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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MIA…

The summer used to signify rest and relaxation for me, when my older boys were young the start of the summer holidays/recess meant long lazy days, no alarms meant laying in bed all morning watching tv and on those days we planned an outing we would be up extra early visiting places before the crowds arrived… The beach trips meant leaving the house at 6am and getting to the beach with a breakfast picnic and a flask of coffee, just as the crowds arrived at lunch time we would pack up and leave… I thank my very good friend for showing me this way of summer beaching… Such fond memories!

Now these past two weeks of summer have not been like that, it’s been go, go, go… We have left too late for trips to the beach, meaning we have arrived at the beach to find crowds of people and then have sat in hours of traffic on our way home. When we have been at home all I have heard is I’m bored, I’m hungry and what are we doing tomorrow?

With the weeks of the summer flying by I want to bring back rest and relaxation with a healthy mix of days out and chores around the house… I need to get organized right now!

We got together one evening and for the first time ever we planned a summer list of want to do’s…

Morristown… Cake boss shop… Completed
Dingmans Falls walk
Flea market
Beach… Completed
Water play park
Dorney Park/water park
LBI
Arboretum… Completed
Mall… Completed
Read a book… Completed by Mabel
Concerts in the park… Completed one movie in the park
Bowling
Arts and crafts projects
Hyline NY
Zoo
Go carting
Mini golf

As you can see we have completed a lot of our list in just two weeks, in between all that fun we have also had a lot of excitement with some relaxing pool time courtesy of our friends beautiful pool, and also Mabel has had a wonderful sleepover and a two day community pool play date… All this water fun led to us purchasing an adventure waterproof camera… The underwater photos are amazing and not worrying about sand in my camera on the beach is so good!

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If you love taking your camera everywhere you go… Then I would recommend an all adventure camera, taking photos in the pool is amazing and beach photos become worry free… Sand in the camera is no longer a worry… Our camera was on offer in Costco $149.99, $50 off and included a float handle, so when your not using your camera it can just Bob around in the pool, waiting for the next time you want to snap away… Mabel has taken selfies to a new level… Underwater… So much fun!

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As always I must mention food… My summer favorite at the moment is salad with fresh figs, a suggestion from Rachael Ray, yesterday I bought some beautiful fresh figs from Trader Joes, I quartered them and added them to my green salad, drizzled balsamic glaze over and it was sooooo good! Tonight I am making a variation of the Pioneer Woman’s Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches with a nice fruity green salad again…. Happy summer cooking!

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Allergies and a pain in the neck!

Having a baby with allergies is proving a challenge…but a challenge this mommy is willing to take on! We visited a gastric pediatric doctor recently as there were concerns about Tate’s liver and his bilirubin levels… Thankfully his liver seems fine, but he does have a jaundice that is linked to breastfeeding, no big deal, or so I thought, but after several repeat blood tests we are now going to have several more tests done in the coming weeks… hopefully in time his bilirubin levels will drop as he begins to eat solid foods and less breast milk… What also came out of this visit though was his milk allergy, she took one look at his mucus poohy diaper and told me that he most definitely had a milk allergy, she explained how my reducing or eliminating milk proteins from my diet would help my baby if he was fussy, so after many sleepless nights I thought it would be worth a try and it worked… A solid 6 hours of sleep… BLISS!

It was lovely getting some sleep, well that was until Memorial Day Monday when we sat Tate in the shade on a friends deck whilst we had a swim, after a nap I noticed how snuffly he was, as the day went on he seemed to struggle with breathing slightly, this had happened the previous week too when we had done the same thing, there was a lot of pollen everywhere so it leads me to think there may be a link. It has taken several days of very limited outdoor exposure but Tate is definitely less snuffy, for the past two nights he has slept a full 6-7 hours before waking and he seems much more content!

After a week of being very careful with the dairy in my diet and limited pollen exposure I have a beautiful happy baby… Fingers crossed it continues, but who knows, each day is very different with a newborn baby!

Having a young baby means organization is important, so now that my Mum has gone home and salad season is upon us, I am implementing a new healthy eating campaign in our house and to do that I need a system of chopping all fruit and veggies when I get home from grocery shopping, that way salads and smoothies are so quick and easy, with a young baby and a three year old in the house who knows how much time I will have available for meal prep from day to day, and after some of the articles I have read recently eating cleanly and healthily, real food is important because who knows what secret ingredients lie in processed every day foods we buy from the grocery store!

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Kitchen prep has been a life saver this week, I woke up on Wednesday morning with an extremely painful neck, after a doctors appointment yesterday it appears to be a swollen disc that is pinching a nerve… Great, the doctor says it can take anything from one week to several weeks to heal! All my well thought ahead chopped fruit and veggies have meant that we still can eat healthily without doing too much! Lean green smoothies for breakfast are proving to be a healthy favorite for Florence, with hidden ingredients like carrots and spinach, she actually asks for a smoothie every morning! We have been having salad with everything this week, lots of healthy greens and chopped mushrooms make up a filling salad bowl each day, all completely dairy free and no gluten in sight!

On the subject of gluten, Costco’s are once again proving to be the best place for gluten free products, ranging from cereal for breakfast to burgers for the grill later in the day, all are very reasonably priced and taste delicious! Their huge box of spring mix salad leaves are organic, naturally gluten free and a bargain price for the amount you get! Another great shop for gluten and dairy free products is surprisingly Shop Rite, a large selection of everything dairy free from milk to yogurts to ice cream products, again all were very reasonably priced… I managed to get a large tub of vanilla coconut milk yogurt for adding to a big bowl of strawberries, a vegan mayonnaise and delicious coconut milk ice cream! My dairy free milk of choice this week was rice milk, so far I am liking it, but the true test will be when I add it to my new gluten free organic cereal I purchased from Costco this week!

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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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Project runway…

I am going to mumble on today about a few of my favorite new foods we have tried recently… The first and my most favorite is a new salad mix from Costco, I am totally in love with this one, but unfortunately I have not been able to get it now for 2 weeks… Boo hoo! It is a super food salad made up of kale, shredded brussel sprouts and other great green leafy veggies, you add to that dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and a poppy seed dressing… I am telling you, it is out of this world delicious!

Another first try for us is the puffed and lightly sweetened rice rolls from Trader Joes, OMG, so good for a light low calorie snack, especially when you are craving something sweet! They are the right amount of sweet and fill an empty hole in your tummy with only 45 calories per roll… Delicious and good for you!

A favorite in our house, especially with Mabel is quinoa, this has now replaced her love of cous, cous! Quinoa is a fabulous healthy grain that is so versatile and delicious mixed with salads and endless other dishes, last night I paired it with a warm chicken curry salad… Super healthy!

On the subject of new favorites, but on a slightly different subject… Cooking, I am loving making warm summer salads at the moment… with our BBQ not working at the moment, we are still deciding which direction to go with this one… An overhaul and service or a brand spanking new one? Anyway warm summer salads have been a food direction I have come to love, especially with this new salad mix made up of my hardy green leafy vegetables and raw sugar snap peas, add to that whatever you choose, beans, pulses, healthy grains then I have been topping the whole thing with the warm casserole I have made, last night it was chicken curry, the sauce acts as a warm dressing for the hardy raw salad and tossed together is delicious, slightly strange I know, but it really does work well!

Changing the subject now… Crafting has become a big addiction in my life, I have sewn a tepee playhouse for my Florrie’s 2nd Birthday, crocheted three sun hats and knitted a cocoon blanket in the last month. My ongoing project is a granny square blanket and now my new sewing project is an outdoor seat cushion for my old wicker sofa for the new deck area… I am loving discovering how much I love to create handmade things for the people I love in my life! Happy crafting!

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Changes…

Wow… It’s only taken me 45 years to realize how important our diet really is to our well being, after being an anorexic teenager and suffering from IBS on and off for many years, I am finally understanding binge eating chocolate and chips, then starving yourself is so bad for you… Duh! With recent events in our household the stress levels meant I did not eat for over a week, this has triggered the horrible symptoms of IBS to rear its ugly head again… So it’s time to squash this thing once and for all… I am very good at preaching a healthy diet to others, but to actually practice it for myself is another thing… Every morning I make an ultra healthy salad for Paul’s lunch, but then when it comes to lunch time I binge snack on all the bad things I can find because I cannot be bothered to throw a simple healthy lunch together for myself… Well it’s time to change the bad habits of a lifetime!

One of my thoughts in rehabilitating myself is to buy a juicer, it’s a thought at the moment, but maybe I will find it easier to drink lots of fruit instead of just looking at it in the bottom of my fridge … Thoughts from everyone would be appreciated here… Good, bad or just a complete waste of money? When I’m hungry and in need of a snack, I automatically reach for something unhealthy, whatever is easiest really, I don’t think oh that apple looks yummy, I will eat that!

One of the things recommended to Jordan recently by his Gastro doctor for good digestive health was Activia, probiotic yogurts, I often look at them in stop and shop, but this week I actually bought them, I am trying to have one for breakfast every day, this is my second day and I do have to say yesterday I did feel less bloated, but that may have just been my imagination because I want them to help… I will continue to have them for breakfast and see if it does help and make me feel better!

My grocery shopping has changed over recent years, we went to Trader Joes last weekend and I noted that almost half of my bill was actually organic fruit and vegetables, also my dry goods were mainly brown organic rice products or fully gluten free, our snacks were more healthy granola bars… In years past the refined processed products would have filled my cart… Much to my older children’s frustration our pantry and refrigerator is now 80% healthy organic produce and grains… Now I need to really start eating this stuff myself, not just giving it to my family, then binge eating all day on the cheese that sits in the fridge door!

I am also trying hard to reduce my stress levels… Difficult in our house, believe me… My Mum’s brother has always said ‘don’t worry about things that may never happen’, well this is my new motto in life, I have spent my whole life worrying about anything and everything, so now I am trying to live one day at a time, deal with that day and then move on… Easier said than done, but I am trying!

Have a great day… Look for the positives and not the negatives around you… And just be happy!

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When life gets tough get your crochet hook out…

Well life has certainly been crazy for the last few weeks, crazy in a weird, not so good way really, but we are working our way though the craziness… I think when life throws you a curve ball it makes you realize we cannot take this life for granted, it makes us stop and take stock of the things that are important to us and then move forward… Well that’s what has happened to me!

Back to life as we know it… Well life as I know it anyway… the sun has been shining and spring has finally arrived here in our little corner of New Jersey, yesterday saw the temperature rising to 79f, I don’t care what anyone says, the feeling of spring and the thoughts of long summer days makes everything feel so much better, no matter what is going on in your life!

Healthy eating is back on the agenda in our house, after a few weeks of eating, well all I will say on this subject is JUNK food, and sitting around like fat cat couch potatoes… It’s time to break out the salad leaves and chop some tomatoes… My grocery shopping this week was so healthy, fruit, grains, vegetables and beans, it has freaked out my older children and now stop and shop is their hang out place for their addiction to all things unhealthy!

Weekly Menu plan

1). Broccoli rice bowl

2). Chicken … white bean ragout on toast

3). Chicken …Pasta salad with grilled vegetables and mozzarella – whole foods app

4). Grilled steak with Thai summer salad – whole foods app

5). Sausage. .. Red potato and asparagus salad – whole foods app

6). Kale, carrot and avacado salad – whole foods app

7). Lentil and cous cous salad with arugula – whole foods app

I have also picked up my crochet hook again, I love to crochet, it is very therapeutic… I love to knit also but there is just something about that hook compared to a pair of needles, it really helps to organize my thoughts and just chill out… I am making a blanket from last months Mollie Makes Magazine… Oh how I love that magazine… The blanket is super easy and my little granny squares are fun in different colors!

I am also in super organizing mode, my whole house has been a disaster zone, with all the craziness I have been very uninspired really, but the sun has inspired me to go crazy and get my house sorted out… For anyone that knows me really well, I am a huge shabby chic fan, I love distressed mismatched style and after living in this house for 4 years I really want to make it my own, pale colors, shabby chic, shaker style, stripes, checks (plaids) and faded florals, are all in the future of this old, newish house! Flea Markets are on the horizon for weekend outings this summer, also pots of beautiful geraniums out on my deck… Time for this one time decorating freak to get her long lost mojo back!

With thoughts of spring gardening, and pots of pale paint ready to adorn my walls… I will wish you all warm sunny thoughts and get on with my day!

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