Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Another recipe I have searched long and hard for, the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Taking the best parts of different recipes, this result takes 1st place with the amazing flavor, slightly crunchy outer layer and deliciously gooey inside.


2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (melted)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla (Tablespoon, not teaspoon!)
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 335 Degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.

Cream melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in vanilla, egg (and extra yolk) until creamy.

Mix in dry ingredients until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto your baking sheets about 3 inches apart.

Bake for 23 minutes or until edges start to turn golden. Let cool on pan for 2 minutes before removing onto racks or paper towels.

Enjoy :)

Granola Bars

Granola bars are great to have on hand when you need a quick or portable snack, but they can get spendy at the store (especially with as many people as we feed here) and have you ever read the back of the box? Gross.

I have spent so long trying to find a granola bar recipe I was happy with. I wanted healthy, but doesn't taste like dirt and something that was soft and chewy, but stayed together in a bar shape. Oh I found it! A no-bake granola bar that is all my dreams and more :) This is a highly adaptable recipe so feel free to substitute with what your family likes and what you have on hand, just be sure to keep the same ratio of wet to dry ingredients.

Some things you might use:

protein powder
wheat germ
the dried fruit options are endless.....
almond butter or another nut butter
pureed pumpkin instead of peanut butter....
chocolate chips
mini m&ms (freeze them first!)

These are pretty sweet so feel free to experiment using less sugar or no brown sugar at all, but you need the honey to help it all stick together. Pay attention to if your dried fruit already contains added sugar, most of it does.


2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup ground flax seed
3/4 cup high fiber cereal (we used Fiber One)
1 1/2 cups dried fruit (chopped small)
1/2 cup peanut butter (natural with no added sugar. If you only have some with added sugar leave out the brown sugar.)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey (try flavored honey!)
4 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and grease just for good measure.

Mix together your dry ingredients (except for brown sugar and salt) in a large bowl, set aside.

Over medium high heat melt butter, salt, brown sugar, honey and peanut butter until boiling (stirring constantly.) Boil and stir for 2 more minutes, take care not to let it burn.

Pour liquid goodness over your dry ingredients and combine well.

Dump mixture onto your prepared baking sheet and using a rolling pin covered in butter roll it flat. You want to press down hard so it all sticks together well.

Cool in the fridge (faster so you can eat them sooner!) or on the counter (Boo!) and cut into rectangles and wrap individually.

These will make a great treat to bring camping and hiking this Summer.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Polenta With Spinach & Balsamic Tomatoes AND Asparagus, Strawberry Salad

That's a long title...... and a delicious combo :)

This took a little more prep using all fresh ingredients and making it all fancy looking, but it was worth it. The idea came to me as I was trying to decide what to do with a ton of spinach I needed to use and a pre-made roll of polenta. I wanted something pretty to try out the food setting on my new camera and this was the end result.

Remember that you can easily substitute things here, I use what I have on hand because I'm terrible at menu planning!

Polenta With Spinach & Balsamic Tomatoes


1 roll of pre-made polenta
2 huge bags of spinach (precise right!)
6 roma tomatoes
about a 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella
3 cloves garlic
Olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 large lemon
Spices.... I used basil, thyme, cayenne and some salt n pepper.

Put the oven on broil and grease a large cookie sheet.

Wash and dry your veggies, be extra sure the spinach is dry.

Chop your spinach.

Slice polenta into rounds about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick, season with salt and pepper. Lay on your greased pan and lightly spray the top with cooking spray. Broil on each side 6-8 minutes or until golden.

Remove and change oven to 350 Degrees F.

Dice your garlic and saute it in some olive oil over medium high heat until golden. Add your spinach (if there is any water watch out!) Cover and turn heat down to medium for about 2 minutes. - Hey?! Where'd all my spinach go? I rarely cook spinach, we love baby spinach fresh and eat lots of it. It's amazing how much it shrinks when you cook it! remove it from the burner and squeeze 1/2 lemon over it, season with salt and pepper, mix well.

Dice tomatoes and mix with 2 Tablespoons balsamic, 2 Tablespoons oil and the herbs. I used cayenne to give it a little kick and a slightly different flavor than the salad... it was kinda awesome. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Top each polenta round with some garlicky spinach and then some cheese. Put them in the oven for about 10-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and starting to turn golden.

Serve tomatoes on the side (I prefer fresh over cooked tomatoes and it keeps the "pizzas" from getting soggy while cooking). Each person can top their rounds with some tomatoes and enjoy alongside some.......

Asparagus & Strawberry Salad

Oh yum.... this was great and so easy to make! You just want to make it an hour or so ahead so the flavors mix up well. I made two versions, the only difference being one was with asparagus and one was with green beans. Both were good, the kids were more likely to eat green beans than asparagus so this way they had a choice. The asparagus was better though and got 100% of the adult votes. It soaked up the flavors wonderfully.


1 bunch asparagus (or green beans)
1 pint strawberries
2 Tablesoons honey
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
juice from 1/2 large lemon
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Blanch vegetables in boiling water for about 2 minutes and then put directly into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Dry well.

Wash and dry strawberries and slice.

Chop vegetables into large chunks... about 2 inches long.

Mix dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

Mix vegetables and strawberries in a large bowl and pour dressing over the top. Mix well, salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for about an hour.

We really enjoyed this meal, so pretty, healthy and tasty! The only thing I'll do next time is make more!! And maybe add some roasted potatoes to the plate.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring Shape Up Day Five

Day five and the real test begins.... the weekend is here. And this weekend is especially special :) Thomas has two birthday parties to go to and Sunday is Cub Scout bowling night and Mike's Birthday.... and that's just the beginning. We will have a cheat day Sunday for Mike's Birthday, I'm not that mean. But I will also keep track of what we do eat so we know exactly how many calories we consume on a cheat day. I don't really want to know, but it will put things in perspective.

I'm really slacking on the menus and we're changing a lot as we go. It's just so hard for us to plan. That tomato and Broccoli Mac n Cheese has been on the menu a couple times and I have yet to make it. Life just happens I guess, but we've been doing well calorie wise. Mike has lost 5lbs. during the last five days! I've lost 1lb. but I'm not expecting to lose much weight here, just clean up our eating and give my body a chance to catch up and recover.

Since exercise is a big part of the Spring Shape Up too I figure I should start recording our progress there as well....

Mike's 1,800 Calorie Menu Plan


2 oatmeal muffins - 260c, 6f
2 Mandarin oranges - 90 c, 4f
350 calories, 10 grams fiber

AM snack

2 kiwi - 84c, 4f
1/2 cup broccoli - 27c, 3f
1 carrot - 21c, 1f
1/4 cup hummus - 60c, 1f
192 calories, 9 grams fiber


Pesto Chicken Salad Wrap - 278c, 13f
2 Mandarin oranges - 90c, 4f
368 calories, 17 grams fiber

PM Snack

2 cups Fruit salad
284 calories, 10 grams fiber


2 servings Vegetable/Pasta Bake - 644 calories, 10 grams fiber
642 calories, 10 grams fiber

Total = 1,836 calories, 56 grams fiber

Elizabeth's 1,500 Calorie Menu


2 Oatmeal muffins
260 calories, 6 grams fiber

*Workout burned 150 calories

AM Snack

1 cup fruit salad
142 calories, 5grams fiber


Pesto Chicken Salad Wrap
278 calories, 13 grams fiber

Afternoon Snack

1 cup Fruit salad
142 calories, 5 grams fiber


1 serving Vegetable/Pasta Bake - 322 calories, 5 grams fiber
1 Pear - 98 calories, 5 grams fiber
420 calories, 10 grams fiber

Totoal = 1,242 calories, 39 grams fiber

We Have Peas!

I'm writing this post as part of the Grow. Cook. Eat. event being organized by Katie at

I'm so excited to be starting my very first vegetable garden this year! Sure we've grow tomatoes in a pot, but that's about as far as I've gotten. This year I have the yard to make a big garden, 20' x 60'. The area has been used as a compost pile for yard debris for more than 20 years, it is very rich soil.

I made a garden plan and changed it about a hundred times :) We tilled up the dirt and marked off the beds. A month or so ago I planted blueberries, strawberries, potatoes and bush peas. I was worried for awhile that nothing was coming up, we had a light snow once right after planting (not normal for here) so I thought I may have to re-seed.

Then on a nice sunny day I went and started to weed the strawberries first and figured I'd weed the potato/peas bed before re-seeding. You know those little "helicopter" seeds, from an Oak Tree I think, well they are obnoxious! They grow ALL over my garden area about an inch apart. As I weed more they are coming back less, but still.... obnoxious. Anyway, I couldn't figure out why the berries were doing so well, but not a single pea or potato plant had sprouted. As I started weeding I saw one, and then two, and then more little sprouts that weren't weeds.... they were peas!

A couple days ago I went out to weed again, I'm really starting to enjoy it. I love having something to do that is mine and gives me some quiet thinking time working with the Earth while the boys dig for worms and play with sticks.

The three blueberry plants are doing well, I'm especially excited about the new variety, Pink Lemonade Blueberries. I bet Katie over at Good Life Eats could do something great with some Pink Lemonade Blueberries :) We won't be getting berries from it this year because it's a first year plant, but the other two we got are older so we will get harvest from them. Michael (3) asks me every day if we have Blueberries yet, he Loves them!

We have two Strawberry varieties, one of which are the "Hoods" that are so famous around Oregon, the other an everbearing variety that will hopefully provide some strawberries this year. One thing I learned while planning my garden is that many plants don't produce the first year, especially the fruit plants. We won't be here next year so I wanted things we can eat this year, but that left a lot of my favorite fruits out :( Our 25 Strawberry plants are growing every day!

Two of the Purple Potato plants have broken their mounds and have the most beautiful purple leaves! I am still waiting on the rest of the Purple Potatoes and the Yukon Gold, we have six mounds of each. I have a weird thing about purple vegetables.... we will be growing a lot of purple vegetables this year. I once got the kids to eat a whole head of Cauliflower raw because it was purple.

I am thrilled to report that well over 30 pea plants have started growing! I have them spaced around the potato mounds and after making sure they were all spaced correctly I wound up with the middle of that bed feeling kind of empty. We love Spinach here so I planted some spinach in the middle of the bed!

Next I planted the carrots in another bed, the peppers will be keeping them company in May. The Spinach, Romaine and Flame Leaf Lettuce were all planted together in one bed, about 28 plants each.

This may seem like a lot of plants, but we feed a lot of people and dogs! We will be freezing what we don't eat right away for winter months and for dog food. Making the dog food uses about 5lbs. of vegetables every three days (for all three dogs), costing us about $50 a month for just the vegetables.

I still have plenty of vegetables waiting to be planted and I am so excited!

A quick note about starting from seed: I tried starting some plants indoors from seed. The tomatoes and peppers are doing well, but the cauliflower and broccoli didn't make it. Next year I will be buying starts of those.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sausage & Egg Breakfast Burrito

This Breakfast Burrito paired with some fruit will get your day started off right with plenty of protein and fiber, and the fact that it's pretty tasty doesn't hurt either :)

The key to our high fiber wraps are the tortillas. These are a new find for us and so far I've only seen them at Costco. Each whole wheat tortilla is only 80 calories and packs 12 grams of fiber! That's nearly half of your recommended daily fiber intake. And unlike many other whole wheat tortillas we've tried these taste good! They remind me of a crepe.

Each Burrito contains:

1 tortilla
2 eggs (scrambled or fried)
1 Morning Star veggie sausage
1 Tablespoon salsa

*I also like to add 1/2 cup of spinach


Scramble or fry your eggs and heat your sausage, cutting into small pieces as it cooks.

Lay the eggs in the middle of the tortilla, top with sausage and then salsa. Wrap it up and serve with your favorite fruit!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Shape Up Day Four

Well I have to say that it's been a little difficult, like missing our Wednesday trip to Starbucks :( But it hasn't been THAT bad and Mike has even lost a few pounds already. Planning the menus and calculating nutrients is time consuming, but I'll really enjoy having this information on hand and I hope you do to. The more planning I do, the easier it is to substitute snacks or meals for something else. One of the reasons I am terrible at making and keeping a menu plan is because sometimes I don't know what we want until that day. It's like picking out your outfit for every day of the week on Sundays..... that shirt might not be "the shirt" on Thursday, ya know? :)

Mike's 1,800 Calorie Menu


1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup Original Fiber One cereal
1/4 cup Grape Nuts cereal
345 calories, 24 grams fiber

AM Snack

3 Mandarin oranges
1 carrot w/ 1/4 cup hummus
280 calories, 9 grams fiber


3 cups Chicken Fajita Salad
372calories, 9 grams fiber

Afternoon Snack

1 apple
4 cups popcorn
174 calories, 10 grams fiber
*changed apple for oatmeal muffin = 250 calories


Tomato & Broccoli Mac n Cheese
371 calories, 4 grams fiber
**A late night so we ended up having 3 spinach cakes w/ salsa & 2 mandarin oranges = 360 calories, 4 grams fiber (at least)

Total = 1,542 calories, 56 grams fiber
Actual = 1,607 calories, 56 grams calories

Elizabeth's 1,500 Calorie Menu Plan


1/2 cup Kashi Go Lean cereal &
1/2 cup Original Fiber One cereal with
1/2 cup soy milk
1/3 cup dried cranberries
355 calories, 21 grams fiber

AM Snack

2 Mandarin oranges
1 carrot w/ 1/4 cup hummus
235 calories, 7 grams fiber


2 cups Chicken Fajita Salad
248calories, 6 grams fiber
*had 1 cup salad and a banana instead = 229 calories, 6 grams fiber

Afternoon Snack

1 apple
4 cups popcorn
174 calories, 10 grams fiber
* subbed 2 oatmeal muffins & dried mangos = 420 calories, 7 grams fiber <-- I was really craving something sweet! Dinner

Tomato & Broccoli Mac n Cheese
371 calories, 4 grams fiber
**A late night so we ended up having 2 spinach cakes w/ salsa & 2 mandarin oranges = 280 calories, 4 grams fiber (at least)

Total = 1,383 calories, 48 grams fiber
Actual = 1,519 calories, 45 grams fiber

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring Shape Up Day Three

Today is Mike's day off so we get a hot breakfast, yay! We'll take advantage of some leftovers for lunch and make one of our favorite salads for dinner. Mike gets the credit for this salad which he made for me when we tried out the Atkins diet (which worked wonders, but they didn't last at all). Tossing the small amount of dressing with the whole salad rather than drizzling some on each individual plate leaves you with (surprisingly) plenty of dressing.

Keep in mind with these menus that I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. This is what we are eating, it may not be right for you. While I am doing my best to calculate accurate calories and grams of fiber I may not be exact; The smoothies for example change every day, but they are almost always under 200 calories and contain at least 3 grams of fiber. I also end up under rather than over calories. I do this so that if we feel like we want an evening snack or extra snack during the day, we have room to do so while still staying under our calorie budget.

Mike's 1,800 calorie menu


Breakfast wrap
2 mandarin oranges
426 calories, 16 grams fiber

A.M. Snack

1/2 cup yogurt
1 apple
214 calories, 3 grams fiber


2 cups leftover chili
370 calories, 13 grams fiber

Afternoon Snack

carrot & 1/2 cup hummus
350 calories, 6 grams fiber
*We were out and about and actually skipped our afternoon snack, oops! Left us really hungry come dinner.


4 cups Fajita Chicken Salad
496 calories, 12 grams fiber

Total = 1,856 calories, 50 grams fiber
Actual = 1,506 calories, 44 grams fiber

Elizabeth's 1,500 calorie menu


Breakfast wrap
2 mandarin oranges
350 calories, 16 grams fiber

A.M. Snack

1/2 cup yogurt
1 apple
214 calories, 3 grams fiber


2 cups leftover chili
370 calories, 13 grams fiber

Afternoon Snack

carrot & 1/2 cup hummus
150 calories, 3 grams fiber
*no snack


2 cups Fajita Chicken Salad
248 calories, 6 grams fiber

Total= 1,332 calories, 41 grams fiber
Actual = 1,182 calories, 38 grams fiber

Monday, April 5, 2010

Another Green Smoothie :)

I just made this and Mike said it's one of the best I've made so far. We make smoothies a lot so I figured I should remember what I put in this one to receive such a compliment :)

2 small mangoes, chopped
2 small bananas
1 apple
2 cups baby spinach
1 cup carrot juice
1 cup grape juice
*ice if none of your fruit is frozen, I used frozen apple slices.

Blend until smooth, add water to achieve desired consistency.

Spring Shape Up Day Two

We're both finding it difficult to eat our daily calories, it's a lot of food! <- Silly me I wrote that yesterday. It was a lot of food and we were not hungry until the afternoon. The smoothie hit the spot, but come dinner time I realized when it is we consume all of our calories. We both would've gone back for seconds, but we didn't. Even when you think you're eating healthy , keeping a food log really puts things in perspective. We are also making sure to drink lots of water every day! You may have noticed that we pack a lot of calories into the afternoon snack. This is the time of day we tend to be the most hungry and tired so having a snack planned out that will fill us up is really helpful. Smoothies are great nutrient dense snacks, and while they are a great snack on their own, if you pair it with food you can actually chew (like carrots and hummus) you won't feel like you're missing out on eating anything. Mike's 1,800 Calorie Menu


2 oatmeal muffins
2 mandarin oranges
350 calories, 7 grams fiber

AM Snack

Freeze dried fruit <- we buy these at Costco, no added sugar and very good :) 2 cups popcorn 110 calories, 6 grams fiber
*he exchanged the popcorn for another muffin adding about 10 calories... they are good muffins. = 120 calories, 6 grams fiber


2 Spinach Wraps
1 Apple
351 calories, 33 grams fiber

Afternoon Snack

1 carrot & 1/2 cup hummus
350 calories, 6 grams fiber
*subbed a hard boiled egg for the carrots and hummus = 274 calories, 3 grams fiber


2 cups Turkey chili
370 calories, 13 grams fiber

1,531 calories, 65 grams fiber (holy fiber!)

This is well under his 1,800 calories, so if he's still hungry he can grab a snack up to 269 calories.
1,465 calories

Elizabeth's 1,500 calorie menu


2 oatmeal muffins

2 mandarin oranges
350 calories, 10 grams fiber

AM Snack

Freeze dried fruit
20 pretzels
150 calories, 3 grams fiber
*changed for 1 hard boiled egg and 2 mandarin oranges = 164 calories, 4 grams fiber


1 Spinach Wrap
253 calories, 18 grams fiber
*changed banana to 2 mandarin oranges (we have a big box of perfectly ripe ones and they are soooo good!) = 238 calories, 19 grams fiber

Afternoon Snack

200 calories, 3 grams fiber
exchanged 1/2 cup yogurt and 1 apple = 134 calories, 3 grams fiber


2 cups Turkey chili
370 calories, 13 grams fiber

Total = 1,323 calories, 47 grams fiber
1,256 calories

Sunday, April 4, 2010

"Spring Shape Up" Menu Plan Day One

No eating out, no cookies or ice cream, but plenty of good food! Mike's goal is to lose around 30lbs. and my goal is to tone up. While we will be limiting fats and sugars our main focus will be on aiming for 30-40 grams of fiber per day and not exceeding our daily calories. Exercise is a main part of the plan, but I'll spare you those details :)

Mike's daily calories are limited to 1,800 and mine to 1,500. The day is broken down into 3 meals and two snacks. Each menu is tailored to our individual tastes and eating habits.

Mike's 1,800 calorie Monday Menu


1 cup Honey Greek yogurt with 1/4 cup Grape-nuts cereal and 1/2 cup Fiber cereal.
1 banana
425 calories, 24 grams fiber
*He only ate half of his yogurt/cereal = 265 calories, 11 grams fiber

AM Snack

2 Hard boiled eggs
148 calories, 0 grams fiber


Pesto Chicken Salad Wrap
1 apple
331 calories, 16 grams fiber
*saved the apple and ate it with dinner.

Afternoon Snack

1/2 cup dried fruit/nut mix
Fruit smoothie
480 calories, 5 grams fiber
*Traded 2 cups popcorn for the dried fruit = 260 calories, 6 grams fiber


Tomato & Broccoli Mac n Cheese
371 calories, 4 grams fiber
*Realized I didn't have the tomato soup and made Quesadilla Casserole instead = 297 calories, not sure how much fiber, but at least the 4 grams.

Total = 1,755 calories, 49 grams fiber
Actual total = 1,301 <-- Oh, THAT'S why we were hungry... oops.

My 1,500 calorie menu plan


1/2 cup Kashi Go Lean cereal & 1/2 cup Original Fiber One cereal with 1/2 cup soy milk
1/3 cup dried cranberries
355 calories, 21 grams fiber

AM Snack

Hard boiled egg
179 calories, 3 grams fiber


Pesto Chicken salad wrap
278 calories, 13 grams fiber

Afternoon Snack

Fruit/Veggie Smoothie
200 calories, 3 grams fiber


Tomato & Broccoli Mac n Cheese
371 calories, 4 grams fiber
*Realized I didn't have the tomato soup and made Quesadilla Casserole instead = 297 calories, not sure how much fiber, but at least the 4 grams.

Total = 1,393 calories, 44 grams fiber
*actual = 1,319 calories

This is actually a ton of food, we did a test run day to make sure we weren't starving ourselves. Keeping the fiber level high helps keep us full. While putting the menu together and calculating all the numbers is kind of a pain I think the more detailed our plan the easier it will be to stick to. And by having a week or two's worth of meals that we can eat, we can always substitute if we feel like something else.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pesto Chicken Salad Wrap

I was so excited to find some whole wheat tortillas at Costco that have 12 grams of fiber each, no hydrogenated oils they are only 80 calories each and they actually TASTE GOOD! Score. I Love Costco, and we got all of the ingredients for this fantastic wrap during our last trip there.

Ingredients for filling (makes 4-6 rolls):

2 cans white meat chicken
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced red grapes
1/2 cup mayo
3 Tablespoons pesto

You will also need:

4-6 cups fresh baby spinach
1 tomato (diced)
4-6 whole wheat tortillas

To Make Filling:

Drain chicken and shred with a fork. Mix mayo into the chicken. Mix pesto into chicken, mix well. Mix celery and grapes into chicken mixture.

To Assemble Wraps:

One at a time; Lay tortilla down flat. Place about 1 cup spinach in the middle of your tortilla. Top spinach with about 3/4 cup chicken mixture. Top with 1/4 cup diced tomato and roll up like a burrito.

A healthy lunch with protein, loads of fiber and whole grain, nearly 2 servings of vegetables and some fruit for good measure. Serve with a side of fruit and a tall glass of water.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Meat & Dairy Free Week Menu Plan

This is the menu plan I made for our meat & dairy free week. We are attempting to see if eliminating dairy helps Joshua with his "issues." I'm also curious to see how eliminating dairy effects the rest of us. It's really not something we need in our diets so I'd love to learn how to at least limit our dairy consumption. We generally don't eat a lot of meat so I just threw that one in there.

What I discovered this week (so far anyway) is that we consume more meat & dairy than I thought. Mike and I went out to sushi Tuesday night (thanks Mom and Dad for watching the kids!) Before we went I had already borrowed the excuse of "fish isn't really meat" from many other vegetarians I'd met. I never understood this, but I was willing to borrow it as my excuse to eat sushi. What I didn't realize until I got my sushi roll was that there was cream cheese in it! Oops. The things we don't even think about..... I was not about to let it sit there, nobody's perfect. There are plenty of sushi options that fit in with the meat and dairy free, like the other roll I got which was the avocado roll. I am just so used to ordering the same two rolls, Alaskan ( I think) with salmon, cream cheese and crab and an avocado roll, that I do it without even thinking.

Wednesday we went to a favorite sandwich place of ours for lunch. I got the veggie sandwich on wheat and remembered to ask for no cream cheese. Mike also remembered to ask for no cheese, but it wasn't until we got our order that we realized his had turkey on it.... oops again. Old habits die hard, but we're working on it.

The smoothie recipes I link to may contain dairy, I substituted soy this week.


Breakfast - Cereal with soy milk & fruit
Snack - Whole wheat toast with peanut butter
Lunch - Split pea soup and breadsticks
Snack - snack tray with almonds, pistachios, fruit and pretzels
Dinner - Quinoa casserole


Breakfast - PB & J muffins with fruit
Snack - Fruit smoothie
Lunch - Pasta salad
Snack - peanut butter crackers & fruit
Dinner - Sushi


Breakfast - Eggs, fruit & whole wheat toast
Snack - Apple & peanut butter
Lunch - Veggie sandwich
Snack - Fruit & pretzels
Dinner - Leftovers


Breakfast - Cereal with soy milk & fruit
Snack - Whole wheat toast with peanut butter
Lunch - Peanut butter & jelly with fruit
Snack - Fruit smoothie & popcorn
Dinner - Pad See Ew & Curry with tofu & veggies & Miso soup


Breakfast - Waffles & fruit
Snack - Whole wheat toast with peanut butter
Lunch - Tabouli salad & fruit
Snack - Fruit smoothie & pretzel/nut tray
Dinner - Vegetarian chili & salad


Breakfast - Frittata, pancakes & fruit
Snack - Fruit
Lunch - Leftovers
Snack - Hummus, veggies and fruit
Dinner - Vegetarian spaghetti & roasted cauliflower


Breakfast - Eggs, whole wheat toast, veggie sausage & fruit
Snack - Fruit
Lunch - Veggie stir fry
Snack - Hummus, veggies & fruit
Dinner - Leftovers

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Creamy Pasta Salad

This was lunch for Day Two of our dairy free, meat free week. It is not vegan, but can easily be made vegan by using vegannaise instead of mayonnaise. The beans add protein where the meat would be for some and the variety of colorful veggies makes this as pretty as it is tasty! Pair it with a side of fruit and you have a perfectly balanced meal with food from all the food groups.

I'm eating this right now.... it's good :) I made it last night and let it chill overnight. I sent some with Mike for his lunch at work and he enjoyed it too.


16oz. pasta of your choice. I had a mix of misfit macaroni that I used. The ends of the bags of some large macaroni, small & whole wheat.
1 cup chopped baby spinach
1 cup diced carrots
2 tomatoes (seeded and diced)
1 can white beans (any beans really) drained and rinsed
1/2 cup mayonnaise (or vegannaise)
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
salt & pepper to taste


Boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Mix diced veggies and beans together with pasta.

In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, vinegar and other spices. Mix well and adjust as needed.

Pour dressing over salad and mix well. Refrigerate overnight.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Split peas are full of healthy fiber, helping to lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar. Just one cup of cooked dried peas provides you with over 60% of your daily fiber needs.

Day One of meat and dairy free week. I thought I'd try a vegetarian split pea soup recipe. I found this one on I made some changes and ended up with the following recipe. This isn't your "traditional" split pea soup. Knowing my Father-In-Law would say "This would be great..... with ham" as soon as he looked at it I wanted to wow him with how much flavor this soup could have without ham. I looked at what I had on hand and what the recipe called for, tweaked some things around and ended up with a fantastic soup! Joshua gobbled this up with amazing speed :)


2 cups dry split peas
1/2 cup barley
1 cup diced carrots (I had baby carrots on hand, this was about 15 of them)
4 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon basil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cups tomato & roasted red pepper soup
5 1/2 cups vegetable broth (this makes a thinner soup. If you like it thicker start with about 2 cups less broth, you can always add more later if you want to.)
2 cups water


Mix ingredients into your slow cooker. Turn on high for 4 hours and then low or warm until you are ready to eat!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

This Irish Soda Bread was part of our St. Patrick's Day feast... okay it wasn't really a feast, but dinner was good :) This was my first attempt at making soda bread and although I'm sure I've had it before, it's been a very long time. I have to say I was pleased with how it turned out. Maybe not my first choice in breads, but good for what it is supposed to be. This is a very dense bread and the flavors are strong (good, but strong.) I was joking at dinner saying one piece of the bread was a meal in itself... it really is. Mike says this is what they use in an "Irish Breakfast," they pile all sorts of goodness on top of it. I will probably make this again next year.... but most likely not anytime in-between. Maybe we'll try an Irish Breakfast next year.

I found this recipe here on I did a few things differently, but stuck to the recipe for the most part. Here was my final recipe: Ingredients:
  • 3½ Cups flour
  • 4 Teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 Cup sugar
  • ½ Teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 oz. Raisins, softened (soak in hot water, drain)
  • ½ Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 2 Eggs beaten
  • 1 Cup sour cream
  • ½ Cup buttermilk
  • 3 Tablespoons melted margarine
  • Oil for brushing
Heat oven to 350 F.

Grease and lightly flour 9x9" pan.

Combine wet ingredients in one bowl (not oil) and dry ingredients in another.

Mix wet and dry ingredients together.

Add to greased, floured 9x9” pan and brush with a little oil.

Cut an “X” in the top.

Bake 50 minutes at 350° F **I covered the top loosely in foil for the last 15 minutes to prevent the top from browning too much.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Green Smoothie!

Use St. Patrick's Day as a chance to get your kids hooked on green smoothies! They are so good for you and tasty! Once they get past the green color (which is easier when you say "It's green for St. Patrick's Day!") they will love them and ask for more!

Remember to use very ripe fruit for the best tasting smoothie!

St. Patrick's Day Green Smoothie


2 bananas
2 oranges
1 pear
2 cups fresh baby spinach
2 cups almond milk (or any milk)
1/2 cup yogurt (we use honey Greek)
Ice (if using frozen fruit skip the ice)


Place all of your ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add more milk for a thinner smoothie.

And now that they love green smoothies keep some fresh baby spinach and fruit on hand for this healthy and tasty snack!

Quick Alfredo Casserole

So I'd love to make my own white sauce and all, but it's 4:00PM, I'm tired and everyone is hungry.... NOW.

This is a pretty inexpensive dish, easy and quick to prepare and hey, it's pasta. I Love pasta :)
Most of the sauce is cooked up, but if you use the milk in the recipe there is just enough to drizzle over the pasta as a sort of dressing.

**Tastes EVEN BETTER cold the next day! Yum!

Us grown ups thought this was delicious. The crunch of the veggies against the pasta, the flavor of the different veggies with the Thyme.... good stuff. It is very filling too!

As for the kids: Thomas loved it and even ate what his brothers didn't. As soon as I put Michael's plate in front of him he said "You want us to eat this?" and pushed it to the center of the table. Joshua ate the noodles out of it and that was it. But that's okay.... the smoothie they drank up seconds before was full of spinach, hahaha. Mommy wins.


2 small zucchini
1 head cauliflower
1 Bell Pepper ( I used about 4-6 mini ones because it's what I had on hand)
1 16oz. package pasta (whatever noodles you happen to have)
1 jar Newmans Own Alfredo sauce
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup almond milk (you can leave out the milk if you prefer, see note above)
1/2 cup parmesan
2 teaspoons Thyme


Heat oven to 350F and grease a 9x13" pan

Wash all your veggies and cut into bite size pieces.
* I like my veggies barely cooked so they stay kinda crunchy. If you prefer softer veggies steam them first.

Cook pasta 7 minutes in boiling water, drain (don't rinse)

Mix all ingredients except cheese and 1 teaspoon Thyme.

Pour into greased 9x13"pan. Top with cheese and Thyme.

Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.

Let sit 10 minutes and serve.

Serve with a green salad or fruit salad, yum!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Orange, Mango, Banana Smoothie

We visit Starbucks at least once a week. I used to laugh at the thought of someone ordering a drink that takes 10 minutes just to order because the name is so long, custom drinks to the extreme. I am now that person... Me and my double tall, one pump, soy white chocolate mocha with no whip. I can't help it, I'm spoiled.

The kids like the Vivianno smoothies; the Orange, Mango, Banana is their favorite.

We've recreated this deliciousness at home to make it cheaper, healthier and tastier because it's made with Love :) I'm drinking one right now... Mmmmmmm. The perfect mid-morning snack.

Having very ripe fruit is essential to a good smoothie; brown spotted bananas, squishy oranges and mangoes are a must!

Ingredients (makes 4 servings):

2 very ripe bananas
1 large very ripe orange
2 very ripe mangoes.
1/2 cup yogurt (we used honey Greek)
1 cup almond milk (more or less to achieve desired consistency)
Handful of Ice (unless your fruit is frozen, then you can skip the ice)


Throw it all in the blender and blend until smooth. Add more milk to thin it out if needed.

For even more fun, throw it into popsicle molds and freeze!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Black Bean Dip

A healthy side dish or appetizer!


1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup hummus
1/2 cup salsa
salt to taste
1/4 cup sharp cheddar or Mexican blend cheese (shredded)


Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a small (4x4x2" ish) casserole dish.

Blend all ingredients except cheese in a blender or food processor.

Lay mixture in prepared dish and top with cheese.

Bake at 350 F for 10-15 minutes.

Eat as is or use as a dip for veggies or chips. I actually mixed this with a little guacamole and it worked perfectly as a dressing for my fajita chicken salad!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Oatmeal & Yogurt Pancakes

This is a really great recipe because it's so easy to make different flavors and it's healthier than a box mix. Use any flavor yogurt you have on hand, blueberry would be great and you could also add extra fresh or frozen blueberries! These are very filling!

Oatmeal & Yogurt Pancakes


2 cups oats (ground to a flour like consistency)
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1 cup yogurt
1 cup applesauce
2 eggs


Mix all ingredients together and brown both sides on a heated skillet, cook through. Serve with fruit preserves or syrup.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Oatmeal Pie

How many different ways can you eat oatmeal? I don't know, but I'm determined to find out :) This recipe was adapted from the book Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert. What they call "Baked Oatmeal" we re-named "Oatmeal Pie" because when I handed Michael a bowl of this and he was expecting just oatmeal he was a little skeptical. "What kind of oatmeal is it?" he asked. "It doesn't look like oatmeal." Well it's Oatmeal..... uhhhh (come on super Mommy be brilliant here) Pie! It's Oatmeal Pie." And with that he got a huge smile on his face, hopped up in his chair and said "Yum! I Love pie!."

After my alterations here is the recipe we ended up with -


2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup (or more) raisins
2 ripe bananas (mashed)
1/2 cup brown sugar (reserve about 2 Tablespoons for the top)
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 Tablespoons oil
1 egg (beaten)


Heat oven to 350 F and grease a 8x8" pan.

Mix all of the ingredients together (dry in one bowl, wet in another and then all together).

Smooth into prepared pan and sprinkle with reserved brown sugar.

Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes.

Serve warm.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Breaded and Baked Zucchini

We used this as a side dish for a veggie casserole on Meatless Monday this week. It was a huge hit with most everyone (Michael (3) and Joshua (2) preferred to just eat the ranch dip with their fingers instead.... can't win 'em all.

Thomas however begged us to save some for his lunch the next day. Baking is a great, healthy alternative to frying and was much safer for someone like me who hates cooking with hot oil, ouch!


2 medium zucchini (sliced into 1/4" thick slices)
1 egg
1 Tablespoon milk (I used soy)
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup ground flax seed


Preheat oven to 450F

Grease a baking sheet well.

Dip zucchini slices in egg mixture and then cover in crumbs and place on your baking sheet.

Bake at 450F for 10 minutes, flip and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Serve with some ranch for dipping!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Quesadilla Casserole

This came about as I was standing in line at the grocery store buying new pinto beans to make the Last Minute Pinto Bean Dip. A magazine boasting many casserole recipes was taunting me because I love the ease of one pot meals. The front page showed a picture of a Quesadilla Casserole with peppers, olives, chicken, red beans and cheddar..... yum. I made it out of the store without buying the magazine, yay me :)

I got home and was disappointed that we didn't have olives.. or many of the other ingredients for that matter. But a quesadilla can be filled with so many different things, why not a Quesadilla Casserole? So while this was delicious, it could be equally good or even better with some added ingredients like avocado, olives, sharp cheddar or a Mexican cheese blend, onion or even beef or no meat at all.

This was so easy and fast, just what I was looking for because I was so tired last night.


5 tortillas
1 can chicken
1 large tomato (chopped)
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
3/4 cup salsa of desired heat (we used mild)
1 cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)


Heat oven to 350 F and grease a 9X9 pan.

Layer two tortillas along the bottom of the pan so they cover the entire bottom (they will go up the sides a bit)

Mix all ingredients except for the cheese and tortillas.

Top the tortillas with half of your filling mixture and top with some cheese (a little less than half)

Layer two more tortillas on top of the cheese and top with the remaining mixture and some more cheese (leave just a little for the very top)

Lay last tortilla in the middle of the casserole on the top and top with the remaining cheese.

Lightly grease any uncovered pieces of tortilla on the top of the casserole to help it brown rather than burn.

Cook for 18-20 minutes at 350 F

Slice this into 6 pieces and each one is under 200 calories (using whole wheat tortillas)!

You can top it with salsa, guacamole or sour cream. Serve with Pinto Bean Dip & chips.

Last Minute Pinto Bean Dip

I just got the dry blade attachment for my VitaMix so I was searching for flours to make and other recipes where I could grind stuff up :) I'm terrible about remembering to soak my beans overnight so a recipe using dry pinto beans jumped out at me.

After my first attempt it stayed gritty, the beans just wouldn't cook as I thought might happen. The beans were just too old. So I tossed our old beans and went to the store for some new ones. At the store I was attacked by Girl Scouts who forced cookies upon me. Thin Mints and Samoas... there's really no substitute for either, but I'm tempted to try some day.

Second try with fresh beans this time and some changes to the base recipe and we had a great bean dip to go alongside our Quesadilla Casserole.

Last Minute Pinto Bean Dip:

3/4 cup dry (fresh) pinto beans
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock (I actually used chicken because it's what I had & the original recipe called for water)
1/2 cup salsa of desired spiciness

You could always garnish with sliced olives, tomatoes, jalapenos or whatever you'd like.


Grind dry ingredients in your food processor (or new VitaMix dry blade container!)

Place in a large saucepan and whisk in stock.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Cook an additional 15 minutes or so. Taste it to be sure the beans are done.

Remove from heat and stir in salsa.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Banana & Chocolate Ice Cream Treats

Playing off of the Breakfast Ice Cream I just posted about I wanted some other fun ways and combinations to eat this healthy treat. Banana and chocolate? Absolutely. I was going to actually mix the chocolate and some peanut butter, but I didn't have any peanut butter so that nummy combination will have to wait for another day.


4 very ripe bananas (make sure they have brown spots covering the peel, this is when they are at their sweetest!)
2-4 Tablespoons yogurt (I used honey greek yogurt, but use any yogurt of your choice)


Cover muffin tins with liners (about 20 small or 10 regular), it would probably work fine with no liners but I haven't tried. You could also use those cute silicone ice cube trays in fun shapes!

Mix bananas and yogurt in a blender

Pour banana mixture into each muffin cup (fill them all the way)

Cover and freeze overnight.

Unwrap frozen tarts and put on a serving plate. Top each with some Nutella. As you can see I need to work on my topping technique so it doesn't look like someone pooed on my tart....

You can put them either way on the plate, I tried both and I'm not sure which way looks better, what do you think? Muffin or upside down muffin?


Some ways I will experiment with this recipe:

Add some peanut butter into the banana mixture before freezing and then top with Nutella.

Mix peanut butter in with the nutella.

Use different fruits and corresponding toppings:

Strawberry (or any berry) with a little whipped cream on top?
Apple with a caramel or peanut butter topping?
Mango and.....

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ice Cream for Breakfast

Okay, technically more like frozen yogurt, but who doesn't love the sound of ice cream for breakfast? This has more protein & fiber with less sugar than most breakfast cereals! And to save 50 calories and 3 grams of sugar eat it in a bowl instead. Or to go the other direction, throw some colorful sugar sprinkles on top and watch those little faces light up! Perfect for breakfast, as a snack or dessert.

I'll get a picture up soon....

This came about because I had a pack of sugar cones to use up. I bought them to make the Cub Scout Camping Cake. We rarely have ice cream cones at home, it's really something we go out and do. The last thing I need in the house is a carton of ice cream, it wouldn't even make it into the cone before meeting it's fate.

If I have too much fruit that is really ripe and I know we can't eat it before it turns, I chop it up and freeze it for smoothies.... or this recipe :)


1 cup chopped frozen fruit of your choice
2 Tablespoons honey greek yogurt
1 sugar cone


Put fruit and yogurt in your blender and blend until smooth. Hold on, it's rough going at the start :)

You can scoop it into your cone with a spoon or put it into a plastic bag, cut the corner and squezze it into your cone all pretty like.

The nutrition facts are using one cone with apple as the fruit, but use whatever fruit you have or love! Mango, banana, berries, pear, orange......

Nutrition Facts

User Entered Recipe

1 Serving

Amount Per Serving
Calories 118.2
Total Fat 0.7 g

Saturated Fat 0.1 g

Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g

Monounsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 25.7 mg
Potassium 204.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 23.9 g

Dietary Fiber 3.1 g

Sugars 3.9 g
Protein 5.5 g

Vitamin A 1.2 %
Vitamin B-12 3.3 %
Vitamin B-6 3.4 %
Vitamin C 10.5 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 2.1 %
Calcium 7.5 %
Copper 2.7 %
Folate 2.6 %
Iron 1.9 %
Magnesium 3.0 %
Manganese 3.6 %
Niacin 1.3 %
Pantothenic Acid 2.9 %
Phosphorus 7.8 %
Riboflavin 8.4 %
Selenium 0.7 %
Thiamin 3.2 %
Zinc 0.5 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.