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.

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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

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

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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?

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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.

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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

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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.

 

 

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Weekly Meal Inspiration

Winter may not be here quite yet on the calendar but it officially arrived here in WI with frigid temperatures and high winds on Tuesday. Mondays high where I live was 61…..and then it was over!!!!! Time to dig out all the winter gear, time for my hair to freeze rock solid when I walk out of the gym a bit sweaty, time for my lips to crack every time I smile, and by looking below at our week of meals, it’s time for soup.

Here is what we enjoyed this:

Saturday: BBQ chicken pizza

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Sunday: no boil lasagna and side salads

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Monday: pork and banana peppers on rolls with provolone cheese, sweet potato rounds and a side of cranberry sauce…I just had to make one more batch before cranberries are scarce once again.

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Tuesday: cowboy caviar filled wonton wrappers and leek soup

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Wednesday: out with my brother

Thursday: crock pot beef, barley, and veggie soup

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Friday: out

This weekend I plan to wrap gifts, continue working on the Christmas menu, and attend yoga class for some me time. Enjoy your weekend and I will be back with one last week of postings before I take a bit of a Christmas break. Can you believe the holiday is so close….where does time go?

Brrrrrrr….It’s Getting Chilly

Oh boy, it’s getting chilly outside already.

Which in my house means it’s time for pumpkin muffins, comfort food and dinner meals to be enjoyed indoors again instead of outside on the porch. Some of our favorites are beef stroganoff, chicken piccata,  and homemade potpie with a corn bread crust.

chicken piccata

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Soon enough we will be arguing about when it’s cold enough to turn on the heat, if there is enough ice to ice fish on safely (which in my opinion, there is never enough to do this sport SAFELY) and we will need to adjust the alarm clock for yet another hour earlier for the predicted snowstorm to dump on us overnight and my husband to still make it to work on time. It’s amazing how much 3a.m. differs from 4a.m. when ultimately, its only an hour difference. But that hour makes all the difference in the world to me.

Our leaves have started falling and are adding color to our lawn.

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Workouts are easier and much cooler to do at this time of year. And ironically enough, the sun going down sooner makes me even more motivated to go to the gym in the evening. I always feel like in the summer months, I am wasting daylight going to exercise in a gym surrounded by four walls and lights. So, it getting dark a bit earlier I don’t mind so much at this stage.

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Soon, I need to go through my backpack and add some hand warmers, an extra pair of socks, and I will be able to take out the bug spray and head nets, which is always a good swap in my mind. And hopefully we will find time to start geocaching again, along with finishing a trail we started mid summer, and also get in a bit more disc golf before the nets are all taken down for the winter.

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Well, that’s it for me right now. Morning comes early and I have a full crew arriving bright and early. My hope is to have some crock pot recipes for you all real soon….that is if all goes well this week and I find time to type. If not you can rest assured that I made it, ate it,and enjoyed it, but just didn’t get time to type it up cause I was hiking, exercising, or just having fun doing other things in the great outdoors.

 

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Labor Day ….What Does It Mean To You?

For many Labor Day simply means an extra day off, end of summer merchandise sales are taking place at retailers, summer cabins are being closed up for the upcoming winter, or campers are getting in one last camping trip before the bathroom houses are closed down for the season. In truth, however, it was set aside for everyone to pay tribute to all working men and women out there. For me, it brings many different meanings some wonderful and some not so wonderful.

First, it means that summer is unofficially over. School is back in session, schedules need to be followed, and traffic picks up in our area due to school drop off and pick ups. UGGGG!

Second, it means that laundry gets a little more abundant. Jeans and sweatshirts mean a few more loads a week….UGGGG!

And lastly, it means that some of my favorite foods start making a comeback to our weekly menu. Beef stew, chili, and soups are among my favorite meals to have in cooler weather. Not to mention, pumpkin and pumpkin spice items can be found sprinkled around grocery stores everywhere…mmmmm….what to try first is anyones guess.

So, as we approach Labor Day weekend, which yes, for me means an extra day off like many of you, let’s not forget to reflect on this past summer and all the fun and exciting things we all did.

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You all have a great Labor Day weekend and I will be back next week with a great new hike to share with you all.

 

Weekly Dinner Planning

A while back I was asked how I plan and accomplish getting dinner on the table every night while caring for children and exercising as often as I do. I thought now would be a great time to touch on this topic since everyone has probably started their resolution of adding exercise to their daily life all while trying to juggle everything else that life throws their way.

First let me say, I always have a plan but do not beat myself up if that plan does not always happen. However, there are many factors that play into our weekly meal plan. Things like appointments, # of people eating that night, schedules, seasons, moods, weather, workout plans, coupons, etc.

Typically, I make my menu plan on Friday’s so I can take stock of the pantry and grocery shop for the needed supplies over the weekend. I always give myself Saturday off, where I prepare no meals at all for my family. This is the day I only cook for myself, someone cooks for me, or in the summer time you will usually find us sharing a meal on the tailgate of our truck after hours of kayaking,

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a meal on top of a bluff,

IMG_0382 or it could even be a meal on the top of a kayak. Regardless of where Saturdays meal may be you will not be served by me on this day of the week:)

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There is no magic trick to getting a decent dinner on the table most nights. I use my time wisely, I prepare anything I possibly can ahead of time, we have many cooking projects that the kids I care for can help with, I use kitchen tools when time is tight (love the crock pot), and always clean and cut up veggies right after I buy them. That is one step I don’t need to worry about getting done during the week.

A normal week looks somewhat like:

Sunday: nice dinner could take anywhere from 30-45 minutes to prepare (workout day)

Monday: 30minute meal (workout night)

Tuesday: 30 minute meal ( workout night)

Wednesday: crock pot or casserole meal (playdate on Wednesday’s means something to set and forget or a casserole I premade in the morning is ideal) (workout night)

Thursday: 30 minute meal ( workout night)

Friday: easy fast 15 minute meal (who feels like cooking on Friday’s) (off no workout)

Saturday: off (workout, kayaking, hiking, tennis, etc)

I will start posting our weekly menu plan on Sunday’s so you can get a little look into how I manage meals, exercise, working, and life. Maybe this will help those of you who struggle to find balance when it comes to feeding your family and still finding time for you.

Here is this weeks plan:

Sunday: no boil lasagna and side salad

Monday: pork stir fry over rice medley

Tuesday: crunchy ground turkey hoisin pockets and roasted broccoli

Wednesday: roasted whole chicken in the crock pot, stuffing, and zucchini

Thursday:  sushi and side salads

Friday: tuna casserole

Saturday: make it yourself or starve:)

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.