Health Coach

Chili Pasta Skillet

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Every morning I walk out of our bedroom, turn my head and 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.

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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!

Six Weeks of Bowl Meals: Chicken Taco Soup

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Aaliyah and Timbaland’s words keep circling through my head after losing a beautiful first draft of this post to internet never-never land yesterday. 

“And if at first you don’t succeed then dust yourself off and try again..”

Last fall I had a dear friend share his experience with this common blogging issue.  While sitting along side me editing my work, he advised me several times to “never type a post on your website. Create a document. Always.” He may even have made me promise him I’d never make that mistake.  Chances are good, I did.

Ironically, here I am, constantly fighting for others to do the same; advising to pay attention, plan ahead, make a healthy decision. Love yourself. Promise me. I know what works. Learn from my mistakes.

While it’s incredibly helpful, encouraging and necessary, to have trusted advisors in our lives, we will always be human, wired for struggle, imperfect, and in need of grace and forgiveness—beginning with ourselves. The reality is, learning from someone else’s shortcomings will never be as impactful as learning from our own. Personal growth is a humbling process.

Sit with the yuck for a bit—feel the sting, but then join me in the quest to be and do better. We get one life, yet a new opportunity with each given day.

After 24 hours of dusting off, I still have a simple, 30 min. soup I am excited to share with you.  Each step in the process of making this soup is crucial for the desired, deep flavor outcome.  The ingredients and layers closely resemble our family’s favorite tacos, yet is so much easier to throw together near the end of a busy day.

Chicken Taco Soup

By Audrey Byker Health Coach

Serves 6-8

for the protein fat and flavor

-1 Tbls. avocado oil, ghee or chicken fat

-1 medium onion, chopped

-1 Tbls. chili powder

-1/2 Tbls. cumin powder

-2 big pinches sea salt

-Black pepper, fresh ground

-2 cloves of garlic, minced

-2-3 cups cooked chicken, chopped(leftover and off the bone—optional for vegan/vegetarian)

for the veggies and carbs

-1 1/2 cups quick cooking brown rice

-2, 14oz cans diced tomatoes with green chilis

-1-2 cups corn, frozen, non GMO

-1 medium jar great northern beans, rinsed

-2-3 quarts chicken stock or broth

-1 tsp apple cider vinegar or to taste

In a large pot over med-high heat add oil and onion then sauté for 4-5 min. or until soft and translucent, stirring frequently.  Add all remaining ingredients in order and stir all together. Allow the garlic to become slightly fragrant before adding the stock and apple cider vinegar.  Cover and turn heat to high and allow broth to come to a boil.  Turn to low and simmer for 20-25 min. until rice is soft.  Serve with cashew sour cream, guacamole, organic tortilla chips and olives if desired. Adjust taste with sea salt, pepper and/or Franks Red H

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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!

Six weeks of bowl meals: Roasted Comfort Bowl

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With temps in Michigan hovering in the 80s, forcing me to spend extra hours in the sun, water and everywhere else I can take it all in, the kitchen and the creation of a bowl meal for this week was successfully avoided at-all-costs. Mainly, the family, along with myself, has been surviving off salads, burgers on the griddle, avocado toast, apples with drippy nut butter or hummus with raw veggies and organic tortilla chips: All of our favorite staples for a busy life. By Friday I was feeling over it[bloated and uncomfortable] and craving something grounding that would keep my kitchen clean with friends, fun and all the paddle boarding calling my name for as far as the weekend would stretch.

Holistic health and nutrition says[rule of thumb] to eat locally grown seasonal produce as much as possible. When it’s hot outside bodies tend to crave light, watery and cooling foods. I agree with all the things and consider each one, but real life argues raw veggies everyday are boring while also tough on my pure bred Dutch gut. When your body and all it’s cells were literally created and duplicated from boiled root vegetables, roasted meats and all the variations, the rules of the seasons are a fleeting expectation. Also, there are rules and then there are facts. Facts are not rules.

Fun fact: Friday, Saturday and Sunday kicked ass.

Minutes before the kids were released from the school bus to start the weekend, this roasted chicken with root veggies was tossed in the oven. My favorite cold weather ingredients, with the exception of the potatoes—just harvested in August—were inhaled all weekend long with a simple gravy ladled on top. I’m not really sure why I hesitated to share this when the truth is living a healthy lifestyle by dedicating as little effort as possible is one way to make it sustainable for the long-term which is everything I stand for.

Roasted Comfort Bowl

By Audrey Byker, Health Coach

Serves 6-8

For the veggies fat and protein

-1 3-4lb whole chicken, organs and gizzards removed

-6-8 carrots, scrubbed and roughly chopped(large pieces)

-Drizzle of olive oil

-Sea salt

-Fresh ground black pepper

For the carbs and flavor

-6-8 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

-2 Tbls Stubbs BBQ seasoning or preferred seasoning—sugar and preservative free

-1/2 cup chicken stock or homemade bone broth

-2 Tbls corn starch(non GMO) or arrowroot

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large dutch oven or ceramic crock pot insert, add potatoes and carrots. Drizzle with olive oil then toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add whole chicken on top of veggies then sprinkle seasoning onto chicken then massage into with both hands. Be sure to rub seasoning into chicken cavity and under skin as much as possible for the best flavor. Add a little salt and pepper. Add lid to dutch oven or cover crock pot insert with foil then put in oven. Roast for 2-2 1/2 hours or until chicken leg is easily pulled off the bone.

Remove chicken, potatoes and carrots from the pan. Add remaining juices to a medium saucepan. Place on a burner on medium heat. Meanwhile mix chicken broth and cornstarch in a mug or liquid measuring cup. Stir well. Slowly whisk corn starch mixture into the chicken juices and turn heat to med-high. Whisk until liquid comes to a gentle simmer. Turn to low and simmer for a few minutes until desired gravy consistency is reached. Add more chicken broth and corn starch if more gravy is needed. Serve in a bowl, layering potatoes, carrots, chicken, then gravy.