Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pre-Baby Freezer/Bulk Cooking and Baking Plan

I know I have not been extremely diligent about my menu plans lately, for that I apologize!  Life is moving at a fast pace with the baby arriving in 6 weeks.  Whether you will have a new little one in your house soon or if you know you are in for a crazy couple of months with the holidays right around the corner, you may be interested in my plan, outlined below.  Because I have a child with food allergies, I have to be extra planful when it comes to mealtime.  With a newborn, I realize I will not have any time during the first 4-6 weeks to be cooking, so the plan below will help relieve me of my kitchen duties, at least for a little while!  Outside of this plan, I am trying to be conscious as I cook on a day to day basis - if I make a big pot of soup, for example, I freeze and label it to add to my stockpile.  The more bulk cooking I do now, the better off I will be! 

It is critical that I also have snacks and whole food meals on hand to nourish my body, since breastfeeding takes so much effort and energy!  I plan to have nourishing snacks (recipes also linked below) that I can pull out of the freezer to defrost or quickly warm up as I pass through the kitchen. 

I hope this plan helps you and your family during the busy months ahead!

Week 1:  Prepare Crock Pot Pulled Pork
Week 2:  Prepare Chickens/Bone Broth
Week 3:  Prepare Marinara Sauce (Use your favorite sauce recipe, freeze in 2 cup portions, easy to defrost and add to bulk sausage, shredded or frozen veggies, etc. to ladle over noodles)
Week 4:  Prepare Sloppy Joes and Chicken Nuggets

Snacks:  Schedule a kid-less day/weekend, dedicated to baking and cooking.
Prepare crock pot meals (add all ingredients to Ziploc bags and freeze) on baking day/weekend 3-4 weeks prior to my due date

Snacks for Mommy

Lactation Muffins (makes two dozen!)
Breakfast Sandwiches (I'll use thin sliced nitrate-free ham to make them a little more compact)
Stock freezer with frozen fruit for smoothies!

Snacks for the Family

Allergy-friendly granola (2 batches)
Pumpkin Muffins 2 batches
Personal Size Oatmeal Bakes (sub with flax eggs) 2 batches

Crock Pot Dinners (freeze, defrost, into crock pot, done!)

Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken
Italian Beef (scroll for recipe)
Flank Steak Fajitas

Other Dinners:
Crock Pot Pulled Pork (separate into two bags, freeze flat)
Two whole chickens, roasted and meat shredded, separate into 2 cup portions (for quesadillas, soup, etc). I'll make two batches of bone broth from the chickens.
Marinara Sauce for freezer
Super Sloppy Joe's
Chicken Nuggets

***Make a list of all of the groceries you will need for your baking/cooking day so you have everything on hand.  Each week during the plan outlined above, make sure you add the things to your list that you will need to prepare the recipes as outlined.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Menu Plan Week of 10/8

It's better (very) late than never!  My little guy's birthday is tomorrow - he will be three years old!!!  I just cannot believe how time has flown by!  It is a time of reflection for me, as it has now been exactly two years since his food allergy diagnosis and about 18 months since his first major asthma episode.  We continue to manage all of this with diet, supplements, and Western medicine as needed.... and he is such a trooper!  I am so proud of him each day - even as an almost three year old he has been forced to process how he is "different" than other kids in so many ways, and he takes it all in stride and uses reasoning skills to do so that put him well beyond that of an average three year old.  He takes his supplements (a 5 minute morning and evening routine) without batting an eye.  And his little sense of humor and constant state of activity keep us on our toes.

I am looking forward to another year of fun and wellness with my little man....  and the little lady that will grace us with her presence come December! :)

Here is our menu plan this week!

Monday:  Butternut Squash and Sausage Soup (DF version with coconut milk, I did not strain it, just used the immersion blender - delicious and tons leftover!  I used Ferndale Market Italian Turkey Sausage - my favorite local sausage!)

Tuesday:  Chicken "Hurry" with green beans (Use just 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey, no sugar.  I also only use 1/2 cup of  organic ketchup.  And bone-in chicken breast)

Wednesday:  Birthday quesadillas with raw veggies

Thursday:  Baked Oatmeal

Friday:  OUT

Saturday:  Birthday Party leftovers (grass fed burgers, grass fed beef hot dogs, potato salad, corn chips and salsa, fruit, veggies)

Sunday:  TBD (I have all eyes on the birthday party, can't really plan past Saturday!) :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Menu Plan Week of 9/24

It is a busy week (as usual these days) in our house, so it is critical for us to plan our meals ahead of time.  I am loving this fall weather, so a roast is definitely in order.  I have a couple new recipes to try thanks to some Facebook feedback, but I am going to try the one linked below first, with a few substitutions.  It looks so delicious and comforting for a fall day!

I realize I did not post a menu plan last week, so to make up for it I am posting the easiest, most delicious chili recipe that I whipped together last night.  See below the menu plan for all of the details.  It was SO good and the best part - you can put it together in one pot in about 15 minutes, let it simmer for another 45 minutes and it turned out so flavorful!  Add some organic blue corn tortilla chips on the side or crumbled over it - the perfect fall/football watching dinner!  This would also be a great freezer meal - defrost and warm up in a pan before serving!

Monday:  Hot dogs, kale chips, gf bread (Mommy is out!)

Tuesday:  Crock Pot Beef Roast (no steak sauce, I'll add raw cane sugar for the 1 tsp. called for)

Wednesday:  Crock Pot Risotto (this is definitely a meal to make on a day off, as it only takes a couple of hours, but lots of hands-off time which I love!)

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Quesadillas (with leftover roasted chicken from the freezer and lots of grated veggies, use Daiya dairy free/soy free cheese if needed - we use Food For Life Brown Rice tortillas).

Saturday:  Simple grill out

Sunday:  Out

Quick and Easy Veggie and Turkey Chili (adapted from We Are Not Martha's blog)
Servings:  4 big bowls!

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 C onion, chopped
1 C carrot, grated
1 C zucchini, grated
1 jalapeno, chopped (seeds in or out, depending on how spicy you want it)
1 clove garlic, chopped
2.5 T chili powder
1 T cumin
1 tsp salt
1 lb ground turkey (pastured preferred)
2 T organic tomato paste
1 can organic black beans, drained & rinsed or 1.5 C frozen pre-cooked black beans
3 C organic vegetable broth (I use Pacific brand)

Melt oil.  Add and saute onion, carrot, zucchini and jalapeno until soft.  Add garlic and continue to saute for 1-2 minutes.  Add spices, saute for 1-2 minutes.  Add ground turkey and saute/break it up until cooked through.  Add tomato paste and mix.  Add broth and beans.  Bring to a boil and then down to a gentle simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The chili will thicken up significantly during this time, but continue to simmer until desired consistency is reached.  Serve with your favorite toppings!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Menu Plan week of 9/10

I have been away for quite awhile and hope to be back almost every week with menu plans for the new school year! 

We are expecting a baby girl in early December, which means life around here has become pretty busy.  So I will do what I can to keep up with posts, as I know many of you value the menu plans to make your lives a little easier this week!

I will also be posting my prep plan for freezer cooking before baby arrives.  I am 100% dedicated to keeping nutritious, whole foods on my table even in the crazy month or two following the birth of our child, especially since we will be in the midst of cold and flu season.  I'll be checking the co-op for specials on meat so that I can stock up and plan around the deals for my freezer/batch cooking! 

If any of you have great recipes that can be frozen and then defrosted or placed right in the oven with delicious results, please let me know!  Also, please check out my recipes page - I have updated it with dinner ideas, some new baked goodies and breakfast recipes!

Here is our menu plan for this week!

Monday:  GF/DF Chicken and Veggie Nuggets with sweet potato fries and greens

Tuesday:  Out

Wednesday:  Leftover Chicken Nuggets with salad (before swim lessons!)

Thursday:  Crock Pot Beef Stew (I make this without the potatoes) with rice

Friday:  Pizza night with salad

Saturday:  Crock Pot Chicken with veggies and corn on the cob

Sunday:  Grill out!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Menu Plan week of 7/25

Menu for this week!  Easy and lots of leftovers, great for busy summer days and evenings!

Monday: Out!

Tuesday: Super Sloppy Joes (decrease sugar to just a couple tbsp, I use rapadura)

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday:  Baked Chicken with Summer Veggies (sub chicken broth for wine) served over pasta or rice

Friday:  Quesadillas using leftover chicken from Thursday, salad

Saturday:  BBQ with friends

Sunday:  To be determined (hope to make it to farmers market on Saturday for inspiration!)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Menu Plan Week of 7/16

After a wonderful Fourth of July vacation in northern Minnesota and a great visit from my parents this past week, we are back into a routine of work and school.  My summer menu plans overall tend to be a lot more simple than in the fall and winter, but now that I am back to working three right hour days per week, I have to be especially conscious of what I plan to prepare on work days.  It may means crock pot recipes, using leftovers to create a new meal, or a very simple meat/veggie/grain type of meal that I can throw together in 30-45 minutes.  I always try to plan ahead for prep work that can be done the night before, as well.  If you have tips and recipes to share that address the need for quick an easy meals on work days that still adhere to a whole foods diet, please share in the comments or on the Just One Bite fan page on Facebook (see the link on the right side of my blog).

Here is our menu for this week:

Monday:  Homemade marinara with pasta, salad and raw veggies (I'll be making enough to fill 4-5 family serving size mason jars to freeze!)

Tuesday:  Crock Pot Chicken
Tip:  Use a whole chicken, cut up into pieces and rub with Dijon mustard.  Add one cup of broth and your favorite veggies to the pot.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Serve with rice or potatoes.

Wednesday:  Tuna brown rice casserole (from one of my new favorite cookbooks - Allergy-friendly Food for Families - click here!)
Tip:  Cook rice the night before

Thursday:  Leftover Chicken and veggie nuggets with cauliflower poppers

Friday:  Leftovers

Saturday:  Out!

Sunday:  BBQ - meat, veggies, corn, fruit (hoping to make it to farmers market sometime this week to make Sunday BBQ even that much better!)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fourth of July snacks and treats!

Who needs a sugar-laden 4th of July flag cake when you can put together a beautiful platter like this?!
Credit:  Party City website

We are looking forward to some much needed R&R during the 4th of July week!  As you can imagine, there is a LOT of planning that happens when we head to a cabin in the north woods with a child with food allergies.  Epi-pens, benedryl and supplements aside, we also want to provide him with nourishing foods and a few treats!  I hope you find some of these recipes and links to be helpful as you plan your long weekends or week-long trips!

Planning is critical to a realxing vacation - make grocery lists far in advance, especially if you will need to stop at more than one store to get what you need.  Pack plenty of snacks for the road, as well! 

Some treats that we will be making....

Rice Krispie Treats (nut free, gluten free, egg free, soy free, wheat free)

Golden Honey Graham Crackers  (nut free, gluten free, egg free, soy free, wheat free, dairy free)
**we made these last night and froze them for the trip, only sub in was whole cane sugar, you can cut the sugar in half if you would like to.  They turned out wonderful!  They will be great for s'mores!  Try these out with a homemade marshmallow recipe and some chocolate sweetened with stevia!)

Some snack ideas that you can make ahead (travel well in a cooler!):

Allergy friendly granola bars - make this, and double the recipe (it will still fit on one pan when you bake it)!  SO easy and travels really well.  Great snack when boating and picnic-ing!  Add coconut and flaxseed meal to bump up the nutrition!

Cowboy Caviar - this makes a huge batch and it always a hit!  Great for dipping organic blue corn tortilla chips (we like Trader Joe's or Garden of Eaten' chips)

Allergen-free hummus - I like to sub in olive oil for the water for more flavor (you may need a little more than 2 tbsp. of olive oil for desired consistency).  I recommend adding fresh herbs.  And double the recipe, it is great as a dip or sandwich spread!

If your family enjoys Chex mix, here is a dairy-free, nut free version.  I will skip this, but this is a great sub in for the bag from the grocery store that is fully of crappy ingredients you don't need to be eating.  use real butter if you are not dairy free!

How about some strawberry lemonade sweetened with stevia to wash it all down?!  YUM. 

Last but not least, a great lazy morning breakfast idea...

Allergy-free Maple Waffles - a family favorite of ours!  Add some berry sauce on top for a special treat!

Menu Plan Week of June 25

As I peruse the selection of local and organic produce at the farmers market and co-op, it is safe to say we are well into the summer!  Maybe more so than normal with the very warm spring that we had!  Yum, I just want to buy a little bit of everything.  I prepared snap peas from the farmers market to go with dinner last night, dropped them in boiling water for 2 minutes, rinsed them under cold water and then gave them a quick stir fry with olive oil, salt and pepper.  They were beautiful and sweet.  If you do go to a farmers market, I challenge you to purchase one thing that you have never prepared before - rainbow chard, snap peas, a new herb, etc. and give it a shot!  It is almost impossible to ruin wonderful produce, so you can't hurt a thing by trying something new!

We will be headed on a family vacation next week, so our plan is pretty simple.  Enjoy!

Monday:  Pasta with homemade marinara (from the freezer) mixed with bulk Italian sausage and spinach; salad

Tuesday:  Baked chicken breasts with hashbrowns and green beans

Wednesday:  Winging it

Thursday:  Black Bean Sweet Potato Quesadillas with salsa (just discovered the Trader Joe's organic red tomatillo salsa - SO delicious!)

Friday - Happy Vacation!

Stay tuned for a post with some great links for 4th of July snacks and treats! :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Menu Plan Week of 6/18

Happy Father's Day!  I hope you are all enjoying time with family today!  We had a fun little brunch with my husband's family at our new house, which finally feels like home rather than a house we live in! 

I have a few great new recipes I will be trying this week (see Monday, Wednesday and Thursday).  They look tasty, we'll see what my little guy thinks!

Monday:  GF DF Chicken and Veggie Nuggets with Kale Chips

Tuesday:  Pasta with homemade red sauce (from the freezer), Italian Turkey Sausage (Ferndale Market - local and so tasty!); salad
Tip:  Make a pasta bake the night before, pop it in the over when you arrive home!

Wednesday:  Quinoa Burgers with fresh veggies and homemade ranch dip (if you are DF, serve with your favorite dip or dressing!  You could also use a vegan mayo and mix the spices with that!)
Tip:  Prep the burger mixture the night before, chill, and make into patties and bake right before dinnertime

Thursday:  Spicy Sweet Pork Tacos with the fixings (salsa, guac, peppers, black beans, etc) and salad
Tip:  Grill the pork the night before, shred pork and dinner is all but ready to serve!

Friday:  Winging it (leftovers)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Menu Plan Week of June 4

It was a busy summer weekend for us!  Lots of outside fun and my hubby and I even sneaked in a date night!

So, I'll cut to the chase... here is our menu plan for the week.

Monday:  Grilled turkey tenderloins with broccoli and cilantro rice (I will have my hubby throw these on the grill with the shrimp packets tonight, might as well get some extra use out of the grill being fired up!)

Tuesday:  Panzanella Salad (bread salad) for hubby and I - I will add fresh spinach; I will make a spinach salad for my little guy along with some leftovers from last night.

Wednesday:  Super Sloppy Joes with Cauliflower Poppers
TIP:  Brown the ground beef the night before and throw all of the ingredients in the slow cooker, turn it on in the morning!

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Grilled Brats with a salad (can't go wrong!) :)

Saturday:  Out

Sunday:  Out

Monday, May 28, 2012

Menu Plan Week of 5/28

Happy Memorial Day!  I hope you all had a great weekend with friends and family while taking time to remember those who have fought and continue to fight for our freedoms. 

This is a week of reflection for me in many ways - this marks one year since my husband and I fully committed to a new way of wellness and diet for our son.  The week after Memorial Day in 2011, our little guy began to see a chiropractor who also has a passion and expertise for helping children with challenges resulting from the "4 A's" (asthma, allergies, autism and ADHD) through the use of homeopathy, traditional foods, and elimination diets. 

We have had our ups and downs, our trip-ups, and by no means is his diet perfect, but the significant changes we made have made a big difference for him.  I wish I could say we are 100% prescription medication free, but I can say we now only give him medication and nebulizers as-needed, rather than every single day as initially prescribed.  After a failed hearing test in May 2011 (after a string of chronic ear infections, the hearing test showed fluid build-up behind his ear drums, which caused some hearing challenges for him), we reversed the issue without tubes or additional drugs and he has not had an ear infection since.  Instead of administering asthma medication year-round, we only do this during peak allergy season and he is fine without it outside of that. 

Of course, food allergies do not just vanish, but we have been healing his gut in order to give him he best possible chance at outgrowing these allergies or at least healing him to a point that his body will not react in a life-threatening way when exposed to the foods that he is allergic to.  I am really proud of how far we have come this year and I am always looking for ways to improve - I hope for more health successes in the year to come!

I hope that, for many of you, this blog has inspired and continues to inspire you to make little changes in your everyday eating habits for your family that promote healing and wellness!  If there is ever anything more that I can offer to you on your path of wellness (new recipes, recipe makeovers, meal planning tips, etc.) please comment on my posts or via Facebook!  Your support is what keeps me writing and keeps me accountable to my meal planning, which is critical to healing my son!

Our plan for this week:

Monday:  BBQ!  BBQ ribs, grilled potatoes, grilled asparagus and grilled romaine salad (I am using a different dressing but the one in this recipe looks yummy!)

Tuesday:  Veggie Quesadillas with guacamole
TIP:  Make the filling the night before, this makes it SO easy to have a quick and healthy meal on the table on a work night!  On weeknights, I serve this with Wholly Guacamole - I buy it in bulk at Costco (comes in a box with 4 or  packets) - freeze them and take one out to defrost the night before.

Wednesday:  Hot dogs (we love Thousand Hills 100% grass fed) and kale chips

Thursday:  Pasta Bake with salad
Recipe for the bake:  Ferndale Market Italian style turkey sausage (my favorite sausage!), frozen organic spinach, and a jar of my homemade pasta sauce from the freezer.  Mix with cooked and rinsed GF pasta, sprinkle with a little cheese and bake.  Make ahead and refrigerate or freeze!

Friday:  Leftovers

Saturday:  Honey Lemon Garlic Chicken Kabobs with rice

Sunday:  Shrimp with Avocado Mango Salsa Foil Packets (using brown rice couscous)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Menu Plan Week of 5/21

Yet another week went by without a menu plan post!  This moving thing is putting a cramp in my style! :)  I am hoping to be back on track beginning this week!

Before I share my menu plan, I want to share a quick chick pea salad that I whipped up this weekend to go with grilled brats.  This is fantastic leftover - the longer the chick peas marinate, the better.  I love to scoop this bean salad over spinach or mixed greens for lunch the next day (or even the day after that)! 

Here is the recipe.... (no picture, unfortunately - completely forgot to take one!  I will be making this again so I'll add a picture when I do).

Summer Bean Salad

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. raw honey
1 clove garlic, pressed
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt (I use Real Salt)
pinch of ground black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together until he dressing is emulsified.  Taste test of flavor balance.  (I added a little more honey for balance, but this is up to your taste!)

1 can or 1.5 cups chick peas (drain and rinse if using canned)!
1/3 cup roasted red peppers, chopped (I used organic jarred for convenience)
Fresh basil, chopped

Add salad ingredients to the dressing and toss to combine.  Serve immediately and refrigerate leftovers.  I recommend a double batch! :)

My menu plan for this week:

Monday:  Italian Bean Soup with GF/DF/EF corn bread (I am trying Giada DeLaurentis' new boxed soup mix from Target - I was pleasantly surprised to see that there are no additives, just beans, herbs and spices!  Great for a quick and easy dinner, ready in 30 minutes)

Tuesday:  Honey Lime Baked Chicken Taquitos with a salad

Wednesday: Oatmeal Bake

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Pizza night (I may make these roasted vegetable calzones for the hubby and I - to make it simple I will use Trader Joe's pizza dough, although it would be fun to make my own sometime!)

Saturday:  Grilled steak and farmers market veggies (can't wait to get to Mill City Farmer's Market for the first time this season!!!)

Sunday:  Turkey Burgers (new recipe posted via Just One Bite this week - YUM!) with salad and grilled potatoes

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Menu Plan Week of 5/7

We are moved into our new home (finally!!) and although still unpacking boxes, we feel more and more settled every day.  I am SO excited about my beautiful new kitchen - lots of cabinet space and counter space compared to my last kitchen.  Since I spend a LOT of time there, it makes such a difference each day for me!

I plan to give these allergy-free breakfast cookies a try this week.  I cannot give any credit because I found this recipe via Pinterest and it doesn't link back to a blog, so I apologize for that.  I have to share it with you!  Try to find organic dried cranberries that are sweetened with something other than sugar (and let me know where you find them!  I have yet to do so!)

Breakfast Cookie: no flour, no sugar, no dairy added. Ingredients: 1.5 cups of oats, 2-3 super ripened bananas, 1 cup unsweetened applesauce, handful of craisins, cinnamon to taste. Mix, throw on a baking sheet @ 350 for 35 minutes.        
I'll let you know how they turn out!
Here is my menu plan for this week:
Monday:  I am out, so the boys will wing it. :)
Tuesday:  Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken served over rice      
Tip:  Prep the slow cooker the night before!
Wednesday:  Meatloaf, smashed Yukon gold potatoes (here is one recipe that looks delicious - you can just use coconut milk and butter/ghee - skip the sour cream) and green beans
Tip:  Make the meatloaf the night before - I will split this into two loaves and cook both of them, then slice and freeze one for another quick meal!
Thursday:  Slow Cooker Vegetarian Mexican Lasagna (I use half the cheese called for)
Tip:  Prep the slow cooker the night before.  I was nervous when I did this the first time (worried about soggy tortillas) but it worked great.  I use Food For Life sprouted corn tortillas for this recipe. 
Friday:  Leftovers
Saturday:  Chicken or Steak on the grill with asparagus and pasta (toss brown rice noodles with olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, a few lemon squeezes and add some grape tomatoes to it - YUM!)
Sunday:  Happy Mothers Day! (hoping I don't have to cook!) :)                       

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I'm back! (Sort of!) Menu Plan Week of 4/9

Well, life has been interesting for my family lately.  We got back from vacation, our purchase agreement for a house we bought fell apart due to mold found by inspector in the attic (long story but I will leave it at that!) and now the plan is to move in with my husband's parents at the end of April when we close on our house so that we can continue to look for a new home. 

This whole process has thrown a wrench into menu planning but I am proud to say I have help pretty steady to our whole foods diet, with a little cheating along the way.

This week I do have a plan, at least through the weekend when my in laws graciously offered to take my little guy so we can spend the whole weekend packing!  I will do my best to post plans and hope to get back to recipe writing and other posts once we are settled.

Monday:  Sloppy Joe's with roasted broccoli and blue corn chips

Tuesday:  Oatmeal bake with breakfast sausage

Wednesday:  Quinoa burgers with cauliflower poppers

Thursday:  Chicken with white beans and tomatoes; salad

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Out

Sunday:  Slow cooker beef and pasta (calls for wagon wheel pasta, I use a GF penne pasta, cook on the side, drain and rinse, stir into slow cooker at the last minute.  Also, put fresh veggies in about one hour before eating, if possible.  Otherwise pre-cook veggies and stir in right before eating.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Menu Plan Week of March 12th

(Please note, I will be on vacation beginning next week for 10 days, so there will be no new menu plans for the next two weeks!  There are lots of menu plans and recipes to choose from, I'd love to hear what you try (successes, fails, etc.) while I am out of town!)

A very busy weekend of house hunting, etc. for us so I'll get right to the point! Here is our menu plan for this week! 

Monday:  Rolled Flank Steak (no soy sauce) with roasted broccoli and rice

Tuesday:  Slow Cooker Vegetarian Mexican Lasagna (I use Food For Life Sprouted Corn Tortillas)

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday:  Pasta and turkey meatballs with salad

Friday:  Whatever is left in the fridge!

Saturday:  Out

Sunday:  Headed to sunny Florida! :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Menu Plan Week of 3/5

After a whirlwind couple of weeks, I am back to menu planning.  We listed an sold our house in a matter of days and now we are on the hunt for our "dream home" - meaning the one with some of our "wish list" characteristics and one that we can see ourselves raising our kids in for the long haul.  It is a difficult and sometimes emotional process but we are so excited!

As you know, I am very disciplined with our menu planning.  When that went out the window the past two weeks, I learned three things.  First, it is very challenging to feed a child with food allergies well-rounded meals without a plan.  Two, I eat a LOT more junk food without a plan and three, I spend a LOT more money at the grocery store without a plan.  Overall, it reminded me just how critical a plan is for my family, and it also reminded me that this is why so many busy American parents feel so overwhelmed by the thought of feeding their families healthy meals at the dinner hour!  A plan makes things so much easier.  If you have not tried it yet, I encourage you to use my plans (or a version of my plans) for 4-5 weeks (it takes that long to get into the swing of things with it and to build the habit)!  I assure you, you will find yourself so much less stressed at mealtime... and with some extra cash in your pocket to save for a rainy day (bonus)!!

Here is my menu plan for this week:

Monday:  Bean burgers with kale chips and raw veggies

Tuesday:  Kid-friendly Jambalaya with a side of green beans

Wednesday:  Black Bean Sweet Potato Quesadillas

Thursday:  Quinoa with Chicken and Broccoli
(I found this recipe by signing up for the Cooking Traditional Foods' free newsletter here - she will send you a free sample of their budget menu mailer when you sign up.  I subscribed to her menu mailers when I was first learning traditional foods techniques, these are a wonderful resource!)

Friday:  Leftovers and/or whatever is in the fridge

Saturday:  Pork Tenderloin with Vegetable and Roasted Potatoes

Sunday:  Breakfast for dinner (pancakes/sausage/fruit)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Menu Plan Week of 2/20/12

I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend - here in Minnesota, we were blessed with an amazing weekend of 40+ degree, sunny weather.  Is it really February?!  It has been such a mild winter.... no complaints from this sun-loving girl!

Things get tricky for my family this week....  we are putting our house on the market tomorrow morning.  This means I will have to be more flexible than usual with my menu planning and will need lots of grab and go food options for my little guy.  Having a kid with food allergies makes this process all the more interesting.  But, like everything else, it gives me the opportunity to work on being flexible with food options.  I hope to make some cold salads (like the quinoa salad on my plan this week) that will allow for leftovers that I can pack in a cooler and take along with me if we need to eat dinner on the go due to showings.  Wish us luck!!!

Monday: Homemade chicken nuggets with broccoli and rice

Tuesday:  Superfood Quinoa Salad (leave out avocado until right before eating)
Tip:  Prepare the quinoa salad the night before, the more time it has to sit the better the flavor!

Wednesday:  Keema (this sounds interesting...  scroll down for recipe...I'll use ground beef and butter instead of lard) served over brown rice couscous or noodles
Tip:  Prepare this the night before - lots of leftovers to freeze!

Thursday:  Pizza night! (Roasted vegetable pizza)

Friday:  Out of town

Saturday:  Out of town

Sunday:  Winging it!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Menu Plan Week of 2/13

Better late than never!  We are putting our house on the market one week from today.  Life is just a little bit crazy as a result.  This makes it all the more important that we have healthy meals on the table at the dinner hour, along with a stockpile of healthy snacks.  Now, to find some time to grocery shop.... hmmmm..... :)

Monday:  Sausage and Shrimp Pasta (make it without the half and half for dairy free, I will not be using pepperoncini to make it more kid-friendly!)

Tuesday:  Happy Valentines Day! :)  Burgers, veggie and a special valentine treat (to be determined)

Wednesday:  Pork Tenderloin with roasted potato wedges and salad
Tip:  Prepare slow cooker with pork the night before.

Thursday:  Poblano, Mango and Black Bean Quesadillas
Tip:  Prepare the filling the night before, heat inside the quesadilla before dinner!

Friday:  Mexican Sloppy Joe's and raw veggies
(batch cook, cut the recipe in half if you do not want leftovers!)
Note:  Sloppy Joe recipe:  brown 2 lbs beef in 3 tbsp. coconut oil.  Mix in slow cooker with 4 cups salsa, 4 shredded carrots, 1 diced bell pepper (or jarred roasted pepper), 6 tbsp. tomato paste, 4 pressed garlic cloves, 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning, 2 tsp. salt).  Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.  Serve on rolls.

Saturday:  Out

Sunday:  Chicken and Wild Rice Soup (with or without the roux mixed in!)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Menu Plan Week of February 6th

We are in the midst of a busy weekend and a busy week ahead!  I am hoping to include a post this week featuring some of the meatless meals we have been enjoying lately.  In the meantime, enjoy this week's menu!

As a special treat this week, I think I am going to give the chocolate brownie batter dessert hummus recipe a try.  Check it out!  It is healthier than you may think based on the name of the recipe!

I am also going to make the crispy treats featured on this site (January 24th post) - great for lunch boxes, a pre or post workout snack or as a special after dinner treat for your kiddos! (I'll use a new find, Enjoy Life flex puffs, in place of crispy rice cereal).

Monday:  Baked chicken breasts with Saffron, Zucchini and Herb Couscous and roasted broccoli

Tuesday:  Baked Oatmeal

Wednesday:  Quinoa Casserole (slow cooker!) no almonds, no cheese, add garbanzo beans; salad

Thursday:  Italian Sausage Ragu served over Polenta (instead of pasta)
TIP:  Prepare pan of polenta and the sauce the night before.  Cut polenta into large squares and quickly pan fry to warm up before eating (while warming up the sauce).  If you are dairy free or would like a quicker ragu, just mix browned sausage with a jar of organic pasta sauce.

Friday:  Leftovers

Saturday: Out

Sunday:  Turkey Burgers with sweet mustard sauce and a veggie side

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Menu Plan Week of January 30th

It is hard to believe that we are wrapping up January!  In just a few months it will be spring again, which is so hard to believe.  I am already receiving some seed catalogs and seeing more friends on Facebook talking about gardening again.  It's so exciting to think about!  The reality is, we still have quite a few months left to hunker down here.

Something that I have become much more aware of whole foods that are in season and out of season.  In order to purchase organic food while staying on a budget, I try my best to purchase what is in season "locally" - I use this term loosely because if you buy produce in Minnesota this year, it more than likely comes from another part of the United States.  Challenge yourself to look at produce a little more closely next time you are shopping - where is it coming from?  What is the footprint that you are leaving on the environment by purchasing that produce?  Each of us can do a little something to make a difference!

On that note, here is my menu for this week!  (Note;  I am making my Sunday dinner on Monday this week, because we have leftovers that need to be eaten!)

Monday:  Crock Pot Whole Chicken with roasted veggies and salad
Tip:  Put this together in the crock pot the night before.  Cut veggies the night before and stick them in a ziploc bag.

Tuesday:  Breakfast for dinner: Pancakes, Sausage and fresh fruit
Tip:  Prepare dry ingredients for pancakes the night before, use precooked sausage and warm up in a frying pan (we like Applegate Farms)

Wednesday:  Bean Burgers with kale chips and brussel sprouts
Tip:  I may try blending the mix the night before and chilling until ready to make the burgers.  I think this would work nicely!  These are quick and easy to make!

Thursday:  Pot Roast Sandwiches (leftovers, just defrost!) with blue corn chips, fresh veggies and dip

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Zucchini roni pizza (this has been a favorite of ours since our college days!  Use jarred organic roasted peppers this time of year to save money); roasted broccoli and salad

Sunday:  Super Bowl!!!  Quesadilla Bar (Shrimp and Chorizo and Black Bean Sweet Potato) with tomatillo salsa, red salsa, and homemade guacamole. 
Tip:  I have a quesadilla maker - an awesome investment, as it makes the crispiest, restaurant-style quesadillas!  We love brown rice tortillas, they crisp up wonderfully, or Food For Life Sprouted Corn Tortillas.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Menu Plan Week of January 23rd

I am out of town but have a little time to plan my menu this morning!  Then I'll take my grocery list over to Lakewinds Online Shopping Service, enter my order and pick it up tomorrow.  Brilliant!  (This is a free service for orders over $75, and they do an awesome job shopping for everything that you need!) 

My menu plan:

Monday:  Spiced Roast Chicken Breast with crock pot wild rice (no almonds) and green beans
Tip:  Prep wild rice the night before

Tuesday: Spicy Moroccan Chickpeas  served over brown rice couscous

Wednesday:  Grass-fed burgers (from the freezer) with sweet potato fries and salad

Thursday:  Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables (I will not use much cheese in this - about 1/4 cup parmesan and 1/4 cup mozzarella) with salad

Friday:  Leftovers

Saturday:  Out

Sunday:  Crock Pot Whole chicken with broccoli and brown rice

Friday, January 20, 2012

My New Dehydrator!

I was lucky enough to receive a Excalibur dehydrator (5-tray) for a Christmas gift!  I never thought I'd be so excited about a dehydrator, but I am.  This is an incredibly versatile tool for raw and whole food preparation.  Dehydrated fruit, crispy nuts, energy bars, etc. can be prepared with very little "hands on" time!

I shared a wonderful recipe for homemade, allergy-free cereal with you back in November (see it here).  The one downfall to the recipe is that the buckwheat groats are very crunchy - my two year old was just old enough to handle how crunchy it is, but I probably would not have been able to serve it to him if he was any younger.

Enter my new dehydrator.  After scouring many, many blogs to soak up as much information and as many recipes as possible to use with my new dehydrator, I came across this post regarding buckwheat cereal prepared in the dehydrator.  I wondered if this would result in a more puff-like consistency for the groats, and it did!!  I also soaked and dehydrated raw sunflower seeds to add another layer of nutrition to this already wonderful cereal recipe.  (Read about why you would want to soak nuts and seeds here).

Note:  You can make this entire recipe without using a dehydrator.  See the recipe for details!

So, here is my updated version!  This recipe takes some patience but the whole process is almost all hands off.  You can use the buckwheat "puffs" on their own for breakfast, but this recipe is a fantastic nutritional powerhouse when you combine all of these ingredients together!

Updated Allergy-Free Granola/Cereal
(Thanks to Holly Larsen for the original recipe)

  • 1.5 cups soaked buckwheat groats (find these in the bulk section at your Co-op or Whole Foods)
  • 1.5 cups quinoa puffs (From Nuts Online - these are awesome, a great add-in for any granola recipe or as a cereal substitute on its own!  Be aware that the puffs are tiny - simply tiny puffed quinoa "grains")
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds (also found in the bulk section at your Co-op) *You can omit these and add in an additional 1 - 1.5 cups quinoa puffs!!
  • 4 tbls coconut oil
  • 1 tbls ground chia seeds mixed with 1/3 cup warm water (you can also find these in bulk!)
  • 30 drops vanilla stevia (find this in the baking aisle at Whole Foods or your Co-op - I use Sweetleaf Vanilla Creme)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch salt

Step 1:  Buckwheat Puffs and Crispy Sunflower Seeds
See this link for more information on buckwheat cereal.  Soak buckwheat groats in water overnight. Drain and rinse.  Add back to the glass bowl.jar and cover with water again.  Soak for another 8-12 hours or so.   Drain and Rinse.  Spread on parchment paper or a Paraflexx sheet in your dehydrator.

Soak sunflower seeds in water for 12-24 hours.  Drain and rinse.  Spread on parchment paper or a Paraflexx sheet in your dehydrator. 

Dehydrate both the buckwheat and the seeds at 115 degrees.  I started this process at 9:30 at night.  The buckwheat was ready by early morning - crunchy like a little puff cereal.  The seeds were ready in the early evening the next day (around 5:30) - just make sure they are dry and crunchy when you remove them!

NOTE:  If you do not have a dehydrator, follow the link I mentioned above (this link) for directions to puff the buckwheat in your oven.  You can mix roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds into the cereal at the end.  If they are salted, omit the salt in the recipe.

Step 2:  Make your cereal!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Let chia seeds soak in water and melt the coconut oil.  Add stevia to the chia seed mixture. Mix chia/stevia and coconut oil with buckwheat, sunflower seeds and quinoa puffs. Spread on parchment/Silpat lined sheet and bake 25 minutes stirring periodically. Cool completely and store in airtight container. 

You may add in dried fruit once it is cool or sprinkle it as desired right before eating. 

Serve like cereal or sprinkled on yogurt (one of my son's favorite breakfast meals).  This would be great as a snack all by itself! :)

Posted at:

Real Food, Allergy Free
Lunchbox Love Allergy Free Vintage Cookery

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Guest Post at "Real Kids Eat Spinach"!

Real Kids Eat SpinachThanks to Susan at Real Kids Eat Spinach, I had the opportunity to write a guest post and share another perspective on our journey to wellness after my son was diagnosed with food allergies.  I was so horoed to work with Susan on this - I am a HUGE fan of her blog.  Read the post here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Menu Plan Week of January 16th

idof-3I spent the weekend visiting family and friends in Milwaukee.  I had two six hour drives to burn through on my own so I took advantage and borrowed the book on CD entitled "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollen.  I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone interested in how the Western diet has evolved during the past century and some of the staggering statistics around how the Western diet correlates to so many of our modern diseases and disorders.  Finally, Pollen gives his readers many wonderful suggestions to implement a whole food approach to eating into our lives.  Borrow the book on CD or the book itself from your library, I guarantee that you will learn so much!

With that said, here is my whole foods centered menu plan!!  (We'll be out of town next weekend, so my menu plan is a bit short this week).

Monday:  Slow Cooker Chicken and Wild Rice Soup (without the cream base this time)

Tuesday:  Spaghetti with Lemon Basil and Salmon (sub brown rice noodles)

Wednesday:  Quinoa Burgers with spinach salad and cauliflower poppers

Thursday: Black Bean Sweet Potato Quesadillas

Friday: Out of town

Saturday:  Out of town

Sunday:  Out to dinner (our standard, Chipotle) :)

Check out orgjunkie's blog (Menu Plan Monday) for more menu plan inspiration!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wholesome (Kid-Friendly!) Snacks: Guest Post!

I am so excited to introduce Elevate Wellness' first guest blogger to all of you!  Susan at Real Kids Eat Spinach is by and far one of my favorite food bloggers!  She provides wonderful, wholesome recipes and menus that you can realistically implement into your repertoire. 

Below, she shares a little bit about her background, along with some delicious kid-friendly (and allergy-friendly) snack ideas.  I hear over and over again from all of you who have young children that snack time is the most challenging time of day....  I could not agree more!  In this post, Susan provides many suggestions to inspire you to stay on track with a healthy diet for you and your family during snack time! 

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to visit and share on Christina's blog! I am a single mother somewhat obsessed with nutrition who decided to extend that passion beyond my own kitchen (I'm sure to both of my kids' relief!)

While receiving my holistic health coach certification, I started a blog for my burgeoning business: Real Kids Eat Spinach. I am fortunate that neither of my children has of yet shown any food sensitivities or allergies. I usually cook, though, as if they do!

I personally follow a Paleo lifestyle, avoiding gluten, grains, soy and most dairy. On my site I always try to be mindful of the wide range of personalities, diets and needs out there. All of my recipes are labeled appropriately and I always try to offer substitutions and ideas for those who need to avoid nuts, eggs, and other allergens.

My main goal is to get parents and their kids eating real food. Natural sweeteners. No refined flours. Healthy fats. This can obviously be a challenge, especially when everyone is constantly on the go. I appreciate the value of convenient snack items; on my Facebook page I often suggest deals on healthier packaged items such as natural applesauce pouches and organic dried fruit.

You can't beat homemade snacks, though, for many reasons. They allow to know and control exactly what's going into the little mouths you're feeding. It can be cost effective to prepare healthy goodies, and a fun way to get your kids involved and excited about food.

It's great to maximize on the times kids seem to have an opinion or interest about making something. Having a helper makes the prep go by more quickly, and gets them very motivated to snack on their own creations! If you have a reluctant or disinterested crew, promise them samples for their hard work. I find chocolate chips and chopped apple are very good forms of payment.

If only my two were better at clean-up...

Homemade hummus is fantastic, as it can double as both an after school snack AND lunchbox standby. This version couldn't be easier or cheaper, as it omits the tahini and comes together quickly.

After once scorching an unwatched pot, I now always make my homemade applesauce in the crock pot. It's low maintenance and a great way to fill your kitchen with the best of comforting smells.

While perhaps not always portable, you can't beat a smoothie for quick, easy and customizable. I make green smoothies often, and *love* to use avocado to both thicken and boost the nutritional profile of my kids' frozen treats. Frozen banana chunks also do a great job of adding nice texture.

If you're a fan of helpful kitchen gadgets, a dehydrator and mandolin can both be useful for snack-making. The mandolin can cut perfect, thin slices of fruits and vegetables. Once dehydrated, you have your own naturally sweet chips!

I'm a baker at heart, though, so often make big batches of healthier muffins and bars. I have been known to put just about anything individually wrapped in the freezer, a good way to always have homemade options on hand.

A few of our recent favorites:
Vegan Zucchini Gingerbread Muffins (can also be made gluten-free and nut-free)
Almond Butter Krispie Squares (use sunflower seed butter to make them nut-free)
Flourless Pumpkin Brownies

Since baking is my passion I wanted to share an easy recipe that I've been tweaking, which offers a variety of customizations for your family's needs and personalities. They're a portable riff on granola, but without the grains and tons of sugar.

The granola balls shown are vegan but do contain nuts. I used maple syrup as my sweetener and an almond trifecta (flour, butter and raw almond pieces). As I've noted below, though, it is quite easy to make this recipe nut-free. I also made them more of a treat by using shredded coconut and unsweetened carob chips. These could be replaced with dried fruit or other nuts/seeds. In fact, if oats are not an issue for you they would obviously work in a granola-based recipe!

Granola Balls

½ cup raw sunflower seeds
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
½ cup flour of choice (brown rice, almond, spelt, whole wheat)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. sea salt
1 cup raw nuts of choice, chopped (sub more seeds or oats to make nut-free)
1/2 cup total of dried nuts, unsweetened shredded coconut, carob or chocolate chips
¼ cup plus 1-2 tbs. liquid sweetener of choice (maple syrup, raw honey, raw agave)
2 tbs. nut or sunflower seed butter
splash of non-dairy milk or water (use enough to help the dough come together)
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat liner.

In a food processor combine seeds, flour, cinnamon and salt. Pulse until the mixture comes together (will still be chunky).

Stir in whatever nuts, chips, etc you are using. To this mixture add the liquid ingredients. Using your greased hands or a wooden spoon, combine well.

Shape dough into tight balls about an inch across. Arrange on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

The balls will be soft but will set up once cooled. My girl likes them best warm, while her brother likes to wait for the crunch!

These can be stored in an air-tight container and also freeze well.

Thanks for reading and here's to happy, healthy snacking!

Posted at:
Traditional Food Tuesdays

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Menu Plan Week of 1/9

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend!  As some of you may have seen via my Facebook post at Just One Bite, I received an Excalibur Dehydrator for Christmas and could not be more excited about all of the possibilities!  I dried some fruit late this week (pineapple and banana) and it turned out wonderful.  What I am most excited about are all of the allergy-friendly foods I can make for my little guy that will also be delicious and nourishing for my husband and I.  I plan to make this recipe for energy bars in the next week or two - this one can be made without a dehydrator as well so check it out either way!  I will keep you updated as I try new dehydrator recipes in the coming months!

Here is my menu plan for this week:

Monday:  Pasta bake (I'll use homemade marinara from the freezer, spinach, brown rice noodles and crumbled Italian sausage with a little freshly grated Parmesan melted over it) with salad
Tip:  Make ahead and pop it in the oven when you return home!

Tuesday:  Pot Roast (grass fed beef roast... yum!) with a side of roasted broccoli
Tip:  Brown the meat the night before, dump all ingredients in the pot except for potatoes and broth (save those for the morning).  Plug the pot in and add potatoes and broth before heading out the door!)

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Vegetarian Mexican Lasagna with a salad (I will use about half the cheese that this calls for, no tomatoes and corn tortillas)
Tip:  You can prep this the night before, the tortillas will probably be a little soggy but they end up getting really soft in the crock pot anyway so shouldn't make a big difference.

Thursday:  Leftovers from Wednesday (I'll freeze Tuesday's leftovers for another meal)

Friday:  Out of town

Saturday:  Out of town

Sunday:  Grass fed beef burgers with roasted root vegetables (check out great recipes herehere and here) and salad

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Probiotic Power: Fermented Foods

As you look to kick 2012 off on the right foot, you may be thinking about improving your eating habits.  But have you thought even deeper than that?  If your gut is not in the right condition to properly digest all of the wholesome foods that you are eating, you most likely will not see the maximum benefit!  Probiotics and fermented foods are critical to the health of your gut.  They provide all of the beneficial bacteria that your gut needs to thrive.  This is especially important when you are battling illness or if you or someone in your family has allergies, asthma, or other ailments/conditions.  Almost any health condition that you may encounter can benefit from promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut through probiotics.

For a more detailed primer on fermented foods, check out Food Ranger's recent post here.
My family consumes probiotics in a variety of forms.  You may initially think of probiotics as powdered capsules that you ingest as part of a supplement regimen.  This is only one way to consume probiotics.  Fermented foods add yet another layer of "probiotic power" to your families' diet. 

For a a great primer on fermented foods, check out Food Ranger's recent post here.
As we have implemented whole food forms of probiotics (i.e. fermented foods) into our daily regimen, we have seen significant benefits including stronger immune systems (and the ability to fend off colds and flus without the use of medication) and dramatic improvements to our overall digestive health (especially for my little guy)! 

In the long term, fermented foods and probiotics can be a significant component in healing your gut, which in some cases can eliminate food sensitivities and even help children and adults overcome food allergies!

Here are a few of the fermented foods/beverages that I have implemented into my family's diet:

Tula's CocoKefir:  This is a favorite in our family!  This incredibly tasty beverage packs a major probiotic punch - my two year old started with one teaspoon of this beverage each day and has worked his way up to about 1/4 cup (a little bit with each meal).  This is a wonderful compliment to powdered probiotic supplements because it will introduce all sorts of new, good bacteria into your gut.  You can read about the incredible story behind this product here.  (The founders, Holly and Michael, are mom and dad to Tula.  They used coconut kefir as part of a dietary regimen that significantly contributed to Tula's recovery from autism.  It is worth a read!!!)  They distribute across the country, but you can find it locally at Lunds/Byerly's, Kowalskis, and most co-ops. 

Sauerkraut:  I recently had the opportunity to make the jar of homemade sauerkraut you see to the left- it was my first try and I am really happy with the results.  You can find a huge selection of recipes online.  I recently ran across this one and will be trying it next time!  For my first try, I used a veggie starter culture which felt a little "safer" to me than using only salt, but I think the results with salt would be better!  Consume 1-3 teaspoons of this with meals for improved digestion and more probiotic power.

Bubbies Pickles:  This is an even easier way to implement fermented foods into your diet!  You can find Bubbies pickles and sauerkraut at local co-ops or Whole Foods. These pickles are on the pricey side (a little under $6.00 for this large 33 oz jar) but worth every penny!  My little guy and I eat at least half of one of these pickles each at one mealtime each day (I will usually either have a half of a pickle or 2 teaspoons of sauerkraut).  These pickles are made without vinegar and are hands down the best pickles I have ever eaten! 

Water Kefir:  See more about my experience making water kefir here.  I make batches of water kefir on and off during the year.  When I am not using the cultures, I keep them in sugar water in the fridge.  You can even make water kefir soda once you have fermented the beverage, it is delicious!  We usually flavor our water kefir with frozen fruit (once fermented, add some frozen fruit and place in the fridge overnight.  Strain the next day and you will have a yummy fruit-flavored beverage).

Re-posted at:
day2day joys
Allergy-Free Vintage Cookery