Sunday, October 30, 2011

Menu Plan Week of 10/31

Happy Halloween!  I hope everyone is enjoyed another beautiful weekend here in the Twin Cities (Saturday, at least!)  Our two year old has really embraced Halloween this year - he loves to wear his tiger costume and to get into the role (his "roar" has come a long way in the past week! haha)  I posted last week about some of the challenges that Halloween can bring for families of kids with allergies - check that out for last-minute trick or treating purchases!

I feel like I am in a groove when it comes to cooking lately.  Whenever I have a few weeks in a row without being out of town, I find that I have time to stock my freezer with lots of beans, baked goods, leftovers, etc. to make it easier to cook throughout the week.

Here is our menu for this coming week!

Monday: HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  Sweet Potato Chili with cornbread muffins (I am going to try to find this mix at the store - tough to bake completely from scratch on a Monday, this is definitely the next best thing!)
Tip:  Pre-mix all ingredients in the crock pot except the sweet potatoes (peel and cube in the morning!)

Tuesday:  Turkey Spinach Burgers (scroll down to find the recipe - these look delicious!  I'll sub in Egg Replacer and coconut oil) with Cranberry Pumpkin Ketchup (I am working on the recipe for this now!  Stay tuned!) with Kale Chips and Green Beans
Tip:  Prepare burgers the night before and stick them in the fridge (raw) and cook when ready.  Double this recipe and freeze four burgers (raw) for future use!
Wednesday:  Crock Pot Autumn Sausage Casserole with side of veggies (this is a new recipe for me, looks easy and delicious!)
Tip:  Prepare rice ahead of time (you can even freeze rice after cooking for a really quick side dish of any kind) and brown sausage the night before.
Thursday:  Pizza with salad

Friday:  Mexican Quinoa Quesadillas with the fixings (guacamole, salsa, black beans)
Tip:  Prepare a big batch of quinoa and freeze in two cup portions for use in recipes like this one.

Saturday:  Grass fed beef steaks on the grill with Twice Baked Cauliflower (also a new recipe!) and salad  (I'll use Earth Balance Coconut Spread in place of the shortening!)

Sunday:  Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Squash (a new favorite!)

For more menu planning information, visit

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trick or Treat!

I blog specifically about food allergies too often (although it really is layered into most of my posts) but I feel inclined to do so for a few minutes with Halloween right around the corner!

For most, Halloween is a really fun holiday that all kids look forward to.  For kids with food allergies and their parents, there is a nerve wrecking side to it - the candy that the kids receive door to door can lead to severe or even fatal allergic reactions in kids who are allergic to peanuts or some of the other major food allergens.  In my case, we do not know the full extent of my son's peanut allergy, as he has yet to eat anything with peanuts or tree nuts in it.  We know we can have it in the house (we still eat peanut butter on occasion) and for many children, even being around peanut products can cause a reaction.

Regardless of the extent of my son's allergy, I have a heightened understanding of what this can mean for parents around the holidays, especially Halloween.  As my little guy gets older, we will have a lot of explaining to do to help him understand what he can and cannot eat.

Our chiropractor and I had a discussion about this today.  Her daughter has a severe peanut allergy and she does not allow her children to eat much sugar in general.  She allows her two kids to go out trick or treating for a few blocks and when they arrive home, they swap out 6 or 7 treats for "surprise" treats from mom and dad (healthier, allergy friendly alternatives) and the rest of the candy gets handed out to kids in the neighborhood.  This is the tradition so they do not mind it at all (these two kiddos are under 10 - as they get older, I am sure the approach will have to change!) 

If you have a child with food allergies or are looking to be extra aware of those that do, here are some great treat options to hand out this Halloween!

  • Angie's Kettle Corn has big packs of snack-size bags of kettle corn (allergy-free) that you can find at Target or Super Target
  • I found Halloween snack packs of Annie's Homegrown Fruit Snacks at Whole Foods (along with some other great candy options).
  • A lot of the major chocolate brands have peanut free facilities where they are producing candy.  The labels for this are front and center on the packaging.  Dove is an example!
  • Check out Lollipops, Starbursts etc.  Here is a great list of Allergy-Free Halloween Candies.
  • Hand out glow sticks (Michaels), pencils, play dough (you can get mini-containers of Play dough that is Halloween themed at Costco) instead of candy!
I know I can speak for "Allergy kids" and their parents when I say how much we all appreciate anything you can do to help make Halloween a little easier for our kiddos! :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Menu Plan Week of 10/24

Hello!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!  We have had a pretty good one, despite my little guy having a stuffy nose and cough (which caused some sleepless hours on Friday night, never fun!)

After a heartbreaking Badgers loss, I am hoping for a Packer win today (I am writing this before the game on Sunday.... sorry, Vikings fans! haha)  We are cozying up for the cooler fall weather ahead this week.  I have mentioned this before but this is my favorite time of year to cook, partly because it is "officially" crock pot season (mine is out all year though!) and I love being back int he kitchen making comfort foods (once the late winter comes around, I am ready for grill season again!)  So, I am taking advantage and cooking up a storm lately!

I have received a lot of feedback lately about putting up a recipe archive on this page so that you can easily access recipes when you are creating your own menu plans.  Admittedly, I am not the most technologically savvy person!  Although Blogger is really easy to use, I have yet to find a way to add a tab for a recipe archive.  I have an idea for a workaround so bear with me, I will get an archive started soon!

Our menu this week:

Monday:  Super Sloppy Joe's with a side of broccolini
note:  I sub in whole cane sugar (aka Rapadura) and only about half the sugar that is called for
Tip:  You can prepare this the night before in a skillet, let it cool and cover the skillet, store right in the fridge OR put the prepared sloppy joe's into the crock pot, store in fridge and heat on HIGH for 30 minutes before eating!

Tuesday:   Pasta with Red Sauce and roasted red pepper turkey sausage (Ferndale Market - love their products!); side salad
Tip:  Make enough pasta sauce to have leftovers - I freeze it and defrost as needed!  Use your favorite sauce recipe and once you have blended all of the ingredients, you can drop it into a crock pot to simmer for the day!  Make it the night before and stick the crock in the fridge if you will be working all day.

Wednesday:  Quinoa Burgers with salad and roasted sweet potatoes
note:  I may spice this one up a little bit, turned out good the last time but it could be better!  I'll update you on the results.
Tip:  Make these the night before (blend all ingredients in the food processor, quick and easy), make into patties and chill.  Fry them up right before eating.

Thursday:  I am out; boys will eat leftover meatloaf burgers (I froze these a few weeks ago per my Tuesday menu plan in this post) and a veggie

Friday:  Chicken in the crock pot with roasted butternut squash and kale chips
Tip:  If you have the oven on earlier in the week, roast your squash, scoop it out of the shell and stick it in the fridge.  Warm it up before serving with some butter (or coconut oil) and maple syrup.  YUM!

Saturday:  Out

Sunday:  White Chicken Chili (leftover chicken from Friday!) with salad 
Note:  This was on my plan but never made it to my table a few weeks ago... hoping I am able to make it happen this week!  I am going to give this a shot with coconut milk and coconut oil substitutes for milk/butter... we'll see how it goes.  We have had it without the substitutions and it is a really delicious soup!

This will be posted as part of Menu Plan Monday on Orgjunkie's site.  Lots of menu planning inspiration there!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkin Granola

I have been drooling over this Pumpkin Pecan Granola recipe for awhile now and finally had a chance to make it yesterday!  Due to food allergies, I changed the recipe up a bit, but for the most part I stayed true to the recipe linked above.  It turned out delicious.  My recipe below is for double the amount of granola that the original recipe produces.  Since making some dramatic changes to our diet this past spring, I have almost eliminated breakfast cereal from my family's diet, and granola like this is a wonderful substitute.  We will quickly go through the doubled recipe!!  It is also a fun treat for my little guy to eat this for breakfast with (coconut) milk poured over it.  Just like Daddy!  (My husband loves boxed cereal, so I have yet to completely eliminate it from my pantry - I am still working on it!)

I wrote to the recipe's author, Erin Chase, and asked the reason why she uses quick cooking oats.  She said it makes the granola more "clumpy" so it is easier to eat for snacks, etc.  I did follow her directions (50% old fashioned, 50% quick cook) and it did make a difference (usually I only use old fashioned) in how clumpy it turned out!  It is also a softer/chewier granola, making it very kid friendly!  I did use some brown sugar in this recipe, but subbed in maple syrup for half the sweetener.  Next time, I would use all maple syrup, I don't think it would make much of a difference!  The banana that I added also provides extra sweetness.  (I may try subbing in more banana for the apple sauce and cutting the sugar in half next time.)

The liquid ingredients

The dry ingredients
(Note: I added this to a large mixing bowl after taking this photo!)

The final product - delicious!!!
Pumpkin Granola (Allergy-friendly)
Adapted from $5 Dinners' Pumpkin Pecan Granola
Makes 16 (1/2 cup) breakfast servings (or lots of snacks/lunchbox treats!) :)


  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup mashed ripe banana
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or you could use maple extract if you have some)
  • 4 cups quick cooking oats
  • 4 cups traditional oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed (optional)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger – each
  • 1 cup raisins (I ran a knife through them to distribute them throughout the granola more evenly, and I used a but less raisins than called for.)


  • Preheat to 300.
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine the applesauce, banana, pumpkin puree, maple syrup and extract.
  • In larger mixing bowl, toss together the 2 kinds of oats, brown sugar, flaxseed, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
  • Spoon the pumpkin mixture into the oats mixture and combine until all the oats are covered in the pumpkin mixture.
  • Spread onto two baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, then gently toss and bake for another 20-25 minutes.
  • Stir in the raisins or other dried fruit after it has cooled some on a cooling rack.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Beyond a week, I recommend storing in a plastic container or freezer baggie in the freezer for up to 3 months
  • Dairy-free breakfast ideas using this recipe: sprinkle this granola over plain coconut milk yogurt or blend it in with oatmeal or brown rice cereal for breakfast in the morning (and on occassion as a bowl of cereal).
This post is linked up to:
Healthy 2day Wednesdays
Fresh Bites Friday
Allergy-Free Lunchbox Love
Allergy-Friendly Friday

    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    Menu Plan Week of 10/17

    After a wonderful weekend away with my husband in Lanesboro, MN (relaxation, an awesome 27 mile bike ride, and great eating!) I am refreshed and ready to get back into the kitchen this week!  I have some great recipes planned, a couple very easy work week options for you!

    After returning this afternoon, I made a double batch of pumpkin granola that turned out really tasty - a great substitute for boxed cereal for breakfast and a good kid-friendly snack option (sprinkle over yogurt or pour some milk/coconut milk over it!)

    For more menu planning inspiration, check out Orgjunkie's Monday morning post for lots of ideas!

    Monday:  Chuck-Wagon Pot Roast with green salad
    Tip:  I use beef stew meat instead of a roast.  If you want leftovers, the recipe is good as-is, otherwise use 1 lb. stew meat and a little more than 1/2 jar of pasta sauce (and split the rest of he recipe in half, too!).  I also only use 1/2 the water that the recipe calls for.  Prep veggies the night before if needed and if using rice noodles, cook them the night before and stir in just before eating - rice noodles are really starchy and if cooked in the crock pot, the sauce becomes too thick.  Note: (added Tuesday, 10/18): TURN CROCK TO HIGH AFTER ADDING VEGGIES.  After making this again last night, I recommend stirring in cooked pasta right at the end whether using rice noodles or not.

    Tuesday:  Moroccan Chickpeas with rice and broccoli
    Tip:  Check out the hyperlink for this recipe and my tips for making this ahead of time!

    Wednesday:  Leftover turkey (from the freezer) on toast with carrot and parsnip "fries"
    Tip:  For fries, cut carrots and parsnips into matchsticks, toss in olive oil and roast at 375 for 15 minutes, mixing them halfway through roasting.  Serve with organic ketchup (no corn syrup!) :)

    Thursday:  Veggie Quesadillas with the fixings
    Tip:  I used this recipe a couple of weeks ago and it would work really well to make the quesadilla filling the night before.  I also found a new tortilla that my family loves (our favorite gluten-free tortilla so far! ) Food for Life Brown Rice Tortillas.  Find them at Whole Foods or your Co-op!

    Friday:  Honey Mustard Pork Tenderloin (crock pot) with salad and green beans
    Tip:  Prep this the night before - marinating in the honey mustard mixture overnight makes this pork all the tastier!

    Saturday:  Out

    Sunday:  Grass-fed beef burgers with kale chips and oven baked sweet potato fries

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    Pumpkin Muffins

    I made some major tweaks on this recipe to cut sugar and allergens out. Mix it all in one bowl, so easy! These muffins are incredibly moist and flavorful. Note that the batter will be much wetter than a normal muffin batter. Not to worry, they will turn out wonderful! Freeze a batch of these a pop in the microwave for 25-30 seconds for breakfast along with some fruit and breakfast sausage or ham (that's how them serve it here, at least)!  Stick a frozen muffin right in your child's lunch, by lunchtime it will be defrosted and ready to eat!

    3/4 cup sugar (I like rapadura aka whole cane sugar)
    2 eggs OR Ener-G Egg Replacer
    1/4 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
    1 tsp. baking soda
    3/4 tsp. salt
    1/2 tsp. cloves
    3/4 tsp. cinnamon
    1/2 tsp. nutmeg
    1 2/3 cup Bob's Red Mill GF All-Purpose Flour
    1/2 cup melted coconut oil (highly recommend, but you can use butter)
    1/4 cup cold water
    1 c pumpkin
    1 medium ripe banana, mashed

    Mix all ingredients together in one bowl. Put in greased muffin tin. Bake at 325 degrees for approx. 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

    Add flax seed meal, raisins, chocolate chips, nuts as desired.

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    Menu Plan Week of 10/3 and 10/10

    Hello, all!  Welcome again to my newest readers from Just One Bite!  For those of you who might not follow Just One Bite on Facebook, click on the hyperlink and take a look, there is a lot of great information about nutrition and wellness as well as motivation to continue to improve yourself from the inside out each day of your life.  Taiha Wagner, the owner of Just One Bite, is a fantastic resource!

    This past week was very busy for us, especially this weekend!  Lots of fun, but not a lot of time to cook.  The key to menu planning is to make it flexible - don't feel stressed if you cannot hold yourself to it!  Planning saves you time and money at the grocery store and assures you that you will find time in the day to get a nutritious meal on the table for your family.  That being said, if you have to skip a meal, just make sure that you prep and freeze the ingredients as soon as you are able to (fresh veggies, meat, etc.) in order to enter that meal into the next week's plan quickly and easily without wasting food.

    One week from tomorrow is my little guy's second birthday.  I cannot believe it!  This last year has been a whirlwind for us to say the least, but compared to one year ago he is in such a good place health-wise!  I am so grateful for the "team" of people I have around me (family and friends for encouragement and knowledge, health experts for support and expertise).  Without them, I don't even want to think about were we might be in our journey.  It probably would not be pretty, that's for sure.  This birthday marks many celebrations for my little one and our family.

    Because the next two weeks will be especially busy, I am laying out a two week menu plan here to decrease stress and assure that, although we may be off our normal routine a bit, that my little guy is getting all the nutrition he needs to keep his immune system cranking in high gear and his tummy happy.  :)

    Monday:  Whole chicken with squash and broccoli (from last week!)

    Tuesday:  Mom's group playdate with dinner - the mom who is hosting is doing a Mexican potluck, I will bring tortillas, black beans (just warm black beans with organic salsa (very yummy and easy) and guacamole).
    Tip:  Lately, the price of avocados has been high than usual (even for non-organic, which is the route I go because they are on the "safe list" according to the EWG.  Plus, you never know if an avocado will be good until you cut into it.  I save money and time by buying Wholly Guacamole at Costco - 5 packets in a box.  I freeze it and take each packet out as needed.  Defrost in cold water or 15 minutes or just take it out the night before.

    Wednesday:  Breakfast for dinner - Oatmeal Bake with breakfast sausage
    Tip:  To make this allergy friendly, I sub in Ener-G egg replacer, plain coconut milk for milk and coconut oil for the butter. I do not add any nuts.

    Thursday:  Out (we have a 5:15 appointment so we'll eat out.  Our go-to meal is Chipotle.)
    Tip (Chipotle):  For allergy kids, order the Taco Kit with our without tortilla depending on allergies, and ask for the cafeteria tray - they have little trays and can split up the fixings into the different compartments!  Comes with a tiny bag of corn chips and organic milk or juice.  Brilliant!

    Friday:  Out (pizza night?) (my family comes into town for the birthday celebration!)

    Saturday:  Birthday party!  On the menu:  Ham and turkey sandwiches (Crock Pot turkey recipe here - so easy!), Italian potato salad (I'll post this family recipe later - it's a vinegar and oil base, so yummy!), Green Salad, Fruit and an allergy-friendly apple spice cake (I'll post this recipe soon, too!)

    Sunday:  Grilled chicken, squash, green beans
    Tip:  Buy more chicken breasts than you need one week and split them up into Ziploc bags.  Pick a favorite homemade marinade and pour into bags with chicken.  Marinate overnight and then stick the bags in the freezer for quick meals - just defrost for 24 hours and bake!

    Monday:  Black Bean Sweet Potato Quesadillas with the fixings  (this recipe looks amazing!)
    Tip:  Cook the filling on Sunday night so all you have to do is put make the quesadillas!

    Tuesday:  Slow cooker beef tips (from Cooking Traditional Foods, this is a must-have recipe, I am going to try to get permission to post ASAP) with rice and green beans.

    Wednesday:  I am out, so the boys will be winging it with leftovers, etc. :)

    Thursday:  Easy Chicken with Wild Rice Dinner (another new recipe that looks easy and kid-friendly!)

    Friday-Saturday:  Andrew and I are going out of town for a getaway (thanks to Andrew's parents!) 

    Sunday:  Leftover meatloaf burgers (see recipe and my tip from last week here!) with green salad (or something else green on the side!)

    For more menu planning inspiration, visit Orgjunkie's blog!