Feeling Almost Back To Normal

This week has been good. We are finally feeling almost back to normal. By this I mean, meals were shared together, exercise routine is back to an actual routine, and peaceful sleep was had all week long.

Let’s start with exercise shall we. Typically, I workout in the early morning hours at our local gym….by early I mean 5:00a.m.. With summer here my job gets much more physical when we can finally get outside and enjoy the outdoors instead of everything indoors like during the winter months. So during the summer I concentrate on making it to the gym twice a week in the early morning, I then bike on my stationary bike the other two mornings, and one day I take off for rest….not from work just from exercise. And then my husband and I have begun walking area trails for about 3 miles after dinner. Add this with many additional steps put on during the day while playing outside chasing daycare kids around and by 8p.m. I am typically falling asleep on the couch.

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As for meals, I finally feel like we are eating regular and not grabbing and going to the next thing on the agenda. If you have been a long time follower you will know that grabbing and going is not easy with my husbands artificial sweetener allergy so this has been a real struggle to keep juggling. Although, I am happy to report we are back to eating regular meals and enjoying the time to sit, eat, and chat about our day. One the menu this week was a new lentil ham soup and BBQ chicken quesadillas. Both turned out fabulous!

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That will be it for today. We actually have plans on the calendar for the weekend…..finally!!!!! Now I am just praying for no rain and sunshine so I don’t freeze since we will be enjoying some water play. It is summer after all, so that means it’s time to enjoy all the rivers and streams Wisconsin has to offer.

 

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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.

 

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So here is what my week looked like:

Saturday: my own homemade spicy black bean burgers

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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

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

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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

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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

Weekly Meal Sharing…..Continue or Discontinue???

With the arrival of Spring I am hoping to begin sharing more outdoor adventures with you all. Although, with that being said, I also know many of you enjoy the weekly meals I share that we enjoy….which I write about to give you all inspiration to cook instead of go out/order out/consume convenience food. However, I am debating discontinuing this weekly post since many of us, including myself, don’t really have the extra spare time in the warmer months as we do in the colder months to read blogs/social media and such.

So I need to know and ask that you please leave me a quick comment…..do you wish to still read and see what I prepare for my family or would you prefer this weekly posting on meals to be discontinued until it gets cold once again in the later part of the year?

And of course, like always, if you have any suggestions on what you would like to read about, shout them out….I would love to hear some suggestions

Thanks

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Replicating A Recipe And Keeping Dinner Time Simple

A few weeks back a friend and I went to a local cafe for drinks and a light lunch. We both ordered the pasta salad they had in the cold case and fell in love with it. It was so tasty yet from the looks of it, so easy to replicate. So I just had to give it a try and see what I came up with. This is what I experimented with Saturday and then fed it to my family with hopes that it would be another meal to add to the meatless menu. Surprisingly, it was a total success…our son actually came back for two helpings…now that really is a success. All it consists of is cheese tortellini, dried cranberries, spinach leaves, onion, a homemade dressing, with goat cheese crumbles added before serving. Simple is often best and this is a prime example of this…. it was soooo good!

Here is what the rest of our week was like at dinner time.

Saturday: chilled cheese tortellini pasta salad with crusty bread (meatless)

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Sunday: Swedish meatballs over pasta with broccoli

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Monday: coconut veggie fried bulgar (meatless)(new recipe)

***I must admit, adding coconut to this recipe was risky, in my opinion, but it really did add so much flavor. I was happily surprised. Bonus: the next day my table food eating daycare child loved it also.

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Tuesday: BLT’s

Wednesday: quesadillas

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Thursday: veggie stir fry over udon noodels (meatless)

Friday: take and bake pizzas from our favorite organic grocery store here in the Green Bay area

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Three meatless meals this week…..all successful. And the remaining evenings were simple but tasty. Just how I like to complete a long day.

Meal prep for the upcoming week:

Not much food prep needed for this upcoming week since my husband would be traveling for work all week which left just my son and I for dinners. Although, a dinner plan was still needed, just a bit less than normal. Here is the prepping I did do to make life easier on myself so I could get everything else done solo.

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I whipped up a quick dozen veggie egg cups for my breakfast for the week. Of course, cleaned and cut up the veggies needed for the week. Plus, I threw together a batch of curry lentil stew (recipe here) for myself for lunch all week.

 

 

 

Less Is More – Read Your Labels

Are you a label reader? I have been for awhile now but what I now read on labels today has changed over the years. I never paid any attention to the ingredient list…ever. Mainly just the nutritional numbers and percentages. I now, rarely read those numbers at all….now I concentrate on the ingredient list almost exclusively.

Yes, time consuming it is. Yes, tedious it is. Yes, discouraging it can be. Yes, you will be completely blown away by what you are putting into your body on a daily basis….that is if you can even pronounce it . However, I also believe it can be life changing since it has been here for us. Now, before you all stop reading, let me assure you….it is not more expensive to eat cleaner food. It just takes a bit of effort on your part. I find it absolutely astounding at what companies can and will put in our food and consider it good enough for us all to consume.

Notice these few food labels we have here at our home.

Honey Roasted Peanuts: short/basic ingredients we all recognize and can pronounce for that matter.

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Crackers: three ingredients/ all things we know what they are/ and nothing fake

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Iced tea mix- nothing fake/easy to read/short list

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Snack bar– nothing fake, easy to read/short list/and everything is food

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Yogurt– clear label/ short ingredient list/ all real ingredients/no fillers/ all food

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This is how we eat today. Simple, easy to read products with clear labels.

You will find yourself getting very creative at times, especially when something you find you have eaten forever you no longer can have or want to have. For us here, there have been a few products that have really been hard to replace by making this change. Let me tell you about a few swaps we have made.

For instance, snack crackers. So many have ingredients in them that we can’t even begin to know what it is without looking it up. So one of the things we have found takes the place of crackers is cucumber slices. They can be used for dipping, layering homemade salad mixtures on (like here) or simply snacking on when hunger strikes. They are healthy, full of water, and are a great healthy option with only one ingredient….cucumber.

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Lunch meat is another big one that was hard to replace. I searched for awhile and did find a few brands that did not contain any artificial sweeteners. However, they are twice as much as all the others and you get half as much in the package. So to replace lunch meat for my family I now buy canned chicken breast. I then make up a fast and easy chicken salad and this is what we make sandwiches with for days we need a meal on the go. It has worked out great, takes very little effort and I know we are eating something without a ton of fillers in it. A bonus is that Costco carries this product in bulk which is a win.

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The one other thing we have really struggled to find without anything artificial in it is pepperonis. We love pizza…who doesn’t right? Trying to find pepperonis with no artificial sweeteners in them was very difficult. Every single one we could locate in our local grocery had sucralose as the sweetener…frustrating I tell you…very frustrating. That is until I happen to find these at our new grocery store here in town where we now buy all our meat products.

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For $3.99 a package we can have pepperoni pizza once again and enjoy every bite.

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Eating for your health and well being is not that hard to do. It is also not as expensive as most people think. Does it take more work? Honestly, yes. However, I feel we owe it to ourselves to live the best life we can since we all only have one life to live. To me this work is minimal when you look at the big picture.

Here is a list of some items we were surprised had artificial sweeteners in them:

toothpaste

some brands of cottage cheese

some sour creams

almost all freezer potato products(ex.tater tots)

airborne/emergen C

many cold medicines/cough drops

candy

almost all gum

breads….so many breads

frozen pizza

salad dressings

sauces (ex BBQ)

anything breaded or with a crunchy coating

frozen spicy black bean burgers

and the list goes on and on….even foods in the organic isles (like the black bean burgers above)

Don’t take for granted when you see natural or organic on the package….this does not mean they did not use something that was made in a lab/test tube.

Read your labels!!!!!

 

 

Going Meatless Is Getting Easier

I don’t know if my family is just agreeing with me to shut me up or actually converting over to meatless meals because I will not give up on this mission. However, I am happy to report that so far they have been very agreeable to what I have been trying. Since they ultimately are my guinea pigs at dinner time, I try and keep my new meatless recipes to our weekend dinners so we always have the option of ordering out if they fail. So far, we have never ordered out…success!!! And I am still getting over the shock of my son trying my veggie burgers and eating two of them without complaining, gagging, or throwing them out. I even got a,”hey mom, you can make these again.” YEEEHHHH!!!!!

So once again, here is what we enjoyed for meals this week.

Saturday: homemade veggie burgers and side salads (meatless)

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Sunday: pita chicken and veggie sandwiches, side salads

Monday: beef stroganoff over pasta with roasted green beans and carrots

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Tuesday: roasted seasoned pork tenderloin, corn, and roasted potatoes IMG_0313

Wednesday: ground turkey and pasta stove top casserole and sauteed zucchini and onions

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Thursday: grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade tomato basil soup (meatless)

Friday: out

Sunday meal prep for the upcoming week included:

A new banana muffin recipe and I also threw together Sunday nights meatballs so I would not have to prepare them later that evening.

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I pre chopped all our veggies for the week, cooked up chicken breast for wraps which my son takes for his lunch, and made up 6 veggie egg cups for a fast breakfast before I head to the gym at 4:45 a.m..

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The only thing I did not do for the upcoming week is make something for my lunches but I know the menu I have planned will offer plenty of leftovers and this is what I plan to eat during the week.