As moms we’ve all been there. Dishing up our kids’ plates for dinner, putting those bright green broccoli florets on their plates, only to watch them stay on the plate and not get touched during dinner. Even with the utmost bribery of ice cream, your kids will NOT eat anything green on their plate, looking at us like we must be joking.
I know, I know, kids aren’t supposed to like their veggies, and we as parents just want something in their bellies, even if it isn’t the best thing for them. But as moms, sometimes we need to be creative when it comes to getting our kids to eat foods that aren’t macaroni and cheese, as creative as we are when it comes to getting them to clean up their toys or brush their teeth. And the ultimate goal is that eventually our kids will love their veggies and choose them over cookies! Ok, whoa, let’s not go too far here….😝
Tip # 1: Make Vegetables the Only Food Option When Kids Are Hungry<<<<
The perfect time for this is while you’re making dinner, leave a bowl or plate full of veggies out on the counter and the kids will just gobble them up. Or grab them as their walking (running by). When it’s the only option available, it helps with temptation of other foods. And if they are truly hungry, they’ll eat them.
Tip #2: Make Eating Vegetables Fun! <<<<
It’s no coincidence that I’m writing this post while my kids devour a Costco sized bag of carrots by the handfuls….while eating them on the couch. I never let my kids eat on the couch, unless it’s their veggies (and popcorn on movie nights). There’s something freeing about leaving the table and eating on the couch. I also bring tubs of veggies in the car and let the kids hold them and play car games. Buying food portion plates with pictures on them is also fun for the kids and it teaches them what they should be eating the most of and the least. Let them dish up their plates and choose which veggies they want by the pictures on the plate.
Tip #3: Give Them the Option
One of the greatest things I’ve learned as a parent is that kids looovve to make their own decisions, all of the decisions actually. If it’s snack time, instead of just putting a plate of broccoli out in front of them and hope for the best, ask them what they would prefer, give them two options to choose from and let them make the decision, For example, ask them “should we have broccoli or carrots with our snack?” and letting them make the choice can actually excite them, like they are choosing their food. But be specific with your choices, don’t just say “what veggies do you want today”, as that leaves room for the age old “I don’t want vegetables moooooom!”. Be specific and let them choose.
Tip #4: When All Else Fails, Sneak Them In!
This is not really a tip, more like an affirmation that I, like so many other moms out there, live by. It’s so easy, and sometimes the only way to get veggies into my kids’ diet some days, as life does get crazy. Here are some ways I find that work for my kids. Smoothies-big one. Grab a couple giant handfuls of spinach and add them to fresh fruit, and bam, mega nutrients. Also, frozen purreed veggies (I freeze mine in ice cube trays so it’s easily accessible), works wonderful in sneaking them into pancake batters, sauces, soups, even smoothies. Last, if you have some limp kale, cook it slowly in your oven on a low heat and dry it out. Then process it into a super food powder and add it to pretty much any entree for some extra nutrients.
Ok, I work in a hospital. And I loooovvveee my job. We are a level one trauma center, which means we get a lot of different, serious, life threatening traumas and I get to see a lot of stuff. Pretty awesome. And we also have the best neuro facility and team in the region. That’s kind of a big deal. Those are two things my hospital is known for. What we aren’t known for, however, is the food. Sure we have a decent salad bar in our cafe and Monday mac n’ cheese has become pretty legendary throughout the hospital staff. And we have a pretty tasty coffee shop with a wide variety of organic and plant based items to choose from. But that’s it. Hospitals are not known for their food, the exact opposite actually. Patients will ask family members to bring them outside food sometimes because there’s only so many times a person can have turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes. And that hospital coffee….oh man. It’s a far cry from Starbucks, or even Foldgers. 😂 It’s just not something hospitals thrive to achieve to have; a good, tasty menu. There is one hospital however, in Castle Rock, CO that people actually go to because of its food. People who aren’t even patients go to this hospital on a daily basis just to eat there. Well, to eat at the restaurant inside of the hospital. Until recently, I had never heard of such a thing, a full service restaurant inside of a hospital. Inside of Airports, sure. Inside of Malls and sports arenas, absolutely. But inside of a hospital? That’s a new one.
Castle Rock Adventist Hospital houses one of Colorado’s most unique restaurants, called Manna Restaurant. Founded by award winning chef, Chef Dan Skay and Johnson and Wales culinary grad, Chef Adam Freisem, Manna practices a farm to table mentality, using whatever is in season in Colorado. A quote from the restaurant’s website: “Reflecting Colorado’s growing season and featuring the best our region has to offer. We suppprt humane, sustainable and responsible farming practices, even from our own garden. For the simple fact-local food, raised and produced by people who care, is better”. Manna Restaurant partners with farmers, bakeries and coffee vendors throughout the state of Colorado, supporting local businesses and using what is produced in Colorado to operate their restaurant. Businesses like Busy Bee Honey Farm, Best Buddies Bakery, Coda Coffee, Growers Organic, and Jumping Goat Dairy Farm, to name a few!
The biblical history behind manna is that manna is the food that God provided the Israelites on their travels in the desert during the 40 year period following the Exodus. He provided just enough to eat each day, and a double portion was given to them on the Sabbath. Some refer to manna as a flaky, miraculous food. And the motto behind Manna Restaurant is that they are bringing God’s bounty to the table. Being that Castle Rock Adventist is a Christian, not for profit hospital, so is Manna Restaurant. Every tip that is given to the servers that work at Manna, is given to their wellness foundation, and they donate that money to a different charity every month. Being not for profit allows Manna to keep their menu prices low, and provide good, wholesome, whole food to hospital families and anyone else who wanders into their restaurant, because how many people say, “hey do you want to go to the hospital for dinner tonight?!”
The restaurant is striving to provide a healthy food option for not only the patients in the hospital, but for the community around them. A lot of hospitals work towards providing healthy food options for their patients, but still end up with a lot of processed foods on their menus, as well foods that have very little nutrients. Manna’s menu is full of nutrient-dense food options, something our bodies need to heal, and stay healthy. I commend them for what they are doing!
Now, to the restaurant….
As you enter thru the main enterance of the hospital, the restaurant is on the left. The restaurant itself is a bit different: you walk into Manna Market, where there’s a small coffee shop, and their salad bar.
The salad bar is unique in the fact that most of the items on the salad bar were homemade, including stuffed grape leaves 🤗.
There was also a plethora of healthy, organic “to-go” foods in Manna Market, from bottled smoothies, chips and salads, to sandwiches and their homemade wood fire pizza by the slice.
To the left of the enterance is their dining room, which is seat yourself. And there’s also a handful of chairs at an open kitchen counter, where you can sit and eat, while watching the cooks in action. That’s where my husband and I chose to sit!
Ok, now on to the food! I cannot tell you how unique Manna’s menu was! This menu, at first glance, has a fine dining quality to it. From sushi grade appetizers, to lamb burgers and carmelized plantines with avocado crema. Manna’s menu is unique and creative, offering food options made with ingredients from the earth, and from scratch. They even had homemade ketchup and mustard on the table! And, hands down, it was the most tasty ketchup and mustard I’ve ever had. And I used to liveon ketchup growing up.😉
I started my Manna experience with a bowl of chilled strawberry and coconut soup. It was so creamy and sweet, with a touch of cinnamon. And the flavor of the strawberry reminded me so much of summertime. I bought two bowls to take home to feed to my kids for breakfast the next morning. It was sooooo good.
Dinner options were out of this world. Wood fire pizzas, house made burgers, and more traditional meaty options like ribs, lamb and fish. I went for one of their burgers, The Forager. Made with Hazel Dell mushrooms, potatoes and wild rice, this burger is easily in my top 5 veggie burgers of all time. I had to “alter” the burger, because of what I saw came with the burger listed right above it on the menu. The burger was a lamb burger, topped with spicy blueberry relish and goat cheese. I add to have that relish on my mushroom and potato burger. And the chefs weren’t surprised in the least that I asked for it, they say it happens often. The blueberry relish was very flavorful, sweet with a little kick. The sweetness of it, and the tartness of the goat cheese, added another dimension of delish to my peppery, startchy, falling apart mess of a burger. I’ll say it again, one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.
The bun to burger ratio was perfect , and I had to try their shoe string fries with their homemade ketchup and mustard. Who would have thought this tasty food would be in a hospital??
I was too full for dessert, but I got it anyway…🤗😋 I know, I know, you shouldn’t eat when you’re full, it I was very curious about their pea cake dessert. Yes, you read it right, pea cake. And yes, it was indeed made from peas. And it was green! It wasn’t too sweet, but did have a nice cake texture to it. If it doesn’t sound too hippie of me to say, the pea cake really had an earthy taste to it, not like other vegan cakes I’ve had. Served with candied pistachios and pea shoots in a bed of vanilla sauce, it really was the perfect end to my meal. I mean, who doesn’t make their cakes with peas??
If you’re in the area of Castle Rock and are in need of a good, wholesome meal, venture in to Castle Rock Adventist Hospital and give Manna Restaurant a try. You will be so happy you did!
I have to say, trying to find a true vegan restaurant in Cincinnati was very, very tough. As in, there aren’t any, well downtown that is. And does someone who eats a vegan diet have to only eat at vegan restaurants? No, of course not. In fact, I know vegans who regular steak houses because they have amazing baked potatoes, sweet potatoes and salads. So regular in fact, that the owners and wait staff are on a first name basis with them. But, I write a vegan blog, and my whole purpose in traveling to other cities is to find those hidden gems in the cities I travel to, not the typical places that exist around the country; the Chipotle’s and Tokyo Joe’s if you will. We all know those establishments are great places to eat and have good options for those who eat vegetarian and vegan. But I want to find the places that are either hidden in the city or aren’t obvious choices for plant based food.
So what did I find in Cincinnati? I learned that Graeter’s Ice Cream and LaRosa’s Pizza are pretty much city staples. And well, honestly, people here in Cincinnati love their meat! They are very serious about. So many award winning steak houses around the city, not to mention Cincinnati Chili (for those unfamiliar with what Cincinnati Chili is, as I was until a couple of months ago, it’s basically chili poured over spaghetti noodles. Make it a 3 way by adding diced onions and grated cheddar cheese). And there are quite a number of pig statues around in the restaurants as well, which I learned is to recall Cincinnati’s annual Flying Pig Marathon and the city’s’ nickname of “Porkopolis”. The city’s nickname dates back from the mid 19th century, when the Cincinnati meat packing industry led the country. There is an actual historical importance of the pig industry in this city.
I know vegetable eaters probably don’t care much about that fact, but it is a big part of this city’s history and I felt like I needed to share it. We can’t ignore a part of history just because we don’t like or approve of it. However, healthier, plant based options and restaurants are creeping their way into the city of Cincinnati.
Restaurants like Melt, which is dubbed a humble yet hip spot delivering health-oriented sandwiches, salads & entrees with a global bent, are making a statement with their food. Every local I asked about where to find vegan food pointed me to Melt. This is the place to go if you want that vegan Cincinnati Chili. They offer a fabulous black bean chili that they make in house-with chocolate and all! They also have an incredible vegan mac n’ cheese and offer alternative proteins like tempeh and seitan. Even though they serve meat and dairy cheeses as well, they are building a name for themselves as the “vegan’s place the eat” in downtown Cincinnati. With now 2 locations, find them on the north side of town or at their new location in the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC).
I ate at a restaurant called Kaze (pronounced Ka-zay), that was a Japanese Sushi Bar/gastro pub/beer garden, located in OTR. That type of restaurant is new to Cincinnati. But they had a fabulous roasted vegetable bowl with rice and miso butter. It was loaded with fresh veggies like red potato, mushrooms, broccoli , brussel sprouts, carrots, seaweed, radish, green beans and celery. It was to die for. And enormous, I couldn’t eat all of it. But I gave it my all that’s for sure. 😂They also had a few selections for vegetarian sushi. I had the kito roll, which was sweet potato, asparagus and avocado. And instead of using soy sauce and wasabi to eat it with, the chef provides a chimichuri sauce with this particular roll. So yummy!! I wish I would have ordered more….
If you’re looking for a light lunch with a more urban feel to it, check out the Coffee Emporium, a neat coffee shop located at the south side of OTR. Phenomenal coffee, ☕️ as they roast their own beans in house and have dozens of varieties. My brother in law would love this coffee shop!
I had an iced coffee and the rich flavor it had was out of this world. It was very refreshing. They also have hummus pita sliders, pitas topped with hummus, sliced tomato and sliced green apple. I never would have thought to combine hummus and apple but it worked really well. Hats off to whoever has thought of that!
My last night in Cincinnati, I ate at a place called Maplewood Kitchen and Bar. Located right by my hotel in the Central Business District, it was kind of an accident that I stumbled upon it. But happy that I did. Known for their extensive brunch menu, Maplewood Kitchen has a sit down restaurant feel to it, but you actually walk in, order your food then sit down. The bartender said that it just helps the whole place run smoother, especially mid week when all the business folk have to eat and get back to work after lunch in a timely manner. I sat at the bar however, where it can be full service if that’s what you desire. I am really enjoying sitting at the bar, because being a party of one it’s a less awkward place to sit and you can socialize with others around you if you want to, or not! There are no set rules. Plus, they keep the wine at the bar…..
The Maplewood Kitchen has a fabulous power bowl with quinoa and farro, avocado, tomatoes, beets, crunchy green beans, grilled corn on the cob, and arugula. For you vegetarians out there, they can add two poached eggs to it if you like. This bowl was crunchy, filling and satisfying. It had amazing flavor too, with a slight hint of pepper in every bite to give it some kick.
I also ordered their wild mushroom toast with whipped goat cheese, but they were out of it. So I settled for their tomato toast. It was extremely creamy and tasty, especially with that tang of goat cheese mixed with the juice from the tomatoes. Num! Tomatoes are a good second to mushrooms.😝
There is a pizza place that I was trying to get to, but because of the holiday weekend it was closed multiple days. The Kitchen Factory, formally known as Northslice Pizza, serves traditional New York style pizza by the slice or whole pies. But they also have a vegan menu, offering vegan pizza, vegan meatballs and their own vegan mac n’ cheese. So if your ever in the mood for pizza and in the north side of town, give The Kitchen Factoy a try. They have late night hours with a late night menu as well.
Guys, The Findlay Market in OTR is an awesome Farmer’s Market! It is Cincinnati’s only surviving municipal market house, and oldest market to the state of Ohio. The market is built on land donated to the city of Cincinnati by the estate of General James Findlay. The market house bell, rung at the start of each market day, was brought from Cincinnati’s Pearl Street Market when the facility was torn down in 1934. The Findlay Market has been renovated at least 4 times since its erection in 1855. There’s your history lesson for the day! Yay!
The market about a block wide, with a long, enclosed building that houses dozens of local Cincinnati vendors: from meats and cheeses, made from scratch spices and fresh pastas, bakeries, prepared foods like pizza, Indian and Thai foods, and prepared salads. It was really cool, with tables provided throughout so people can come and eat lunch while they shop.
On the south side of the market, are older buildings, houses turned businsees with a lot of local shops in them. From smaller grocery stores, to bake shops and holistic therapies, there was something for everyone there.
On the north side, outside under white tents, is where all the magic happens: this is where all of the fresh fruits and veggies were.
I realized that I didn’t have any food with me in my hotel for snacks or supplementation. I bought a “bag” of assorted apples of my choosing for $5. Pixie Crunch Apples, Susie Apples, Paduchah Aplles to name a few. And they tasted so fresh, crispy and sweet (I have already had like 3). I bought the apples from Niemeyer Farm, local husband and wife farmers here in Cincinnati. As it turns out, they have hundreds of apple trees, with over 80 apple varieties. Who knew there are so many variations of apples!?? One apple they have, has the skin of a russet potato, but the inside is a sweet, crisp, intense apple flavor. I haven’t had an apple quite like that one!
I spoke with them for a few minutes, really kind people. I told them I am a huge foodie, and turns out they were too! The wife plays around with all kinds of recipes, mostly using the produce from their farm. People come to her at the market needing recipes for a certain dish and she’s right there to help them. She had folders full of recipes.
The apple farmer introduced me to the EMC, The Epicurean Merchantile CO. Located just to the east of the market, the EMC is an organic grocery store, selling all kinds of organic produce and packaged foods, reminded me of a smaller Whole Foods. I bought a package of rainbow carrots.
To the back is their in-house restaurant, more of a deli, called The Counter. Locals to the market say it’s a must try.
The owners of the EMC also had a spot in the enclosed building in the Market, called The Fresh Table. Ironically, they were on my list of vendors to visit! Small world eh? That a random apple farmer would point me in their direction not knowing I wanted to visit them. They had dozens of prepared salads, all house made with organic ingredients. I bought their black bean and corn salad with lime cilantro sauce and their lentil salad with pistachio. The lentil salad is very peppery and spicy, really good flavor. It has pistachios and dried fruit, really really delicious. I immediately called my hotel and asked for a fridge in my room after this venture.
I was very happy I made the trip up to Findlay Market, even in the rain! I love Farmer’s Markets. The culture that they bring, and the awareness that so many local farmers, businesses and entrepeneurs are trying to make their way in your community. If you’re out and about and see a local farmer’s maret, stop by! Support the small businsses in your community. And if your local to Cincinnati, make the Findlay Market a regualr stop for your shopping list.
More to come on my Cincinnati weekend! And thanks for the read
Oh this last weekend was busy! Company, work, more company and a going away party for our former pastor and his family, as they are moving on to the next chapter in their lives: to be missionaries in Marseille, France. The party was held at our old church in Brighton, CO, and it made venturing back up there bittersweet. The church building looked amazing, and being there brought back a lot of memories. But seeing all of the people we used to go to church with, was worth the drive for sure. The dinner was a potluck, and I signed up to bring a salad. I was going to bring my go to kale salad, but as I got my kale out to make the salad 20 minutes before we had to leave, I noticed it was bad. And I had no other greens to make a full salad. Soooooo now what??? I looked in my pantry and found the perfect solution: I could make a pasta salad. But the only noodles I had that weren’t spaghetti noodles, were either red lentil noodles or black bean noodles from Trader Joe’s. I went with the red lentil noodles, and with a little creativity (and what some may call their kitchen sink) I through this bad boy together. I was very happy with the noodles, as they already had a slight peppery taste, perfect for a pasta salad. Yum!!
Cook the red lentil pasta according to the instructions on the package and rinse with cold water to cool. Do not over cook. Then, add chopped cucumbers, radishes, carrot peels, one can sliced black olives, and chopped fresh cilantro and parsley.
Mix up your salad dressing (olive oil, apple cider vinegar, agave nectar, lemon juice from one lemon and two garlic cloves, pressed). Add dressing to salad and toss to combine, making sure all of the noodles are covered with the dressing. Nothing worse than a dry noodle!
After you toss your salad with the dressing, add your last ingredient. Your secret ingredient….baby arugula. Bam!!! Arugula just adds another dimension to this salad. With the noodles having a slight peppery taste, the arugula compliments this salad well, and really adds to the flavor of the fresh herbs hiding in the background of this salad. And the pucker tartness from the vinegar and lemon juice in the dressing, mixed with the noodles and crunch from the cucumber, really made this salad refreshing and flavorful.
Red Lentil Pasta Salad- Gluten Free! Serves 6:
1 bag red lentil pasta from Trader Joe’s
1-4 ounce can sliced black olives
1 cucumber chopped
4 radishes sliced
2 large carrots peeled
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 handfuls of baby arugula
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 TBS olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
1 TBS agave nectar
2 garlic cloves, pressed
Cook the red lentil noodles according to the package. Do not over cook. Drain and rinse with cold water to chill noodles. Put noodles in a large mixing bowl.
Add olives, cucumber, radishes, carrots, chopped cilantro and parsley.
Mix dressing ingredients in a mason jar, then toss with salad well to combine.
Ok, so it’s the end of July. It’s hot, kids are starting to get bored, and moms are getting, well, anxious for school start. Which for us, is about 3 weeks away….so why not think about how to reorganize life when the little “monsters” go back to school?? Yes, we mom’s long for the days when the house is quiet again, and we have the “me time” we seem to have less of during those warm, summer days. But, with those quiet days, come the hectic evening schedules…sports, after school activities, youth group, band practices; all the coming and going from “thing to thing”. And the craziness leaves a lot of moms feeling unorganized around meal time, asking the age old question: “what’s for dinner?” I find that if I don’t plan ahead, have my meals planned out and ingredients bought, we are hitting Chipotle or Panera Bread for dinner, or even ordering pizza. And as yummy as those places are, it shouldn’t be our go to meal during our busy season.
I am a list maker. I make lists for everything. I feel a huge accomplishment in my days when I can cross something off of a list. Lately, I have been making a to do list at the beginning of the week, listing all of my chores, food prep and meals I need to make for the week. I keep it on the counter right next to the coffee pot (the fuel to power my madness). And each day, I cross off a few items, and by the end of the week, my house is clean (well mostly, I’m not superwoman), my meals are made, food is prepped and a relaxing weekend awaits. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of life worked out so wonderfully? At the mercy of lists?
Meal planning has been one of the legs I stand on in life. It’s helped me learn to just buy only the ingredients I need for those meals and not over spend….okay sometimes (most of the time) I indulge in some kind of chocolate, but that’s neither here nor there. One thing I have found is that, for me, the more simple my meals are, the more likely I am to make them on a regular basis. Rice and beans, for example, is a very simple thing to make, and have in my pantry on a regular basis. Something else that works well for my family, is making meals that I know my kids will eat. Why add the stress of making something for dinner you know your kids will push away and not eat? Now I’m not saying to make a week of chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese and pizza for dinner, no sir! But if your kids like, oh spaghetti for example, make a point to keep a back stock of noodles and sauce in your arsenal of food, for those busy nights you need a 10 minute miracle dinner. Make life easy on you, while you are still keeping your kiddos fed with healthy, home cooked meals.
When planning out my meals for the week, I again, make a list! Also, I find what works for me is to plan out meals for the whole month. What?!! I bet you’re thinking I’m crazy, how can I plan out 30 meals ahead of time?? I mean, how much time do I have??? Well, not much, I promise you. But what if I told you I only plan out meals for one week, 7 days, and repeated those meals for the month?? It doesn’t sound so hard now, right? It almost sounds doable… Well, that is how I plan my meals, I figure out a week’s worth of easy, healthy and sometimes fun meals for dinner, and stick to it on a weekly basis for about a month or so, which is usually when we are all sick of them and we are forced to move on!
Now, the only way that this type of meal planning works, is if you pick meals that are easy to make, and most importantly, meals that you enjoy. Dinner becomes very stressful real quick when you have hungry young, kids who refuse to eat what is on their plates. Too many nights have been spent in my house teaching kids to eat what’s on their plates. So I try and cook what I know they will eat, and go from there. Busy ,week night dinners are also not the time to make a 50 step, 20 Ingredient dinner. You will make it once, and cry because you had to cook it while juggling homework, kids arguing, bottom wiping and diaper changing. No way. Save those meals for when your husband is home and he can man the battle station while you cook with ease…and a glass of wine 😝. Busy weeknight meals should consist of 1-2 crockpot OR pressure cooker meals, you know that new contraption that can cook any meal in 3.5 seconds?? Teehee SIDE NOTE: about presssure cookers, who doesn’t think of the scene from Back to the Future II, when the future McFlys “hydrate” a pizza in their super machine in like 10 seconds… while cooking with their pressure cooker? I know I do, and chuckle. Bah! Ok, back to work… Next, your weekly meal plan should also include at least one maximum of 5 Ingredients meal, something simple, healthy and yummy. This is where rice and beans come in for us. Rice, beans, salsa, avocado and done! Next, utilize your leftovers! Intentionally make more food so the hubby can have lunch the next day or two at work, or plan a leftover night to devour what you’ve made throughout the week. That’s less cooking for you! Lastly, plan for one night a week eating out. Trust me, if you don’t plan to eat out, odds are that that’s all you’ll do because you’ll need that break. But if it’s planned, you have something to look forward to, and you know that break is coming. Ok, lets meal plan!
One Month of Meals:
Breakfast and lunch are usually some variation of the same meals, everyday, 7 days a week. That way, I know exactly what to buy at the store, and know every morning what my kids are having for breakfast, and what I’m packing for school lunch. No frantic pantry search, just an easy morning (hopefully). Every now and then, I’ll pack something special in their school lunch, or buy muffins for breakfast (gasp!), but those times don’t happen often.
Breakfast: Oatmeal with dried fruit and honey, and bowl of fresh fruit
*weekends only: cereal with almond milk OR homemade pancakes. My kiddos like the pumpkin seed, flax and granola cereal from Nature Valley at Costco. And I buy Coaches Oats from Costco as well. I buy 2 bags at a time to keep my pantry stocked for a while.
Lunch: Sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly/or honey, OR veggie sandwiches), veggies and fruit
I start my meal plan on Saturdays for a couple of reasons: I do my shopping on Fridays, and we get paid on Friday, so my grocery budget resets. It’s just easier for me to have meals start when the budget starts.
Saturday: Pressure Cooker/Crockpot Meal OR Freezer Meal *
Sunday: Pecan “Meatballs” with Sweet and Sour Sauce
Monday: Rice and Beans
Tuesday : New Recipe Night!**
Wednesday: Rice and Beans
Thursday: Pressure Cooker/Crockpot Meal OR Freezer Meal
Friday: Eat out!
*Freezer Meals, along with crockpot meals, should be a staple in any busy mom’s meal plan. They help relieve the stress of cooking, and are always a good option when you need that quick, go to healthy meal. I utilize frozen meals on nights I have to work. They work perfect for me when I’m tired or if the hubby is in charge of dinner. If you can, try and find meals that freeze and cook in your crockpot when you’re ready to use them. Here’s a good freezer meal resource. A lot of the meals that you already make on a regular basis; soups, pancakes, burgers, casseroles, even vegan “meatballs” can be made in advance and frozen for later use. I usually pick a meal or two I like to make, triple the recipe and make it for dinner one night, while freezing the other two portions. Or pick a weekend day and spend an hour or two prepping freezer meals. Whatever works best for you! Sure does help this busy mom to have freezer inventory!
**Tuesday night is the one night of the week that we don’t have anything going on; no sports, church, work, school activities and such. It’s the perfect night for me to try out a new recipe! And who knows, I may find a new family staple to add to the meal plan 😉 I don’t do this type of thing with every meal plan, but some days I need a change and to try something new.
I stick my meal plan on the fridge, right next to my chores list and under my grocery list. 😝🤗 they should all really be together, don’t you think??
I hope this helps all of the busy moms out there, or at least gives you an idea of how to start meal planning. It is so worth it to have meals planned out for those busy times in life!
Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart.
Ok, I’ve got to spill the beans about a company here in Denver, CO: Plant Based Kitchen. Founded by Chef Kelley Williamson, back in 2013, this gem has been offering cooking demonstrations all over the Denver Metro area. I have attended a few of them, at Whole Foods, Natural Grocers and local companies in my town of Parker. I have tasted her yummy nummy foods, made from recipes that she’s created, and I usually can’t wait to get home and make them myself (note to reader: her tofu ricotta is outta this world good!). She also offers cooking classes, open to the public for a very low cost. Offered in a very intimate setting, in the kitchen of a local church, only 12 people can participate in a class at a time. These classes offer the chance to cook with Chef Kelley, and make her recipes, while eating, conversing and just enjoying the company of other food enthusiasts. Did I mention you get to eat yummy food while in these classes?? Teehee 😝 Chef Kelley specializes in plant based recipes, and partners with Jerry Casados, a plant based nutritionist that offers advice and education at her demos and classes.
This past weekend, I attended my first cooking class of Chef Kelley’s. The theme: Freezer Friendly Meals. Having never been to one of her classes, I didn’t know what to expect. I walked into the kitchen of the church, and I immediately had butterflies; the kitchen and set up were a dream!
12 of us were all gathered around the kitchen’s center chop block, met with our own knives and recipes.
And in the middle of the table, was a large bowl of berries and Chef Kelley’s coffee cake. It was gorgeous! And yes, we did get to eat it. Devour it, I mean 😋
With 5 recipes to make and only 2 1/2 hours to make them, the 12 of us divided into 5 groups of 2-3 people and each group made one recipe. My group made Good Morning Muffins, which were loaded with fresh cut apples and carrots, dates and chopped nuts…oh yum!
We had to make enough food for everyone to taste it in the class, as well as enough to take home with us. So we quadrupled the recipes. Every recipe was vegan, plant based, salt and oil free. We all had a lot of fun navigating a kitchen we’ve never been in before, and making recipes that we had never made. We joked, asked a lot of questions about food, health and wellness with Jerry, and got to know one another a little bit. It was a really good time!
With a 1/2 an hour left, we all sat down and enjoyed the food we created. We discussed our experiences making them, as well as complimenting one another on a job well done. We all had our faves of what was made of course (mine was the cowboy lasagne: layers of beans, fresh veggies and cashew cream with a fresh garlic bite….drooolllll), but all in all every recipe was a hit. We all got to take leftovers home to share, or save for a midnight snack. 😝 I gave my muffins to my kiddos for an afternoon snack. They didn’t last long.
I had never been to something like this before and was really glad that I went! If you’re ever in the mood to eat some good food, learn a few new recipes or try your cooking skills out with Chef Kelley, look up Plant Based Kitchen and attend a class. Chef Kelley does not disappoint!
Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart.
There’s a restaurant in Denver, CO called True Food Kitchen. It’s exactly what the name suggests, they serve real food, from sustainable ingredients. They are a non- GMO facility and their food is mostly local and based on season. Needless to say, it’s a real gem in the Cherry Creek community!
They have a salad on their menu, a shredded kale salad, that is really, really, tasty. It is mostly ordered as a side salad, or before the entree salad, but I believe you can order a meal portion as well. The salad is made with shredded kale, and is tossed with parmesan cheese and a lemon vinaigrette. Seriously, amazing. One of the best kale salads I’ve had in a restaurant hands down. The zest from the lemon hits your tongue almost instantly and the crunch of the kale and saltiness from the cheese leave you wanting more and more. Yum. I’ve seen copycat versions of this salad on the internet and they actually come pretty close to the real deal. But I have my own I’d like to share with you. It’s not exactly like the masterpiece at True Food Kitchen, but let’s just say it’s inspired by it!
First, we need our kale. I say this because there’s so many kinds of kale out there, that picking which one to use for a shredded kale salad is important. Lacinato Kale aka dinosaur kale is my fave for this salad. It gives you the perfect shred. Depending on the size of salad you’re making, you will need anywhere from 2 to 4 bunches of kale. The nice thing about this salad is that your cuts don’t have t be perfect. Shredding your kale can be messy, neat, long ways or short ways, whatever suits you. No one will know!
For contrast, I usually will had some chopped romaine lettuce or baby spinach, to help create a fuller salad, and of course get more greens into it!
After you shred your kale, make your dressing. I use about a tablespoon of olive oil to balance out my balsamic vinegar, a squeeze of agave nectar and juice from 1-2 oranges. Don’t you just love my exact measurements!!?? The amount of dressing you make will depend on the size of salad you have, so the amount is really up to you.
I know True Food Kitchen uses a lemon vinaigrette for their salad, and yes it is yummy, but I find that orange goes better with balsamic vinegar and lemon goes better with rice or apple cider vinegar. Just my taste.
Toss the kale with the dressing and massage it for a good 2 minutes. The acidity from the balsamic vinegar will actually help break down the kale and make it softer to chew.
After massaging the kale, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours, but no longer. You want soft kale, not soggy kale!
Now here comes the exciting part to the salad, the cheese/nut crumble. The salad at True Food Kitchen uses parmesean cheese; we are going to make a vegan nut crumble that will mimic the taste of cheese. And we will do that with 3 lovely ingredients: nuts (pecans work best, but walnuts would work well too), nutritional yeast and a touch of olive oil to help bind the two.
Blend them up in your food processor until fine. I got the idea from this kale salad recipe. It’s really simple and adds amazing flavor to the salad.
We are almost done! When ready to serve the salad, top the kale with the cheese/nut crumble and dried craisins, or raisins work really well too. I almost like them better than the craisins myself.
This salad is a good option for a potluck, dinner parties or Tuesday salad night. Hope you like it!
Shredded Kale Salad with Citrus Vinigarette
2-4 bunches of lacinato kale
1/2 cup craisins or raisins
Cheese Nut Crumble:
1 cup of pecans
1 TBS olive oil
2-3 TBS nutritional yeast
1 TBS olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Juice from 2 oranges
Squeeze of agaves nectar, or other liquid sweetener
Shred your kale
Make your dressing and toss kale, massaging the kale for 2 minutes to soften it up. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.
Make your nut crumble by placing all ingredients into a food processor and grind 15 to 30 seconds. You want the nuts somewhat fine, but still have some texture.
When ready to serve the salad, top kale with nut crumble and craisins. Enjoy!
NOTE: add dimension that your salad by adding a couple heads of romaine or baby spinach. Do not, however, add the extra greens until ready to serve the salad, as they will get too soggy sitting in the dressing for 3 hours.