Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Great Link

Today's post on Kitchen Stewardship is full of great resources for the grain-free lifestyle. You can check it out here.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Monthly Menu Planning

As a new month is on the horizon, I've begun gathering recipes to menu plan for June. I usually begin with gathering the recipes, then move to looking at our calendar to see what days we might be out of town or might need a quick meal. Then, I move to actually entering menus for each day. At the beginning of each week, I'll look through the menus for the week, tweaking here and there to tastes and grocery sales.

So, to start off for June, here is my recipe collection:

Taco Salads with some variation of this dressing
Chicken Fajitas
Black Bean & Sweet Potato Quesadillas (recipe to come)
Southwest Chicken Salad
Layered Taco Bake

Baked Teriyaki Chicken with stirfried veggies & Sesame Noodles
Asian Chicken Salad -- some variation of it :)
Fried Rice -- using chicken instead of pork & adding in pineapple
Chicken Stirfry -- this recipe was great, except I left out the honey -- OJ made it sweet enough!
Peanut Butter Chicken

Family Favorites
Turkey Burgers
Asian Meatballs
Roasted Sausage & Veggies with penne pasta
Dijon Chicken
Chicken Tetrazzini
Baked Tilapia
Roasted Chicken & Veggies
Greek Kabobs
Sausage & Pesto Pasta Salad (recipe to come)

New Recipes to Try
Curry Chicken
Grilled Chicken with Lemon Pasta
Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Sweet & Sour Chicken

Friday, May 14, 2010

Favorite Summer Recipe

I LOVE this recipe! It's great as a dip with Scoops chips or as a side dish to grilled chicken...really good as a summer lunch or easy to make a batch to take to a BBQ. So yummy!!

Black Bean & Corn Salsa
Mix together in a large bowl:
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans (pinto or Great Northern can be substituted), drained & rinsed
1 small can corn (or half of a regular size can), drained
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
3/4 mango, peeled & chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
handful of cilantro, remove large stems & chop

Heat in a saucepan, until bubbly & incorporated:
1/2 cup oil (I use olive oil)
1/2 cup vinegar (I use apple cider)
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Pour sauce over bean & veggie mixture. Add the juice of one lime or 1/2 lemon. Add enough salt
& pepper to taste.

It's best if you marinate it at least several hours or overnight.

New to Us Recipes

I tried some new recipes this week, and after tweaking them a bit to better fit our family, I have some new favorites!!

"Glazed" Chicken Stirfry (based on this recipe)
Chicken breast strips -- about 12 strips
1 Tbsp raw honey
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp orange juice
2-3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp oil
4 cups cut-up vegetables -- I used sugar snap peas, carrots, squash and mushrooms

Mix honey, vinegar, orange juice, soy sauce and cornstarch in a bowl. I marinated the chicken strips in the sauce.

Heat oil in a skillet; add chicken (not the sauce) to the skillet and stirfry until no longer pink. Add vegetables and enough of the sauce to glaze the stirfry to the skillet. Cook until vegetables are tender but still slightly crisp.

Serve over rice, noodles or sauteed cabbage.

This Dijon Chicken Marinade was really good. I left out the cayenne pepper since I was serving it to the kids as well. It had a great flavor!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kid-Friendly Snack Chart

In an ever-continuing effort to teach my kids about healthy snacking, I posted a "Healthy Snack Chart" :) They can choose a snack off the list pretty much anytime they would like throughout the day as they are all healthy options. If they would like something that's not on the list, then they need to ask Mom for permission.

What's on the list?

-boiled egg
-carrot sticks
-celery sticks
-avocado slices
-black beans
-berries (strawberries/blackberries/blueberries/raspberries)

In addition, I keep a bowl of fruit on the table (usually small apples and/or bananas) that they can grab if they are hungry.

I do not mind snacking throughout the day as long as it's a "mini meal" and not empty calories! I found when we did The Maker's Diet that if they were not filling up on cereal/crackers/bread throughout the day, then they ate SO much more real food!! So I'm trying to continue that, but in a more long-term manner. So far, I see them check the list pretty much anytime they are hungry. They talk about the various food groups, and they know what is healthy and what is not (for the most part). So, we'll see how it goes...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: May 10, 2010

Friday: Sausage Pesto Pasta
Saturday: BBQ
For more menu planning ideas, visit http://www.orgjunkie.com/!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Kids' Favorite Breakfast

I thought I'd share the kids' favorite breakfast lately -- super healthy, about as easy as pouring cereal & healthy -- my kind of breakfast!!

Yogurt "Parfaits"
bowl of plain goat milk
mix in 1 Tbsp flaxmeal to each bowl
maybe 1/3 cup rice Chex cereal gently mixed in
fresh or frozen berries mixed in
original/plain coconut milk Kefir poured over the top

I usually add a couple of pieces of turkey sausage or bacon, and they are full!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: May 3, 2010

After 4 weeks of following The Maker's Diet, we are entering Phase 3 and adding grains back in! We will still use gluten-free grains and use them as a side dish rather than a large portion of our meal. I am still amazed at the variety of foods that our kids eat after cutting out grains for 4 weeks! I will definitely be offering protein, vegetables and fruits before offering a lot of grains. So, here is our menu plan for this week...complete with some added grains :) And as usual, I will post the main dish and will add in green salad, fruit or whatever vegetables I have on hand (unless the main dish includes enough!).

Monday: Baked Tilapia with Quinoa Salad (adapted from this recipe)

Tuesday: Peanut Butter Chicken with Rice Noodles

Wednesday: Black Bean & Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Thursday: Chicken & Wild Rice Bake

Friday: Quiche

Leftovers over the weekend & eating out for Mother's Day!

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Makers Diet Day 19: Phase Two

After my frustrations this week, I'm accepting the fact that we can't completely change our lives overnight :) The pollen this season is exceptionally bad, and it's just seasonal allergies. So, really it's not that big of a deal :)

I came across this article in the Mercola newsletter this week that discusses one of the main reasons why we wanted to do The Maker's Diet in the first place: 80% of your immune system is in your GI tract. [The article does advertise quite a few supplements...I'm not supporting these particular supplements...I just think that the information is exactly what I've been running across in many sources.]

The Maker's Diet is essentially a 5 week plan to allow the gut to rest and heal. The first two weeks take out all foods that generally "back-up" the gut and potential allergens that would be harming the gut. I've read that the intestinal lining regenerates itself every 3-8 days. So if you give it two weeks of rest time (Phase 1 of The Maker's Diet), then it should be able to fully heal.

Our intention in trying out this diet was mainly to allow our "bellies to heal" as the kids say and to hopefully strengthen our immune systems in the process. As we add back in foods, we should also be able to see if there are any foods that cause a reaction in our bodies as well. It's really a form of an elimination diet as Phase 1 is so restrictive and most of the allergenic foods are eliminated for 2-4 weeks and then slowly reintroduced.

Since I did not chronicle much this week, here's a look back at our dinners this week. Breakfasts & lunches have been much stayed the same.

Sunday: Rotisserie chicken, green beans, cantaloupe

Monday: Lemon chicken for the adults; salmon patties for the kids

Tuesday: Deer steaks; green salad

Wednesday: Meatballs with marinara sauce

Thursday: Hubs and I had a dinner out; kids had Tuna salad

Friday: Taco bowls

Saturday: ?? maybe go out

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Makers Diet Day 17: Frustrations

So, five days ago we were flying high...feeling good, in a routine on the diet. Then a rainfront moved through, so I felt terrible over the weekend and the first part of this week. And something different must be blooming (thus, different pollen), because both kids are sneezing and the 3 year old woke up with a stuffy nose! They were both outside last night just before going to bed... hubs actually feels really good right now!

The only thing different we've done this week is eat some black beans on our taco salads on Sunday and we've eaten a few more corn products this week but not many at all. The five year old ate corn taco shells on Sunday, and they both have had some corn Chex this week. But, I really don't think that has anything to do with the sneezing & stuffy nose... they've had a few corn products off and on through this diet, because of snacks at school and the church nursery. It really is more like seasonal allergies. But, it's frustrating, because you would think with the diet and the ACV tea and all of their vitamins they might be strengthened!

I know that nothing happens overnight, and that this might still be doing really great things...still frustrating though! So that's where I've been for the past five days.

We did enter Phase 2 of the diet on Monday. Phase 2 adds in more nuts/seeds, some beans/legumes, many more fruits and corn/sweet potatoes/yams. So that broadens our diet considerably!

I will try to get back into the routine of chronicling our foods and where we stand. Phase 2 lasts for two weeks, and then we enter Phase 3 which is pretty much back to where we were and where we will stay. So, we're getting there. Like I've said before, if nothing else this diet has broadened the foods that the kids eat and has broken all of our reliance on grains. We will definitely have to be careful not to go nuts when we reach Phase 3 though :) But, honestly we don't crave them anymore at all! I think that it will be fairly easy to not make grains the largest portion of our diet from here on out.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Makers Diet Day 12: Benefits of Coconut

This second week has flown by! We've really settled into this diet, and I have not had to really plan out meals nearly as much as last week. Hubs said yesterday that when we started this diet, he was afraid he wouldn't get full or stay full. But, he's found plenty of things to eat and he's doing just fine :) It's really true. We both agreed that even after two weeks of this diet (really after 10 days), it had broken our reliance on grains to make up a really large portion of our diet (rice, crackers, bread, etc). We were eating many more real, nourishing foods (vegetables, fruits, good fats, chicken/fish). I've been amazed at the kids! We ate healthy before embarking on this diet, but the kids still heavily relied on (gluten-free) dry cereal, crackers, bread, rice for most of their snacks and a large portion of their meals. Now they are filling up on nutrient-rich smoothies, carrot sticks with homemade Ranch dressing, green salad, fish, etc. Even at the end of this diet, I see us gradually adding in grains as a side dish and not as the main portion of our meals.

One addition that we have all enjoyed is coconut. I blogged a few days ago about the coconut flour waffles and the coconut flour cupcakes that were both huge hits around here! I think I also mentioned using coconut milk as creamer in my coffee or drizzled on berries or in plain goat yogurt for a delish dessert!! And we've been putting coconut oil in the smoothies, which makes them more filling and tropical :) Last night I "breaded" chicken strips with coconut flour and unsweetened finely shredded coconut -- I baked them in the oven and they were a huge hit with the kids!

Here are some resources on the benefits of coconut oil:

promotes heart health
promotes weight loss if you need it
supports immune system health
supports a healthy metabolism
provides an immediate energy source
helps keep your skin healthy
supports proper function of your thyroid gland

*Weston A. Price Foundation/Mary Enig--
dated from 2000, but a good overall look at coconut oil's effect

*Passionate Homemaking--
various uses for coconut oil
lots of great recipes using coconut oil on her blog

*Nourishing Days--
lots of coconut oil recipes

*The Nourishing Gourmet--
many health benefits of coconut oil

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Makers Diet Day 10: Still Here :)

The pollen around here is horrible right now...worst we've seen it! My 5 yr old is very sensitive to it and we usually end up having to give him a Children's Claritin so that it doesn't get really bad and turn into a sinus infection. We had given him a few around the beginning of pollen season, but we have not even needed to since we've been on this diet!! I can't remember the last time we gave him one, but it definitely has not been in the last week! He sneezes sometimes, but no watery or red eyes, no sniffing and rubbing on his nose...nothing that looks like he's really reacting to the pollen! We're so hopeful that since they are so young and we've been so diligent for the last 4 years with our food choices and delayed vaccinations and limiting toxic chemicals in the house, etc that this diet might "reset" their systems.

My husband has been really, really feeling this pollen season. He's had to take a Claritin D every day to stay on top of the congestion so that he doesn't have to get an antibiotic (and he still ends up with an antibiotic during this season when it turns into a bad sinus infection). He has much more of a history of health issues to deal with, so I think it will take longer to reset his system. He's been very strict with this diet so far, and I know that yesterday he did not take any Claritin. We'll see how the next few weeks play out.

As for myself...I usually have a really bad headache every day, and that has been much better. I have a slight headache if at all...much improved! I've lost about 4lbs, so that's an added bonus. I wouldn't say I have bounds of energy or that all of my symptoms are gone. But, I'm feeling pretty good and hope to improve in the next few weeks as well.

The quote of the morning:

K (3 1/2 yrs old): "Mom, can you make me some oatmeal for breakfast?"
H (5 yrs old): (shocked!) "NO, K! We are not eating grains right now! Oatmeal is grains! We'll eat that again after our bellies heal." (and then he sighs, like..."whew, took care of that") LOL!

So, the kids are doing fine on our "diet." I think we're on day 5 of their morning "tea," and they are doing very well with that...no complaints at all now...just drinking it down :)

We had to restock on goat cheese (in a block that tastes like Cheddar, not the really tangy soft goat cheese)...raw almond butter & berries. Those have been staples around here for the last week and a half.

Here's our menu plan for today:

Deer sausage, scrambled eggs (5 yr old traded his eggs with 3 yr old for more deer sausage!...too spicy for her), fresh blackberries, morning "tea" (warm water, ACV, honey)

Everyone has something different today.

Chicken Stirfry (chicken, sugar snap peas, carrots, mushrooms, onions, soy sauce, chicken broth), green salad, fruit

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Maker's Diet Phase 1 Menu Planning Ideas

Here is a consolidated list of menu ideas for Phase 1 of The Maker's Diet. I also previously posted a "shopping list" for Phase 1 here.

*Anything with eggs: scrambled, fried, poached, boiled, crustless quiche, omelets (stuffed full of veggies...onions, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, goat cheese, etc).
*Turkey bacon (no pork)
*Turkey or 100% beef sausage or deer sausage (no pork)
*Smoothies (spinach, goat yogurt, raw almond butter, coconut oil, flaxseed meal, chia seeds, fresh or frozen raspberries/blueberries/strawberries, water)
*Goat yogurt (plain) with strawberries/blueberries/raspberries/blackberries
*Grain-Free muffins or Grain-Free Waffles
*Veggies sides to any of the above: sliced tomato, sliced avocado, salsa, sauteed spinach & onions

*Tuna salad over lettuce with tomato, avocado, celery, cucumber, etc.
*Chicken salad over lettuce or with veggie dippers
*Green salad with lots of veggies and leftover chicken/beef/boiled eggs/fish/etc -- easy dressing: olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, herbs whisked together -- add a little plain goat yogurt to make it creamy
*Fish patties (you could also use canned salmon or tuna)
*Turkey or 100% beef hot dogs (preferably nitrate/nitrite free)
*Baked or roasted chicken and veggies (carrots, onions, squash, zucchini, etc)
*Grilled chicken and veggies/Greek Grilled Kabobs
*Taco Salad/Bowl (seasoned ground turkey or ground beef, lettuce, avocado/guacamole, cilantro, tomato, shredded goat cheese, plain goat yogurt, salsa, onion, etc)
*Chicken or beef fajitas (without the tortilla) with sauteed peppers and onions, guacamole, salsa, plain goat yogurt, shredded goat cheese
*Baked or grilled fish with steamed/grilled veggies
*Chicken (or beef) stirfry (use soy sauce or tamari sauce instead of a bottled high-sugar stirfry sauce) with lots of veggies (sugar snap peas, snow peas, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, squash, etc)
*Meatballs: Asian with chopped spinach & tamari sauce/soy sauce or plain with spaghetti sauce served over them or meatballs/meat sauce served over baked spaghetti squash (the "meat" shreds like noodles)
*Bunless hamburger patties with toppings (lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, etc)
*Any other meat besides pork grilled/roasted/baked (grilled steaks, baked roast, grilled lamb chops, etc)

*Fruit (fresh or frozen): strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, grapefruit
*Raw nuts/seeds (soaked/dried): pumpkinseeds, almonds, sunflower seeds
*Plain goat yogurt with berries
*Carrot & celery sticks with guacamole
*Grain-free muffins/waffles
*Trail mix: raw nuts/seeds (above) with Just Veggies (dried peas, blackberries, blueberries)
*GoRaw Flax crackers or chips (check ingredients for correct Phase 1 foods)

The Makers Diet Day 9: Coconut

We are still going strong. I feel like my cravings for grains have really subsided (almost nonexistent, except for chips & salsa! I could always eat those). But, I am not missing bread, rice, quinoa, oatmeal, cereal, etc at all. And I really think the kids are doing fine as well. They've been asking for more fruit (esp bananas) more than anything. But, I added clementine oranges and some apples in this week, so they're satisfied as well.

I found a link to a great blog post about the benefits of coconut here on the Broccoli Cupcake blog :) I used coconut flour in these delicious cupcakes...I use coconut milk as creamer in my coffee (I use a lot too and it's so good!) or drizzled on top of berries as a dessert...and we use coconut oil in our smoothies. If you look at the fat content in the coconut products, it looks really high. But, it's good fat...and I can vouch for actually losing weight while eating a good bit of coconut products. I've lost 4lbs now since starting The Maker's Diet! Hubs has not lost any weight, but he didn't need to lose. So, I really think that if you're hanging onto extra weight, then it will come off eating this way. Otherwise, it will just stabilize your health.

So far, the only foods from phase 2 we have added in are clementine oranges & apples on a daily basis. We all had black beans on our taco salads on Sunday, and the kids and I have had a bit of corn products in taco shells for the kids on Sunday and corn chips for myself Friday night. Other than that, we're still fully eating phase 1 foods.

Kids: 2 turkey sausage links, 2 Grain-Free Blueberry Muffins (they asked for the zucchini ones this morning, but I had run out of zucchini!)
Hubs: 1 egg, 2 pieces turkey bacon, 1 blueberry muffin
Myself: 2 pieces turkey bacon, 1 blueberry muffin, coffee with coconut milk

*The kids are still drinking their cup of "tea" in the mornings (1 Tbsp of Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar with 1 Tbsp raw honey in warm water), and I've been drinking 1 Tbsp in a cup of water...sour without the honey!!

Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs (with spinach added in...the kids don't mind it at all) with fruit & leftover veggies

probably Turkey hot dogs with quick sides (we're going to a baseball game at dinnertime)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: April 12, 2010

We are entering week 2 of The Maker's Diet. You can read more here about the "diet" and why we are doing it. So, here is our menu plan for the week:

Sunday: Greek Chicken Kabobs with Greek Salad

Monday: Baked Tilapia

Tuesday: Asian Meatballs

Wednesday: Chicken Stirfry

Thursday: Taco Bowls/Salads

Friday: Turkey Burgers

Saturday: Leftovers

Breakfast (rotating): with fresh fruit
Smoothie (spinach, berries, almond butter, coconut oil) with turkey sausage
Scrambled eggs & turkey bacon
Grain-Free Muffins with turkey sausage
Squash Pancakes with turkey bacon

Lunch (rotating): with fresh fruit
Coconut Chicken Nuggets ("breaded" in finely shredded unsweetened coconut)
Tuna Salad
Chicken Salad
Turkey lunch meat roll-ups

Check out more menu plans at http://www.orgjunkie.com/!

The Makers Diet Day 7: One Week Down!

We've made it to the end of Week 1 of The Maker's Diet! While some foods are becoming repetitive, it's amazing in this past week how much we all have branched out of our normal foods to find other satisfying foods. From the Grain-Free Muffins & Waffles made with almond meal to Coconut Flour cupcakes, there are plenty of alternative tasty treats out there! Just six days ago I looked at our cleaned out pantry and wondered how in the world I was going to keep the kids (much less my husband and myself) full and satisfied on the phase 1 limited food list. But, with plenty of fresh berries available and the addition of coconut oil/milk to smoothies, we really have stayed full and satisfied.

I've seen my cravings for chips subside (although that's partly due to the fact that I did eat a few when we went out Friday night!), and I've seen the kids really branch out to more than sandwiches for lunch and more than pasta/rice for dinner.

Here is a great article entitled "Spring Clean Your Body with Real Foods." She suggests as spring approaches to take a 4-10 day break from foods that overload our bodies and allow our bodies to take a rest. Through the winter, we store up and eat warming foods, so it makes sense to allow the body to take a break as spring and summer approach. She suggests taking a break from the following foods:
*Grains, beans, nuts, and seeds
*Animal flesh

Phase 1 of The Maker's Diet follows this same logic, although it allows for a small selection of nuts and seeds (preferable raw and soaked/sprouted to break down the enzyme inhibitors, allowing for better digestion) and meat/poultry (preferably organic as to not overload the body with more toxins).

As we move into Week 2, I will probably add in a few foods from Phase 2: black beans, apples, clementine oranges, and raw walnuts.

Here's our food list from today:

scrambled eggs & turkey sausage for all
Apple Cider Vinegar & honey "tea" for all (the kids are doing so well with this!...day 3 today)

We ate out at a Mexican restaurant...grilled chicken taco salads for hubs & myself; grilled chicken tacos for the 5 year old (his first corn/chip of the week!); grilled chicken for the 3 1/2 year old (ready for a nap...not too hungry)

We need to head to Whole Foods this afternoon to restock some items for this coming week...more yogurt and raw almond butter for sure.

plan to grill kabobs: chicken, zucchini, squash, red onion, mushrooms
*a clementine orange for the kids' dessert :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Maker's Diet Day 6: Adding in "Tea"

Our taco salads at the Mexican restaurant last night were great!! (And my addition of a few corn chips were really good as well!).

Back on track today...I've added in a new addition for the kids (and a more regular addition for myself...hubs has been using this regularly for several months now): Apple Cider Vinegar "Tea." You only get the benefits from using real Apple Cider Vinegar, such as Bragg's. Here are some of the benefits:

*rich in natural minerals, vitamins and enzymes
*helps the body eliminate toxins by binding to them
*fights bacteria and fungus (esp Candida)
*breaks up mucus throughout the body
*cleanses the lymph nodes to allow the lymphatic system to work better
*aids in digestion if taken before meals

My husband takes a Tbsp or so in the mornings along with warm lemon water. I've started putting some in a glass of water before each meal (aiming for 1 Tbsp/day). And the kids are now drinking a cup of "tea" each day -- warm water with 1 Tbsp ACV and a little honey.

Kids: green apple, 2 zucchini muffins each, 1 piece turkey bacon each, bowl of plain goat yogurt with fresh strawberries
Not sure what we're having for breakfast yet...not super hungry yet. I've had one piece of turkey bacon so far :) -- made smoothies and some more turkey bacon for hubs and myself.

"Bunless" turkey burgers with avocado slices, lettuce, (tomatoes & onions on mine) Bubbie's dill pickles and fresh blackberries.

Raspberries + goat cheese + turkey rolls for the 3 year old
Dried blackberries for the 5 year old
Sunflower seeds + almonds for hubs
a turkey roll for myself

Dinner: (birthday party barbeque)
Turkey hot dogs
Deer sausage
These AMAZING cupcakes!! (without the frosting)

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Makers Diet Day 5: Keeping the Pace...

We're still keeping the pace...no more detox symptoms, feeling good. The kids woke up this morning asking for cereal or oatmeal and made faces at me when I told them we were still not eating those foods :) But, after offering to make another batch of Zucchini Muffins they were happy! I definitely have to be ready and creative to keep the pace with the kids. But, it still seems to be working out fine.

Hubs and I are going out to eat tonight with some friends at a Mexican restuarant, so that should be interesting. I know we should be fine with a grilled chicken taco salad (omiting cheese, sour cream and whatever else we can't eat!). I've decided I'm adding a small quantity of corn in (a phase 2 food) tonight (aka: CHIPS for the salsa) -- ha! But, I still think we'll do fine with the taco salad...and a small amount of chips :)

So, here is the plan for today:

Kids: 2 zucchini muffins each, turkey sausage, fresh strawberries
Hubs: turkey bacon, 1 egg, 1 zucchini muffin
Myself: turkey bacon, fresh blackberries, 1 zucchini muffin & cup of coffee (no, I haven't dropped it but I have been using coconut milk in it instead of any sort of creamer...my blood sugar does not drop doing that & it is filling)

3 year old: fresh blackberries, goat cheese, 1 boiled egg

Kids: turkey lunch meat, fresh blackberries & raspberries, raw sprouted pumpkinseeds, raw seed "crackers" & smoothie (spinach, frozen blueberries, frozen raspberries, almond milk, coconut oil)
Leftovers for Hubs
Greek salad (cucumber, tomato, red onion, dried dill, dried parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper) with tuna & a smoothie for myself

Leftovers for the kids (chicken salad, chicken/apple sausage, carrot sticks, fruit)
Adults out to eat!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Maker's Diet Day 4: Detox

I shared that yesterday morning hubs was feeling some detox symptoms...well, I woke up at 5:30am today feeling some major detox symptoms as well (nausea, heart beating fast, thirsty, etc). After downing a bunch of water and eating some applesauce, I went back to sleep and felt much better later in the morning (enough to spend 3 hours at the zoo with my 3 year old!). I've felt these same symptoms before when detoxing, so I'm pretty sure that's what it was.

I'm also thinking of adding some phase 2 foods into my and the kids' diet right now. The Maker's Diet consists of 3 phases, and if you complete each phase you do so in 40 days (2 weeks on phase 1, 2 weeks on phase 2 and then finishing out on phase 3). However, Rubin states in the book that you can start on any phase that you choose. He says, "If you are significantly overweight or obese, or if you have health problems, I recommend you start on phase one. If you are extremely healthy and want to stay that way, or even improve your health, you may start on phase three....However, I believe it is a good idea for everyone to start on phase one at least for a few days in order to restart your metabolism and attack the three i's (insulin, infection and inflammation)."

I feel like we are full enough, but it also feels very repetitive at this point without a whole lot of choices of foods. I don't forsee us sticking completely with phase 1 for another 10 days for sure! I have lost about 3 lbs, which is nice :) ...and added bonus for sure! And I feel like my head is clearer (not as foggy as many people with Fibro would describe their norm). And I also have not had the really bad headaches that I get almost daily (not migraines, but I usually have a bad headache nearly every day). I'm not feeling wonderful, but I do feel some improvements. I'll take that!

As I look over what we have been eating for the past few days, I feel like I want to add a few foods from phase 2 into our diet, namely lunch meat (and I always buy nitrate/nitrite free anyway), green apples (apples come in at phase 2 but green apples are lower on the glycemic index), black beans and possibly a sweet potato or two (or the puree in muffins). I feel like we need just a bit more, and then we can stay there for a few days and reassess.

1 zucchini muffin each for the kids; 3 pieces turkey sausage; handful of fresh raspberries & 1 piece each of turkey bacon (rushed morning!)
an egg & 2 pieces of turkey bacon for hubs
smoothie for myself (plain goat yogurt, raw almond butter, coconut oil, fresh strawberries, frozen blueberries)

green apple

kids -- turkey hot dogs; strawberries/raspberries; goat cheese for the 3 year old
chicken salad; guacamole on lettuce; strawberries & green apple for myself
leftovers from last night's dinner for hubs

trail mix for the kids (raw/sprouted sunflower seeds, dried peas, dried blackberries)

Dinner: (t-ball night)
organic chicken & apple sausage links; green peas/green salad; fruit (a throw it together night)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Maker's Diet Day 3: Grain-free Waffles

I woke up with slightly more energy than usual this morning :) I didn't feel like I needed a cup of coffee as soon as I made it to the kitchen! So, maybe I'm starting to see some improvements.

I made these Grain-Free Waffles this morning, using coconut flour & almond meal and coconut oil. They were SO good! I have a regular size waffle maker that makes two square waffles. This recipe filled the waffle maker one time. So, I doubled it to make 4 waffles. They were very filling...the kids ate blueberries on theirs and some turkey sausage.

*Both kids are at school today for lunch, so I sent leftover meatballs for the 5 year old and turkey hot dogs for the 3 year old with strawberries and one zucchini muffin.
*I had a chicken salad, and hubs took leftovers from last night to work.

Trail mix (pumpkinseeds, sunflower seeds, dried peas & dried blackberries)
Goat yogurt with blueberries
Fresh raspberries

Taco bowls (turkey taco meat, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, plain goat yogurt, goat's milk cheese, salsa)

End of day recap: We seem to be holding on :) The kids are doing great! They are eating such a variety of foods now that we've taken out their staples of crackers & bread. And they have not complained at all (amazing for a 3 yr old & 5 yr old!). :) Hubs and I are both craving "crunchy" foods right now...chips! Everything right now is soft! But we're staying full, so there really are no complaints. He felt some possible die-off effects this morning...dizzy and drugged feeling. He drank a ton of water and started to feel better and was fine through the rest of the day. I have not felt any of those effects yet, but I have been doing other detox things before starting this diet where I felt all of that. So, maybe I'm not going to? Or maybe later? So far so good though.

I've made several trips to the store this week as I've seen what we need to really stick with this diet for the first two weeks. So, here are my recommendations if you choose to try this out :)

-almond meal (the bulk bins at Whole Foods are MUCH cheaper than the packaged version)
-coconut flour (I've only found it packaged...Bob's Red Mill)
-unsweetened coconut flakes (I'm going to try baked chicken nuggets using this instead of flour)
-coconut oil
-coconut milk (really good drizzled over berries for a dessert!)
-frozen blueberries, raspberries, cherries
-fresh strawberries, fresh raspberries
-lemons & limes (for water or salad or seasoning meat/fish)
-raw almonds (I did soak them overnight and then dried them in the oven on the lowest setting)
-raw sprouted sunflower seeds & pumpkin seeds (I found these -- easy!)
-dried berries & vegetables (I bought these blackberries & peas -- make sure to only buy the ones that are allowed in the first two weeks)
-fermented veggies are highly recommended for aiding digestion, but I'm not up to fermenting my own yet :) I have found that Bubbie's products are recommended, so I did buy 2 jars (pickles & sauerkraut) to try it out.
-plain goat yogurt (we have been using Meyenberg for quite some time now...works for all of us!)
-local raw honey (or at least local honey used in small quantities)
-LOTS of fresh/frozen veggies
-chicken, turkey (beef and game are also allowed)
-turkey hot dogs and turkey sausage is still a must for our family right now with young kids
-canned tuna/salmon
-fish to bake

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Maker's Diet Day 2: Grain-Free Muffins & Meatballs

I baked these Grain-Free Blueberry Muffins yesterday...SO good!!! I have the Zucchini Muffins mixed up to try today. I reduced the amount of honey from 1/4 cup to 1/8 cup for the zucchini muffins, so we'll see how they turn out. I thought the blueberry ones were plenty sweet and would probably be fine with less honey.
**Update: The Zucchini Muffins are SO good & only using 1/8 cup honey was perfect. With all of the spices, there was no need for more honey.

I'm also planning on trying out these Chicken Pancakes. I will leave out the banana right now as those are not allowed until week 5. I'll probably add in flaxmeal and maybe a little honey since the sweetness from the banana will not be in there. So, we'll see how they turn out as well.

I have Turkey Meatballs cooling right now for lunch.
1lb ground turkey
couple of shakes of wheat-free teriyaki sauce
couple of shakes of garlic powder, onion powder and ground ginger
1-2 Tbsp of flaxmeal (since I didn't use oats or breadcrumbs)
1 handful of spinach, chopped

Roll into 15 meatballs.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

2 grain-free blueberry muffins + 1 slice turkey bacon for the kids
2 scrambled eggs with purple onion/spinach + sliced cherry tomatoes + 1 slice turkey bacon for myself

fresh raspberries and goat cheddar cheese for my 3 year old

grain-free Turkey Meatballs + fresh raspberries + Bubbies bread & butter pickles + frozen cherries

Grain-free Zucchini muffin + smoothie (fresh strawberries, frozen blueberries, plain goat yogurt, raw almond butter, coconut oil, water)

Baked teriyaki chicken + stirfried veggies + grapefruit slices

**End of day recap: We did not seem nearly as hungry today between meals as yesterday. I think the grain-free muffins REALLY helped today! And adding coconut oil & almond butter to the smoothies really makes them filling as well.

What I'm most amazed about (after only 2 days) is that my kids are NOT begging for their snacks! They typically snack on gluten-free crackers, dry cereal, GF bread and fruit (with other things thrown in). My 3 year old always wants sandwiches for lunch. And they have not asked for the other food really at all. Again, I think the muffins have helped in that as well. But, they are eating more food at each meal and trying more foods. My 3 year old ate roasted cauliflower last night at dinner and ate all of her fish (she usually picks at dinner), and my 5 year old is eating tons of food as usual...but it's all good choices.

Tomorrow I'm trying out this recipe for Grain-Free Waffles using coconut flour and almond meal. I've decided that we really need something along these lines once a day...we cannot do just eggs/meat/fish, fruit, veggies, almonds/pumpkinseeds/sunflower seeds all day long for two weeks.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: April 5, 2010

This is our first week of The Maker's Diet (you can read more here about why we are doing this and what it's all about). The first two weeks are basically grain-free, sugar-free, preservative-free, and bean/legume-free in order to regulate blood sugars and begin the healing process. The Maker's Diet does allow for a variety of meat and game, however we usually just eat chicken and turkey. So, I want to slowly try other meat to see if that affects us or not.

So, here is our menu plan for this week (I'll add in green salad, steamed veggies and other cooked veggies):

Monday: Baked Tilapia

Tuesday: Baked Teriyaki Chicken with stirfried veggies

Wednesday: Turkey Taco Salads

Thursday: (t-ball night) quick Grilled Chicken and Apple Sausage links with fruit and green salad

Friday: Turkey Burgers (no buns) and toppings

Saturday: Turkey Hot Dogs

Sunday: Roast Chicken and Veggies

Breakfast (rotating)
blueberry/strawberry/almond butter smoothie with turkey sausage
Grain-free Blueberry muffins with Boiled Eggs
grain-free pumpkin pancakes with turkey sausage
scrambled eggs with pancakes/muffins

Lunch (rotating) -- for the kids (hubs eats leftovers from dinner & I eat a salad with various toppings)
chicken salad with fruit and celery sticks
tuna salad with fruit and almonds
meatballs with fruit
turkey hot dogs with fruit

raw sunflower seeds and dehydrated peas
raw almonds (soaked & dried)
plain goat's milk yogurt with flaxmeal and frozen berries
goat's milk cheese with fruit

The Maker's Diet

I've taken a break from blogging the last few weeks...I've been reading more online about various healing diets. I've known this is the direction that I would like to take our menu planning, but I was not sure exactly which direction that would be :) We have several chronic health issues (Fibromyalgia in myself, sinus infections in both kids & my husband and stomach issues in all). We have mostly followed the Eat Right for Your Type diet (we are all blood type A's) and find that we really do much better while eating the foods that are right for our type (mostly chicken/turkey, vegetables, fruits, and gluten-free grains).

However, I think we need to take things to a new level. I know that certain foods have negative effects on our bodies, but I truly believe that certain foods can be healing to our bodies as well. So, we are starting The Maker's Diet today. I went to the health food store last night to stock up on more foods that we can eat, and I removed (and hid) all of the foods in our pantry that we cannot eat right now. The first two weeks on the "diet" are the most restrictive, but in stage 2 (the next two weeks) more foods are added back in. And finally in the 5th week, more are added back in and you reach the maintenance stage. It's a 40 day diet at the end of which I hope just mostly stay at that level. We are not taking their supplements, but we are all taking a high-quality probiotic as well as other vitamins/supplements. So, I feel that we are ok in that area.

I hope to chronicle what we are doing so that I can look back and see what did or did not work for us. In the first two weeks, the diet consists mostly of good quality meats/fish/poultry/eggs (no pork and no shellfish being the main restrictions), only goat's milk yogurt and goat/sheep's milk cheese (we already eat plain goat's milk yogurt), coconut oil/organic butter/extra virgin olive oil for fats/oils, lots of vegetables, a good variety of raw nuts/seeds (no peanuts at this stage), fresh seasonings, berries/grapefruit/lemons/limes and mostly purified water to drink. So the biggest restriction in stage 1 is no beans/legumes (except for lentils) and no grains! That will be the biggest issue with my kids as they snack on dry cereal, granola, and crackers! But, I am finding some good recipes for muffins and pancakes made with almond meal instead of grains. I'll post about those when I try them out.

So far for day 1 we've had:

smoothie for the kids (& sent one to work with hubs for a snack)...small handful of spinach, water, goat yogurt, raw almond butter, frozen blueberries & fresh strawberries, maybe 1 tsp of coconut oil -- SO yummy!!!!! And they also had some turkey sausage (allowed but probably not the best as it's not nitrate/nitrite free).
** scrambled eggs with tomatoes & turkey sausage for hubs and myself.

Mid-Morning snack:
**raw sunflower seeds and dehydrated peas for the kids
**they also finished up our banana/clementine supply with one each (not allowed on this stage but they were in the refrigerator!)

**nitrate/nitrite free turkey hot dogs for the kids
**then later, tuna salad for the kids with strawberries & raw almonds (soaked & dried in the oven)
**egg salad & green salad for myself
**leftovers for the hubs (chicken, okra & green salad)

Afternoon Snack:
**plain goat yogurt with flaxmeal and frozen blueberries for the kids

It will be baked tilapia for all with a large green salad for the adults (still working on getting the kids to really eat salad) and carrot sticks/fruit for the kids.

I can see all of us being hungry between meals during these first two weeks without beans and grains. We'll see...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: March 15, 2010

Monday: Chop Suey over rice

Tuesday: Taco Night

Wednesday: Skillet Shepherd's Pie & Cabbage

Thursday: Jambalaya

Friday: Turkey burgers & sweet potato fries

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Chicken and Wild Rice Bake

Skillet Shepherd's Pie

1lb ground turkey
1/4 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
salt & pepper to taste
1 large potato, cubed
2 carrots, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp ketchup (or tomato paste or 1 can diced tomatoes, drained)

1. Cook ground turkey, onion, thyme, oregano, salt & pepper in a skillet until turkey is no longer pink.

2. Add potatoes and carrots to the turkey. Pour in chicken broth and ketchup/tomatoes and simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender, adding more broth if needed.

Quick Cooked Cabbage

Original recipe found here (FamilyFun).

Quick Cooked Cabbage
2 pieces sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 1/4 lbs cabbage, sliced
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano

1. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp; remove bacon and reserve drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon and set aside.

2. Cook chopped onion in drippings over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring often.

3. Add cabbage and next four ingredients; cook, stirring for 1 minute.

4. Cover and cook until tender. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle bacon on top.

Chop Suey

Cook until tender:
1lb lean pork, cut into strips (I use a pork tenderloin)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Add to meat and cook 3 minutes:
1/2 cup sliced onions
1/2 cup sliced bell pepper
2 cups thinly sliced bok choy (I'm using green cabbage this time)
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced mushrooms

Add to above and cook until thickened:
1 cup chicken broth (or 1 cup water + 1 bouillon cube)
1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water

Add to above and heat thoroughly, then serve over rice:
16oz can bean sprouts, drained
1 can water chestnuts, drained
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 Tbsp soy sauce (or more to taste)
*can also add dash sesame oil

**Vary the vegetables to your taste.

CVS: Cereal Deals: March 14-20, 2010

CVS has several good cereal deals going on this week.

Kashi Heart to Heart -- priced at 2/$5
Buy 3 boxes at $2.50/each
Use Buy 2 cereals Get 1 Free coupon here
Use (2) $1.50/1 coupons for Heart to Heart cereal here

Final price is $2 for 3 boxes of cereal or $0.67/each!
*Original Kashi cereal deal found here at MyFrugalAdventures.

*Your CVS might not take the Buy 2 cereals Get 1 Free coupon -- it is a manufacturer's coupon, but it prints with the Target logo. I did not have a problem using it at my store.

*Some boxes of the Kashi cereal had peelie coupons for $1 off any Kashi cereal, $1 off any Kashi frozen item & $1 off any Kashi TLC Granola bar.

**I just did this deal and ended up paying $0.04 for the 3 boxes of cereal! The cashier valued my free box at the regular price ($4.69) instead of at the sale price ($2.50)! I'm not sure what they are supposed to do, but I took it anyway. So, $2 or $0.04 -- great deal for 3 boxes of cereal.

Kashi Granola bars -- priced at 2/$5
Use this for $1.50/2 boxes
or use the $1/1 peelie coupon
Final price: $1.50 to $1.75 a box

Chex Cereal -- priced at 2/$5
Use this coupon for $0.75/1 box
Final price: $1.75 a box

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Target Deals: March 7-13, 2010 (Updated!)

I went to Target today and found several good deals I wanted to share... these are all easy deals to do if you're just getting started with grocery savings. You can easily find these coupons and score some good deals.

You can always verify specials using the Target price scanners... they will show gift cards available and buy 3, get one free deals, etc. Also, check out My Baton Rouge Mommy for a full list of this week's Target deals.

Some additional Target tips:
*Check the meat section for peelies (peel-off coupons)...usually the meat will expire in a day or two and they'll mark down the price and put a peelie on, making for some great meat deals! Just stick it in your freezer at home if you don't cook it right away.

*Target places clearance items on the ends of aisles. If you can pair a coupon with a clearance item, you'll score a great deal (ex: Diego bandaids below).

Get a free box of General Mills cereal when you buy 3 boxes

Rice Chex and Corn Chex (both labeled gluten free) $3.04
Use this coupon for $0.75/1 (print 3 copies)
Buy 3 boxes, get the 4th free
Final price: $6.87 for 4 boxes ($1.72/each)

Diego Bandaids -- clearance on end of aisle by pharmacy for $1.58
Use this coupon for $1/1 (I also received one in a Target mailer yesterday)
UPDATE: There is a $0.50/1 coupon coming out in tomorrow's (3/14) RedPlum coupon insert!
Final price $0.58 -- with new coupon = $0.08

Select Tampax & Always products
Get $5 Target giftcard when you buy 2

Always 48ct -- $6.99
$2/1 coupon in the 3/7 P&G insert in paper
Final price $4.99

Tampax Pearl 36ct -- $6.99
$2/1 coupon in the 3/7 P&G insert in paper
Final price $4.99

Total: $9.98 + a $5 Target giftcard to be use on a future purchase (it's like getting them for $2.49/each)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: March 8, 2010

Monday: Pork Chops Supreme

Tuesday: Oven Fried Drumsticks

Wednesday: Pecan-Crusted Tilapia

Thursday: Pintos & Cornbread (with taco toppings...guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese)

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Eating with friends

Sunday: Kids eat free at Salsarita's

Pecan Crusted Tilapia

I am using this recipe from Faithful Provisions, but I will make a few changes to make it gluten-free/dairy-free:

1/2 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I buy gluten-free bread crumbs at Whole Foods)
1/4 cup GF flour mix
1/2 cup rice milk
1 egg
1 to 1 1/2 lb tilapia fillets
1/4 cup canola oil

Process pecans in a food processor until chopped well; combine with bread crumbs in a bowl.
Place flour in a second bowl.
Blend milk and egg together in a third bowl.

Preheat large skillet on medium heat. Sprinkle both sides of fish with salt/pepper/paprika.

Dip fillets in flour (coating both sides), then dip in egg mixture (allowing excess to drip off). Finally, dip in pecan/bread crumb mixture.

Pour oil in skillet, swirl to coat. Add fish and cook 2-3 minutes on eat side until golden on outside and flaky on inside.

Oven Fried Drumsticks

12 chicken drumsticks
paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper
Egg wash (eggs scrambled with milk added) or 4 Tbsp butter
1 cup bread crumbs

Remove skin from drumsticks.
Sprinkle drumsticks with with paprika, garlic powder, salt & pepper.
Dip in egg wash or butter, then roll in bread crumbs.
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or until cooked through.

Pork Chops Supreme

6 pork chops
dash of salt & pepper
dash of garlic powder (optional)
4 cups thinly sliced potatoes
1 can cream of mushroom or celery soup (homemade version here)
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp chopped onion

Season pork chops with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Brown in a skillet on both sides.
Arrange potatoes in a 2-qt baking dish. Place pork chops on top.
Mix soup, milk and onions and pour over the top.
Bake at 375 degrees for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until potatoes are tender.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ultimate Recipe Swap: March 4, 2010

It's Thursday and time for another Ultimate Recipe Swap...the theme today is Flour. My contribution is below, and you can find more recipes at http://www.lifeasmom.com/. My recipe is gluten free, but you can change it up and use whole wheat flour or half white/half wheat if you prefer.

Zucchini Bread (Gluten Free)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar (I sometimes use honey instead of brown sugar)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups GF all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (only needed if you are using gluten-free flour)
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 cups grated zucchini (squeeze it in a towel first to drain the liquid), 3-4 small or 2 med
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 8x4 inch loaf pans with cooking spray.
In large bowl, cream oil, sugar, eggs, applesauce and vanilla together with electric mixer until very smooth.
Add flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Gently stir in zucchini, nuts and raisins. Batter will be somewhat thick.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until tester in the center comes out clean.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Seventh Generation Cleaner

In addition to the basic vinegar, baking soda and Bon Ami cleaners, I like Seventh Generation cleaners. Here's a great deal on Seventh Generation at Target (original post found at MyFrugalAdventures):

Target coupon found here for $1 off Seventh Generation Disinfecting products (this coupon is only printing once, so you'll need additional computers to print more).

Stack the Target coupon with this $1 off manufacturer coupon for a total of $2 off (these coupons are printing twice).

The Seventh Generation cleaning products are reportedly $2.99 at Target, so they'll be 99cents after stacking both coupons.

Turkey Taquitos

Corn tortillas
Turkey meat, cooked and shredded (you can also use chicken, ground turkey or ground beef)
1 pkg Taco seasoning mix (or use this homemade version)
1 cup Turkey broth
**Optional add-in's: diced onion, can of green chilis, can of tomatoes drained, shredded cheese

Soften tortillas in a skillet of oil over medium heat and drain on paper towels.

Warm turkey meat in a separate skillet on medium-high heat and add in taco seasoning and 1 cup turkey broth. Cook until all is incorporated and warmed through. Add in any other ingredients (sauteed onion, green chilis, drained tomatoes, etc), except for cheese. Warm through and remove from heat.

Spoon 1/2 to 3/4 Tbsp meat mixture onto lower 1/3 of tortilla and add a pinch of shredded cheese (if you are using cheese). Roll tortilla tightly and place on a cookie sheet.

Continue until all tortillas are rolled.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, until crispy and warm. Top with lettuce, cheese, guacamole, sour cream and salsa. Or use the taquitos to dip in sour cream/salsa/guacamole.

*You can flash freeze prior to baking (place taquitos on a cookie sheet in the freezer), then transfer them to a ziploc bag back in the freezer until ready to use.

Turkey Tetrazzini

1 pkg spaghetti noodles (8oz) -- I use deBoles rice noodles since we don't eat wheat
approx 2 cups turkey meat, cooked & chopped/shredded
1 small jar pimentos, drained
1 can cream of chicken/celery/mushroom soup (or use this homemade version)
3/4 cup turkey broth
Parmesan cheese
**Optional add-in's: peas, red pepper, mushrooms, shredded cheese, onions

Cook spaghetti noodles according to package instructions to al dente.

Spread turkey meat in bottom of a 9x13 pan. Mix in drained pimentos & any other vegetables you are using.

Drain spaghetti noodles and add to the turkey/veggie mixture. Mix in cream soup and broth.

Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: March 1, 2010

I cooked a whole turkey this weekend, so I'll be using a lot of turkey meat & broth in meals this month! We had Turkey Soup Sunday and after the Tetrazzini & Taquitos, I think we might have a little leftover for Turkey Salad.

Wednesday: Baked Teriyaki Chicken with Stirfry Veggies & Rice

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Turkey Burgers & Fries

Saturday/Sunday: Leftovers/Date Night

For more menu planning ideas, visit OrgJunkie

Friday, February 26, 2010

Homemade "Cream Soup"

I began making my own cream soups, primarily because the canned versions contain wheat and milk ingredients. But, the canned versions of cream soups found in the grocery are full of preservatives that we try to avoid anyway. So, here is the recipe that I follow...you can change it up to make any of the cream soups.

Basic Cream Soup
Melt in a saucepan over medium-high heat:
3 Tbsp butter (or margarine)

Whisk in (cooking until bubbly)
3 Tbsp flour (I use the GF all-purpose flour mix)

Slowly add (using whisk so lumps do not form)
1 cup milk (rice milk or almond milk is fine if you're dairy-free)

Cook until thickened and completely incorporated. Add salt & pepper to taste.

**Options for changing it up:
Cheese sauce: Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese and 1/4 tsp dry mustard after you add the liquid.
Cream of mushroom: Saute 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms and 1 Tbsp chopped onions in the butter before adding the flour.
Cream of celery: Saute 1/2 cup finely chopped celery and 1 Tbsp chopped onions in the butter before adding the flour.
Cream of chicken: Use chicken broth as the liquid instead of milk or you can use 3/4 cup chicken broth & 1/4 cup milk if you like it creamier.

This basic recipe will make the equivalent of 1 can of condensed cream soup. It might be slightly more liquid. You can make it thicker by using 4 Tbsp butter/4 Tbsp flour and 1 cup liquid.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ultimate Recipe Swap: February 25, 2010

I'm joining in the Ultimate Recipe Swap today at www.lifeasMom.com. The topic is Lunchtime, so here is my super simple lunch recipe that both kids LOVE:

Chicken Salad
chicken, shredded (I like to use leftover roasted chicken b/c it's seasoned so well)
carrots & celery, processed into small pieces (I use leftover roasted veggies if I have them)
dried dill or oregano
dill pickle relish
mustard (regular yellow or spicy Dijon)
1-2 Tbsp mayonnaise

Shred the roast chicken and stir in processed carrots & celery. Add a few shakes of dried dill or oregano (depending on which flavor you like best). Add a little relish, a little mustard and 1-2 Tbsp mayo. Mix well and add more if needed.

We like it on sandwiches or in a bowl with "dippers" (crackers, chips, carrot sticks, etc). We serve it with a side of whatever fruit we have on hand. Easy lunch!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Freezer Cooking Day

I am participating in Freezer Cooking Day(s) with Life as Mom and Money Saving Mom. I hope to make this a monthly routine...what a great way to kick off the month and make life easier down the road!

Here's my plan for cooking/baking through the next couple of days (I'll add recipes for the Tetrazzini, Taquitos & Cornbread Muffins later):

Cook a Turkey (I bought it on sale & with coupons after Christmas)
Debone & freeze some of the meat
Turkey Soup
Turkey Tetrazzini
Turkey Taquitos
Pumpkin Waffles (Bob's Red Mill GF Pancake Mix with pumpkin puree added)
Pumpkin Muffins (Whole Foods' 365 brand GF muffin Mix with pumpkin puree added)
Cornbread Muffins
Pinto Beans (soak, cook & freeze)

Taco Night

Taco seasoning packets contain MSG and other preservatives/flavorings that I try to avoid. It is super easy to make your own taco seasoning, and you can store it in a glass jar in the pantry. Here is the combination that I use (I leave out the chili powder, because my husband does not care for it. But I will include it below as most people do use it).

Taco Seasoning Mix
6 tsp chili powder
5 tsp cumin
5 tsp paprika
3 tsp onion powder
3 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Mix well and store in an airtight glass jar in the pantry.

For tacos, sprinkle a generous amount on browned ground meat, add 1/2 cup water and warm through.

**On taco night, I like a taco salad...romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red peppers, seasoned black beans, garbanzo beans, taco meat, purple onions and avocado...YUM!

Favorite Gluten Free Snacks

Here is a list of my kids' favorite gluten free snacks (again, read the labels to verify they are indeed gluten free as we mainly follow a wheat-free diet). Most of these can be found at a health food store, or you can order most from Amazon.com as well

Original Tings
Pirate's Booty -- my kids like the Veggie, Barbeque and Sea Salt & Vinegar flavors
Glutino Crackers & Pretzels
EnviroKidz bars, cereals & cookies -- my kids like the Panda (peanut butter) cereal & bars
Barbara's Bakery cereals -- there are several that are Gluten Free, but check the list
Nut-Thins crackers
Frito Lay gluten free list -- good reference, but we try to not buy too many junky chips
Chex cereal -- several are now labeled Gluten Free -- be sure to check for the GF label
Alexia sweet potato fries are a hit -- all of their potato products are GF
Ian's GF chicken nuggets/fish sticks are a treat that we sometimes buy

Naturally Gluten Free Snacks:
There are also plenty of naturally gluten free snacks to choose from as well...

Fresh fruit or frozen fruit
Veggie sticks in dip (my kids like homemade Ranch or peanut butter mixed with a little milk)
Yogurt with fruit/honey mixed in
Dried fruit & nuts (mixed together in trail mix or separately)
Nachos (melt cheese over corn or rice chips)
Chips or crackers & bean dip or salsa
Cheese & crackers
Frozen edamame (thawed with a little salt on top)
Muffins, breads, waffles, pancakes -- we like Bob's Red Mill pancake mix and I use the GF All-Purpose flour mix to make breads/muffins or the Whole Foods 365 brand GF muffin mix

Just BARE Chicken

We eat mostly chicken and turkey with a little pork here and there. So, I am always searching for better varities of chicken and turkey without too much added cost. We do have a local farmer's market vendor who sells organic chicken and eggs, and we also have a Whole Foods store here that sells organic chicken. But, I have not gone 100% organic with our chicken thus far (still refining the grocery budget). I have found one brand that our SuperTarget carries that I feel is a good compromise...Just BARE Chicken which is an off-shoot of the Gold 'n Plump brand.

Their chicken is labeled:

No Added Hormones
No Antibiotics -- Ever
All Natural
Cage Free -- Vegetable Fed

While I realize that is not organic, I feel it's better than the standard variety sold in most stores. And the Just BARE Chicken website has an offer right now for a free reusable grocery bag when you purchase one package of their chicken and fill out the online form.

Menu Planning 101: Part 1

The dreaded hour faithfully arrives each evening when the kids reach their peak of energy at the same time I reach my peak of exhaustion. And in the midst of all of this, I need to prepare dinner! I have played around with weekly menu plans and cooking several meals at a time. But, at the start of 2010 I resolved to find the plan that really worked for me and to stick to it. A monthly menu plan has worked wonderfully for me! I realize it is just the end of February, but a monthly menu plan has made these two months so easy! And, it has been something that I have found easy to stick to and has made grocery shopping much easier as well. So, here is my Menu Planning 101:

1. Find a blank monthly calendar (dry-erase, paper calendar or print a blank calendar from the internet). I print out a blank monthly calendar and then hang it on the side of the refrigerator.

2. Make a list of your family's favorite meals, and add in any recipes that you might have come across that you want to try. If you do not have favorite meals, start talking to friends or perusing some cookbooks. You don't need a long list of meals. You can use one recipe two or three times in a month without it getting too old.

3. Take inventory of your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Make a list of items that you already have on hand, making note of items that are close to their expiration date. If you have not done this in awhile, you might need to also throw out items that are outdated and clean up! We'll use this list in a bit for making the grocery list.

4. Look over your upcoming activities for the month (any evening meetings, dance classes, soccer practices, etc) and take note of the days that will be more hectic or days that you will be out. Also take note of any days your family will be out of town or might have company over or might be going out to eat. Mark those days on your calendar as you might need a special meal (company coming over) or will not need to cook (going out of town or out to eat). Make note of hectic days/evenings as you'll want a meal that requires little preparation (crockpot night!).

5. Now you can start filling in the rest of your calendar. Some people like to have "theme nights" (chicken night, steak night, fish night, Italian night, Mexican night, etc). If you like that and it's easier for you to assign a theme for each night, then go ahead and make note of that. Mondays might be Italian night, so you can fill in Mondays with spaghetti & meatballs, baked ziti, etc. I typically just like to make sure that I'm not planning 5 chicken meals in one week or other dishes that are too similar.

6. After you have filled in a meal for each night during the month (taking into account eating out, Leftover Nights, pizza nights, going out of town, etc), you're ready to make your grocery list. Go through each recipe and write down the ingredients that you need, making note of the ones that you already have on hand (from your inventory list). Now you have a working list of what you need to buy at the grocery store this month.

**I found that my first step in monthly menu planning was to simply have a plan so that I was not scurrying around trying to throw something together right at the dreaded hour. I have started refining my menu plan by stretching food further, looking at the cost of meat and planning ahead when it's on sale, thereby reducing my grocery costs for the month as well. I will get into that in future posts. But, for now having a plan is the goal!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: February 22, 2010

I'm joining in the Menu Plan Monday carnival for the first time today! Here is what's on our menu for the week:

Monday: Teriyaki Chicken Spring Rolls with steamed snap peas

Tuesday: Ground Turkey Tacos with 'fixin's

Wednesday: Turkey Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries & salad

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Spaghetti & Meatballs with salad

Saturday: eat out

Sunday: Turkey Soup

For more meal planning ideas, visit OrgJunkie

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour

This mix works so well as an all-purpose flour in thickening and baking. It makes 3 cups of flour.

2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch (NOT potato flour)
1/3 cup tapioca starch/flour

Mix all together. It keeps longer when stored in the refrigerator.

Ranch Dressing

We do not eat dairy, but my son loves to dip food! So, here is our favorite Ranch Dressing recipe...

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup yogurt (we use plain goat yogurt...you can use plain yogurt or sour cream)
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper

Mix all together and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

Baked Teriyaki Chicken

1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp cold water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
8-12 skinless chicken thighs

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken thighs in a baking dish.
2. In a bowl, whisk together cornstarch, water, soy sauce, orange juice, cider vinegar, ginger and pepper until thoroughly combined.
3. Pour sauce over chicken and bake for 30 minutes. Turn chicken over and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Serve with sauce over rice and stirfried vegetables or shred and serve in wraps.

Dijon Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt & pepper (to taste)
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 onion, diced
2 cups chicken broth
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and place in baking dish. Top with onions and red peppers.
3. In separate bowl, whisk together chicken broth, flour and Dijon mustard.
4. Pour Dijon sauce over chicken.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Serve over rice or slice chicken and mix with cooked pasta.


1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper (to taste)
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp ketchup
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1 pkg Italian Turkey Sausage, sliced into bite-size pieces

1. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
2. Saute onion, red & green bell peppers until tender; add sausage and saute until cooked through.
3. Mix in the remaining ingredients through chicken broth. Bring to a boil, stir in rice, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until rice is done and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Turkey Meatballs

1 lb ground turkey
2 medium eggs
Couple shakes of Italian Seasonings
Couple shakes of Worcestershire Sauce
2 handfuls quick oats
salt & pepper

In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
Shape into balls and place on a baking pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.

February Menu Plan

Recipes coming soon…

1- Turkey meatballs, green beans, millet drop biscuits
2- Pork fajitas/tacos with toppings, steamed snap peas
3- Italian turkey sausage Jambalaya, salad4- Turkey meatloaf, green peas
5- pick-up barbeque chicken
6- Chicken soup
7- Super Bowl — pick-up grilled chicken, coleslaw & potato salad
8- leftovers
9- Chicken Tetrazzini
10- leftovers
11- Turkey Tacos & toppings
12-13 out of town
14- Asian Pork Tenderloin with carrots, corn and broccoli
15-Turkey meatballs, green beans and millet drop biscuits
16- Black bean soup with chicken andouille sausage
17- Chicken Tetrazzini, green peas and salad
18- leftovers
19- Dijon Chicken Pasta
20- Turkey Meatloaf, mixed vegetables, oven fries and salad
21- leftovers
22- Baked Teriyaki Chicken with stifry vegetables
23- Turkey Tacos with black beans & toppings
24- Turkey Burgers with sweet potato fries and salad
25- leftovers
26- Spaghetti & Meatballs with salad
27- eat out
28- Turkey Soup