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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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Naturally delicious…

Is it just me or has this world become just a little bit crazier than when we were children? It’s getting back to our roots that is important… Do we really need all the convenience of modern living… I think not in many cases!

Don’t get me wrong there are many modern conveniences I could not live without… the internet, what would we do without that these days, my trusty Kitchen-aid mixer, a must have in my kitchen and air conditioning, on those hot, hot humid days when you need to just cool off, but the convenience of pre packed food is fast becoming a nightmare, why oh why do companies feel it is perfectly ok to fill our food with chemicals and dyes! What happened to good old fashioned healthy food products? Farmed salmon is full of horrible dyes and chemicals, simple products like a loaf of bread has potential cancer producing chemicals added, canola oil is advertised as a healthy oil… Well guess what? it really is not, I try to avoid this oil at all costs, I always like to use an oil that is actually derived from a plant not something that is man made… It’s all a horrible maze that has become very scarey!

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In our house I have stepped up home baking, Bread making, muffins, cookies and my ultimate favorite, Brownies all get baked and disappear as fast as they come out of the oven.
My favorite recipes…
chocolate chip muffins
This is my go to muffin recipe, I adjust it to the muffins I want to make, strawberry, apple, coconut… The options are endless!
brownies
This is my ultimate brownie recipe… To this I add whatever I feel like I fancy, a caramel swirl topping, chunks of chocolate and crispy salt… Or just as they come… Delicious!
the Pioneer Woman’s brown sugar oatmeal cookies
I recently found this recipe… Now my favorite cookie recipe ever!
Ina Garten’s shortbread cookies
With or without the chocolate these cookies are oh so good, they don’t usually make it into the tin in our house!

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I want to thank another Mom of a large family of 7 children for my new found love of easy bread baking, I do not personally know her but I follow her on Instagram and she has her own blog that I have been using for my bread recipes… A Farmhouse full … She has made me realize how easy bread making really is, especially with my Kitchen Aid mixer! Her pizza dough recipe is not only easy but delicious too!

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With Fall just around the corner, the long summer days are now numbered, I really need to get back to menu planning too, these days I seem to buy less and less pre-packaged foods and when I do just for convenience I try to buy the more natural options when I can! Yesterday I planned my menu for the week and shopped too, so here is what we are having for dinner this week, bare in mind I have two Birthdays next week, so Mabel has asked for a Pioneer Woman’s Pasta bar and Blu can’t decide between steak or ribs on the grill…

Flatbread sandwiches … This turned into chicken curry, rice and naan bread
Homemade pizzas
Pasta bar and grilled lemon chicken
Ribs… Garlic bread sticks and wedges (or steak)
Polenta brats and salad
Cous cous chicken salad
Left overs

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Whatever you are cooking this week… Have fun!

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It makes me want to be a Pioneer Woman!

I remember a time when long summer days meant no alarms, free time with no commitments, laying in bed in the mornings, sitting outside drinking endless cups of coffee, day trips to the beach and just being able to read and read a good book… Not this summer! So far this summer has consisted of getting up rushing a cup of coffee and then rush, rush, rushing around, driving someone here, driving someone else there, it almost feels worse than when they are all back at school… I am exhausted and we are only on week 2!

I love watching the food network and I really miss watching Jamie Oliver back in the UK, but now I have a new addiction… The pioneer woman, she is a mother, a wife, a photographer a blogger and right now she has me thinking I could quite happily go and live on a ranch somewhere in the middle is nowhere… Her life just looks so calm and relaxing, just the total opposite to my chaotic life… I am just not so sure Paul or the boys could cut it as a cowboy though!

Every Saturday morning I love to watch her new show, this weeks episode was a girls night in and she made a salad pizza, Mabel and I were drooling as she topped this perfect pizza crust with melted cheese and a lightly dressed salad, of course if boys had been involved in this night in there would have had to have been meat involved, I am sure men and meat go back to caveman times when they went out hunting, I just don’t get it myself, anyway back to the subject of salad pizza, the dough she made was so easy, no bread maker, no kneading and very few ingredients… Easy and it looked delicious… My kind of food!

The pioneer woman’s quick and easy pizza dough recipe

Tonight we are having salad pizza courtesy of the Pioneer Woman, but of course in my house there will be men dining so the obligatory meat dish will be served to compliment this light pizza, but I think us girls will be more than happy with salad on a pizza… Yummy!

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Steak for dinner…

Who would have known I could of made five of my children so very happy with one average size piece of steak for dinner last night… Well that’s what happened and I will tell you about it… I finally managed to perfect medium rare steak last night, I’m so happy, it wasn’t completely uncooked in the middle it was perfect, all I needed to do was use my meat thermometer, hidden away in my cupboards, next my Mum made the perfect pizza dough and a pizza was created to each persons specifications, then when it was cooked it was topped with African smoked, lightly charred medium rare steak slices, sorry for the long description but I’m just so happy to get my steak perfectly cooked, my thermometer will be used all the time now. Once the pizza’s were cooking I searched around for something warming to accompany them with, the weather is sooooo bitterly cold soup is always a good winter warmer, I had two potatoes, and a bag of frozen leeks… Lightbulb time… A firm English favorite in our house, good old leek and potato soup was quickly thrown together in my rice steamer… Voila the perfect dinner for my children, I have never had so many compliments on food before from them… I completely forgot I was in my own house!

We are busily trying to reorganize and decorate upstairs in our house… We started with Mabel’s room, after weeks and weeks, dollars and dollars spent on paint samples she finally came to a decision on the color, Paul has done a fabulous job painting her room, he is such a perfectionist, we will soon be on the finishing touches, the fun part, we have the curtains ready but she wants white wooden slatted blinds and new cream furniture, a long chest of drawers and a dressing table from Ikea! Next room for a makeover is Blu’s drab green room, my Dad has been priming the walls and Paul has started on the perfect grey paint. My Mum is in the process of making gray roman blinds to go with the gray check curtains I already have, all this is going to go with a new dark wood full size bed and tv cabinet and a vintage look British flag bedding set from restoration hardware! If anyone knows anyone who would like to buy a high twin bed with a desk underneath and a red Ikea sofa, let me know as we are selling both from Blu’s room! Finally it’s onto Florrie’s room, I think it will be a very pale pink, again my Mum is going to repurpose Mabel’s old pink gingham curtains into roman blinds and then I will add white ruffled drapes to go with them!

It is extremely cold here, the temperatures are way down in the minuses, so most of the winter I have forgotten to wear my gloves and just worn thick cardigans instead of a coat, but yesterday the chill in the air actually hurt your skin, so I did not forget to put on my gloves and my coat came out of retirement… It looks like we are in for a few more days of this freezing weather and maybe another snow storm on Friday, so I’m off to buy groceries today, stock up my cupboards so that I can stay in, keep warm and at least I know we will be able to eat too… there are so many winter illnesses going around too, I’m thinking of hibernating until this winter is over! Stay warm and keep healthy!

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Birthday Frenzy!

Frozen pizzas, garlic bread sticks, chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream and a glass of red wine all make up a winters Saturday night watching a movie… Priceless, when you just want to relax and forget the events of the past week… Well, that’s how we spent our weekend anyway!

Normally in our house Birthday season does not start until March when Paul kicks off the celebrations, but this year is different as my Mum is staying with us and hers is one of those annoying January Birthdays… Annoying because you just give yourself a huge pat on the back that you have successfully completed Christmas, presents bought, wrapped and opened, food planned, cooked and eaten, children happy and back to school, then BAM, it starts all over again, but this time you have to switch into Birthday mode… This is something I am just not used to and it threw me for a loop!

So my Mum’s Birthday started with a relaxing cup of coffee in bed, then some housework and preparation for the rest of the day… Table laid, cake frosting made and cream whipped! Lewis then cooked my Mum a Birthday Brunch, bacon, scrambled egg and crispy toast… All very delicious! We then chilled out for a while with coffee in the kitchen then it was time to kick off the real celebrations with a glass of wine at our local brew pub down by a very snowy, icy Lake Mohawk!

There is an article in my latest Food network magazine, a Birthday cake for each month of the year, January’s cake was a delicious vanilla cake, so Mabel and I decided that this would be the cake we were going to make my Mum. The ingredients in the sponge were not a conventional equal parts fat to sugar to flour, in fact the cake had considerably less sugar to fat and flour, it also had a large amount of milk/cream and eggs, but I do have to say this was one of the nicest cakes I have tasted, it had a slightly less sweet taste that worked really well with the incredibly buttery vanilla frosting, it was more like a shortbread consistency that really worked well with the whipped cream and strawberries I added to the recipe!

Well my three eldest boys are heading to the Jersey Shore this afternoon… Atlantic City here they come! It will be interesting to see how they have coped since Hurricane Sandy and how much damage there is down there… I have told them I want lots of photos! They have snagged a huge bargain, probably because no one wants to go down there in January, the hotel room for the three of them is only $47 with fees and that is to stay in one of Mr Trumps Casino hotels!

With half the house out tonight it is going to be left over night here tonight… We are having lunch at the trendiest new place in Rockaway, Buffalo Wild Wings, I will report back my verdict of the newest sports bar in town… So my thoughts on dinner are LEFTOVERS, always good to clear out the refrigerator at least once a week!

Two more Birthday wishes go out to my nephews this week, well actually last week too… My brother’s youngest son was 7 last Friday and his eldest son is 12 tomorrow… Where does the time go to, 7 and 12 is just getting too old now! Happy Birthday!

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Happy Birthday Jord

Years ago when we only had our boys, no girls for us, or so we thought, it would have been hard to imagine a Saturday afternoon shopping with just us girls, and for Paul even harder to imagine, but with Blu firmly attached to the Xbox controller at home that’s how we spent yesterday afternoon… 2 gorgeous girls, their Mom and one very lucky Dad having the best afternoon shopping in Rockaway… Yay, mine and Mabel’s favorite pastime ever!

Now don’t get me started, but years ago it would have been not only hard to imagine a girls and their Dad afternoon shopping but an afternoon shopping in a Mall 3500 miles away in the USA, now that would have been really hard to imagine too, but these days we take that all for granted, Macy’s, Target, Abercrombie to name but a few, these are all stores that have become an everyday name to us, sometimes I find it hard to believe that M&S, Monsoon, Laura Ashley are not those stores I just pop into for a quick browse… It’s hard to believe that life has changed so much, yet still in many ways is exactly the same!

With the hot sticky weather upon us I have been finding it harder and harder to menu plan, we are on a healthy eating plan, but we are not taking it too seriously so it does not become an obsession, take yesterday for example we had a healthy breakfast and lunch but then after a long afternoon of shopping we bought a pizza, and instead of feeling guilty which is exactly what I normally do, I’m just excepting it and moving onto another day… A real break though for this Mom who used to be anorexic!

So with the cooking happening outdoors right now, I have been making healthy chicken/salmon and veggie foil parcels for the grill… I bought some Trader Joes sauces to flavor the chicken, I know its cheating a little bit, but its just so much easier, I’ve then been adding my Farmers Market veggies then grilling them until just cooked… They are very healthy, delicious and extremely popular in my house at the moment!

On the menu for tonight is chopped Swiss chard, bruschetta topped chicken served over Alfredo whole wheat spaghetti, with maybe a Mojito on the side!

We were going to head to the beach today but as it is Jordan’s 22nd… Yes I do feel old saying the baby of my older children is going to be 22, anyway as I was saying, Jordan’s Birthday is on Wednesday and most of us are around, we are having an early start for a Birthday breakfast on the beach, with that in mind, Mabel has now chosen a beach theme for Jord’s big day so I’m off to the Christmas tree store for supplies for the big day today… I’m officially getting old, it only seems like yesterday that I was 22 and pregnant with him… Oh well, Happy Sunday everyone!

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