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!


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.