), on medium heat.  If you grill them on high heat or too quickly, you’ll end up with tough meat!

Coaching tip: I've had people ask me about the "alleged" link between cooking on a grill and cancer. After researching this specific topic even further, I’ve found that so far, research has not concluded that grilling causes cancer. However, cooking foods too fast, at too high of a temperature and for too long can release carcinogenic compounds that contribute to some cancers.

So a good rule of thumb for safely grilling is:

Cook (and Grill) Low and Slow!

Got some of your own grilling tips you’d like to share?

Leave your grilling secrets in the comments below or feel free to share them with us in our (free) FRESH Start Club!

Healthy Turkey Quinoa Mini Meatloaves

Family dinners can be an exhausting process for the busy mom who is trying to please all the varied preferences and taste buds in her home! 

One of our greatest goals here at FRESH Start is providing the busiest mom and their pickiest eaters with more family-favorites – more TASTY, HEALTHY recipes to make her life easier!

My picky family of six loves this recipe – in fact, it’s a regular at our dinner table! 

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It’s veggies, protein, healthy fats and whole grains all in one beautiful dish.

Makes a fabulous prep-ahead dish, too. 

Just make a few extra loaves ahead of time (I do this easily by doubling the batch I'm making for dinner) then, instead of cooking them, I freeze them ready to pop in the oven on the night in question. You can freeze them right in their mini-loaf pans, leaving no cleanup on the night you fix them! Plus you'll have a hearty, no-work dinner ready to go for one of your family's busiest nights.

Here's how to make them:


  • 1 lb or 1 package lean ground turkey (93/7)

  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa

  • 1 egg

  • 1/4-1/2 cup sweet onion, finely diced

  • 3-4 baby bell (Portobello) mushrooms, finely diced

  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely diced

  • 1/3 cup carrots, finely diced

  • 1 tsp dried thyme

  • 1/2 tsp cumin

  • Olive oil

  • 2-3 cheese sticks (mozzarella) cut in half or thirds

Topping sauce:

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup low-sugar ketchup

1 Tbsp brown sugar or honey

Add 1 tsp of water at a time to get sauce to desired thickness. Stir all sauce ingredients together with a whisk until smoothly blended!


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, prepare 4-5 mini-meatloaf pans by spraying them with olive oil spray.

  2. Put a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add 1 tsp olive oil to pan. Add in the diced onion, mushroom, garlic cloves and carrots. Sauté for about 2-3 minutes, or until veggies are softened and smell savory.

  3. Add in the thyme and cumin. Salt and pepper to taste. Pull pan off stove, allow mixture to cool for a few minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the ground turkey, quinoa, and egg. Once vegetable and spice mixture is cool, add that into meat mixture.

  5. Pat meat mixture into 4-6 small loaves, placing them into mini loaf pans. Put 1/2 of a cheese stick in the middle of each loaf, then form meat around cheese stick.

  6. Using your fingers, pat an indent into top of each loaf, and place 1-2 Tbsp of topping sauce into the well.

  7. Bake loaves at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, uncovered, or until cooked through.

    Serve with baked sweet potatoes and a side salad or other green selection for a well-rounded dinner selection!


Flexible enough to make ahead of time, or right on-the-spot, this family favorite is sure to become a go-to at your place as well!  Super-healthy, and tasty to boot, you’ll be glad you added this one to your family recipe rolodex!

Let us know what you think of this recipe, we’d love to hear your family’s feedback!  

How to Make Crock Pot Shredded Chicken {BONUS Chicken Enchilada Recipe!}

This shredded chicken recipe is a great “protein base” recipe, so that you have moist, tasty shredded chicken on hand for entrees later in the weekly meal plan, like salads, tacos, enchiladas or even to add to soup.

Cook up a large batch, then shred and freeze or refrigerate in pre-portioned freezer bags ready to pull out and use later. Makes nightly cooking too easy, and everyone loves the rich, brothy taste of this chicken (even the picky eaters!)

The chicken is also ready to be additionally seasoned, for instance, use chili powder and garlic for a Mexican-flavored dish, or taco seasoning for a taco salad protein topper!

Crock Pot Shredded Chicken & Healthy Chicken Enchilada Recipe.jpg

Here’s how you make it.


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can (or half box) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 6-7 whole peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup cooking wine (white is best)


  1. Add all ingredients together into a crock pot, cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 3-4. Once chicken pulls apart easily, it is ready! Let chicken cool, remove from crockpot, and shred. You’ve got shredded chicken!

Here’s a quick & comforting recipe you can whip up using this easy crock pot shredded chicken: 

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  • 2 cups crock-pot shredded chicken (soaked in ¼ cup of enchilada sauce)
  • 1 dozen corn tortillas
  • 1 small can mild enchilada sauce
  • 8 ounces shredded cheese
  • Plain Greek yogurt (optional, as topping)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat the enchilada sauce in a deep fry pan over low heat.
  3. Place corn tortillas, 2-3 at a time, into the saucepan and soak them until covered by sauce. Remove, lay flat on plate.
  4. Line one side of corn tortilla with small amount of chicken, sprinkle half handful of cheese, then roll and place into baking pan (9x9 size works if the enchiladas are rolled tight, 13x9 is better if you want them looser.)
  5. Once all enchiladas are rolled and placed together into pan, spread remaining enchilada sauce over the top, and sprinkle remaining cheese.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15-20 minutes. Then remove foil, put oven on broil (high) and bake for another 3-4 minutes. Watch it carefully as cheese may burn if left too long on broil.
  7. Remove finished enchiladas and enjoy with a side of rice and beans!

FRESH n’ Healthy Tip: Garnish with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream – it’s a protein-rich & healthier fat option!

If you enjoyed these recipes, we think you might like these articles & recipes too:

Turkey Carrot Quinoa Meatballs

Napa Cabbage & Chicken Salad Recipe

Healthy Fried Chicken Tenders

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Turkey Quinoa Carrot Meatballs + Bonus Pantry Soup Recipe!

Around here, discovering a simpler way to get a healthy meal choice on the dinner table (and one that everyone likes) is ALWAYS a win!

and this turkey quinoa carrot meatballs recipe is another treasure...

Turkey Quinoa Carrot Meatball

I’ve added this easy meatball recipe to my "mom’s treasure box" of easy-to-make-ahead dinner ideas. 

Make a double batch of these meatballs, freeze or refrigerate the other half to use later, and when you’re in a pinch for a quick solution to a FRESH dinner main dish - voila!

If you've never used ground turkey before, I think you'll find the addition of carrots and quinoa to add some great texture, moisture and richness to this simple can't-be-ruined Turkey Meatballs recipe.


  • 1 lb ground lean (93/7) Turkey
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs (I use gluten-free, but any will work)
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/3 cup finely diced carrot
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced finely
  • 1/3 cup finely diced sweet onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning


  1. In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, drizzle olive oil. When oil is hot, add carrots and onions in and stir. Lower heat, and cook until carrots and onions are soft.
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2. Add in minced garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temp.

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3. Meanwhile, stir together lean ground Turkey, breadcrumbs, cooked quinoa, egg and seasonings. Stir in cooled cooked vegetables. 

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 4. Form fully mixed meatball mixture into small meatballs (slightly smaller than golf ball-size)

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5. Cook immediately OR store in fridge for up to 3 days or in freezer for up to several weeks!

These meatballs are great baked in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, crock-pot cooked, or steamed in a saute pan for 20 minutes. They can be served in our homemade sauce or served alone, alongside a great veggie side. They are awesome in soup too, and you can find an easy recipe below to use them in!

here’s a great recipe to use these meatballs in!  

This Pantry Meatball Soup is just one easy way to use these delicious and simple Turkey Quinoa Carrot Meatballs in a quick one-pot-dinner dish. Make this even faster by having the meatballs prepped and ready to cook in the fridge or freezer. Just pull them out, uncooked, and add them to the broth in this yummy one-pot-dinner soup! Use pre-made meatball mix and the whole recipe will be ready to eat in 20 minutes, tops!

I call this my “Pantry” soup because I usually ALWAYS have these ingredients on hand in the pantry (or something close enough to it as a substitute!) You’ll see that it’s just too fast and easy to prepare this!

Once you do, it’ll become a family favorite and you’ll be glad you always have these ingredients on hand.

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Pantry Meatball Soup


  • 12-15 uncooked Turkey Quinoa Carrot Meatballs
  • 4-6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups selected “pantry” or assorted available veggies - I used leftover celery, carrots, onions and frozen green beans
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat or gluten-free elbow pasta
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2-3 mashed garlic cloves
  • Shake of pink or sea salt & cracked fresh black pepper


1. Start broth, water, all seasonings and veggies together in a medium soup pot and bring to a soft bubble (uncovered) over medium-high heat.

2. Cook for about 5 minutes, then gently add in meatballs and cook for 8 minutes more.

3. Add in elbows and cook another 6-7 minutes.

4. Pull soup off heat and let settle for about 3-4 minutes, and serve.

Let me know what you think in the comments below! I'd love to hear how these recipes work for you.

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Spicy Thai Chicken Bowl

For an alternative to Thai take-out, try this fun recipe!

I discovered this delicious dish just the other night and since I made it that first time for my family, it has become a smash hit - we've had to have it two times since! I especially love serving the whole thing in one bowl.

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I won't promise you it's one of my "easy ones" - it's not! Little more advanced and time-consuming, but worth every minute of effort! Mmmmm!

It’s easy to put together and yet all the nutritional elements are here - protein, veggies & simple and delicious noodles. Perfectly seasoned for those of us who take it easier on the heat, but easy to alter for those of you who may be a little more adventurous with the spice...

So, are you ready to try this FRESH new take on a Spicy Thai Chicken Bowl?


  • 4-6 skin-on, boneless Chicken Thighs
  • 6 ounces uncooked brown rice noodles
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced and chopped yellow squash (about 2 small squash sliced 1/2 inch thick and cut into quarters)
  • 1 cup sliced thinly baby Bok Choy (I use one bunch of 3-4 heads)
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • key limes, quartered (to use to squeeze over dish)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat a large skillet over high heat and add a swirl of canola oil. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Carefully lay the thighs, skin down, into the hot oil and cook for 3 minutes or until skin begins to brown. Remove chicken, and place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
  2. Meanwhile, line a cookie pan with aluminum foil and place chicken, skin side down, on pan. Place pan in oven and bake for 4-5 minutes.
  3. Remove pan and using tongs, turn chicken skin up and place pan back in oven for 2-3 minutes (or until cooked through.) Remove chicken from baking pan immediately and place on a cutting board to set for about 10 minutes. Just before serving, slice into 1 inch pieces.
  4. While chicken is setting, make sauce (instructions below) in a blender and set aside in a dish. 
  5. Boil the water for the rice noodles in a medium saucepan. Cook according to package instructions (usually rice noodles are not boiled, but rather placed in boiling water and then allowed to set for a few minutes, and then drained in strainer once they’ve softened.)
  6. In the same large skillet over medium to high heat, add a Tbsp canola oil and swirl in pan. Add in chopped squash and baby Bok Choy and sauté for about 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drizzle the soy sauce over the veggies.
  7. Place a helping rice noodles, veggies and several strips of crispy chicken thigh into a bowl, then drizzle with blender sauce and squeeze lime over dish. 

To Make Sauce:

1/3 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup water

2 tsp fresh ginger (peeled)

3 garlic cloves

handful cilantro

Thai Chile pepper (fresh) – sliced open, stem & seeds removed (IF you like it spicier, add another 1/2 to whole pepper)


1. Take all ingredients and blend in a blender or food processor until completely blended and smooth.

2. Pour into a dish and set aside.

Let us know how you like this and our other FRESH recipes in the comments below! 

Orange Chutney Chicken Cutlets Recipe & How-To

With a fancy name like “Orange Chutney Chicken” one might mistakenly guess that this simple chicken cutlets recipe is too complicated or stressful to prepare.  

Be assured, it’s as easy as 1-2-3! 

For even quicker prep, prepare the cutlets ahead of time, or use a commercially baked chicken. This delicious dinner is a wonderful dish that the whole family will enjoy, and ask for again!

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Here's how to make it:


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1/4 cup chutney (or same amount orange marmalade)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 orange, segmented
  • 8-12 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets, pre-baked plain or with panko coating in the oven at 375-400 degrees for 8-10 minutes
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1. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add the sliced garlic cloves and cook until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring for 30 seconds more.

3. Add in the chutney and orange juice, cooking until melted.

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4. Gently stir in the segmented orange and remove from heat.

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5. Serve the sauce drizzled over the chicken cutlets, over a bed of brown rice or pasta, or a FRESH Salad.

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This dish is another piece of  proof that comfort-food dinners CAN BE made healthy! They are good-for-you and can be made over, just switching out a couple ingredients as items from the old favorites aren't always the best.

Follow along with us as we introduce many new dishes on this blog - to help you keep comfort food on your family’s dinner table! It’ll just be the nutritiously delicious kind!

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Healthy Fried Chicken Tenders {Picky-Eater Approved!}

What mom isn't looking for the perfect “picky-eater-proof" recipe for a fresh and easy dinner?

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This is the topic of discussion OFTEN in our {FREE} FRESH Start Club as we help each other find solutions daily! This recipe is a life-saver & so EASY - takes just a couple ingredients and only 20-30 minutes to prepare, start to finish.

This Healthy "Fried" Panko Chicken recipe can also be cooked ahead of time, refrigerated for up to a couple days, and reheated (or even served chopped cold!) for a great-tasting quick dinner solution the picky eaters in our lives will actually LOVE and eat!

Here's how to make Healthy Fried Chicken Tenders for your family!


  • 1 lb Boneless, Skinless Chicken Tenderloins (or handcut tenders)

  • 1 package (about 1.5 - 2 cups or so) of panko breadcrumbs

  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

  • salt and cracked pepper

  • olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Line a baking sheet with foil.

3. Place the panko breadcrumbs in one shallow dish, stirring in the Italian seasoning, and pour the almond milk in another shallow dish.

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4. Set a medium fry pan on medium-high heat and thinly drizzle olive oil over the pan.

5. Once oil is heated, begin dredging the chicken tenders in the almond milk, then immediately in the breadcrumbs. Shake off any excess crumbs from the tenders, then place carefully in the hot pan.

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6. “Fry” the tenders for only 1-2 minutes per side, then place them on foil-lined baking pan.

7. Once all tenders are “fried” crispy (they won’t be cooked through, this step is to give them the “fried” taste only!) place the pan into the pre-heated oven.

8. Bake for about 6-8 minutes, or until cooked through. (Time will vary with difference in ovens.)

9. Once cooked, serve plain or with low-sugar or homemade dipping sauces, and alongside ANY veggie dish!

Nutrition Note: By using almond milk, we've eliminated dairy in this recipe. This healthy fried chicken recipe can EASILY be adapted to be gluten free as well by using gluten free crumbs.


*~*FRESH Prep Tip*~* This dish also works as a great protein center to pre-bake, then refrigerate and use later in the week over salads, in pasta dishes or served with creative and tasty sauce combinations, like in our Orange Chicken Chutney recipe OR our popular Spinach Chicken Parmesan recipe.

After you've added this recipe to your repertoire, let us know how you use it…as a piece of a delicious and simple meal, or served alongside tasty FRESH sides. We’d love to hear your ideas!

What do you think?

Does this healthy fried chicken recipe sound kid and picky-eater approved to you?

Remember, you can very easily make up a double batch and refrigerate this healthy version of fried chicken pieces for future dinners too. Batching cook or prep-cooking is one of the favorite tools of cook-at-home healthy-minded folks. 

In our FRESH Start Club, we share tips and strategies for getting through our super busy lives with our sanity intact WHILE ALSO meeting our healthy-living goals. There is a big difference between struggling alone and having a winning team on your side!

Join our growing, vibrant, encouraging exclusive and FREE group today!

Chicken N' Avocado Bagel Sandwich

Are you tired of trying to figure out what to have for a quick meal?  Why not make it super simple?  

Here is a bagel sandwich loaded with protein that you can make for your family when they need a nutritious dinner in a hurry! 


Combine it with some tortilla chips and a  salsa or hummus dip from our selection here and you will have a complete meal in minutes.  

Here's how to make this easy sandwich!


  • Leftover grilled chicken breast pieces
  • Alfalfa sprouts or any other microgreens
  • Avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Whipped cream cheese
  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Whole wheat bagel (toasted if you prefer - we use mini-bagels to keep carb/calorie count lower!)


  1. Spread whipped cream cheese on bagel.
  2. Add the chicken breast, 2-3 avocado slices, red onion strands, and microgreens.
  3. Filling, rich in protein, fiber, and nutrients – this sandwich is a winner every time!
  4. Just multiply these ingredients for the amount of sandwiches you desire to make.

Nutrition Information:  One cup of chicken has 231 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 43 grams of protein.  It's low in sodium and is a good source of B6, phosphorus, niacin, and selenium.

Chicken & Spinach Melt Recipe

This healthy version of a classic favorite will have your family asking for more! 

It's a great balanced meal served with either gluten-free or whole grain pasta, (or with spaghetti squash, like in this pic!) It's filling with or without more sides.

Chicken & Spinach Melt Recipe 

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How To Make IT:


•    8 small chicken breast (boneless, skinless) cutlets (Make them ahead to save time!)
•    1 cup Panko bread crumbs
•    1/4 cup olive or canola oil
•    1/2 cup homemade marinara sauce (recipe here!)
•    2 cups baby spinach
•    1/4 - 1/2 cup grated or sliced soft mozzarella or real Parmesan cheese

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  1. Coat the chicken cutlets in the bread crumbs, pressing the chicken gently into the crumbs to help them stick to the breast. 
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 
  3. Place the breaded cutlets into the hot oil, and cook until golden brown, 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate to rest. (Or save time by using pre-made cutlets from this recipe.)
  4. Spread 1/2 the homemade marinara over the bottom of a lasagna dish, and top with the cooked cutlets.  Place the spinach over the chicken, and the rest of the marinara over that. 
  5. Then top the dish with the cheese.  Broil for 3-4 minutes on high, or until the cheese begins to brown.
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Try this simple, affordable 20-minute recipe, then let me know what your family thinks of it in the comments below! 

You can always post your healthy cooking questions or suggestions in our free online community as well!!!  Come join the lively, ongoing conversation!

Vegetable Detox Broth Recipe

Detoxifying your body is a simple process, one that your body does naturally and does well! IF it's given the necessary ingredients to do it! Just drinking enough water (and lemon water in the morning) is a detoxing and naturally purifying habit!


It is NOT necessary to include deprivation or "juice-only" plans to cleanse your body.

Along with targeted supplements, and eating the clean, wholesome foods God gave us, you can properly detoxify your organs, gut and entire immune system.

I provide much more information on how to do this in my coaching, but you can also find much more on this topic from Dr. Mark Hyman at his website and in his books.

ONE WAY TO DETOXIFY is TO remove offensive, sludge-building "foods" from your diet

...and feed yourself plenty of vegetables, fibrous foods, lean proteins, and healthy fats instead.

This broth recipe is only one way of many to add in the rich nutrients from those foods, and provides an easy "to-go" way to do that. Make the whole recipe, then let it set to room temp. After it has cooled, refrigerate in a closed container and reheat each serving to just warm before drinking.

{This broth recipe is from Coach Bess' detoxification program, but makes a nutritious, power-packed addition to any dietary plan. It alkalizes the system, making it easier to detoxify, lose weight, and feel great!}

Enjoy 1-2 cups of this broth daily for optimal results. 


  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 2 sliced carrots
  • 1 cup of daikon or white radish root and tops*
  • 1 cup of winter squash cut into large cubes (i.e. butternut, acorn, etc.)
  • 1 cup of root vegetables (turnips, parsnips, rutabagas)
  • 2 cups chopped greens (kale, parsley, collard, mustard, cilantro, chard, etc.)
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1/2 cup seaweed* (nori, dulse, wakame, kelp, or kombu)
  • 1/2 cup cabbage
  • 4 - 1/2 inch slices of peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves of whole garlic (not crushed or chopped)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • {If available, you can add dried shiitake or maitake mushrooms - powerful immune boosters}

    *This item is not necessary, but is a plus if you can find it! If it is difficult to find any of these items at the store, just make the broth with the items you can find – it is best to include the garlic, ginger, and greens every time you make it!


  • Add all ingredients at once, and place pot on low boil for approx 60 minutes – could take a little longer. (Or put it all in the crock pot and forget it for a couple to few hours!)
  • Simply continue to boil to taste.
  • Cool, then strain out the veggies, and toss them.
  • Keep the broth in a tightly sealed glass container in the fridge.
  • Heat broth gently and drink at least 1-2 cups a day.     


Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps {Just Like the Restaurants!}

Hubby and I are cheap-skates when we go out to eat ... we're always on the lookout for deals and steals for our date nights! So we were thrilled when we discovered happy hour for appetizers and small plates at a local restaurant (with food we actually enjoyed!) ... and even more ecstatic when I figured out how to duplicate this dripping-with-flavor dish at home!

A few alterations later, we created this beautiful dish...

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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Here's how to make it!


  • 3/4 cup teriyaki sauce (make homemade or use low-sodium version)

  • 1/3 cup sweet chili sauce (Mae Ploy is our fave choice!)

  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled & finely grated or minced

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground chicken (I use the mild Italian one in grocery store - you can also use ground turkey)

  • 1/2 cup green onion, diced

  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced

  • 1 can water chestnuts, drained and finely minced

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (optional)

  • 1/2 block firm tofu, drained & briefly seared, then diced into small pieces

  • 1/2 cup fresh Baby Bella mushrooms, roughly diced

  • 1 head living or butter lettuce


  • Shredded purple cabbage

  • Diced green onions

  • Shredded fresh organic carrots



  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in bowl, whisk together and set to the side.

  2. In a large, deep, skillet over medium heat, brown ground chicken in tsp oil. Once chicken is cooked, remove from pan and drain. Set aside for now.

  3. Using the same skillet, heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, water chestnuts, pine nuts, tofu and mushrooms together and saute for about 2 minutes.

  4. Add the chicken back in, and pour ½ the sauce mixture over the meat and vegetables. Cook all of it together, uncovered, for about 3 or 4 minutes.

  5. Serve the mixture in the “lettuce cups” and garnish with the shredded fresh veggies.

  6. Use the remainder of the sauce as a dipping sauce,  or to drizzle to taste over the lettuce cups!


What about you friend? What restaurant favorite have you enjoyed and then tweaked in your own kitchen at home? Tell us about it HERE, and maybe we'll feature it (and YOU!) on this blog! 

This recipe was originally found on Favorite Family Recipes ( and changed in a few ways to reflect the FRESH Start-style!

Easy Beef and Broccoli Recipe {How To}

When the "takeout craving" for beef and broccoli hits, what to do, healthy eaters?

In my house? We make this easy, 15 minute one-pot dinner recipe - Easy Beef and Broccoli. It has quickly become a fast family favorite! Since it's made of ready-to-grab pantry ingredients, it's enjoyed often around here.

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Today I'm sharing the version I have adapted for my family's tastes from one of my fave food bloggers, Chungah of (Check out her blog for more FRESH recipes using whole ingredients!)

Here's the recipe:


  • 2/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional - depends on how thick you want your sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger root
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound lean steak, thinly sliced 
  • 2 head broccoli, cut into florets


Stir together soy sauce, chicken broth, honey, vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, cornstarch, hot sauce, ginger, red pepper flakes and 1/4 cup water and place to the side.

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Start a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the steak slices and cook, flipping once, until browned, about one minute on each side. It's ok if meat is still pink, it will be tender and cook to perfection later on.

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Stir in broccoli florets and sauce mixture and cook until tender and sauce is slightly thickened, about 3-4 more minutes. Serve immediately over brown rice or rice noodles.

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Note: You can easily turn this recipe vegetarian by using tofu or nuts in place of the beef. I make it with "toasted tofu" for my hubby and he loves it!

How do you make YOUR Beef and Broccoli? Have you ever tried cooking it at home? Tell us your fave way to enjoy this popular dish in the comments below!

Easy Oven-Baked Chicken Thighs and Rice

In our seemingly-endless search for gluten-free options for one very picky eater in my home, I have resorted to super basic dinners these days. 

So I was excited to create this easy recipe to add into the family recipe round-up:

easy oven-baked chicken thighs with my homemade rub, and served beside brown rice steamed up in low-sodium chicken broth...

quick, affordable and the whole family enjoyed them!

Several of us also had a luscious green salad taking up the other half of the plate (not pictured) ... but I can only get my super picky eater to eat a salad about once or twice a week. (True confessions of a health coach!) This is why we add smoothies into her breakfast routine as often as possible - to get those fresh fruits and veggies into her body that way.

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Back to dinner - so here's how to make this simple fare...


  • 8 chicken thighs, skin on (you can pull it off after cooking and the meat will still have the flavor from the rub and juices)
  • TO MAKE THE RUB - stir together 2 Tbsp garlic powder, 2 Tbsp onion powder, 2 Tbsp paprika, 1 tsp chili powder, sprinkle of cumin, sprinkle of crushed red pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, fresh grated black pepper
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth


Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

MEANWHILE FOR RICE: Place rice and broth in a rice cooker and cook until fluffy and done. OR if you don't have a rice-cooker - place broth in a medium saucepan over medium to high heat, and allow to begin boiling. Add rice, then turn the heat to low-medium, simmering the rice, covered, for about 30-40 minutes. Fluff with a fork, remove from heat, and keep covered.

MEANWHILE FOR THE CHICKEN: Place aluminum foil over a cookie pan, and pat the chicken thighs dry, then place on pan. 

Sprinkle the dry rub generously on the thighs.

Place in oven, uncovered, and bake for 25-30 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken is 180 degrees with a meat thermometer.

Remove the chicken from the pan with tongs and place on a paper towel to drain. Serve with the rice and a vegetable or green salad on the side.

Did you like this easy dinner recipe? We are sharing 7 more + an entire week's worth of family-friendly meals in our FREE 7-Day Get-Started Guide!

Honey Garlic Chicken & Veggies in a Crock Pot

There's definitely a trend happening around my kitchen these days - I am looking for easy, delicious, FRESH meals that can be made in ONE POT or all together in the Crock Pot! This way, it's less mess and fills up the hungry tummies around here AND does it with plenty of nutritious foods!

Here is another one-dish dinner to make eating FRESH easier!

Seriously you guys, when you know you're feeding your family "right" and yet you do it in ONE POT, with only a few minutes of prep and a few dollars of ingredients - it's a busy-mom win! Who's with me? 

Here's how to make this simple dish the whole family will love.


  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs (can remove skin or cook with it on for flavor and then remove before eating)
  • 1 lb baby red potatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 lb organic carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 1 lb organic green beans, trimmed

    For the sauce:
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce or Bragg's Aminos 
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup ketchup (I buy the low-sugar variety)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • sprinkle crushed red pepper (if you like a little heat)
  • fresh ground black pepper


  1. Whip together all the sauce ingredients, and set aside.
  2. Place the chicken thighs into the crock pot, set it to high heat (to be done in 3-4 hours) or low heat (to be done 7-8 hours)
  3. Lay the potatoes and carrots on top and around the chicken. Drizzle the sauce over all of it.
  4. Cover and leave it be for desired time. Remove lid and spoon the juice inside the crock pot over the top of chicken and veggies a couple of times during cooking.
  5. In last 30 minutes of cooking, add the green beans in. Baste the whole dish.
  6. Serve immediately with chopped fresh parsley over the top, if you like.
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If you prefer the chicken skin on, try this delicious trick - put the oven on broil, place the thighs and some of the veggies on a cookie tray, and broil for about 3 minutes, until the skin is crisp and the sauce is caramelized!

Tell us what you think in the comments below - is this a good recipe to try to round out your easy FRESH meal plan at home?

This recipe was originally found on one of our FAVE blogs for FRESH eating - It has been "remodeled" a bit, as we like to cut down on sugar and sodium as much as possible in cooking for our family and testing recipes out for YOU!