Tuesday, February 2, 2016

8 Healthy Snack Ideas

Confession time.  I've been struggling with lunch and snack ideas lately.  I've noticed after I eat a healthy lunch that I don't feel full (or maybe just not satisfied) so I look for something else to snack on.  This usually means that I open up my favorite tortilla chips from Costco (Late July multigrain) and eat a few too many of them or I eat some nut butter mixed with chocolate chips (yummy, but not a great choice).  I've noticed that my stomach hasn't felt very good when I've done this and it's time to make some changes.

I made a list this morning of healthy snacks which have low or no cholesterol.  I looked a little bit online for some ideas and was happy to see that most of what I've been eating were suggested ideas (except maybe the tortilla chips and chocolate chips...I have a love for "chips" that I need to get over).

Maybe I should think of dried apples as apple "chips"... That might work.  :)

Here are 8 of my favorite snack ideas:  

1.  Popcorn.  I air-popped some popcorn (with a little smart balance spread mixed with butter) for my boys to put in their lunch this morning.  I'm going to use my whirleypop to make some popcorn with just a little oil and salt for me.

2.  Sliced apples with almond butter.  I'm going to try these chocolate peanut butter apples with coconut and almonds some day when I'm feeling indulgent.  

3.  Natural peanut butter in celery sticks.

4.  Veggies with hummus.  (I buy the single serving size Sabra hummus at Costco and love to eat it with sweet peppers, cucumbers, and carrots.)  

5.  Edamame.  I love it plain (after cooking it according to the package directions).  And I made these crispy roasted edamame last night.   Yummy!

6.  Dried fruit.  I love making dried apples.  And I LOVE dried mangos from Costco/Sam's Club.  

7.  Almonds.  I love nuts, maybe too much.  I especially love raw almonds.  

8.  Homemade salsa (my favorite and seriously so easy!) with baked tortilla chips.  I love both of these things and eat them all the time.  So yummy.  

For me, it's easy to get stuck in a rut when trying to eat healthy.  If you have any favorites that I haven't thought of, please share.  Have a good day!

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Week 349 Menu: It's February!

Happy February 1st everyone!  It's kind of nice to start a new month, isn't it?  

 Here are a few things I've loved about today:

The sun is shining.
The high of 44 feels warm.
Went on a run/walk with my little guy in the jogger to the store.
Surprised my little guy by going to the park.
My body feels tired (good tired) because my jogging stroller muscles are out of shape.
My fridge is the cleanest it's ever been (this required taking apart a shelf to remove the glass).
My freeze drawer fully closes now that I removed the layer of ice on the bottom of the freezer.
We have lots of clean clothes (which may or may not be folded by tonight).
We have yummy chocolate pudding cookies to eat for dessert tonight.   

This week is full our our regular activities.  Nothing too crazy.

Meny time...

Monday:  Baked Orange Turkey Meatballs, rice/quinoa, roasted broccoli

Tuesday:  Black Bean Lasagna

Wednesday:  Pepperoni Bread, veggies and ranch, fruit slices

Thursday: Chicken Pot Pie
Saturday:  easy night

Sunday:  Slow Cooker Pot Roast w/Italian Roasted Vegetables

What are you making this week?  Happy February! 

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Homemade Play Dough

I realized the other day that my three year old hasn't played with playdough much in his life.  He is really good at begging me to watch shows on Netflix every second that we're home, but that's not the point.  I am determined to do better at having fun projects for him to play with, since he won't go to kindergarten for three more years and there aren't any siblings at home for him to play with.  

Anyway...back to playdough.  I used to buy playdough all the time when my older kids were little.  After years of picking it up off of the carpet (curse you carpeted dining rooms!) and throwing away dried out containers of different playdough colors mixed together I stopped buying it.  My three year old doesn't even play with it at church because we have a new building and playdough is banned! :)  

I've made salt dough before that my kids have played with and then thrown away.  I decided to try a different recipe for playdough and it was a success!  At first I was skeptical, thinking that it didn't have enough flour in it, but then it started cooking and was a globby, chunky mess.  I pressed on and stirred for a minute or two and it started looking more promising and sticking together.  Then I kneaded it by hand on the counter and all the globs and chunks disappeared and it because beautiful, smooth, soft playdough that my three year old was begging to play with.

I got out all of play dishes and utensils and showed my little guy how to play with playdough.  Instantly, his need to watch Netflix disappeared and he played non stop for several hours, smashing it into muffins tins and on top of plastic waffles.  Later he carried it around in a giant ball form and rolled it around on the floor.

Quality fun!

Homemade Play Dough

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. salt  
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 c. water (colored with food coloring, if desired)
  1. In a medium sauce pan, stir together flour, salt and cream of tartar. 
  2. Turn heat onto medium high heat and add oil and water. 
  3. Stir, stir, stir and the mixture will thicken quickly and start pulling away from the pan. When the dough is the consistency that you like (only takes 3 or so minutes of cooking) remove from pan. 
  4. Knead the dough with your hands on the countertop for a minute until it's smooth and cooled.
Store in an airtight container. It should last several months.
Recipe source:  DIYnatural.com

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bits & Pieces: 10 things to share on a Wednesday

Hi there!  Can you believe January is almost over?  Craziness!  It's been a while since I've done a Bits & Pieces post (post totally about random things).  I have lots of things to share with you.  So here goes!

1.  My three big kids ("big" meaning school aged) are playing basketball.  This means that our Saturdays are full of lots of basketball games.  And the week is pretty busy with six different practices.  They are loving it though, so it's worth it!  Here's my free-throw shooting 9 year old!

2.  I hosted a baby shower (girls night) for my friend that is having baby #4.  My friend is gluten-free, so it was fun to think of gluten free food to have.  I made a few treats and had some cucumber lemon water ready and everyone else brought other yummy food.  I made some churro chex mix and white chocolate popcorn w/chocolate peanuts.  Yum!  

4.  Last week for dinner I tried a new soup recipe, Creamy Chicken Gnocchi, from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  I served it with our favorite Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread.  It was so good and the soup was super yummy and it didn't even have a bit of butter in it.  I'll be making it again for sure! 

5.  I posted on instagram yesterday a picture of the skinny banana fudge muffins from Our Best Bites.  I made for an afterschool snack for my kiddos.  So yummy!  It was the perfect way to use up the three bananas that were browning on my counter.  I loved that it didn't have any oil/butter in it.  The recipe calls for 2/3 c. sugar, but next time I'm going to use half that amount and they'll still be plenty sweet.  

6.  I've been eyeing this rosemary oil that our local Country Mercantile sells.  I met a few friends there for lunch and bought a bottle.  It smells and tastes divine!  I love rosemary.  I tossed some potatoes and sweet potatoes in it along with salt and pepper and roasted them for dinner last week to eat with our bistro chicken.  

Last night I rubbed some rosemary oil on my spaghetti squash before roasting it and also tossed some broccoli in it and then roasted it.  After roasting I sprinkled all the veggies with a tiny bit of fresh parmesan cheese.  Um, yum!

7.  I bought these Papa Pita flatbreads at Costco a few weeks ago to make quick french dip sandwiches with (instead of stuffing the meat into a pita we just folded the meat, cheese and green chile onto the flatbread.  
Papa Pita 7" Greek Pita Flat Bread, 12 ct
The next night I used the leftover flatbreads to make pizza, BBQ chicken pizza and pepperoni.  It actually made a really yummy crust!  My kids were mad that there weren't more.  I'll be stocking up on these to put in our freezer for easy dinners.  
Recipe for this BBQ chicken pizza coming soon!  

8.  This cat thinks it lives at our house.  It's huge and I swear it's part bobcat.  But it really loves our deck and won't leave.  It creepily stares at me during the day.  Anyone want a cat?  (Not even joking.)

9.  My six year old is loving Monopoly.  He'll play with anyone no matter what time it is.  He stomped me the other day!

And finally, #10....I have a cold.  Thank you to my germ-sharing children.  :)  Hopefully it doesn't last long because I'm sure my family would me not sneezing on them anymore.  

What's new with you?  Have you tried any recipes lately that are so good that you'd love to share?  

Have a great week!  

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Week 348 Menu

Happy Monday everyone!

I'm so happy that we've had sunny skies the last few days.  Such a nice break from a few months of gray and rain, fog, mist, etc.  I'm super happy that it's getting light earlier and staying light longer.  

Last week we survived/enjoyed another pinewood derby!  With these three boys we have seven more consecutive years of pinewood derbies to go!  

This week is another full week, like normal, with practices, piano lessons, church activities, etc. after school.  I've been doing better the last few weeks at actually making what I plan and having dinner ready earlier.  If I have dinner ready earlier, then hopefully we can all go to bed earlier, and then I can wake up earlier and go running, which makes me happy.  :)

Menu planning time.  I'm going to try a few new recipes this week to mix things up a bit.   

Monday:  spaghetti

Tuesday:  white chili

Wednesday:  steak and veggie stirfry

Thursday:  my daughter requested meatball sandwiches (so yummy!)

Friday:  I'm going to try this recipe for black bean lasagna

Saturday: easy night

Sunday:  try creamy Italian sausage and potato soup, best french bread ever

What are you making this week?  I love it when you share.  Thank you when you do!  

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Need more dinner ideas?  Find all of my weekly menus here.  (#348 of them!)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Week 347 and 20 hours of driving

Hi everyone!  I'm happy to have a day off today to spend with my kiddos at home.  My weekend ended up being different than I originally planned.  My dad's older brother died unexpectedly and I got the chance to go to his funeral.  

I drove 10 hours to Utah with my cousin who lives a few miles away from me (without our families) on Friday and came back on Sunday.  It was good to be with my family and to be there to hear my dad share stories at the funeral.  Almost all of my cousins and extended family were there, most of whom I hadn't seen for at least 10-15 years.  It was nice to reconnect, reminisce and give hugs.  I am forever grateful for my faith and belief that we will be with our families after death.  This brings so much comfort to me. 

This quote was on the top of my instagram feed this morning.  It sums up pretty much all of my feelings about things as death puts things back into perspective.  Make the most of today and remember the good things about the past without dwelling on it.  
I'm thankful for my family for functioning without me this weekend.  It was nice to come home to happy kids, a clean house and groceries in the fridge and laundry washed and put away.  I'm also thankful for friends that I can just send a text to and they'll do anything I ask.  

Menu planning is pretty easy this week since I didn't make much of what I'd planned last week.

Tuesday:    Bistro Chicken, garlic mashed potatoes

Wednesday:  Quick French Dip Pitas, baked sweet potato fries

Thursday:   BBQ Chicken Pizza

Friday:  spaghetti

Saturday: easy night 

Sunday:  roast, potatoes, etc.  

What are you making this week?  I hope you all have a great week.  I'm going to work on being a little nicer, more patient and making my home a little bit more peaceful and organized.

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