Anyone Else Waiting For Summer?

You know when all the snow finally melts in your yard, you have made the Spring to do list, you have dusted off the patio furniture and are ready to bring it outdoors, and you are so ready to pack away scarves, hats, gloves, and everything that adds bulk in the winter and then you wake up one morning to another full layer of snow covering everything in sight???? This was me a few mornings ago here in Green Bay! IMG_0877

I was bummed. Yes, I know we have gotten snow before…..many times in April, heck even May, but come on already. I am done with winter. So done. It’s really no joke when we here in the midwest say we have to train to get back into shape for the summer season. Winters are long, boring, we eat comfort food just to stay warm, and then before we know it, we are 10 lbs heavier, our joints hurt, and staying up past 8 p.m. is literally a chore even though the sun is still shining brightly. I keep telling my self it’s coming just hang in there.

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Alrighty, I just had to get that rant off my chest. So this weeks meals turned out to be a disaster…but not on my part. It all began Easter Sunday about dinner time when my husband got the call that he was once again was needed in Tennessee and would be leaving on the 7a.m. flight out of Green Bay. UGGGG, we first thought it was an April fools joke, but unfortunately it was not! So even though I had the menu planned and all the groceries bought for the week, I replanned very quickly, and winged it all week.

Here is what this week was in meals:

Saturday: unwrapped egg roll bowls….they were such a big hit last time I had to make them once again

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Sunday: egg and roasted potato bake with ham along with roasted green beans (Easter)IMG_7009

Monday: here is where the week went down hill…at least in the meal area.

Today we ate pasta salads that I had prepared for both my husband and my son’s lunches for the week.

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Tuesday: I opted to try a jar simmer seasoning I picked up on my last trip down to Trader Joe’s called Masala Simmer Sauce. I prepared this with carrots, chicken, and spinach. It was ok, not great, but coming from a jar it was edible. Would I buy it again? Probably not. IMG_0871

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Wednesday: Out for my monthly dinner with my brother

Thursday: bean burger wraps, chips and salsa

Friday: out

Food prep this week was a bit all over the place. I, like I said above, threw together two different pasta salads for lunches for my boys this week. I also roasted potatoes for a casserole and boiled a dozen eggs for myself  for before my morning workouts.

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I also made up 6 muffin egg sandwiches to toss in the freezer and reheat for fast breakfasts. I love doing this….it so easy and so much less expensive than the store bought premade breakfast sandwiches that have so many other ingredients in them that you really do not know what your truly eating.

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Feeling Good About Being Back In The Kitchen

With the cooler temperatures I find myself getting the urge to do two things, #1 return to the kitchen and #2 research next summers destinations. IMG_5524

Although one takes much longer than the other, returning to the kitchen comes fairly easy to me. I am not a big fan of cooking in the summer months. It’s simply a waste of sunshine and daylight hours for me to spend time in the kitchen. If it’s above 75 and the sun is shining, you better be willing to grill out or make your own meals at my house because this mom is not cooking…..

Fall brings changes to our backpacks by adding gloves and hand warmers for trail hikes

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and it also brings changes to what we eat for meals on a daily basis. There is no more grilling for us once the temps hit the 40’s unless my husband is willing to face the cold.

Some of my fall/winter favorites start making appearances for those chilly mornings like peanut butter oats with sliced bananas.

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I also found that both my family and my daycare children enjoy egg omelet cups. Which is basically your choice of veggies sauteed and topped with an egg. Bake these for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees and tada…..you have enough to feed a crowd or enough for a day or three to grab and go.

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For lunch I love roasted veggies. Sweet potatoes are one of my favorites.

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And dinners are all about casseroles again. No more brats, burgers, and hotdogs plopped in a bun for dinner. I recently made stuffed manicotti for the first time and it was FABULOUS!!!

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And then there is soup. What can I say…..I LOVE SOUP!!! I could eat it for every meal, everyday, and during every season. However, soup would not go over well with my boys in the summer months….so I make it at least once a week as soon as it gets chilly.

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For more recipes and ideas click on over to my recipe page. Enjoy!

Tell me…..what are some of the things you bring back to the table when the temperatures drop?

Do you have any favorites?

Meal Planning

Hello hello, how is your weekend going?

It’s time to share what’s on the menu for our week ahead. This is quite the crazy week for us so my trusty crock pot will be very busy (as you will see below).

Sunday: chicken brats, baked beans, homemade napa cabbage salad

Monday: baked boneless pork chops with sriracha BBQ sauce, asparagus, perogies

Tuesday: crock pot shredded taco chicken salads

Wednesday: orzo pasta salad with kale and assorted veggies with hummus

Thursday: crock pot beef and broccoli over rice

Friday: crock pot asian chicken thighs, sauteed bok choy over rice noodles

Saturday: we may try and visit a new BBQ restaurant in a near by town

As always, if you see something that sounds good and you would like the recipe, comment or email me at rednatural1973@gmail.com and I will be happy to share it with you.

 

Ground Chicken Breakfast Sausage

During the holidays I had some time to experiment with a few new recipes and this one really was a great hit with my family.

I am a firm believer that breakfast is the best meal of the day. One of the foods we stopped eating on our journey to healthier living was breakfast sausage but that has come to an end since I did some experimenting in the kitchen. Breakfast sausage is typically made from pork and has way to much animal fat in my opinion to even think about being consumed occasionally much less more often.

Here is what I came up with made with 100% ground chicken, no fillers, and simply added spices that most people will have in their homes. Give it a try and see what you think.

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Ground Chicken Breakfast Sausage

1lb. of ground chicken

1 tsp. sage

dash of oregano

dash of red pepper flakes

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

Mix these spices into the ground chicken until combined. Refrigerate this mixture for at least two hours or overnight like I did.

Over medium heat in a sprayed, nonstick pan gentle scoop roughly formed patties. Cook for about 12-15 minutes(depending on the size of your patties).

One pound of chicken made approx. 10-12 patties for my family.

 

No Time For Breakfast……Your Wrong!

You have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I bet you have also all heard that many people don’t eat breakfast because they claim they do not have time. That “no time” excuse is used for anything and everything wouldn’t you say. No one seems to have time for exercise, mammograms, physicals, to walk their dog, to play with their kids, to just about anything these days. It’s funny we all use that excuse because if you have time to read this post right now you could be preparing something for breakfast to enjoy:) I’m just saying….anyhow, let’s talk about how we can all make time for breakfast.

First, it all starts with a plan. Whether you are single, have children, spouses, significant others, or friends that you live with will depend on the amount you plan for each week. I will use my family as an example along with the children I offer daycare to during the week. So that means I feed two adults and three children (my son fends for himself) every morning. You will need about 30-45 minutes to set aside on the weekend or your day off to carry out this plan. (I use Sunday’s typically)

Sunday mornings I get up and while having coffee and breakfast of my own, I put on a dozen eggs to boil. By the time breakfast is done so are the eggs and are ready to be cooled before I peel them. While waiting for them to cool, I start an assembly line of other things that I prepare weekly. Overnight oats (many varieties are on the recipe page), granola parfaits with greek yogurt, smoothie ingredients so they are ready to blend in a hurry, and fruit to grab and go.

IMG_0327About once a month we also prepare whole wheat pancakes for everyone and freeze them in Ziplok bags. They are so easy to grab, pop in the toaster, and eat in a hurry with no mess to clean up during the week. Yes, I could purchase frozen pancakes but my family and kiddos love pancakes. When we premake pancakes we typically make 75-100 per month. Although, you could buy yours and they would offer the same fast, hot breakfast for you.

My breakfast arrangement really works for us. I know at 4:30 a.m. the last thing I want to do is think about making breakfast. And at 6 a.m. when my kiddos show up hungry, they are not always willing to wait for something to eat. I can grab two eggs, can of V-8 and a banana and my husband is fed and out the door. My kiddos can have pancakes and fruit or a granola parfait in seconds and still have smiles on their faces. A weeks worth of premade breakfast items for my crew is normally, 3 jars of overnight oats, 2 mini granola parfaits, 3 regular granola parfaits, dozen hard boiled eggs, two fresh pineapples, 6-8 bananas, 25 premade pancakes, and peanut butter for toast/english muffins/ bagels. This is 30-45 minutes of a weeks worth of breakfast…tadaaaaa!

I can imagine that many of you are starting to think about starting a weight loss plan with the new year right around the corner. Breakfast should be an important part of this plan also. Eating breakfast will give you the energy to sustain any new exercise you plan to do, it will keep you nourished helping you not overeat when you eat your next meal, and will simply just make your mornings so much smoother and productive. That being said, this is your time to experiment, make a new routine and get ready to feed your body a healthy breakfast. Then, come the new year, when you start your weight loss journey you will already know what you like and what works best for you at breakfast time.

We all seem to have appointments, meetings, and something going on all the time. Adding this to your weekly plan and getting a good breakfast every morning can really improve the productivity in your daily life.

Do you eat breakfast?

If so, what works best for you in a hurry?

 

 

 

Spiced Chai Honey

Recently a friend of our son’s stopped over and presented him with this sweet concoction of honey to try. A few days later, he approached me and told me how wonderful it was in his tea. That was my hint to give it a try, which I did on my oatmeal the next morning. Oh my, it was fabulous.

I knew I was going to have to make more because between the two of us it was not going to last long. So I had him contact her for the recipe and permission for me to share it with all of you. My request was granted so here you are.

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Spiced Chai Honey

16 oz. honey

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. clove powder

1/2 tsp. cardamom powder

1 tsp. ginger powder

small pinch of ground black pepper

Mix all the spices with the honey until combined and enjoy.

We have already tried it in tea, warm unsweetened almond milk, on oatmeal and on toast with peanut butter which is heavenly.

A big thank you goes out to Brittany for sharing this with us:)

 

Zucchini Bread

Garden harvest time is the best time in our home. One of the highly requested recipes for breakfast, snack or honestly anytime is my zucchini bread, with a little added surprise, pineapple.

Whip up a batch and give it a try.

Zucchini Bread

2 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp. vanilla

3 cups all purpose flour(1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 all purpose work well also)

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 cups shredded zucchini

1 (8oz) can of crushed pineapple, undrained

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla together. Combine the dry ingredients, and stir into the egg mixture.

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Do not over stir. Fold in the pineapple and zucchini. Spray two loaf pans and divide the batter between the two.

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You could also make muffins with this batter if you wish. I made both this time, one loaf and one batch of mini muffins.

Bake at 350 for 60-70 minutes for loaves, 30-40 minutes for muffins. Cool in the pan, before removing to a wire rack.

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This recipe freezes well.