This Week’s Meal Plan 8/11-8/17

Red Beans and Rice-this may end up looking a little different than the recipe. But this is the base I’ll use. I think I have an extra large can of diced tomatoes that I’ll use anyway and I know I want okra and chopped green chilies in there. I do not have a green pepper so I’ll improvise!

Grilled Honey Salmon-I have two fillets and while this sounds and looks delightful, I might put BBQ sauce on one fillet and this recipe on the other. Just for fun and diversity!

Stuffed Peppers-My husband was shocked at how good these were last time I made them. I have garlic and herb goat cheese and baby spinach to go in these this time. Yum!

Vegetable Soup-This is a good base for a vegetable soup however, I’ll probably use it as a guide and add my own flare. I prefer to do my own thing with what I have on hand and this is just such an excellent way to use up my veggies that are in need of being used before they are lost!

Thai Lettuce Wraps-I love that I won’t need a special lettuce for these-mostly because I always have romaine on hand. Can’t wait!

Tacos or maybe These Tacos-We usually use lean ground turkey when we have our taco nights. I often add in my own taco seasoning (as this recipe recommends and provides) and dab a bit of salsa in for added depth. However, the other tacos I linked to are delightful for a fun twist. Especially if you have limes, cilantro and corn tortilas at the ready. (I add lots more green chilies to my version of the recipe!)

Egg Sandwiches-2/3 of my children like eggs…but I’m going to keep presenting them! They just haven’t tried them enough times I think!

Pumpkin Whole Wheat Waffles-we already ate these and they were DIVINE! I used coconut oil, added 1 tsp of vanilla and upped the milk a bit (say by 1/3 extra cup) for this recipe.

Lemon Chicken-we already ate this and I loved it! Just the right amount of lemon flavor came through.


Rethinking What, How and Why We Eat…

One day, while perusing my library account for my next read, this book popped up as newly available and recommended to me. I was pretty intrigued from the start because I just adore French culture. I’ve always been attracted to all things French; from a desire to speak their beautiful language, to the serene country of France, their renowned chefs throughout the region and all that is in between. But this book also touched on a sensitivity and concern I have for my family: Buy it here

You see as many North American moms, I see some poor eating trends/habits in my children. I started a long journey roughly 7 years ago, towards eating more healthy and especially towards cooking in a more healthy way just for myself. My main motivation was my own appearance in the beginning. But my love for food and cooking seemed in contrast to my new found goals. I grew up in a Hamburger-Helper, Condensed Soup Casserole based family. I was an overweight preteen and struggled off and on with my weight throughout my life. So, I basically had to re-learn how to shop, eat and especially how to cook. I wanted my food to taste good and I wanted to be able to eat what I wanted, so I had to rethink and redo what I had always known and seen done.

As a result, my family and I had a lot of food battles specifically over their passion for processed, sweet and fatty foods. While I educated myself more and more on the importance of healthy food and good choices, how the things I eat (and don’t eat) affect my mind and my body, I felt powerless to get my children (and my husband) to understand and be convinced enough to join me in my journey. I was passionate about my goals but extremely frustrated with getting my family to make better choices because they WANTED to, not just because they were FORCED to.

Reading this book was tremendously encouraging to me as I continue on my journey with a new focus on bringing my family along with me. I have seen so much improvement in both my husband and my children! In fact, my husband has been a wonderful team player in his own efforts to change his palate. But even more so, I have found encouragement for the long-haul. This book gave me even more evidence and statistics proving that if we stick with the path, the end result will be exactly what we desire-true change. I’ve been inspired to make nutrition a conversation that is open, fun and even whimsical!

The step-by-step explanations of how this North American mom instituted the new norms in her family, the authenticity and honesty with which she shares her stories of how her children responded (both the good and the bad!) and the helpful recipes and tips she gives throughout the book, gave me so much new-found enthusiasm. It reminded me to stick with it and to make the table a place of family bonding and connection time.

My husband and I are not advocates of attachment parenting. In fact, our family parenting style is very different from most of our peers. We feel that our children are a blessing and we love them deeply, however we do not allow them to have control of our home. This book does talk a LOT about the vast differences in Americans love for their children to have CHOICE and how the French have a much different perspective on the matter. I say that only because the suggestions this author made were very easy for our family to pick up because we were already doing many of them to begin with. (By the way, this is the same author of the popular book, “Bringing Up Bebe”, which explains a lot.)

While I haven’t been asked to review this book, I’ve loved it so much I couldn’t not recommend it! It has helped and encouraged me in my journey to encourage my family to embrace and love food with high quality nutrition. This book has gone from a book I borrowed from the library to one that is on my bookshelf permanently. If you are frustrated with food battles in your home and ready to have your cultural norms challenged, I hope you’ll get this book and read the WHOLE thing before you dismiss it.  “A táble!” might be your kids’ new favorite phrase before long!

This Week’s Meal Plan January 10-19ish, 2014

I apologize for all the links, but this is the way I am meal planning these days! As soon as I’m hungry and have about 30 minutes, I hop on to Pinterest and check out what I’ve pinned lately and what sounds good. Here is this week’s meal list with links!

Crock Pot Beef with Broccoli – I’ve made this before and it is really easy and delish! I remember that we ate every last bit of it though-I will double the amount of meat this time. Brown rice and maybe some skillet Chinese dumplings (from the frozen food section at the grocery until I figure out how to make them myself!)

Cheesy chicken with bacon and avocado quesadillas-This is a new recipe I can’t wait to try. I think we’ll have a big salad with it.

BLT with poached egg sammies-This will most likely be something I make for Saturday breakfast. I think I’ll make some sweet potato hash to go with it!

Greek yogurt mac n cheese-This is a new recipe that I’m really banking on being good. I might cry if it’s not! I’m planning on a sharp white cheddar and maybe a colby cheese.

Greek skillet-This recipe is an old stand by; I make it often and it is well loved! I use green beans (instead of spinach) and lean ground turkey meat in it. The cinnamon is very good in this recipe!

Spicy oven baked fish with Crash hot sweet potatoes-This is a new recipe too and a big risk for my non-fish eating family. I LOVE fish and I’m constantly trying to sneak it in unsuccessfully. I’ll make this on a night that my hubby has class and it’s just me and the kiddos.

Chicken zucchini skillet-this isn’t a link to a recipe, just a picture. But you get the idea. I’ll most likely sub red peppers for the tomatoes and season it with Thyme and Oregano and garlic. Mmmmm….I think I’ll be making rice as an accompaniment.

Fresh 5-Ingredient French Bread-I’ve been making this bread recipe a lot lately and I just love it! I can start it at 2:30 pm and have perfect bread by dinner time. It’s so-so-so good. We eat an entire loaf in one sitting!

Other meals I have stuff on hand for are turkey tacos (crunchy!), spaghetti, and this Lemon Chicken recipe. Mmmm….I’m hungry!

What I’ve Been Cooking…

I have been cooking and not blogging a lot this past year. But my “Recipes” folder in my photo gallery on the computer is getting full! So  here is a look at just some of the things I’ve been making.

Chocolate Caramel Popcorn

Chocolate Caramel Popcorn

Chicken Cordon Bleu with acorn squash

Chicken Cordon Bleu with acorn squash

the BEST sugar cookies

the BEST sugar cookies

all decorated for Christmas

all decorated for Christmas

Frozen yogurt drops

Frozen yogurt drops

This tomato sauce is the best! I have been using it in my cooking a lot. It has nothing but tomatoes in it!

This tomato sauce is the best! I have been using it in my cooking a lot. It has nothing but tomatoes in it!

This was a delicious hash made from okra, corn, red beans rice and chicken with lots of red pepper flakes

This was a delicious hash made from okra, corn, red beans rice and chicken with lots of red pepper flakes

tomato soup from scratch

tomato soup from scratch

The BEST chicken pot pie soup

The BEST chicken pot pie soup

Birthday cakes with hero inspiration

Birthday cakes with hero inspiration

sandwiches...on a stick!

sandwiches…on a stick!

Lentil soup!

Lentil soup!

My Meal Planning Process: A Glimpse of One Week’s Dinners

I love to plan meals!  I love to cook and I love to go to the grocery store. But what I don’t like is going into the week or into the store unprepared. So usually, the day or up to three days before I go grocery shopping, I sit down with a notepad and a pen at my computer and I look at Pinterest and various other internet sites to decide what sounds good for dinner this week. I also look at my calendar and how many nights our family will be able to sit down to eat together at our leisure verses the nights we need to hurry a bit, the nights I have opted to bring a friend dinner or a treat and the nights/days where we want to host a few people over and will need a snack or meal to share. I also consider lunches for my son to take to school, my husband to take to work (which is usually leftovers from dinner) and what the littles and I will eat at home/on the go for lunch throughout the week.

Here is this week’s dinner meal list:

Creamy Carrot Soup w/ Swiss Turkey Melts
Baked Ham with Roast Sweet Potatoes
Cuban Black Bean Soup w/ Quesadillas
Buttermilk Roast Chicken (x2 because I’ll be bringing this meal to a family who just had a baby) with smashed new/red potatoes
Beef Stew or Chili
Sneaky Macaroni and Cheese with steamed broccoli

The beauty of these meals is that a few of them will use leftovers or other ingredients from other meals. For example, the turkey melts will use some of the turkey I’ll have around for lunches this week, the baked ham that will be leftover I’ll use for the Black Bean Soup and anything else leftover will make lunches for my honey to take to work!

Additionally I put a few snack recipes on the list:

Spinach Queso Dip
Black Bean Hummus
Oven “Fried” Cheese bites

Once I’ve established my list of things to make for the week, I look at my kitchen and determine what I need verses what I have on hand, then I create my shopping list! I prefer to grocery shop early in the morning (i.e. 8:30 am) on weekdays, so I usually have my two small children with me. Read: highly distracted shopper Because I know I’ll be distracted and I HATE back-tracking/roaming aimlessly through the store, I actually write out my grocery list by aisles. I know…anal right? It’s so helpful though.

This is what works best for me and helps me to avoid the frequent stops at the store throughout the week. The better I stick to my list and the better my planning process, the less likely I have to “swing by” the store after my big grocery run. I hope this is helpful to you too!

Fall Baking Re-Stock

Spring and summer are my favorite seasons by far. But when fall rolls around, one things is sure; I want to bake!

I love pie!!!!!!!!!!

I dream of so many delicious things when the weather starts to cool. I don’t just like to bake either, I like to cook…and eat. And gift-away my treats.

Some of my favorite things to make are Shepherd’s Pie, Beef Stew, Chicken and Dumplings, Pie, Apple Butter, Quick breads, Muffins and Cookies!

However, my pantry is looking very sad and deficient these days. I went through a cook book recently to help jog my memory about what spices and ingredients I like to have on hand in the fall. I ended up filling an entire page of paper with all the things I need to stock up on!

Here’s my list:

butter flavored shortening (for pie crust)
lemon juice
lemon and orange extract
dried apricots
corn syrup
sweetened condensed milk
dried dates
poppy seeds
instant coffee
dark cocoa
ground flaxseed
unsweetened chocolate
lime juice
crushed pineapple
whole wheat flour
ground flaxseed

What are your go-to, must make fall recipes you are itching to make?