Saturday, July 09, 2011

My blog has moved!!!

My blog has moved to http://www.elevatewellness.blogspot.com/

Check out the new look and my more specific focus - menu planning included!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Menu Plan Week of July 5th

We just returned from the cabin after a wonderful 4th of July holiday weekend!  Back to business on the home front - I'll be grocery shopping tomorrow.  Now that my family has shifted our menus to focus on organic produce and higher quality meats, it is imperative that I menu plan to keep our food budget on track!  More to come on this topic - I have some great tips to share and money-savings discoveries that I have made over the past few weeks. 

My husband will be on a golf trip this weekend so the slow cooker will be my best friend to get dinner on the table for my little guy and I!!!

Wednesday - Chicken quesadillas
**I will use leftover chicken from the roasted crock pot chicken last week, which I shredded and stuck in the freezer.  I will simmer the chicken with stock, salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder until the liquid is absorbed.  Use your favorite tortillas and fixings and you have a meal!

Thursday - Italian Beef sandwiches (crock pot, from my menu mailer) and green beans.  Google "Crock Pot Italian Beef" for lots of great recipes!

Friday - Slow Cooker Chicken Breasts and rice (leftovers for lunch this weekend!)

Saturday - Hot Dogs, pasta and veggies

Sunday - Slow Cooker Pork Chops with sides to be determined!  (I never got to these last week!)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Menu Plan Monday Week of June 27th

With summer in full-swing, I realized I skipped my menu plan post last week when Wednesday came around - oops!  Back on track this week! 

Check out my post below about making water kefir - it's really fun to make and has been a great success so far!  It's a great substitute for plain fruit juice or soda.  I plan to mix it in with smoothies for my little guy, too!
For more menu planning ideas, check out a site I recently discovered - Once a Month Mom - for some great batch cooking/freezing ideas!
Onto my menu this week...

Monday:  Mom's group get together - hot dogs, chips, fruit, veggies, etc.

Tuesday - Crock Pot Roast Chicken with honeyed carrots (from my traditional foods menu mailer)
**I will be using the crock pot again to make chicken broth with the bones from my roast chicken....  stay tuned for more details.
**I highly recommend roasting a whole chicken in the crock pot - very economical and some of the best chicken you will ever eat!!
Wednesday - Mexican Sloppy Joe's and green beans (I will be pulling this out of the freezer, I made a double batch a couple of weeks ago)

Thursday - Crock pot pork chops (I'll use this recipe but sub in the chops - they were on sale this week)

Friday - Date night...  Twins/Brewers Game!

Saturday - Headed to the cabin!  I will be making Grilled Honey Lime Chicken from my traditional foods menu mailer)

Water Kefir

As part of my mission to optimize my little guy's health using whole foods and natural remedies, I have started to make water kefir for him (and my husband and I).  It has similar health benefits to kombucha but it is safe for small children to drink and it is much easier to make (it takes 24-48 hours to brew, using kefir grains, water, sugar and any herbs, fruit or fruit juice, etc. that you would prefer to flavor it once it is fermented).  Here are some pictures of my first experience making water kefir.  Click here for a link to Nourished Kitchen's recipe for water kefir and more information about this very healthy juice substitute!  I purchased my grains from Cultures for Health (they have great tutorials and recipes there, too!)

Here is a more specific explanation of water kefir thanks to Cultures for Health:

"Originating in Mexico, water kefir grains (also known as Sugar Kefir Grains) allow for the fermentation of sugar water or juice to create a carbonated lacto-fermented beverage. Incredibly easy to brew, the starter culture can create a new batch of kefir every 24-48 hours. This makes a fantastic non-dairy alternative to milk kefir and can be flavored after brewing to make a variety of delicious sodas. If you are looking to replace soda pop, your family will love it!"

Rehydrated Water Kefir Grains (use plastic strainer, no metal)


Add 1/4 cup of organic sugar (any) to hot water, mix with plastic or wooden spoon (no metal)


Fill jar with cool water.  Once water is at room temperature, add the grains.


Cover with coffee filter and let it sit on your counter top for 24-48 hours (the longer it sits, the less sweet it will be)  The kefir grains "eat" the sugar, giving the beverage its probiotic qualities.

Strain out the kefir grains and start your next batch!  Here is the finished product!  At this point, you can use a recipe to flavor your kefir.  Over time, your kefir grains will multiply, allowing you to make more batches of kefir at once or to share your grains with others!

NOTE:  For optimal results, use spring water or well water to make kefir.  I boil my tap water and chill it in the fridge, which is also acceptable.

Friday, June 17, 2011

From Healthy to Nourishing

As I continue to tackle some new cooking and diet techniques, I want to share with you a little bit about what I am doing for my family.  Thanks to Nourishing Our Children (see their Facebook page here) for putting together this "checklist" of ways in which you can start implementing traditional foods and traditional cooking techniques into your family's diet! 

Buy a copy of the book Nourishing Traditions
**this is an extremely interesting book - I just started digging in.  Although some of their techniques appear extreme to the everyday American, it is FULL of information regarding traditional cooking methods, some of which are very easy to integrate into your repertoire.

Join your local community: http://www.westonaprice.org/find-a-local-chapter
...
We encourage you to start with a single item from the list below and create changes one step at a time.

Eliminate all industrially processed soy foods from your household.

Replace sugar with natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw local honey, grade B maple syrup, pure maple sugar, molasses, dehydrated coconut nectar, coconut palm sugar, green powder stevia, rapadura and sucanat.

Replace fruit juices with lacto-fermented beverages, such as kombucha, traditionally made ginger ale and beet kvass.

**I am making my first batch of water kefir this week - stay tuned!

Replace poly-unsaturated vegetable oils and trans fats with traditional fats such as raw and cultured butter, olive oil, sesame seed oil, coconut oil, lard, chicken fat, tallow, etc.

**I just started using coconut oil for cooking and baking the past couple of weeks - it is so tasty.  We even melt some in our oatmeal in the morning - YUM.  You can fry meat, veggies, etc. in it.  You can find it at your local co-op or Whole Foods possibly even Trader Joe's?  I need to check on that...)

Replace industrially produced breakfast cereals with nutrient dense eggs from hens on pasture, non-nitrate bacon, homemade kefir, whole milk yogurt, and soaked oatmeal.

**Who doesn't love bacon?!  :)  Try Beeler's or Applegate - easy to find.

Replace pasteurized dairy products with raw and cultured dairy.

Replace processed, convenience foods (boxed, packaged, prepared and canned food items) with fresh, organic, whole foods.

**Of course, fruits and veggies are a given.  But, I am starting to think beyond that and looking at all of the other processed snacks we eat.  My family eats a lot of breakfast and granola bars.  This seemed like a natural first thing to move away from when it comes to the boxes in my cupboard.  I made my own granola "bars" this week (it came out more like bites than bars - but it was SO yummy - between the three of us it is already almost gone!)  Check out my menu plan post from last week for the link!)

Take your daily dose of high vitamin cod liver oil – with no synthetics added, along with high vitamin butter oil.

**My little guy and I are now taking cod liver oil daily - I mix his with some of his Barlean's Fish Oil (as mentioned in this post).  Again, this is a little "extreme" (it's not the most pleasant stuff) but take a look at some of the history and health benefits, it may motivate you to give it a try!

Check out Nourishing Our Children on Facebook for a wealth of information!!! 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Menu Plan Monday Week of June 13th

Per my posts last week, I am going through another shift in my cooking repertoire to meet the needs of my little guy as we work to heal his gut and reduce overall inflammation inside his little body with the ultimate goal of eliminating some of the medication that he has been prescribed year-round for asthma.  If we stick to this, we know the results can be awesome (i.e. little to no symptoms of asthma during peak allergy season, the ability to layer some of the foods that have been eliminated back into his diet, etc.)  Currently, we are on a complete elimination diet of all of the top allergens and trying to increase essential fats and good bacteria in his diet wherever we can.  When it comes down to it, this leads me to take a very traditional approach to cooking.  I am an all or nothing kind of person, so I am taking on this challenge with everything I've got. 

Despite all of the menu planning I have done, I decided this new step required some utside assistance.  So, timing could not have been better for me to discover the blog site called Cooking Traditional Foods.  KerryAnn, who runs this site, has weekly menu plans that you can subscribe to that provide grocery lists, the daily plan for cooking meals AND recipes. What I love most is that her recipes are quick and easy (with a little planning and preparation) and very kid-friendly.  I subscribed for 8 weeks in order to kick-start this new approach and provide the guidance and techniques needed to follow this plan.

So, for the next 8 weeks, I will be highlighting some of the dishes from KerryAnn's menu plan (without recipes, but just to give you a sense of her plans in case you are interested!) and recipe links as normal on the days I do not use her recipes.  I will also discuss techniques that, no matter what approach you have to cooking and food, I hope you will find to be healthy, easy options for your family (and maybe some new ideas, too).

Thank you so much for continuing to read my blog and for following me on this journey.  In the meantime, please check out my past posts for great dinner recipes and head to Orgjunkie's blog for more menu planning inspiration!

Menu Plan

Monday:  Mexican Sloppy Joe's

Tuesday:  Leftovers

Wednesday:  Corn and Black Bean Salad on Tortillas
Thursday:  Beef tips with rice

Friday:  Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Kabobs with grilled veggies

Saturday:  BBQ

Sunday:  Father's Day!  Turkey Burgers and farmer's market veggies (I'll be trying a variation on this burger recipe - YUM)

I'll be making these very yummy looking oat bars this week!  Lots of opportunity for variation and according to the recipe, they store well in the freezer.  I'll let you know how they turn out!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Menu Plan Monday Week of June 6th

Per my last post, I will be tweeking our menu just a little bit going forward to reflect some of the new cooking techniques and ingredients we will be implementing into our diet to help our little guy heal.  Below are some links to new sites I have been introduced to or found on my own. 

Monday:  Whatever is in the fridge :)

Tuesday:  Chicken "hurry" with green beans and mashed cauliflower

Wednesday:  Breakfast for dinner:  Quinoa patties (banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, etc. - YUM - link posted soon!) and yogurt with blueberries

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Grilled turkey meatloaves with farmers market veggie side (asparagus or other)
***Check out this recipe link for an awesome tip on making three meals - one to eat, two to freeze!

Saturday: Out

Sunday:  BBQ with friends - making veggie pasta salad (I will roast some of the veggies to soften them)

Taking it a step further...

After another asthma attack and further prescription medication administered to our little guy (along with his ears continuing to be inflamed with fluid behind his ear drums, potentially requring tubes if we don't correct it quickly), we have decided to take my son's health into our own hands and meet with a chiropractor/naturalist to discuss alternative options to help heal him from the inside out as opposed to masking his health issues with these medications that could result in long term side effects.  As a result, my family will be taking yet another step towards a more traditional way of eating.  This will take some effort to adjust to in the short term, but so worth it for our overall health and wellness in the long term!  This includes all organic/grass fed meats, dairy free for the little guy (sub in coconut milk), and other food preparations that will help his gut heal, his ears clear up, and his asthma diminish.

So, you will see a few changes to this blog as a result.  I am excited to introduce some of you to cooking techniques and recipes that, like myself, you may be new to.  The people with whom we have surrounded ourselves for the sake of our son's long-term wellness have also been awesome about referring us to resources that I intend to make mention of where appropriate. 

Please let me know your thoughts and ideas, as well.  The biggest thing I have learned in the past couple of weeks is that you don't have to accept the status quo - challenge the "norm" if your gut tells you that it may not be the right path for you and your family!

I found this great list of 10 tips for real food newbies from Nourished Kitchen (thanks to Taiha Wagner for referring me to this site, it is awesome!)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Menu Plan Week of May 23

After a very crazy weekend, I am ready for a fresh start!  Our little guy ended up at the ER with another asthma-like attack.  Again, a reminder about how proactive we need to be from a medical standpoint on his behalf.  This was seasonal-allergy related, I believe; however, we will visit with our allergist and pediatrician this week to target the cause and tackle what is now certain to be diagnosed and treated as asthma.

I am looking forward to a calmer week ahead and such much needed R&R up north at my in-law's cabin next weekend (my menu plan next week will be delayed as a result).  Last week's highlight was yet again the Mexican Lasagna - yum, can't get enough!  I actually added leftovers to scrambled eggs the next morning! :)


Monday - Pizza Night

Tuesday - Spinach artichoke turkey burgers (from last week) with Cucumber Bean Salad (this recipe link also links to a blog I was referred to - loving it so far!)

Wednesday -  BBQ Pulled Pork Leftovers (from the freezer - recipe from Week of May 2 with green beans and leftover cucumber bean salad

Thursday - Curried quinoa with chicken and peas (another great blog with awesome, easy recipes!)

Friday - Off to the cabin!  Burger night...

Saturday - Kitchen Window's Paella on the grill (if you don't know what this is, check out the recipe and Kitchen Window's website for the tools you will need - it is sure to "wow" anyone who you cook it for!  Ours will be made with chicken only)

Sunday - Smoked Ribs

Monday - Leftovers

Tuesday - Home from the cabin... winging it! :)


Check out Orgjunkie's blog for more menu inspiration!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of May 15th

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!  I started my weekend off with a kidless (unfortunately rainy) visit to the Mill City Farmers Market.  It was my first time to this market (I have always been a fan of the Minneapolis Farmers Market) and I am glad I visited.  It is much more intimate with a  lot of really cool, unique vendors.  Plenty of undercover area to tuck into on rainy days like Saturday, too!  The highlight was the asparagus - oh my gosh it looked so good!  I bought a pound and we had it for dinner tonight (Sunday) - so yummy.  It makes me excited for all the local, fresh veggies to come!  

I am excited about my menu this week - some new flavors mixed in with some "old reliables" and of course all of the upcoming in-season produce at the farmer's market - yay! 

If you did not give the slow cooker Mexican lasagna a try in March when I originally posted it, I HIGHLY recommend it. It is meatless - the cauliflower gives it a meaty texture though.  Hubby and my little guy loved it.  For more menu inspiration check out Orgjunkie's menu plan post!


Monday:  A "reinvented" kid classic - Mac and Cheese (Annie GF Mac and Cheese - allergy-friendly (unless dairy is on your list) with no artificial colors and GF noodles!) :), green beans and  leftover burgers

Tuesday:  Poached Ginger Chicken with rice, salad/green beans (I will make this with changes to the oils - no peanut or sesame oil.  I'll sub in olive oil.  Despite the substitute, I still think this will be tasty!  Poaching is a great way to prep meat for kids, too - it turns out tender and soft.)
tip:  prepare ginger/shallot "dressing" the night before

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday:  Slow Cooker Mexican Lasagna
tip:  prepare pot the night before; buy pre-cut, pre-washed cauliflower

Friday:  Leftovers again! (love that!)
Saturday:  Grilled Pork Tenderloin (sub veg oil for canola oil in marinade) with fresh farmer's market sides (most likely the amazing asparagus that is in season right now!)
tip:  marinate on Friday night, the more time int he marinade, the better!

Sunday:  Burger Night!  Spinach Artichoke Turkey Burgers, Grilled Potato Chips (thinly slice large potatoes the long way, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, grill!)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Gardening Journey!

This year, I have committed to giving gardening a try.  I do not have a green thumb, but I am inspired by so many family members and friends who successfully garden and offer me the opportunity to taste their incredible harvest at the end of the season.  Their tomatoes, veggies, herbs, etc. are wonderful - I am looking forward to going out in the backyard to pick what I need for a meal and set a great example for my little one (I am sure he will be getting his hands dirty along with me!)

Also, after so much research with regards to chemicals and pesticides used on produce sold in the United States (I become more passionate every day about this topic), I know that growing my own veggies is the healthiest, most affordable solution for fresh organic food for my family. 

Since this blog was created to help you and I explore ways to elevate wellness in our lives, I believe that my gardening journey is an integral part of this... so, the good, the bad, the ugly - I plan to document it here.  Hopefully I can look back and be reminded of lessons that will make next years' gardening experience better than the last (and on from there)!  If you have tips and tricks for me, always feel free to comment or email me!

I also plan to post recipes that I pull from various resources (or that I create myself) using produce from my own garden or what is at its peak from the Farmers Market each week!!  (After all. let's be honest, I will have to start small in my garden!)

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of May 9th

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day - my husband spoiled me by doing all of the shores around the house and cooking meals!  SO nice! 

I want to make note that Food Allergy Awareness Week is this week.  If you have a few minutes, take some time to educate yourself on this growing epidemic - even if your kids are not suffering, you will undoubtedly be exposed to children that are along the way.  Education is so critical!  My favorite site is AllergyKids.  FAAN is the largest food allergy network in our country - learn more about FAAW here.

You will notice a lot of my vegetarian meals focus on quinoa lately - I purchased a large bag of organic quinoa at Costco and we are loving it.  It is packed with protein so makes a great, affordable sub-in for meat.  Our Mexican quinoa tacos were awesome last week, and the leftovers were even better!  The quinoa absorbs all the flavors - very tasty stuff.  I prepped all of my veggies the night before (chopped and wrapped in cling wrap) - it took about 10 minutes to throw it all together and 20 minutes to cook!  Makes for an easy, quick cooking after work/busy day dinner!  So, buy some quinoa and join me!!  Please send me your favorite quinoa recipes if you try a new one or have some in your recipe rotation!  (Note that once cooked, quinoa is very easy for my little guy to spoon up, so very kid-friendly!)

This week, I will be making the pulled pork that I planned to make last week (always good to have some flexibility when schedules change). 

Monday:  Turkey Burgers, green beans and potato "chips" (thinly sliced Yukon golds tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper)

Tuesday:  BBQ Pork Sandwiches (from last week) with Roasted Broccoli, Carrot and Chick Pea Medley (Toss roasted veggies and beans with olive oil and vinegar of choice, salt and pepper to taste)
tip:  prepare crock pot the night before and plug it in before heading out the door!

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday:  Roasted Chicken with Balsamic Bell Peppers and Polenta with Peas and Pancetta (sub bacon)
tip:  make polenta (put in 8x8 baking dish after cooking, bake and slice into squares before serving) and make pepper mix the night before; bake chicken and add to re-warmed pepper mix before serving!

Friday:  Quinoa Pilaf (Similar to this recipe; add or interchange veggies; add beans to make it a meal and I always sub veggie or chicken broth for the water! for my little guy, I chop veggies very fine or grind them in the food processor, easier to eat and he can't pick around them!) :)
tip:  chop all veggies the night before, wrap in plastic wrap so they are ready to dump into the pot!

Saturday: Out

Sunday:  Grass Fed Beef Butter Burgers with Kale Chips and Potato Wedges

Check out Orgjunkie's blog for more menu inspiration!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Meal Plan Monday - Week of May 2nd

After a wonderful week with my family in Milwaukee, I am back to menu planning this week!  I am excited to try some new recipes (using my slow cooker twice!  yay!) while trying to keep it simple.  It does not feel like May here in Minnesota, but I am cautiously optimistic that next weekend will bring us some grilling-friendly weather and a lovely Sunday for Mother's Day cook-outs!

Keep an eye out for another post this week with some new, allergy-friendly tips and links for you and/or loved ones who are challenged by food allergies and intolerances or are just looking to educate yourself on our food system and what you can do to keep your family healthy!.  New resources are always helpful and motivating as you continue along this journey! 

Monday:  Pizza Night

Tuesday:  Whole Roasted Chicken (slow cooker!), mashed potatoes and carrots
Tip:  Prep the chicken the night before

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday:  Cinco de Mayo! (Vegetarian) Mexican Quinoa (I will serve this with cheese, corn tortillas, salsa and guac to make hearty tacos!)
Tip:  This could be made the night before and put into 9x13 baking dish - warm in the oven with cheese on top to make a yummy casserole!

Friday:  Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Green Beans and/or Green Salad
Tip:  Add all ingredients to crock pot the night before, plug it in in the morning!  LOVE that!

Saturday:  Easy Grilled Lamb Chops with grilled asparagus and rice (I found out at Easter that my little guy LOVES lamb chops - you can buy them at Costco and they are delicious!)

Sunday:  It's Mother's Day!  Hoping to take a break! :)

P.S.  Check out Orgjunkie's blog for more menu inspiration!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - The (very) Simple Edition

Hello all!  Happy LATE Menu Plan Monday!  A trip to the ER with our little buddy last night left me without time to post.  Unfortunately, he has a little cold that settled into his lungs and resulted in a nasty respiratory (asthma-like) attack (they won't call it asthma yet).  Unfortunately, it looks like we may be adding asthma to his list of challenges - there is lots of reasearch that ties eczema and asthma together, so it is not surprising.  All the more reason to proactively prvent the eczema through elimnation of the foods of which he is intolerant with the hope that it minimizes the impact of asthma on his life!

That being said, my menu plan this week is extremely simple - I am cleaning out the pantry and will be out of town all next week, so I will be back in action with solid plans for you the week thereafter!  In the meantime, in relation to children and food, I will be participating in a conversation via Twitter tomorrow evening regarding food dyes and safe food for our children.  I believe the more educated we are, the more we can do to take action to prevent our children's children from dealing with all of the food issues that we face today.  If we educate ourselves and our children appropriately, we will all be better of for it for every generation beyond.  Join me and hundreds of others tomorrow night!  Click here for more information!

Monday:  Variation on Chicken with White Beans and Tomatoes (I used some jarred roasted red peppers, chopped up and mixed with the beans, instead of the tomatoes).

Tuesday and Wednesday:  Hubby and I will be switching nights out, so we will each have Trader Joe's roasted vegetable enchiladas (bake right from the freezer, SO YUMMY!) and I will make pasta or rice for the little guy with turkey meatballs
tip:  bake toddler bite-sized mini turkey or beef meatballs in advance and keep them in the fridge or freezer - they are awesome in so many dishes!

Thursday:  Pizza night!

Friday:  Off to Milwaukee to visit family for the week!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of April 11th

Happy Monday!  We had a great week last week, the weather was beautiful so all of our grilling plans worked out perfectly!  It is so nice to simplify meals in the spring and summer months - I cannot wait for the farmers market to open so I can integrate more fresh, locals fruits and veggies into my menu plans!  It won't be long now...

I have a few vegetarian meals on the menu this week - if there are any vegetarian favorites that you would like to share, please comment to this post with a recipe or recipe link!  I am looking to add more variety to my vegetarian recipe selection!


Monday:  Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas with Black Beans
*tip:  This is easy to put together the morning of or the night before!  Keep the fixings simple!

Tuesday:  Spicy Moroccan Chickpeas (link to a past blog post with recipe link) with Quinoa

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday:  Vegetarian Pasta Bake (recipe below)


Saturday:  Out!

Sunday:  Grilled Mini Meat Loaves (sub in GF breadcrumbs) with Grilled Veggies

Vegetarian Pasta Bake Recipe:
Mix one can cannelini beans (drained and rinsed), 2 cups cooked pasta (brown rice pasta in our house), zucchini, carrots, peppers (or whatever you have on hand or whatever your kids like!) with your favorite tomato sauce.

Add mixture to a baking dish, bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, sprinkle with Parmesan and bake an additional 3-5 minutes. 

Easy and kid-friendly (not as messy as noodles with sauce over the top!)  Put this together the night before and bake when you get home.  Also freezer-friendly, so great to make this the weekend before - just bake it a little longer before serving!  Add some Italian sausage or chicken sausage if desired.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Start Your Day Right!

I have always been a breakfast lover, and so has my husband.  We very rarely leave our house without sitting down for a quick bowl of cereal or a piece of toast.  Since becoming a Mommy, I am even more aware of how important it is to have a healthy, hearty breakfast.  Especially when we are talking about my energetic 18 month old!  As we began to suspect that our little one may have food sensitivities, I had the opportunity to meet with Taiha Wagner of Just One Bite (read her profile here; "Like" Just One Bite on Facebook).  She was an awesome resource for us when it came to dietary suggestions, not just for kids with food sensitivities but for all of us.  Her suggestions for breakfast (and all meals!) helped to boost our immune systems and keep us functioning at our best. 

On top of the breakfast suggestions below, Taiha also recommended that we give our little guy a fish oil supplement in the morning or mid-day.  I tell EVERY mom I can about this - I cannot tell you how strongly I believe in providing this supplement to your children - not only for immunity, but for brain development, skin health, etc. (do your research, you will be a believer!)  You can buy Barlean's Omega Swirl at any health food store - take two teaspoons per day.  They have wonderful flavors - our little guy loves it and we have seen such positive results from it!

The biggest thing I have learned from Taiha and my own "mommy research" is that boxed cereal and toast are not going to cut it - my son burned through that type of breakfast way too quickly, and so do I!

Breakfast ideas for your kids (and for you!):

  • Plain oatmeal mixed with milk instead of water (for a fast breakfast, we microwave milk and instant oatmeal and mix a tsp. of agave nectar into it, then I add frozen blueberries or raspberries to cool it down and add more flavor - a huge hit with my little guy!)  tip:  for an extra affordable route, you can buy the plain oatmeal in bulk and separate it into individual servings, add a 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar and some raisins to each serving and it will be ready to go when you need it!
  • Lean turkey roll-ups and cheese with whole grain or gluten free/allergen free crackers (it sounds a little weird, but kids don't know the difference between breakfast and lunch - if they like it, they'll eat it!  Spread a little hummus on the turkey before you roll it for extra protein and fiber!)
  • Super Smoothie - when we are trying to get out the door to work and day care, we use our personal blender (this is the one that we have - love it!) to make our little one a "super smoothie."  Recipe:  One-half of a banana, 1/4 cup of frozen blueberries (if you choose to, you can add 1/4 cup of another frozen fruit (mango, peaches, etc.), 3/4 cup of baby spinach leaves (I pull the little stems off), 2 tsp. Omega Swirl Fish Oil and a blend of whole milk and water (enough liquid to blend, I eyeball it).  Put it in a no leak straw sippee cup - our little guy LOVES them!  (He actually drinks one of these every day!)  Make one for yourself while you are at it! :)
  • Another on-the go idea:  Cut up grapes or a half of a banana, string cheese and a few crackers (you can't go wrong!)
  • Pancakes made with quinoa flour and fresh berries:  A weekend treat.  Sub in quinoa flour for great, nutty flavor and an awesome punch of protein and fiber.  Totally guilt free!
I would LOVE to hear some of your healthy breakfast ideas - send them my way via email or the comments!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Menu Plan Week of April 4th

Happy Spring!  I cannot tell you how happy I am to see April come around - whew!  It has been a long, long winter.

I am swapping a couple of recipes from last week to this week due to some changes in last week's schedule.  I was disappointed not to try the chicken kabob recipe last week, but it looks like the weather will be great for grilling mid-week so we'll give it a try then!  The dinner highlight from last week was the Mexican Lasagna!  The little guy is not a fan of cauliflower and he gobbled it up - it softens up in the crock pot to the point that it has a "meaty" texture.  Even the hubby loved it.  Definitely give it a try (one that you can put together the night before)!

Look forward to a couple of posts this week from me, including quick and easy breakfast ideas and shortcuts and a kitchen update!!

Monday:  Slow cooker pork tenderloin with squash and green beans
tip: prepare crock the night before; make 2 lbs. of pork for the sake of leftovers!!

Tuesday:  Pork Sandwiches (leftover) with brown rice and veggies

Wednesday:  Chicken and Veggie Kabobs (see link from last week) with white bean salad
tip: cut/marinate chicken and prepare veggies the night before

Thursday:  Pasta, chickpeas and ground turkey (or beef!)
(this is a variation on this recipe from last week by Mark Bittman - he suggests subbing 3/4 lb. browned turkey/beef for the prosciutto; spinach for the cabbage; and chick peas for the cannelini beans - figured while I am on that vein I'd give it a try!)
tip: if you will be on a tight schedule at dinner time, prepare sauce the night before or at least brown the beef; otherwise this recipe comes together very quickly!

Friday:  Pizza night (crusts from the grocery store, make our own from there - easy and fun.  We use an allergy friendly pizza crust recipe for Ben or tortillas as crusts!)
tip:  if it's nice out, we love to grill our pizza!!

Saturday:  Grill steaks (from Von Hanson's - yum!) with Pasta and Asparagus (really easy pasta recipe, I sub in brown rice noodles)

Sunday:  Grill out with friends!  Brats, hot dogs, fruit and potato salad (Sensing the grilling theme this week?!  I am SO ready for it!) 

Check out this week's Orgjunkie post for more menu inspiration!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Italian Stuffed Peppers (Slow Cooker!)

This morning, I put together what is looking to be a tasty slow cooker Italian Stuffed Pepper recipe in the making!  It is gluten/allergen free and really healthy - I even snuck some extra veggies into the meat mixture!  To make this especially quick and easy, put together the meat mixture and cut and clean the peppers the evening before,  then throw it all in the crock pot in the morning.  Check it out and give it a try!

Recipe:

3-4 Bell Peppers (depending on size)
1.25 lbs. ground turkey  (I buy it at Trader Joe's - best deal!)
2 14 oz cans (or one large can) crushed tomatoes with basil
1 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs (OR gluten free breadcrumbs with addl. 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup brown or white rice, uncooked
1 zucchini, grated
1/2 cup of water or vegetable/chicken broth
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown turkey, add salt, pepper, 1 can crushed tomatoes, vinegar and seasoning.  Simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Turn heat off, add breadcrumbs, cheese, rice and zucchini to meat mixture.

Add 1/2 of second can of tomatoes to bottom of slow cooker along with water or broth.  Place peppers, cut in half and hollowed out, into slow cooker.  Fill with meat mixture, top with the remaining tomatoes (and an additional drizzle of balsamic if you would like!)  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Add mozzarella cheese approx. 15 minutes before serving.  Serve with additional Parmesan for topping.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 28

We made it home today from a wonderful adult-only getaway to Mexico.  It was great, but we are so happy to be back at home with our little guy and I am looking forward to getting back to some normalcy after a very busy March - with our kitchen remodel and our trip, we were barely home! 

Usually I plan my meals based on what is on special at the grocery store but menu planning is more critical for my family than coupon cutting... so this week, due to my vacation, I am planning without looking at the ads and cutting coupons, back to that next week! 

I was inspired by a recipe I found in Parents Magazine April 2011 issue (Mark Bittman, one of my favorite food writers, now writes a column every month - love that!)  The Parents Magazine website has tons of quick and easy recipes, I'd highly recommend taking a look for some inspiration!  I also love the site good life(eats) and enjoyed checking out some new recipes there tonight, as well! 

I hope to be more active on my blog with some new healthy, allergy friendly recipes in April.  With grilling season upon us, I am starting to yearn for easy grill dinners and adding farmers market fare to my plan...  it will hopefully be here sooner than later!

For more menu planning inspiration, check out Menu Plan Monday at Orgjunkie's site!

Monday:  Super Sloppy Joes,  Potato Wedges, Green Beans
Tuesday:  Pasta, Greens and Beans (Click the link, it is number 1/6)
Wednesday:  Slow Cooker Vegetarian Mexican Lasagna (sub in corn tortillas!)
*tip: prepare on Tuesday night!
Thursday:  Leftovers
Friday:  Italian Stuffed Peppers
Saturday:  Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans
Sunday:  Honey Lemon Garlic Chicken Kabobs with Chickpea and Rosted Red Pepper Salad
*tip: marinate chicken the night before!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of 3/14

After a couple of weeks living with my hubby's parents, we are finally back in our house with much of our kitchen complete - very exciting!  It is so fun to cook with the layout being more open and beautiful granite counter tops!  I will post pictures this week.  My hubby and I are lucky enough to have a vacation to Mexico coming up in one week, so it will be a little crazy getting ready for that this week, as we are leaving the little one home with his grandparents!

Some of my menu from last week will be shifted into this week because we did not move back into our house as planned.  I would love to hear your feedback or any recipe suggestions!  I am always looking to switch things up!

Monday:  Pizza night! (Allergen free pizza crust for the little guy, recipe to come soon!)

Tuesday:  Vegetable Beef Soup (from last week, sub in fresh veggies and gluten free beef stock)
tip: prepare crock pot the night before!

Wednesday:  Turkey burgers with potato crisps and green beans
*Potato Crisps - thinly slice yukon golds, toss in olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, flipping them after 7-8 minutes

Thursday:  Leftover Vegetable Beef Soup with Grilled Cheese (bread or corn tortilla for the little guy)

Friday:  Beef and Veggie Quesadillas with Black Beans
tip: stir fry veggies (peppers, onions, etc.) the night before!

Saturday:  Baked Chicken Parmesan*, pasta, broccoli
*chicken breasts dipped in olive oil, breaded with gluten free bread crumbs and baked at 375 for 20-30 minutes, melt cheese on top during baking

Sunday:  Crock Pot Sweet Potato Chili (vegan!) with Cornbread (gluten free corn bread recipe to come!)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Investing In Reusable Food Storage

As I am reorganizing our home after our kitchen renovation, I decided that it is time to invest in reusable storage and drink containers for my family.  I cannot tell you how many ziploc baggies we go through, and I really do not like using them - not good for the environment or for our health!  If you have a child with food intolerances or allergies (or you have them yourself), you know that food storage is a critical component of your day to day - I pack food for each and every meal that we are not home for.  Also, having a little one has impacted the way I look at everything.  With every decision I make, I think about how that might effect my little guy's future.  This is one way that I know can make a difference.

With this being said, I logged on to my favorite website for this type of need, reuseit.com, to purchase reusable storage bags (buy 4 or more and you get a discount!), a reusable stainless steel tipee cup and a stainless steel food jar that keeps food warm for up to 6 hours (this will be especially great for packing warm meals for my little guy to eat when we go out to restaurants for dinner!)  As an added bonus, reuseit had 50% off their Workhorse Original reusable bag that holds up to 25lbs of groceries, etc!  So I added one of those to my order (you have to use the promo code REVIEWS to get the discount through tomorrow, 3/11/11). 

It is a little painful to spend the money on these items upfront, but if you take care of them they will last a long time and you will see the return on investment in the long run (and so will planet Earth)!  If this post influences at least one other person to pick up some reusable storage, it was more than worth writing about!  I believe that these little decisions can make a big difference! 

Monday, March 07, 2011

Back to Menu Planning! Week of March 7th

I have been on a "blog hiatus" for a couple of weeks now - it has been a whirlwind as we have torn apart our kitchen, painted walls and cabinets and prepared for countertops to be installed tomorrow!  My menu planning has been a bit more random than normal as a result.  I plan to get back at it next week, but will be going on vacation the week after that, so March is a bit of a crazy month. 

Since I don't know exactly when I will be back in my house, my menu plan is a bit random again this week.  Here is a general idea of what we have in store:

Monday:  Crock pot pulled chicken (2 ingredients!  1 cup of salsa for every 1 lb. of chicken breasts, cook 8 hours and pull the chicken right in the crock before eating!) with corn tortillas, fixings and black beans.

Tuesday:  Take out (counters installed, putting kitchen back together!)

Wednesday:  Slow Cooker Beef Vegetable Soup (I will sub in fresh veggies and gluten bree beef stock for this recipe!)

Thursday:  Leftovers!

Friday:  Whole Roasted Chicken with potatoes and carrots

Saturday:  Leftovers

Sunday:  Slow Cooker Caramel Pork with Slaw

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of February 21

Happy Monday from snowy Minnesota!  As I write this on Sunday evening, we are expected to receive a whole lot of snow overnight tonight - after a spring teaser last week, it is especially brutal.  From a food perspective, it motivates me to find recipes we can cozy up to until milder temperatures arrive again!

In terms of highlights from last week, the pasta I made Sunday evening (tonight) was especially yummy!  The sauce was so flavorful and I actually really liked the cauliflower in it!  The only thing I added was about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar which added some depth to the sauce but also took away the little bit of bitterness left from the quickly simmered crushed tomatoes.  The sauce made enough for 8 so we were able to freeze a bunch of it for future use!

I am excited to share that I have decided to take some time away from work to stay home with my little guy and focus on my family.  This will not change my menu plans, as I will be equally busy chasing after a toddler and will continue to have the need to plan ahead (no time to cook around the dinner hour with a clingy 1.5 year old at my side)!  I will be taking a hiatus from menu planning next week, though - we are finishing our kitchen so we will be hanging with the in-laws for a week while we are without counter tops!  So, menu plans will be in conjunction with my mother-in-law.

Below my menu plan is a before and after of phase 1 - tearing down the cabinets over our counter!  I will keep you posted as we continue the remodel! 

(Check out orgjunkie's post for more menu inspiration!)

Monday - Crock Pot Turkey Chili
tip: brown meat and combine all ingredients the night before

Tuesday - Hamburgers (with leftover shallot butter from Valentines Day!) and sweet potato fries

Wednesday - Leftovers

Thursday - Grilled Sandwiches (corn tortilla for the little guy!) with butternut squash soup (from Trader Joe's, planned from last week and we had leftovers instead!)

Friday  Chicken with Balsamic Bell Peppers and polenta; side salad

Saturday - dinner out with friends

Sunday - Crock Pot Pork Roast with Salad


BEFORE


AFTER


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Savory Muffins

I am always on the search for blogs that compliment my little guy's allergy limitations.... looking for interesting, healthy recipes that my family can eat together and are allergy friendly.  I just ran across this site, called Penny Pinching Epicure, which offers up a ton of great gluten free recipes.  I love this site because it features budget-friendly ideas!

One that jumped out is this Savory Sweet Onion and Rosemary Pumpkin Muffins.  I am definitely whipping up a batch of these sometime this week!  I will be using quinoa flour and an egg substitute (check out this site for more information on your options).  The quinoa flour will add a rich, nutty flavor to these - almost biscuit-like.  YUM.  Using traditional baking ingredients and no substitutes would be great for this recipe, as well!  I'll keep you posted on the results!



Care of Penny Pinching Epicure


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Menu Plan - Week of February 14th

Happy Valentine's Day!  I hope everyone is looking forward to a little bit of time with loved ones tomorrow, hopefully with a special breakfast, lunch and/or dinner planned!  At my house, I have prepared the dry ingredients for pancakes tomorrow morning!  Just add the wet ingredients to the bowl, whisk in the milk, add some blueberries and my little guy (and my hubby!) get a special breakfast before sending them on their way to work and day care!  (Another example of how taking a few minutes to prepare can make a once impossible cooking task pretty simple!) 

Speaking of simple, I am digging the crock pot this week and have found two great recipes on my favorite slow cooking website.  The salsa chicken is a variation of the very basic two ingredient recipe I have used many times - dump a bunch of salsa in a crock pot with chicken, slow cook it all day and shred it for fajitas, quesadillas, etc.  (Awesome as leftovers, too).

Here's our plan for the week!  As always, check out Orgjunkie's MPM post for more menu inspiration and let me know if you have any questions or menu suggestions! 

Monday:  For the little guy - Burger, roasted potatoes and green beans
Valentines dinner for my husband and I - Grilled Beef tenderloin with shallot butter (butter inspired by this recipe), asparagus and roasted potatoes

Tuesday: Soup/Salad/Sandwich

Wednesday:  Salsa Chicken with Rice and roasted carrots

Thursday:  Slow Cooker Loose Meat Sandwiches (I will sub turkey for the beef) with roasted vegetables

Friday:  Leftover sandwiches with Trader Joe's butternut squash soup (one of our favorites!)

Saturday: Date Night!

Sunday:  Prosciutto and mozzarella stuffed chicken breasts, Pasta with Cauliflower and Spinach (sub in brown rice pasta)

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of February 7th

I am writing this post prior to the big Super Bowl tonight - GO PACK!  :)  This will be a fun week for us - we are headed to Des Moines to visit my sister and her husband and meet the rest of my fam from Milwaukee there for a weekend "reunion"!  So, a lighter grocery shopping week and dinner planning week, too!  I have a couple of great recipes to share with you despite this!  For more menu planning inspiration, check out Orgjunkie's blog.

In honor of Super Bowl Sunday, I found this great appetizer recipe that I want to share with you!  I am not making it for the game today, but these Baked Spinach Dip Mini Bread Bowls will definitely be on my menu next time we have company!  It is a sophisticated version of spinach dip that would be great for entertaining!

Finally, with Valentines Day approaching, check out this link to one of my favorite recipe sites for more sophisticated cooking!  Start here for some inspiration if you are cooking at home this year!

Please feel free to share your comments and suggestions below this post or email me anytime!

Monday:  Pasta with spinach and red sauce; easy turkey meatballs ( add the following ingredients to 1 lb ground turkey:  1/3 cup gluten free bread crumbs, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp Italian seasoning, salt and pepper)
tip:  prepare meatballs the night before, cover with plastic wrap on the baking sheet, bake in oven at 375 for 20 minutes or until cooked through

Tuesday:  Crock Pot Honey Mustard Pork Tenderloin with roasted fingerling potatoes and green beans
tip: clean/trim beans and clean potatoes the night before; prepare crock pot the night before (I have used this recipe before and by marinating overnight it turns out even better!)  I also add a little extra chicken or vegetable stock to the crock when I plug it in because I cook it from 7 am until I get home at 5:30 or so)

Wednesday:  Chicken with White Beans and Tomatoes*, salad
*I sub in skin-on chicken breasts; organic grape tomatoes on sale at Rainbow this week!
tip:  this is a great weeknight meal - you can throw it together in 10 minutes while the over pre-heats!

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday/Saturday:  Out of town

Sunday:  Pizza

Thursday, February 03, 2011

52 Weeks of Organizing - Kitchen Towel Drawer

This last couple of weeks have been crazy, so I scrapped my bigger project for this week but dedicated myself to organizing something in my house.  I was motivated by this post on The Happy Housewife's blog this morning.  See my before and after pictures below! (The first pic turned out blurry for some reason - still getting used to my new camera...)  I am amazed by how much room was freed up in my kitchen towel drawer after I rolled all of the towels!  Now I can actually fit my hot pads and mitt in the drawer without stuffing them in AND I can find my wash cloths (hey, it's the little things...)!  Similar to what is mentioned in the Happy Housewife's post, by keeping plenty of towels around, you can cut down on paper towel use!  I intend to work on this but for now, I will smile every time I open up my towel drawer!  (Yes, I am a total organizing geek!)  Check out more organizing motivation on Orgjunkie's blog!


Before


After


Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Interesting Links This Week!

Happy Hump Day!  Some fun and interesting links for you to peruse mid-week!  Happy surfing!

Say Mmm is an AWESOME menu planning tool that I intend to implement immediately.  You can save your recipes in your account, drop them into your menu plan and create shopping lists.  For the planning and organizing type (like me!) this is fantastic!  Check out @Saymmm on Twitter, too!

Sadly, I will not be able to watch the web cast of this event because I will be out of town, but Tedx Manhattan: Changing the Way We Eat is going to be an incredible event.  I am passionate about this movement and am hoping that the web cast will be available following the event.  You can even set up a viewing party for the event in your home!  Very cool!

I have mentioned this blog many times on my menu plan, but I have to say it again - I LOVE A Year of Slow Cooking!  Stephanie O'Dea adds new crock pot recipes on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis!

If you are a foodie and don't know Mark Bittman (author of "Food Matters" and New York Times columnist), you should!  He has a really sensible, family-style approach to cooking that I love.  He has a new blog - check it out!  I follow him on Twitter, too - @bittman.

Please let me know if there are any great blogs, articles, or websites that are on the top of your list right now, I'd love to check them out!

Happy reading!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Menu Plan - January 31

Last week I did not have a chance to post after my menu plan!  It was a busy week and we have yet another one ahead.  I am keeping my menu simple this week but with lots of variety - it is amazing how easy preparing dinner can be when you plan ahead!  Below I have added some tips to help you get an idea for how I get these dinners done despite a busy work week. 

Highlights from last weeks menu plan:  I roasted my first whole chicken and it was INCREDIBLY easy (I cannot believe it took me that long to try doing this)!  I purchased a whole Smart Chicken from Cub which was already tied with kitchen twine and ready to go.  I followed the recipe to the letter and the chicken and potatoes turned out perfect.  I had almost enough chicken left over for the white chicken chili, which we had tonight and was SO flavorful and took only about 30 minutes to prepare (and was ready 30 minutes after that, although it tasted like it had been simmering all day long.  I also switched the beef kabobs from last week to this week - we had plenty of leftover soup from Wednesday to eat on Thursday!

Please let me know if you have any questions, suggestions or ideas.  It's fun to hear from you about the recipes you have tried from my menus - thank you for all of your feedback!  Check out orgjunkie's post for lots of other great recipes!

Monday:  Salsa Meat Loaves (sub 1.5 tbsp olive oil for eggs) with roasted squash and green beans
tips:  prepare meat loaves the evening before, wrap in plastic wrap; roast squash evening before and heat up before dinner

Tuesday:  Pennsylvania Pot Roast (I'll add potatoes and parsnips to the crock pot)
tip:  prepare crock pot the evening before and pop it in the fridge, plug it in the next morning!

Wednesday:  Leftovers with green salad

Thursday:  Enchilada Bake (from my freezer)
tip:  when making a casserole or soup/chili, freeze leftovers or double the recipe to freeze so you can incorporate these meals into future weekly plans!

Friday:  Date night!

Saturday:  Grilled beef and veggie kabobs with rice 

SundayGO PACK!    Beer Brats (Thousand Hills grass-fed beef hot dog for the little guy), sweet potato fries and green salad

Monday, January 24, 2011

Menu Plan: Week of January 24th

Happy Monday!  Last week flew by!  It was so nice having my mom in town - she left today and I already miss her!  Looking forward to trying a couple of new recipes this week and falling back on some old standbys.  On Wednesday, I will be making some beef kabobs from Von Hanson's, a great little meat shop (many locations in the Twin Cities).  I made my beef stew with their kabob meat (already cubed which makes it extra easy) and it turned out so tender.  I recommend checking out this great little shop for quick and easy dinner options (they have pre-marinated kabobs and free range chicken breasts, too!)

Please let me know if you have any feedback or questions!  I am so excited to hear that many of you are trying some of the recipes from my menu and that it is making your lives a little easier and adding some variety to your week!  Check out Orgunkie's Menu Plan Monday post for more recipe inspiration!

Monday:  Friends over - Pizza dinner
Tuesday:  Banana Pancakes, Sausage and Easy Homemade Apple Sauce (I will triple this recipe!)
Wednesday:  Crock Pot Minestrone with noodles
Thursday:  Beef Kabobs with green salad and Roasted Root Vegetables *toss veggies with appox. two tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp maple syrup and 2 tbsp olive oil
Friday:  Roasted Chicken with Carrots and Potatoes
Saturday:  Leftovers
Sunday:  White Chicken Chili (FYI, takes a few seconds for this link to load sometimes!)

Friday, January 21, 2011

52 Weeks of Organizing - Week 3!

With my mom being in town, I have been enjoying evening time relaxing with her, so have not tackled my project this week - but I will be doing it this weekend and will post an update once completed!  As a preview, I plan to organize my spices!!  I am sure many of you are in the same position...  a cabinet full of spices, many that have been sitting, inactive, for over one year (or more).  I have the cabinet in addition to a whole spice rack.  Most of the spices have gone unused for a long time.  My goal is to narrow them down to ten "everyday use" spices and organize them on two magnetic racks on the side of our fridge (picture below) from the Container Store.  I am sure there will be a few that I will keep in bottles in the cupboard, but I will try to keep those down to five or less (big bottle of peppercorns, etc.).  I have found that purchasing spices in bulk is definitely the way to go - there is a Coop near my inlaws' cabin that sells spices for very affordable prices and I can pick how much I want to buy.  I also buy in bulk at Cub foods (pre-packaged, near the bulk foods area of the store).  Using your own spice containers allows you to buy in bulk and is definitely the way to go budget-wise!  More to come!  For more organizing inspiration, check out orgjunkie's weekly post! 

Spice Rack from The Container Store

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Interesting (Foodie) Reads This Week!

My passion for cooking for my family (and my family's allergy-friendly cooking journey) drives me to read a lot about food and cooking - there are so many awesome resources!  I plan to share some of my favorite articles, news and sites along this vein as often as I can.  I hope that this will be a great go-to resource for you and your family, too!  You can also check me out on Twitter @elevatewellness (see my feed to the right) for some of my favorite daily posts!  Please email me or send a Facebook message with any sites or news that you think would be great additions to this type of post!

Thanks to one of my Facebook friends, Bridgett, for making me aware of this news on Subway adding gluten-free options to their menu!  Maybe the beginning of a movement towards more intolerance and allergy-friendly food choices at restaurants?!

My family LOVES Chili in the wintertime!  Check out this post from Shaina who writes a blog called Food for My Family (a fellow Minnesotan and food lover!) (via babble.) 

Check out Karina's Kitchen on Facebook here.  As she explains, her FB page (and blog!) is "a dynamic gluten-free food blog for families living well with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, ASD and food allergies. Vegan friendly."

As you know, I am a big quinoa fan - these seeds can add big nutrition to your meals!  This article elaborates on the benefits of quinoa!

Eating seasonally and sustainably - the more I learn about this movement, the more passionate I become about it!  This article (and recipes!) at Simple Bites got my attention!

I hope you enjoy these reads!  Any feedback or suggestions would be appreciated!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - January 17 (with chili recipe!)

With another busy week ahead, it feels so great to have my meals planned and grocery list made!  We actually followed our plan without any variation last week.  All of the meals turned out great, but I was most impressed with the Sweet Potato Chili.  It was a wonderful vegetarian variation and it was a huge hit with my little guy!  My mom will be visiting this week starting on Wednesday, which will relieve a bit of our day to day grind.  Looking forward to some great meals and a Saturday night out with my hubby!  As always, check out many menu ideas via Org Junkie's MPM posting.  Let me know if you have any questions or feedback! 

Monday - Homemade Pizzas
Tuesday - Coconut Curry Chicken with Rice and green beans
Wednesday - Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Thursday - Turkey Burgers (edit: NO soy sauce) with sweet potato fries and salad
Friday - Leftovers or take-out
Saturday - Night out!
Sunday - Crock Pot Chili (Football Sunday!  GO PACKERS!  See recipe below, this is a family favorite!)


Recipe for Crock Pot Chili:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped sweet yellow onion
1-2 jalapenos, seeds removed, diced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 to 3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 lbs. lean ground beef or turkey
1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
2 bay leaves
2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes in juice (note: I prefer fire roasted tomatoes)
1 1/2 cups water
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 can (16 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (16 ounces each) garbanzo beans (or other favorite bean), drained and rinsed
grated cheese, sour cream, chopped parsley, diced avocado, green onion, or other garnishes

PREPARATION:
Heat the oil in a large, non-stick skillet and saute the onions, garlic and jalapeno. Cook 1 minute, then add chili powder and cumin and cook 2 minutes, stirring. Add this mixture to the crockpot. Brown the beef in the same skillet, drain and add to crock pot.

Add all remaining ingredients except canned beans and garnishes to the crock pot, stir well.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Add beans 1 hour or so before serving. Serve with garnishes.