Recent Eats….Still Adjusting To Our New Way Of Eating- Artificial Sweetener Free

If you recall back in May of this year we changed up our diets completely free of artificial sweeteners to hopefully help with some of the issues my husband was experiencing with his health. Read about my first update here. The change has been remarkable but you may wonder how this has changed life for me…the main cook in the house. Well, it’s hard at times but I just need to think back at how frustrated I used to be when we would be ready to go somewhere and I would have to wait once AGAIN for him to use the bathroom. So ultimately, I’m happily adjusting.

One downfall I face is we can’t eat out just anywhere anymore.We have no more delivery to our home. No matter how tired I am, how much I don’t feel like cooking or simply don’t want to clean up the kitchen once again….I need to cook 99% of the time. Take for instance the evening we went out with my brother to Red Lobster….my husbands favorite restaurant for crab legs.

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He had plain old crab legs, one biscuit and two chips of the artichoke appetizer with water to drink. He then woke up in the middle of the night miserable and for two days later he was miserable. We think it was probably the biscuit but it could have been the dip or both for all we know. Two days of misery for crab legs….not worth it in my opinion and he agreed after the fact. This is typically how eating out goes. He tries to pick healthy, sometimes can’t resist his favorite things, and sometimes all is good after and sometimes not. However, I will say since this big change we have been venturing out a bit and trying new organic restaurants in our area and we have found one nearby that is a big winner. It has the best ever reuben sandwich and has passed the test since he felt no ill results after we ate here together.

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Salad dressing/sauces are still a battle. I am using more fresh herbs and spices than ever before and experimenting with recipes I find online and some I make up as I go. Some are winners and some are not but I am not giving up yet.

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I’ve even invested in a dressing shaker bottle since making dressings in a jar with a lid tends to be a bit messy which drives me a bit crazy.

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I am giddy to report that I can once again put meal salads on the menu and he can eat them with no adverse effects. I have to believe its the dressings that caused the bad reaction but with his stomach so messed up trying to process the raw veggies that are often in salads it had to be torture on his insides. All this is in the past and we are once again enjoying salads…yeah!!!!

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We have even been using our spiralizer more since before I found it a waste of time being I was the only one eating the veggies I spiralized. Now, I can make a whole dish and we both can enjoy it.

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Casseroles were, by far, the hardest adjustment with the most changes. Probably since sauces often combine the casseroles together and as I said above, sauces and dressings are terribly tainted with artificial sweetener. Cheese and half and half make a great sauce when simmered together with other herbs, spices, and ingredients. I have done this mixture with a number of different dishes and seems to be one of our favorites.Take for instance this dish pictured here.

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The ingredients are simple: deboned roasted chicken, sundried tomatoes puree, garlic, half and half, pasta, kale, and parmesan cheese. Mixed all together makes a fabulous meal and goes a long way to feed a crown…in my case, my family(three adults) and three kids for lunch the next day, plus lunch for my husband once again the next day. How is that for a hearty, fast, easy meal?

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Or chicken piccata with leek and pea pods was also a big hit recently. So yummy, yet so easy to do with a few ingredients. Just the way I like it on a busy weekday.

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And when I am really just not feeling in the cooking mood or simply need a break….I lay out the ingredients, leave directions, and he prepares the meal while I escape to venture beyond to new tasting adventures. I did this once this week with a friend and tried Ethiopian cuisine for the first time. I can’t wait to tell you about this experience in an upcoming post. HINT: It was fabulous!!!!!!!!!!

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All in all, I would say we are adjusting quite well to our new lifestyle of no artificial sweeteners in our food. Was it difficult….yes! Was it worth it….for sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 hereĀ  and hereĀ  if you missed it.

 

 

Recent Random Thoughts

Hi, how is your week going? Mine is good….and almost over, yeh!!! Just a few more hours to go.

With no great workouts to share with you all since I am mostly just walking area trails and riding my bike giving my body time to heal, I thought I would share some random things today. My brain is often like a never ending trail to nowhere and sharing it sometimes helps relieve some of the “pressure” shall we say.

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I’ve been up to a lot but at the same time not so much….is that possible? Makes no sense I know but that is how I feel lately. Summer has not been what I thought it would be and now we are into August and we all know what that means….it’s almost over! It’s weird to think my mind still runs on the school calendar when my son has not been in grade school for years already. How do us moms break out of this and just take every day as it is….I haven’t figured that out quite yet but I am working on it? Which is why, as of the end of August, I consider summer over. However, I know in my mind we have plenty of nice days left in September and even some in October but ultimately it comes to an end so quickly.

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Speaking of September and October, I do believe I have over booked all our weekends once again for these two months. Fall is the best time in my opinion to hike, camp, explore the area and enjoy harvest time. Bugs are dying down some, colors start to appear, veggies are plenty, and it’s cooler so camping and hiking are much more pleasurable. Now I just have to find a way to tell my husband I only left him two weekends for hunting in the fall months….he may not like this very much!

Anyhow, let me tell about some treasures I have found lately. First, I must give a big shout out to Fresh Thyme Farmers Market here in our area. We have fell in love with their meat department and if you know me, that is saying A LOT! I am not a meat lover but my husband is. I have a hard time buying it, preparing it and eating it but my attitude has changed a bit since this store has opened. We are loving their meats.

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I have also found an essential oil room freshener that I love and does not cost an arm and a leg. (I paid $7) I hate chemical fresheners and don’t want the overwhelming smell of a plug in oil freshener since I don’t want the aroma all the time. Which makes this spray perfect and I can use it when I wish and not gag when I spray it in my home like the chemical fresheners cause me to do. I know it says it can be used as a body mist also but I have not gone this route…I strictly use it for our home and vehicles.

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Once again I am attempting to grow my green thumb and I am going to try and grow a prickly pear plant or two. We fell in love with this fruit in Arizona and I recently kept the seeds from one we purchased here in WI. I would bet it’s not going to grow and if it does it may not survive but I have to give it a try. Here’s hoping for a touch of the southwest in good old Green Bay. On the flip side, if I do not succeed at growing one myself I can always plan another trip for fresh fruit. I know none of my family would object to returning to this area.

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Speaking of vacations, we are inching our way closer to our next one and I cannot wait to step foot on the A.T.( Appalachian Trail) once again. Back in January 2017 I made this dream come true and finally got to log some miles on the A.T. with my husband and son. Our next trip will bring us back to the A.T. only in a different state and I plan to log even more miles and hopefully make more wonderful memories. However, this time it will be just the two of us since our son recently started his new job and is not bale to join us for this adventure.

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That shall be it for today. Enjoy your weekend…..that’s my plan.

 

 

 

Some Of The Best Places Are Ones We Stumble Upon

While we were in Wallace, Michigan visiting the De Young Family Zoo(read about it here if you missed it) we were hoping to stumble upon a park nearby that we could enjoy a quiet picnic lunch together at. So we drove down a nearby highway thinking we were headed toward lake Michigan and were surprised when we realized we had turned the wrong direction. Which we then turned around and passed a sign that said public boat landing on a flowage.

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Now, if you know anything about my husband, he knows just about every boat launch in our area. However, in Michigan, he knows very little but said that the ones in WI sponsored by WPS are usually pretty nice so why not check this one out in Michigan. I had no reason to complain since I know very little about any of them and plus, I was hungry and wanted to eat lunch. So we ventured down this gravel road and came upon this.

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Wow, gorgeous!!!!!!!!!!!! A big lake, with a nice gravel lot, and a porta potty. And the best part….not another vehicle in the entire lot except for us. We both used the bathroom facilities and then ate our picnic lunch of chicken salad on pitas, fresh apricots, prickly pears, and Larabar caramel seal salt bites.

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Oh, I must mention, if you have not tried this flavor if Larabar bites yet, you must….they are fabulous. Good luck eating only one serving…..the two of us finished the whole bag!

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After lunch he knew I spotted the grassy trail we passed off the gravel road that seemed to lead around the lake and suggested we go check it out.

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Now, keep in mind, we were not in any way prepared to hike today since I was suppose to be taking it easy and letting my abdominal muscle heal. However, I saw the trail, he saw that I saw the trail, and my hiking boots are always in my SUV just in case….you never know when I will come across a trail I must explore. So after lunch we both sprayed down with more sunscreen and bug spray which also never leaves my SUV and we headed out for a look where this trail led to.

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It quickly got much more wooded and the trail turned from grass to dirt. And soon we found ourselves surrounded by big tall trees as far as we could see.

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I asked my husband if he felt we could possibly see a bear here…and he said it was very possible which made me stop and look around. One of my bucket list things to do is to see a bear in the wild while hiking someday. Although, today was not the day since we soon found ourselves swatting at numerous bugs. Plus, not having any hiking supplies, backpack, bug nets, water or bear spray we decided it was probably best if we turned around and head back to the parking lot where we left our vehicle.

We walked probably about 1.5 miles on this trail with no end in sight. You all know what that means…..we will return and come better prepared next time for sure. I never start a trail I can’t finish. And next time maybe we will stumble upon a bear…who knows.

All in all it was a very beautiful place to share a lunch and explore. Never be afraid to stop and take that turn if you not sure what’s down that road. You never know what you may miss by passing it by.

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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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Roasting Poblano Peppers On A Gas Stove Top

I have received a few questions on how I roast poblano peppers. Honesty, the first time I did it I swore I would never to do it again. However, then I tried a different way and this time it was a breeze.

First, clean your peppers under water.

On a gas stove, light the flame and lay the peppers right over the open flame on the grates.

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Turn them every few minutes until the entire pepper is blackened….about 10-15 minutes.

Next, take a large plastic bag and seal the hot peppers in here for about 10 minutes.

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After 10 minutes or so, fill a large bowl with some cold water and taking one pepper at a time gently rub the blackened skin off in the water. Slit one side and carefully pull the stem off and dip the pepper in the water until all the seeds are out.

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Lay each pepper on paper towel to dry.

****Now if you have a garbage disposal you can do the cleaning step right under the faucet. I do not have a garbage disposal so I clean mine in a large bowl of water and then drain the water to discard the skins and seeds.

After cleaning your peppers you can stuff them, chop them, or slice them to enjoy however you wish.

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