Packing school lunches for kids 5-days a week, it’s easy to get burned out and run out of ideas. By Friday I kind of just want to fill each section of their lunch boxes with cheerios and send them a milk chug and a spoon. So to make your life and mine easier, here are […]
Tonight on the menu in our house was shepherd’s pie. I always try to make dinner as easy as possible, but sometimes even that’s more effort than I feel like giving after a day of being a mom.. The idea of using a pan to cook the meat, two more to cook potatoes (we have to make sweet and regular potatoes in our house because everyone likes something different), and two pans to bake the pies (again for different potatoes) made me want to order a pizza.
Then I thought, “what if I just put the meat on top of a baked potato? Wouldn’t that taste the same?” The answer: YES! It does. I made the potatoes on one foil-lined pan that didn’t need to be washed. I didn’t have to wash a potato masher, and I didn’t have to wash the pans I’d have to use to bake the pies. I ended up washing one skillet. SUCCESS!
I used a lot of vegetables in this dish because I’m always trying to cram in more vegetables. This dish is a perfect way to add vegetables because once it all simmers in the sauce, your kids won’t even notice all the veggies. Mine didn’t!
I had to take a picture of this because it’s so beautiful! When they say, “eat all the colors of the rainbow everyday,” this is a great start.
I topped my husband’s and daughter’s servings with some grass-fed, grated cheese. My daughter hasn’t eaten dinner that fast in a long time. We cook our sweet potatoes using this method from empowered sustenance (click here for link). I always add a russet potato to the pan for my husband and it comes out just as perfectly as the sweet potatoes.
I have a confession that may get me kicked out of the healthy community. I do not particularly enjoy eating fish. I am okay with white fish, but I don’t love salmon (one of the healthiest fish due to its higher fat content). Fish provides Omega-3 Fats, which help our heart and reduce overall inflammation. A word about buying fish. ALWAYS buy fish labeled “wild-caught.” This means the fish was taken from its natural habitat after eating its natural diet. “Farm-raised” fish was raised in large groups and fed using grain by-products. This makes farm-raised fish richer in Omega-6 fats which we already get way too much of in the standard American diet.
Because I realize how much I need fish in my diet, I’m always looking for a way I can eat salmon and enjoy it. One thing I do love is Asian food. I decided the best way to eat salmon was to give it some Asian flavor. These salmon bowls are DELICIOUS! They come together really fast and are easy to customize. I love meals like this because I don’t have to try to please everyone. I put out the toppings and everyone can just add what they like. These are also great for company for that exact reason. When I eat these bowls I can honestly say I love salmon.
If you’re going to use rice, start it cooking first.
Then start working on the salmon. I’m not willing to spend a lot of time cooking dinner so I love to cook fish in the oven. I don’t want to have to watch a pan. After it cooks, the salmon easily flakes away from the skin in bite-size pieces. If you REALLY don’t like salmon, you can make this with any fish. Shrimp would be DELICIOUS (a fish I actually do love to eat). Just remember to look for that “wild-caught” label.
While the salmon cooks, prep all your toppings. There is really no wrong way to do this. We use cucumber, carrot, red pepper, spinach, cilantro and avocado but if you want to use something different, go for it.
Then make the sauce. I love this sauce because it only requires one bowl and no cooking. Make and store extra for salad dressing. I like to use tahini, my husband likes peanut butter. Either is delicious. You can also use almond butter or really any nut butter you have on hand. Don’t go out and buy something if you have ingredients that work.
Now just build your bowl how you like it. I like to add a scoop of rice a huge handful of spinach, one whole flaked salmon fillet and then top it with my veggie strips. Then I just drizzle the whole thing with the sauce. My family members pick the veggies they like so there’s not complaining about not liking certain ingredients.
And that’s it! Dinner is ready! Enjoy your fish!!
My daughter has eczema. She comes by it honestly. She inherited it from me. I inherited it from my mom. My mom from her mom; her mom from her mom, etc, etc, etc. We may be able to trace this back to Eve. Two years ago I gave up grains because my joints are awful and I found a grain-free diet helped a lot. I also noticed that after over 30 years, my eczema cleared up significantly. YAY!!
So when my daughter was on the ground sobbing because her legs were bleeding I decided she should try to go gluten free. A month later, her legs looked completely different. I was shocked at the improvement. I think they’d clear up even more if she gave up dairy, but I want it to be her choice and she said she’d stick with giving up gluten for now.
The point is, with her dietary restrictions and mine, we’ve had to get creative. A few weeks ago she and I were watching The Pioneer Woman (one of our favorite bonding activities) and drooling over her chicken Parmesan. My daughter asked, “Can we please make that?!” I couldn’t let her down so we gave it a try. I wanted to make a grain-free but delicious version of this classic comfort food. We were all pleased with the results.
The process was similar to classic chicken Parmesan. The only difference was the mixture.
Rather than use bread crumbs, I made a mixture of almond flour, tapioca flour, Parmesan cheese and spices.
After I coated the chicken in eggs, I dipped it in the “breading” and fried it in a skillet with a little coconut oil. I used chicken thighs because I like them better than breasts, but use what works for you. The process is the same.
Here is where you have to make a decision. If you like your chicken Parmesan crispy, remove it from the skillet top it with hot marinara sauce and sprinkle the cheese on top. If you want it softer, pour the marinara over the chicken and sprinkle the cheese on top while the chicken is still in the pan. Let this heat until the cheese melts.
My husband and daughter prefer this over gluten-free spaghetti noodles. I serve mine over a huge handful of spinach. The heat from the chicken wilts the spinach a bit but it gives it great flavor and crunch. Plus it’s a great way to add in some extra vegetables.
A word about marinara sauce. I’m happy to report that it’s becoming much easier to find a marinara sauce without sugar. But be sure to read your labels! The cheapest I’ve found is the Trader Joe’s brand that comes in a can. No sugar, low price and delicious. If you want to save even more money, make my No-Sugar Marinara Sauce.
When I first started eating healthier, I wasn’t sure what to eat. I had meat and veggies seasoned with salt and pepper. This is a delicious meal but after a few weeks, I was pretty darn sick of it. That’s when I started experimenting with seasonings. Eating healthy is actually really easy if you figure out how to add flavor to food. Sometimes we feel like eating healthy has to be miserable. Good news. It doesn’t!! These meatballs are proof. They are so yummy! My husband and kids loved them and these are people who order things like chili cheese fries and shakes at restaurants, so that’s quite the compliment. Plus, these are easy to make. These days I’m really lazy with cooking. If it takes me more than 20 minutes active time to cook, I’m out.
The only chopping in this recipe is the green onions. To add to my laziness, I cut these with kitchen shears rather than chop them with a knife and cutting board. Add the onions to a large bowl.
Add in the seasonings, coconut aminos, and sesame oil.
Mix this all together before adding in the meat. This keeps the meat tender.
I make my meatballs about the size of golf balls but make them whatever size works best for your family. Just be sure to increase bake time for bigger meatballs and decrease it for smaller ones.
I bake these in the oven for about 15 minutes.
The sauce was the easiest part. Because it’s such a small amount I didn’t want to dirty a saucepan. I mixed it together in a glass dish and microwaved it for two minutes. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Then I just tossed the meatballs in the sauce and sprinkled them with sesame seeds.
You could eat these over rice or rice noodles (if you do, I’d double the sauce), but we just ate them plain with some veggies and cheese on the side.
My favorite lunch is a salad. Not a wussy salad with veggies only and dressing on the side. I’m talking a salad loaded with veggies but also avocado and a nice , filling protein. YUM! But this week in Denver, we got snow. Cold, wet snow. So when it came time for lunch yesterday, I wanted something warm that didn’t take a ton of time or dishes. I decided on a stir fry.
As I’ve mentioned before, I love a to make stir frys. It’s a great way to mix together a ton of leftovers and have a great, filling meal. Yesterday my leftover addition was ribs. The day before I made ribs by covering rib meat in Diane Sanfilippo’s Smoky Spice blend (click here for recipe), topping them with my N0-Sugar BBQ Sauce (click here for recipe) and cooked them in my slow cooker on low for 8 hours. They were AMAZING!
So for my stir fly, I stripped some meat off the bones, mixed it with some veggies, a little more smoky spice blend and some coconut aminos. It was so warm and delicous! Plus with all those veggies it was loaded with great nutrients. I’ve listed the veggies I used but feel free to customize this how you like. You really can’t mess it up!
A few weeks ago I was more stressed than usual. I decided the thing that would decrease my stress would be to organize my pantry. I know this doesn’t make a ton of sense, but you people like me (Type A and slightly OCD) understand how a well-organized pantry can lower stress.
In my organization, I stacked 13 cans of pumpkin puree. Thirteen!! That’s when I knew I had a problem. But since it is fall, I decided to put that pumpkin to good use and not just for pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes… I really want some pumpkin right now.
I immediately thought of this amazing pumpkin soup I had a few weeks ago. My friend had a pumpkin party (best idea ever, right?) and made this amazing pumpkin soup from Rachael Ray (click here for original recipe). But I was sad when I saw the recipe and realized it included flour and diary. The soup is actually pretty healthy in its original version but if you are like me and swell up in your joints and gut if you eat gluten or dairy, you’ll appreciate my dilemma.
I decided to make the soup but change the ingredients and adjust them to still get the same creamy consistency without the flour. I also wanted to up the protein with some chicken. I’m pleased to report I was very successful. My whole family loved this soup.
The best part is that it comes together in one pan. Start by sauteing the vegetables in the butter.
The bulk of this soup comes from three cans. How easy is that?! Just a can of chicken stock, a can of pumpkin and a can of coconut milk.
Then it gets some great flavor from the nutmeg and bay leaves.
After this simmers together, just add some cooked chicken pieces. We use thighs because we like them better than breasts, but any chicken will work great.
As far as the relish goes, I left it completely the same as the original recipe but replaced the Craisins with raisins. It’s close to impossible to find dried cranberries without added sugar, so I opted for the raisins. The flavor was still amazing. I also left out the chili as I knew that would not impress my 5-year-old.
Now I have 12 cans left of pumpkin in my pantry. Guess I’ll have to try one of these (click here for a link to some great pumpkin recipes).
You know what makes me crazy? (I promise it won’t be a long tirade this time) Meatballs. By the name we should be able to infer it’s just a delicious ball of meat. Sadly this is not the case. Next time you go to the store, check the back on a bag of meatballs. All meatballs are made with bread crumbs but often also have soy, sugar and even corn syrup. Why must we defile a beautiful ball of meat this way?
Because meatballs are an important part of life, I came up with my own recipe with, wait for it… MEAT! Aside with the meat and an egg to bind it together, the only other ingredients in these meatballs are Italian spices and seasonings to make said meat taste amazing. The best part is, these meatballs are SOOO easy to make. Way easier than a meatball full of strange ingredients.
At first I chopped my onion and garlic with a knife. I realized they weren’t chopped finely enough but decided I was way too lazy to try to chop them smaller. I threw them in my mini food processor and they were finely diced in about five seconds. That moment changed my life. I decided to never use a knife to chop onions again. I feel a freedom I haven’t felt since the day I graduated from college.
See that cute, little hand. That’s my 5-year-old daughter. She loves to help me cook.
The key to a tender, juicy meatball is to mix everything but the meat together first. I learned this tip on the Food Network. Thanks celebrity chefs. After I mixed the onion, garlic and seasonings together with a fork, I added in the meat.
Another key to a great meatball is to use your hands to mix it together once you add the meat. No it’s not your most glamorous moment, but you can’t mix everything properly with a spoon. You need to use your hands.
I like to bake my meatballs rather than fry them because it’s a lot less work. Once you bake them you have two options. At this point, you can stick them in a freezer bag and have delicious, Italian meatballs for another day. Or, you can simmer them in my sugar-free marinara sauce (click here for recipe).
When I make them for my family, they eat them over a whole grain pasta. I eat mine over a bed of spinach. I love the slight wilting the heat gives the spinach, which makes it warm but still slightly crunchy.
I recently got a new set of knives. I didn’t exactly need them, but they were at Costco and they came in different colors. They were so pretty I couldn’t resist. I’m kind of like a fish drawn to shiny things. I brought my lovely knives home and unpacked them (which was quite an accomplishment since the package was pretty much welded together) and selected which knife to use based on color. The massacre began when I was slicing an onion. My new, very sharp knife slipped and I cut my pointer and middle finger. Luckily we have a rather extensive collection of Star Wars band-aids, so I wrapped up my hands and went back to making dinner. The next cut was to my knuckle. I’m still not totally sure how that one happened, but there it was. Another R2D2 bandaid and I was set to go.
A few days later I was making something with coconut milk and cut my other knuckle on the can. It’s been so bad lately that my 8-year-old who is as oblivious to what’s going on around him as any 8-year-old said, “Mom. Why do you keep cutting your hands? Maybe you shouldn’t use knives anymore.” Seriously! Am I the only one who is a total spaz in the kitchen? Am I the only one who goes through more band-aids than their children?
To make my story relevant, I have a recipe for you that requires a lot of chopping. One thing it doesn’t require though is a lot of is dishes. I wanted a complete meat and veggie meal that could be made with one pan. Done!
Not only does this dish come together in one pan, but it’s a savory dish that has all the delicious flavors of fall.
To make things easier, chop all your veggies and add them to a large plastic bag with the oil, salt and pepper. Then shake it up to coat the veggies.
Here’s where the fall flavors come in. We get to make a fabulous spice blend that has slightly sweet flavors like cinnamon and orange, and warm flavors like paprika and cumin.
Using the same bag you tossed the veggies in, toss some chicken thighs with the seasoning mix. Remember that commercial back in the 80’s/90’s with the little girl who helped make the chicken? “It’s shake and bake and I helped.” Funny. I don’t remember freshman science, but I remember that commercial. That’s basically what we’re going to do here.
So if the veggies and chicken covered in delicious flavors isn’t enough, we up the flavor with the ingredient that improves anything: Bacon! I ended up using 8 slices of bacon to wrap all 6 thighs but use however many you need/want based on the size of thighs you have.
The chicken goes on the same pan as the veggies and it all goes in the oven together.
I like to eat mine over spinach, but my husband thinks that’s a terrible idea. You choose.
However you eat it, be careful cutting those veggies.
Because I think you all need some comfort in your life, here are my favorite healty soup recipes. Hopefully we won’t have snow for a while, but a cool, cloudy day is more than enough excuse for a bowl of soup.