Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving ... My Style

So Thanksgiving has come and gone...the day, at least. I used to hate that Thanksgiving was over way too quickly, because it's my favorite holiday. Stripped of all the rigmarole of Christmas and with no religious ties, it's simply the perfect family holiday. It's a day to be grateful for all that we have and a time to spend with those who mean the most to us. 

Thanksgiving used to seem so short because I'd cook for hours and hours and then in 30 minutes or less we were actually done with the meal. Our Thanksgiving is longer now. It's not just Thanksgiving Day, but Thanksgiving weekend.  We make it last in our family. It starts with me cooking all day while the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and football play in the background and listening to the sounds of the 4 men in my life doing various and sundry things.  At our meal we all go around the table and say what we are thankful for and why.  After dinner, a walk, and then (drumroll)...Punkin' Chunkin'. Fun, fun, fun!  The rest of the weekend is ours to spend together just hanging out. We took the kids bowling today and I channeled my inner Dude. What I discovered is that I need to listen to more bowling to really get myself Zen with the ball. We had a great time. Other things we do are Poker games, movies, hot chocloate and smores over a fierpit in the backyard. Good times...good times.

As a vegetarian, I do not eat the turkey, but I do indulge in all the sides.  It's a very carb heavy meal though and I don't veganize anything. It is  clearly more carbs and sugar than I get in a month, but boy, is it worth it!  Next year, I'm going to try one new vegetable dish of some sort with our regular meal. And while I did eat my weight in Julie's Sweet Potatoes and our family's sage dressing with gravy, I did not eat any desserts. Alot of people prepare much healthier Thanksgiving menus than I do, and they like it, and that's okay. For me, though,  no matter what, I want what is traditional for me just minus the meat. I feel like it is a holiday, and so if I get a little more sugar than ususal, that's okay because 90 % of the time I eat much healthier. I don't think one meal will derail me in any meaningful way from my healthier lifestyle goals. And I am not a food monk. When I think of healthier Thanksgiving meals, I think of the Everybody Loves Raymond episode where Marie, on a health kick, tried to serve the family Tofu turkey.   I am not a fan of tofu, nor am I dissing tofu for those who want to eat it, but it doesn't mean Thanksgivng to me.
I guess I go back to Everything in Moderation when I deal with Holiday eating. It's just how I roll...
So, regardless if yours was a vegan, vegetrian, nutritarian, weight watchers, south beach, standard American diet Thanksgiving or whatever, I hope it was the best and that it was filled with food, family , and happy memories.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Football Food

This past month has been a really hard one, food-wise, anyway. One of my kids has football practice  2 1/2 hours each night and 5 nights a week for 4 weeks. It plays heck with us every August. And dinner? It just has to be quick and easy and "fit in" to our hectic schedule.

While DH and I do mostly soups and salads for dinner, the kids are a bit more tricky. Many times, my football guy just wants to grab a hot pocket before practice...the perfect amount of food for him and easy to make and eat. Thus far, I have been unsuccessful at making them from scratch, but I will keep trying. During football month, some of the things the kiddos regularly eat are listed below. Not all of them are listed, and not all of them are  homemade, but I just have to survive is my August motto, and a little prepackaged food is just going to have to be okay for the least for now.

August Quick Meals
Fish sticks (SB-store bought)
Mac n cheese (HM-homemade)
rotisserie chicken (SB)
Lo rotisserie chicken quesadillas (HM)
sandwiches, turkey clubs
hamburgers and fries (HM)
hot dogs and pizza pockets (SB)
parfaits and yogurt
carrots, green beans, broccoli
grilled cheese and tom soup
Oatmeal Chicken (HM)
Chicken fried rice-great LO (HM)
eggs and waffles

This week our practices go to only 2 nights a week with a Friday night walk thru...much better for us and our eating. The kids are always glad when football goes to 3 nights a week because in their words, "Mom can finally cook again!"

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Almost Tumbleweed's Chimichanga

I love Mexican it! However, chips and salsa are like a drug to me...once I have them, I don't want to stop eating them. I must have more. And then there is the cheese...the ooey gooey, yummy, ummy melted creamy goodness...oh my! Two great reasons why I avoid Mexican restaurants now that I am eating a lot healthier: addicting chips and salsa and loads of delicious melted cheese.

I used to LOVE a Tex Mex Restaurant in my home town called Tumbleweed.  When I was eating on the SAD (Standard American Diet), I thought it was the best.My standard meal was  3 tons (at least) of chips and salsa and a bean and cheese chimichanga (like a deep fried burrito) with enchilada sauce and sour cream. Not that it mattered much, but later, I switched to just a bean and cheese burrito, enchilada style with sour cream. In my mind, it was much healthier than its fried counterpart, the chimi. It wasn't fried so I guess that made it slightly better, but only slightly. At that time in my life, the unfried burrito probably didn't make that much of an impact on my health since I was eating poorly all around.  I wasn't plant strong then and hadn't a clue what a processed food was...I'm not sure back then I had even heard the term.

Well, I eat totally differently now. I guess we do gain some wisdom as we grow up. I am now plant strong and off most processed foods.  Most of what I eat is either a whole food or something I make from scratch. There are very few processed food exceptions that I'm still working on, but very few. This whole thing is a process though, right? 

And, I still miss Mexican Food sometimes ( the ooey, gooey, yummy, ummy, bad for you kind).  I have not been to a Mexican Restaurant in 1 1/2 choice. I have still eaten Mexican food, but I have made it myself: like picante beans with brown rice , unfried refried beans with veggie quesadillas, and meatless taco salad.  So I made my own version of a Tumbleweed chimichanga that is unfried and much healthier.  Now, I need to try to find a recipe for an enchilada sauce that is equally as yummy as the canned kind I usually use because I really think it's the sauce that is reminiscent of my past chimichanga love. But for now, the canned sauce will have to do. Love, Love, Love this recipe!

Almost Tumbleweed's Bean & Cheese Chimichanga

whole wheat flour tortillas (soft taco size)
shredded lettuce
chopped Roma tomatoes
sour cream or vegan alternative
1/4 c Daiya cheese or lite shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c refried beans of choice or my unfried refried bean recipe
nonstick cooking spray
Macayo's Enchilada sauce (red)

Spread 1/4 c beans in the center of a whole wheat tortilla.
Top with 1/4 c lite cheese or Daiya.
Roll up like a burrito and spray the outside with nonstick cooking spray.
Cook in the oven at 350F or on the stove top in a skillet till golden brown.
While the chimi is cooking, warm up some enchilada sauce.
Put the cooked chimi on a plate and top
with 1/8 c warmed enchilada sauce
and a dollop of sour cream if you desire.
Serve with shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes. Yum!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Blueberry-Banana Muffins and Weekend Round Up

So, school officially starts 1 week from today, and so this past weekend, we spent all day Saturday school shopping, aka spending a ton of money.  I know things were less expensive when I was a kid, but now that I have to shop for my 3 kids, I really feel for my parents and don't know how they managed the back to school shopping thing with 5 kids.  So, many pants, shirts, notebooks, calculators, and pencils later, I think we're ready. This week we'll be going to bed earlier and getting up at regular school time to get ourselves ready.  And thus it begins...

By the way, the freezer pop molds I bought work great. I think that they will be a cool addition to our school lunch/after school snack routine, and a great way for me to use left over smoothies. I made a strawberry banana  blend that my smoothie loving child loved.  My next batch will be very vanilla to accommodate a picky eater's tastes. The good thing about these tubes is that they are easy to push up and very compact. I didn't notice any weird smell or taste due to the silicone, and my tops stayed on perfectly.

Muffins are big in my house. We love them for breakfast and snacks. I found a muffin recipe when reorganizing my recipe book that I got from my beautiful sister, Tricia, years ago. I'm not sure where the original recipe came from or even if I have the exact recipe, but they are a hit in my house. They are moist and delish.

Blueberry Banana Muffins

1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2-3/4 c sugar (I use 1/2 heaping cup)
1/4 c ground flax
1 tsp each baking soda and baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp chia seeds (optional)
1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)
1 c min frozen blueberries ( I use Trader Joe's brand Organic Wild  Blueberries.  Add them last.)
1 mashed banana
1 c skim milk
1 egg
1 Tbsp vegetable oil oil or unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a muffin pan with nonstick spray.

Add flour  through walnuts in a bowl and mix.

In another bowl, whisk banana through vanilla.

Next, add frozen blueberries to dry ingredients and mix gently just to coat.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir gently to mix.

Put into muffin tins and bake for 15-18 minutes till done (test with a toothpick) and browned on top.  Makes 12 muffins.

Let cool 5-10 minutes before removing from pan.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I just found the best new blog to peruse and subscribe to:  100 Days of Real Food.  There are great ideas about ways to be healthier on this blog as well as meal plans and a ton of information on food and healthy eating topics. I can't wait to read more from Lisa, the blog's creator, because there's some fascinating stuff there. And, she uses freezer pop molds similar to the ones I just bought. Who knew?  My first batch is in the freezer now.  And with back to school looming (only 1 1/2 weeks away for us), she's got a whole section on school lunches from ideas about what to send, to lunch boxes, kitchen aids, and accessories to ensure school lunch success.

I find her blog really interesting since her goal was to get rid of the processed crap and only eat  real food. We have done this to some extent in our house, but we are still a really big work in progress. Whether you go cold turkey though or want to make baby steps towards  a life unprocessed, this blog will have something for you. I guarantee it. So check out 100 Days of Real Food today. I think you'll be glad you did.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

So, granola em or hate em, they are a great way to eat something healthy because they are compact, easy to carry, and easy to eat.  Before I went plant strong, I used to buy them in bulk at my local Sam's or Costco store and send them to lunch with my kiddos or have them available as an afternoon snack. These granola bars were not all that healthy, just convenient. Below is the ingredient list on a kind we bought all the time.


Scary, I know. I am much more enlightened now and haven't bought any granola bars for two years. Instead, I've been trying different recipes and getting feedback from the peanut gallery. Finally, I think I have found a recipe that works for us. I reworked the recipe a little, of course, to make it even a little better. I like these granola bars because they are moist and chewy...not at all dry like most of the healthier homemade granola bars I have tried.Best of all, I know all of the ingredients and I recognize and can pronounce every one. And they are a hit at my house. With 1 teenager, 2 preteens, and myself and my batch goes very quickly...too quickly...

The link to the original recipe by CMOTSINGER on SparkRecipes is here. It is good. My version is below.  Check out SparkRecipes on for more cool recipes.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Number of Servings: Depends on how you cut them.


2 cups quick oats or organic regular oats pulsed into quick cooking size                                              
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 c brown sugar (next time, I will try using a little less)
1/2 c mini semi sweet chocolate chips (you can use regular sized chips too or dark choclate chips if that is your thing.)
1/2 c ground flax
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c chopped nuts
1/2 c all natural, unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c honey
1 egg
2 Tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350F, line 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper.

In large bowl, stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, chocolate chips, ground flax, chia seeds, cinnamon, and nuts. In smaller bowl blend applesauce, honey, egg, water and vanilla. Pour into the flour mixture, and mix  until the liquid is evenly distributed. If for some reason it seems dry, add a little more water. Mine is always fine the way the recipe is written, but it can seem not as moist if your applesauce is super thick. Use your best judgement. Press into the prepared pan.

Bake 20 min or until the edges are golden. Cool completely in pan before placing on cutting board and cutting into bars. I cooked mine till it was lightly browned on top too...your choice.

Tips If you take the bars out too soon, before they are cooled completely, they might break apart. Let them cool first.
Any kind of nuts can be used. The original recipe called for pecans, but use whatever nut your family enjoys. slice almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, pepitas, and walnuts all work well.  You can also use a mixture of nuts and raisins or other dried fruit. I think that would work well too. Just play with it according to your own tastes.
I usually use the applesauce in this recipe, however, I was out so today I used 1/2 c canola oil which is what the original recipe calls for.
I use ground flax, but oat bran or wheat germ would also work.
I am a vegetarian, but I do eat eggs. If you do not, use either an egg substitute or try a flax-water mix.
This granola bar is great as an afternoon snack or as a compliment to any lunch. We take it with us a lot to our son's football games so we have a vegetarian, healthy snack should we get hungry.

Friday, July 20, 2012

How Important is Your Health?

Today on my Facebook homepage I saw the question below from Talia Fuhrman on the Disease Proof website:

Have you ever heard someone say,
 "I'd rather enjoy my food and die early than eat healthfully and live long"?

I  hear this all the time from people and I don't really understand why.  My guess is that it must be because they view healthy food as "rabbit food'" often lacking in flavor and tummy satisfaction.  I have found quite the opposite to be true. Some of the best food I've ever eaten has been "healthy."  Healthier food choices like whole grains, lean meats (if you are a meat eater), fruits, and vegetables aren't always as "sexy" as as many of the SAD-Standard American Diet food choices (I get that), but they can keep you feeling better in the long run.  Personally, I'd rather eat a healthy diet and maybe avoid some diseases and illnesses that might affect the quality of my life down the road, including quality time with my children and family.

It's about personal responsibility and taking your health into your own hands. We all have one body in this life, and it is so important to take good care of it. But like anything, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. Good nutrition and exercise training is a valuable tool for people, but it's up to each individual if he or she chooses to use it. I would suggest to people who think like the quote says to try some healthier food choices and see how they feel. I can tell you that since I have started on this healthy lifestyle journey, that I physically feel better, and I can now taste things that I've never  really tasted before.  With my palate unencumbered by  all of the preservatives and fake food ingredients, I am tasting some foods for the very first time. I realise that there are so many flavors out there to try...still, and I look forward to each new flavor experience. But, you don't know until you try it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I had a different topic planned for today, but in my inbox this morning, I had this entry, Food Blogs and What I Ate Wednesday from Shelby at Everyday Vegan Girl.  It really resonated with me. I too believe that health and food bloggers are not necessarily immune to food issues and that it's okay that they blog even though they are not perfect. Read the article because its a good one as well as her guest post, How Food Blogs Can Affect Your Health at the blog, Around the Plate.  I responded to Shelby in the comment section, which I rarely do, because I felt it was important. Below is my comment to her:

Thanks for posting this. It's been something I have struggled with in writing my own Blog, Banana Boats and Cabbage Patches. I am on a journey where food and health are concerned and while I post a lot about healthy eating, topics related to it , and recipes, I am not an "expert." I am a work in progress for sure, and like you, I feel I have some worthy things to say even if I'm not "completely there" yet. I have very few readers and mostly, I blog for me because I find it cathartic. I appreciate your post today because I think this topic is something that all us food bloggers in progress need to remind ourselves of. Thanks.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I Know It's Not Monday, But...

I was late by one day to post my menu to Laura"s Menu Plan Monday, but here it is now. Better late than never, I guess. Check out Laura's Blog for more dinner ideas.

                -Kids:  Hamburger BBQ, broccoli, fruit or yogurt

Tuesday-All:  Meatless Vegetarian Lasagna, salad, and bread

Wednesday-  DH and myself:  Vegetable Soup
                       -Kids:  LO lasagna

Thursday-  DH and myself:  Big Salad
                    -Kids:  Chicken Washington, green beans, cheese sauce, fruit or yogurt, 30 Minute Rolls

Friday-DH and myself:  Picante Beans and Brown Rice, carrot sticks, fruit or yogurt
             - Kids:  .LO chicken, Quesadillas, LO green beans, carrot sticks, fruit or yogurt

Saturday- DH and myself:  Out to Dinner, Pizza for the kids

Sunday- YOYO:  your on your own (LO, hot pockets, sub sandwiches,hot dogs, salad, soup, etc.)

Monday/Tuesday- DH and I:  Big Salad w/HM croutons
                                =Kids:  meatloaf, mashed potatoes, peas & carrots, applesauce

Friday, July 13, 2012

Getting Ready for a New School Year

With the new school year right around the corner,I  am already starting to do my lunchbox planning so that not everything is left till the last minute. We start school on August 6th, so it's coming quick.  A friend of mine posted this on her Facebook page this week, and I thought it was inspired. Now, I am not going to tell you that my kids have never eaten a Lunchable...they have. But I mostly try to save those for field trips... and then only if the kids ask me for them. The good thing is that they hardly ever do. They say it doesn't taste as good as what I usually send, and half the time it's the "packaging" they like and not so much the food. I mean they love pizza, but a lunchable pizza that is not cooked with non melted cheese just doesn't fit the appetizing, "I can't wait to eat lunch" bill. Not to mention, it's much cheaper to just make my own stuff and send it.  Usually my kids get a protein bar or a ham, turkey or peanut butter sandwich (or maybe peanut butter crackers). These main dish items are rotated. Sometimes they take LO pizza or homemade chicken strips if we have any. Their sides are usually carrot sticks, cucumber slices, goldfish, pretzels, nuts, yogurt, occasional chips, homemade granola bars, ...and of course, fresh fruit. (P.S. I have absolutely nothing against anyone who uses lunchables. We all have to do what we all have to do.)

This year, I'm also going to be sending my own homemade "gogurts." to school. The packaging is the challenge.  On Once A Month Mom they tackle this issue by using a Foodsaver.  I don't have one, although it's a brilliant idea, so I may invest in some new popsicle type molds. I like these from Norpro.

I also like these from Cosmos. The reason I like these more conical shaped containers as opposed to  regular old popsicle molds is that they are compact and the frozen food inside of them can be easily pushed up. Sending frozen smoothies and yogurt works great here in Arizona  because it's always so darn hot, and I think these two products are just what I need to aid me in my endeavors. My boys will also be getting braces this year, and I'm thinking that this will be a good way for me to send something nutritious to school with them that they won't really have to chew...especially after tightening appointments. I will let you know how these work out for us, but I anticipate that they will work just great.

I'll also have to be more of a logistics expert this year (how to pack things the most efficient way possible is my challenge) since the twins won't be packing lunchboxes with them anymore.  Only brown bags from here on out. Lunch boxes are babyish and uncool once you get to the 6th grade don't ya know!   It's a good thing my oldest (who is entering high school this year...Yikes!) is around to tell us these things and help his younger brothers out.

I am also putting together my August food menu. With football every night in August, we need quick, and easy, and mostly healthy food ready for us so we don't get tempted to whip through Mickey D's or Wendy's at a ravenous moment of weakness. More on my August menu later...

Is anyone else already thinking about school lunches.  Do you have any special tips or tricks that you go by? Please share.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Break Time!

My computer is experiencing an illness, so I'm on a break, right now. Hopefully it will be short term.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

30 Minute Rolls

Originally from Real Mom Kitchen, I got this recipe from Your Homebased Mom.  These rolls were yummy, quick and easy.  Everybody loved them. They weren't as smooth looking as the ones on Your Homebased Mom, but I'm betting they were just as yummy. The original recipe is below and may changes in blue.

30 Minute Rolls
1 C plus 2 Tbsp warm water
1/3 C oil
2 Tbsp yeast
1/4 C sugar (I used a tad less)
1 tsp salt
1 egg
3 1/2 C bread flour (I used mostly whole wheat pastry flour mixed with some white whole wheat flour that I had left over in the pantry from Xmas.)

Go to  this page at Real Mom Kitchen for the rest of the recipe.

Recipe from Real Mom Kitchen

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Today is may 1st. I can't believe it's come so quickly.  So today is May 1st, and it's also my 1 year anniversary of being meat free.

I have been reflecting on this year without meat and I had lots of random thoughts. I have listed some of them here.

I never would have thought  a southern bacon loving girl like me could be a vegetarian, but it turns out I can.

I feel better physically since going meat free and have had virtually no stomach problems in that time. This is huge for me because I have had tummy issues my whole life...even as a small child.

I still cook meat for my boys, but they eat way less red meat than they used to, and I buy only grass fed beef that is not plump with hormones. I like the smell still of a good roast or a steak and, yes, bacon (OMG!), but I have no desire to actually eat it. I think you can actually lose a taste for something... maybe.

I realise now that I am free of lots of processed foods and all their additives and chemicals, that I can actually taste foods' real flavors. It's really amazing how different food tastes to me much better!  It's true.

I lost 30 # last year going vegetarian and exercising.

I have made many positive changes towards better health for me and my family this past year.  Two of my kids even ate salad yesterday and liked it! Wonders never cease... I see my children making better, healthier choices every day, and I can't help but think that it's not due to me and my husband's healthier lifestyle choices that we are modeling for them. 

Overall, because I am feeling better, and because I have made exercising a part of my lifestyle, I am more active on a daily basis. I don't like just "sitting around" very much, and I try to get out everyday to at least walk a little bit.

I have become more knowledgeable about healthy foods and nutrition in general, and I have begun accumulating some really good vegetarian recipes. Some I even made up on my own.

I look forward to even more positive, healthy outcomes throughout this next year.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

G is for Grilled Portabello Mushroom Wrapini

 One of the best vegetarian wraps I've ever had out in a restaurant was Jason's Deli's grilled portabello mushroom wrapini. Unfortunately, after having had this scrumptious wrapini only once, Jason's took it off the menu. I found this description somewhere on the web (not sure where), but it's from an old Jason's Deli menu.  "The Grilled Portabello Mushroom Wrapini features the glorious mushroom marinated in our Italian dressing. The wrap is loaded with homemade guacamole and pico de gallo along with organic spinach and asiago cheese. Fabulous! "  I hated to think I couldn't get this wrapini any more so I  set out to make my own version. Here's what I cam up with:

Grilled Portabello Mushroom Wrapini
(Copycat version by me)

*1 package pre sliced portabello mushroom or 1 large portabello sliced 1/4 inch thick

*marinade of your choice (I used fat free zesty Italian. Next time I'll use Lowry's Garlic & Herb marinade- the zesty Italian was good, but I have had the Lowry's on grilled veggies before and really like it.I think it would be better.)

*1/2 c sweet onion thin slices, caramelized

*whole wheat tortillas

*Trader Joe's Guacamole Hummus

*pico de gallo or salsa of choice (pico is best)

*spinach leaves

*shredded cheese of choice (asiago, white cheddar, Italian blend, etc.)

*sour cream (optional)

Marinade mushrooms for an hour or so in the marinade of your choice. Meanwhile, cut up the onion and caramelize it.  Grill or pan saute the mushrooms.

To assemble: spread 1 Tbsp or so of guacamole hummus (more or less as you see fit) in the center of a tortilla. I also use a little lite sour cream (optional). Next layer half of the warmed mushrooms and onions, saving the other half for the next day's lunch or dinner. Top with a little salsa or pico de gallo, shredded cheese of choice, and spinach leaves. Roll tortilla like you would a burrito or enchilada and enjoy!

Review: Very close to the original.  I will use the Lowry's next time. Loved using the guacamole hummus as opposed to just plain guacamole, because of the added protein from the chickpeas. I always try to get in extra protein whenever possible. Play around with this wrap and make it your own. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hungry Hungry Shannon

Do you remember ever playing a game called Hungry, Hungry Hippos? You played it trying to make your hippo gobble up as many little balls as you could.  If your hippo ate the most, you were a winner. I never thought about it till now, but a silly game that rewards the winner who eats the most seems like bad precedent to set to me.

I am hungry, as some might say. I'm trying to lower my portions and keep my whole grains and fruits to 2 a day. It's all a part of me trying to get myself out of this plateau situation that I'm in. I'm going to 2 whole grains and 2 fruits because that's how I did it in phase 2 of the South  Beach Diet that I followed successfully (at least for awhile) several years ago. I have a sugar problem so I feel like limiting the amount of fruits and whole grains will be helpful to me.  I am a carb lover.
I started thinking about hunger in relation to dieting. I don't like the feeling, but is it helpful for dieters?  I don't know.  Dr Joel Fuhrman posted  recently on Facebook  that "Hunger is the best sauce. You will enjoy what you eat more, when you do not overeat because then you will be hungry for and better enjoy the next meal."  To me it seems like hunger would make you want to overeat, because you would be soooo hungry when you get to the next meal, that you want to eat more. I guess small frequent snacks/meals are a way to combat this as well as making sure to eat some kind of protein with each meal. Sometimes if I get hungry in between meals, a warm  1/2 cup of some left over homemade soup will sometimes 'fill me up" and get me through, especially between lunch and dinner which is my longest stretch.  Hunger in the evening is hard for me right now because I am trying not to eat anything past 730 or so. I  drink hot tea and chew sugar free gum to try to help.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I stay up late so that's probably not helping either. So, what I'm left with is good old fashioned will power. That puts the responsibility back on me, I guess.

So, when I'm done with all my eating for the day, I'll just have to be hungry, hungry least till my body adjusts to less.

So what are your tips and tricks for staving off hunger?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I'm on a muffin kick. They are just so easy to make and so great to have as snacks and quick breakfasts for the kiddos. While my last two muffin posts, yummy blueberry muffins  and  Best Apple Oatmeal Muffins Ever are my own delicious concoctions (and yes, you should try them), this one is from Lindsay at These chocolate zucchini muffins are pretty darn good, and I enjoyed them even though I'm not really a chocolate lover. They smelled fabulous while they were cooking too. I always love it when my kids come home and I hear, "Yum, Mom. What are you making today? It smells sooo good." 

I first heard about this recipe from my sister, Tricia, a few weeks ago. I debated on making these muffins because of the zucchini. I thought my kids would never eat them. Honestly, my other sister, Jennie, was right when she told me that you can't even taste the zucchini.  I certainly didn't.   It will be interesting to see if my kids notice it's in there.  I don't think they'll taste the zucchini, but they might see the shreds. I added 1/4 c mini chocolate chips to the muffins as my sister suggested...definitely a good add-in. I can't wait to hear the kids' feedback on this one. 

Post muffin tasting:   A success! No one noticed the zucchini, and only DH asked what was in them.  These were the comments I got:

"pretty good"           "top notch"         "great"
 "Wo!  These are awesome!" 

So, try Lindsay's muffins.  You'll be glad you did. I certainly will be making them again! 

***While everyone liked these zucchini chocolate muffins, the household favorite remains my best ever apple oatmeal muffins with my yummy blueberry muffins our second favorite.  Go mom!***

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

B is for . . . Yummy Blueberry Muffins!

So, yesterday I made a batch of homemade blueberry muffins. Everyone liked them. Score one for mom! The comments:

"Oh my gosh, these are so good!"                      "Really good, Mom!"

"Awesome muffins!'                                          "Top Notch!'

Can I do much better than that?  I don't think so. It is rare in my house that everyone like something, so when it happens, I revel in it. Here's my recipe. Enjoy!

 Yummy Blueberry Muffins


 rolled oats pulsed in the food processor so they resemble quick oats - need 1 1/2 cups (quick oats will work in a pinch)

 1 1/4 cups flour (I use only whole wheat pastry flour)

 1 teaspoon baking powder

 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

  1 egg white

 1 cup applesauce

 1 tsp vanilla

 1/2 cup milk

 1 cup blueberries ( I used Trader Joe's frozen organic blueberries0

 1/4 cup my homemade grain-ola (storebought granola will also work or just rolled oats)

 1/4 cup packed brown sugar

 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

 2 tablespoon melted butter

 1 Tbsp whole wheat flour


1. Preheat an oven to 400. Grease a muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk together 1 1/2 cups oatmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and set aside.

2. Whisk 1/2 cup brown sugar, egg white, applesauce, and milk together in a mixing bowl until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture and blueberries till moistened. Pour the batter into the muffin pan. Stir the topping ingredients in a small bowl, mixing with a fork. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the muffins.

3. Bake in the preheated oven until golden and toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle, about 20-25 minutes depending on your oven. Cool at least 10 minutes and then remove from muffin pan.  Makes 12  muffins.
Cook's Notes: 
*Fresh blueberries can be used if you like.
*When you mix in the frozen blueberries your batter will change colors, and that's okay. They will still cook up all nice and golden brown.
*Granola is best to use for the tpping because it creates a crunchier crust which works well with the moist, soft muffins.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Week's End Update

Fitness-wise: I have done a pretty good job of getting to the gym for the past 2 weeks. While I'm still watching my exercising to make sure I don't over do it and hurt my knees or my leg, I feel good about what I've been doing. That has includes cardio, weights, and sculpting...though not everything the same every time I go. I am really liking this one Precor machine that looks something like this one to the left.

 Something else happened to me this week: my 7 year old iPod (the 2nd generation iPod classic, I think) went kaput. It started acting funny last week and would not hold a charge. I went without it one day this week and my workout sucked! I realized that I have to have my tunes. They keep me moving at a good pace and make me want to continue. That day without them, I was forced to listen to the gym music and it was, later the next day, DH and I went to the Apple Store and I got a brand new iPod (this one to the right). I even had to move in to this century because it's a touch screen (which I hate)...but, I love my new iPod. It even acts as a pedometer and has a place for me to download photos. All my old one did was play music. And, I can also listen to the radio on it...amazing! today, when I went to workout, I was ready!

Food wise:  I am working on using less artificial sweeteners and drinking less diet soda, and am succeeding. I made some homemade whole wheat croutons today for a salad topper and some hummus. After I made the hummus, I split it up into two containers and sprinkled one with Mrs. Dash tomato basil garlic salt free seasoning for a sun dried tomato hummus flavor. It's delish! I am also going to try to get back to logging my food on my fitness pal.  Lately, I've had trouble finding the time to log in, but I think I really need to.  It keeps me honest and helps me to make sure I've eaten enough protein.  I'm going to try to limit my grain intake too, because I think I'm getting too many.

Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Eggs

I love eggs and since I'm not vegan, but vegetarian, I still eat them. A few weeks ago, I was lamenting about how to make easy peel, perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs.

I am happy to report that after a year of trying everything under the sun, I finally found a fool proof method that works.  So I have to share it...and just in time for Easter!

I put my eggs in a pan with cold water and 1 tsp of baking soda, making sure to cover the eggs so that there is at least an inch or two of water above the top of the eggs.

Next, put the pan on the stove on high heat. When the water comes to a good boil, put a lid on the pan and remove the pan from the heat. Let it sit for 15 minutes. When the 15 minutes is almost up, fill a bowl with ice and water. After the 15 minutes, use a slotted spoon and remove the hot eggs from the hot pot and gently put into the ice water. Repeat this with each egg. Once all eggs are in the ice water, let them sit for 15 minutes.

At the end of the 15 minutes, you can either peel the eggs immediately (they will keep for up to one week peeled in the fridge) or put them into a bowl in the fridge till you're ready to use them. I usually do the latter.

When I am ready to use the eggs, I tap each end of the egg on the counter top. Then under cool water, I roll the egg between my hands, and starting at the wider end, I begin peeling the eggs. Doing it under cold running water helps. I start at the wide end, because that's where the air bubble is and it seems to make peeling easier.  My friend, Lauren, sent me this video about egg peeling. The cooking is pretty self explanatory, so if you play it you may want to skip ahead to the  end where it shows how to peel the eggs. It uses a different method than mine, but it sounds like it would work great.

I can't tell you what a boon this is for me to finally be able to cook and then peel a hard boiled egg with ease. It makes my life a lot easier.  And the eggs come out cooked perfectly...completely yellow on the inside and no green rings around the yolk.  Love it!  Who knew that perfect timing and 1 tsp of baking soda would be the ultimate answer?  Happy Easter eggs everybody!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A is for Apples...

As I have said before, apples go quickly in my house. one of my favorite apple recipes is my Best Apple Oatmeal Muffins Ever.  I have changed the recipe and made it even healthier. Below is the new and improved recipe and how I change it. if you haven't tried these muffins yet, you should. they are easy to make, healthy, delicious, and they make your house smell wonderful. Let me know how you like them.

Best Apple Oatmeal Muffins

•rolled oats pulsed in the food processor so they resemble quick oats - need 1 1/2 cups (I do this now instead of using quick oats and pre-packaged packets of instant apple cinnamon oatmeal)
• 1 1/4 cups flour (I use only whole wheat pastry flour)
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
• 1 egg white
• 1 cup applesauce
* diced apple
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1/4 cup pulsed oats and whole wheat pastry flour (equal amounts)
• 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
• ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1 tablespoon melted butter
1. Preheat an oven to 400. Grease a muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk together 1 1/2 cups oatmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and set aside.
2. Whisk 1/2 cup brown sugar, egg white, applesauce, diced apples, and milk together in a mixing bowl until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture till moistened. Pour the batter into the muffin pan. Stir the 1/4 cup oatmeal/flour mix, 1/4 cup brown sugar, ½ tsp cinnamon, and the melted butter in a small bowl. Sprinkle this mixture over the muffins.
3. Bake in the preheated oven until golden and toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle, about 20 minutes. Cool at least 10 minutes and then remove from muffin pan. Best served slightly warm with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee or tea.
What are your favorite muffins to make?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Versatile Blogger

Surprise, surprise! I just recently received a nomination for Versatile Blogger Award by fellow foodie, Holistic Gal. I am so flattered and happy that someone other than family members are reading me! Thank you, holistic Gal!  Here is a  link to Holistic Gal's cool food blog:  Check  out her creative blog.  I don't think you'll be disappointed. Thanks again, Holistic Gal!

Here are the rules for the Versatile Blog Award:
  • Thank the person who gave you this award.
  • Include a link to their blog.
  • Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.
There are also a few add-on rules:
  • In the same post, include this set of rules.
  • Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs

So, what is the Versatile Blogger Award? ”It is a great way to introduce different bloggers to each other and to promote quality blogs that awardees and their readers may not have discovered otherwise.”

Here are my 15 nominees for the Versatile blogger Award. please check them out:

7 Random things about me...

1-When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a talk show host...the name of my show?  The Shannon Show
2-I had braces on for 7 years and  my mouth is in a medical book for would be orthodontists
3-I love Donny Osmond.
4-I would love to write a cook book someday (Maybe with my sisters...hint, hint, hint).
5-Weird songs on my Ipod: Honey, The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia, and Ode to Billie Joe
6-I love to get homemade gifts best of all.
7-Genealogy is one of my hobbies.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever?

What do you eat when you're sick?

I haven't been feeling well all week...a cold sinusey infection type of thing. Today's the first day I've actually been able to eat semi normally, though not in usual amounts. I wanted chicken noodle soup, or just noodle soup, because it's been ingrained in me since I was little how good chicken noodle soup was for you when you were sick. so, I went to the store and bought a package of Lipton Noodle Soup. I used to eat it all the time when I was sick and it always was comforting to me. This time, I could barely eat it. It just tasted yucky to me... processed and salty. Bummer. 

  My little sister suggested a smoothie, maybe with a vitamin water base. It was a great idea till my blender went berserk and started spewing liquid all over the kitchen. Then, feeling crappy, I still had to clean up the mess so the floor and walls wouldn't be all sticky icky. Not fun to have to clean up a mess like that when you're feeling crappy already. So until today, I have survived on whole wheat toast, peanut butter crackers and bananas. last night, DH made me a good 2 egg omelet with a little cheese and spinach, and it was good, but just too heavy for me since I have been coughing. I felt better this morning and made power oatmeal for DH and I. Then I ate some crackers at lunchtime and for dinner,  a bowl of Mama Pea's  (doctored by me) black bean soup with some grapes and homemade tortilla chips: whole wheat tortillas toasted with seasonings and cut into "chips".  Even the twins liked the chips :) Score 1 for mom!  I love it when that happens.  I've been drinking Acai Berry Emergen-C and not doing Gatorade this week at all. normally I would drink Gatorade, sugar and all, because I believe in it's healing properties.

So I began to wonder, what do other people eat when they are sick and trying to recover from being sick?
What do you eat when you're sick?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hungry for Change Preview

Fascinating...this is going to be big! I have reserved my spot to watch the online premier. Check it out and you may want to sign up too.

Two quotes from this that struck me:

"We are not eating food anymore. We are eating food like products. And they are adorned.They are made to look better and smell better so that people are attracted to them."


"People are overfed, but they're also starving to death."

It all goes back to proving the old addage true:

You really are what you eat.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Healthier Vegetarian Chili Cheese Burritos

Much healthier than the original Chili Cheese Burritos, this one uses whole wheat tortillas and mostly homemade ingredients.  It has no meat, little salt, and uses mostly homemade, not prepackaged ingredients. It must also have no flavor, right?  WRONG! It is fantastic!  I like it better than the original chili cheese burritos, and my DH loves loves, loves them as well! That's saying a lot because he has always been a huge fan of the  originals.

Before I make my burritos, I make the filling. It takes no time at all and cooks quickly on the stove top. it is delicious by itself as well. Here's the filling recipe:

Picante Beans with Brown Rice

1 can tri-color beans, drained

1 1/2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1/4 c water

2-3 sliced green onions

1 tsp minced garlic (from jar)

1 14 oz can petite diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes, undrained

1 c frozen corn

3/4 c uncooked instant brown rice

1 heaping Tbsp diced green chilies

1/2 c water

Tony Chatcher's Creole Seasoning to taste

hot sauce or sprinkling of Cajun seasoning

Put beans, chili powder, cumin, 1/4 c water, green onions, and garlic in a large sauce pan. heat over med. heat till it bubbles. Simmer for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Next, add tomatoes through 1/2 c water. Stir, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat. Cover the sauce pan and simmer all for 10-12 minutes till rice is done. Remember to stir it a couple of times while it's cooking.

Excellent filling for burritos.

Now here's the burrito recipe:
Healthier Vegetarian Chili Cheese Burritos


1 recipe Picante Beans with Brown Rice (see above)

1 can re fried beans- you can certainly make your own as I sometimes do, but I was under the time gun, so I opted for fat free vegetarian re fried beans. Here is a like to one re fried bean recipe I use.

some Mexicheese or Daiya or lite cheddar cheese (If you want to use it) I did not use it this time.
whole wheat tortillas (I used medium soft taco size)

leftover homemade vegetarian chili - recipe here or one of your choice
toppings of your choice: shredded lettuce, sour cream, diced tomatoes, etc

Lightly grease a dish with fat free vegetable or canola cooking spray. Warm up leftover vegetarian chili and  put a thin layer of chili on the bottom of your pan. Heat oven to 350. In the center of each tortilla spread some re fried beans. Then top with some of the picante beans with brown rice.If you want to add a little cheese on top of the mixture, you can. Roll up tightly and place seam side down on top of the chili in your dish. Spoon some more chili over tortilla rolls, leaving some in the pan to be used for those who like extra "sauce." Bake about 30 minutes till heated through and chili is bubbly. If you eat cheese and don't mind the fat and calories, you can sprinkle some cheddar cheese on top of tortilla rolls and bake 1-2 additional minutes to let cheese melt. I did not put cheese on top of ours. Garnish with the toppings of your choice and serve with extra chili sauce Yum!

Chili Cheese Burritos

My husband's brother is in town visiting us, and chili cheese burritos has long been one of his favorite meals, so I made it for him last night. It is a delicious dish, but laden with prepackaged and fatty foods, heavy salt, and store bought flavors. I can say this about the dish now that i am a more clean and healthy eater, but when I was eating the SAD (Standard American Diet), I worshipped this dish.

My brother in law hasn't been here to visit us in 6 or 7 years and since his wife doesn't make this delicacy, I decided to make it for him. My boys were happy too, because I haven't made this in 2 years and they all really do love it. And, yes, not to detract from his memories of the dish, I didn't change an ingredient when making it. I made it with prepackaged fatty foods, and yes, meat. Here's the original recipe, and it is delicious. I'm not sure where the original recipe came from so I can't give credit, but I know I modified my recipe slightly from the original. This is a real crowd pleaser and easy to make for a group.

Chili Cheese Burritos (Standard American Diet version)


1 can re fried beans
1 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese, divided + extra
1 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4- 1/2 c diced onion (depending on how much you like onion)
3 Tbsp diced green chilies
8 large flour tortillas
2 cans chili no beans
1 can chili with beans
a little water to thin chili
toppings of your choice: shredded lettuce, sour cream, diced tomatoes, etc

lightly grease a 9 X13 dish with  fat free vegetable or canola cooking spray. open cans of chili and warm in a saucepan. thin with a little water if you like. Then put a thin layer of chili on the bottom of your pan. Heat oven to 350.  In a medium bowl, combine 1 c cheddar cheese, Monterey jack cheese, onions, and green chilies. In the center of each tortilla spread some re fried beans. Then top with 1/3- 1/2 c of the cheese-onion-chilies mixture. I always add extra cheese inside and sometimes use the Mexicheese blend. Roll up tightly and place seam side down on top of the chili in your dish. Spoon some more chili over tortilla rolls, leaving some in the pan to be used for those who like extra "sauce." Bake about 30 minutes till heated through and chili is bubbly. sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese and bake 1-2 additional minutes while cheese melts.  makes 8 burritos. Garnish with the toppings of your choice  and serve with extra chili sauce Yum!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Chili Anyone?

Today I made chili. This is based on my mom's meat chili that she made us growing up. I make a few changes to make it healthier and vegetarian. DH loves this! I wanted to make chili because later in the week, my husband's brother will be visiting and I will be making his favorite: Chili Cheese Burritos (look for the recipe later this week). Some people can only make chili in the winter time, but for me it's a year round event. I simply make sure the AC is going strong and that the house is nice and cool (even if it's 115 outside, which it often is during the summer months).  Making chili is one of my favorite things to make because I love having lots of leftovers that I know I can use to create other meals. Ways I use the left overs...

*frozen in bowlfuls for quick thaw easy meals
*individual frozen portions to be thawed out for taco salad
*homemade nachos
*chili cheese burritos
*chili cornbread bake

Vegetarian Chili

1 pkg Morning Star Farms soy crumbles

garlic powder


chili powder

1 large can tomato puree (29 oz)

1 can organic hot chili beans and juice

1 can organic tricolor beans, drained

1 can organic kidney beans,drained

2 pkgs. low sodium chili seasoning mix or homemade chili mix

hot sauce to taste (optional)

chopped onions (optional)

In a soup pot, heat frozen soy crumbles with some water over md-md/high. sprinkle with garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder. When heated through (about 5 minutes) add tomato puree, beans, and chili seasoning mix. Put 1/2- 3/4 c water in the empty can of chili beans and scrape the sides to get any leftover beans and the flavors. Add to the chili in the pot and mix well. Heat over md till starts to simmer. Then turn down and let flavors meld for a bit. Re taste before serving to re spice if needed. Serve with hot sauce for those who want more heat and top with chopped onions and any other chili toppings of your choice.

How do you use left over chili?
What's your favorite food to use as left overs?