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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Family Dinners Documented-How I Find Time To Cook

I enjoy meal planning almost as much as I enjoy planning an active vacation for my family. Ultimately, they are pretty similar if you really think about it. Make sure everyone has a bit of input, know who is all going to be present at mealtime, and make sure the meal includes at least one thing everyone will enjoy. For me this is pretty basic….I love veggies, hubby and son will give me an eye roll if there is no meat, and everyone loves comfort food. Combine all this and sometimes I hit all the wishes and sometimes I learn to ignore the eye roll and the “where’s the meat” comment and they either eat what is prepared or go hungry.

So as usual here is the past week in meals at our house.

Saturday: squash ring baskets filled with bacon and eggs….OMG was this wonderful

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Sunday: greek chicken salads and toasted focaccia bread

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Monday: creamy pesto cheese tortellini with shrimp, mushrooms, and spinach, bread sticks on the side

Tuesday: crock pot creamy mushroom pork chops over garlic mashed potatoes with roasted carrots

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Wednesday: homemade baked mac and cheese and chicken bites

Thursday: bubble veggie pizza (meatless)

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Friday: out

Some of you have asked how I can find time to prepare so many meals weekly and what my weekly grocery bill ends up being. Truthfully, I can’t tell you what my weekly bill comes out to be since they differ so much from week to week. You have to remember, I also grocery shop for the daycare children I care for every day. So, if I had to estimate our portion of the weekly bill, I would say its about $100-$120 a week. This typically makes 6 nights of meals, with at least four servings per night since my husband always takes one serving of leftovers in his lunch the next day. Add in breakfast food and odds and ends for the week and this is typically what I would estimate I spend without any daycare food.

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As for how I find time….I plan my meals weekly. I only buy what I need for these meals, and follow the plan closely. I typically know what our week ahead has on the calendar for appointments, meeting, and activities. So I make sure to plan easy meals on busy nights, crock pot meals on busy days, and more elaborate meals on nights where I know I will have more time to spend in the kitchen. If something goes haywire mid week and our nightly plans change then….well…..it’s anyones guess what could happen.

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You have to remember, now with following this no artificial sweeteners diet for my husband, eating out is risky at best. So I find it just easier to cook at home and this way he is not miserable if we eat something unknown to us that could make him ill. Plus, thankfully, I do enjoy cooking most of the time and I love knowing that what my family is eating is healthy.

Food Allergies and Family Meal Traditions Are High On My Priority List This Year

With the arrival of November and then December right around the corner, I have been working on revamping our holiday meal traditions. I am determined to make them cleaner and healthier for my husband to be able to enjoy without feeling the ill affects afterwards. Since finding out artificial sweetener was the cause of all his abdominal issues for the past few years, I have been working diligently at cleaning up our diets even more than before. We no longer have food in our house with artificial sweetener BUT some of our holiday family traditions that we are not willing to give up are going to be prepared a bit differently this year.

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Take for instance the stuffing to go with the turkey at Thanksgiving. Typically, I buy the sage flavored bread cubes and prepare stuffing using these, chicken broth, poultry seasoning, celery, onion and dried cranberries. This year however, I have been reading labels like crazy trying to find a bread crumb/cubes that do not contain any artificial sweeteners. Breads are a big downer since most companies use this stuff in place of the more expensive basic sugar. Thankfully, I finally found one at Costco and we gave it a try one evening for dinner. Sweetened with real sugar and molasses, this one is perfect….now…does it taste good?

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Yeah….The trial dish came out wonderful although, I did not have any dried cranberries to add to the dish. I am however, thinking that I may go even healthier and substitute pomegranate berries instead or dried cranberries. That sounds tasty and should be even less sugar in the long run.

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Another big change we have to make is to the Christmas morning pull apart cinnamon bread we have once every year. Our original recipe is here and has been a family tradition since our son was little. It is a fabulous recipe and cooks perfectly while we open gifts and is ready to enjoy by the time the gift wrap is all cleaned up. However, this year we picked up the box of Jello cook and serve pudding one night wile grocery shopping to read the label and BAMMM full of artificial sweetener. Super big downer for us. So we made our way over to the natural organic section and thankfully found one brand of cook and serve that used real sugar and nothing fake. I don’t know who was happier, my husband or my son since this is a favorite among them both and my husband feels bad that some things we have had to give up have not been easily replaceable with an alternative yet. So this year will be using this pudding mix with all the other same ingredients and still be able to enjoy our once a year family breakfast together without illness to follow.

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I also recently had a friend tell me that Annie’s Homegrown makes refrigerator biscuits. I finally found them in the grocery store I always shop in and was very happy to see no artificial sweeteners in the ingredient label. You may wonder why I even had to read it but I will tell you for certain that not all organic products are artificial sweetener free. Seriously…can you believe this??? So as always, I read the label and smiled when I got to the end. This will be perfect for the holidays since #1 I am not fond of baking and #2 they are quick and easy. Plus, I can go back to preparing my husband favorite meal of chicken potpie that we had to give up since the original refrigerator biscuits we always used have ingredients in that we are no longer consuming.

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And then we have to issue of get togethers and parties to attend with numerous amounts of foods with any variety of who knows what in them. Much like when his employer puts on food Fridays….he rarely participates and never eats something homemade without being able to read the label first. When we go to others homes we will always bring a dish or two that he knows is “safe” food. And thankfully, for both sides of our family get togethers, we do the hosting so 90%-100% of the food is prepared by us and he knows he can enjoy what ever there is at the time.

I am still trying to figure out whipped cream since we are not able to find a single one that does not have artificial sugars in it. I may give a go at making my own with heavy whipping cream and sugar to see how it turns out. Apparently, its easy to do from what I read….I may find out for myself real soon.

It’s really is amazing the products we have found that contain so much artificial sweeteners in them since this all came about. From cottage cheese, mouthwash, to cold medicines….its in so much stuff. It’s not shocking to me anymore why we are all suffering from one ailment or another….since the food, medicine, and personal hygiene things we use everyday are tainted with chemicals instead of real ingredients. My hope for everyone this holiday season is to stay safe, read your product labels, and educate yourselves on what you and your family are putting in your bodies. It’s been life changing for our family!

Do you have food allergies to work around in your family at holiday times?

When everyone is asked to bring a dish to pass do you ask them to prepare it with out the ingredient that causes issues?