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We are what we eat…

Getting older sucks… I have gained weight and I haven’t changed the way I eat, your metabolism slows down and the middle age spread begins… are you kidding me? Really?

Ok, so I admit I really do need to excercise more, but I’m a busy Mom of 8 children, I include my older ones too, from first thing in the morning until I sit down with that much needed glass of wine I’m on my feet rushing from here to there, but according to my OBGYN that’s not the type of excercise that is going to burn off those calories at my ripe old age, well he didn’t mention the ripe old part, I’ve just added it in so you get the picture… he says I need at least a 20 minute cardio routine per day that will get my heart racing, so even my gentle morning yoga routine does not fit the bill for getting my heart racing I’m afraid. Food is also important and consistency, 4-6 healthy small meals a day, well the small portions are not a problem for me as I’ve never eaten large meals, but 4-6 is a huge problem, I can go hours and sometimes forget to eat… ok so here we go, new me, I am determined to beat this middle age spread.

I love healthy foods, I love salads, I love soups, I love fish, I love veggies, I even love radishes too, so how hard can this be? 4 to 6 small portion meals/snacks a day together with a low impact cardio workout, just to start me off and some yoga to keep my joints supple. The hardest part of a carefully thought through menu plan is the prepping, to have a healthy menu for Paul to go to work with is the planning a prepping the day before… this week we are keeping it simple and doing a ‘let’s see what we can make with what we have in’ using up supplies in our refrigerator, freezer and pantry… so next week we can start a fresh in an organized way… does anyone else do this once a month, to clear out the old ready for the new?

Let’s start with Breakfasts that I can easily prepare in advance… healthy banana, oats and honey waffles, perfectly preprepared and easily transported if you have to go out…

Serves 2
One cup of gluten free oats
I cup of dairy free milk, almond or coconut (if using coconut I suggest 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup water)
1 egg
1/2 a banana
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of raw honey
1 egg
1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed
1 tablespoon of extra virgin oil

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend for about 1 minute… add 1/4 cup of the batter to a lightly oiled waffle maker and let it cook for 2-3 minute.
Serve with fresh fruit, Greek yoghurt or for a dairy free option a tablespoon of almond butter 😋

My next easy to prepare breakfast is raspberry, coconut chia pudding…

Serves 2
1/2 cup of fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup of coconut milk
1 tablespoon of raw honey
2 1/2 tablespoons of chia seeds

Take the first three ingredients place them in a blender and let them blend for 45 seconds, divide the blended fruit milk into two mason jars then add 2 1/4 tablespoons of chia seeds, place the lid onto the jar and shake to mix the chia seeds, place in the refrigerator over night… top with a few raspberries and a tablespoon of sliced almonds 😋

Now if I’m staying in I love a slice of whole grain gluten free bread with avocado and grape tomatoes drizzled with balsamic glaze and if Paul is going to work I make him a super healthy veggie omelette ready to cook in the microwave for a couple of minutes and a piece of fruit. Another healthy on the go breakfast is a smoothie served with a hard boiled egg for protein.

Lunches are much easier when you are at home, your choice is endless, I love salad, cheese, eggs, veggies, homemade hummus and steamed veggies, but planning a healthy portioned out work lunch takes a lot of prep… 5 meals, 5 healthy carbs, 5 healthy lean proteins and plenty of veggies ready for a busy week of working… quinoa, brown sprouted rice, sweet potatoes, ground turkey meatballs, oregano chicken and Cajun pork, all leftovers from a past week dinners and lots of veggies, but when you are home you can quickly bake some sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper, add in a little arugula and a lightly fried egg, finally whip up a Harrissa dressing… so good 😃

Heathy fish and chicken tacos are my favorite dinner option, polenta crisped salmon and chicken tenders served with warm corn tortillas, salad and a healthy mango salsa, easy healthy and filling. Dinners are always a challenge in my house, some of us need GF carb options, some of us don’t like veggies, some of us are mainly vegetarian, except for a little fish and some of us are such basic eaters that meat and plain pasta is all they will eat. Salad is my friend, I can add a protein and then a healthy carb and it covers most diets in my house… but soup season is on it’s way, although I love Summer, I personally love soups they are so versatile, healthy and can stretch your budget sideways.

Snacks are my biggest challenge for planning ahead, each time we eat we are meant to have a complex carbohydrate, a protein and a fat, so getting that right in a snack is a huge headache for me… protein bites were simple and nutritional for a snack, gf oats, almond butter, honey and then I added chopped nuts dried fruits and seeds. Another idea is brown rice cakes, and almond butter, or fruit and a handful of nuts… but with all the planning snacks still remain something I think about last and quite often forget to eat myself… I am working at it though… slowly 🙃

… and then we always need an occasional treat, I try my hardest to make these treats as healthy as possible, like lemon muffins made with yogurt and honey… light and delicious 😋

Whatever you eat, try to make it nutritional, delicious and make sure you drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated throughout the day.

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To diet or not to diet?

When I was in my teens I was totally anorexic, I think it never really leaves you completely, I always count up my intake of food each day, and roughly count the calories I have had, even now I feel its pull, but with yoga and meditation I have managed to control the need a little bit better.  I realize now the need to fuel my body with the right foods to hopefully keep me healthy and I am trying to educate my family into thinking the same way.  I have so many picky eaters its hard to fully cook a complete clean eating menu plan for each week, but I definitely try.

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I am absolutely hopeless without menu planning, I've tried not menu planning and my grocery bill goes up, my clean eating plan goes out the window and I feel terrible in myself… so for me menu planning is a way of life and will continue to be even as our children eventually move out.  I love the organization of it, I am even planning breakfast, snacks and lunch now, as Paul and I are on a semi strict carb, protein and fat diet, each meal has to contain at least one of these in healthy form, even the in-between meal snacks.

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Each week I try to focus and use recipes from different cookbooks I own, this past week I have used the Gwyneth Paltrow It's all easy cook book, one of our most surprising favorites for almost everyone was her lemon and herb pasta with cherry tomatoes, I adjusted the recipe slightly to accommodate everyones tastes, I added chopped broccoli first then added the pasta, and once I had served up the tomato haters in my house, I added them to the pan too… all in all it was a winner for the week.

 

I am all about fresh produce these days, I like to buy organic if I can, I have restarted my organic delivery just because it makes menu planning and organic shopping easier.

These rice paper wraps are a firm favorite at the moment…

Take a rice paper wrap and soak for two or three minutes in a bowl of cold water, making sure they are fully covered, whilst they are soaking chop up some crispy romaine lettuce leaves, cucumber, slice an avocado and grate some carrots, next crumble some feta cheese, and shred some chicken breast, if you want to add meat… once the wraps have softened place them onto a sheet of damp kitchen paper, fill with salad ingredients, feta and chicken if using it, wrap just like you would a burrito, keeping it as tight as you can. Serve with a dipping sauce, my favorite is sweet chili but Mabels is a balsamic glaze, the world is your dipping sauce 😋

My clean eating menu plan for this week…

Monday

Breakfast… kale, onion and feta scramble eggs

Lunch… chicken/feta Cobb style salad

Snack… fruit and almond butter

Dinner… taco style burrito bowl skillet (ground turkey and veggie version)

Tuesday

Breakfast… green smoothie with almond milk, kale and apple together with a boiled egg

Lunch… egg salad sandwich with chopped carrots on the side

Dinner vegan BBQ chili… for those meat lovers I will add shredded chicken

Snacks… Apple, celery and nuts

Wednesday

Breakfast… overnight Coconut oatmeal with berries

Lunch… protein salad

Dinner… zucchini pasta with bolognese (for those that do not like zucchini I will cook organic spaghetti

Snack… protein bites

Thursday

Breakfast… GF oatmeal blueberry waffles (easy to take out if made the day before)

Lunch… chicken quinoa salad (and a veggie version to take out with me)

Dinner… chicken/fish tacos with mango salsa and salad

Snack… protein bites

Friday

Breakfast… fruit smoothie using whatever berries and fruit I have in.

Lunch broccoli soup… yes I know it's summer, but I have a huge bag of frozen broccoli

Dinner… cheat day… Pizza Fridays

Snack fruit and nuts

Saturday

Breakfast… egg and Canadian bacon sandwiches or avaocado toast

Lunch… chickpea quinoa salad with a few fresh berries

Dinner… breakfast for dinner, GF waffles with eggs and sausages

Snack… black bean crackers and hummus

Sunday

Breakfast… overnight oats with coconut and ginger

Lunch… avocado and egg toast

Dinner… buffalo chicken and veggie pizza with salad

Snack… black bean crackers and hummus

I adapted my menu from one I found on Pinterest… wish me luck, I have never planned our eating so carefully and to every meal we eat, I am desperate to lose 10lbs, I have been doing a morning yoga session 3 days a week and now I found a simple workout program for two days, I like to give myself the weekend off, maybe just a little meditation to ease my mind and relax me… time to drink some water and start the week 😀

 

 

 

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A quiet life… At last!

Life has been kind of quiet recently… Thankfully! I have been concentrating on learning to not spend money, all of my life I have been reckless with money and it’s just not a good thing, so right now I’m learning how to spend our money wisely… What that means for me is a lot more days at home not cruising the aisles in Target… Ha, ha! I have been completing projects that needed doing like hats for Florrie’s Attic, replacing all my cushion covers and a lot more home baking and cooking, which really gives me a sense of achievement when I feed my family wisely! My life is usually so busy and hectic I have really enjoyed some down time to get on with things I’ve wanted to do for a while!

After months of morning sickness we are finally back on track for a healthier diet, Mabel is very happy about this… I have been kind of menu planning, but not strictly, I have ideas of what our menu will be for the week and then I shop the basics and plan each day as I go. My favorite place for recipes at the moment is the whole foods app on my iPad, everything tends to be healthy and is easy to adapt to ingredients you have in. I am trying to bake sweet treats every day to help fill the gap with so many hungry children…

What we ate yesterday…

For breakfast Florrie and I had cereal, after that I prepared the pioneer woman’s pizza dough recipe, I had run out of olive oil so I substituted it with melted coconut oil, I wasn’t sure how it would work but I preferred it. I also put pumpkin chili in the crockpot, now this is a favorite of mine, but not such a favorite for my children, so the pizza was for them, I am loving homemade pizza at the moment, so easy and very tasty! My children are all so very fussy so I am now making very basic pizzas, last night was cheese and a chicken pizza, then I make up a salad and top mine with it, so good, last night I chopped some cherry tomatoes and shredded some baby spinach leaves, to that I added a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and salt and pepper, so yummy on the pizza! Finally I made some pumpkin oatmeal muffins, now I told my children they were apple as they think they do not like pumpkin, instead of sour cream I did add apple sauce, so I was not lying and they loved them, see they do like pumpkin, they just don’t know it!

Pumpkin chili in the crock pot

1 pack of ground turkey ( I used Costco fresh meat)
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 can of pumpkin purée ( I used Trader Joes organic)
1 sliced red bell pepper (I used 1/2 packet of Trader Joes frozen bell pepper slices)
1/2 pack of frozen artichoke hearts (I used trader joes)
2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons of chili flakes
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 can of drained black beans (or any beans you have to hand)
1 cup of red lentils 1 1/2 cups of water
1/4 cup of flour
2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves

Lightly brown the ground turkey with the oil and then add to the crock pot, then add the can of tomatoes, the pumpkin purée, the pepper, artichokes, garlic, chili flakes, cumin, paprika, red lentils and water, mix thoroughly and cook on low for 5 hours. After 5 hours whisk in the flour to thicken, and then add the beans and spinach, mix again and let this cook for another hour… Serve and enjoy with the topping of your choice… I like grated cheddar cheese, slices of avocado and sour cream!

Pumpkin oatmeal muffins

1/2 cup oatmeal
1 egg
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup fat free milk
(1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup canned pumpkin
2/3 cup of brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place paper liners in a 12-cup muffin pan.
In your mixer whisk together egg, apple sauce, milk, butter, pumpkin, brown sugar, then add flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and oatmeal and gently fold into egg mixture until just combined. Spoon batter into lined muffin tins and bake for 22 to 25 minutes. I then decided to melt 1/2 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon of coconut oils and then drizzled it over the muffins!

Both of these recipes are adapted from the Wholefoods app… Very healthy and extremely tasty!

With the clocks going back last weekend and the evenings getting darker so much earlier, my evenings seem so much longer… How does that work, more hours in one day, more time to knit or crochet… Florrie’s Attic has some new things arriving very soon!

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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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My favorite things to eat…

I am going to try and post my favorite recipe of the meal we have eaten in the last week, each Wednesday… This week I have two favorite recipes to share with you, both were very delicious and super healthy, I am trying to add chia seeds to all of our meals, more often than not I forget as I am usually doing my normal multi tasking Mommy act at this time of the day, but I will get into the habit soon… Fingers crossed!

Black bean and arugula salad with creamy avocado dressing

1/2 can of drained and rinsed black beans
5 small sweet baby peppers sliced
1 bag of arugula
1 small red onion finely sliced
1 handful of pea shoots chopped
1 handful of Cilantro chopped
1 avacado
2 tablespoons of lime juice
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together the first 6 items, then take a ripe avacado and mash or blend in a blender for a few minutes with lime juice and about 1/4 cup of water then add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, stir then coat your salad with your creamy dressing… Serve fresh with whatever takes your fancy, we had spicy Mexican pork with ours then a huge bowl of fresh strawberries for dessert… Healthy and very delicious!

White turkey chili with a twist

1 packet of ground turkey
Small amount of oil, I used spray coconut oil from Trader Joes
2 cups of chicken broth
1 tablespoon of cumin
1-2 tablespoons of red pepper flakes
1 small red onion finely chopped
3 small sweet peppers slice
2 large handfuls of spinach
1 can of cannellini beans drained
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
3/4 pack of orzo

Sauté the onion in the oil for about 5 minutes, then add peppers and sauté for another 5 minutes before adding ground turkey… Cook until browned then add spinach, let it slightly wilt before adding chicken broth, red pepper flakes, cumin and cannellini beans, bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer then cover and cook for 30 minutes. Cook orzo according to the packet instructions, add the feta cheese, stir until slightly melted then when the turkey chili is cooked, combine it with the orzo and cheese mixture… Serve and enjoy!

It is Florrie’s second Birthday this coming Saturday, so after a long weekend filled with Anniversary, Mothers Day and Birthday celebrations, I am trying to concentrate on getting everything ready for my little flower to have a wonderful day too… This has meant finishing off her wigwam playhouse (tutorial to follow soon), shopping for cupcake supplies… Guess what cake she is having? and of course getting her some fabulous new princess pink toys! In a family as large as ours, parties don’t really need to be more than the people that are living in our house, well at the tender age of 2 anyway and that is about all I can cope with at the moment, I am sure next year maybe a different story!

Have a wonderful day… Sunny spring wishes for everyone!

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Snowy Super Bowl Sunday morning…

The Super Bowl is once again upon us, has it really been a whole year since the last one? Last year each of us bought a yummy dish of food for our television watching fest, this year everyone is out except my youngest three children so more wings for us to munch on… I am not a football fan, in fact I do not understand the rules of the game, but I do enjoy game day food!

The menu for our feast is buffalo hot wings with blue cheese dip, chili with cheesy hot dogs, nachos, queso and sweet and spicy popcorn… I have cheated and bought most of the menu, but I am planning to make the chili and cook the hotdogs in it so they are nice and spicy!

The rest of this cold snowy Sunday is going to be spent keeping warm, a morning trip to the Bagel Bistro for brunch is planned and Mabel is desperate to get to the 70% off sale in Abercrombie and Hollister but I just fancy a lazy day at home, so we will see what happens… My thoughts are that she might just persuade me!

Happy Super Bowl Sunday… What ever feast you have planned… Enjoy, the diet can always start tomorrow!

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Waiting for a hurricane…

Am I the only one who hates the waiting part of a hurricane arriving, I hate the not knowing, will we lose power, will the basement flood again, the questions are endless and all you can do is wait and watch! They say its going to be bad, but I personally am trying to stay positive and hope that they are wrong, very wrong in this case!

Now the big question on my mind this morning is what would be good Hurricane food… My mind goes straight to a big pot of chili and warm homemade breadsticks, but then I remember Jord is home and he won’t eat it so now I’m thinking about warm comforting food like pork ragu and parpadelle pasta in the hope that we still have power to heat it through later!

As I sit in my kitchen on my sofa by the window I hear the wind gust past our window and I look out across the garden, the world seems still to me at this moment in time, it’s like we are all holding our breath just waiting for Sandy to arrive… What will be, will be… Stay safe!

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