A Weekend Full Of Food And Fun

What an adventurous weekend I had in both the fun and food I was able to experience.Saturday I had plans with a friend to hit up a festival and a flee market both at two separate spots here in the area.

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One ended up being a bit of a flop and one ended up being a big garage sale. So needless to say we were done with both adventures in an hour and half. And at least 30 minutes of this time was spent eating breakfast from a BBQ food truck since our sandwiches were too messy to walk and enjoy at the same time.

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She had a bacon,egg, and cheese croissant and I had a pulled pork sandwich with a poached egg on top with cheese. Mine was good but super messy.

Then, since we both did not want to return home yet….it was only 9:45 in the morning after all…we decided to head to Appleton to hit up World Market an Penzey’s Spices. I love both these stores.

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We also hit up a new boutique back in DePere and found some very unique things. I however, bought nothing. I love knick knacks and stuff to decorate my home but at the same time I hate to dust. So the more I buy the more things I need to dust. Although, it was fun looking around.

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The highlight of our day ended up being lunch. I have been trying to get her here for some time but as usual, life always kept getting in the way. However, this time we made it and wow it was amazing. It’s a deli type restaurant where they serve sandwiches, soups, chips and usually a pasta/grain salad of sorts. Although, in my opinion, the sandwiches are so large that nothing extra is really needed.

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We both had the “Late Night” which is their version of a reuben sandwich. Only this one has pickled red cabbage with cranberries mixed in. It is so absolutely wonderful words can’t describe.

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And then Sunday arrived and I should have gotten out of bed as I did Saturday before anything else got in the way and went to the gym. However, this did not happen. I was tired, bed was warm, and my husband offered to make my favorite breakfast if I stayed home and skipped the gym. That was all I needed to hear and I happily stayed home.

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After breakfast we quickly did some chores and were on the road and headed to the river for a 4 hour float once again. The last time we did this it was so relaxing and refreshing. So we had to get it in one more time before the river turns too chilly for my liking. And without a doubt this time was just as wonderful as the last…..so relaxing!!!

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Feast With The Beast 2017-Our Annual Date Night Out

Every year we attend the Feast With The Beast event here at our local zoo and it never leaves us hungry for sure. Plus, every year it seems to grow in the number of people that join us which makes it all the more fun.

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This year our son joined in the festivities for the first time, my brother joined us for the second year in a row, and my husband has co workers/friends that also make the trip into the big city (as they say, since all of them are from the Algoma/Sturgeon Bay area) to join in the fun also. Here is half our group enjoying the BBQ ribs.

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This years event offered 45 stations total, all offering samples from their menus, drinks and/or both. I tried my first ever martini apparently, according to this recipe card that was being handed out at this sampling table. For me the tropical mango was absolutely fantastic!!!! That is until I had to “sample” a few more glasses to make sure this was the one that won the taste sampling. Believe me, the next morning I was not so happy with myself for over indulging. Ahhhh, we all learn this lesson at some time in life right?

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Some places offer one menu item to sample and some offer as many as three different menu items at a time. Needless to say, we never ever try everything since we never ever have made it completely around the entire zoo without filling up before the end.

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As we have found every year that we have attended this event they add new restaurants from the area and some pull out and do not take part in the festivities.

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Even though this is mostly an adult event and the zoo is closed down to the general public, there are children that do tag along with some parents. Keep in mind that no matter what age your child is they all need a ticket which go for $35 per person before the event and $40 the night of the event. So if your child cannot eat/drink $35 worth of food….a sitter may be your best bet for probably the same amount of money.

We ultimately had a wonderful time. We all agreed to meet again next year, same time and same place. We are already looking forward to a great night out, with wonderful food/drink with a fun group of friends.

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Read about past years here  and here  if you missed it.

 

 

It Has Been Open Less Than A Week And….

It’s finally open and I have been there twice in less than a week…..Fresh Thyme Farmers Market in Ashwaubenon,WI had it’s grand opening last Wednesday and I was there!!!!

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A friend of mine joined me for the first visit here and to say it was packed with people would be putting it mildly. Our area (Ashwaubenon is minutes from our home and is where the store is located) has no organic healthy grocery at all. So for those of us that have always wished and hoped for a Whole Foods or a Trader’s Joe’s, this may be as good as it gets and in my opinion it’s pretty nice.

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I have never once braved the crowds and went to any grand opening of anything but this one was different. Upon arriving I knew it would be busy but wow, our area clearly needed a grocery store like this. I did not get to enjoy looking around as much as I would have liked but what I did see made me very happy. I found a few new items that my husband can enjoy since going to an artificial sweetener free diet.

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And I also found a kombucha flavor he has been searching for…win for him.

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I’ve already made another visit since this grand opening night and crowds are much more manageable. I love the meat/seafood, bakery, and fresh veggies/fruits selection. I have also found some other amazing items that we have all fell in love with. In my opinion, it’s a great addition to the Green Bay area.

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Talking about my husband being artificial sweetener free…..he is doing wonderful. He is feeling great and has surprisingly lost his big sweet tooth. He still enjoys candy here and there but before this he loved candy and could not live without it. He has also since lost his taste for coffee….go figure. How odd is that? Cooking is getting easier and I have been working on getting creative so everything he eats does not have to be so basic. Like one evening we had Korean BBQ pork sandwiches, zucchini, and corn on the cob.

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And another evening we had homemade BBQ chicken pizza. The only difficult thing about this meal was finding a store crust without artificial sweetener. Our normal grocery store had only one out of at least 10 different brands so we tried it. He loved it….win for me!

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This weeks menu has two new meals on it for us to try. Slowly but surely I am finding meals he enjoys and that are easy to prepare now that we have revamped our pantry. I am just so happy to see him happy again and not always so miserable with stomach aches.

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A Crazy, Busy Weekend Of Fun

I had quite a crazy, busy weekend here. Summer is often loaded with busy weekends but sometimes there is just so much to choose from that its hard to decided who does what and with whom it all includes.

My weekend started Saturday morning with plans to attend Green Bay’s Fit Fest with a friend of mine. This was our first ever Fit Fest and I can honestly say it will probably be our last. We did not know exactly what we would be walking into but quickly became disappointed in the lack of…..well, lack of everything offered. Green Bay is really trying to get people outside and active but I think they have a ways to go yet.

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After walking through the Fit Fest booths, which maybe took us a half hour at best, we made our way over to a new brewery/coffee bar in downtown Green Bay called Copper Rock Coffee Company/Brewery. Since we had never been here we walked inside to place our order and were immediately impressed with the atmosphere and surroundings. The service was friendly and the outdoor seating was exceptional. We can’t wait to return and try the luncheon menu and maybe something a little more potent than coffee.

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After having some time to chat and catch up we drove to our lunch destination which has been a restaurant on our “girls list” for quite some time. Melts With You in DePere is where we had lunch…again on their outside patio area.

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The menu offered a nice variety of sandwiches, soups, and sides. Prices were reasonable and the service was good. It’s a small place and offers a fast meal. Would I return? Maybe. Typically, when I go out for a meal I want it to be unique and something I cannot make at home. I could have easily made the sandwich at home that I ordered along with what my friend also ordered. So ultimately the restaurant was not good, not bad, just your average sandwich shop.

After this is was time to return home for chores, laundry, prepare braised cauliflower/kale stew for the week, and a hike with my husband.

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Originally, he was going to go fishing but since he did a bit of that in the morning while I was gone he decided a hike would be nice. We once again made our way to our favorite hiking destination as of right now…UWGB (info on the trails page). And as usual we saw so much wildlife and a completely new mixture of wildflowers since the last time we were here two weeks ago.

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We really enjoyed the 3.3 mile hike along with the trail snacks we found along the way.

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However, the visitor waiting for us at our vehicle when we returned was not in the least bit happy we chased him away from what he was eating. Sorry fella!

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Sunday brought a nice surprise when our son announced he had the day off. I immediately suggested a hike/bike ride for all of us. I have been wanting to take him to Terrell’s Island (info on the trails page) trail for quite sometime but its a hour from us and time is often limited. We left him sleep until 9a.m. since he worked until 1:30a.m. and we headed out on our adventure.

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He rode his bike around the trail twice while we walked the 3.7 miles once and met back at the vehicle. We all got in some exercise and had a great time doing so.

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The rest of the evening was time to relax….and indulge in some ice cream. How perfect is that for a weekend of go, go, go.

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Fast And Easy Summertime Meals

Isn’t it too bad that we still need to eat in the summer months? Who really wants to spend time in the kitchen when the sun is shining? Maybe some of you but for me, cooking in the summer months is a waste of good summer time sunshine. And the way I fix this is making simple, fast, and affordable meals that I can easily throw together in half and hour or less.

For me, soup would always be the answer but since neither my son or husband will eat soup in the summer months I find I need to get a bit more creative. So what do I do, I make salads or stuff veggies with almost anything. And depending on what I have in the house at the time it usually is never the same salad twice. Very much like soup…you can throw anything into a bowl, top it with some type of dressing, and call it a salad.

Today I thought I would share with you some of our favorite summer time meals as of lately. These are not recipes by any means, just some ideas to inspire you to get creative and maybe step out of that box and take a risk. Your may find your family will enjoy it as much as you enjoy not slaving over a hot stove or oven on a beautiful sunny summer day.

In a half hour or less I have prepared:

quinoa and kale salad with a homemade dressing, kalamata olives, and feta cheese

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stuffed poblano peppers

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tuna pasta salad with fresh dill

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BLT salad

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smoked salmon salad with orzo, dill vinaigrette, feta, olives, and asparagus

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seven layer salad paired with shrimp po boy sandwiches

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black bean burger salad

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chicken salad for topping salads or making sandwiches

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stuffed zucchinis

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Looks good doesn’t it? I can assure you they are all very easy and fast or I would not have made them. As I said, it’s pretty much what I had in the house at the time, so of course, I did not write down any recipes and we may never see any of these again for that simple reason. However, if you see something you like go ahead and ask, I may be able to recall what I did and share it with you.

 

 

Leek, Mushroom, and Chicken Stir Fry Over Rice With Homemade Dressing Drizzle

Since becoming artificial sweetener free in our home cooking has changed drastically. I always felt we ate fairly healthy but now I know without a doubt we eat very healthy and consume copious amounts of veggies.

Here is a recipe I tested on myself before passing it by my husband and thankfully he enjoyed it as much as I did. It uses fresh veggies, pineapple for a bit of sweetness, and can be served over any choice of things…from rice, farro, barley, couscous…really whatever you prefer. My husband is a rice guy…so rice it was for us. And don’t get scared that it calls for making your own dressing to drizzle over the top….it is super easy and most items can be found in any home pantry already. It mixes up in seconds and can be used on a number of things throughout the week.

First, for the dressing you will need:

1 garlic clove-finely minced

1 tsp honey

2 TBSP lemon juice

1 Tbsp dijon mustard

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2/3 cup olive oil

In a glass jar, add these ingredients and give it a good shake to mix well. Store this in the refrigerator for up to a week and use it on this meal along with many others.

Next, for the stir fry you will need:

either chicken breast, thighs, or tenders diced to bite size pieces(enough to feed 4 people)

3 TBSP olive oil-divided

2 leeks-cleaned and diced (read below how to clean a leek)

1/2 vidalia onion-diced

1-8 oz. package of sliced mushrooms

1 garlic clove-finely minced

cooked white/brown rice, farro, couscous….whatever your family prefers to put stir fry over will work

10 oz.can drained pineapple tidbits or fresh pineapple if you have it on hand

salt and pepper to taste

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Directions:

In one pan toss the chicken with 2 TBSP olive oil and cook until no longer pink in the middle.

In another pan saute your leek, onions, and mushrooms with 1 TBSP of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. When they are just about done add the garlic and pineapple and saute another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, have your rice cooking nearby.

To serve, add rice to your dish, top it with the leek mixture adding some chicken pieces to the top. Drizzle some of the dressing over all this and enjoy.

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This is such an easy dish and the dressing truly makes the whole thing come together. Easy, cheap, and fast is how I cook in the summer months and this is a perfect way to achieve all this and enjoy a meal.

****How To Clean A Leek: Cut the majority of the green part off the leek. Peel away any hard or woody parts of the outside leaves. Take your knife and from the root side cut slits the long way leaving the root intact to hold the leek together. Now take the leek and run it under cold water separating the leek leaves with your fingers. This will keep the leek all held together but enable you to also run it under water removing any dirt or sand left from the growing process. When your leek is clean dice it up to the size you prefer.

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Food Can Be Your Medicine Or Your Poison…..You Choose

This is a reader request update:

The statement that food can be your medicine or your poison has become so true in our home. As I wrote about in the past few weeks(here and here) you can only imagine how hard it has been revamping everything we eat to not contain artificial sweetener and make my husband ill.

Take a look through my pantry and you will see cans, bottles, and packages marked with a big NO on the item…meaning it contains some kind of artificial sweetener he cannot eat. There are very few items left in my home but making this mistake will cause him illness for at least a day or two afterwards. I am slowly but surely getting rid of the items or using them up in meals he is not home to eat…since making two separate meals is not something I care to do for us as a family. I look at it as….we are all getting a bit healthier and not consuming something that was made in a lab or a test tube or where ever they come up with this poison.

Now, I know there are a few of you that have contacted me either through comments or through email wanting to know specifics of what foods all contain artificial sweetener. And some have even asked what a days worth of food looks like for my husband. First, I cannot answer the question of what foods all contain this. There are literally so many its impossible to list them all. You will just have to do what we did….make a list and read the labels. Second, I did document what my husband eats in two days for all of you. Although, I seriously don’t know how this will help anyone since we all have different likes and dislikes but it’s what many of you asked for so here is a glance into two days of food for my husband. Everything is artificial sweetener free.

DAY 1:

Breakfast: bagel with whipped cream cheese and fresh fruit (for this meal we needed to change our originally used cream cheese and the bagels we normally bought)

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Lunch: homemade chicken salad on toast with lettuce, broccoli with ranch dipping cup(bottled ranch has sweetener, dipping cups do not…figure that one out???)

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Snack: peanut butter and apples

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Dinner: stuffed zucchini boats with spices, ground turkey, mushrooms, garlic, onions, and organic canned tomatoes. Milk(not shown)

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Day 2:

Breakfast: two hard boiled eggs and a banana

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Snack: plain coconut water smoothie with blended strawberries and vanilla yogurt(yogurt is a big sweetened item…watch the label closely)

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Lunch: BLT pasta salad(recipe here)

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Dinner: sauteed shrimp on a hoagie roll (sweetener free), with homemade seven layer salad. Milk

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Since this all took place, I also make our meals when we go on an outing. Here is a great example of a recent meal while kayaking. We each had a homemade chicken salad hoagie, cheese chunks, fresh strawberries/kiwi, two hard boiled eggs. Lara bars were for extra snacks if we ended up staying too long and got hungry on the ride home.

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You may wonder why always homemade chicken salad for our sandwiches. Let me tell you, I for one, do not eat lunch meat since our first trip ever to Zion National Park and our guides told us how long it will last in our backpacks with out refrigeration in the dessert heat. I swore right then and there to never eat lunch meat again! This is just one of the many things I learned on that trip from two of the best guides. Anyhow, almost, if not all, lunch meat I find in the grocery store contains sweetener…so it’s easier for me just to whip up a quick batch of chicken salad for our sandwiches.

For snacks he has come to like pretzels, some ice creams are ok, and some crackers which he loves. We also found some chocolate candy that he is enjoying and recently were surprised to come across some of his favorite types of candy made in an organic variety. Which, as I told you in the past, just because it says organic don’t always mean it does not contain artificial sweetener(crazy I know) so he did not get his hopes to high until we read the label and all was good. He then bought one of every variety and was thrilled to have his precious candy again. What a sweet tooth he has….let me tell you.

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Drinks are also a big thing we needed to change in our house. He is a peach tea lover and the original peach tea we bought had all artificial sweetener in it. So now we buy a different brand and all is good again. He has also tried organic Gatorade for our hot and very active days…he says its different but good. I have since ordered an artificial sweetener free electrolyte drink mix that has not arrived yet for him to try. Hopefully it tastes ok since it’s much cheaper than the organic Gatorade.

So this is what a normal two days now looks like for my husband. A fairly healthy diet with no artificial sugar what so ever in any of these items. The hardest part was ridding our house of what we already had. Now it’s just a matter of remembering to read labels on anything new. Holidays may be tough when they come around but for the most part we are the hosts so I prepare most of the food anyhow.  For now it’s one day at a time and each day he feels better and better.

I am pretty proud of him for sticking to this since he has never really been a label reader. Although, he says he can easily cheat and eat something if he wants but nothing is worth going back to the way he used to feel. So as of today he has not looked back even once.