holistic health

Six weeks of bowl meals: Roasted Comfort Bowl


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.

An Old Friend, Blame

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At 26 years old my body was in rough shape.  After giving birth to my first baby, I left the hospital sick and spent much of the next two years battling virus after virus, allergies, asthma, GERD, eczema, and my frienemy, anxiety(with a touch of depression).  I can remember blaming someone who came to visit us in the hospital for my body's inability to fight.  

Blame is such an easy way out, isn't it?  When we blame we don't have to own our shit and can pass it on to someone else without the dreaded guilt.  "It's not my fault" is a lot easier than, "I did this to myself and am the only person who can undo it".

It took about 18 months, dozens of doctor visits, and a handful of prescription drugs to think differently, then start asking questions:

-Is this drug going to heal my condition?

-How long will I have to take this drug?

-What is wrong with me?  What is causing my immune system to fail me?

-What will my life look like 10 years from now?

It was the last question, what will my life look like 10 years from now, that ignited my strength driven by my powerful, determined, inner leader.  I left the doctors behind and took a close look at my daily life, priorities, food choices, and got brutally real with myself.  

It was time to accept it all.

It's actually NOT the daycare's fault my toddler caught every virus and lived with a constant runny nose.  It's NOT the doctor's fault I wasn't getting better on a concoction of prescription drugs.  It's most definitely NOT anyone else's fault, not even my husband's!

I can control a lot and what I cannot, will be let go.

Today, slightly shy of that 10 year mark, I am more driven than ever, still working hard to own all my own shit while guiding others to do the same.

Now, drug-free, med-free, illness-free and BLAME FREE...I look in the mirror and can hardly believe it.  If my body shouts loudly at me with a symptom, I know my lifestyle choices, priorities and thoughts need tweaking.  Of course, every body and circumstance is different, but this is my truth I claim.

When blame is replaced with acceptance, powerful healing and life-lessons are on the table, ready to be used as tools to teach and grow.  

While far from the easy way, it's the only way to live my best life.