4 Easy “Real Food” Dinners

We all live with the reality of weekday meals. Sometimes old favorites need the dust shaken off of them and other times we’re ready for something new but simple. My hope is you will find some of both here. Add your family’s flare to these simple, straight-forward, gluten- and casein-free meals.  Each of them (or at least the main parts) will freeze really well.  So don’t hesitate to double it up and get ahead for next time.

1. Spaghetti squash and meatballs

This crockpot recipe is one of our favorite meals. The recipe in the link is a basic one, but it is so simple to adapt with your own style of meatballs.  Here are a few other adaptation ideas:   

  • Cook your spaghetti squash in the oven the night before while making the meatballs.  In the morning, put meatballs and sauce in the crockpot. At meal time, scrape your spaghetti squash out and heat up on the stove in a skillet (a good way to heat up leftovers).  I’ve found it heats up nicely for leftovers too!

  • Skip the meatballs and  just use a meat sauce by browning 1lb ground beef and adding 1 jar tomato sauce. I often add 1 onion while browning the meat before adding the sauce. Adding extra fresh garlic to a jar sauce always helps it. Of course, if you have a tomato sauce recipe you love, by all means… go for it. Lately, I’ve been buying the organic tomato sauce at Costco and dressing it up a bit with fresh garlic and onion.

  • Double the meatball recipe and freeze half of them by putting the raw meatballs on a cookie sheet in the freezer.  Once they are frozen, dump them into a zip lock bag and put them back in the freezer. Now you’ve got meatballs ready to go for next time!

2. Chicken Fajitas

Most of you probably know how to do chicken fajitas, but I post it mainly as a reminder of how easy and quick this delicious, satisfying, real food meal really is!

Ingredients: (I’m estimating for 3-4 people)

– chicken breast (3-4 should leave enough for leftovers)

– frozen onion/pepper mix (2 bags) or fresh onion/bell pepper sliced in thin strips.

– 1 can black beans or pinto beans

– tortilla chips and salsa (optional)

– cheese and sour cream if not avoiding dairy (optional)

– avocado


  1. Cut chicken breast in strips.
  2. Season with salt, pepper and 1 tbsp cumin.
  3. Cook chicken in skillet with 2 tbsp coconut oil or butter (or more if needed/desired).
  4. While chicken is cooking, slice avocado, and heat up beans.
  5. Remove chicken from skillet and saute veggies in the same skillet.
  6. Combine chicken and veggies in same pan and check for flavor. Add more salt, pepper, cumin as desired.
  7. Serve with organic corn tortillas or on a bed of romaine lettuce.

Here are a few other adaptation ideas:   

  • Use leftover chicken/veggie mixture on top of lettuce or as filling for lettuce wraps for lunch the next day.

  • Add chopped garlic and fresh cilantro to beans.

  • Use dried beans that have been soaked overnight to reduce phytates (mineral blockers). In a pinch, substitute canned beans, but I would recommend keeping frozen beans on  hand that have already been soaked and cooked.  This way, you just have to heat them up and add salt and garlic.

  • Make a double portion and freeze it in mason jar or zip lock bag for next time.

  • Add spinach to the veggie mixture to get more greens into your diet.


3. Crockpot Turkey Chili

I haven’t personally tried this recipe, but it looks great and who doesn’t love coming home to a crockpot full of goodness?  Like the fajitas, many of you may have your favorite chili recipe. Feel free to substitute beef for turkey.  Get it out and get creative/resourceful with it!

Here are a few other adaptation ideas/tips:   

  • Add more beans to make more chili. This helps stretch your beef if you are buying higher quality grass-fed beef.

  • Freeze leftovers in single servings to use for lunch with a side salad.

  • Serve with gluten-free cornbread and side salad.

  • Serve leftovers over a baked potato with broccoli.


4. Cauliflower Beef Soup

This tastes better than it sounds, and this is coming from someone who generally doesn’t care much for cauliflower. I’ve adapted this recipe from a GAPS diet recipe that is similar. I can just do it all from memory it’s so easy. I recently sent this to a friend who had bowel surgery and generally follows a GAPS/SCD type diet.

She LOVED it. We eat this every couple of weeks at our house.


– 1 head cauliflower

– 1 onion

– 3-4 cups chicken stock – increase if you want more soup! (preferably homemade)

– ½ to 1lb beef (the amount depends on how much soup you make and how much beef you prefer)

– frozen peas (optional)

– frozen broccoli or chopped carrots (optional)

– seasoning: garlic powder, salt, pepper, bay leaf


    1. Coarsely chop the onion and cauliflower and cook in broth in a large pot our dutch oven until tender.
    2. While above mixture is cooking, season beef with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. (So sorry, I’ve never measured this… My guess is for 1lb beef probably 2 tsp garlic and salt and 1 tsp pepper.) Roll into small balls (like meatballs), about the size of a quarter.
    3. Puree cauliflower, onion, and broth mixture until smooth (An immersion blender works best, but if you don’t have one, puree in food processor or blender in 2-3 batches.)
    4. Return the puree to the pot and drop uncooked meatballs into the puree.  Add 1 bay leaf and simmer until meat is cooked (about 20 minutes).
    5. If adding broccoli or chopped carrots, add this when you add the beef.
    6. If adding peas (my favorite), add this right at the end.
    7. A frozen bag of peas and carrots would also work well and I would add these for the last 10 minutes.
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