We absolutely love quesadillas in this house. It is one of our most favorite “go-to” meals and the reason is because you don’t need a lot of specific ingredients to make them. It’s one of those dishes where you can throw in whatever vegetables you have on hand (and need to eat)! As long as you have whole-wheat tortillas, cheese, and some spices the rest can come together pretty easily. I do admit that sweet potatoes somehow do something magical to the flavor of this dish, but even if we don’t have any we still make quesadillas all the time. So don’t let that stop you!
Archives for August 2011
I think I might be a little late getting on this bandwagon, but refried beans with melted cheese on a warm homemade whole-wheat tortilla is the bomb! Oh and don’t forget to top it with a little sour cream. I seriously cannot believe I am just figuring out how good this combination is. The reason why though is because I didn’t think I liked refried beans. That’s what happens when you only try them out of a can. But much like the difference between store-bought and homegrown tomatoes…homemade refried beans are light-years beyond the canned stuff! And with this super easy recipe below there is no excuse not to make them yourself. If you don’t already have one, you can buy the same slow cooker we have for about $25 and use it for this and other slow cooker recipes. I am even going to pull out a bullet point list to tell you all the reasons why I like this recipe so much: – Beans in general are super cheap and a good source of protein – You don’t have to soak these dried beans overnight (which I often forget to do) – They are sooo easy to make you could even do it with one hand tied behind your back :) – You can freeze the leftovers for another day – And for me, since I don’t normally love beans for textural reasons, this mashed up version is the perfect way to make them extra good
School started for us this week so it’s time to say goodbye to our leisurely summer breakfasts or even eating breakfast together at all…at least in my family. There is no way I could stomach food at 6 A.M. in order to eat with my daughter, but if she’s going to have a good day at school she has no choice. According to Parade Magazine, “Children who eat breakfast perform at nearly a grade level higher than those who do not.” So don’t even consider allowing your kids (or yourself!) to skip and instead implement some of these non-processed “on-the-go” breakfast ideas, which have been broken down into three categories: Make, Freeze, Reheat… There are quite a lot of breakfast foods you can make in advance, store in the freezer between sheets of wax paper, and then quickly reheat on a busy weekday morning. Just be sure to supplement these homemade breakfast ideas with some fresh fruit! Whole-grain banana pancakes Whole-grain waffles (make it into a waffle sandwich with cream cheese, raisins, & cinnamon in the middle!) Whole-grain biscuits with pieces of cooked bacon & cheddar added to batter Homemade breakfast burritos (with scrambled eggs and cheese on whole-wheat or corn tortillas) frozen in individual bags or containers Whole-grain breakfast cookies made with pecans (or pumpkin seeds as a nut substitution) Whole-grain fruit muffins or zucchini muffins Whole-grain banana bread (pictured) Smoothies frozen in reusable freezie pop holders (these are an exception in this list because they don’t have to be heated up!) Prepare Night Before… With a little preparation the night before these breakfast ideas could come together fairly quickly before running out the door.
Two Four 6-Month Meal Plan Winners Announced!* “Lorna W.” “Jennifer” “Trish Barton” “Sharon” *If you think you might be one of these winners check your email because you will be receiving the prize details shortly. _________________________ A few months ago I introduced one of our wonderful sponsors, The Fresh 20. They offer a subscription service with weekly menu plans made entirely from fresh ingredients. Nothing’s processed. Nothing’s frozen. It’s just 20 fresh ingredients used to create 5 delicious and simple weeknight dinners. And today they are generously giving away 6-month subscriptions to TWO lucky winners! It’s a lot of work to come up with healthy, easy, appetizing dinners every night so if you haven’t been feeling inspired lately, consider letting The Fresh 20 do the work for you. They offer “classic,” “gluten-free,” and “vegetarian” meal plans at only $5 a month! Check out their website for more info at http://www.thefresh20.com/. Giveaway: TWO 6-month menu plan subscriptions from the “The Fresh 20” valued at $30 each Weekly menus from “The Fresh 20” include:
As I mentioned in a “school lunch” post last year, my daughter’s elementary school is peanut/tree nut-free. Not only are peanuts and tree nuts not allowed, but foods made in factories that handle nuts are not allowed either. As a result, the school sends out a “safe snack” list so parents know what store-bought snacks are “safe” and approved. When I first got a hold of this list last year my eyes just about bugged out of my head. Fresh off our original “100 Days of Real Food” pledge, I felt compelled to sit down and count how many snack suggestions I would consider to be “real food approved.” Out of the 200 or so safe snack suggestions only 17 items, approximately 7%, were “real” whole foods. The rest were highly processed including suggestions like Wendy’s Frosties, Skittles, Oreos, Fritos, Airheads, Cheese Puffs, Twizzlers, Chips Ahoy, and Gummy Bears (for a morning snack for little kids!!). I knew I couldn’t just sit around and complain. I had to get involved and try to change things. So I met with the principal and assistant principal last spring and as soon as I said the word “food” they of course thought I wanted to address the food in the cafeteria. They don’t have control over what is served for breakfast or lunch, but I told them that was just fine because I actually had a long list of other things I wanted to address first including…
Last week’s “real food” school lunch tips were so popular I thought I’d stay on that bandwagon for at least one more week. Whether you want to spend one Sunday afternoon cooking up a storm or make a double-batch of something new every few days…planning ahead is key when it comes to making “real food” school lunches easy! Last year I struggled almost every night to come up with a balanced, fun, and somewhat creative lunch for my daughter. I now realize it’s because my options were rather limited. Aside from a few exceptions, I could only pull from our pantry or fridge and that got a little boring after a while. If by chance I had some leftover boiled whole-wheat noodles I could throw into the mix it was like my lucky day. So rather than making last minute lunches again this year I am going to start planning ahead because I know this will make things so much easier in the long run. And even if “cooking up a storm” sounds like an undertaking, I am excited to finally have a plan. I don’t know about you, but once I have the next day’s lunch figured out and packed it’s such a big weight off my shoulders (and also one less thing standing in the way of me and my bedtime)! Cook Weeks Ahead…. Jar Storage (pictured): Eight-ounce jelly jars are the perfect size for freezing individual portions of soups, leftovers, and other one-dish meals. Pictured are five servings of homemade chicken noodle soup that will each fit perfectly into my daughter’s Thermos container. All I have to do is take one out to thaw the night before, heat it up in the morning, and then add it to her thermos before school. Ideas for jars: Chicken […]
It is no secret that I’ve been working to perfect a whole-wheat sandwich bread recipe for months now. I was not only looking for a recipe that was reliable and tasted good of course, but that also didn’t contain any “unusual” ingredients like dried milk powder or wheat gluten. We absolutely LOVE the honey whole-wheat loaf from Great Harvest, and if they can make it with only five simple ingredients (freshly ground whole-wheat flour, water, honey, salt & yeast) then I should be able to do it too! So after months of experimenting I am thrilled to finally have a homemade bread recipe to share. And while this recipe comes out just right 9 times out of 10 I’ve learned that things can’t always be “perfect” when it comes to baking bread machine recipes. If you aren’t weighing your ingredients and instead just measuring them out like me, and if you live in a place where the humidity might change from time to time…well then, expect some occasional surprises with the outcome of your bread. I have learned one valuable trick though (from a blog reader!), and that is to check on the bread once or twice during the kneading process to make sure the dough looks “right.” I’ve caught mine looking too wet and sticky a couple times so I’ve added a few sprinkles of flour to get things back on track before the baking started. That’s exactly why the picture loaf looks a little “floury.” I also want to share that this particular recipe makes a loaf that is on the larger side, which I like because then I don’t have to replenish our bread supply every two days. This loaf also comes out with a lighter crust due to its big size and that is a plus […]
After recently watching my 4 and 6-year-old daughters gobble down some “Cobb Salad” I decided to apply that very same idea to this “Taco Salad.” Who doesn’t like to see all the choices laid out beautifully so you can pick and choose what you want (like a taco salad platter)? And what mommy doesn’t like to see a few pieces of lettuce accidentally slip into the mix on her kids’ plates? :) Now I’d be lying if I told you that my younger (and pickier) daughter didn’t put up a little fuss about eating some of the green stuff in this dish. But I helped her roll some of the meat, cheese, and sour cream that she looooves inside a few bigger pieces of lettuce, and it helped things tremendously. She knew she had to take a big bite right into the lettuce if she wanted the goodies on the inside. I, on the other hand, just thought this was such a refreshing and fun twist to the traditional taco dinner. So this meal was a big hit in my book.
This is the first post in my new “100 Days of Real Food Tips” series. Enjoy! Think Beyond the Sandwich Bread… Pinwheels (pictured) Rolled up whole-wheat tortillas filled with: Cream cheese*, thin cucumber slices, and dill Goat cheese* and roasted red bell peppers (sold as pimentos) Peanut butter* and banana slices Sunflower butter* and all-fruit spread (similar to jelly) Egg salad Hummus, cheese, and grated carrots *Easiest to spread when the tortilla is warm…don’t forget the fun toothpicks! Apple Sandwiches (pictured) I got this idea from Williams-Sonoma and all you have to do is slice the apple*, cut out the core with a small round cookie cutter, knife or corer, and fill with:
I’m super excited to be rolling out another “100 Days of Real Food” series! Over the past year or so I’ve blogged about quite a few topics: Our family’s original 100-day pledge where we avoided all processed food and refined ingredients Our family’s second 100-day pledge where we did it again on less than a “food-stamp” budget A series of “real food” mini-pledges that challenged readers to cut out processed food one week at a time A slew of many other “real food” topics including everything from school lunches to food shopping to health benefits as well as a very long list of recipes! I never know what I’m going to do next until it happens, and just the other day a new idea popped into my head. I’d written up a themed list of “quick real food tips” and then I immediately thought of another and another. Before I knew it I had lists coming out the wazoo, and I had to figure out some way to organize it all. So that brings me to the introduction of…
If you are concerned about putting all natural food into your body then chances are you’re also concerned about the products you’re putting ON your body. For quite some time now I’ve been worried about the nail polish we were using because there seems to be more and more bad press around the chemicals it contains (like formaldehyde). And especially since I frequently polish the nails of my two precious daughters I didn’t want to be putting harmful chemicals on their little fingers that they sometimes put in their mouths! Well, now I don’t have to worry about that anymore after discovering an amazing company (started by a mom of course) called Piggy Paint! They make natural, non-toxic, low-odor nail polish that comes in a rainbow of colors geared toward both kids and adults. What a great idea! As you can see in the picture my girls and I had a fun afternoon experimenting with some of Piggy Paint’s colors, some toothpicks, and our imagination. And just for the record…this water-based polish goes on just like the other stuff. I thought it might seem thin or peel off right away, but so far it is working out perfectly! I am thrilled to not only share this company with you today, but to also give away a free $25 Piggy Paint gift certificate. Here are the details: