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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Festive mumblings…

Christmas organization…
Where to begin… That is the question, my head cannot or will not function to get a list of food and other items needed for the festivities of the next week, so I thought rather than ramble on about this and that I would write down my thoughts right here and try to make sense of the jumble that is my brain right now…

I finally managed to get the last item on Mabel’s list yesterday, a cardigan from Abercrombie, I refuse to pay full price when you just know it is going to be discounted sooner rather than later, and that was last night, it was not quite the 40% off, but 30% was good for me and now I can check off all presents bought… Finally!

The other thing on my check list yesterday was gifts to England… yesterday I placed my Amazon orders, ok they will not be there for Christmas Day but they will arrive next week and in my book that is still the Christmas season to me… So done and checked!

Last thing I needed to do was my Christmas cards… I know they are going to be extremely late, but I have a resolution for this… They are now Happy New Year cards, and now they won’t be late… I uploaded the photo, chose the card, ordered the cards… Done, or so I thought until I got a phone call from Costco… I had not cropped the photo properly, so now first job of today… Redo my cards!

The last thing on my Christmas check list… FOOD, the dreaded grocery shop is looming… This is where my head is confused and muddled, so here goes…

Menu plan for the Christmas week

Tonight – mulligatawny soup with fluffy rice and chicken

Saturday – broccoli pasta, chopped garden salad and sausages

Sunday – green risotto with bacon

Monday – beef kofta curry, rice, beans and peas

Christmas Day – bacon sandwiches
lasagne… A family favorite and a ham, another family favorite
Sausage rolls
Minced pies

Boxing Day – spending the day with friends

Things to make… Mincemeat for mince/jam pies, cookies, bread, sausage rolls

On a last note… I was speaking to a friend in England yesterday, she recently sent me a photo of home made mincemeat for her mince pies, she was telling me how easy it was to make, and that she will never buy jarred mincemeat again… So here goes, this morning I will attempt to make some mincemeat too!
Mary Berry mincemeat recipe using butter… so good for vegetarians!

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Menu planning at it’s best…

I am now very much into my 40’s, 7 children, 1 husband and 6 houses later I have learnt that for me, the only way I am truly content with life is when I am organized. Organization helps you budget your money as you can food shop economically with menu planning preparation, you know what you are eating for the week ahead, organization means you have much more time on your hands to do the fun things in life (a friend of mine who completely advocates an organized life and has written a very successful e-book on this very subject, Evelyn is just so right). So with all of this in mind my aim is to shape up and clear out every drawer, cupboard, nook and cranny in my house into an organized space, and I am very lucky because I have a daughter who loves doing just that, organizing my cupboards, she cannot wait to help me with this task!

My first task was to completely re-organize my kitchen cupboards, when we moved into the house I placed my kitchen equipment into cupboards without thinking about actually using the working space, as most of you know I love to cook, so three and a half years later this kitchen layout was just not working for me, so over several days, and I mean several days, as Florrie was putting things back into the cupboards as I was taking them out, I managed to reorganize my whole kitchen… It now works much better for me, if only I could get my children to remember my new system and not put the plates and bowls back into the old cupboards… I should not moan really, as they are emptying the dishwasher for me more regularly these days!

My next task was to reorganize the actual floor space and that is still a work in progress, the new study is starting to take shape and has become a popular room, not only for Paul to work in, but a homework room for Blu and Mabel, with the computer and printer set up in there! Today I am ready to recover my grandmothers ottoman in there and make a curtain for my meshed cabinet, pictures need to be put up, then finally the room needs a lamp and a couple more cushions on the sofa and it will be complete!

Finally, on this topic of organization I found this blogging site this morning on menu planning at its best, so I wanted to share this woman’s blog with you, she not only plans her dinners for the week, but she is super organized and plans breakfast, lunch and snacks… http://moneysavingmom.com/2012/05/this-weeks-menu-30.htmlThis is something I strive for completely, I think it will take a lot of skill to achieve this but it will be the ultimate in menu planning… Wish me luck, I will let you know how I get on!

Happy Organizing!

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