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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 😀

 

 

 

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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Happy Wedding Day…

Yay for March… Lets hope Spring is truly on it’s way now! Here in New Jersey the sun is shining, today, friday march 1st, temperatures are meant to be slightly into the 40’s, which I know is not high, but hey it’s not freezing, so I will take it and the snow is still lingering in large dirty piles in a few places, but at least we have a kind of strawy looking grass again!

My learn a new craft is coming along, I am deeply addicted to crochet, after being a knitter for so many years now, I am discovering how much I love crochet, I love the way the finished article looks very shabby chic retro, just my style, and I love sitting with my hook and yarn and just yarn over and create a stitch , I even took my growing blanket along to the baby gym yesterday and crocheted whilst Florrie played, I got a few looks from other mothers, but hey, it beats sitting on my phone for 2 hours! Mollie Makes is a great British magazine for the avid crafter, this month has a few crochet projects worth taking a look at, so here is the link if you want a sneak peak Mollie Makes

My menu plan for the week is very basic, I have totally had a spring clean of my pantry and now there is nothing left… I love to do this occasionally, you can start afresh and know that everything in there is tidy, necessary and fresh… But what it does mean is that you don’t have a lot in to plan your weekly menu…

Sausage pasta
White turkey Chili
Dumpling and bacon soup
Tortellini pesto chicken soup
Stuffed baked potatoes with sausages
Meatball sub
Spaghetti bolognese

Sausage pasta is an old recipe I have been creating for many years, it varies each time i make it, the secret ingredient is a can of Heinz vegetarian baked beans, it just creates a totally different texture to the sauce coated pasta

Take any sausage you would like, I used polish kielbasa last night, but anything works great, slice into 1/2 inch rounds and sauté in a little olive oil with one chopped onion, after 10 minutes add whatever vegetables you would like, I used chopped broccoli and cabbage, 2 chopped cloves of garlic, a teaspoon on red chili flakes, a jar of tomato pasta sauce, 1 teaspoon of boullion, 1/4 cup of water and one can of baked beans bring to the boil, cover reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes whilst you make your pasta. Once the pasta is cooked add your sausage, vegetable mix and coat evenly, serve with garlic bread or a green salad… Very basic, but very delicious!

My shout out recipe of last week was the dumpling soup recipe from the food network not only was this recipe quick and easy, but it tasted delicious too, I used bacon instead of ham, which I think enhanced the flavor, and I also added a few wide ribbon noodles too… Try it, it was delicious… So good it’s on my menu plan for this week!

Today my friends daughter who I have known since she was 4 years old is getting married, she is a few months older than Dominic, we spent so many school holidays out and about with them I lost count, I have watched her blossom from childhood into her teenage years and now beyond… I cannot believe that she is old enough to get married, but she is… I hope she has a wonderful day and I am very sad I could not be there, sometimes the miles between us make a huge difference and sometimes they really don’t… Today is one of those days I wish I could still live in the same town and be there to watch her marry the boy of her dreams!

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Love and the library…

There is definitely an art to be an organized person… Organized in your personal life, organized with your money, organized with your children and organized within your home… All skills that need constant work by me to achieve, but this year, this is my goal, to be very organized and enjoy more free time in the process!

To achieve this skill I have created a few lists to work from… Oh how I love lists…
List number 1, a daily to do list, list number 2, a budget plan, list number 3, daily chores, list number 4, a grocery shopping list and of course list number 5 my menu plan for the upcoming week, with all these lists on my iPad I’m creating confusion as to where I’m looking for what… But the upshot of all the lists will hopefully lead to a more organized me and more free time for Florrie and I!

Have I told you about the Sparta Library… Well, I’ve always loved our library in Sparta, it’s so friendly, clean and very cute. It won an award for one of the best libraries in New Jersey, it is a privately owned library by the town, we get free movies, games, kindles, iPads, and games machine rentals, oh and of course I’m forgetting the wonderful books, in addition to that they provide free passes for a whole list of attractions across New Jersey… I cannot say enough good things about our library, well that was until recently when I discovered a whole other side to the library here in Sparta… Groups, clubs, meetings all completely free and a lot of fun… Now I am totally in L O V E with the library all over again, Florrie and I have been attending Monday and Friday story stop mornings, you just stop by for a story and then a small craft, my baby girl loves it so much, so now I have registered for mommy and me yoga this coming Friday and then a craft morning next Tuesday… We will see how those two sessions go before we venture any further! Well enough about our library, next stop for Florrie and I is a brand new baby and toddler gym opened just 10 minutes away from our house, Tuesday and Thursday mornings are free play sessions for $10 Florrie gets to run wild for up to 2 hours, no commitment just turn up and see what happens… Sounds good to me!

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Help… The laundry basket is sucking me in!

I am becoming a crafting blog addict, so I wanted to share with you all my latest blog find love this link…, I love all her ideas, it inspires me to get my sewing machine out and perfect my skills… Now all I need is more hours in my day to make my ideas into actual creations!

This week menu plan is on a new board on my Pinterest, for all of you Pinterest lovers out there… I am using the food network website this week, after entering twice daily to win the dream home on HGTV, I am now getting sent daily recipe emails from food network so I thought why not plan a menu around them so here it is…

Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs
Dumpling Soup
Cheese Tortellini in Light Broth
Broccoli-Cheddar Potatoes
Beef and Cheddar Casserole

Add to that a stir fry noodle a pot sticker home creation meal and a tortellini pesto and rotisserie chicken meal and that is what we will be eating for the next 7 days… What yummy dinner ideas have you got planned for next week?

My washing machine is once again working, for how long I’m not really sure, but for now Karen’s Chinese laundry is open and in service… I washed all day yesterday and I still have mounds of washing left to go… Bed linen from my parents stay, clothes from all 7 of my children, towels and of course Paul and my own pile of dirty clothes… I’m not sure I’m loving the machine working again, sorting, washing, drying, folding and putting it all away, that is how I will be spending my next couple of days… If you don’t hear from me again I’m lost under a huge pile of dirty laundry… Please send help!

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Everything in moderation

Yesterday was a momentus day for Florrie, we bought her, her first McDonalds Happy Meal, now I know there are many people that think that fast food restaurants are the worst thing in the world, but I am not one of them, my motto in life is everything in moderation and a tiny Happy Meal once every now and then is not going to harm my baby girl, the fish bites were whole white pieces of fish, the ten tiny fries and bag of sliced apples went with the whole milk (not flavored) and in my opinion provided more nutrition than some of the products we buy at the grocery store, boxed mac and cheese is disgusting, hot dogs as we all know are yummy but full of junk, and donuts are so full of nutrition… Not, but they are a delicious treat! Now all that horse meat found in so many products on sale in all the supermarkets back in the UK, is another example of us not knowing exactly what we are eating even when we advocate home cooking and healthy foods!

Well Florrie was thrilled with her little bag of goodies, we opened the fish bites and added the fries, she got excited by her bottle of milk with a big girl straw, but when all is said and done what she really wanted was the bobbing Hello Kitty toy… The lunch was forgotten, three fries eaten she was done and in love with her toy which she called Warrel… Named after you know who!

Back to menu planning for my parents final week here, I’ve tried to stick to low maintenance meals to free up some time, so most things on this list will be put into my slow cooker, easy quick and nutritious is my plan!

Menu plan for next week

Sausage and spaghetti slow cooked dinner
Baked risotto casserole with artichokes (bacon)
Red curry chicken and vegetables
Broccoli rice and cheese casserole (sausage)
Better than chicken soup
White bean, chicken sausage and kale soup
Potato and leek soup with Brie croutons

Stay safe and warm, I have all my fingers and toes crossed that there are no power outages with the incoming storm approaching us and that it will not be as bad as it is forecast to be!

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