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This amazing article was written by Nicole, a holistic nutritionist with a strong belief that it is possible for everyone to discover how good their body is designed to feel. Nicole works in partnership with her clients to achieve a lifestyle that is both balanced, fulfilling and nourishing. Go check out her fantastic blog with healthy recipes, or follow her on Facebook!

The key to a creating and living an amazing life – begins in your kitchen. Do you not agree that your day/life just goes a lot better when you are feeling pretty limitless, inside and out? Every single bite of food you take (no matter how small) works like a little chemical messenger that reacts with your body and influences how you are going to feel. The preservatives, additives, sugar, wheat, dairy, alcohol, and caffeine add up – some quicker than others – but every ingredient – no matter how small or ‘insignificant’, plays a role in your overall health and well-being.

We live in a busy, fast-paced world. There is always lots on our mind, we have endless responsibilities and a never-ending to-do list. We also all have dreams, goals, and aspirations. When it comes to your health and wellness goals, whether you are looking to increase energy, lose weight, balance hormones, improve the health of your family, have radiant clear skin, improve digestion, decrease bad cholesterol and blood pressure, get rid of a foggy brain or improve your strength and endurance, the same steps will apply.

We need to commit to what we want and take the appropriate steps so that we can feel our very best. Just simply saying “ok, this week I am going to eat healthy” does not necessarily mean you are planning for your success. This thought of “ok, this week I am going to eat healthy” probably goes through everyone’s head and yet many are still not doing it.

When it comes to those health and wellness goals, planning out your meals is the biggest key to success. Whether you have a busy family to feed, lots going on at work, are working towards losing weight, or increasing strength – or all of the above, meal planning is for YOU, and it is something that can be added into your routine to not only save you money and time (from deciding at dinner time, what you should have for dinner) but this is goal mapping for those health and wellness goals!

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It’s time to make your life easier and more regarding. Once you start to dedicate the time to do your meal prep, suddenly it does not feel so dreadful – because when you meal prep you are setting yourself up for an accomplished week filled with healthy eats.

There are many different styles of meal prep, but one new style which is rather innovative for increasing your productivity is DUMP DINNERS. Yes, dump dinners – which basically translates to pre-frozen/prepped recipes that you can dump into your crock pot and slow cook. You can create a wide variety of dishes this way; from root vegetable stews, chicken teriyaki, beef and broccoli, sesame chicken, chili, beans and rice, lentil curry, pulled chicken, vegetable or meat sauces, quinoa stews – the possibilities are truly endless.

Here is What You Will Need

mason-jars

  • Wide mouth glass mason jars (I see a lot of people who use plastic Ziploc bags for this but the chemicals in plastic make me cringe, glass is the way to go!)
  • Sticker labels or masking tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Yummy & healthy crock pot recipes (pick 1-2 to start)
  • Your recipe ingredients
  • Space in your freezer
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If you’re not already on Pinterest, this is where I would recommend you find the inspiration for recipes. However, you don’t technically need a recipe if you are feeling confident in the kitchen. Below is a list of whole-food ingredients to include and the basic guidelines for creating your dump dinners (crock pot meals are forgiving!)

  • 2-5 vegetables (including green)
  • 1-2 complex carbs (sweet potato/yam/quinoa)
  • Protein (animal or plant based)
  • A base: broth, pureed tomato, diced tomato, pureed vegetable etc.
  • SPICE

Vegetables

  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • Mushroom
  • Pepper
  • Butternut squash
  • Zucchini
  • Sweet potato/yams
  • Red/blue potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Green beans
  • Beets
  • Rutabaga
  • Fresh herbs

Legumes

  • Chickpeas/garbanzo beans  (cooked or canned)
  • Black, pinto and kidney beans (cooked or canned)
  • Red, green, sprouted & French lentils
  • Split pea

Grains

  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Long grain rice
  • Amaranth

Animal Protein

  • Pasture-raised poultry
  • Grass-fed ground beef and stewing beef
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Spices & Seasonings

  • Himalayan salt
  • Black pepper
  • Turmeric
  • Cumin
  • Garlic
  • Lemon juice
  • Coconut amino (soy-free seasoning)
  • Paprika
  • Oregano
  • True Cinnamon

Base/Liquid

  • Vegetable/chicken/beef/bone broth
  • Organic tomato sauce
  • Diced tomatoes with juices
  • Organic ketchup

To get you started here is a recipe for a Quinoa Taco Stew!

Quinoa Taco Stew

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups butternut squash , peeled and diced
  • 1 small can no-salt black beans , rinsed well
  • 1 cup uncooked red quinoa, soaked or rinsed well
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary leaves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, optional
  • 1 small can organic no-salt diced tomatoes
  • 2 small cans organic tomato puree
  • 1 cup low-sodium organic vegetable or chicken broth
  • Optional toppings: shredded raw cow’s milk cheddar cheese, fresh lime juice, sour cream, chopped cilantro

Preparation:

  1. Prep all of your vegetables and layer into 1-2 (depending on size) large wide mouth mason jars along with the drained black beans, rinsed quinoa and all spices, lemon juice. Label “Quinoa Taco Stew” and freeze. You can make as many as needed at a time.
  2. You can also write in: add 1 small can diced tomato, 2 small cans tomato puree, 1 cup broth and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 so that you do not have to reference back to a recipe.
  3. Always leave at least 1 inch of wiggle room at the top as things like to expand when they freeze!

Instructions:

  1. Pull out your Quinoa Taco Stew jar from the freezer and grease your crock pot with some coconut oil (to prevent sticking and add flavour).
  2. Place jar in the sink inside of a bowl and allow to sit in warm water to thaw while you add the misc. ingredients.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato puree and the broth to the crockpot and set on low/high. Pour in the jar contents and be sure t combine well as the mixture thaws.
  4. Cover and cook on high for 3-4, on low for 6-8 hours or until the quinoa is cooked and the butternut squash is tender.
  5. Remove the lid and stir everything together really well. 30 minutes before serving, stir well and reduce heat so that the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Season with any additional spices and/or salt and pepper as needed
  7. Top bowls with any optional toppings

Here are some delicious crockpot recipes to try for your next work week – Italian Chilli and Crockpot Curry Chicken!

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Holisticole
Holistic Nutritionist
Nicole Eckert is a Holistic Nutritionist and the Owner + Founder of Holisticole. On her holistic living blog: holisticole.com - you can find amazing clean-eating recipes, informative blog posts and online programs.
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