story fam

story fam

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A new challenge-the school lunch

I've been a bit lax with the blogging lately.  So I thought I would get up to speed with the goings on here.  Specifically, what does life post 30 day revolution look like.

As the summer has progressed, I have to admit that my will power and drive has worn down a bit.  Dude, it takes a lot of effort to make those pancakes/muffins/scrambled eggs every day!!  There are no Lucky charms in the house, but I did buy Cheerio's.  No pop tarts but I caved and got sour dough pretzels.  No microwave popcorn, but I did purchase a Stir Crazy (friends if you do not have one of these you NEED to get one!!!!).  No white bread, but I did purchase a few loaves of whole wheat from Sams.  I have become flexible in what I buy, but the kids have stopped asking for a lot of the junk which is AMAZING!!!!  I can actually walk down the cracker aisle and they go right to the triscuts instead of the cheese it's!!  Yes, I am still lamenting the gold fish crackers!!  I love them so.

Our meals are similar to what I prepared during our 30 day revolution.  I have brought back some old favorite recipe's and tweaked them.  Baked ziti with whole wheat noodles and homemade sauce, "easy" joes(which are homemade sloppy joes-delish) made with low sugar ketchup, and a lot of grilled chicken.  I did also follow through on my weekly rotation and it worked beautifully!!  The kids didn't even notice that the meals were the same.  I will be doing this for the school year on a monthly basis.  It just creates a wonderfully organized system of getting meals on the table.  It makes grocery shopping easier-and isn't that what we all really want?

I have a new challenge that I am going to gear up for now-the school lunch.  Those 3 little words that make me quiver, sigh, and wait...I feel a headache coming on!!  It is the worst part of the school year!!  Coming up with clever food items to put in that little lunch bag-man, it just drives me crazy!!!  I'll give you more insight on what it looks like to prepare a school lunch around here at a later date.  I just can't even go there right now-I haven't had enough coffee!!!  But I need some healthy choices. 

My other big news is that Mama got a job!!  After almost 13 years of being at home (well for 8 of said years I have worked various part time jobs but nothing full time) I am headed back to the land of full time work.  Am I excited-YES YES and YES again!!  Do I wonder what that is going to look like for our family?  Of course.  I have scoured pinterest for organization tips (who am I kidding....I scour pinterest for any tip!!), recipe's and other information to get myself geared up for this transition.  Can I still make healthy meals for my fam while throwing a job into the mix of all that returning to school brings (i.e. I become a glorified taxi driver to and from all after school activities)?  Why yes, I do believe that I can.  It is kind of sickening, but I operate well when busy.  The summer is my time to recharge, and by September I am ready to roll!!!

This is going to be awesome!!  So if you have any healthy lunch tips, let's start there.  And if you have any other tips about being a working mom share those too!!  I think if we all shared more about the things that make our lives easier, we would all be so much happier:)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Adventures at the Farmer's Market (Mom, can we go now?)


So what do you do at 10am when it is already like 99 degrees out??  Yep, you drag your family to the Farmer's Market.  I'm not sure why we chose to go in the heat?  I'm not sure why we decided that yesterday of all days was the perfect time to make this journey.  But, we did and it was great!!!!  It was our first adventure into shaking the hand of those who feed us and we were not disappointed!!!  Now for those of you who have not gone to the Farmer's Market here in town, let me encourage you to get your tushie's out of bed and get there EARLY!!!  While I was impressed with the selection at 10:30 am, I am certain that the selection is even better in the early morning hours.  We started at a tent full of homemade pies-not the best place to start, but oh my everything looked SO yummy!!!  Our strategy was to walk the entire circle and then make our decisions.  There was a lot to look at!!  Beautiful orange and yellow zinnia's, colorful foxgloves, and brightly colored veggies were everywhere.  It was truly appealing to the eye to see all of the colors.  It was also entertaining to listen to the music being played while we shopped around.  We were told that the market wasn't even full of the usual vendors due to the heat, but I have to say that for such a hot day it was well populated!!

Our first stop was at Troyer's sweet corn.  While I didn't get to talk to this family as much as would've liked (the kids were DYYYYYYYIIIIIINNNNGGGG it was SOOOOOO HOOOOOOT), I quickly hit it off with Lis (pictured below).  She was cheerful, even in the heat, and I really liked the conversation I heard her (yes, I was eavesdropping!!) having with another customer.  She was gracious, kind, and happy to share information about their produce.  Their prices were very competitive-I purchased 12 ears of corn (but she threw in some extras when she saw all of the kids) for $5.  When I pulled back the husks I was delighted to see the yellow and white kernels!!  DELISH!!

Lis (Troyer Sweet Corn), Emmy, Fiona, and Peris
I told Lis I would plug her fresh corn and she was delighted!!  If you stop by their tent at the Farmer's Market, let her know that you saw her picture here on my blog.  She was pretty enthusiastic about being included on a post about real food.  I wish we could've talked more-I will look for her again next week!! 
These families work hard for their dollar!!  I felt so good about buying corn from a real person-knowing that no big company had any access to modify this food means something to me. 
Thank you Lis for shaking my hand and giving me peace about what I am feeding my family!!!

As we ventured on (by this point we were all absolutely disgusting!!) we stopped at Prairie Earth Farms out of Atlanta, Illinois.  Two young men were manning this tent, and while they were eager to share their organic methods of growing their produce, I have to admit that I had checked out!!!  They were gracious and informative-I will be going back to their tent next week as well to chat them up.

These green beans looked gorgeous!!  And smelled so fresh!!  I also purchased a pound of Yukon gold potatoes and Derek bought two onions.  Everything smelled....real.  The container of beans cost $2.50, the pound of potatoes was $3 and the two onions were $1. 

I just thought this picture was beautiful.  All of the colors.  Even in the heat I had a great time!!! 

Okay, so the heat was pretty bad, but the produce, fresh baked goods, fresh flowers, and the artisan wares were amazing!!!  If you live in the area and haven't ventured Downtown-get going!!  Check out this (not so secret I'm sure) little jewel that goes on every Saturday morning.  It is well worth it!!  Save some of your food dollars and spend it here-a place where you can meet the people who are feeding you.  They love to chat (even when you are all melting) and love that you want to buy good food from them.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Zucchini, zucchini, zucchini!!!!!

WOW!!  I have a lot of zucchini!!!  I sent some with Derek to work and STILL have more than enough here at home!!  What's a girl to do with all of this green stuff??  Here are two really good/easy recipe's to try if you are overwhelmed with this piece of produce too:

Zucchini Bread (adapted from 100 Days of Real Food)

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups of whole wheat flour (pastry flour does make this a lighter bread)
  • 1 tbsp of cinnamon (I throw in a lot because it's yummy!!)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 c unsweetened applesauce (this replaces oil and works beautifully at keeping the bread nice and moist!!)
  • 3/4 c honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 c grated zucchini (to be honest I used A LOT of grated zucchini to use up my produce!)
  • 1 c chopped nuts (optional-I didn't use them)
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 325
  • Blend all dry ingredients in a big bowl
  • Make a well in the center (a hole) and pour in the eggs, applesauce, honey, and vanilla.  Stir just to mix-don't over do it!!
  • Fold in the grated zucchini and chopped nuts if using
  • Pour into a greased loaf pan(s) or muffin holders and bake until a toothpick comes out clean in the center.
  • Bake loaf for approximately 50 min
  • Bake muffins for approximately 20-25 min
  • Baking time depends on the heat of YOUR oven
Left overs can be frozen!!
P.S.-you can add semi-sweet chocolate chips to this and be someones hero:)



Broiled zucchini bites with Parmesan cheese

Ingredients:
  • Zucchini halved and sliced
  • Fresh Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top
Directions:
  • Turn broiler on
  • Half and slice zucchini into small round pieces
  • Place on cookie sheet lined with foil
  • Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of each
  • Broil until cheese is brown and melty
Yes, it is that easy AND it is super yummy!!!!!!!!!

There you go, two easy possibilities to use up those zucchini that seem to multiply overnight!!!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Flexibility and beyond

Well our journey is officially over.  The 30 day mark has come and gone.  So, what's the plan? 

First of all, I hold these truths to be...well, true:  eating real food DOES make you feel better!!!  It DOES help you sleep!!  It DOES aleviate belly bloat (ladies, I'm speaking for myself here)!!  It DOES do away with those jittery feelings I have in the morning (my cortisol levels are off and when I removed the sugar it really helped)!!  It DOES take time/planning/and a certain mind set.  And last but not least, IT IS NOT TOO EXPENSIVE!!!!

My plan  for our future is simple-I am continuing this journey with flexibility.  I am going to pursue the 80/20 rule-80% of the time I will ensure that my family is provided with healthy food choices.  I am going to continue buying the good stuff and I am not going to buy those convenience items that we got along just fine without for the last 30 days.  If it isn't in the house, it really isn't a daily option.  That being said, I am going to accept that there are situations (now when I say situations, what I am really doing here is giving myself an out for those nights where I am so exhausted/lazy/unmotivated that Little Cesar's is a just fine/20% option) where the unhealthy stuff will be present in our lives.  I might not go looking for it on a regular basis, but life happens around here and I just don't want to stress. 

There has been a slow awakening here that I am loving!!  It is coming without any nudging from me!!  The kids are seeing first hand that when you stuff yourself with crap you feel bad.  I am done policing plates when we are at a social gatherings.  Several times the kids have gone wild and have ended up with a stomach ache/bathroom issues/fatigue/etc. and they are starting to make the correlation-remember what my original goal was??  I want my children to learn how to make good food choices for themselves!!  I want them to know when they are full.  I want them to realize that one piece of cake is a treat-but having the cake, ice cream, kettle corn, and a snow cone is going to make you sick!!!!!!!!!  And for the record, I am making these same mistakes and learning these same lessons.  To be perfectly honest, I didn't do so good myself on the 4th of July and woke up this morning feeling pretty miserable. 

This is a journey that we will continue to travel on!!  It is a process that I have learned takes time.  So if you are the parent of very little people, I would encourage you to start making good choices while your kids are young.  And keep offering these good choices even when said children turn their noses up at them.  And then keep offering those choices when you feel like throwing  in the towel because of the complaining.  Our kids used to eat everything we gave them-veggies and all.  As they grew so did their palates (i.e. pickiness) and so did our will power to enforce better habits of trying foods.  All is not lost!!  We have 3 children who will eat anything once, one child who will pretend to try, and one who...well quite frankly I have no idea what happened with her because she ate everything as a little peep. 

Thank you so much for reading these posts.  There were some days where I felt really frustrated but kept things rolling because I knew that people were keeping up with the Story's.  I am going to keep posting-we are always trying new things over here to make life interesting.

Here is to better eating choices for the long haul!!

~Kara

Friday, June 29, 2012

Days 28-29 Almost there

We've almost made it!!  Tomorrow is our last day of the official revolution.  How did we do?  Am I going to continue on this journey to making better food choices?  Did it break the bank (this is what most people want to know)?  Over the next two days I will answer these very questions.

How did we do?

For a family that had absolutely no interest in eating better whatsoever, I think we did great!!  Did we eat "real" food for every meal and snack for the entire 30 days?  No.  I've already shared that we cheated. 

Our biggest success: for the past 30 days I did not purchase:  ice cream (or any frozen treat), microwave popcorn, boxed cereal, regular syrup, frozen pancakes/waffles, chocolate covered granola bars, baked chips or regular chips (less the bag of tortilla chips that I did buy for a taco night but these had less than 5 ingrediants), animal crackers, gold fish (I miss the fishies!!), fruit snacks/roll ups, cookies, trail mix with chocolate chips, flavored yogurt/go-gurts (when I read what those really are I about puked!!!!!) boxed cake mix or boxed brownies, white noodles of any kind, pudding, cheese it's (no cheese in these crackers), frozen pizza (this one about killed me!!!!), salad dressing (I about died with this one too!!), Kraft American cheese slices and the list could continue but I am having a brain blank.  Our cupboards remained largely empty because the products that I bought were either refridgerated or could be left out.  What did I buy?  Whole wheat flour to bake with (Great Harvest sells it for $1 a pound which is a GREAT deal for a good whole wheat flour!), honey whole wheat bread (pricey at Great Harvest but worth the expense!!), a lot of fruit, a lot of veggies, a lot of eggs, 1% milk (I changed to this from skim milk after reading a Michael Pollan book and may go to 2%), chicken, natural peanut butter (less than 5 ingrediants), sugar free raspberry jelly (also a Great Harvest find), Pirate's Booty as a snack, almonds, peanuts, cheese sticks (there are several with less than 5 ingrediants out there), good cheese slices, bacon, and olive oil.  Obviously I bought more than this but again can't quite remember. 

Did every recipe work?  No way!!  Some worked better than others and some I won't make again.  I tried to keep our meals simple and enjoyable.  I now embrace using up ALL of my food products-i.e. left overs-even when we had pasta for 3 days!!  It helps to stretch that food dollar nicely.  My goal for July is to bring back meals that we used prior to the revolution but revolutionize them so that they fit our continued goal to eat better food.  For instance, I brought back the "easy" joe last week which the kids LOVE.  For the sauce I used low sugar ketchup (no I haven't made my own yet), low sodium worscheshire sauce (5 ingrediants), and whole wheat buns from Great Harvest (if you call ahead they will make them special-they are HUGE so one bun will fill your peeps up).  It was an oldie but a goodie.  The kids also love chicken pesto.  I plan on buying whole wheat noodles (which I've been using this past month without any issue) and will make my own pesto-I'm growing sweet basil and have pine nuts, so it's easy. 

What about the cheating?  I was so hopeful that I could remove all processed sugars and foods from our diets for 30 days.  It didn't seem impossible or a stretch for that period of time.  I was wrong!!  Life happens.  Sleepovers happen.  Cook outs happen.  Desperation for a quick meal happens.  I will admit that I felt very guilty when the first slip occured-and it occured pretty early in the month.  We went to a graduation party and the kids flipped.  They wanted cake, and quite frankly so did I!!  We talked all the way there about moderation-how taking one treat was acceptable but taking platefuls was not.  But how do you monitor 5 kids while trying to socialize?  How do you give them the evil eye when a nice Grandmotherly type is giving them a cookie?  I chalked it up to the 20% and moved on.  Then there were the Sunday School treats.  Every Sunday the kids get candy (no, I do not believe that food should be used as a reward in any situation but friends it is and I accept it).  It got to the point where the kids were shoving the candy into their mouths so I woudn't see them eating it.  This was when my issue of hold on a minute this is not a good think with the hiding food started.  I learned over the past month that there are situaitons where we all are going to have junk.  Whether it's a cookie at the office, or candy at church.  It is what it is.  My long term goal is to instill in my kids self control and the ability to make good food choices for themselves.  Isn't it better to teach them to eat one piece of the candy verses 3 or 4 and feel sick?  Isn't it better to allow a special root beer at a cook out then have to waste my time policing my kids and missing out on meaningful conversations with family (meaningful being those chit chats with my sisters inlaw where we discuss very important topics like books and Pinterest!!  I never had sisters so I love these chats!!)?  Again that falls into the 20%.

So overall  YES I think we did awesome!!  I would say that way over 80% of the time, my family ate "real" food that was very good for them!!  They didn't always like it, but that is not a result of the revolution-I have kids that don't like anything!!!!!!!  It wasn't as hard as I anticipated but it was a challenge.  I spent a lot of time in the kitchen (which I love) and got to spend some meaninful moments with my kids making new recipes (homemade poptarts were huge!!). 

Did it break the bank?

Let's be honest.  Anytime you are trying to feed a family it is expensive!!  Feeding a family of 7 increases the likelihood that the budget will be stretched beyond the envelope.  Please know that our food budget is stretched every month.  I will stick to my statement that it is NOT too expensive to eat heathy food!!!!!!

For the month of June, I did go over budget.  As of today, I am over budget $23.  This is not a new phenominon.  It is not like this is the only month that this has ever happened!!  Last month (please note that for the month of May I did the breakfast revolution and was buying good food products) I had extra money so there are a lot of variables.  The month before I was WAAAAAY short.  Our budget is fluid and fluxtuates.

What I do notice is that the "healthy" snack choices are what cost the most.  For instance, it was my choice to buy the Lara bars at Sams that cost $15.  Did I need them?  Nope.  Could I have saved that $15 and bought 3 container of eggs, or milk, or cheese, or fresh fruit/veggies-yes!!  There are also some things in our food budget that were more expensive but they were worth it.  The 100% maple syrup was $13 a container at Sams but it lasted a long time.  The honey was $12 and it also went a long way. 

I did make more frequent visits to the store as the kids ate the fresh fruit up quickly!!  Which obviously increased the cost factor, but I did save money by not purchasing the industrial sized chips/snacks that I typically purchase (big containers of gold fish, pretzles, etc) and fruit roll ups.

There were trade offs that I will continue to uphold.  The biggest expense, in my opinion, is the bread.  I did purchase all of our bread at Great Harvest for about $5.25 per loaf (I think it was $10.50 for 2 loaves).  Initially comparing this to a $1.50 loaf of bread at Walmart does sound like a huge increase, but I was buying what I thought was good whole wheat bread (p.s. it wasn't good) for $3 per loaf that had ingrediants that I can't even pronounce.  Now I will admit that if my kids wouldn't eat this costly bread, I wouldn't buy it!!  But they do love it and to me it is worth it!!  Plus they love going to see Anita and her staff-those free slices of yummy bread make the errand worth it!!!  This is one of those "shake the hand that feeds you" moments that I feel good about.  I know that Anita makes this bread with wholesome ingrediants and puts out the best product possible!!  She and her staff know our family (it's pretty hard not to when 6 of us swarm the store a few times each week) and we have built a relationship.  In this day and age, that is pretty remarkable.

How will we handle the budget for next month?  I'm not sure.  I am actually considering the creation of a new envelope that would break some expenses out of the grocery budget.  It is time to revisit the expectation of including items like toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent etc. being included in the grocery money.  I like the idea of making this change, so we will see.  I do know that I am going to be very aware of the "snack" items that I do buy.  Perhaps waiting until mid month to purchase things like the Lara bars or extra bread will help to stretch the food dollar?  I do know that I will not be going back to purchasing the snack items of the past-much to the dismay of my kids, chocolate covered granola bars will not be making an appearance in our grocery cart!!!

Tomorrow's post-where do we go from here?????

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 26-27-Shake the hand that feeds you

During this revolutionary journey, I have done a lot of interesting reading about food.  Some of the books that I have found are okay, but the books that I have read by Michael Pollan are, well revolutionary.  He has written a very small book that is a summation of a larger work that is called Food Rules.  If you are interested in easy ways to tweak your diet, check it out!!
One of the ideas that he is very big on is simple but so cool:  shake the hand that feeds you.  When I read that I was like-wow!!!  Shake the hand that feeds me??  I'm guessing the check out girl at Walmart doesn't count.  This simple idea was so thought provoking that for some reason I still can't fully wrap my brain around it.  Why?  Because I can't really remember when the last time I purchased food from the person who actually raised or grew it was.  Even those purchases at the "healthy" grocery store really don't count.  I do buy my bread at Great Harvest so that counts.  I bought cheese from the cheese farm last year;  some purple potatoes from a vendor at the farmers market last summer.  I  grow our own veggies (yep these are homegrown goodies pictured).  But on a regular basis, do I know where my food REALLY comes from?  Not so much.  Take some time to digest that thought-because I bet it will get your thoughts going too.  If you are already shaking the hand-kudos to you!!!!!   

So are you thinking about it?  I still am too.  How do we as a community shake the hand of those who feed us?  Is it costly?  Is it worth it?  I did a bit of research (by research I mean talking to friends) and found that there are several CSA's, two farmer's markets (I knew about these), a cheese farm(been there on a field trip with my kids), local meat lockers and several private farms that provide fresh eggs, chickens, honey, and fresh veggies in our community.  I was also surprised to find that a lot of you have your own personal gardens like we do.  Our plot has sweet peppers, zuchini(pictured above right), two varieties of squash, sugar sweet tomatoes(pictured top), juliet tomatoes, burpless cucumbers(pictured above left), a chocolate pepper, and several herbs(mint is my latest fave!!  as is the sweet basil).

 In the upcoming days, I am going to gather information to share- the locations of  some local places where you can go to purchase food items and shake the hand of who is feeding you and your family.  If you are participating in a CSA, would you shoot me a message or email so that I can share which farm you are hooked up with.  If you've recently been to the Farmer's Market shoot me a message and let me know what your favorite finds are.  It will be fun to see what you are all already doing.

Let's all try to shake the hands of those who feed us a little bit more. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Days 24- 25 Shades of Gray

Did I reel you in with my post title??  Were you hoping for something scandalous??  I hope I don't let you down, but this post has nothing to do with anything literary.  

As we get closer to the end of our 30 day revolution, I have to admit that I struggle with the gray area of eating.  To me it seems very black and white-you eat sugar and processed foods or you don't.  You either buy the junk or you don't.  You either have diet coke or you don't.  Isn't that nice and simple.  A very boxed in way of thinking/living/eating.  Unfortunately life isn't a neat little box.  There are birthday parties, treat bags, candy that is used as a reward for good behavior.  There are chocolate chip cookies, real chips, granola bars, and a multitude of food items that are masked as "healthy".  There are mornings where I am so tired that the frozen waffles just seem like an okay choice.  My struggle is what is acceptable.  My struggle is where does the 20% of questionable eating really fall?  These past few days I have allowed (yes, I do take full responsibility as I purchased these items at a check out counter) some food items back into the little hands of my little people that are not good.  I will not make excuses.  Well I will try not too.  I will try  not to rationalize the take out pizza.  I will try not to beat myself up about the candy bars that I bought.  But it is hard not to.  I don't look at this as a failure.  I try not to feel bad about it.  But I do see how easy it is to slip right back into old habits fast!!  I see how easy it is to get that pizza because I am tired and don't want to cook.  I see how under the pressure of taking 5 kids to the grocery store a bribe at the check out lane seems like plain old survival instead of...well...a bribe with junk food.  I see how buying the candy is giving my kids a very mixed message.  That gray area-I just don't like it.

So what's a Mom to do?   I will continue to shoot for my 80% of good eating/shopping/meal preparation.  I will reserve that 20% for nights where I am tired or for those occasions that are out of my control.  I will embrace that it doesn't have to be this or that.  I will not feel guilty if I want a diet coke.  It is an act of balance that does leave room for that gray area-an area that is flexible and not rigid.  I am learning-and the learning will continue way after June 30th!!  That is certain.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Days 22-23 Flexibility

Last week I created my "A" menu plan and exercised flexibility within the plan.  I didn't get around to the granola (haven't made it yet) so I substituted smoothies instead;  never made the grilled cheese (went to Moe's instead-you can get GREAT fresh food choices here!!!);  cut out the fettuccine because that was just too much pasta after eating the pasta with red sauce; and didn't make the muffins but instead used left over pancakes with the smoothies on Thursday;  I also never got around to making the whole wheat pizza either-we spent the entire day at a water park and I was WAAAAAY too tired to make the crust!!  I did purchase take out pizza last night (just being honest) and we also had whole wheat pretzels and tricuits as snacks too. 

Here is my plan "B" menu for the week:

Monday
  • Breakfast - Smoothies, toast, hard boiled eggs
  • Lunch - Sandwiches
  • Dinner - Easy joes (I've used this recipe for a long time-it's just a homemade version of sloppy joes)
Tuesday
  • Breakfast - Pancakes
  • Lunch - Left over joes
  • Dinner - Taco Tuesday (will use Mission tortilla chips so we have a nacho meal to mix it up)
Wednesday
  • Breakfast -Scrambled eggs and bacon
  • Lunch - Left over tacos
  • Dinner - Bakes ziti (this is also an old stand by-heads up, certain peeps in the house do NOT like this!!)
Thursday
  • Breakfast - Leftover Pancakes
  • Lunch - Left over ziti
  • Dinner - Left over night/Sandwiches
Friday
  • Breakfast -Pumpkin muffins (I haven't been able to locate canned pumpkin, so these may be applesauce?)
  • Lunch - Sandwiches
  • Dinner- Whole Wheat pizza
Saturday
  • Breakfast - French toast
  • Lunch - Sandwiches (yes, we are having a lot of sandwiches this week!!!)
  • Dinner - Smoothies, fruit, veggies, hard boiled eggs
Sunday
  • Breakfast -Eggs
  • Lunch - grilled cheese
  • Dinner - Grill out

My plan is to use plan "A" again next week with some tweaking.  I am finding that the easier/simpler the meals, the better!!!!!  I know there are a lot of sandwiches this week-but it is something that everyone eats without complaining-and frankly that is priceless tome!!!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day 21 - You are So Special

Once upon a time in a land far, far away there was a Mom who was very concerned that each of her children understood how special they were.  She was worried that because there were 5 of them and 1 of her, they would lose sight of their every day value and importance in her eyes.  This Mom knew the importance of words.  Knew that everyone, regardless of age, needs to hear that they are important.  Worthy.  Loved.  Unique.  But how in the midst of diapers, toddlers, bottles, trains, Polly Pockets, play dates, therapies and the busyness of life do you ensure that you are building your children up each day????  How do you focus on the positive?  How do you communicate your love?  

Fast forward to present day. In a land that is right here and now.  I am that Mom who wondered long ago how this journey of parenthood would all work out.   I am that Mom who sat and wondered if my kids would ever grasp how much I loved them.  Guess what.  I still wonder about many of those things.  Hey, having a 4 year old, 2 year old twins, a one year old, and a newborn does that to you!!  But why do I wonder now you may ask?  Because that Mom (have you guessed that it's me?) that managed five little people now has five children who are at a different stage of life ( 12 1/2, 10, 10, 9, and 8 years of age)-and friends, it hasn't gotten easier.  The diapers, pacifiers, and little toys are gone.  But controlled chaos has been replaced with out of control schedules, activities, friends, homework, and different problems that now seem much bigger than those that I faced with those little people.  And in the midst of it all,  I still wonder.  Do they know I am proud of them?  Does he see how smart he is?  Can she understand that her worth is not in who her friends are, but in who God has created her to be?  Does she see me giggle?  Could I hear that joke one more time?  Could we just enjoy each other for a few more minutes.  And do you know how that Mom and this Mom reconciled all of this pondering?  It is really quite simple.  Three words:

The Family Dinner.  Long before the food revolution.  Long before studies were published that show statistics about how much better our kids behave/learn/contribute to society if they eat with their families.  Long before it became trendy.  We intentionally made time to eat together.  We've done this since the kids were all tiny.  We still do.  And while eating together is awesome, the really cool change came after a friend shared a daily celebration that her family used at their dinner table-the special plate.  I loved the idea!!!!  It was so simple!!  Is was ingenious!!  Fantastic!!  Each night one family member would get the special plate-and everyone at the table would share one thing that they thought was special about the plate holder.  Rules and regulations have varied over the years, and lately we haven't gotten the plate out.  BUT during this revolution and my new quest for peaceful dining, I realized that the plate must come out of hiding, get dusted off, and join our table again.  The special plate is WONDERFUL if you live in a home where siblings argue (perhaps this isn't the case in your home, but it sure is here at my house!!). The special plate is awesome for someone who has had a bad day/good day/sick day.    This is an opportunity for family members to build their peeps up with simple compliments.  How does it work?  At our house each person gets the plate once a week-seven days and seven family members = perfection!!!  You get the plate to eat on, and you get six complements which is super cool!!!!!  Not only does it make everyone feel good, it extends our meal time.  We all sit until the special person has heard all of the compliments and if we are lucky a conversation is started which roots us to the table for a bit longer.

So if you are looking for a way to spice things up around your table, consider the special plate.  It is such an easy way to convey love to the people that sit around your dinner table (the kids love it when we have dinner guests because our guest automatically gets the plate) in a non-threatening way!!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 19 and 20 - Left Overs

I have never been a big fan of the left over meal.  I have no idea why.  This is where food wasting at our house creeps in.  I make a meal/we eat the meal/I box up the teeny bits and pieces that are remaining/stick said food in the freezer/Derek either takes it for lunch or it just sits there in freezer no man's land.  The sitting there is what typically occurs. 

In the last few days, I have had another wonderful "a-ha" moment and yes, you guessed it, it is about the beauty of the left over!!  If you remember my meal plan for this week, on Monday night we had pasta and homemade meat sauce.  I doubled the pasta and planned on using the sauce again yesterday for lunch.  We then had taco's last night for dinner with the intent of eating the left over meat today (June 20th).

Last night it occurred to me that we still have a ton of pasta and sauce!!  Yesterdays lunch included 2 kids eating chicken ( a left over grilled from Father's Day), and 2 kids eating pasta (one ate plain noodles and one had noodles with sauce).  None of the kids were starving, so they didn't eat much. 

So today I am left with a hefty quantity of taco meat (which we will be having today for lunch) and the pasta which I will be serving again for dinner.  This will push the grilled cheese to Thursday and I will eliminate the fettuccine as that my friends is just too much pasta around here!!!!!!!

I love that I am learning to be more resourceful with the food we are making.  I am becoming more aware of what we are eating/what we are not eating/and how we can make sure to use all of our food before purchasing or eating new things. 

It might not be exciting, but it is working for now!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day 18 - Condiments

Have you ever read the ingredients on ketchup?  Mayo?  Miracle Whip?  Salsa?  Pasta sauce?  I am learning very quickly that there is a lot of sugar added to things that dress up our food!!  I find it odd that there are also many ingredients that I cannot even pronounce on the labels-how did I not notice this before????? 

In my quest to cut out processed foods, I have cut a lot of condiments-we no longer have ketchup, salad dressings, dip, etc.  I even bailed on mayo and miracle whip.  I have made many of the condiments and they taste really good.

Enter mayo.  I cannot get it right.  There are a gazillion recipes on Pinterest alone for "easy" mayo-WHATEVER!!!!!  If you are reading this and have an easy recipe, PLEASE for the love of all things mayo share it!!  I am dying over here!!!!!

How did I resolve my mayo issue??  Yes, I bought a small jar of Helmans.  I needed it for a dill dip that I was including in a meal for my cousin.  I tried the dip without the mayo and friends it was gross!!!!!!  I felt bad buying the little plastic container, BUT the kids gobbled up the dill dip with veggies at dinner-I would say it is a trade off wouldn't you?

I have found an easy, and delish, homemade sauce recipe that I adapted from one at 100days.  It is just as easy as opening a jar of Prego!!

Easy spaghetti sauce:

2 big cans of plum tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes that have been boiled to remove the skins)
garlic (I use 2-3 big peeled cloves)
random veggies (I add in celery, peppers, carrots, zucchini-whatever I can find!!)
3 tbsp olive oil
salt/pepper (optional)
2 lbs browned hamburger (optional)

In a blender (we have a Ninja and I LOVE it!!) combine first 3 ingredients.  Pulse until mixed.  Put sauce into a big sauce pot and cook over medium heat.  Once sauce begins to do a light boil, add in the olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Cook for about 10  minutes and add meat to the pot if you would like.  Cook an additional 10-15 minutes.  It makes the house smell FANTASTICAL!!

I have served this sauce with and without the meat.  It is yummy either way!!  Derek and I add a little Parmesan cheese-perfecto!!!!!

You can use this as pizza sauce as well.  It is easy and versatile-perfect for busy nights!!  I put my left over sauce in jars and keep it in the fridge for up to a week.

I'll be working on the mayo and let you know how that goes!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Days 15, 16, and 17-The reorg

Our family is at the half way mark with our food revolution.  I have had a lot of people ask questions such as "How is it REALLY going?", "Are the kids tired of this/are you tired of this?", and questions about money.  Here are the answers:


This journey is going relatively well.  Seriously.  Honestly.  I mean it.  I have shared the pitfalls that we have experienced.  My biggest issues are food preparation (I am in the kitchen a lot!), the complaints that I hear about trying new things(I have almost mastered the art of tuning the kids out!-hey, that is a blessing!!), the multiple trips to the store each week(remember that I am used to going once a week), and trying to come up with menu ideas(I feel like we are eating the same choices over and over-although no one seems to care).  To remedy some of these irritations, I decided to reorganize the last two weeks of this month.  I am going to meal plan for these last two weeks and then use the same weekly rotations for the first two weeks of July.  I do this when my work schedule gets heavy-it is helpful!!  So our menu will go as follows-week A/week B/week A/week B.  This will extend our adventure two weeks into July and will help me keep things simple and organized.  Little do the kids know, but we are taking our Revolution to a permanent basis-shhh..don't tell.  The kids think we are almost done with our little experiment.

Are the kids tired of this?  I don't know, and quite frankly friends, I don't care.  I mean this in a loving way-whether or not the kids enjoy eating better food does not drive my decision to continue, or quit, doing this past June 30th.  Trust me-there are some peeps in this house that will never be happy.  I embrace this and move on!! 

Am I tired of this?  There have been moments where I have honestly thought (to quote my son), "This stinks!".  I have felt frustrated when I purchase fruit at 10am and it is gone (and people I mean GONE) by 4pm!!  I feel frustrated when I walk around the store and cannot find "easy" food that would make my life , well easier.  But in the midst of the frustration I always come back to the idea that this is such a smart thing to be doing for our family.  No it isn't for everyone-but if I was in charge of your food dollar I would have you do the same.   I would encourage you to buy as much "real" food as possible.  I would encourage you to take baby steps because you will see a difference.  Is it hard-yes, but isn't anything worth doing hard at some level?   

Money, money, money.  I started out the month strong and shared every penny that was spent-I even included some receipts to try and convince people that shopping for "real" food on a budget can be done.  I apologize because I have failed in my book keeping efforts!!!  As of today (June 17th) I still have $350 left in my grocery envelope.  I do need to shop for the upcoming week and next week, but I think this is pretty good!!!!!  I still stick to my original claim that eating good food doesn't have to break the bank-I'm feeding 7 people over here my friends!!!!!

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Meal Plan "A"

Monday
  • Breakfast - scrambled eggs, toast, fruit
  • Lunch - sandwiches
  • Dinner - whole wheat pasta, homemade sauce with meat
Tuesday
  • Breakfast - pancakes (double the batch and freeze leftovers)
  • Lunch - Left over pasta/sauce
  • Dinner - Taco Tuesday
Wednesday
  • Breakfast - Yogurt, hard boiled eggs
  • Lunch - Left over taco's
  • Dinner - Grilled cheese or BLT's
Thursday
  • Breakfast - Left over pancakes
  • Lunch - Sandwiches, fruit, veggies
  • Dinner - Fettuccine Alfredo (recipe at 100days)
Friday
  • Breakfast - pumpkin muffins and smoothies
  • Lunch - Left over Fettuccine
  • Dinner - Whole Wheat pizza with toppings
Saturday
  • Breakfast - Derek's French Toast
  • Lunch - Shop the fridge
  • Dinner - Grill out chicken
Sunday
  • Breakfast - Smoothies and toast
  • Lunch - Sandwiches
  • Dinner - Left over chicken and salad


Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 14 - Dining with Joy

This year Derek and I have been married for 15 years.  Wow have we grown.  If you know our story then you know that we have been through a lot-yet not near as much as some couples out there.  We had five kids in four years, have weathered challenges with our kids, have shared a lot of laughter and tears.  I wouldn't change a thing. 

For our anniversary this year we decided to go on a trip to St. Louis-just the two of us.  We enjoyed a DELICIOUS dinner at Zia's on The Hill.  It was so wonderful to sit and enjoy a meal.  There was no rushing, no complaining, no let's order the appetizer/salad/meal/and drink right now because we aren't sure how long we can sit here.  Derek and I ate slowly.  We talked about the taste of the food-and it was incredibly good.  I had Chicken Alla Zia.  A chicken breast topped with broccoli, prosciutto, mushrooms, and garlic in a light sage/olive oil sauce.  Derek had angle hair pasta mixed with chicken breast, red peppers and artichoke hearts.  Mine had a bit of spice while his was just plain yummo!!  The meal progressed slowly.  It was one of the most enjoyable meals we have shared in a long time.  We laughed, talked, and sat in very comfortable moments of quiet.

So as I was sitting there enjoying this meal, I started to think about how I don't always enjoy eating.  I don't always enjoy the "Story Family Dinner Experience."  Here is what I mean-I do a lot of rushing.  I make the meal/set the table/get the food out/hope that there is minimal complaining/get drinks/pass plates/say grace/eat....eat.....eat..../try to make meaningful conversation with Daddio and the little peeps and poof the meal is over.  When is the last time that we sat and actually talked about what we were eating?  How the food tasted?  When is the last time we ate slowly?  I honestly don't know. Are we listening to each other or are we talking over one another?   Wouldn't it be fantastic if we actually treated a regular family dinner like our meal at Zia's?  Wouldn't it be a nice reprieve from our busy lives to sit as a family and talk about what we are eating?  To talk period.  To slowly eat our food and enjoy the eating experience.  Enjoy each other.  Joyful dining.  Eating, in my opinion, is so much more than the food.  It encompasses family.  It is a moment in time where we sit together.  Pray together.  Laugh together and listen to each other.  Hearts are shared at the table.  Dreams and giggles.  Jokes and hurts.  You are special.  We are a family.  We are special.  This is what we need to get back to.  I value this time as a family and realize that perhaps we have let this important part of our day start to slip away. 

Yes, it is so much more than throwing food on a plate.  I will remember this. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 13- I cheated

I cheated.  I had a Twix candy bar.  Just want to confess.  I wish I could say that it tasted horrible.  That the sugar made me sick.  That it was so gross that I never want to have processed sugar again.  Nope.  It was really good.  It was a treat.  I don't regret it. 

It  made me think that if we deny ourselves a treat all the time, doesn't that make us unhealthy as well?  Not that food should be used as a reward necessarily-but shouldn't we enjoy eating?  Not just the bad stuff-but the good stuff too.  Shouldn't a balance be struck between feeding our bodies good stuff and allowing an occasional cheat?  I know there are a lot of opinions out there.  I know that I don't want to use the candy bar as a reward for eating healthy.  I know that I also don't want my kids, or myself, or my spouse to feel so restricted that we hide our desire to have something "bad" once in awhile.  Yes I did hide the wrapper!!!!!  And Derek felt bad about a cookie he ate at work.  And the kids don't want me to find out they had a soda at Grandma's-and said Grandma feels bad that she let them have a soda-dude, that's what Grandma's house is all about!!!!!!!!  I'm not trying to create an environment where we have to hide what we are eating!!!

So back to the idea of realistic balance.  We eat more real food and make good choices-while accepting that there are times when you just want the Twix.  Did the Twix sabotage this entire plan?  In my opinion, no.  I have gone from eating candy everyday (no I am not kidding), to having one candy bar in a month-not bad if you ask me.  We have cut out so much "junk" and I am proud of our efforts. 

I didn't promise perfection.  Just the desire and will to do better.  And we are doing better.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day 12 - Chocolate fix is fixed!!!!!

Okay, so actually the chocolate fix was fixed last night, but I'll still use it as my post today because I will be making this again!!!

So my good friend Danielle P. shared this simple recipe with me-she tells me that it tastes like chocolate ice cream.  I am a doubter.  I put it off.  But in my sheer desperation to have something-ANYTHING-sweet, I finally purchased the ingredients and made the "ice cream" after dinner. 

HOLY COW!!!  It tastes like chocolate ice cream!!  She was right, and I am now a believer (as are all 5 of my kids)!!!!

Here is the recipe for what I am now calling Danielle's Chocolate Awesomeness

Ingredients:

bananas
cocoa powder

1.  freeze how ever many bananas you would like to use (we used 3 full bananas and it wasn't near enough)
2.  place frozen bananas in a blender/food processor
3.  add 1/2 tbsp of cocoa powder for each banana that you are using (or more if you like it chocolately)
4.  pulse/blend until mixed

My gosh it is the BEST thing ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!  THANK YOU DANIELLE!!!!!!!

Beyond the chocolate awesomness, I also made a yummy homemade meat sauce for our pasta last night, a dill dip mix, and more taco seasoning.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 11 - Time to shop

I've made my grocery list and I've checked it twice!!!  My goal is to shop once today and not return to the store unless ABSOLUTELY necessary until the weekend!!  My Mom is coming to stay with the kids on Thursday and has GRACIOUSLY agreed to help me stay on our revolution (thanks Mom) while she is here.  I chose simple meals this week and will repeat a few-I'm hoping this will save some grocery money and make the kiddo's happy.

Monday:
  • Breakfast - smoothies, toast, fruit
  • Lunch - Sandwiches, veggies, fruit
  • Dinner - whole wheat pasta, red sauce with meat
Tuesday:
  • Breakfast - scrambled eggs and turkey bacon (it's gross, but I need to use it up!!)
  • Lunch - left over pasta
  • Dinner - Taco Tuesday (corn tortilla's, beef, re fried beans, etc.)
Wednesday:
  • Breakfast - pumpkin muffins (double batch to save for weekend) and hard boiled eggs
  • Lunch - left over taco's
  • Dinner - whole wheat mac and cheese (100days recipe)
Thursday:
  • Breakfast - pancakes (double batch to save for weekend)
  • Lunch - left over mac and cheese, veggies
  • Dinner (Grandma's here) - Breakfast night-scrambled eggs, regular bacon, toast
Friday (Grandma is here):
  • Breakfast - Smoothies, fruit, hard boiled eggs, left over pumpkin muffins
  • Lunch - Sandwiches, veggies, fruit
  • Dinner - Grilled cheese, veggies, fruit
Saturday (Grandma is still hanging in there):
  • Breakfast - leftover pancakes, fruit
  • Lunch - Sandwiches, veggies, fruit
  • Dinner - Cookout at Uncle Tim and Aunt Christine's house
Sunday-HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!
  • Breakfast - Smoothies, toast, ???
  • Lunch - Shop from the fridge
  • Dinner - Grilling out

Snack offerings this week will include:  apples with peanut butter, frozen banana's with cocoa powder (thank you Mrs. Pals!!), air popped popcorn, smoothie-cicles, and fruit kabobs.

After shopping, I will share the damage done to the grocery envelope.

Post shopping note:

I visited Sam's and spent $27 on cheese slices, eggs, 4 lbs of hamburger, and one gallon of 1% milk.  I then went to WalMart and spent approximately $58 on items ranging from sour cream, to dried dill and basil, whole wheat pasta and hopefully enough food to last us this week!!!  I did also buy cocoa powder for an easy recipe (thank you again Mrs. Pals!!) that we are going to try this afternoon.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day 10 - Hail Cesar (Little Cesar's that is)

Day 10 was uneventful until we went to the pool. 

Enter a bit of honest sharing: this week I have actually become accustomed to hearing the complaints that my kids dole out around here.  For example the creepy ice cream dude rolls through the neighborhood and my kids longingly stare out the window while muttering, "dumb food revolution!!  we can't even have ice cream"-as if I would buy the million dollar ice cream sandwich anyway!!  In the check out line-"Can we have a candy bar Mom?  Oh wait, we can't because of the revolution."-insert sigh of disgust.  I even tolerated the lecture from my eldest regarding her "I'm not having anyone sleep over here because we are weird and have this revolution thing going on and my friends will hate what we are eating" tirade.  But today, today was almost too much.

If you know me you know I love the pool.  Part of what I love about the pool is-well quite frankly I love that my kids will go and play without bugging each other (for the most part) while I sit on the side and catch some rays while zoning out.  I love that even though the pool sells treats my kids have largely ignored the fact that they aren't having snickers/m and m's/etc. right now.  The pool has been my safe zone.  There has been no food revolution revolutions here.  Until today.  Enter the Little Cesar's pizza party.  Today a youth group was having a fun swim picnic and brought dinner-several Little Cesar's pizzas.  I could tell by the look on my little peeps faces that it was game over!!  My kids literally stood with their little mouths hanging open and were salivating while watching the pizza being handed out.  I'm sure you can imagine that the complaining began in earnest!!  Oh it was ugly!!  I got frustrated, the kids were frustrated-the pool zone had been violated!!!

So here is what I learned from this experience.  It's not the money that makes eating well hard.  It isn't the countless trips to the grocery or planning or time spent in the kitchen that makes this hard.  It is persevering through situations such as this-a situation where I was so fed up that I wanted to throw in the towel and just buy the pizza!!!   It is hard because my kids are little and they want the junk.  It is hard because I know that one cheat will lead us right back to where we started.  It is hard because even though there are complaints that drive me CRAZY I know this is the right thing to do.  This is hard.

Sigh and exhale. 

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Breakfast - scrambled eggs and toast

Lunch - Sandwiches, veggies, berries

Dinner - burgers on the grill, cold veggies, fresh pineapple


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My goal for this week is to make one big shopping trip and fill in towards the end of the week ONE time!!!  I will post my menu tomorrow and then see if I can stick to the original plan.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Day 9 - Farmer's Market and Lara Bars

Today we decided to hit one of the local Farmer's Markets in our own neighborhood.  It was fun to browse, but a lot of the items for sale are things that we are actually growing in our own garden.  We did go inside Naturally Your's and I purchased:  sugar free dried banana chips, dried cherries (see Lara bar recipe), 2 avocado's, and one package of corn tortillas (we accidentally found out that if you leave these sitting on the counter overnight they make yummy corn chips to dip in salsa!!).  The total was $8.07.  This morning I also made a run to our local Meijer because they had a lot of fresh produce and fruit on sale 10 for $10.  I purchased plain yogurt, 3 nectarines, unsalted butter sticks, 3 packages of strawberries, 3 peppers (orange, red, and yellow), 3 bags of organic baby carrots, 2 containers of cherry tomatoes,  2 containers of Eggland's organic brown eggs, and a cucumber for $27.82.  The eggs alone were a steal, but when you add in everything else it was quite a haul for the morning!!!!!

No this is not poop wrapped in plastic!!!  While it looks disgusting, it is delish!!  This is from the Lara bar recipe that I found on Pinterest.  I apologize that I cannot give props to the creator of this recipe, but please note that it does come from a pin that I have on Pinterest.  This was SO easy!!!  I am going to include this recipe below, but if you are interested in the variations please let me know and I will post those substitutions as well.  Seriously there are 8 other ways you can make this!!  It DOES taste just like the store bought version and was incredibly easy to make-like I did it in less than 10 minutes!!!!!

Very Cherry Bars (just like a Lara bar)

Ingredients:
1/4 cup of dates (see note below)
1/4 cup of dried cherries or dried cranberries (I used cherries)
1/3 cup whole pecans, almonds, or walnuts
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Set out 2 pieces of plastic wrap for shaping and wrapping the bars-make sure you do this because your hand are really sticky when you are done mixing the stuff together!!!!

1.  Place the dates and cherries in a food processor and pulse until you make a paste.  Transfer this mixture to a small mixing bowl.  Do not clean the food processor.
2.  Add the nuts to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
3.  Add nuts and cinnamon to the cherry/date mixture and knead together like a dough. 
4.  Transfer one half of the mixture to one piece of plastic.  Wrap the bar and then start to squish it into a bar shape form.
5.  Store in fridge
THIS ONLY MAKES 2 BARS!!!!!

**Note about using pre-chopped dates-If you use the pre-chopped dates like I did (I got them at wal-mart) you will see that the dates are coated in an oat like texture.  Place the dates in a bowl and cover with warm water for 3-5 minutes or until they are soft.  Drain and pat dry.  This will soften the dates and get that coating off.

**For my recipe I used the dried cherries (which were expensive so I need to find some place cheaper to purchase these!!) and left over pecans that I had for a different recipe.  It was really easy to do and tastes yummy!!!!

**************************************************************************

Our meals for today have been simple but good.  It is hot here and we spent the day at the pool.

Breakfast - Daddio's french toast and fruit

Lunch at the pool - apples, cheese sticks, air popped popcorn, grapes, lara bars (peanut butter cookie), water, peanuts

Mom is tired Dinner - Whole wheat noodles with butter, lettuce salad, fruit

I decided to make a quick and easy red sauce that was adapted from a 100days recipe.  It was SUPER easy and SUPER good!!:

2 cans stewed tomatoes
1 clove of garlic (would actually use 2 next time)
celery stalk
onion powder (dash)
fresh sweet basil from the garden
3 tbsp olive oil

Combine all  except for oil in a blender or food processor and pulse until blended.  Pour into sauce pan and heat.  Add oil and wisk in.  Let sauce simmer for 15-30 minutes.  Add salt to taste.





I am working on my meals for next week.  My goal is to have every single item that I need purchased so I do NOT have to return again!!  This has been something that I am not used to-return trips to the store every few days!!!  I feel like I am forgetting things and it is costly!!!  I have a few oldies that our family loves which with some tweaking will be good.  I am also considering trying to make mayo because my kids had a dill dip that they LOVED!!!!  We will see!!  This is definitely an adventure!!!!!

Day 8 - The Pop Tart

Redemption!!!  So the kids were complaining that there was "NOTHING GOOD TO EAT" in our house (shocking, I know) so I decided that we were going to try the homemade pop tarts (100days recipe).  Warrior girl (a.k.a "The Baker"-she wears many hats in this family) loves to bake and quickly volunteered to help!! We were really short on time so I hoped that this would be quick-it was!!!  We made the dough in our Ninja (pictures on left side of photo) in less than 5 minutes and then moved on to rolling it out on the table. 


The rolling was pretty easy.  The dough definitely needs to be cold, so if you try this recipe make sure that you refrigerate the dough if it starts to get warm. 


You could fill these pop tarts with pretty much anything.  We used our Great Harvest raspberry jelly because it aligns with our food rules.  In my head I was thinking how yummy these would be with Nutella!!!


The final product!!  These were delish!!  I have been laying off of the gluten and will admit that I did eat 1/2 of a tart.  I just couldn't resist!!  


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Meals for today:

Breakfast -  Scrambled eggs, pancake bites, left over zucchini bread

Lunch - Sandwiches, veggies, fruit

Dinner - left over grilled chicken with corn tortillas, veggies, fruit







Friday, June 8, 2012

Day 7 Blues

I promised to be honest, so honest shall I be.

Today was rough.  I feel like I don't have enough food and food choices-and I feel like what I have is boring!!  My grocery list for this week wasn't very good and I have found ingredients that I overlooked-this equals not being able to make a recipe!!!  The kids have done a lot of complaining about this healthy food too which after awhile gets....well friends, it just gets frustrating.

As to not sound like a grouch, I did decide that for next week I am going to stick to easy recipes, and I am going to look at our old favorite foods and see what I can do to tweak them.  There is no reason why I can't make my own chicken pesto which is a big hit!!  I also need to figure out better snack choices.  Nothing fancy, but maybe make double batches of things like muffins so those could be a choice too? 

I did have to go BACK to Sam's again!!!  See what I mean about the bad grocery list (that is NOT like me!!).  I purchased chicken, apples, sweet potatoes, honey, and mixed veggies for $38.  I'm not sure what my total expenditures are as of now, but I do know that these multiple trips to the store need to stop.  Note-I will be sitting down and making an extensive list which is broken down into exact needs for each day/meal/snack!!!!!

Here is what we ate yesterday:

Breakfast - Zucchini muffins/bread and strawberry/banana/pineapple smoothies (the muffins looked really weird, BUT the kids ate them!!)

Lunch - Cold veggies, sandwiches, left over berries

Dinner - Grilled chicken, salad, carrots, berries

**I need to make an easy salad dressing and make a version of the dill dip-those made the veggies VERY enticing.



Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Day 6

Not a lot to share today.  It was busy and after being gone all afternoon at the pool, I did NOT feel like cooking!!  Here's what we had today:

Breakfast - Whole wheat waffles, fruit

Lunch - sandwiches, cold veggies, strawberries

Dinner - brown rice quesadilla's filled with final bits of pork; brown rice cheese quesadilla's; brown rice quesadilla's with refried beans; cold veggies, blueberries

I can't believe how many meals we got out of the pork!!  You will be seeing that again!!!!!

Day 5-Chaos and some Pirate's Booty

True to Story life, a well planned day went purely chaotic within an hour.  Not a record for us though!!  During the summer, one of our biggest adventures is:  sleeping in.  The kids get to stay up later in the evening and (this applies to most children living in our house) in turn will sleep in until 9 or 9:30.  This selfishly makes my morning blissful!!  I still wake up at the crack of dawn, but I can slowly enjoy my coffee, quiet time, and get some chores done before my peeps awaken.

Yesterday this was routine....until...2 little girls woke up pale and had rumbly tummies.  I settled them in (they did recover in the early afternoon), cancelled a dental cleaning for myself, drove my eldest to a pool party, came home and started a project (can't even remember what it was) only to realize that my menu item for lunch actually took PREPARATION!!  Tried to get that started and my eldest called to let me know that her plans had changed-she needed to be picked up earlier.  CHANGE IN MEAL PLAN!!  Got out apples, peanut butter, air popped popcorn and set out veggies for a light lunch (this was actually my lunch plan for day 6 so I swapped out).  We quickly ate, ran an errand (see note below about a store run to great harvest) or two, picked up eldest and then waited for our new fridge and dishwasher to arrive.

Exhale............

Two lovely delivery men showed up and magically brought in our new refrigerator (this is sad, but oh my it is gorgeous!!) and dishwasher.  After all the huffing an puffing I hear a "Ma'am. Could you come in here please."  Yep, the fridge is too big!!!  AHHHHH!!!!  The lovely delivery man sees my panic and asks me to get a hammer.  We will take off a trim piece and all will be golden.  Except as I am fumbling around in the garage I hear my littlest peep, "Hey Mom, the guy said forget it cause the fridge is too tall.  He said you aren't going to be happy."  Long story short, Daddio got home from work and ate a quick dinner so he could fix the problem!!  He labored for several hours and sanded down the upper cabinet so now the fridge has a custom fit!!!!

With all of this excitement something happened to my meal plan.  I sort of stuck to what I had written down, but it was a hodge podge of foods.

Breakfast -  Toast, fruit, smoothie (my first made with plain yogurt-I forgot ice and they were thin. Not a big hit)

Lunch on the fly - sliced apples, peanut butter or honey, air popped popcorn, cold veggies

Dinner - Left over pork, *Caprese pasta salad (recipe at 100days), left over brown rice and black beans

Evening snack - *White cheddar Pirate's Booty

The Caprese pasta salad is a cold salad that we were to have for lunch and then reuse for a second lunch.  I made the dressing and boiled the noodles but we had it for dinner instead.  Shockingly this was a big hit!!  I barely have any left so I will figure that out when it comes to lunch.

Okay, my kids laughed so hard at the brand Pirate's Booty that I had to buy a bag at Aldi.  I'm not sure what is so funny-well, let's be honest!!  Saying the word Booty is pretty hilarious (yes, that confirms the maturity level around here).  Most importantly, the booty was GOOD!!!!  The kids loved it!!  Mind you they haven't had a prepackaged treat since June 1st, so I have a feeling I could've given them pretty much anything from a bag to devour-but I tried it and agree with two thumbs up!!!  Unfortunately our family ate one bag in a sitting.  The package is quite small so even though I gave each peep a small bowl it finished the bag off. 

One last note-I went to Great Harvest and bought two more loaves of bread.  Interestingly enough, the little mishap over the weekend (we had to buy a large round loaf instead of the rectangle) has been a blessing!!  If we cut the slices of the round loaf down the middle, the loaf has the perfect sized pieces for a sandwich or toast AND most importantly it lasts longer!!!  I forgot my gift certificate so I did pay $10.50 for the two loaves on my debit card (which I will pay back from grocery cash).

Monday, June 4, 2012

Day 4-back to the store

Today was make up day-as in I needed to make up for the grocery items I forgot over the weekend.  I went to Wal-Mart and spent $24.49 on 3 sweet potatoes, romaine lettuce, bananas, a cucumber, baby carrots, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, whole wheat rotini, whole wheat shells, dates, and simply peanut butter.

I also went to Naturally Your's and spent $12.49 on 2 packages of corn tortillas ($8.18) and brown rice tortillas ($4.19).  So right now I am around the $200 mark for the week which is typical for me. 

Meals for today:

Breakfast - Applesauce muffins, fruit   (the kids woke up close to 10am, so this was like a snack before lunch)

Lunch - Left over grilled chicken, salad, veggies, apples

Dinner - HUGE HIT!!!!!!!!  Pork Carnitas Taco's (recipe at 100daysofrealfood.com) , black beans, brown rice, avocado, blueberries, corn tortillas

**This was an easy (and SUPER yummy) dinner that made enough for a second meal tomorrow!!  You take pork (I chose pork loin) and rub the meat with a combo of cumin, salt, pepper, and I used a teeny bit of onion powder.  Throw it in a crock pot.  Add 3 or 4 cloves of garlic.  Cook for 6-8 hours.  Drain juice, throw away garlic and shred.  Serve with sour cream and fresh cilantro (mine came directly from my garden).  The pork has a good taste-not too strong-that the kids loved!!  The corn tortillas were so good!!  The kids were hesitant to try them because they looked authentic, but once they tasted them it was love at first bite:)  We are using the left over pork tomorrow night for dinner with brown rice tortilla wraps. 

Yummy!!!!!

Revolution Day 3-Dance day and easy meals

The Dancer's
My debut and retirement all in one performance with Ella!!

Silly pose

The real stars!!

Headed out to dance-what a crazy day!!!

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What a crazy weekend!!  I am posting this late from complete exhaustion.  The dance recital was a huge success!!  The girls did a fantastic job!!

Our meals for day 3 were simple but quite good!!

Breakfast - Scrambled eggs and toast

Lunch - variety of cold veggies, left over fruit, and sandwiches

Dinner - cold veggies, salad, grilled chicken

So I just finished this book called Bringing up Be by Pamela Druckerman.  She is an American living in Paris and her book is about the difference between parenting styles in both countries.  The book is interesting, but what is so timely for our family is the section on how the French address food.  Most French families have set meal time and one afternoon snack.  A typical schedule would be:  breakfast at 8; lunch at 12; a late afternoon snack around 3:30-4:00; dinner at 6:30 or 7:00.  Lunch is the biggest meal that the French eat.  A typical lunch menu is heavy on protein, fruits, and veggies.  Dinner is usually a carb (like pasta or bread with cheese) and plenty of veggies.  Meals are served in courses, and while I thought this idea sounded pretty swanky, it is a simple method of presenting veggies FIRST.  At dinner time, the author sets out a variety of vegetables for her children to eat prior to the "main meal".  If her children fill up on the veggies then so be it.  They have all eaten well.  At these set meal times, the expectation is simply that everything must be tasted.  There is one meal served (which I already do) and each choice must be sampled.  One bite is appropriate.  If it isn't cared for then that is perfectly acceptable.  I have been using the meal schedule since my "grazing in the kitchen" episode and this has also been very effective!!

So last night after we got home from dance and we were all very tired and STAAAAAARVING, I quickly set out several plates of cold veggies and told the kids they could come to the table and eat while we prepared the chicken.  I couldn't believe how well it went over!!!!  The children that were hungry enough to eat the veggies did.  Warrior girl did not.  Then when the chicken was done, I set out a salad, pineapple, and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  Success!!

Keeping our meals and snacks simple really has made this do-able.