A Way Over Due Brain Dump….

It’s been over a month since I have been here to chat and I apologize. Sorry!

I thought of naming this post a “coffee date” but in all honesty, I need a nice tall, cold glass of something much stronger than coffee to take away all that has happened in the past month. So let’s just have a good old brain dump of sorts.

First, our 80/20 eating plan of meat/fish/chicken only twice a week and plants the remainder of the week is going fabulous. If you wish to read why this all came about click on Scared Healthy. Actually, there are many weeks we eat meat only once a week. I don’t miss it at all and surprisingly my husband does not either. In fact, the other day he said he would really like to have sloppy joes for dinner and I simply looked at him and said really, ground meat sloppy joes or what? And he said, can you make it any other way….I mentioned maybe lentil sloppy joes and he shook his head and said sure why not, let’s try it. MY HUSBAND…I can’t believe this to this day, ate lentil sloppy joes and said he liked them and they could be added to the make again cookbook. IMG_1688

Another big hit recently was my remake of mushroom reuben sandwiches. I had went with a friend of mine to lunch one day and this was on the menu. I love reubens so I had to give this version a try. I was blown away….it was fantastic and I told her right away I think this would be great to try on my husband. Sure enough, the next weekend I prepared these for him and I was right, he gave them a thumbs up in the first bite.

IMG_1719

Speaking of scared healthy, the family member that started this transition for my husband to finally eat more plants did not win his fight against heart disease. Sadly, we attended his funeral a month after fighting for his life. And if that was not enough, his wife also passed away 3 weeks later of what most say was also heart disease, but in my opinion it was more of a broken heart.

Training for our up coming mountain hiking trip has been difficult to say the least. Hills have not happened in two weeks due to non stop rain. I have never seen so much rain here in WI. And distance hiking on the weekends has been about all we have been able to accomplish. Plus, I have been going to the gym in the wee hours of the morning on a pretty regular schedule. So exercise is getting fit in just not according to the original plan.

IMG_1626

Another big change in the past month has been that we decided that I needed to cut back on working. I have done childcare in my home for well over 20 years and with my husbands new position and added travel I just could not find enough time to keep up with everything plus all his responsibilities if he was on the road for an extended period pf time. So ultimately, something had to change and this was the logical thing to change. I have dropped the number of children I care for per day and I have lessened the number of days per week I offer care. Which, in the long run, should give me one whole day extra to do life things, home chores, and maybe even get back to finding time to have some me time once again. It sure was hard to make this decision and I had to say good bye to some of my little loves, but I know when things settle down once again I should be in a better spot.

IMG_1378

And last but not least, and by far the biggest change in the past month has been our big shade tree…..

IMG_1633

now looks like this. 20180927_134318

This, for me, is an experience I NEVER want to relive as long as I live. It was the scariest, most horrifying job anyone could get up and go do every single day. We hired a climbing professional to remove our tree limb for limb. It was in a very tight spot, could have easily taken out three homes….ours being one of them, we were not allowed in our home during this process, and I am so thankful it’s down and no one got hurt. Damage wise, well, the very last branch from the very top did fall on the back corner of our home but left very little damage considering what could have been. Another branch did damage our fence but all in all it went well. All the repairs have been made and soon we will have a nice green area once again. I will leave you with some pictures and hope that soon I will get back to a normal blogging schedule once again. I just need life to settle back into a new normal and then all shall return to normal here on Natural Red. On that note, the removal our our huge shade tree went a bit like this.

IMG_1655

IMG_1658

IMG_1663

IMG_1669

IMG_1673

IMG_1667

20180926_113752

20180926_140346

20180926_140432

20180926_142556

20180927_094908

20180927_112753

20180927_110524

20180927_132702

20180927_134304

20180927_134318

 

 

Advertisements

Back On Track Once Again/ Breaking Records/A Healthier “Us” Anniversary

After two weeks of meal time chaos, I feel like I am finally back on track. Everyone was home and accounted for so I knew exactly how much I needed to prepare each night for dinner this week. This makes this wife/mom happy.

Things that did not make all that happy this week was the fact that we broke records here in Green Bay with our newest snowstorm. It was the biggest snowstorm in over 100 years coming in at a whopping 24.5 inches in 48 hours….I guess winter is not quite done with us yet.

IMG_0916

IMG_0928

IMG_0929

IMG_0926

Anyhow, back to better topic, this week we tried two new recipes and one new product I have been dying to try out on the family. Here, take a look….

Saturday: grilled chicken brats, grilled zucchini, and perogies

Sunday: Lentil veggie soup and chicken pita sandwiches

IMG_0888

Monday: slow cooker burrito bowls(new recipe that is a keeper for sure)

IMG_0891

Tuesday: dynamite stovetop casserole

***This recipe was very tasty and basic. As my boys both commented during dinner, mom why did you think this would be a keeper, you can do so much better than this on your own? Well, now, didn’t that make me feel good…although, I thought the recipe itself was quite good. Yes, basic but still good. And how often do you make a recipe that actually turns out to look just like the picture in the book?

IMG_0894

Wednesday: chili stuffed sweet potatoes

***I loved this so much that I needed to make it again so soon after the first time so my husband could enjoy it this time also. Last time I made it he was traveling for work and missed out.

IMG_0836

Thursday: out….tonight plans got scrapped for some unexpected events that happened which left no time for dinner preparations

Friday: red lentil pasta with ham, zucchini, spinach,and parmesan cheese sauce

IMG_0896]

IMG_0902

Have you tried red lentil pasta yet? This was our first time and I must say, it won’t be our last for sure. It tastes no different and the texture is very close to regular pasta that it was very acceptable. All of us said this is a good healthier option in pasta dishes….yeah, another win for mom!!!!

Swapping something unhealthy in your diet that you have eaten and enjoyed for years is often hard and will, without a doubt, be different BUT change is hard and sometimes has to happen. Whether for health reasons, allergies, or you are just getting on the healthier eating train, I believe you mentally have to prepare yourself for the reality of what I eat now is slowly killing me and I HAVE to change to better myself. If this mental transformation don’t happen then you will never find something you can live with in place of another product you have eaten for years and is bad for you in some way. I touch on this subject because coming up here in a few days we will hit the 1 year anniversary of eating completely artificial sweetener free in our home. Yes, at the time it was for major medical issues my husband was having. However, now those issues have all cleared up and he is feeling fabulous. We now all find ourselves reading the label and often times putting a product back on the shelf to find a healthier alternative. I guess maybe one has to be miserable enough to want to make a healthier change before it can happen long term…but for us here, only one of us was suffering with issues and instead of signaling him out we all made the change as a family unit and we all could not be happier.

 

 

Party of 1/Party of 2….Sometimes You Never Know!

This week I was once again on my own except for the nights when our son joined me for dinner time after work. Which, for me, is tough not knowing but also not so bad depending on the day. I knew dinners would be hit or miss all week being our son had friends home for the week due to spring break….and the fact that young adults don’t plan anything too far ahead could mean I would get short notice of being a party of one or a party of two for dinner time. Yes, a fact that drives me a bit crazy but I have learned to roll with it. Add this with the fact that my husband was traveling for work for the week, meant that I got to choose when, if, and what, for that matter, I cooked each and every night.

 

IMG_9904

So here is what my week looked like:

Saturday: my own homemade spicy black bean burgers

IMG_0785

Sunday: tortellini veggie soup with bread sticks

***Although I still made this soup for me to enjoy for lunches all week long

Tonight we ended up going out for Chinese instead…my husbands request before he flew out in the morning.

Monday: Annie’s biscuits with eggs, cheese, and homemade chicken breakfast sausage

IMG_0094

Tuesday: chili stuffed sweet potato…OMG they were so good and easy

IMG_0836

Wednesday: pulled pork salad ( my remake of the salad I had in Port Washington, WI a few weeks ago) IMG_0638

Thursday: pesto chicken and quinoa with cucumbers

IMG_9934

Friday: out

I also threw together a quick mixture of artichokes, spinach, sundried tomatoes, olives, garlic, mushrooms, and chicken sprinkled with Greek seasoning for my lunches this week. So easy and quick to make, yet so tasty and filling. IMG_0832

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

We all love spicy black bean burgers here in our home but when my husband found out artificial sweeteners were the cause of all is abdominal issues we began reading labels on everything in our home. Believe it or not, a very popular brand of spicy black bean burgers we consumed on a regular basis had artificial sweetener in them. Which then made it yet one more food he could not eat. So I thought about it, read many other recipes, and did a bunch of research on how to make my own so we could all eat these as a family again. Then I finally gave it a try and made my own with success all the way around.

These burgers are basic, most ingredients many people will have right in there home pantry, and they literally take minutes to make.

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

4 sweet baby peppers or 1/2 of large bell pepper

1/2 small yellow onion

1 lg clove of garlic

1-15 oz. can organic black beans, drained and rinsed

1 lg egg

3/4 cup quick cooking oats

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp sriracha sauce

dash of salt

First, seed your peppers, peel your garlic, and rough chop your onion. Toss this all into a food processor and blend until finely chopped.

IMG_0775

Next, remove this mixture and lay it on some paper towels to squeeze out as much moisture as you can.

IMG_0776

In a medium bowl, take your drained and rinsed beans and roughly smash them with a potato masher or another appropriate kitchen tool.

IMG_0778

IMG_0779

Then add the remaining ingredients along with the dried pepper mixture and mix this all together. When your finished, score the mixture evenly making four sections….each to form one burger.

IMG_0784

Form your burgers and lay them on a parchment lined baking sheet. IMG_0785

Place them in the freezer for 1.5-2 hours or until frozen firm. Next, you can either package them for later use or bake them immediately. For freezing, I wrapped mine individually and placed them in a  freezer safe container to store.

IMG_0787

IMG_0789

To prepare, I took them out of the freezer, placed them on a tin foil lined baking sheet sprayed with non stick spray. I baked them from a frozen state at 450 for 15-20 minutes minutes per side.

Serving: 4 burgers per recipe

Enjoy!

 

Mom….I’ll Make Dinner Tonight!

Apparently, many of you still would like to see this weekly posting about what I prepare for our meals so I will continue writing these. However, I cannot promise they will be as exciting come summer time since I would much rather be outside than in my kitchen cooking. That being said, with the way we now eat, I will still have to be in the kitchen somewhat everyday and would be happy to share what I come up with to eat with all of you.

Anyhow,  it’s been an exciting week for us all here. So much happened on all angles of life that the week flew by. Stressful but all good at the same time. Everyone in my family is finally happier and then I got my bonus for the week when my son announced to me that he wanted to prepare dinner one evening. I was all for it. I had mentioned to him I wanted to try making my own butter chicken and he took this suggestion and ran with it. It turned out really good and surprisingly enough even my husband liked it….since he is not a big fan of this type of food.

Here is what meals were at our house this week:

Saturday: homemade salmon patties…one on toast and one in a spinach wrap, with dill yogurt sauce, and potato leek soup (meatless technically, but it was fish)

IMG_0760

Sunday: grilled chicken brats, basil dill coleslaw, and perogies

IMG_0438

Monday: butter chicken, broccoli, and bulgar with a side of grilled naan

***You may ask why not on rice as its traditionally served. We have been doing our best not to eat rice since this is a high inflammatory food that seems to be a big trigger food for me. So we have been trying other grains and bulgar is one of our favorites.

***Also, I cannot take credit for this meal since our son prepared this for us for dinner tonight. He is quite the cook when he has the time which makes his mom pretty darn proud.

IMG_0801

Tuesday: cheese tortellini with veggie marinara sauce and grilled flat bread (meatless)

Wednesday: chicken and homemade mac and cheese

IMG_0803

Thursday: pepperoni pizza quesadillas
We changed plans quickly due to some family logistics and had to celebrate a birthday dinner a week early so our son could join us. Sushi is what my hubby (the birthday boy) chose for his birthday dinner. IMG_9812

Friday: out

Food prep for the upcoming week looked a bit like this. I finally made my own spicy black bean burgers. We have yet to eat them but if they taste good I will share my recipe with you all in an upcoming post. If they are a failure, then back to the lab (my kitchen) it is to try again.

IMG_0785

I also prepared some roasted veggies, quinoa, and an asian type sauce to drizzle over this for my lunches.

IMG_0792

IMG_0793

IMG_0796

IMG_0799

And the usual pre chopped veggies and hard boiled eggs were also prepared in advance for the upcoming week.

 

Chimichurri (my version)

Chimichurri is apparently what most people call this decadent sauce of green goodness. I however, literally threw what I thought would taste yummy on roasted veggies one evening and hoped for the best. After doing some research after I had made mine, I noticed it already had a name and that most people use vinegar, they also add red pepper flakes, and many times they add oregano. I did not add any of these since I did not want my veggies flavored with oregano and I also used lemon in place of vinegar since that’s what I had on hand. My outcome was amazing….light, tart, and it adds a burst of freshness to every dish. So I thought I  would share it with you all today.

IMG_0499

Chimichurri (my version)

1/2 red onion-rough chopped

1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley

3 garlic cloves

1/2 tsp salt

juice of 1 lemon

olive oil….amount varies

Directions:

You literally just toss everything into a food processor and slowly add the olive oil while its running until you have the consistency you want.

IMG_0493

IMG_0494

IMG_0495

It will then keep in the refrigerator up to a week. IMG_0498

As for usages….. go crazy and use it almost anywhere. I mixed mine into tuna pasta salad, put some atop a bowl of soup, and also mixed potatoes with it and roasted them in the oven for a few minutes. All this was fabulous…..I can’t wait to try it a few more places.

IMG_0517

IMG_0508

I am thinking it would be terrific on cod, with a leafy green salad, in a summer salad of cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives….or just about anywhere. Shrimp sauteed in this sauce and laid atop a big bowl of pasta…..yeh, like I said, anywhere would be good. Oh my, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. I better add these ingredients to the grocery list again since I do believe it will be a common thing I keep on hand.

 

 

 

 

Add Grilled Meals To The Menu Plan and What Happens…..An Ice Storm!

This week I thought I would change things up and add two grilled meals to the weekly menu. Well, apparently Mother Nature did not think it was time for grilled food since the first meal I had planned also brought and ice storm that same evening. Thankfully dinner was done before it got too bad outside, but come morning this is what we all woke up to.

IMG_0440

IMG_0446

IMG_0445

(***Note: the bed sheet on the window of our son’s car is so he would not have to scrape his windows at 5a.m.. It works just like a tear off….sweet trick if you hate scraping your windows)

Thankfully, both my husband and son each stayed home from work and did not have to travel in this winter mess.

Besides that one evening of grilling misery, we also enjoyed a few more meals that were easy to prepare. Take a look….

Saturday: Asian chicken lettuce wraps with sauteed baby bok choy and mushrooms on the side

****You can read about my baby bok choy find here if you missed it.IMG_0430

Sunday: sweet potato quinoa chili (meatless) recipe here

IMG_9946

Monday: grilled chicken sausages, homemade coleslaw, and baked beans

IMG_0438

Tuesday: cheese tortellini spinach salad and parmesan toasted pita bread (meatless) IMG_0467

Wednesday: grilled chicken thighs, roasted broccoli, and rice/orzo side dish

Thursday: smoked salmon and orzo salad with pickled squash IMG_7808

Friday: out

That should do it for this week. I can’t wait to trade in my whisk for my hiking boots and blog about something a bit more exciting than food. Sadly though, I still find myself deeply searching for new and exciting recipes to serve my family rather than researching trails to visit in our area that we have never seen. Spring has not arrived quite yet, but for now I am just hanging in there and waiting patiently.