Sausage Party.

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Okay guys it has been a looong time.  A month or two of me sitting down to blog, and then getting up to clean up spilt milk, or break up toddler fights, or a million other things. (Truth: There may have been a few bright and sunny days where I shirked this off to go play outdoors and other times where I just sat down to write and then possibly took a few naps instead.)  But I’m here now.  And determined as ever. (Read: I’ve just napped.)

So for the two months I’ve eaten meat.  A lot.  Sort of my choice, but mostly ordered by a doctor.  (And I’m serious when I say that, the only way I could get out of a month of frequent injections of iron and B12 was to promise I would eat meat, at least 3-4 times a week.)

“What?” you say “But you eat a balanced diet and I know you get enough iron because I read your blog and there are ALWAYS meals high in iron content and you write stuff about nutritional components so of all people YOUR iron shouldn’t be low!!”

Oh my god I’m hearing voices now.

Truth be told even the best vegetarian consuming iron sources, isn’t getting the most bioavailable type. As a vegetarian we eat non-heme iron from plant-based foods.  And the absorption of that iron is inhibited by things we also eat: like oxolates in the greens, phytates in the grains, and calcium (say cheese!)  So although they are good sources of iron, if there is underlying pathology in the body affecting the ability to absorb or “bank” iron eating veg may not be enough.  The type that is most readily available to our bodies is the kind from meat.  The heme iron.  Like hemoglobin – one of the markers in our blood that we use to measure iron.  Long story short.  I need iron. What I was doing wasn’t working, and it was time to try something new.

Because hey, when there are bold alerts all over your lab sheet from your last 6 months of blood work it generally means something needs to change.

So change I did.  And happily for all my non-vegetarian friends I’ve included some of my favourite meat recipes here.  Or what I thought were my favourites.  After gradually cutting meat out to nill over the past 5-6 years it just doesn’t taste the same.  Especially when you HAVE to eat it 3-4 days a week.  Especially red meat.  Sorry, I’ll continue.

My meal plans consisted mostly of red meat or high iron shellfish 3-4 days a week (the highest sources of iron one can get).  Which consisted of a whole lot of leftovers, ensuring that I ate meat almost every day.  Plus a whole lot of supplements from the doctor, which I won’t get into.  I’m not that into supplements and did this begrudgingly.  But it was only a month.  And I’ve done worse…remember the 6 week dairy free diet?? Ugh.  I am a crazy person.

Week One (meat meals listed, the others consisted of my regular vegetarian go-tos and meat leftovers) :

  • Lasagna (my favourite) with garlic bread and vegan cesaer salad
  • spagetti and meat sauce with salad (Did NOT taste the same as I remember, I used to love this stuff!)
  • Rapini linguine with steamed clams

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Week Two:

  • Lasagna with cesaer salad
  • smoked mussels on crackers

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  • Pork shoulder butt roast with kale and roasted new potatoes (I loved this meal growing up.  It still brought back the fond emotional memories.  My husband called it war food.  No offence to those during war times.  Or to the recipe.  But be warned, without the emotional ties it apparently doesn’t taste the same.  Just ask EVERYONE in my immediate family.  So sad.  It was so good…to me.)

Week Three:

  • Dear god no more Lasagna.
  • Chicken cattacori with vermecelli and salad
  • More smoked mussles on crackers (In a tin…for lunch.  I was getting desperate to boost the iron and not have to eat any more red meat.  Or cook meat.  Or think too much about meat.  Do you know how gross it is to pull skin off of chicken? *shutter* I had forgotten.)

Week Four:

  • Lazy cabbage roll casserole
  • Turkey wraps (no recipe genius here, just hummus, smoked turkey breast, mayo and cheese in a wrap with a ton of veggies on the side.)
  • Smoked clams (So happy to be done the smoked mussels…some of them were kind of gritty *shutter*) on crackers
  • Breakfast sausages.  And bacon.  Because skiing weekend.  And they were served to me.  And they were greasy.  And SOOOOOO good. Not sure these actually count as there was likely more health repercussions from the artery clogging goodness than any iron benefit.  But it was my last week, and bacon.

So the meat eating is done.  And I’m awaiting results.  The one thing I do know is I got the worst flu I’ve had in years this month, and have felt overly tired.  The supplements made me anxious, as did trying to figure out what to cook…I had forgotten ALL my meat recipes. Also I’ve been less active and more sluggish.  I just don’t have my usual get-up-and-go attitude.  Is it the meat? Or the weather? Coincidence? No idea.

My conscience has also weighed on me heavily.  The fact that 3 chickens died so we could make one meal just didn’t feel right.  Although I think Astrid, Gloria and Peep lived a happy life in the middle of a green field loaded with grubs and felt no pain in the end. (At least the price and assurances on the labelled chicken led me to believe that.)   Same goes for Henry the cow.  And Cornelius the pig.  Not sure about the clams and mussels and oysters (sadly, too many to name).  The tins said “wild caught” and had other assurances, but I’m just not so sure about any ethically sourced seafood anymore.  I’m not really sure about anything anymore.  After all, a big portion of being vegetarian was health related.  Only I haven’t been healthy in regards to my iron levels at all, for months now, even on iron supplements and with fastidious attention to diet.

The environmental impact of eating meat is also something that is concerning to me.  From the farming practices, to the waste produced in the the processing and transportation of meat products, I’m just not sure I’m ready to jump back in to being a full-time omnivore.  I tried to eat locally sourced meat, ethically and organically treated/raised/processed but it’s hard to trust a system (that you can’t check up on yourself) when so much bad media on the matter is available.  I’m conflicted.  Currently my health is the priority, so it was easy to me to sweep the other concerns aside for just a month or two.  But what if being vegetarian doesn’t work for my body?

What then?

Time will tell.

Welcome Wagon

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So the holidays happened and the New Year rolled in.  I swore once again I would AVOID the gym for ALL of January, because resolutioners.  Not that I have anything against resolutions, but more because the pressure of another year ending with not enough “shoulds” having been done.  And too many people setting up too many “shoulds” for the future, ending in disappointment when they don’t achieve (unrealistic) goals.  And the craziness that becomes the gym when everybody shows up all at once, en mass.

Okay, so not everyone fails and I’m being a bit of a pessimist.  But deciding to do something just because it’s a new year is not a good enough reason for me to do anything.  Deciding to do something because of an intrinsic motivational factor is. So when I feel inspired to change something, or break a habit everything has to do with ME and not a date on the calendar when the numbers change.  So my new year’s resolution is always to avoid the gym in January.  And please note…I’ve already failed (I think failure happened at week two of the new year, oh well).

My meal plans continue weekly even when I don’t share them here.  And this week is looking exciting!  Some new recipes and CAKE even! (Sorry for all you “I won’t eat cake/sugar/sweets” resolutioners.  This is ah-mazing!  And what’s life without balance?)

  • Vegan Spagetti (Easy pleasy! And also good with some non-vegan parmesan on top!)  See recipe below.
  • Slow Cooker Enchiladas.  I am in need of making use of this ugly slow cooker I own…but finding vegetarian recipes that are healthy and tasty are hard to come by. (Meat seems to be a main ingredient for getting this bad boy to work, much to my disappointment.)  This is a new recipe.  Anyone out there with good veggie slow cooker ideas??
  • Spinach-Potato Tacos.  Also new!  Only instead of following the recipe exactly, I plan on using hard shell corn tacos and wrap them with soft shell tortillas. YUM.
  • The BEST Chocolate cake ever.  With layers of buttercream icing of course. Now of course we’re not having this for dinner.  But we are bringing it along to a dinner party.  And it’s my husband’s birthday Yeah!! So with the best cake ever it instantly becomes the best birthday ever (right?!!)  I will try to take a picture and post later.  But it might just all get eaten before then…

And then the big “thing” I alluded to in my previous post.  I printed a cookbook for my family for Christmas!  So exciting. All my favourites, in one place.  Although I am constantly changing and altering recipes, I can’t claim many as original.  Therefor you won’t be seeing this bad boy out in stores.  But I do endorse all the original recipe chefs because they are amazing.  And without them, I’d be eating mostly porridge.  Seriously.

So also this week I’ll be making the Vegan Spagetti  and my most favourite Masoor Dal with cauliflower yogurt and naan bread. Both in the book.  The Cook Book. My most favourite.

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Vegan Spagetti

Vegan Spagetti

So here is to wishing you all a great start to the new year.  And if you made resolutions, I wish you luck (really I do!)

And in the meantime I’ll be back blogging weekly.  And I’m also on instagram @backyardyogalove following my yoga path daily.

If you like what you see here please “like” it and let me know! (or comment) And if you don’t, then don’t.

Fall.

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My yoga series this season was “fall into yoga” and my heart feels like falling in love with everything!  So I am in my kitchen this week falling into everything the season has to offer, loving the crisp air, the honeycrisp apples, and the colours of change.

This week’s meal plan:

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  • Spinach Salad with tempeh bacon and egg. (Like a chef’s salad – for a vegetarian!)

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  • Red Lentil Rotini with Pumpkin Sauce (easy as pie to make!!)  And yes the red lentil pasta is pricey…I was hoping to give it a go and then buy in bulk at Costco.  Which we will now be doing.  We LOVED this!  Did not love the $8.99 price tag for the 12oz box…but love the 21g of protein per serving.  And no, the picture does not do this dish justice.

 

  • IMG_4506Broccoli and Cheddar Soup with crusty whole grain and seed bread (This was pulled out of the freezer from when I made it 2 weeks ago – LOVE freezer days when I don’t have to cook!)

 

 

  • Butternut squash soup and crusty whole wheat bread

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I wanted to give you a better idea of how to speed things up in the kitchen (or at least my kitchen) and also a good idea on pricing…(since I’m starting to spend a little more gearing up for Christmas). Soooo….

IMG_4507I bought a butternut squash from our local grocer. Buying it whole meant saving quite a lot of cash ($0.79/pound).  I also bought some pre-cut, and on sale ($2.99/pound)  I call it the *time saver, money spender*!  The squash cutting requires a fair amount of effort, and a sharp kitchen knife.

I think it’s worth it, considering the extra effort yields a substantial amount.  I still go back and forth, as this is one of the few things I have repeatedly cut myself doing.  And it always seems to happen at the most inopportune times.  I did not cut myself today.  Hence why I have time to write about it!

I bought about 1.5lb of pre-cut butternut squash (rang in at $4.50) and then about 3.5lb of a regular squash (rang in at $2.75) So I got more than twice as much for less than half the price.  You can see the difference in the picture of my hard work of cubed goodness compared to the store’s boxed.

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I also have started adding lentils to our butternut squash soup recipe.  We are all very active in this family and being vegetarian I try to get protein in where ever I can.  This is a no brainer here, as the red lentils don’t add much flavour to the soup, but add a good amount of protein, which I feel rounds out the meal nicely.  It also keeps us full for longer…if vegetarian fare (or soups in general) are a cause for complaint in your home. (Hi Dad!)

IMG_4509To make the soup I start by heating up the butter or oil in my large stock pot.  I saute the onion until translucent and then add the cubed squash, IMG_4514lentils, boiling water, broth, salt, and pepper.  I simmer for 20min.  After simmering I use an immersion blender to process the soup into a fine puree.  Alternately you could transfer back and forth from a countertop blender to puree.  I keep the heat on low until we are ready to eat and serve with a hearty toasted bread.  Alone this recipe can feed 8.  We split it up and freeze half so it makes a freezer meal for later.  And the kids LOVE it.  Tonight my 4 year old ate two full bowls and my 2 year old ate three full bowls (plus their bread).  And yes, three toddler-bowl-fulls is more than what I ate.  It is that good.

Pumpkin muffins also made an appearance this week.  Yeah for fall!!  They are filled with a cream cheese icing of sorts and are amazing.  Worth that little bit of extra effort.

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Like what you see?  Let me know (or share).  And if you don’t, don’t.

Happy Week!

 

 

My life.

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I’ve been spending more time in my life.  And by that I mean offline.  With my kids, in the moment, doing yoga and you know, life things.  It has been great!  (But isn’t everything always portrayed as great online?  Well mostly.)  Rarely do people use it as a “look how much my life sucks” forum. Unless they are using it to process life issues…and then sometimes that’s all you hear about.  But for me, here, it’s about the happy stuff.  Yes, there are life issues in my life.  Or maybe not as many as I feel like there are in comparison to others (first world problems here, first world.)  Generally happy.  Generally good.  And generally grateful for all that I do have.

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So, first things first.  What’s been on my plate recently…  The Mexican taco bowls were a huge hit last week.  So here is the recipe:

Mexican Taco Bowls

Another fabulous meal of late was another type of taco we tried…Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos.  Looking at the recipe I don’t think I would have ventured out to give these a go, but a close friend raved about them (and she’s never wrong when it comes to recipes) And low and behold, she was right again, keeping her record perfect.

I am still working on the 6 week dairy free diet to post here.  It’s an ongoing process.  I hope to include all recipes – which requires more time than my “live in the moment” current life provides.  But it is in the works!

So this week’s meal plan included favourites (both oldies and newbies):

  • IMG_4363 IMG_4364Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos (YUM! This will be made again soon! And my pictures don’t do it justice, go to the website via the recipe link and you’ll see it in real life colours.  We are always in such a hungried hurry to eat over here that I’m rushed for snaps before the food does a disappearing act.)
  • Quinoa with Zucchini and Ricotta Bake (Because freezer meals for later…and no picture.  I have no idea why I have no pictures, I make this dish as a staple in our house every few months.  I will take pictures this week when I make it! Yum!)IMG_2341
  • Soba Noodle Salad (In the dishes, prior to putting it all together…Such a beautiful and colourful entree.  Makes tastebuds dance.)IMG_1458
  • Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas (Also, the freezer meals thing. And the only picture I have of this beautiful dish is the sweet potatoes.  Mostly because once it is out of the oven I can’t wait to dive in, forgetting about pictures.  And slightly because I mis-timed dinner and had two VERY hungry children sitting at the table demanding food as soon as it was removed from the oven…)
  • Vegan Chili (New recipe!!! I still haven’t found a chili I like.  In my head they are all measured up against my chili, pre-vegetarian days.  I’ll let you know how this goes, but this blogger’s recipes are really, really good.  So I am hopeful!)

So you’ve likely noticed my attention this week to freezer meals.  And that’s because my husband is going away soon for a week on business.  My motivation for cooking will likely nose dive during that time, so I’m thinking ahead and giving myself plenty of options for when he is away.  These options may also include pancakes, pizza and ice cream.  I am giving myself full permission to use whatever methods necessary to maintain my sanity during that time.  Oh and also it is my birthday week.  So ice cream, cupcakes and giving in to cravings will be a big part of my plan.  Even if it means giving in to the kids to keep the peace.  Just a little.

Oh and I’ve started instagramming (is that a verb? I limit myself to it once a day so it must be…)  As much as this blog focuses on my meal plans, it focuses on my yoga practice (another huge part of who I am.)  Follow me @backyargyogi

And as always…if you like what I write or post, share it! (Or like it! Or comment to let me know!) And if you don’t, don’t. 🙂

Cheers,

Karen

Pain.

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I sat down to write this blog tonight, and frankly I just don’t know where to start.  So I’ll begin at the beginning and when I’m done will be the end.  First things first.

Pain.

The most constant thing on my mind since having my braces adjusted.  (Yes, I have braces.  19 months now.  But who’s counting right?)  And every month with an adjustment comes pain.  And soft food.  And soups. (My husband hates soups, so in effect my pain causes him pain.)

Me and my better half...and the braces.

Me and my better half…and the braces.

The kids too.  Have you ever noticed that being in constant nagging pain makes you kind of a painful person to be around?  I think if you asked my kids, and they could articulate how they really felt about me, I’m pretty sure my braces being adjusted causes them pain too. (If only in the way that the constant ache makes me less resistant to noise, like drums and whistles and screeching – in joy or not.)

So this week might be a painful read.  But I promise to give you some really good recipes out of it.  The one thing that makes me happy is filling my family with healthy food, bursting with love and joy.  And also softness (literally and figuratively) as I try to be gentle to myself (physically and emotionally).

These type of weeks are effective tools in helping me to ask for what I need (quiet please…and maybe an Advil). Also hugs.  Compassion goes a long way in the road to dealing with what’s bugging you. Even when it comes from a 2 year old.

And now the recipes! (Excitement over these is also a from of pain-escapism!)  This week’s meal plan is amazing!

  • Broccoli and Cheddar Soup (adapted from The Vegetarian Bible).  I would have taken pictures of this as I made it.  But it is ugly.  Really truly.  Boiled broccoli can have this beautiful green colour, but when you boil it down to be blended…let’s just say it’s not the same green.  Also for this recipe I do not recommend making it unless you have a food processor.  Unless you just love grating potatoes and cheese by hand for extended periods.  The end result keeps me coming back for more.   Which is good because this recipe makes a LOT.
  • IMG_4019White Bean and Kale Soup.  I know I know, I keep posting this.  But honestly it is only because I KEEP making it.  And the husband kinda sorta likes this one (as much as a soup hater could ever love soup.)  It is very easy, and hard to mess up.  Oh an freezes so well!  Yeah for leftovers!  This also uses up the GIGANTIC kale in my garden.  My kale “tree” is over a year old and now a tiny bit taller than my four year old.  Makes for a lot of great soups, smoothies and juicing.
  • Sweet Potato and Spinach Lentil Curry served with rice.  Yes, again.  I think when in pain,I lose brain power to the “dull ache void”.  So I’m less creative.  And go to old standbys (and comfort food).  And it’s soft and easy to eat.
  • Chickpea Stew.  Yum!  Seriously folks I got over my aversion to chick peas with this meal.  Packs in protein and is really really REALLY easy to make.  And freeze.  And eat.
  • Vegan Spagetti.  I have to hope that soft pasta is in my future, at least nearing the end of the week.
  • Mexican Salad in Tortilla Shells.  New recipe!  I will let you know how this goes and post if it’s good.  Very basic.  And will hopefully be at a time where my salad fantasies can be fulfilled with the ability to chew properly.

The end.

The Pint Size Snack.

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Welcome back to the school year!  And with it, the volunteer activities and necessity to pack lunches and snacks.

Enter the preschool helper.  The position of prestige in the eyes of my child.  And a good place for a parent to see their child flourish amongst others.

Along with the helper part also comes the lunch part.  (We take turns providing lunches for the classroom.)  When it comes to feeding my kids all is well and anything (or just about anything) goes.  But being a classroom of pint-sized people, many lunches have been a flop.  Some parents have resorted to bringing in delivered pizza…yet I have persevered to find something healthy AND likeable.  Not an easy feat. Especially when one of the considerations is that it is easy to prepare – remember this is a whole classroom.  And as much as crackers and cheese seems to be a lunchtime staple, the lack of nutritional fruit and vegetables kinda drives me nuts (nuts – which we are also not allowed to bring.)

Now that it is the beginning of the school year I can finally say I have found the perfect  snack, having worked at it all last year.  And usually everyone finds something they like out of it.

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Bring in the skewer!  Toddler style (or rather pre-school style) with the sharp skewer ends clipped off and a colourful display of vegetables.  This seems to be the best accepted, nutritional hit I’ve managed to conjure up.  And it’s great to have a preschool helper to prepare it!

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And speaking of conjuring…here was this weeks meal plan:

  • Chickpea Stew with Naan bread

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  • Mushroom Broccoli Quisotto (think risotto, but with quinoa!  And this dish can be fully ready in 20-30min…chopping time included!)

 

 

  • Daal with Cauliflower yogurt and Naan bread
  • Tomato Basil Pasta (with cashew cream sauce)

 

The No Dairy Diet

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And by diet I mean temporary lifestyle.  I’m trying this out for the next 6 weeks to give my system a break from certain inflammatory food.  And in the meantime it’s a good vegan experiment too!  I have even found a creamer substitute for my coffee.  It’s still not cream, but makes my coffee loveable and drinkable and still enjoyable.  Which in turn makes me happy.  Yeh for coconut creamer!

So here’s what I’ve been working on this past week:

  • Thai Cashew Quinoa Salad– perfect for the summer weather and filled with energizing protein (who doesn’t LOVE thai?)
  • IMG_2966Jumbo Stuffed Shells and Vegan cesear salad.  This appears to be a take on my tofu and spinach stuffed shells recipe…only it’s not at all and doesn’t contain parmesan like my recipe.  AND it tastes just as amazing.  I don’t even know how that is possible but it just is.  I planned on freezing half, and then we ate. it. all.
  • IMG_2409Thai Coconut Red Curry with added edemame.  Filled to the brim with veggies, and more veggies and THAI! I used red and green bell peppers, a sweet onion, edemame (about 2 cups!) broccoli and brown rice for our dinner.  And of course omitted the chicken, still a veggie girl over here!
  • IMG_2927Green “Pasta” Primavera.  This was a shocker.  Again, so amazing.  With all the new recipes I am testing I keep anticipating failure and yet I always am so pleasantly surprised.  But my poor husband ends up not getting leftovers for work.  These meals are just so great, they are gone by the end of the meal.  IMG_2929With this meal you make a sundried tomato pesto for the primavera; I doubled the recipe for that and froze it so the next time I make the meal my time is saved (and I don’t have to clean the food IMG_2928processor – bonus!) Bought a vegetable julienne tool (and spiral slicer) especially for this, and my many vegetable “pastas” to come!  I can’t wait to give it a go on kohlrabi – so refreshing for the summer.  My kids loved the carrot “pasta”!  The tool I bought was easy to use and ranked high in the ratings.  It also makes making vegetable pasta fast.  Way faster than the manual peeler type (and anything to make my life easier working with whole foods is a GO!)  You can find it on Amazon here if you are interested in expanding your kitchen helpers.
  • Spinach Lentil Bake.  My old go to, with love and comfort baked inside.  And enough leftovers for the sitter, kids and our night out to the baseball game!

Also this past week has been energized by the longest days of sunshine in the year.  Yeah for summer solstice! There just seems to be more energy in the air.  With that I am off to do a run!  Gotta make use of this vamped up energy.  And bonus that it helps me train for another upcoming race.

I love summer!

A Mini-fridge, Microwave and Masterplan.

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We’ve done lots of family trips away where I’ve planned an entire week of meals off of one master grocery list, down to spices, condiments and often including utensils (missing from the “kitchenette” rentals).  In a Las Vegas timeshare I even had to buy a pot and frying pan to accommodate us eating in.  In Hawaii a delayed oven timer saved me when meal planning conflicted with a hike we wanted to do (and dinner was ready when we returned!)  Eating in on vacations has saved us the hassle of small kid’s constant needs (milk and breakfast 30 seconds after waking…at 5:30am) and my requirement for healthy, balanced, vegetarian meals.  I can only do salad so many times guys.

I’ve realized with travel that many places don’t factor into account the required protein and iron for vegetarians. (I can’t imagine being vegan and trying to navigate!)  Sure we could opt for the “veggie burger” and fries every night.  But we all end up feeling crummy.  Trust me, we’ve done it.

Hence why I plan.

So we’re going on a (SURPRISE!) family trip. (I have yet to mention to the kids.)  And they don’t seem to have noticed my near-constant cooking and kitchen prep the last few days to prepare.

The difficultly this time doesn’t revolve around an oven timer or can opener…this time what I am given to work with is only a mini-fridge and microwave.  And 48 hours of fun in a waterpark!  Which means large appetites.  I tried unsuccessfully with my pinterest reflex to find solutions.  So I created my own.

Mini-fridge and microwave. 48 hours. A family of four.

Bring. It. On.

IMG_2397First things first…the master meal plan of what to bring…and then the shopping trip of what to buy (along with the regular weekly grocery shop, see my grocery belt lineup of food above – YUM!)

Meal One – Dinner

  • IMG_2419 IMG_2420So after arriving, checking in, and going hard at the waterpark for a few hours we will start with Homemade Cauliflower Mac’N’Cheese.  Just needs to be heated up in the microwave safe bowls I’m bringing!  Kids love it, and the extra carbs will be needed for all that swim time! Recipe makes enough for two meals (freezer meal for later in this case!) Packed in a gallon ziplock baggie so we can stuff it in the minifridge in any shape needed 🙂  The kids will also have tetra packs of almond milk.  Mom and Dad’s bevvie of choice: Bota Box wine!  Then back to the pool, slides and splash park before bed!

Meal Two – Breakfast

  • IMG_2437 IMG_2434I’m not a huge fan of the pre-packaged instant oatmeal you can buy.  But my family are huge oatmeal fans.  And I appreciate the convenience of just having to add boiling water.  Solution: Homemade Instant Oatmeal!  No high fructose anything or preservatives. IMG_2435 Only awesomeness. I made an apple cinnamon walnut kind…after finding these dehydrated apple chips.  Even more than loving the pre-made chips (because I don’t have a dehydrator and keeping my oven on for hours while continually checking chips doesn’t thrill me) is the ingredient list.  Organic apples and organic cinnamon!  Along with our oatmeal I’m bringing a variety of fruit (mangos, pears, bananas and apples). Yum!

Morning Snack

  • I caved and bought yogurt tubes.  Yes.  I know. Parent fail 😉  The kids love them and they are e-a-s-y!  And even though they are the organic, hormone free kind they still make me cringe at the level of sugar (9g – that’s 2 teaspoons of processed sugar!)  Oh well, it is vacation.  They will be served alongside apple slices and gulp…another processed item – cheddar bunnies. (Similar to goldfish but sooth my inner-health-food-gal minimally by being organic.)

Meal Three – Lunch

  • IMG_2438I really, REALLY wanted to bring my homemade soup.  I know, crazy right.  Mini-fridge I fear your small size!  So I bought the best darned canned kind I could find.  Amy’s Organic Lentil Soup (in the BPA free can).  This is actually a staple in our pantry for emergency lunches when we have nothing else.  The kids LOVE this soup.  I LOVE this soup. Heck everybody must LOVE this soup, half the time I go to buy it there aren’t any left on the shelf.  And as a side I made jello fruit cups. IMG_2439 My daughter has somehow been lured by marketers before ever having even had jello.  So she will be happy to have her wishes fulfilled for the elusive jello that mommy never buys/makes (except this vacation).  Oh and I stuffed those darned little cups full of as many berries as I could before pouring the sugar/gelatin mixture in!

Afternoon Snack

  • IMG_2378Cheese Strings.  I lie, they aren’t stringy at all.  They are the whole foods brand organic colby cheese in pre-packed singles to look like cheese strings 🙂 hehe sneaky mommy! Fruit squeezes and homemade granola bars.  When planning these snacks I thought I would be allowed to bring them along with us to the water park.  Sadly I learned after prepping everything that isn’t the case.  Had I known, we would have done real fruit and cheese, rather than spend the extra on less-mess and easy-to-pack foods.  The granola bars are Ah-mazing!  Filled with oats, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, almond butter goodness.  Travel well wrapped in foil.  I don’t feel right about giving out the recipe, as it comes from a fellow blogger’s recipe book (which is also Ah-mazing!  Really, every recipe I’ve tried scores an A-plus in my book, and my kids) Find it here.

Meal Four – Dinner

  • IMG_2424IMG_2422Sweet Potato and Spinach Lentil Curry  and rice (made and bagged separately).  All pre-made in gallon baggies, again stuffed into that small mini-fridge!  Everything can be divided into the microwave safe bowls and heated up! (And enough leftover for another freezer meal for later.) Nice hot meal filled with protein, iron and love to fuel our activity!  And again with the tetra packed almond milk for the kiddos and wine for Mom and Dad.

Meal Five – Breakfast

  • A repeat of the same family favourite instant oatmeal! And more fruit!

Morning Snack

  • whatever is leftover and not already eaten 🙂  I also packed a few extras for night snacks (which we don’t normally do, but this is vacation!) Microwave popcorn, raisins and cherry tomatoes.  So whatever isn’t already gone is game on our last day!

Meal Six – Lunch

  • IMG_2440Egg salad sandwiches and jello fruit cups.  Again the egg salad was pre-made and bagged to fit in the mini-fridge.  We brought the bread and will make the sandwiches right before check out time at 11am.

So all in all it will be a fabulous time!  What a great Mother’s Day gift.  And I’m happy I could give it to myself, because the best thing in the world I could get on mother’s day is family memories.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Meal Plan Monday.

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Greek Pizza (on garlic naan bread)

Yup it’s back!  Not that my meal planning ever stopped… and this week it’s better than ever.  Mostly because we are going away on a family trip soon so I get to plan all our food for a 2 night hotel excursion with mini fridge and microwave!  In a future post I will outline how we did it – both to save on money and continue to keep eating healthy! (Well healthier than the burger and fries options most restaurants provide…this is vacation after all and treats are well deserved!)

So here is this week’s menu plan!

  • IMG_2403Peanut Satay Dragon Bowl with quinoa (The pic is of my pre-chopped veggies for this evening. One of my lifesavers in whole-foods eating is prep time ahead of schedule.  Too bad my colourful peppers are hidden underneath.)
  • Greek Pizza (on garlic naan bread)
  • Vegetarian Paella
  • The finished dish

    Vegetarian Paella

    IMG_1425Chickin’ Fingers with Green Bean and Feta Salad (The Chickin’ is the Quorn brand using mycoprotein as the source of protein.  Meat and soy free!)

  • Tacos! (Since I totally missed out on the Cinco de Mayo celebrations I’m making up for it here!)

In amongst all of this planning and prepping I am training for an upcoming mother’s day race.  I use the word training and race VERY loosely.  It’s 5km (3.1miles) and my normal runs are 2 miles so it really isn’t a stretch.  And as for the race aspect, I’m not in it as a competitive sport.

I realized with the extra time to get out with running stroller, or haul the kids to the gym (so I can get on a treadmill) that I do excel in time organization.  And also, that the part of me that wants everything healthy and ‘from scratch’ needs to sometimes take a breather and take a step back.  So I have been organizing easy meals the past few weeks.  And although they are still healthy and balanced, they have some ‘cheats’ to make things go a little more smoothly in my time crunch between naps, ballet class, school, playdates, swimming lessons, running schedules, yoga classes (both teaching and attending), and hubby’s new krav maga martial arts training…

32. A Stitch in Time

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Simply Living Healthy – 40 tips in 40 days

What is one way you can save money, time and not have to decide what to make for dinner again?  Meal Plan!!

Okay, I know that I love organization.  It gets me all excited and I love the end result.  For those of you who aren’t into organization I’m sure you have your own system that works.   But for me, this saves time: I only grocery shop once a week and everything is outlined so I don’t have to work magic in the kitchen every day trying to figure out what I have in stock and what I can make with it…the magic is already there I just have to show up and follow the plan!

It saves me money: I only grocery shop once a week (see a pattern here?), saves me from impulse buys and it also helps me to organize and use what I do have in the kitchen.  Meal planning ahead of time also allows me to use leftovers from one meal in another…like making a large greek salad and being able to use it in two dinners, or cut up veggies from one dish in a stir fry the following night.

And it saves me from the dreaded “what are we going to have for dinner??”

I spend an hour to an hour and a half Monday mornings planning the meals for the week, and then another hour to hour and a half grocery shopping for our needs.  Then I have very set meals I am prepared for all week.  No decisions or quandaries about what to eat!  And my little kids love it, because they can choose from the list of meals for that week what they want.  (Especially in the beginning of the week when there are up to 7 choices!  My daughter loves this, which in turn helps her to actually want to eat the meal…because it gives her the feeling of choice and control.)

I’ve been missing posting my weekly meal plans on my blog…I’ve made such fabulous meals lately it’s been hard not to share.  But know that when this 40 days of tips is done, I’ll have a bunch of exciting recipes and meal plans to share!  Like the cookies pictured above (ok ok so it’s not a meal…but they are SO good!  And if you are using the recipe link: I substituted peanut butter with almond butter, ground my almonds into meal instead of flour and used coconut oil as the ‘buttery spread’.  Now the cookies are gone, even though we are not a vegan household.)

That today’s tip!  Helps with mental health, financial health, and health in general because you are less likely to resort to ordering in pizza…even if I did just convince you to make cookies.

Happy Friday!

Simply Living Healthy – 40 tips in 40 days