quick and easy

Chili Pasta Skillet


Every morning I walk out of our bedroom, turn my head, then peek outside at the pond to foster a positive mindset and begin the day with the uplifting sense of wellbeing nature always offers. Yesterday marked the start of Thanksgiving week which makes it hard to believe there is already a layer of ice shimmering across the pond’s surface today! Considering I grew up in Michigan, this should be no surprise—the weather has always been mysterious. When I think of the fall season, freezing temps are the first thing to come to mind along with this overwhelming sense of gratitude for all the warm things: Sweaters, blankets, heat, a home, socks, shoes, boots, roasted veggies, soups and stews, and absolutely, yes, venison chili!

Calling all venison lovers!

Hunting, then the sharing of meat with loved ones, appears to be a primal instinct acted on by the masses in Autumn and Winter throughout the midwest. Here in Michigan, the majority of families have at least one member who enjoys it as a hobby. My heart is too sensitive to think beyond the cooking, but I’m grateful for my family and friends who invest far more time and energy into hunting deer than I do creating: Any animal raised in it’s natural habitat is a healthier option when comparing to a mass produced, factory farmed one.

Also, a major selling point? I never paid a dime for venison! My hunters are begging to give it away.

While I will never enjoy looking at photos of huge racks or sleeping in a room plastered with hides and mounts, I will always enjoy the eating of the meat. My body says meat is a must for the grounding, calming, warming, strong and lean results it offers. This is not the case for everyone—we are all unique—but given it is for me, the majority of the recipes I create include meat while also striving to fill 1/2 the plate or bowl with veggies and plants.

This Chili Pasta Skillet is my families’ favorite way to eat venison. When food comes straight from nature it connects me in the same way gazing at the sunset, watching snowfall or taking a deep breath of winter’s crisp air can.

I’m warning you, if you make this, do not plan on having leftovers and always double for a crowd! And if hunting or all things carnivorous are not for you, you’ll equally love this recipe.

Chili Pasta Skillet:

By Audrey Byker Health Coach

-30 min. meal

-serves 4-6

For the protein fat and flavor

1 pound ground venison(omit for vegan or swap for ground meat of choice)

1 Tbls. ghee(avocado oil for vegan)

4 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. garlic powder(or granulated garlic or 1 clove garlic, minced)

For the veggies and carbs

3/4 cup onion, chopped

1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped

14 1/2oz. diced tomatoes w/juice

16oz. can kidney beans, rinsed

8oz. canned tomato sauce

1/2 cup gluten free rotini pasta

1 Tbls. raw honey or pure maple syrup

sea salt and pepper to taste

Chicken broth or water as needed to keep the pasta moist

In a large skillet(with a lid) on med-high heat add ghee, venison, onion and  red pepper.  Saute until venison is beginning to brown then add chili and garlic powders. Saute 2 minutes more then add remaining ingredients. Turn heat to high to bring to a boil. Add broth or water to coat the pasta(amount varies).  Add lid and turn heat to low. Simmer for 20 min.


Audrey Byker is a skilled and experienced Health Coach in West Michigan. She specializes in supporting busy people on their wellness journey through one-on-one coaching which can take place in person at her private office, in home or virtually from anywhere in the world. If you are looking for guidance and support to improve your health and quality of life, click here to set up a free consult today! She accepts HSA/FSA as payment!

Bollywood Sweet Potato Saute'

Friends.  It’s not that I haven’t been inspired, working hard or dedicated lately, but because I haven’t found a recipe that really wowed me enough to share another blog post with you...since September.  Please accept my apology!!  Surely this will make up for it!

Major shout-out to my friend, JP, for inspiring me to invent this quick and easy sautéed meal by delivering a fresh package of Garam Masala spice straight from India.  I can’t wait to travel there myself soon!

Not only is this dish worth celebrating, it’s full of plant nutrients, perfectly clean eats, and might even be white linen worthy in flavor.  I’m sharing it with you before refining and hoping I can guess the measurements I used—hahaha.  I invite you to also become a whole foodie and throw stuff together in a pan like me, not taking yourself too seriously, and enjoying every successful bite along the way.


Bollywood Sweet Potato Saute

by Audrey Byker, Health Coach

-Dairy free, gluten free, soy free, nut free, with vegan option

-Serves 2

Avocado oil-2 turns of the pan

1/4 lb *ground turkey (know your farmer or go for certified organic if at all possible)

1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2in. pieces

1 small apple, peeled and chopped (I used a gala)

1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped

2-3 pinches of sea salt, or to taste

1 1/2 tsp Garam Masala spice mix

2 Tbls. broth (veggie or chicken)

1/2 cup coconut milk (full-fat, from the can, shake well)

Quinoa if desired (follow directions on the package before beginning your sauté)

In a large, 10in. skillet with a lid, sauté oil with ground turkey and onion on med-high heat until cooked through.  Add sweet potato and saute' for 1-2 min.  Add apple.  Stir all together, sauteing for a few minutes more, then add the lid.  Turn heat to low.  Let simmer until for tender, resisting the urge to lift the lid, about 5 min.  Lift the lid, add the spice, salt and give a quick toss.  Drizzle the broth and coconut milk around the edge and turn heat to med.  Stir and incorporate while scraping the bottom of the pan. Allow to simmer just enough to coat and create a sauce.

Serve with quinoa, rice or on it’s own.

*For a vegan option omit the turkey and add more fruits and veggies or tofu 


Candied Nuts and Seeds


It's true, obesity, ADD/ADHD, autism, allergies, cancer and autoimmune diseases are on the rise in children living in the United States.  As a mother and educator this does not sit well with me.  Real food not only prevents disease, but it can dramatically lessen symptoms, and in many circumstances, heal.  

After working 3 years in the schools, the decision was made to make all lunches for my family as long as our children would choose strawberry milk and Bosco sticks outside of our supervision.  Today, with 2 in school, I'm shocked to hear from them they ALWAYS want mom to make their lunch.  While there are definitely weeks where I'd give a lot not to care, making lunches is a small thing I can do to help my babies thrive.  

Candied Nuts and Seeds was born from the realization that children unite when it comes to having a love for sweets.  They especially love snacky treats they can carry in a bag and crumple up to shove in their pockets.  While raw nuts alone are insanely full of macro and micronutrients our bodies need, they seriously lack in satisfying flavor and crunch their packaged food rivals have to offer.  The best way to eat these is in a small bowl alongside some delicious fruits and veggies "of course"--as my 3-yr.-old would say!

Candied Nuts and Seeds

By Audrey Byker Health Coach

6 cups of raw nuts and seeds of your choice (cost makes the decision for me)

2 Tbls coconut sugar

1/4 cup melted coconut oil or ghee

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt (or to taste)

A sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Add nuts and seeds to large bowl.  Combine remaining ingredients then pour over nuts and seeds. Stir and toss well to coat.  Spread on large baking sheet.  Place in oven then set timer for 15 min.  Toss and shake around every 15 min. for 45 min. bake time total.  I keep setting my timer so I can multitask without distraction!  Cool completely then store in an air-tight container at room temp. or freeze for 6+ months in Ball jars.  I've never had them sit longer than a few days!