Would you like to come on a culinary retreat in France with me someday, but you’re worried about not knowing the language and not being able to get around?

I understand. It can be scary or intimidating to go to a country where you don’t speak the language, or where you only know a few words or phrases, but not enough to understand the response someone gives you.

I know how you feel, because I’ve totally been there. I remember arriving on my French college campus and staring like a deer in the headlights at the woman in the exchange student office who was speaking French to me…at what seemed like a mile a minute. I thought I knew some French, but that encounter was a very humbling moment after a long journey across the ocean and the start of a my full junior year of college abroad. It put be in the right frame of mind…to be ready to learn, make mistakes, sound a little stupid, and eventually get better.

Well, I have just the person for you, if you want to brush up on your French from high school, or start learning totally from scratch.

I met Llyane recently, and I already held a demo cooking class for her French conversation group.

Read her golden nugget below and let us know how it works for your French. The rest of this article was written by Llyane.


So, I like to think that I’m always in your corner.

And, even if you read every newsletter and blog post I write, and watch my free resources, some things are worth additional attention.

Here’s something to enjoy this weekend…

Today, a golden nugget from my Bilingual Extensif program.

There’s speaking taking place in conversation but there’s also listening.

A Cinderella skill, often taken for granted.

How can you improve your listening?

The technique is called Ear Gymnastics (or active listening).

Here’s where things get interesting:

The fastest way to improve your listening in French is to speak. 🙂

Let me explain.

Our Brain doesn’t pay much attention to what it hears passively, it’s not enough for us to be able to pick up on each sound in a foreign language.

(Have you ever heard parents asking their children: “Why aren’t you listening to me?“)

But IT (the Brain) pays a lot of attention to what WE are saying, and we often remember every word that we say.

How to use this ‘bias’ to our advantage?

Try to speak out loud every time you read, write, listen or watch something in French.

I understand that it may not work every time, especially when you listen/watch. But try anyway, and say out loud the words that you can actually hear.

Because your brain hears them from you, IT will pay a lot of attention to the sounds and words.

Then, when you hear those words from someone else (podcasts, videos, movies), you’ll be able to decipher them much quicker.

Listening alone doesn’t work.

…it didn’t work for me, when I learned English, and it doesn’t work for most people I know, or it takes a long time.

And that is because it’s passive (remember the parents and children I mentioned above?).

Everyone who went through the Bilingual Extensif program had spectacular results with the Ear Gymnastics technique.

It always starts with us. 😉

Isn’t it so much simpler?

Just speak along every opportunity you get, and the conversation will take care of itself. 😉

Always in your corner,

Meet Llyane Stanfield

Llyane is a Parisian French language coach, and founder of the J’Ouellette® French Method – an organic method using performing arts techniques and neuroscience elements. She travels between Toronto, New York and Paris, while teaching French via Skype in more than 15 countries. She is a French language coach for business professionals who struggle with learning French on their own and with conversation anxiety, and she helps them to instead speak Parisian French confidently in their travels and in business. She has produced an unprecedented Extensive Program and French Pronunciation Cure Course, as well as other visual and teaching materials. Now in training for holding the Higher Education Teaching Certificate at Harvard University, she spends a large portion of her time in Paris, where she also organizes a unique annual Immersion Retreat 1:1. Her groundbreaking methods produce a quantum leap in conversational confidence, and a short session with her is the perfect start to brush up your French (whatever your level!) in preparation for your next trip to Paris.

Get her free French Crash Course for easy conversation here!


Photo credit: FrenchCafeChannel

Things to do in Eure et Loir in September & October

By Katrina (Brink) Billard

Are you a tourist coming to Chartres and the area called Eure et Loir in France this September? 

This is a beautiful region of France full of rich history and charming villages to visit. Plus it’s all within 2 hours of Paris, so it’s super easily accessible. Escape the chaos of the city and enjoy a relaxing respite in the countryside. You’ll be so glad you got out and experienced more of France than just Paris! There’s way more to see than the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. 

If you’re coming from Paris or Versailles, a visit to the Maintenon Castle is a must! It’s a renaissance period castle that was owned for a time by Madame de Maintenon, who happened to be the second wife of King Louis the XIV. She led an extraordinarily-intriguing life that you’ll enjoy learning about at the castle. A woman of humble beginnings who became widowed and then took care of the king’s illegitimate children, to later become his mistress and then his wife. The king was apparently very devoted to her and never took another mistress after marrying her. While at the castle, make sure to take a walk along the imposing old aqueduct and learn about even more sordid history of the making of the aqueduct, which was never finished. 

After exploring this intriguing place, continue your journey south to the beautiful, small city of Chartres. First of all, you must visit the Chartres Cathedral, or the cathédrale Notre Dame de Chartres. It’s a gorgeous gothic cathedral in the center of the town and is worth a visit, simply to see the stunning stained glass windows and look up at the mind bogglingly high vaulted ceilings and flying buttresses. It’s a sight to behold, and nestled all around it are typical charming French bistros and high quality restaurants. If you happen to be there on a Friday morning, you could even have a chance to see the famous labyrinth that’s on the cathedral floor. Make sure this is on your list.

Right behind the cathedral is the Musee des Beaux Arts (Art Museum) that’s a must visit and has an Auguste Rodin sculpture exhibition through October 2nd. Take the time to wander around and soak in this beautiful setting. Maybe even sit and have a picnic out on the lawn.

While in Chartres make sure to walk around the lovely “basse-ville” or “low city”, which is a part of the city which dates from the middle ages and figures along the lovely Eure river. Take a stroll in this area of charming old architecture and stop along at one of the beautiful and delicious “gastronomique” restaurants overlooking the river. A romantic spot if there ever was one. 

If you’re there in the evening, you absolutely must watch the incredible light show that illuminates sites throughout the city and is set to music. It’s a sight to behold, especially the show illuminating the cathedral, which I forgot to mention is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It really is worth the visit to Chartres just for this. The whole family will be mesmerized.

illuminations of Chartres Cathedral
Chartres Cathedral illuminated at night

Leaving Chartres I’d suggest you continue your sojourn south to Bonneval, also known as the Little Venice of this area. Meander through the town on the river in one of their electric boats you can rent. If you go in the evening, you can even see the light show they put on their bridges and historic sites throughout this charming medieval village. It’s absolutely worth a visit. Speaking of these boat rides, the highlight of September in this region is a relaxing culinary and well-being retreat at the Chateau de Bouthonvilliers with moi. Come experience France like you never have before. 

I’d love to have you join me from September 13th-17th on The French Countryside Retreat where you’ll get the full French cooking experience in this beautiful old chateau. Learn how to cook restaurant quality, plant-forward meals in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere with only the best fresh products from local farms and gardens. Techniques will take the flavor of your food to the next level, while being practical dishes you can actually recreate everyday in your home kitchen. We’ll focus on flavors and cuisines from around the Mediterranean, so you’ll enjoy herbs, lots of fresh vegetables, some light meats and a few lovely spices. Come expand your palate and cooking horizons!

Katrina at Château de Bouthonvilliers
The grounds of the Château de Bouthonvilliers

Book your room here. 

We’re going to have a wonderful, renewing time cooking, enjoying wine, and taking time to relax on the expansive grounds of a very quiet and remote old estate. You’ll get to kick back, get a full hour massage, enjoy being served delicious catered meals with local specialties, and have three fun, interactive cooking lessons with Katrina Billard of The Empowered Kitchen (that’s me!).

We’ll even go on a boat ride through those picturesque streets of Bonneval I mentioned above. You’ll take your cooking skills up a notch or three, take part in a wine tasting with a local wine expert, and tour my husband’s honey farm where I’ll walk you through a private honey pairing. He happens to be a very handsome beekeeper.  Then we’ll go to Chartres to see the stunning Gothic cathedral and you’ll have an afternoon to tour around on your own. That evening we’ll regroup for a fancy dinner covered by the retreat, and stay to take in the light show. 

You’ll get to stay in a charming cottage and have another lovely French breakfast the next day before the taxis take you to the Montparnasse train station in Paris. Oh, did I mention those same taxis will bring you from Montparnasse to the chateau the first morning of the retreat? Ya, it’s all-inclusive, and I’ll take care of you from start to finish. 

If you’ve been wanting a break, or just really need to clear your mind after the wild ride we’ve all been on over the last few years, this is the perfect way to get away from it all. Escape to another time in this very special place where you’ll learn skills that will last a lifetime, make you healthier in body and soul, and have memories of a beautiful vacation in France. 

Seriously. I want you to come. It’s going to be awesome and you’ll make new friends, meet new folks from around the world and become a better cook while you’re at it. Let’s all go unplug for a little while and get back to doing something real with real food in a real old French chateau. Book for you and a spouse or a friend here! We already have men and women signed up, so all are welcome!

A bientot!

Much love and good food, 

Katrina Billard (Brink)

Sustainable Meal Prep Containers

Meal prep. It’s a noun, a verb and describes what you have been meaning to do but aren’t yet. 

A few common reasons people don’t meal prep: 

  1. You’re tired after work don’t have time
  2. You get tired of eating the same thing day after day
  3. It’s just easier to order food for delivery or carry out

Let’s take care of these concerns (hint….it’s not as hard or boring as you think!) and I’ll give you options for meal prep containers. What’s that you say, you already have containers? As handy as plastic P.F. Changs or Noodles n Company to-go containers are for re-using, they can’t be used in the microwave, are easily breakable, and leak like a sieve. Plus they’re single use and terrible for the environment. Yuck!

Thankfully, there are meal prep containers that are sustainable, microwaveable, strong and spill proof!  It’s time to add them to your kitchen where they’ll be used for many years – unlike those to-go containers that quickly end up in the trash since they’re not even recyclable. 

But first, back to the reasons why you’re not meal prepping.

1. You’re tired and (you think) meal prep takes too long.

A rule of thumb is to set aside 2-3 hours for meal preparation and to add in time for shopping. If you shop online and have food delivered or do curbside pickup at the store, this shouldn’t take too much more time. 

Note: Multitasking on more than one dish at a time is a must to keep the meal preparation time to 2-3 hours, depending on your goals for the week, and how many mouths you’re feeding. For instance, while the rice is cooking, you are chopping and roasting vegetables, then making a sauce or two, and a vinaigrette to make awesome salads for the week.

You can save hours every week if you meal prep, because you don’t have to start from scratch every night after work!

Still feel overwhelmed by meal preparation? You’re in the right place! Katrina can help you see how fun and 100% possible it is for you!

Summer Meal Prep

The Empowered Kitchen offers a meal prep cooking class that includes: 

  • 30 minute phone/video consultation to determine your meal prepping needs
  • Shopping list, equipment list, class preparation list, recipes
  • 3 hours of live, customized cooking class just for you! Via online video!
  • Essential cooking techniques: roasting, searing (meat or tofu) steaming, sautéing, how to make soups, stocks, sauces, vinaigrettes, healthy snacks, dips, and more. 
  • Support over email for up to 6 weeks after for continued advice and tips
  • How to efficiently prep, cook, freeze and store what you make! 
  • Choice of vegetarian, vegan or light meat menu
  • By the end of The Empowered Kitchen’s meal prep cooking class you’ll have all your food prepared for the week!
  • 30 minute post-consultation over phone or video a week or two after class

2. You get tired of eating the same thing day after day. 

You don’t have to! Katrina shows you how to make your building blocks, so not all of your meals are the same!

TIPS: Make sure you have a well-stocked kitchen, so you can add spice and flavor in a pinch to mix up your meals. Use that freezer! Make meals that freeze well, so you can have great food in a few weeks, and you’re not tired of eating it!

In Katrina’s flexible method of meal prep:

  • You make the foundations of different meals you can mix and match. You change them with spices or sauces to keep your meals varied and interesting.
  • You have lots of delicious meals and building blocks in your freezer to eat for weeks and months to come!
  • It’s easy to stick with a healthy eating habit, one week at a time!

3. It’s just easier to order food for delivery or carry out.

Ok, it might feel easier. With a few keyboard strokes or smartphone taps you can order food and arrange delivery or make a carry out trip. But what if that convenience was outweighed by the higher food bill and out of control portions that leave you feeling not so great, because you’ve blown your food budget and eaten something that might be less than healthy? 

So if you’re ready to meal prep, how do you store all your delicious meals for the week ahead?

The Empowered Kitchen suggests giving these options a try if you’re looking for sustainable meal prep containers! Together we can reduce single-use plastics, and help our planet one decision at a time. 

Disclaimer* The Empowered Kitchen is a participant in the Amazon Services Associate Program, whereby we earn fees by linking to Amazon products we use and love. 

Best Meal Prep Container for Salads, Mains and Sides: 

Finedine’s 24 piece set. Containers with 12 lids with various sizes and shapes for meal prep, storage leftovers, and all food storage needs.

Finedine containers have hinged lids that lock shut and the glass is easy to clean, temperature tolerant, and are dishwasher, microwave, oven and freezer safe. They’re stackable and leak proof so sauces and soups stay where they’re supposed to and don’t end up inside of a purse or backpack. These are FANTASTIC for meal prep because they’re different sizes to accommodate various components of meals that you’ve prepped, like grains, sauces, soups, salads, proteins, full entrées, etc. 

Summer Meal Prep

Best if You Love Bento Boxes

Bento boxes are absolutely wonderful additions and not just for parents who always have snacks on hand for their ever hungry kiddos. I LOVE these containers because you can put a full meal in one container and keep them separate, like rice and curry, or salad and fruits, or sliced veggies and hummus. They’re perfect for meal prep, convenient, and last for a really long time! 

Bayco’s 9 piece Bento boxes set are oven, microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe. Just like Finedine’s containers, they are leak proof, easy to clean and have locking lids.

Replacements for Sealable Plastic Baggies!

These are some of my absolute favorite additions to my reusable container repertoire! You never need to use a disposable plastic baggie again! 

These are perfect for storing bits of meal prepped foods or sauces in the refrigerator. Even better, make sauces, shredded meats, broth, or soups to freeze. Lay these flat and fit so much great food in the freezer for down the road, just when you need a quick, healthy, and delicious meal! Your future self will thank your old self for thinking of her…or him!

These stand on their own!

Large bundle! More economical & need to be hand-washed!

These are more economical & dishwasher-safe!

10 Pack of Stand-up Reusable Bags that are dishwasher safe!

Best for Smoothies on the Go!

Although the above options are great for liquids such as soups and sauces, what about smoothies on the go? Each one of the containers below is glass but with a slight differentiating factor, so you can pick what’s best for you

  1. Best container with a flip top, time reminder and a mixing ball
  1. Best container for sipping
  1. Wide mouth and eco-friendly – recyclable, reusable & durable container
  1. 24 oz, silicone sleeve (won’t slip) flip top spout container
  1. Best container for hot or cold beverages, dishwasher safe, 100% satisfaction guaranteed

Now that we’ve addressed what’s holding you back from meal prepping, given you meal prep container options and introduced you to The Empowered Kitchen’s meal prep class, here’s to putting some PEP in your Prep! Go get creative in the kitchen! For more meal prep recipes ideas keep reading our blog.

Big love from my kitchen,


Quick Refrigerator Pickles

This recipe is a flexible way to use up extra vegetables and to extend their shelf life.
Quick pickled vegetables will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
Red onions and shallots will be good for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. It’s a perfect way to make sure your produce doesn’t die in the produce drawer, or get wasted when a large garden harvest comes in all at once!

Yields: 32 ounces quick pickles – fills 2 (16 ounce) ball jars


1 ½ cups water
1 ½ cups vinegar of your choice*
2 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons sugar

Possible Vegetables to Use
Summer squash (zucchini or yellow squash)
Beets **
Red onions
Peppers (hot or mild)

Possible Spices and Flavorings to Add (dried or fresh herbs)
Black peppercorns
Bay leaves
Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano
Red Pepper Flakes
Mustard Seeds
Smoked Paprika
Whole, dried chilis
Whole coriander


Make the brine: Add brine ingredients to a medium pot and fit with a lid. Bring to a low boil to dissolve the salt and sugar. Stir if needed to dissolve. Turn off the heat and leave covered to keep it hot.

Slice the vegetables while brine comes to a boil:
Cut long vegetables, like asparagus and carrots into pieces that will fit into a jar. Slice carrots either in long, really thin matchsticks, or in thin coin slices, so they pickle well.

You can use a mandolin to thinly slice radishes, cucumbers, red onions, shallots, summer squash, or even raw beets (if you slice beets really thinly they don’t need to be roasted first).
Add flavorings of your choice. You can crush the garlic with the side of a knife, so more of the flavor comes out, throw in a bay leaf and some peppercorns.

My favorite pickled radish seasoning is to add thin slices of ginger and a ½ teaspoon to a teaspoon of turmeric powder.

Asparagus is great with dill and garlic.

Just have fun experimenting with different flavor combinations!

After placing sliced vegetables into ball jars, pour hot brine over them. Leave 1 inch of head space at the top of the jars. Let cool down for 30 minutes or so. Cover tightly with lid and refrigerate. Enjoy in 24 hours!

* If you use balsamic vinegar, it will change the color of the vegetables. If you want to maintain the color, then use a white or apple cider vinegar.

**Beets need to be roasted (or boiled) before pickling.
Roasting instructions: Preheat oven to 400° F. Put ½ inch water in bottom of a 9×9 baking dish. Cut beets in half and place cut side down (no need to peel) in baking dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place in oven and cook for 35-45 minutes, or until knife easily goes all the way through. Once cool, chop into quarters or eighths. No need to peel them unless you want to.

Summer Berry Pies & Pie Dough Recipe

Summer Berry Pie

A pear, cranberry pie for fall or winter, but shows you what the crust should look like.

A Strawberry, Blueberry Summer Tart with Frangipane

A Blueberry & Cherry Tart with Frangipane

Yields: 1 pie

Serves: 8-12


1 batch pastry dough (recipe below)


  • 3 cups fresh blueberries (17 ounces)
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries (9 to 10 ounces)
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries (5 to 6 ounces)
  • ⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch


  • ⅓ cup whole, raw almonds or almond flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract or vanilla



Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Place rimmed baking sheet in bottom of oven to catch any possible spills from pie. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Save the rest for a pie topper. Transfer to 9-inch pie dish. Pinch the edges of the crust, forming a ruffle and a high-standing rim extending 1/4 inch above sides of the pie dish. Chill the crust in the refrigerator or freezer while making filling.

For filling:

Combine blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, 1/3 cup sugar, and lemon juice in large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes. Mix cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in small bowl. Add to berry mixture and toss gently to coat. 

Frangipane: (inspired by Smitten Kitchen recipe)

Use a food processor to grind the almonds. You can also use almond flour if you prefer for this step. Add flour to food processor and combine well. Add sugar, butter and extract if using. Blend until smooth. Pour into a small to medium bowl. Add the egg and stir well to combine. Cover this mixture and chill for 3 hours. The process can be sped up with 20-30 minutes in the freezer, or don’t freeze at all if you’re in a hurry. It will be fine.

Pie Assembly:

Put a few fork holes in the bottom of the crust before baking. Place pie weights or dried beans in the empty crust to keep it from bubbling up too much. The whole surface should be mostly covered with weights or beans. 

Blind bake the bottom pie crust for 10-15 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove crust from oven and carefully remove the weights or beans when they’ve cooled.

Coat bottom of the pie with frangipane mixture. Place berries on top, mounded a bit in the center of the crust. Roll out remaining pie dough and cover the berry mixture with the pie topper. Neatly pinch the edges to seal the pie. 

Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Return pie to oven and bake until crust is golden brown and berry juices are bubbling thickly, about 40-45 minutes. You may need to cover the edges of the pie with aluminum foil to prevent them from burning. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely. 


Basic Pastry Dough (Pie Crust)

Yields: a crust for a 9 inch pie pan


1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Large pinch sea salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

5 to 6 tablespoons chilled water



Place the flour and the salt in the bowl of a food processor and blend well. Alternatively, mix in a bowl with a pastry cutter or whisk. 

Cut butter into ½ inch cubes and add to the flour. 

If using a food processor, pulse until the butter is incorporated into the flour and the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal or the butter pieces are pea-sized. If using a pastry cutter, or your hands, mix the flour and butter together until you have pea-sized butter pieces.

With the food processor running, add the water and pulse briefly, or just until the pastry beings to hold together.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Refrigerate if necessary. 

The Empowered Kitchen Tips:

This dough freezes really well. Label, date and seal tightly in a plastic bag. It’s good to double or triple this recipe, so you can always have some on hand for an emergency. 

Kale & Delicata Squash Salad with Lentils, Toasted Walnuts & Quinoa


This is a wonderful warming and unique winter salad that will fill you up and make you feel oh so good for your day. I like to roast a bunch of squash or different kinds of vegetables all in one go, and then have them on hand to throw together salads like this. It might look like a number of steps in the recipe below, but if you do this once a week, then many of these components can be re-used and re-created into new and different meals all week long.

Cook once, and assemble several interesting, delicious and good-for-you meals. That’s what makes life simpler mentally, and is good for your physical health too.

If you roast some of this delicata squash, you can use some to make soup, add to a risotto, serve as a side to chicken or fish, or use in any variety of salads. I’m sure there are so many other ways to use it too! Let me know in the comments what dishes you like to make with it.  I hope you love the recipe below.

This is how to cook more efficiently. Quinoa top left. Lentils top right. Roasted squash half moons on bottom left. The start of a delicata squash soup bottom right. The soup can be made and frozen for future weeks if desired, but you’ve maximized the use of your time and the heat of your oven by roasted the squash all at once and cooking multiple meals in one session.

Feel free to play around with the spices in this dish and change out the rosemary. Moroccan spice blends also go great with the squash and lentil combination. Yum!

Kale & Delicata Squash Salad with Lentils, Toasted Walnuts & Quinoa

Yields: 6 hearty salads

Serves: 6


1 bunch kale, you want about 8 cups of torn leaves (Lacinato or curly leaf)

½ – ¾ cups walnuts

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

2-3 tablespoon safflower, sunflower or grapeseed oil

1 small/medium delicata squash

1 cup dried lentils

½ cup raisins (optional)

1 cup dry quinoa 

6-8 ounces feta cheese (optional)

Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Toasted delicata squash seeds for garnish

½ cup Honey Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe below)



Preheat your oven to 400°F. Cut off the stem of the delicata squash and then slice it down the middle longways. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Place squash guts and seeds in a colander to rinse under water so you can separate the seeds. Save the seeds for toasting later. There is no need to peel the delicata, as you can eat the peel. Remove the seeds and separate from the strings. Discard the strings/guts and compost if you have access to compost. * Now slice each of the sides of delicata squash into ½ inch half moons. Place the half moons in a bowl and coat with the safflower, sunflower or grapeseed oil, a sprinkle of salt and black pepper. You can add dried or fresh rosemary or thyme if you’d like.

Once coated, place squash half moons on baking sheet and spread them out so they don’t touch too much. This helps them caramelize better. Roast for about 15-25 minutes, or until pieces are golden brown and cooked to your liking. A fork will go easily through the pieces. Check them after 15 minutes, and according to how hot your oven runs. Flip them at 15 minutes so they cook evenly.

While squash is roasting, rinse and dry the squash seeds. Coat with a bit of the sunflower or other oil, salt and pepper to your taste. You can always adjust the flavor of these with spice blends of your choice. Spread seeds evenly on a baking sheet and place in oven for 8 minutes. Check at 5 minutes if your oven runs hot. Flip or toss with a wooden spoon if needed. They’re toasted when lightly golden brown, but watch them because they can burn quickly. Remove from oven and set aside on a plate to stop them from cooking further.

Prepare the quinoa and lentils according to package directions. It’s best to rinse quinoa and to cook it with 2.5 cups of water for every 1 cup of dry quinoa. Lentils can be cooked to your liking. I prefer them still with a tiny bit of firmness. 

Prepare vinaigrette:

*See instructions below.

Assemble Salad:

Hold the stem of the kale and use your other hand to pull the leaf from the stem. Tear the leaves into bite sized pieces. You can save the stems to compost them, or freeze in a sealed bag to make vegetable broth later. 

Place the leaves in a large salad bowl. Coat with olive oil and massage the kale leaves with your hands, crushing the leaves and massaging the oil into the leaves well. This breaks down the cellulose and makes the kale much more palatable. 

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts to the dry pan and toast for 5-8 minutes, or until barely golden brown and fragrant. Turn off the heat and set aside. Add walnuts, raisins, lentils, and quinoa to the kale and toss with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Taste and adjust dressing. Add black pepper, toasted squash seeds, and feta cheese if desired and enjoy! 

Any extra quinoa and/or lentils can be saved and used for other meals. 

If making salads for 2-3 days of lunches, follow these directions:

Tear the leaves and massage with oil. Then add to your meal prep containers. Add the walnuts and raisins to the salad. Put cooked quinoa and lentils on the side or in a separate compartment from the salad. 

The morning you are going to eat your salad you can combine the quinoa and lentils with the rest of the ingredients.

Take the vinaigrette and optional feta in small containers with you to lunch and dress your salad with a few tablespoons when ready to eat. Enjoy a hearty lunch or dinner!


Honey Lemon Vinaigrette

Yields: 1 cup vinaigrette

Serves: Covers about 10-12 salads. 


2 large lemons 

⅔ cup olive oil

½ small shallot (optional)

1 or 2 cloves garlic (adjust to taste)

3 teaspoons honey

1 tablespoon Dijon or brown mustard (optional)

¼ cup parsley leaves

½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)



Mince garlic cloves. Remove the parsley stems and save for stock. Rough chop the parsley. 

Roll lemons under your forearm to release juices before slicing in half. [Tip: Zest them first if you need zest for another recipe. Can keep in a small amount of oil in the fridge for a week or so until use.]

Juice lemons and add to small bowl. Add remaining ingredients and whisk well to emulsify. Taste with a lettuce leaf and adjust ingredients to your taste. 

Label and date before refrigeration. 

Empowered Kitchen Tip:

I recommend doubling this recipe so you always have a stock of it in your refrigerator.

Carrot, Turmeric & Ginger Soup

This is a delightfully delicious soup that warms you from the inside out. It has so many great health properties,  from the beta carotene in the carrots, to the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric, and the digestive aid of ginger. These are all wonderful ingredients to incorporate into your diet, and stay healthy during the winter months. You’ll even get a bit of vitamin C from the lime at the end.

But let’s be real, the most important part is that this soup is a huge crowd pleaser for eaters of all ages! 🙂 It’s sweet, creamy, flavorful and can easily be made vegan if you choose the coconut milk option. Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments!

Yields: 16 cups

Serves: 10-12


1 small yellow onion

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 inch fresh turmeric root

2 inches fresh ginger root

8 carrots

4 cups vegetable broth (low-sodium)

2 teaspoons salt

⅓ cup cream or coconut milk

½ medium lemon or lime

Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Optional Toppings:

Roasted Squash seeds


Aleppo pepper

Plain Greek yogurt



Roast Carrots:

Heat oven to 400°F. Place whole carrots on baking sheet. Coat lightly with olive oil and salt. Roast in oven for 25-30 minutes, or until soft and cooked through. Once cooled, cut off the ends and cut carrots into 2 inch pieces. 



Heat a large saucepan to medium heat. Dice the onion. Add oil to heat up before adding onion. Stir occasionally until transparent. Mince the garlic and add to onion. Saute for 1 minute. Peel the ginger and turmeric root with a spoon. Mince or grate them and set aside. Slice the lime in half. Juice the lime and set aside. 

Add the turmeric and ginger to pan with onion and garlic. Allow to cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped, roasted carrots, broth and salt. Raise the heat to bring to a slow boil. Then lower heat to simmer and cover for 15-20 minutes. Add the coconut milk or cream. Blend with an immersion blender to blend all onion, carrot and liquid together. If soup is too thick, add more broth or water a little at a time until desired consistency. Add the lime and then adjust seasonings to taste. Top with your choice of toppings listed above. 


This soup freezes really well and tastes great as leftovers for up to 5 days in the fridge.

If freezing, place in mason jar with 1 inch of empty space left at the top and the lid slightly off. Once frozen you can tighten the lid well to prevent freezer burn. Label with kind of soup and the date. Best used within 2 months.

Roasted Poblano Crema

Looking for a use for those cilantro (or coriander) stems? Look no further! The stems have so much flavor, that it’s really a shame to throw them away.  Often they’re not used in restaurants because they’re not as beautiful as the leaves, but they’re certainly just as tasty. If you want to use the stems up in a salsa or other dish, just mince them finely, along with the leaves, and nobody will even notice!

Or you can blend them up into a sauce! You can do the same with parsley stems. This recipe below uses cilantro or coriander stems, depending on where you’re from. You bought the stems and leaves, so you might as well use them!

Roasted Poblano Crema

Yields: 2 ½ cups



  • 2 Poblano peppers
  • ½ cup heavy cream or dairy substitute (optional)*
  • ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ red onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ bunch cilantro with stems (about 8-10 sprigs)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt



Roast the Poblano peppers on a baking sheet at 425°F. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until a few spots on the peppers become charred. You can turn them once while roasting. They will blister, which is normal. Remove from oven and place in bowl with plate covering them. This will steam the peppers and make the skins easier to remove.

Once cooled, carefully remove the stems and seeds. You can slice down the middle of the peppers and run under cool water to remove the rest of the seeds. Now rough chop the peppers.

Slice the onion and mince the garlic. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Then add the onions and cook until they’re translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the chicken broth and heavy cream*. (If not using cream or a dairy substitute, add ½ cup of broth or water.) Bring to a low boil, and cook for 4 to 5 more minutes. (Alternatively you can add the onion and garlic into the blender in their raw from, with the liquid ingredients and the roasted peppers. This will save some cooking time. The taste will be sharper, and still delicious. The cooking the method just mellows out the flavors.)

Rough chop the cilantro leaves and stems.

Use an immersion blender or pour all ingredients into a regular blender. Season with salt, pepper, and cumin. You can squeeze a tablespoon or two of lime juice into the sauce if you’d like. Blend to combine. Adjust ingredients to your taste.

Enjoy on tacos, enchiladas, roasted vegetables, chicken, lamb, fish or beef. It’s great with rice too!

French Endive & Green Apple Salad

This salad is so hearty and refreshing. It’s a huge crowd pleaser and a great palate cleanser. It’s typically a winter salad, but I’d recommend it any time of year. It’s a meal in and of itself, but great with a side of soup, or in the picture below, a French Tartiflette. Mmmm….lots of potatoes and cheese. 🙂

Give this salad a try and you’ll really impress your guests. It’s a good one to have on hand for about 2 days. Just leave out the mushrooms and dressing until you’re ready to serve. If you sprinkle the apple slices with a little lemon they’ll be less likely to brown over the 2 days, if you decide to use this for a meal prep day.

French Winter Alpine Meal. Yum!

Yields: 6 cups salad

Serves: 6



  • 3 endives
  • 2 cups of mâche (or mixed baby greens)
  • 1-2 fennel bulbs, depending on size
  • 1 green apples
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 3-4 ounces button mushrooms (any white mushroom)
  • 1/2  small white onion
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic or champagne vinegar
  • 1- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, according to your taste
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon honey



Cut off the ends of the endives and then slice once lengthwise. Place flat side down, and continue to slice into 1-2 inch pieces. Place in a salad bowl with mâche or mixed baby greens

Thinly slice the fennel bulbs and add to the salad bowl. Rough chop the walnuts. Cut the apples in half and core them. Slice into thin slices. Thinly slice the mushrooms and finely dice the onion. Add everything to the salad bowl and toss to combine.

To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, add the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and black pepper. Whisk to combine well. Toss over salad and serve.

You can also make this salad a few hours ahead and chill it. Just wait to add the mixed greens or mâche and the vinaigrette until time of serving.

Winter Squash Soup with Green Apple & Spices

We’re (thankfully) nearing the end of winter, but I always love me some winter squash soup! Mmm…this one is the best I’ve ever made, with the beautiful warming flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg that combine with the squash and apple to make a perfect marriage. 🙂 Maybe I’m going a little overboard, but this soup is seriously delicious. It would be great with a couple dashes of freshly ground cardamom too. 

It’s so fun and easy to experiment with roasted, pureed soups for meal prep. I do this all the time, so I always have some in the freezer, ready to thaw out and enjoy for lunch the next day with a salad or a sandwich.  Try meal prepping by just making 2 kinds of roasted soups that taste really different and freezing half of each. You’ll be so glad you did in a few weeks when you can thaw some out and have a fabulously satisfying and hearty meal.

Winter Squash Soup With Green Apple & Spices

Yields: 12-14 cups

Serves: 12 as a starter or 6 as an entrée



  • 1 large pumpkin, butternut or kabocha squash
  • 2 tablespoons canola or safflower oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 green apples
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ lemon


Heat oven to 425°F. Cut squash into large chunks and remove the strings and seeds. Place squash pieces on baking sheet. Coat lightly with canola or safflower oil and salt. Roast in oven for 25-30 minutes, or until soft and cooked through. Once cooled, remove the flesh from the peel with a spoon.

Heat a large saucepan to medium heat. Thinly slice onion. Heat the butter in the pan until barely melted. Add sliced onions to the hot pan and stir occasionally until transparent, for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and core the apple and cut into wedges.  Peel and mince the ginger and garlic. Then add ginger and garlic to the onion. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg, and saute for 1 minute.

Add the squash, apples, broth, water and salt. Raise the heat to bring to a slow boil. Then lower heat to simmer and cover for 15-30 minutes. Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender. Taste and adjust salt and liquid amounts as needed. Add the heavy cream and juiced ½ of a lemon.

Blend again and taste. Adjust as needed. Enjoy topped with roasted squash seeds, cilantro, pomegranate molasses, croutons, or freshly cracked black pepper.