Diet and nutrition, Uncategorized

Chopped Salads… 

I try my very hardest to eat healthy and cleanly as much as I can, of course it’s more difficult when you are out or busy but on the whole we eat a good healthy diet… this is a difficult thing to do when you have a large family of picky eaters.  Getting my two youngest children to eat well is a challenge, I believe in never forcing them to eat, but I do try and encourage them to try something, sometimes they love it, like Florrie with fresh peas at the farm when we were picking them,  she took one taste and loved them, but when I was spiralizing the carrots she asked to taste them and hated them straight away, the face she pulled was quite funny.  I have discovered recently that their best meal of the day is breakfast, they love fresh eggs fried with coconut oil every morning, and now we get freshly laid eggs from our neighbor next door, they are delicious, they love strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and watermelon, they love smoothies and homemade pancakes, Jamie Oliver’s one cup recipe, so simple and quick, they will eat these until the cows come home, they are also delicious when you swap the flour out for a gluten free flour too. I try most days to make breakfast their most important meal of the day as they eat really well, then I feel there  is not so much pressure for the rest of the day as I know they have eaten one good meal that day.


Lunch is another meal I kind of miss with,  it’s usually just me I’m making lunch for, my babies are happy to graze after a large breakfast, I kind of always fail for myself.  I make fresh salads for Paul and Mabel, but I always forget myself… I’ve come up with a new plan, Salad lunch prep for the week, I will make enough basic salad for a week, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and scallions,  a tip I have just learnt is to line your containers with kitchen roll paper to absorb the moisture, then daily using leftovers from dinner change each salad up daily, today we will be having a lemon rosemary roasted chicken, I’m having shrimp, with a kale Cesar salad and tortilla wraps, so I’ll shred some chicken, or add shrimp and add it to the salad and bake a couple of wraps to crisp them up to add to the salad… I’m hoping this will keep me on track instead of snacking with my children.  

I have recently discovered I absolutely love chopped salad, we have had it before a few years ago, recipes from Jamie Oliver again, but I really hadn’t thought about chopping every salad we have until I visited a new salad place that has just opened in a local town, in Chopt you pick your salad then they ask if you want it chopped up, Kale Cesar salad with tofu totally chopped up and it was totally delicious.  I thought I’d try it out on my family… huge success, they prefer their salad ingredients chopped up, but as you can imagine chopping 8 salads is very time consuming, each person likes certain things in their salads, so I’ve been tossing salad ingredients into separate bowls then emptying the bowls onto a board and finely chopping them… until last night when I came up with the genius idea of the food processor, you can start with the harder veggies like carrot and broccoli, pulse them a couple of times then add the rest of the salad ingredients, it worked perfectly, and it was a lot quicker, you just have to clean up the food processor bowl and blade, but not too bad.  So my chopped salads have been a huge success, my family are enjoying them so much they are saying they do not need the carbs along with their protein just the salad it’s so filling… My only problem now is how much Salad veggies I am getting through, but at least everyone is eating their greens, well except for one extremely picky eater, who likes everything as plain as it can be.


I’ll leave you on a sweet note… I was visiting friends for lunch yesterday, I usually take desert with us, but I’ve been in search for healthier sweet treats, some I’ve made have been ok, but just not quite right, yesterday I came across this recipe for Lemon coconut muffins, they were healthier because the sugar was very low, and could easily be swapped out for honey, or some other healthy substitute, they contained coconut oil and yogurt, I think they would even be good with gluten free flour instead of all purpose flour… they were a huge success both at lunch and at home, but be warned if you try these at home, the batter is extremely thick, she does say that on the recipe, but I was surprised at just how thick it was, I added a little more coconut milk just to loosen it a little… but despite that they will definitely be something I will be making again and again.


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Slow cooker delight!

My new, all singing, all dancing slow cooker… Is something I’ve thought about buying for many many months since I saw it in Target $150, and now with a special offer last week in Costco $99 with $20 instant rebate, now it’s still cheaper than Target at $120, I finally bit the bullet and updated my much loved crock pot! This new slow cooker is by Ninja, it not only slow cooks, it can sear, stovetop cook, bake and roast, it is slightly smaller than my crock pot,but in my opinion looks more state of the art… Last night I broke open the box and gave it a try, I am a huge lover of risotto, so this was the perfect starter meal to try, I managed to heat the oil, sauté the rice and then cook the risotto without slowly stirring and constantly adding the stock, I placed cooked chicken in the pot to warm through and roasted vegetables in the oven to add later… Voila roasted vegetable and chicken risotto, warming and delicious! The recipe book is huge and has a section for one pot cooking, one of the recipes is a quick and easy lasagne, one of my family’s favorite dinners… This one is on the menu for tonight’s dinner, everything is placed into the pot, switch it on and let it cook… My kind of cooking!

It’s cold and snowing again here, so I plan on a day indoors again, I have knitting to complete, cushions to sew covers for and laundry to do, but first a coconut bundt cake to bake, I recently bought a huge bag of coconut from Costco, a bargain at $3.97, so I am frequently on the look out for recipes using coconut and this one looks delicious!

On the subject of delicious another food recipe I think I will add to my Christmas list this year, baked cranberry and pistachio Brie, now if I wasn’t 26 weeks pregnant I would dive into this delicious looking cheese, but unfortunately this year I will have to bake this for my family and watch as they tuck in and know that next year I will be enjoying this myself!

Finally on the subject of food, I made a delicious cream cheese apple bread on Saturday, well worth a try, delicious and puddingy, it was so yummy served with custard and topped with whipped cream!

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Follow me on Pinterest for more yummy recipe ideas and much more!

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Trying to stretch a dollar or two…

This year has certainly been financially difficult for us, we have had several car accidents costing us a lot of money not only with paying the first $1000 but also with insurance rates increasing dramatically. We also had a chimney fire and parts of our roof were damaged with the hurricane that came last year… All in all 2013 has been a little bit of a struggle in many ways… But on the positive side, we still have each other and I firmly believe that positive thoughts breed positive behavior!

With that said with things the way they are at the moment I am all in for trying to save a little bit of money, I particularly love this time of year food wise, you can really make your dollar stretch with hearty, healthy meals, soups and stews are perfect fall money saving meals, lots of root cheaper veggies fill out all those fall meals, last night I made a delicious potato, green bean and chicken soup, served together with a rustic sausage, apple and sage stuffing bake, I estimate the cost to feed a family of 6, and I say 6 as that is how many people ate this dinner was $2.65 per person… Hearty, warming, yummy and very cheap! With this in mind, I am challenging myself to make healthy fall meals for less than $15 a night… Can it be done? Who knows but I am going to try, I love a bargain and I do love a challenge!

Very quick chicken and potato soup… I found this recipe on the whole foods App, I did tweak it a bit, so no link…. I love this app for healthy recipes, I use it a lot!

2/3 packet of frozen hash brown potatoes ( a trick I got from the Pioneer woman, when you just don’t want to peel and grate potatoes or just do not have time)
1 finely chopped onion
1 stick of celery chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons of paprika
4 cups of chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
6 ready cooked chicken tenderloins ( these are another of my short cuts, Costco have a large bag for $14, and are perfect for very quick healthy meals)
2/3 bag of frozen green beans ( the recipe actually said frozen peas and although I love peas my children do not, and as I wanted them to eat it, I changed to something we would all eat)

Place all of the ingredients into the pot, placing your chicken tenderloins on top, cover, bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes, then take off the chicken and chop or shred the meat, place to one side whilst you blend the contents in your pot, add in your green beans, top up with a little bit more water if you think the soup is too thick, bring back to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes then add your shredded chicken and simmer for a further 5 minutes… Time to serve… Delicious!
(Of course this recipe would also work well in your crock pot, I would place all the ingredients as stated in the slow cooker and cook on high for two hours, then follow the instructions for adding shredded chicken and beans but this time together, switch to a low setting and cook for a further hour).

I have always been a fan of repurposing things, I love Antique shops, thrift stores and flea markets, you can find so many hidden treasures… I don’t get to go nearly as much as I would like to these days. There was a time not so long ago when we used to spend Sunday afternoons in a little town called Lewis, near Brighton browsing the antique shops then drinking coffee in the quaint little coffee shops, of course this was when my boys were much younger and we just seemed to have far more time on our hands… Oh how I hunger for those lazy Sundays right now! I really think in this economy many people have turned to making and repurposing things within their homes… In the days of Margaret Thatcher, life became about the money and the possessions you had… Keeping up with the jones’ was the phrase of the day, and for some this is still very much the way things still are… I have never been like that, my style is shabby chic, I don’t care if something is designer and expensive or cheap and second hand… If I like it, that is all that counts! All this is a very fortunate trait , as right now I am very keen on making, creating and repurposing to create things I love for those that I love!

On a side note… Florrie’s Attic has taken a back seat in the last few months, due to the dreadful first trimester sickness, it was as much as I could do to get out of bed and cope with my family let alone think about my beloved Florrie’s Attic… But now 16 weeks later I think I am finally feeling a little bit better and my head is buzzing with all things Florrie’s Attic… First I have to complete some projects I had already started and post them up, then I will be moving on… Look out little boys things will be being added very soon… Some things are just meant to be!

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Menu planning again…

After many, many weeks of first trimester sickness, lack of sleep, tiredness and just plain feeling bad I need to get our menu planning back on track, the slow cooker is my best friend in the kitchen at the moment, I have so much to get done in the house and I’m always so tired in the evening, the slow cooker really is my savior! With a big, big shop on the horizon, I need to get slow cooker friendly meals lined up and ready to go for the next week… Pregnancy has made my brain like mush, I can’t even think of one thing I regularly cook apart from white turkey chili, so I need to have a refresher cooking course and quickly!

This past week has been using up what we have in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry, all thrown into the slow cooker, I have had some weird concoctions cooking, chicken noodle soup with a Mexican twist, a weird bolognese risotto with orzo pasta instead of rice. And a potato and sausage soup… I still have a few things to use up, but I think tomorrow could be my big shop day!

Here is a rusty menu planners first menu plan of this fall:

TEX-MEX NOODLES
QUICK CHICKEN AND POTATO SOUP
TURKEY PUMPKIN CHILI
ONE POT CHILI CASSEROLE
SOUP WITH SAUSAGE AND GREEN BEANS
CHORIZO AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO RICE WITH SPINACH
TEMPEH CURRY WITH SWEET POTATOES AND GREEN BEANS (I think I may have to add chicken to this dish)
COCONUT, CARROT AND CHICKPEA SOUP and BLT PASTA SALAD

Today I am trying a slow cooker mac and cheese creation, I have taken the recipe from Food Networks Paula Dean’s Slow cooked Mac and Cheese recipe and I have just tweaked it a little bit… I’ll let you know how it turns out but for now here is the recipe:

8oz box uncooked macaroni elbow pasta shapes
2 1/2 cups (about 10 ounces) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
3 eggs beaten ( I will be using egg whites)
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup skimmed milk
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pack of chopped frozen broccoli
1 pack of bacon

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box until just tender but not quite cooked! In a bowl mix together the eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard and broccoli, then add most of the grated cheeses leaving enough to just cover the top, mix then set aside! Add the chopped broccoli to the bottom of the crock pot, toss the pasta with the soup mixture then add to slow cooker layering over the broccoli, top with strips of bacon then sprinkle with the rest of the grated cheese… Set the slow cooker on low for 3 hours and then serve with a salad and warm garlic bread… Now this is truly pregnancy food at its best!

Just a small note for those crock pot lovers like myself, I recently discovered that baked/jacket potatoes are fabulous cooked in the slow cooker… Ok, you don’t get the crispy jacket of skin, but the potato is delicious inside, it’s so easy too, you just wash and scrub your potatoes as usual, prick all over then place in your slow cooker, I set mine on high for five hours but I had 9, yes 9 huge potatoes stuffed in the pot, but I read that 6 hours on low is a good setting if you need to let them cook all day! Enjoy and serve them with all your favorite toppings… Mine is lashings of butter and grated cheddar cheese!

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Creating his own adventures…

Pad Thai noodle salad… So good, I had to blog about it, I added a couple of additions like chicken and noodles, personally I think this salad works well without the chicken but in my house a meal is not a meal without meat in it… Boys! I also used my favorite Costco super food salad and Trader Joes sesame seed butter instead of almond butter, but it worked well, so here is the link… Pad Thai salad… Enjoy, we definitely did!

It is a very strange life, that of an ex-pat… My Mum arrived, she stayed, we lunched out, drank some wine and of course coffee, chatted and had so much fun… Then she is gone home and life goes back to normal again, until the next time she is in town, then we get to do it all over again!

Who out there cannot believe how fast 2013 has flown by already, I know I definitely cannot! It seems like only yesterday Blu was bugging me to go the 8th grade trip for 3 days away, I finally gave in and paid the first installment in December… It’s not that I did not want him to go and have fun, it’s just I am a worrier… What if’s always come into my mind, he is my baby and I am not ready for a big trip like 3 days away with the school… Anyway the months have flown by, he is not only sitting on a coach on his way, as I type this, but he is graduating from his school in the next couple of weeks and then heading over to his new school very soon… Where have all the months this year gone to? And for that matter where have all those years gone to since I held my beautiful, blue eyed baby boy in my arms… All grown up and out there making his own adventures in this world… Scary, but so exciting too!

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Addicted to crochet…

Ever since I was very young and my grandmother taught me to knit, I’ve been a knitter, granted I have gone through phases in my life of knitting and then not knitting, but I can knit so I would say I am a knitter… Well now I have a new found passion for crochet… I have had a yearning for quite a few years now to learn to crochet, I dabbled a little bit last year, I could crochet a granny square but I was not using the correct hands, so I really wanted to master this craft! A couple of weekends ago I set about actually learning to crochet correctly, I you tubed a few videos on how to begin, voila i finally undestood how the yarn should go through your left hand, so far so good, I have the hands correct now, I would even say my tension is not too shabby, the next step for me is reading actual patterns… I’ll let you know what happens!

The other big thing for me this week is a two week menu plan… This is a first for me and I am not sure even if this will work out… Do I shop for two weeks? will things last long enough? questions, questions, but the thought of having a menu planned and shopped for, including lunch meals too… for two weeks has me so excited… This is one task I can halve completely, hopefully it will work out… Fingers crossed, grocery planning and shopping are not on my list of favorite things to do!

2 week menu plan

Day 1
Pesto bean soup , rotisserie chicken, pasta – http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/pesto-bean-soup-recipe/index.html
Lunch – pasta salad

Day 2
Italian marinated chicken -http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/melissa-darabian/italian-marinated-chicken-with-red-potatoes-recipe/index.html
Lunch – chicken salad rolls

Day 3
Sausage bean pasta
Lunch – sausage rice salad

Day 4
White turkey chili and brown rice (Whole foods recipe)
Lunch – baked potato and left over chili

Day 5
Sausage with zucchini and tomatoes served with ciabatta (Whole foods recipe)
Lunch – rice and sausage salad

Day 6
Lasagne and salad
Lunch – left over lasagne and salad

Day 7
Green salad with buffalo chicken and blue cheese (Whole foods recipe)
Buffalo chicken salad sandwiches

Day 8
Chicken noodle soup, ciabatta bread
Lunch – chicken soup salad

Day 9
Pasta with cauliflower and sausage (Whole foods recipe)
Lunch – Sausage pasta salad

Day 10
Chili and quinoa
Lunch – Left over chili and rice

Day 11
Italian chicken casserole and gnocchi
Lunch – Chicken and biscuits

Day 12
Salad leaves with sausage and fennel, served with baked potatoes (Whole foods recipe)
Lunch – Baked potato and salad

Day 13
Red Thai turkey curry (Whole foods recipe)) quinoa
Lunch – red thai curry flat breads

Day 14
left overs day
Lunch left overs lunch

Finally on this gray morning in March I want to say what a beautiful day it was here in New Jersey yesterday, the sun was shining, the sky was bright blue, it was a little chilly but still nice enough to think spring is on it’s way… Then BAM, we are expecting yet another snow storm later today… REALLY! Florrie and I attended book babies at the library yesterday too, it’s a 6 week class for 20 minutes on a Tuesday morning, well believe me 20 minutes was long enough for these 12 to 24 month olds, after a couple of songs, a couple of books their attention was completely gone… It’s so weird how we develop these things we take for granted over time… She loved it of course, although she was very shy for most of it, which believe me is not at all like my little Florrie Flower!

Stay warm and enjoy hopefully, our last snow storm of this winter!

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It’s all about comfort food…

So today is all about food yet again… With the weather turning colder and the evenings getting darker, it’s been time to think about warm comfort food in our house, so I’m going to share one of my favorite meals with you all…

Monday night I began my evening routine by boiling a bag of small potatoes until they were cooked through, then with a hand held blender (one handed as Florrie was on my other side) I roughly mashed them with a cup of broth, then I added 2 cups of green beans, a packet of chicken and apple sausages (cooked and sliced) a tablespoon of rosemary and 3 more cups of chicken broth… Season to taste, stir and reheat through until soup is creamy and warm! Now with all this deliciousness warming through I could not decide what I should accompany it with, a friend had recently told me she had made Jamie Oliver’s chili, cheese cornbread, so with that in mind I grabbed his book and began assembling the ingredients, some I had to substitute but it was delicious none the less! This cornbread is so easy and soooooo good and it was perfect with my warm sausage potato soup… Definitely one of my favorite Fall meals recently!

Menu plan for the week ahead…

Wednesday – Jamie’s tender chicken legs with tomatoes served with leftover cornbread (Internet)

Thursday – Spicy pork chilli pepper goulash and rice

Friday – Jamie’s roasted peppers with chillies and tomatoes ( at home page 252)

Saturday – pork ragu with parpadelle

Sunday -chicken legs with delicate pearl barley, pea and lettuce stew

Monday – steak Guinness and cheese pie

Tuesday – wild mushroom and beef stroganoff

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