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don't miss dairy

Emily Stokes
I'm a lady who loves cheese, sour cream, & ice cream, but I recently became lactose intolerant. My key focus in recreating dairy recipes is taste, but I try to be as health conscious as possible. Some of my recipes are low lactose rather than dairy free. I'm also a writer, teacher, nanny, dog mom, housewife, native Yinzer, current Californian, and social organizer extraordinaire.


Healthy Chili with a Kick

Low Sodium Chili from from original post “Low Sodium Chili” on November 10th, 2011)

You don’t need to add more salt to a dish to add flavor, just add more flavor! To make chili less complicated, canned tomatoes, sauce, and beans are a great option. But this usually packs your chili with a ton of sodium.

It’s unnecessary.

Opt for “no salt added” canned goods instead and you will create a much healthier meal. These are conveniently labeled in the canned goods section of your local grocery store. You can always add more salt to taste in your finished recipe. It’s easier to add salt than remove it!

Here is my go-to chili recipe that replaces all added sodium with a couple teaspoons of sea salt and uses sugar and spice to bring out a flavorful meal for chilly nights.

I grew some delicious (but super hot) Bulgarian Carrot Peppers in my garden this year, and they are a key ingredient. Make sure you wear gloves when dicing them! If the oils get in your skin it will burn like crazy.

Healthy chili from!

You can make this deliciously spicy, low fat, low sodium chili quickly on the stove top–it will take about 30 minutes to cook. Or, you could simmer it for four to six hours in the Crockpot, whatever method suits your time and energy level.

I usually cook it on low in the Crockpot when I want to come home from work to a ready dinner. If you choose this method, make sure you sauté your veggies over the stovetop before adding them to the slow cooker for the best flavor.

Use 93% or higher lean ground beef to make this recipe even healthier. I try to find 96% lean. It’s more expensive but worth it when it comes to eliminating excess fat from your diet. 

Healthy Chili with a Kick
Serves 6
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
  1. 1 pound 93% or higher lean ground beef
  2. 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  3. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 1 large yellow onion, diced
  5. 1 green bell pepper, diced
  6. 1 red bell pepper, diced
  7. 1-2 Bulgarian carrot peppers or serrano chili peppers, diced
  8. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  9. 2 cans no salt added diced tomatoes
  10. 1 can unsalted tomato paste
  11. 2 cans no salt added kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  12. 1/4 cup red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon
  13. 1/4-1/2 cup water or low sodium beef broth
  14. 1 bay leaf
  15. 2 tablespoons chili powder
  16. 2 teaspoons sea salt
  17. 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  18. 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  19. 1 tablespoon white sugar
  1. In a large stock pot over medium heat, sprinkle the black pepper onto the ground beef and cook meat until browned and no pink remains. Carefully drain excess fat then return pot to stovetop.
  2. Add olive oil, onion, peppers, and salt to the pot. Stir and cook for five minutes, or until onions and peppers begin to turn translucent.
  3. Make a well in the middle of the pot ingredients and add the minced garlic. Cook garlic for no more than 30 seconds before stirring with the rest of the mixture.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes with liquid, drained and rinsed kidney beans, tomato paste, wine, water or broth, sugar, spices, and bay leaf into the pot. Set on medium high heat to start the boiling process.
  5. Once the mixture starts to bubble, reduce to medium low heat and cover. Simmer for thirty minutes, stirring occasionally. If you make it in the Crockpot, cook on low for at least six hours or high for four hours. Salt to taste.
  1. Serve with shredded vegan cheese, chopped onions, and lactose free sour cream!
don't miss dairy

Low sodium chili recipe from
Low sodium chili from
Low sodium chili from

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Crispy Tomato and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Crispy tomato and goat cheese bruschetta from

I don’t mean to brag, but this bruschetta has been declared the greatest of all time by a very reputable source, who is also my personal taste tester (my husband).

I’ve made it a few different ways with various toppings. I usually prefer regular French or Sourdough bread for the best tasting bruschetta, but this recipe goes  well with whole wheat French bread. Pour on the olive oil and you can’t go wrong.

I also use the freshest ingredients, like torn basil straight from the garden. Farmer’s market heirloom tomatoes are colorful favorites to use, unless I have homegrown tomatoes available, which are the best of the best.

The bruschetta pictured would not have been possible without Laura’s tomatoes from The Urban Homestead. I didn’t grow tomatoes this year so I’ve been enjoying hers! She is such a wonderful friend to have traded veggies with me, even though I only had one cucumber to give out at the time.

If you are looking for a great place to get fresh goat cheese, Harley Farms in Pescadero has some amazing cheeses. I love goat cheese, especially since it has much less lactose than cows milk cheese.

If you ever get out to the West Coast or are a Californian looking for a fun day trip, go to Pescadero. It’s a tiny town right on the coast, about 20 miles south of Half Moon Bay–pumpkin growing country! There’s an awesome restaurant called Duarte’s, where they make the most delicious olallieberry pie. You won’t miss it, as there are only two restaurants in the whole town, which is on one street. There’s also a general store, a post office, a fire station, and a single stop light.

Behind all of this is Harley Farms, where you can spend a good hour watching the baby goats play and tasting the amazing selection of goat cheese and olive oils. They also make ceramics and goat milk lotions, and sell fresh eggs. I’ve posted some pictures of Harley Farms below to accompany the coastal farm fresh experience of my goat cheese bruschetta.

Crispy Tomato and Goat Cheese Bruschetta
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  1. 6 slices whole wheat French bread loaf
  2. extra virgin olive oil
  3. minced garlic
  4. 3-4 roma tomatoes, sliced
  5. 3 sprigs fresh basil
  6. goat cheese
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay slices of bread on nonstick baking sheet. Using an olive oil pourer or a spoon, pour olive oil over each slice of bread. No drizzling here, just pour it on carefully so that it drenches the bread, but doesn't spill over the slice. The bread will soak it all up during cooking.
  2. Spread minced garlic on each slice--as much as desired. I put about a 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic on each bread slice. Lay down tomato slices to cover bread, and then coat tomatoes with olive oil either by drizzling with a spoon or spraying.
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until tomato slices are roasted. Timing will depend on how thick your slices are. Remove from oven.
  4. Add teaspoon size dollops of goat cheese onto the bruschetta or slices if you have a log. Bake for five more minutes in the oven. Cheese will be gooey and creamy. Remove from oven and add torn basil. Serve with your favorite wine.
don't miss dairy

Crispy tomato and goat cheese bruschetta from

Crispy tomato and goat cheese bruschetta from

Crispy tomato and goat cheese bruschetta from

Crispy tomato and goat cheese bruschetta from

Harley Farms Open Sign.

Harley Farms

Mama goat walking in her pen.

Mama Goat

Mama goats eating from trough in the goat house.

Dinner time.

Baby goat being pet in it's pen.

Petting the baby goat.

Little goat cheese disks decorated with edible flowers.

Beautiful little goat cheeses with edible flowers and herbs, also apricot and pistachio and sun dried tomato.

Pescadero Beach

Pescadero Beach

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30 Minute Tomato and Kale Pasta for Two

I love this dish not only because it uses all my favorite super fresh vegetables, but because it is so easy! You just throw all the ingredients into a dish and put it in the oven. It’s absolutely delicious comfort food.

I used a cute curly pasta to go with my dish, but you can use whatever you have on hand. This is better for the summer when all the ingredients can be at their freshest. Sprinkle with Parma before serving! If you can find it, it’s a parmesan cheese imitation topping made from sea salt, walnuts, and nutritional yeast.


2 cups uncooked pasta
1 package whole cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 large kale leaves, stems removed and leaves shredded
1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit  Add whole cherry tomatoes, garlic, kale, and onion into a small glass casserole dish and toss. I used a loaf dish.

2. Drizzle olive oil on top, toss to coat. Add salt, pepper, oregano, and basil and stir to coat evenly.

3. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. While the sauce is cooking, start your pasta according to the directions so that it’s hot, fresh, and ready as soon as the tomato and kale sauce is done. I hope it becomes your go-to comfort food!

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