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.
I made the mistake of letting my kids try meatballs made with beef and now every time I make spaghetti they’re asking for the “non-healthy” meatballs. And I watch as their hopes and dreams vanish when I say “no honey, we’re having the ones with beans in them”. Hahaha! Yep I’m the mean Mom. The Mom that won’t let their kids have a sucker at 830 in the morning, the Mom that makes them wash their hands after school and after playing in the mud, and the Mom that makes them eat bean balls. Jealous?
Well here’s a new recipe I concocted after trying this recipe. Mine is very similar, just with a few tweaks. My youngest actually demolished his helping at dinner, while the older two sat quietly, eating their bean balls. In all seriousness though, these are fabulous if you’re looking for a healthy alternative to Meatballs for your weeknight dinner. Enjoy!
First, pulse 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds in the food processor until very fine.
Rinse and drain 1 (15 oz) can of white beans then mash beans until a nice paste forms. Set aside.
Next, sauté half of one red onion, until translucent, then add 3 cloves minced garlic and sauté just enough to wake the garlic up. Add onions and garlic to mashed beans along with spices and mix.
Finally, add oats, tomato paste and sunflower meal and mix well.
Roll approximately tablespoon sized mixture into balls and place on a parchment paper lined sheet and baked at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Enjoy with your favorite spaghetti noodles and sauce! Maybe even with some cashew Parmesan crumble??? Yum!
1 15 oz can of white beans
1 TBS olive oil for sauté
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS fresh parsley
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
3 TBS tomato paste
1 tsp liquid aminos
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup gluten free oats
salt and pepper to taste
Pulse your sunflower seeds in a food processor til fine.
Rinse and drain beans and mash with a fork in a large bowl. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in medium pan and sauté onions until soft. Add minced garlic and sauté for only a minute. Add onions and garlic to mashed beans as well as your spices and mix well.
Add your sunflower meal, oats and tomato paste and mix until well combined.
Roll out about 15 TBS sized balls onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
“True hospitality is marked by an open response to the dignity of each and every person” ~Kathleen Norris
It comes as no surprise to anyone who has been reading my blog for a while that hospitality has become extremely important to me. The excitement I get when I have guests coming over for dinner is sometimes more than I can take. Planning the menu, the drinks, the “to-do” lists, yes lists. Dreaming about what I hope takes place during that meal; the conversations, the endless fellowship I romance in my head. The catching up with friends and family, the announcing of engagements and pregnancies, or new jobs. The everyday life that needs to be worked thru or pain and anguish that needs consoling and maybe some chocolate. And it all happens at our dining room table. I really love this article about a table being a place of brokenness and connection, written by Barry Jones. Among so many interesting and touching points the author makes, he starts his article with the struggle of having to get rid of his kitchen table, because of all of the memories and stories and heartaches that took place there. Have you ever shared in his struggle?
Have you ever taken the time to notice how much of Jesus’ ministry happened around food? I think everyone, whether you’re Christian or not, can appreciate where I am about to go. Jesus fed thousands from one simple meal, and turned water into wine. Arguably the most important teaching Jesus had for his disciples happened over a meal, a feast. We come humbled before God, thanking Him over wine and bread, during the Lord’s supper. What is it about sharing a meal, about breaking bread with other people that is so sacred? Well, if you look at food being a gift, as well as the people we share it with, we find that the whole act of sharing a meal together is a gift as well; an experience given to us to allow for joy and pain with one another. All we need is a table, open hearts and a simple invitation: come and eat!
I have been reading the most lovely books on this particular subject, written by women who’s heart’s live for hospitality and fellowship. They have poured their lives out onto pages, for crazy, stay at home moms like me to read, relate to and desire for. Books like “Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table”, and “Come and Eat: A Celebration of Love and Grace Around the Everyday Table”. The desire I have for hosting people in my home, does not come from my upbringing, no sir. In fact, I am not sure where exactly it does come from, but I do know that God has instilled it in me. I want to spend this year opening up my home, opening up my table to everyone that walks thru my door. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to be present with everyone that I love, and bless them with a warm meal in their bellies. I long for my home to be a place of comfort, familiarity for those who occupy it. A place everyone seems to want to gather!
God created the act of sharing a meal together as a time for offering, of ourselves to one another. A time to really lay it all out there, to be known and get to know others. It’s a time to truly fellowship, to show love and be loved. And finally, it’s a place to come and eat, to be fed physically and emotionally, by each other and by God. Don’t miss the ministry that’s happening around your dining room tables, kitchen tables, coffee tables, picnic tables. It’s a ministry that’s so important, so crucial to families and friends. It’s a sacred place in our homes that should be celebrated often. Now, go invite someone over for dinner.
Mental Health is a funny thing. It’s something that’s very important to maintain, but is not the focus of a lot of people’s lives. And it is something that can be looked at as a problem “other people have”, but not me. Actually, a lot of people suffer from anxiety or depression and not even know it, they just push their feelings aside in hopes that they subside. People may cope with their anxiety by spending money, drinking or eating, instead of facing what really has them upset. It can be a vicious cycle, and before we know it, we can be in a very dark place not knowing how to get out.
I’ve taken the past two months off from almost every aspect of my life: work, blogging, even cleaning my house! I needed some time to focus on my mental health, as I have recently been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, depression and have been classified as a manic spender. I was actually surprised by that last one! Even though I know I tend to spend more money than I should. I have really begun to accept that depression and anxiety are something I am going to have to manage the rest of my life. But, it’s a new year and I have some decisions to make! Or not make, I guess 🙃 but I want this year to be different! I don’t want to be anxious about my life, and I want to live as minimally as I can. I don’t want the stress of a job or big life decisions to be the focus of my thinking. Most importantly, I want to spend time in my kitchen, cooking and getting back to the foods I love the most, sharing them with the people I love the most. I want to spend hours talking with friends and family, over wine and foods I cooked from scratch. Playing games and talking deeply about God. I want this year to be about intentional relationships. The verse I have on this blog is Ecc 8:15 “eat, drink and enjoy the life God gave you”. That is what I want to feel deeply this year, I want to purely enjoy my life this year. That’s not a bad New Years resolution right?? What is your New Years resolution? I would love to know!
I’m looking forward to a year of cooking, blogging, fellowship and being mindful. I’m hopeful for a good, restful year. Happy New Year to you!
Foodie Highlight of the 2017 Holiday Season:
Family Weekend in Glenwood Springs, CO. I think we may have found a new holiday tradition! It was such a refreshing experience, swimming outside in the middle of the mountains in super cold weather, surrounded by Christmas lights! But this wouldn’t be a food blog without talking about a new food experience. Recommend by the locals, we visited Slope and Hatch for lunch, a gourmet taco and hot dog restaurant. A super tiny venue that was packed from the time we arrived to the time we left. The food was amazingly tasty! They had a unique menu filled with different varieties of tacos and hot dogs, definitely not your usual boring meal. I had to try both of their plant based tacos: a falafel taco and their coconut curry tacos. Definitely a change from rice and bean tacos. My favorite was the falafel taco, as I just love tzatziki sauce and fresh herbs! The coconut curry tacos had amazing curry flavor, but combined in a tortilla made this taco super filling. But totally worth it 😋
Chef Thomas Keller, an American Chef who is known at the French Laundry in Napa Valley, says that when making a recipe, follow the instructions to a “t” the first time. The second time, write down the recipe in your own terms, adjusting to your taste, cutting out or adding steps according to what makes sense to you. The third time, Keller says to make the recipe without any recipe at all, just by memory and tastes and hands. And at that point, Keller says, “The recipe is yours”. That is what I have done with a recipe I received from someone at church. Over the summer, our church had these “dinner for 8” groups, where 8 potential strangers in the congregation would get together for dinner three times over the course of the summer. One of those meals, a lovely lady brought what she calls “Pecan Nutballs”. They were phenomenal! Meatball sized nutballs, cooked in an apricot BBQ sauce. They were smoky and a little sweet. So tasty! And they had the exact texture of a meatball. I immediately asked for the recipe. I am not totally sure if this is “her” recipe, though it was typed out for me, and had corrections in her handwriting. I could not wait to make these for my family and make them a weekly staple in the Friedly home. Looking over the recipe, though vegetarian, they weren’t vegan. As Tom Hanks says in “You’ve Got Mail” (which is arguably the best movie of all time), this recipe needed some “tweaking”.
After making it to a “t” the first time, and tasting how they were meant to taste, I started “tweaking” the ingredients and proportions. By the third time of making these tasty bites, this recipe had become mine. 🤗
Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients, these pecan balls are actually quite simple to make! First, combine all of your ball ingredients into a food processor and pulse until a “dough” has formed.
NOTE: The original recipe called for cheddar cheese and egg in the recipe. I used brown rice (instead of cheese) and flax egg for the eggs. If you would rather use egg and cheese, use the same measurements I did for their substitutions!
Roll dough, a little larger than a tablespoon (I just guesstimated), into balls and place in a 9×13 Pyrex pan.
Now, make your BBQ sauce. Add all of your sauce ingredients into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Let the sauce simmer until it thickens . This step is important because it won’t thicken in the oven and you’ll end up with a thin sauce that doesn’t stick to your pecan balls.
NOTE: the original recipe called for 1/4 cup of oil in the sauce. I don’t mind using oil so much when I cook, but I kinda draw the line when the measurements add up to “cup” measures. You can use water if you like (if so, use 1/8 cup) or just add 2 TBS of oil, which is what I did.
Once your sauce has thickened, pour over your pecan balls.
Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Top with Sriracha sauce (this step is not optional!) Serve over brown rice or egg noodles or eat them by themselves! Either way, you won’t be able to eat just one 😜. My hubby snacked on these while cleaning up after dinner! He just kept popping these in his mouth.
Makes approximately 24 balls
1 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
3/4 cup whole pecans
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp fresh chopped sage
3/4 cup cooked brown rice
3 cloves of garlic
3 TBS fresh chopped parsley
3 flax eggs
Apricot BBQ Sauce Ingredients
2 TBS oil of choice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 apricot preserves
1/2 cup ketchup
2 TBS brown sugar or maple syrup
2TBS grated onion
Sriracha for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine all pecan ball ingredients in a food processor and pulse til a dough forms.
Roll TBS size (or slightly larger) portions into balls. Place in a 9×13 Pyrex pan.
Combine sauce ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil and simmer until sauce thickens.
Pour sauce over pecan balls, cover and cook for 30 minutes.
Serve over rice or egg noodles. Or enjoy them by themselves!
It’s no secret that I love big cities. The culture of them, the busyness, the up tempo that seems to fill the streets. The many many restaurants, bars, wine clubs, coffee shops, sports arenas, marketplaces, performance art venues and street performers, museums, parks, residences of all status ‘and businesses that make up a big city. There is usually so much to explore and not enough time to do it in. That was my experience in Cincinnati, OH. There is real urban, city feel to Cincinnati. I could have easily spent a whole week there and still have not seen and done everything the city has to offer. I spent really, 2 days there. But in my two days, I walked around the city, soaked in all that was going on around me, and ate some pretty good food. I had some very tasty wine (Malbec was my wine of choice in the Queen City), ventured into a coffee shop or two and wondered through a couple of farmer’s markets. I also found my way to the CAC, the city’s Contemporary Arts Center, which offers free admission to all. I have gone back and forth with how to share this part of my trip with you, the culture and life behind the city of Cincinnati. What I would really love to do is to just share with you the pictures I took, and do my best to explain what they are, how they made me feel, any history behind them and what they mean to and/or the city.
There was a ton of personal art around the city. Some would say that a bit of it was graffiti, but I thought it just showed the culture of the city, and some history. I just wish I would have taken more pictures of it!
Over-the-Rhine was my favorite part of the city, hands down (and I stayed by the river!). It was an actual neighborhood in the middle of the city. It reminded me a lot of the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, CO, where the businesses were on the ground level and residences were above the business in these old, original architectural buildings. I ran into a couple guys while riding the street car back down to my hotel, who had lived in the city for over seven years. They said that that was the purpose of OTR, to have the residences be above the businesses. Ideally, that’s where I’d like to live if I lived in the city. Of course, I would like to love above a coffee shop ☕️😝😋 I loved all of the old architecture in this city. I love residence buildings that have fire escapes! There’s so much beauty and history inside all of those old buildings that are being made new again.
Cincinnati was a real fascinating place to visit. While researching the city before my trip, I was intrigued by its history. How fast it grew as a city, not only in population, but in politics, literacy, and education by the end of the 1800’s. The role it played in the meat packing industry, emerging as a leader in pork manufacturing. And the huge impact the Ohio River had in settlers traveling to Ohio, Kentucky and Sourhern Indiana. Many businesses, hotels, restaurants and taverns were quickly built along the river to help accommodate those traveling along it. Farmers would use the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to send their crops down to New Orelans, which was their biggest market at that time. Beginning in the 1830s, ethnic Germans began to settle in Cincinnati. German and Irish immigrants mixed with Americans from both North and South to create a very diverse and worldly population, not to mention adding diversity to the food in Cincinnati!
Today, many major corporations have their national or regional headquarters in Cincinnati, companies that include Procter & Gamble, Kroger, Cinergy, Macy’s Inc., E. W. Scripps Company, Totes Isotoner, and American Financial Group. Cincinnati remains the cultural center of southwestern Ohio, northern Kentucky, and southern Indiana. The city boasts two major professional sports franchises, the Cincinnati Reds and the Cincinnati Bengals. Numerous theaters operate in the city, including the Aronoff Center for the Arts — home of the Cincinnati Ballet and the Cincinnati Opera– the Emery Theater, the Taft Theater, the Showboat Majestic, the Playhouse in the Park, the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, and Music Hall.
More than one hundred art galleries exist in the city and the surrounding area. The most prominent ones are the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Contemporary Arts Center, and the Taft Museum. The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is known for its successful breeding programs. The parks! Court Street Park, Garfield Park, Fountain Square, Riverfrotnt Parkand Sawyer Park, all give its walker by’s a glimpse into the city, and it makes you feel like you’re home, at least for me they do. I feel home in big cities, on park benches in the middle of car horns and birds chirping, of chaos and peace. That’s where I find the most joy.
I learned something about myself during this weekend in Cincinnati, or maybe I was just reawakened to it. Two things I know deep inside of me. One: I love, I mean seriously love, cooking, and trying new food. And I loooove sharing food and hosting people in my home, having them around my table, feeding and serving them, nourishing my soul with my closest friends and family. And even though I’m stuck in a place of fear and sorrow when it comes to opening up my home, I know I can get back to a place where I am comfortable again. I just need time. I always want my door to be open, and my table available for anyone who wants to come over. And two: I really enjoy and almost need to help people, in some capacity, and it was brought back alive inside of me as I wrote this blog post. And I know that’s why I enjoy my job at the hospital so much, because I am helping people, I am serving people, unconditionally serving them, at a time when they are probably the most vulnerable they will ever be. And I know there are vast amounts of ways to serve people other than at a hospital. My husband and I are actually working on a way for me to be able to pursue both of these things, these two passions, in one capacity. How can I cook, travel and taste new adventures, while serving others? Well, we have a pretty good idea what that’s going to look like. 😝🤗
Until next time…
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.
Our church has been hosting some international business students the past couple of weeks, and some of the congregation have been helping in providing meals for them. I signed up to provide them with lunch after church on Sunday. And of course, given my passion to please everyone’s tummy, I couldn’t just bring them sandwiches. Nope. And I also wanted to show them that American food doesn’t have to be fried, salty and processed. So I put my thinking cap on and thru this bad boy salad together. And in the process, I created another recipe for my recipe vault….that can be viewed by anyone on the World Wide Web. Huh, I may need to think about changing the name….
Any who, everyone knows that BBQ pairs well with all types of meat, but what about beans? And quinoa? You bet it does!! Paired with cilantro, avocado and scallions, you have a wonderful, fiber and protein packed salad that’s sure to keep you full, and of course make your tummy happy! Mmmhmmmm! I love this recipe: it’s simple, clean (especially if you want make your own BBQ sauce!) This salad works great as a potluck addition, or as a nice Sunday afternoon lunch. I hope you enjoy it!
First, toss quinoa, corn, black beans, chickpeas, chopped cilantro, and scallions in a large bowl and toss well to combine. If you’re making this salad ahead of time (day before), and if you’re like me and you worry about ingredients spoiling too soon, hold off on adding your scallions until you serve the salad.
When ready to serve the salad, mix BBQ sauce into the entire salad or per serving, it’s up to you. I add it per serving if I’m eating it at home, but obviously at a potluck it may be a good idea to toss the salad with the BBQ sauce, unless you want to stand there while everyone goes thru the line and give instructions. That may be fun 😉. Top the salad with scallions (if made ahead of time), avocado and dairy free white cheddar cheese.
BBQ Chickpea Quinoa Salad
3 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup cooked black beans
1 cup fresh corn
1-2 cups cooked chickpeas (amount to taste)
Your Fave BBQ sauce
1 bunch cilantro
Optional: dairy free shredded white cheddar cheese for topping
In a large bowl, toss together all of the ingredients except BBQ sauce and avocado
When ready to serve salad, toss with BBQ or add sauce per serving. Top with avocado and dairy free cheese, if using. Eat up!
Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart.
I came across a recipe from Happy Motheringabout 4 years ago for no bake cookie balls. My life hasn’t been the same since! They are that good. I have come across other versions of cookie balls, disguised as energy bites, or no bake cookie heavens. But, I always come back to these. Whenever I need a quick, nutrient dense snack, dessert or potluck dish, I make these little bites of nutty, chocolatey goodness. I have used the idea from the recipe above to create my own. I hope you like it!
You will need almond butter, peanut butter, honey, ground flax seed, gluten free quick oats, and chocolate chips. Mix ingredients and any optional add-ins in a large bowl. Mix well, and make sure all oats are mixed. If dough is crumbling, add more honey or nut butter. Cover and chill in refrigerator for one hour.
Remove from fridge and roll tablespoon sized portions into balls. Store cookies in an air tight m container in the fridge. And try not to eat them all at once!! Enjoy!
No Bake Healthy Cookie Balls Makes 16-20 balls
2 cups gluten free quick oats
1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy
1/2 cup almond butter, creamy
1 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 cup raw honey (maple syrup will work if need it to be vegan)
1 cup dark chocolate chips (not optional!)
2/3 cup Optional Add-ins: raisins, shredded unsweetened coconut
Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl, make sure all of the oats are mixed in. If using maple syrup, you may need to adjust amount because of the difference in consistency. If mixture seems dry and crumbly, add more nut butter. Mixture should stick together. Cover and chill in the fridge for up to 1 hour.
Roll TBS sized portions of mix into balls. Store in an air tight container in the fridge.
Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart.
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.