InstantPot Chicken Pho Soup

This is a fantastic recipe that is simple but full of flavor.  The rich stock with the contrast of fresh veggies and egg is amazing.

Advanced & Core Plan

Servings 8-10

1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
3 cloves of garlic, minced
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 small head bok choy, chopped
1 whole 3-4 pound organic, free range chicken, giblets removed
2 tablespoons of coconut aminos (or liquid aminos)
2  cups of grass-fed beef broth
6 cups filtered water
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 package mung bean noodles (bean threads)
1 large organic carrot peeled and grated
1 cup of thinly sliced organic baby spinach
Add ins:
Soft Boiled Egg
Sesame Seeds for garnish

For soft boiled eggs:
Place trivet in Instant Pot and add 1/2 cup of water.
Place four eggs in Instant Pot, lock lid and set on sealing.
Using Manual setting, set to High Pressure for 3 minutes.
When done, Quick Release pressure and remove eggs and place in ice water until cooled.
For the soup:
Set Instant Pot to Saute. Heat sesame oil, garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add sliced mushrooms and bok choy and sautee for another 2 minutes.  Add grass-fed beef broth, water, aminos, 2 teaspoons sea salt, freshly ground pepper and chicken to the pot.
Turn off Saute function, lock Instant Pot lid in place, Set to soup/broth and make sure pressure valve is set to sealing Cook at High Pressure for 20 minutes.
Instant Pot will take 15-20 minutes to come to pressure, then will start the 20 minutes of cooking.
Do a Quick Release and carefully open Instant Pot.
Remove whole chicken and set aside to shred and add back i to the soup.
Turn Instant Pot back to Saute function and let chicken broth come to a boil.
Stir in the mung bean noodles and let sit for about 5 minutes.
Shred chicken into pieces and add back into the soup.  Discarding bones and skin or save to make more stock.
Ladle into bowls and add carrots, spinach sesame seeds and halved eggs.

recipe modified from

Grass-Fed Salisbury Steaks

Advanced & Core Plan
Serves 4-6
This is a recipe I distinctly remember being on my moms recipe rotation.  It is a comfort food for sure.  This oven-baking method and flourless gravy makes it super easy and amazingly healthy.
I have pleasant memories of this dish but for those of you having nightmarish flashbacks of school lunch or TV dinner Salisbury Steak, give this recipe a chance.  It will be worth it.
2 lbs grass-fed, grass-finished ground beefIMG_8937
2 organic eggs
1 cup almond meal
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp fresh grated nutmeg
3-4 cups grass fed beef broth, preferably homemade (The crockpot method is very simple)
1 tsp black pepper
Coconut cream from 1 can of coconut milk (Chilled for at least an hour so that the cream separates.  Open the can and pour the watery portion into a bowl for a separate use) and combine with 1 tsp vinegar or lemon juice + 1/8 tsp salt (to make a sour cream like taste) or organic sour cream
4 tsp arrowroot powder
1 package sliced mushrooms, sliced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all of the “steak” ingredients in a large bowl.  Separate into 9 equal patties, pressed a little thinner than a hamburger and place in two large glass baking dishes.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until cooked through.
Meanwhile, combine the broth, pepper, and mushrooms if desired in a saucepan and heat to a simmer.  Add coconut milk and then take a ladleful of broth and mix it with the arrowroot powder in a separate, smaller bowl (if you try to put the arrowroot powder directly into the pan, it will form clumps).

Crockpot Grass-Fed Beef Broth

Grass-fed beef broth has long been touted for it’s amazing health benefits.  Broth is wonderful for healing from illness, contains essential vitamins and minerals, promotes digestion and helps heal your gut, inhibits infection, is anti-inflammatory, and promotes healthy bones.  Although this doesn’t make a huge batch of beef broth, the advantage is that the cooking time is shorter and the wonderful smell won’t keep you awake at night.  Roasting the bones before putting them in the crockpot helps intensify the flavor.

beef broth1 lb grass fed beef bones
3-4 organic carrots, roughly chopped
3-4 celery ribs, with leaves, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
½ head garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 quarts filtered water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place beef bones on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about an hour.  Put the vegetables in the bottom of the crockpot and put bones on top and add water.  Set the crockpot to high and bring to a boil (about 4 or so hours).  Lower the crockpot to low and cook for an additional 12-48 hours)
Strain the mixture (you can do a second strainer like mesh or cheesecloth if you want the broth even clearer).  Transfer to mason jars.
Let cool before storing in the refrigerator or freezer.

Braised Fennel

Serves 4

Core & Advanced Plan

This is a vegetable that is often overlooked at the grocery store.  It is in the celery family but is much more flavorful and aromatic.  When sautéed or braised, it tastes delicate and delicious.


1 head fennel

2 tablespoons grass fed butter

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

salt and pepper to taste

Cut fennel in half longways and slice into crescents about 1/4 inch thick.  You can save the small green tops to garnish if desired.  Heat butter in skillet but do not brown.  Add fennel, garlic, salt and pepper.  Sautee until softened.  Serve immediately.

Promoting a Healthy School Environment

Today’s school celebrations, fundraisers and rewards typically include candy, cupcakes, soda, ice cream, and other junk food.  While it is true that there is nothing wrong with an occasional treat, the reality is that these treats are not just occasional.  Children are bombarded with unhealthy foods at home, at school, at sporting activities, at social clubs, at church, at friends houses, at restaurants, etc.  What used to be occasional has become far too frequent.  Most children’s eating habits are poor with not enough fruits and vegetables and too much processed grains, processed sugars, and bad fats.  One needs only to look at the startling rates of obesity and the rise of adult-type diseases in our children.  Parents are now outliving their children!  By providing the children of Still Elementary more nutritious food choices, we can make a difference  in their lives and possibly prevent them from becoming another statistic!!!


Parents:  Send healthy snacks with your child, bring healthy foods or alternative treats for celebrations

PTSA Volunteers:  Plan & encourage healthy celebrations, focus on healthy fundraisers, establish healthy rewards

Teachers:  Eliminate food rewards, encourage healthy snacks from home, teach students good health habits.

Everyone:  Try something new, be positive, and create change!

Benefits of Healthy Snacks, Celebrations and Rewards

Healthy Kids Learn Better:  Research clearly demonstrates that good nutrition is linked to better behaviors and academic performance.

Provides Consistent Messages:  Providing healthy foods supports the classroom lessons students are learning about health, rather than contradicting them.  This also promotes good lifestyle choices which can reduce student health risks and improve learning.

Promotes a Healthy School Environment – With children  bombarded from every angle with bad food choices,  our school can provide a safe atmosphere for nutrition.  This ultimately enhances the learning environment.

Discourages the Development of Emotional Eating-   Linking food with behavior or performance results in an emotional attachment to food.  This often results in in eating when not hungry, developing a habit of rewarding themselves with food, and can lead to serious health consequences.

Creates Excitement About Nutrition:  Children are excited about new and different things, including fun party activities and healthy snacks.  Contrary to popular belief, children do not need or demand cakes, candy, etc as rewards.  Alternative rewards are just as appreciated and usually more effective.

Protects Children with Food Allergies:  When parents send in food, it is difficult to ensure the safety of children with food allergies and makes it hard to avoid singling out students.

Examples of Alternative Rewards:

  • Social Rewards – attention, praise, etc
  • Recognition – trophy, ribbon, morning announcement, photo, phone call home to parents, etc.
  • Privileges – going first, homework pass, extra recess, eating lunch with a friend or teacher, picking their own seat
  • Show n Tell – demonstrate a talent, or a prized possession, read a book to the class, etc.
  • School Supplies – special pencil, stamps, bookmarks, etc.
  • Toys/Trinkets – water bottles, stickers, puzzles, tops, balloons, tattoos, magnets, books, etc.
  • Point System – earn points for a larger “prize” like movie tickets, bookstore gift card, book, game, etc.

Healthy Food Ideas:

  • Fresh Fruit (cut or put on skewers)
  • Dried Fruit
  • Vegetable trays with different dips (like hummus, guacamole)
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Cheese
  • Air popped organic popcorn in party bags
  • Turkey or PBJ sandwiches on wheat bread or wrap
  • Yogurt (check for sugar and/or artificial sweeteners)
  • Smoothies
  • Trail Mix – make your own or check ingredients
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Sprouted Grain Crackers with Peanut or Almond Butter
  • Healthy tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole
  • Mini Bean Burrito
  • Frozen bananas or grapes
  • Hard cooked eggs