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Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup

They say, “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover,” and I say, “you can’t judge a Butternut Squash Soup in your bowl.”

Now, this little lady ain’t going to win any beauty contests, but she WOULD win “Best in Flavor.”

My entire family gobbled this down – most of us had seconds!! This is no small feat.

It has all the autumn feels with its combination of squash and apples, and you can feel good knowing you loaded the kids up with a ton of nutrient-rich plants and all their nourishment during these colder months.

I’ve been trying to use my Instant Pot more and especially tapping into all the features it offers, like the Sauté button. I used the Instant Pot for 90% of this recipe – from caramelizing the onions, garlic, veggies, and fruit, to allowing the soup to sit and marinate until it was ready for serving.

I like how flexible this dish is as well : you can keep it vegan by omitting the chicken altogether. It is also very friendly to my paleo folks since I use zero grains.

See instructions below and enjoy!

Ingredients

3 cups butternut squash, cubed

1 small shallot

2 Tbsp avocado oil

3-4 cups veggie broth (depending on desired consistency)

1/4 cup full-fat canned coconut milk

1/4 cup purple onion (or yellow if you want a more subdued onion flavor)

2 large Jonagold apples

3 cloves garlic

1/8 tsp ginger

Salt and pepper

1-2 tsp dried Rosemary

1 bay leaf

2-3 Tbsp pumpkin seeds for topping (roasted is best)

Optional (add 2 cups rotisserie chicken – I mix dark and white meat)

Directions

Set the Instant Pot to the SAUTÉ setting : Sauté onion, shallot, garlic, and oil for 5 minutes.

Add in chopped apples, butternut squash, rosemary, salt, and ginger. Sauté for 15 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Turn Instant Pot to SOUP/BROTH setting — set to sealing and change time to 15 minutes. While this is happening, you can go ahead and roast the pumpkin seeds if you choose to (see instructions below).

Once the soup is done add to a blender or food processor and pulse until desired consistency is achieved. I like about half of mine pureed, half with more texture.

Optional step : while these are cooking, mix 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds with 1/2 tsp oil and 1/4 tsp sea salt. Roast on 350 for 4-5 min (until slightly golden). This finishing touch makes all the difference!

Here is a printable recipe for your recipe binder:

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Reflection and Release : A Postpartum Update (months 6-12)

My baby turned one last month.  I am convinced that your baby’s first BIRTH day is almost shared between the mom and the baby.  Now I don’t want to take an ounce of attention off of them and celebrating that they’ve been in the world for a full year, but it’s more of a chance to reflect on not only the act of their birth, but also on all the milestones that have rolled out over that first year.  It’s huge, surreal even.

Since these postpartum updates are more on the overall wellbeing from the mother’s perspective, I’ll give you all a little heart-to-heart update from where I’ve been standing.

This year and certainly months 6-12 were very mentally heavy for me.  I cannot blame all of it on the pandemic we are currently under as a nation, but surely it has to contribute.  Noise and needs under my feet constantly and I’ve felt a tight pressure in my chest.  My normal flow and rhythms and moments of space in the day were gone.  For 6 solid months.  I did not always handle this with grace by any means, I often felt internally irritable and tried to hold it in so I didn’t spew out my own stress onto the family.

I was also harder on myself for feeling this way.  For feeling like “Wow, I hit that ‘9 months in, 9 months out’ moment and I don’t feel wholly myself again.”

I’m writing this in month 13 and I have to confess that in many ways, I still don’t feel like myself before this baby.  

In my reflection, I see that I’ve fought a mountain of obsessive thoughts and this has come out in internal angst through grappling for control.  It can be small things like expecting my kitchen to be spotless and then in heavier things like being hard on myself and my expectations for how I should look, be, act.  I see now that if I had to name it, I might even say I had/have a touch of postpartum depression.  While I was able to connect with my baby, I often felt I couldn’t be fully present because I was stuck in my own mental battles.

I pushed myself too hard, too fast.  

I called this my way of processing.  I would make excuses like, “Well, I just don’t like to sit down.  I’m a mover and a shaker!”  But in hindsight, I should have paused more. 

Part of my healing has actually been seeing that the way in which faith moves is FORWARD, in recognizing that God gives us second chances.  Each morning breeds new and bountiful mercies that are there for the taking.  I’ve been finding ways to almost “redo” my postpartum period that I sped through (or perhaps even skipped over).

I fall asleep in that nursing chair holding him any chance I can.

I’ve cut back my workout time, done postpartum workouts, and foam roll my shoulders which are tight from nursing and baby wearing.

I’ve gone to bed earlier since I wake up SO stinkin’ early.

I’ve read books during quiet moments of the day.

I’ve asked for help with house chores.

I get on the ground and play with him and tickle him til he roars with giggles.

I’ve allowed my husband to bring me home a hot takeout meal instead of insisting I make it all.

I share all this to one, be fully transparent, but two, to give mothers a realistic look at the fact that childbirth, postpartum, breastfeeding – all of it takes time to adjust and process.  It is A LOT on the physical body indeed, but it is also a great deal to wrap your head around mentally.  

There is no “bouncing back.”  Because you don’t go back, you go forward.  You grow into the new person you’ve become now that your family has changed.  You find her piece by piece.  You stay curious while learning her, releasing all judgement.  You trust that you are loved as you are and that God will give you all the mama strength you need to pour into others while also extending kindness and care toward yourself…and you believe there’s room for both.

I’m still walking this postpartum journey, and in my experience, it can take about 2 years to really settle in again.  I’m thankful that honesty begets honesty and as I’ve opened up to share some of my own processing, it has compelled the circle of mothers in my life to do the same, which has allowed me to feel less alone.

I am claiming this mantra : 

It’s never too late to offer gentleness, kindness, and grace toward myself.

Ending on this quote, which I love…

“Grace will take you places hustling can’t.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert

Read my other postpartum updates:

When the Doer Doesn’t Do : A Postpartum Update (months 1-3)

The Settling In Phase : A Postpartum Update (months 4-6)

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Pumpkin Bread

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

― L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

In my world of Octobers, pumpkin bread is mandatory.

Here in Colorado the Aspens have started chattering. If you’ve been near aspen trees when their leaves turn golden, you know that they truly begin to talk to you as they brush against each other and almost shimmer in the wind. My son and I have been taking more walks to be sure not to miss the quick turning over of the leaves and I’ve told him stories of my brother and I raking them in the front yard, building mounds as big as our own elementary-sized bodies, and diving head first into them. We’d do this over and over and laugh until we fell over. It was autumn bliss at it’s finest.

Something about pumpkin and the smell of these beautiful autumn spices allows me to revisit those days with ease. I have already baked 3-4 batches thus far so that tells you something.

Truth be told, I decorated my entire house for fall in September because this year just felt like it needed an advance on cozy happiness. I have zero regrets on this choice and know I will surely miss it once the Christmas decoration bins come out.

I hope you enjoy this pumpkin bread with a big blanket, a good book, and a warm glass of tea. It is a little delight in each bite!


Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Ingredients

1 c oat flour
1/4 c coconut flour
3 eggs
1.5 t Ceylon cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
1/8 t ginger
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
3/4 c pumpkin
1/4 c butter
1/3 c maple syrup

Topping :
1.5 T coconut butter
2 t maple syrup
1 t pumpkin purée
1/2 t butter
Handful of pumpkin seeds (pressed on top)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor (or stand mixer) combine all of the wet ingredients and give it several pulses. Add in the flours, spices, baking soda and baking powder and stir (or pulse!) til incorporated. I let the mixture sit for about 3-5 minutes, as the coconut flour will absorb and “set” the mixture.

I like to line a loaf pan with parchment paper across the middle and then spray the corners of it to prevent sticking. You could likely just spray the pan though. I bake for 50 min or until the top is nicely browned and risen. While you are allowing this to cool for 30 minutes, you can make the topping. I gently melt the coconut oil and butter, then add in the pumpkin and maple syrup. Smear it across the top and then gentle press in the pumpkin seeds on top.

 

Here is a printable version of the recipe so you can add it to your recipe binder!

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Sourdough French Toast

Who doesn’t feel fancy with a plate of French toast?! If you’re into sourdough, use your very own for this recipe…otherwise, you can grab some at the store.  Just keep in mind true unrefined sourdough should have VERY limited ingredients (no yeast or fillers).

 

homemade sourdough french toast

 

I always like to serve with a side of eggs or sautéed veggies to balance out the sweetness and help with satiation…but you do you!!

 

Sourdough French Toast Recipe

Ingredients

1 pasture-raised egg, whisked

1 Tbsp nut milk

1 Tbsp coconut sugar

1/2 tsp ceylon cinnamon

1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

2 Tbsp Cashew Cookie Butter

1 Tbsp maple syrup

Directions

Combine the egg and milk, whisking until fluffy.

Dip bread on both sides, pressing into the liquid batter so that each part of the bread is coated.

Sprinkle coconut sugar, Ceylon cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice on both sides of the bread.

Cook in cast iron (preferably) to get a nice crust on both sides of the toast! Butter the cast-iron generously and allow it to get warm (medium heat). Lay the toast onto it. You’ll see the egg begin to turn more opaque and the crust build and that’s when you know to flip. You can continue flipping until each side has reached desired crispiness!

Melt the coconut butter and maple syrup together — drizzle over the top or place in a small sauce dish for dipping! My kids personally like to have theirs cut into strips which they can dip into the coconut maple glaze.

healthy french toast recipe

Here is a printable version for your convenience:

Sourdough French Toast

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Chocolate-Filled Blondie Bites

Let me tell you a little secret about my husband.

He’s addicted to a “finisher.”  You know, that touch of sweetness after every meal?

Most days this bugs me.  Mostly because he got me on this habit too! BUT I’ve found ways around it by keeping either good dark chocolate or cups like these on hand in the fridge so that we have healthy options.


homemade blondie bites

Not to worry; these still feel (and are) incredibly decadent!! I also love taking these to gatherings because everyone feels like they get their own little custom treat.

They store beautifully in the fridge!

homemade cocoa butter blondie bite cups

Chocolate-Filled Blondie Bites

Ingredients

1/2 cup cocoa butter wafers
3.5 T coconut butter
1/2 T coconut oil
1 t vanilla
1 T vanilla protein powder
1 t honey

Directions

Line a muffin pan with mini muffin cup liners OR use a silicon baking sheet (they make all sorts of shapes for these – I love the one with hearts!)  Heat a pot over the stove and use a mixing bowl to create a double broiler.  Once the water is warming, add the oil, butter, and wafers to the baking bowl to begin to melt. The butters will liquify quickly once the water boils, then you can add in the vanilla and protein powder.

Remove the mixing bowl from the pot and stir with a fork until all ingredients are combined. Place another small bowl in the hot water to begin warming (this is being prepped for melting the chocolate).

Pour half of the mixture into the liners.  Place in the freezer until set (about 15 minutes).

Place 1/2 of your favorite honey mamas chocolate bar in the warm bowl + double broiler and allow it to soften and melt down a bit.

Remove baking pan from the freezer and place small sections of the chocolate the chocolate in the middle of each cup.  I flatten them out to make a smooth layer across the middle.

Pour the rest of the cocoa butter mixture on top to cover each cup and refreeze for another 15-20 minutes.

Once the cups are completely set, store in the fridge for a delicious and wholesome treat!

Here is a printable version of the recipe for your convenience:

Chocolate-Filled Blondie Bites Recipe

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welcome to my table

Hello friend! I'm Rachel Stricklin and I'm so happy you have landed here!

 

My recipes are focused on whole food ingredients and are meant to bring you warmth, nourishment, and a

reason to gather.

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