St. Johns Boosters Wellness

Fall Recipe: Ginger Squash Soup

Fall is officially here. The cooler weather means it’s finally time to turn on our ovens and start cooking again. It also means SOUPS! Not just any soup though, Ginger Squash Soup. This recipe is one of my favorites because it is so easy and delicious. I am honestly the laziest cook, so the easier the better. Plus this recipe makes a big batch, which means you can freeze some for later. Roasting the squash gives this soup a delicious flavor, the apples add a touch of sweetness, the ginger gets things spicy and the coconut milk mellows it all out with some creamy goodness. Happy cooking! I hope you love this soup as much as I do.


An image of a bowl of squash soup
Sweet and spicy!

4 Acorn or butternut Squash (or any other variety)

1-2 Apples

2-4 T Fresh grated ginger ( The more you use, the spicier your soup!)

1 Large onion, diced

1-2 Cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 C Chicken bone broth or vegetable broth

2 C Coconut milk (I prefer this brand because it is just coconut)

2 T Coconut oil or avocado oil

Fresh squeezed lemon juice to taste

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Cut squash and apples in half and remove seeds. Place face down on  a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until soft, approximately 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Trust me these babies get HOT! Remove skins after cool and dice into small pieces. Set this aside. (This can be done a day before if you are short on time. Just refrigerate until ready to cook.)

Saute onion in a few tablespoons of avocado oil or coconut oil until almost soft. Add garlic, saute for a few moments and then add the squash, apples, ginger, broth and coconut milk. Let this all simmer on the stove for about 30 minutes to let all the flavors meld together. After 30 minutes, remove from heat and carefully use an emersion blender or regular blender to puree into a creamy consistency. Add water or more broth if it gets too thick. Add your salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Garnish with a sprig of parsley or cilantro and another squeeze of lemon juice. Then eat and enjoy!

St. Johns Boosters Wellness

Spring Recipe: Raw Nut Energy Balls

Do you ever have those moments in your day where you need a little pick me up, but don’t have time to eat a meal? Enter the Raw Nut Ball…

Allison Kirley, NTP, LMT of Delicious Life Wellness

These little balls of goodness are a great little source of fats for fuel on the go. And best of all, they are made of real food. Have you ever really looked at the ingredients in the protein and energy bars out there? It’s a bit terrifying. They are full of sugars and grains which can wreak havoc on your blood sugar balance. The protein sources added are often less than desirable and certainly don’t fall into the REAL FOOD category. (Soy protein isolate? What the heck is that?) Somebody needs to invent a better bar and get it on the market ASAP. In the meantime, we have these puppies to satisfy our hunger and energy needs.

This version is loosely based on one I found in the book Primal Body-Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas, CNS, CNT. One word. Butter. Ok, another word. YUM.

Raw Nut Balls

Raw raw nut balls!

1/2 cup Walnuts, preferably soaked overnight
3 tbsps Almond Butter (raw or roasted, no additives)
2 tbsps butter or ghee (grass-fed, organic if possible)
2 tbsps Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Sea Salt


1. Place walnuts in a food processor and pulse until lightly chopped.

2. Add almond butter, ghee and pulse until mixed with walnuts. Walnuts can still be a bit chunky or you can process until smooth.

3. Add spices and coconut flakes and pulse for a few seconds until all mixed in.

4. Form dough into 1″ balls.

5. Enjoy one ball anytime you need a quick boost of energy! Store in the refrigerator, so they don’t become too soft.

Get Creative

Feel free to add anything that tickles your fancy to the nut balls! Some of my favorites are cardamom, raw cocoa nibs, gogi berries, and  unsweetened cocoa powder. For more protein, add a good quality protein powder. (I like Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides.) Add a tablespoon of raw honey or maple syrup for a sweeter treat. If you want to go dairy free, substitute two tablespoons of coconut oil for the butter or ghee. No walnuts? Try brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, or cashews. The sky is the limit here, just make sure you don’t over process the “dough” to a batter.  I’ve made that mistake and adding a couple tablespoons of raw gluten free oats seemed to hold everything together.  I prefer to go grain free with these though.

Do yourself a favor and whip up a batch of these raw nut energy balls to have on hand for your next energy emergency!



Fermented Foods 101

Bacteria are everywhere. They cover every surface and live on every object and being, inside and out. 

These wee beasties were one of the first life forms on Earth and there are more individual bacteria than any other sort of organism on the planet.  They outnumber the cells in the human body ten trillion to one, so for every one human cell there are ten trillion bacteria! There are both helpful and harmful bacteria and most importantly, bacteria are essential for life on Earth.

When we ferment foods, we create conditions where these organisms thrive and proliferate. Fermentation preserves food by producing alcohol, lactic acid and acetic acid, breaks down nutrients in food into more digestible form, and creates new nutrients as a by-product of the bacteria. By eating fermented foods, we populate our gut with the beneficial bacteria that are necessary for good health. These bacteria are also known as probiotics. The process is actually called lacto-fermentation because the starches and sugars in the veggies are broken down by a group of bacteria called Lactobacilli. These healthy bacteria produce B vitamins and vitamin K. They kill bad bacteria in your gut, which helps eliminate yeast and decrease sugar cravings. They increase the biodiversity of the gut, which means increasing the variety of species, which is a good thing for your body!

Delicious and nutritious homemade fermented veggies

History of Fermentation

Fermentation has been happening since before writing and cultivation of soil. Every culture traditionally made a fermented food, mainly to preserve the food before refrigeration existed. Europeans have sauerkraut, Japanese eat miso, soy and pickled vegetables, Koreans love their kimchee, and Americans traditionally used fermented ketchup and cucumber relish.  What served as a natural means of preservation also offered protection from harmful pathogens and increase in health!


Are all fermented foods good sources of probiotics?

All are not created equal. Fermentation gives us many foods that we know and love, for example: bread, cheese, wine and coffee. Sadly, they all do not contain probiotics.

A yeast ferment and baked. No probiotics. SORRY!

Commercially made may contain a few strains, but only if added after pasteurization. Often loaded with sugars, this is not your best option. Also, dairy can cause inflammation in many people, so this defeats the purpose.

The fruit is fermented off the beans to give us the delicious flavors, but unfortunately, no probies!

Yes, it contains probies! This can add more biodiversity to your gut. Not meant to be consumed in large amounts (like 12-16 oz bottles) due to toxic overload on the liver. Not good for people with candida issues because it still contains sugars.

Contains probiotics only if aged 6 months or more, unpasteurized and not heated too high.

Only gives us probies if it raw and unpasteurized and says on the label that it contains live cultures. OR you make it yourself

Allison Kirley, NTP, LMT of Delicious Life Wellness

If you want to learn more about fermented foods and how to make your own sauerkraut, I will be collaborating with The St. Johns Clay Collective on March 23rd for a workshop that combines food AND art: Fermentation and Crocks. I will do a demonstration on how to make a simple kraut recipe, then you will paint a cool crock to take home! There will be tasting samples and lots of fun to be had, so sign up today at St. Johns Clay Collective or contact me at Delicious Life Wellness.


Healthy fats: Benefits to our bodies and which to choose for cooking

The human body requires three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fats. Each macronutrient provides energy in the form of calories and are essential for our bodies to properly function.

Today we will look at the macronutrient, fat: why we need it and which fats are healthiest for cooking and consuming. Fat has been somewhat vilified for many years, but it actually plays a huge role in our bodies. Here are some key functions of fat: 

  • Formation of cell membrane
  • Provide fuel for the heart
  • Help with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins
  • Protein assimilation
  • Manage inflammation 
  • Build healthy hormones

All fats are not equal

Our bodies need healthy fats to function properly, but all fats are not created equal. There are many options available, but some are less than optimal for health. It may surprise you, but animal fats happen to be one stable source to use for cooking. They are delicious, satiating and add a certain depth to your cooking. YAY, butter!

The problem is that we have been mislead. Many of the fats and oils we are using to cook with are simply not safe when heated and some are not good to ingest at all. These oils are extremely processed, usually with harsh chemicals and heat. They are most often made from genetically modified ingredients. Examples are oils made from canola, soybean, safflower, sunflower, and corn.  Avoid these as much as possible! 

Trans Fats

Sometimes manufacturers will  hydrogenate these oils to prolong shelf life, which creates harmful trans fatty acids. Trans fats have been linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and alzheimer’s. They reduce immune function, interfere with your body’s use of beneficial omega-3 fats, interfere with hormone production, and can cause major damage to your arteries.

Oils that have gone rancid are equally unhealthy as trans fats. This means they have oxidized and contain free radicals which cause inflammation in your body. Rancidity can be caused by exposure to heat and light. So this means we need to be conscious of what we use for cooking.

Healthy Fat Options for Cooking

Good options for higher heat cooking are coconut oil, palm oil, duck fat, butter or ghee. These saturated fats are more chemically stable and less prone to rancidity when heated. Extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil are best for drizzling over foods or low heat cooking. They are more unstable oils, which means they can become easily rancid with heat and light.

 Qualities to look for when selecting oil/fats for cooking:

  • look for the words ‘first-pressed or cold-pressed’  when choosing oils from nuts, seeds, avocados, olives
  • always choose unrefined, this means less processed
  • choose dark colored glass jars to protect from light and heat
  • choose organic, non-genetically modified whenever possible (especially animal fats since the toxins hang out in the fat)
  • fish oil, cod liver oil and flax seed oil are oils that should always be refrigerated and never heated


For a handy guide to cooking fats and oils use this 1-page PDF resource from Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Or contact Allison Kirley at Delicious Life Wellness, a comprehensive nutrition and health coach.

St. Johns Boosters Wellness

Homemade paleo chili to warm your bones


Allison Kirley, NTP, Delicious Life Wellness

Happy winter St. Johns! It is officially cold out there! During these cold winter months, I like to warm up from the inside out with delicious homemade soups. This paleo chili is an easy breezy dish I made that was so tasty I wanted to share it. I have a hard time following a recipe, so I combined two, added a few extra things and came up with this concoction. The beautiful thing about this dish is that it makes a huge pot and you will have tons left over. I get real excited about not having to cook every single meal. Left-overs equal HAPPINESS!  This is a paleo version of chili, so it contains no beans. Instead, I used butternut squash and both red and orange peppers to make it interesting.  The cocoa powder and cinnamon may seem strange, but trust me here and just try it! If you wish to change it up, you can add your favorite beans. Or you can omit the meat and add beans for a vegetarian option. Here is the recipe:

Allison’s Paleo Chili

1 pound of grass-fed ground beef
1 pound ground pork (if desired or use all beef)
1 onion, diced
2-3 orange or red bell peppers, diced into medium size pieces
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 boxes of finely chopped POMI brand tomatoes (or any canned tomatoes)
4 cups of bone broth (homemade or look for boxes that say bone broth rather than stock)
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of cumin
cayenne to taste (optional)
sea salt and black pepper to taste

YUM. Make this now!

Cook the ground beef and pork with the onion in a large pot until brown. Strain the fat if desired, then add all other ingredients and simmer until the squash is soft, about 40 minutes on low-medium. I served mine with side of avocado, chopped parsley and a drizzle of walnut oil. Easy and delicious!


St. Johns Boosters Wellness

Welcome fall with delicious homemade bone broth

Allison Kirley
Allison Kirley, owner of Delicious Life Wellness

Every year, I dread the ending of summer…until fall arrives! In opposition to the fast pace energy of summer, this season brings a time for slowing down, turning inward, and being indoors more. The crisp, cool days and different smells in the air motivate me to get back into my kitchen and start cooking delicious, hearty meals.

One of the staples that I like to have on hand, is homemade bone broth. It is pretty easy to make and you can use it in a variety of soups and meals that call for stock. Did you know that bone broth is full of health benefits? Unlike the stock you find at the grocery store which can contain artificial color, preservatives and “natural flavoring”, this broth is pure and clean. And importantly, it is cooked at a low temperature for a long period of time, in order to pull the most nutrients from the bones.

bone broth
Bone broth is nutritious and easy to digest.

Because bone broth is easy to digest, it helps heal the lining of the gut. It is full of calcium, magnesium and other nutrients that help healthy bone formation and promote all over healing. It contains amino acids, that have anti-inflammatory effects. Bone broth also can help reduce joint pain and inflammation because it contains certain compounds, chondroitin and glucosamine, that are extracted from the boiled down cartilage. There is some truth to the old wives’ tale about eating chicken soup for a cold!


Basic Bone Broth
4 quarts water
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 large onions, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
2 carrots, scrubbed and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 bunch fresh parsley
2-3 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
2-4 lbs meat or poultry bone
sea salt and pepper to taste


Place all ingredients in a large slow cooker set on high (or large pot on stovetop at low heat). Bring to a boil, then reduce the setting to low for 12-24 hours. The longer it cooks, the better it tastes! Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl, and discard the waste.

After the broth cools, it will form a layer of fat on top. You can eat as is, but if you prefer you can remove it. Let your broth sit in the fridge for several hours, until the fat rises to the top and hardens. Scrape off the fat with a spoon, and your broth is ready to go. (Skimming off most of the fat is more important if you’re using bones from animals that are conventionally raised. This is because pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers in the grain they are fed are stored as toxins in the fat of these animals.)

I recommend seeking out pasture raised poultry or 100% grass-fed animal bones from a local source: your local butcher, a local farm, farmer’s market, a friendly hunter, your local health food store, or order bones online from U.S. Wellness Meats. You can use bones from just about any animal: beef, lamb, bison or buffalo, venison, chicken, duck, goose, turkey. Try to use a variety of bones and ask for marrow bones, oxtail, knuckle bones or “soup bones”.  You can also use the bones after roasting a whole chicken, turkey, duck, or goose.

This process sounds more intimidating than it really is. Once you get everything assembled and in the pot, you can leave it and let heat and time do the work. If you are short on time, you can even omit all the veggies and still end up with a healthy bone broth. Give it a try and enjoy!


St. Johns Boosters Wellness

Green juice for a healthy summer

The sunshine has finally decided to come out, the St. Johns Farmers Market is back and the warmer weather means the return of spring and summer produce. A good way to make sure you get a good dose is with green juice. The good news is there is no need to wait until you have a juicer! You can make a delicious juice with your trusty old blender and a wire mesh strainer.

I should mention that when I speak of juice here, I am talking about GREEN juice.  This means a concoction of vegetables, mostly greens and a small amount of fruit. Juices are different than smoothies because most or all of the fiber is removed. Green smoothies are a great option too.  However, juices allow you to flood a powerful dose of nutrients into your body, while giving your digestive system a break.

I make my juice with as many veggies as possible, especially greens because we usually do not eat enough. I only add a small amount of fruit and I also take it easy on the carrots and beets. This is because fruits and starchier vegetables are higher in sugar. Without the fiber of the plant, they will cause your blood sugar levels to go through the roof. This will completely negate the healthful qualities of the juice and you might as well head over to the mall for a Jamba Juice !

Feel free to mix it up with the veggies and greens, the sky is the limit here. This is a great way to use all parts of the your veggies, like the not-so-pretty stems and inside parts. Use produce grown without pesticides whenever possible to avoid exposing yourself to harmful chemicals. Check out the farmers market this Saturday for an abundance of options!

Here’s a quick and easy recipe for a summery, delicious green juice:

Huge handful of spinach
Medium handful of kale (this can be bitter, so I use a bit less)
2 stalks of celery, chopped small enough to blend
1/2 medium diced cucumber
1/4- 1/2 cup of chopped watermelon
Handful of basil
Filtered water

Add all your chopped veggies to the blender with 2-3 cups of water.

Blend just enough for it all to form a nice puree. (Avoid over blending to save the nutrient integrity of the veggies!)

Pour it through your strainer into a bowl. You may have to stir/scrape the mixture while it is in the strainer to allow all the liquid to pass through.

You can sub or add in other fruit, veggie or herb that tickles your fancy. Some ideas are romaine, celery, cilantro, mint, parsley, jalapeno, garlic, lemon, and berries. You get the idea! I like to add a spoonful or two of the pulp back into my juice for a little fiber, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of sea salt. Easy breezy and now you have a delicious green juice. Enjoy!


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