Dinner

The Root for Fall Comfort

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The Holland Famer’s Market has been one of my favorite places in the world to visit, and especially in the fall when my daughter was young. The vendors were so impressed by her excitement to try fresh food that she would come away with fists full of radishes, carrot greens, and fruit for days! One of the best times to visit the market was on a weekday when we could easily arrive mid-morning, take our time walking up and past all the vendors on each side. In those moments, I would wish for my daughter to be bigger, thinking, “it would be easier then…” Suddenly, seasons turned into years, and now I’m staring down the days until my fresh-food loving girl turns 16! We rarely find time to enjoy the market like we used to; most weekends are spent driving her to and from events and friends. And, spoiler alert: there’s nothing easier about bigger kids :)

This past weekend, while she was away doing her own ‘thing,’ as teens tend to do, I was fortunate enough to teach a yoga class in the quiet town where we enjoyed living for a couple of years. Everything about being in this town is a little bit smaller and, also, bigger. When I finished teaching my class, it was still early enough to catch the weekly Farmer’s Market. While the market here is mostly seasonal, they’re blessed with a fantastic set up that includes a permanent cover and Artisan Fair. While the market usually consists of what appears to be only a few vendors, we left with bags brimming! We were able to haul away carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, celery and an incredible loaf of apple butter cinnamon bread. While it was easier to maneuver, I found myself lovingly watching the families with their little ones and found myself wishing for the past. 

Maybe that’s why comfort food takes center stage in the fall? To help us feel okay knowing that the ‘next season’ is ever-closer. Maybe the certainty of the food helps us feel okay with the uncertainty of what’s next. Whether it be our children growing, our jobs changing or simply the seasonal shift, maybe comfort food is more about stability and security during these transitions. While we may never quite get this all figured out, I do know this: buying food that is locally grown makes our hearts happy; fueling one of our favorite places just feels right; and, knowing that our soon-to-be 16 year-old will love whatever comfort dish we make with these fresh grown veggies is even better! 

While it’s hard, sometimes, to watch the kids grow up and the wrinkles move in, it’s moments like these when the air is brisk, and the vegetables are ripe, and the morning is young when it feels like it’s all going to be okay. And, when we do sit down to enjoy our root vegetable feast, we will be comforted to know that it is what’s around the table that gets us through each season. 

These two slow cooked root vegetable dishes bring out satisfying sweetness like a cinnamon roll without the dreaded gut-rot, headache and bloat. Audrey and I recommend you try both of them at different times, but take note: The purple veggies bleed and will turn everything next to them a lovely shade of pinkish blue. It’s easy enough to cook them on their own pan or omit all-together if feasting with the eyes is part of the plan!

Rustic Roasted Roots

By Jane Robrahn

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled, chopped, 

4 large carrots, chopped

4 stalks celery, chopped

4-5 parsnips, (depending on size) peeled and chopped

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

Sea Salt, to taste

Black pepper, fresh ground to taste

Add potatoes to the first of two large bowls. Place remaining vegetables in second large bowl. Over each bowl, pour over olive oil, salt and pepper then toss to coat evenly. Add to sheet pans(lined with parchment paper if desired). Roast at 425 for 35-45 min. or until fork tender. Once roasted, these can be added to anything!

“rustic” pot pie

Olive oil, to coat the pan

Roasted root veggies

3-5 sheets whole grain puff pastry

Organic, grass fed melted butter or ghee(optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a medium cast iron skillet with olive oil. Place sheets of puff pastry to cover the bottom. Fill with roasted veggies. Optional: sprinkle in roasted chicken or pork. Cover with another 3-5 sheets of dough. Brush top with oil, ghee or melted butter. Place skillet in 375 degree oven for 15 minutes or until pastry is lightly browned and crispy.

PS-veggie loving daughter gobbled this down in record time!


Garlic Baked Roots for a Crowd

By Audrey Byker Health Coach


15 cups of root vegetables:

-Sweet potatoes, scrubbed and chopped

-Carrots, scrubbed and chopped (try rainbow for something different)

-Red or yellow skin potatoes, chopped

-Beets, peeled and chopped

-Parsnips, scrubbed and chopped

Garlic, peeled and left whole, as many as you prefer

Olive oil, a generous drizzle

Sea salt

Black pepper, fresh ground


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Add to 9x13 pan then cover with foil. Bake in the oven for 30-40 min, setting timer to check and stir half-way. Continue to roast until vegetables are fork tender or reach desired consistency.  

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Six weeks of bowl meals: Roasted Comfort Bowl

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With temps in Michigan hovering in the 80s, forcing me to spend extra hours in the sun, water and everywhere else I can take it all in, the kitchen and the creation of a bowl meal for this week was successfully avoided at-all-costs. Mainly, the family, along with myself, has been surviving off salads, burgers on the griddle, avocado toast, apples with drippy nut butter or hummus with raw veggies and organic tortilla chips: All of our favorite staples for a busy life. By Friday I was feeling over it[bloated and uncomfortable] and craving something grounding that would keep my kitchen clean with friends, fun and all the paddle boarding calling my name for as far as the weekend would stretch.

Holistic health and nutrition says[rule of thumb] to eat locally grown seasonal produce as much as possible. When it’s hot outside bodies tend to crave light, watery and cooling foods. I agree with all the things and consider each one, but real life argues raw veggies everyday are boring while also tough on my pure bred Dutch gut. When your body and all it’s cells were literally created and duplicated from boiled root vegetables, roasted meats and all the variations, the rules of the seasons are a fleeting expectation. Also, there are rules and then there are facts. Facts are not rules.

Fun fact: Friday, Saturday and Sunday kicked ass.

Minutes before the kids were released from the school bus to start the weekend, this roasted chicken with root veggies was tossed in the oven. My favorite cold weather ingredients, with the exception of the potatoes—just harvested in August—were inhaled all weekend long with a simple gravy ladled on top. I’m not really sure why I hesitated to share this when the truth is living a healthy lifestyle by dedicating as little effort as possible is one way to make it sustainable for the long-term which is everything I stand for.

Roasted Comfort Bowl

By Audrey Byker, Health Coach

Serves 6-8

For the veggies fat and protein

-1 3-4lb whole chicken, organs and gizzards removed

-6-8 carrots, scrubbed and roughly chopped(large pieces)

-Drizzle of olive oil

-Sea salt

-Fresh ground black pepper

For the carbs and flavor

-6-8 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

-2 Tbls Stubbs BBQ seasoning or preferred seasoning—sugar and preservative free

-1/2 cup chicken stock or homemade bone broth

-2 Tbls corn starch(non GMO) or arrowroot

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large dutch oven or ceramic crock pot insert, add potatoes and carrots. Drizzle with olive oil then toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add whole chicken on top of veggies then sprinkle seasoning onto chicken then massage into with both hands. Be sure to rub seasoning into chicken cavity and under skin as much as possible for the best flavor. Add a little salt and pepper. Add lid to dutch oven or cover crock pot insert with foil then put in oven. Roast for 2-2 1/2 hours or until chicken leg is easily pulled off the bone.

Remove chicken, potatoes and carrots from the pan. Add remaining juices to a medium saucepan. Place on a burner on medium heat. Meanwhile mix chicken broth and cornstarch in a mug or liquid measuring cup. Stir well. Slowly whisk corn starch mixture into the chicken juices and turn heat to med-high. Whisk until liquid comes to a gentle simmer. Turn to low and simmer for a few minutes until desired gravy consistency is reached. Add more chicken broth and corn starch if more gravy is needed. Serve in a bowl, layering potatoes, carrots, chicken, then gravy.

Six Weeks of Bowl Meals: Italian Broth Bowl

Um, what the heck is a broth bowl and how is it not soup? is the question I asked myself around a year ago at this time.  It seems the foodie term is trending at the moment—thanks to Panera Bread, but likely existed long ago and was derived from asian cuisine or soup containing mainly flavor-intense broth. Regardless of where it truly came from, and what sets it apart from soup, this week I chose to create my own version in hopes to improve upon the lack-luster dining experience I’ve had with it thus far. A broth bowl appears to be a balanced plate of food added to a bowl with broth ladled over top. I’ll go with it!

One of the core concepts of holistic health is the need to feed the human desire to be creatively expressive. I can’t help but applaud the individual who came up with the term “broth bowl”, which gets me thinking…As children we develop an internal belief system based on our experiences and influences in our lives. Much like many of the clients I work with, at the age of five, I can remember adding “not an artist”, “not creative” to my exponentially long and growing list of beliefs. My mom went to art school and my sister was following in her footsteps. Based on comparison, I wasn’t an artist or creative.

So what do you do when you crave creativity but believe you are not creative?

Just about a decade ago, I wrote down all the beliefs I had about myself—the limiting ones holding me back from living a joy-filled and authentic life. I burned the list then stepped into the kitchen. Yup, burned it. To hell with “I’m not creative” and the crap that followed…

It took four trials of creative expression to share this recipe today. Six if you count writing about it. It’s really good. My version of a broth bowl is not soup, but you may call it that or something different—whatever makes the most sense. My husband, Levi, has become my go-to judge for the majority of the dishes I come up with. His opinion serves to spark my creative process even when it’s what he calls “constructive criticism”. He loved the final two versions pictured, which happen to be extremely quick and simple to prepare—a balanced meal with broth ladled over top—or not if you haven’t embraced the trend quite yet.

My hope is mass amounts of people hit the kitchen to create this recipe all while burning the limiting beliefs on their list. By the time the cauliflower is done steaming, the whole process could be finished[write. burn. release. start over].

Italian Broth Bowl

By Audrey Byker Health Coach

Serves 4-6

For the veggies fat and protein

-1 pound Italian sausage(know your farmer)

-1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced

-2 heads cauliflower florets, sliced

-2 cups kale leaves, stemmed and roughly chopped

-1/2 Tbls avocado oil or ghee

-Kalamata olives, sliced (optional garnish)

for the carbs and flavor

-1 tsp Italian seasoning

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-Sea salt, a few pinches

-Fresh ground black pepper to taste

-2 cups cooked rice noodles, potatoes or brown rice (optional)

-1 batch chicken bone broth or two cartons chicken broth heated

-Green onion, sliced(optional garnish)

In a large non-stick saute pan with a lid add sausage and begin to brown over med. heat. Add oil, peppers, and cauliflower after a few minutes. Stir frequently and brown over med. heat. Add the salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Stir together then add lid. Turn heat to low then simmer and steam for 10-15 min.(preferred doneness). Heat chicken broth. Remove lid from large saute pan then add kale and garlic. Turn heat to med-high and stir and saute until garlic is fragrant—1-2 min. Remove from heat and dish into bowls. Pour warmed broth over each serving and garnish with olives and green onion(optional).