Friday, July 31, 2009

30 Minute Marinade...

Duh! I can't believe I haven't posted this simple, last minute, save-your-tail-in-a-pinch MARINADE! It's perfect for the dinner you forgot to plan or the company who said that they were coming for dinner and they are on their way- right now! Super easy with minimal on-hand ingredients!

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 TBSP fresh ginger or use ginger from a jar
1 clove garlic
1 TBSP lemon juice

Put your chicken, fish, or beef in a large ziplock bag, mix your ingredients in a bowl and pour into the bag. Refrigerate (or leave on counter if the temperature is cool enough in the room) for about 30 minutes. (I turn my bag over half way through the 30 minutes). Then BBQ your meat and enjoy!

* These measurements are for about 1.5 - 2 pounds of meat. If you use more meat, double the recipe!

FRESH GINGER TIP!!!! You really can taste the difference between fresh ginger and ginger in a jar- so here's a great tip to making your fresh ginger last for a long time! Buy a piece of ginger in the produce section (looks like a root or piece of tree branch!) and peel it with a carrot peeler. Then put it in a freezer baggie, throw it in the freezer until you come across a recipe, bust it out and use a fine grater on the frozen ginger and Wha-LA! You won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stuffed Bellpeppers

1 package ground turkey
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup brown rice
1/3 cup water or chicken broth
4 bell peppers (green work well for this recipe)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Brown your onions and garlic in a little bit of oil. Add your turkey and brown that. Next add your tomatoes, water/broth, and brown rice and spices, cover and let simmer until the rice is cooked. Next wash your bell peppers, cut off the tops and scoop out insides and seeds and stuff with meat & rice filling. Bake them for about 25-3o minutes in a pyrex dish (peppers should be "standing up" in the dish). You can top with white cheese if desired in the last few minutes of baking.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Meal Plan July 26th- Aug.1

Here's this weeks meal plan, I know we eat a lot of chicken, I am going to work on eating less meat and trying to incorporate more beans & lentils (good for you, good for the pocket book!) so have patience with me until then. I also have a husband who eats a TON and we both eat left overs for lunch the next day, so this is literally my shopping list, no other lunch foods are added (if you were thinking "that's a lot of food for one week!"). I am also going to try to work on lowering my grocery purchases and saving some money in the food budget (by incorporating less expensive, but still nutritious recipes- a lot of them are stew & soups- so we might need to wait until it cools down! So look for that this fall!) If you want, you can split 1 package of chicken breasts between the baked chicken and the lime tacos and add a can of black beans to the lime tacos to "beef" it up!

Meal Plan
Sunday- BBQ Chicken Legs, BBQ Squash, Cucumber Salad
Monday- Lime Chicken Soft Tacos & Watermelon Wedges (I am going to try this in the crock pot, I will let you know how it goes!)
Tuesday- Spaghetti and Artichokes
Wednesday- Stuffed Bell Peppers and Green Salad
Thursday- Baked Chicken Breasts, Sweet Potato Fries, Corn on the Cob, Watermelon
Friday- left overs
Saturday- out

Shopping List
1-2 packages chicken legs
2 packages chicken
2 lb. ground turkey
brown rice noodles
brown rice
2 cans diced tomatoes
tomato sauce
parsley* (to sprinkle in spaghetti)
red onion
yellow onion
4 green bell peppers
2 tomatoes
sweet potatoes
jack cheese
sour cream*
guacamole *
green onions *
black beans * (for lime tacos, instead of so much chicken!)
corn on the cob
watermelon (or whatever fresh fruit is in your house)
s & p
red wine (for spaghetti)
Worcester's Sauce
garlic powder
red wine vinegar
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
* items are optional

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I haven't posted in a few days due to a spontaneous trip to the coast, but here's something I have thought about sharing for quite some time- a post on supplements. My family has always been into learning about nutrition as a way of taking care of your body with a proactive stance, and this so far has been my favorite thing I've tried. 

I know many people have heard of "probiotics" and that term is sometimes linked to yogurt thanks to the media- but really, it simply means "pro" (good) and "biotic" (bacteria) meaning the "good bacteria" that is found in your gut. We all have good and bad bacteria in our guts, some of our ratios are better than others, of course we would all strive to have more good and less bad in order to maintain great health.  So a probiotic adds that good bacteria back to your good to help keep those ratios in good order. So, if you take a well formulated probiotic, you will see a lot of change in your overall health, it will promote better digestive functions (i.e. regularity and softness, if you will) as well as a lower incident of being sick, . A healthier gut leads to a healthier body because many illnesses and diseases start in the gut. It is especially important to add that good bacteria back to your gut after taking an antibiotic, because that antibiotic will kill the good and the bad bacteria in your gut- leaving you susceptible to secondary infections, like a yeast infection (that's why they are so common after you've been on antibiotics). These are also so good for your little ones, my daughter has been taking a probiotic from the get go- try one on your kids for better overall health and digestive regularity!

I think it's also really important to choose wisely the products that you take, you can't assume that all vitamins - or probiotics- will have the same quality, thus distributing the same resuts. So, after much research and comparison, I have chosen to go with Dr. Fuhrman's vitamins and supplements. I have seen and felt the differences! (* This is MY opinion, it's not the only one out there, and I am not even claiming it's the best, but it has been the most helpful to my family and I and my main desire with this post is to get you thinking and headed on a path that will help direct you if you need it. Dr, Fuhrman is not sponsoring me or paying me- nor does he know I exist!) 

Here are the items I order from him, they are pretty "middle of the road" as far as pricing goes. They are supreme quality and when I do purchase them, I order in bulk to receive free shipping. If you have questions, please feel free to email me or leave a comment! These are the things I take along with their benefits:

  • Preventing and ameliorating allergic reaction such as atopic dermatitis and eczema.
  • Reducing respiratory infection and ear infections, especially in children.
  • Animal studies show a reduction in colon tumor and polyps.
  • Improving digestive function and bowel symptoms for those with indigestion, reflux and irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Strengthen the mucosal barrier of the bowel and improve immune function.
  • These strains have demonstrated documented improvement in Crohn's and ulcerative colitis as documented in medical studies

  • Great for all ages
  • Safe for pregnant and nursing women
  • Gentle on the digestive tract
  • Non-stimulating
  • Complements a healthy diet
  • 100% vegan
  • Premium quality ingredients
  • Chelated minerals for maximum absorption
  • Void of potentially harmful and toxic ingredients

  • Children's Multi-Vitamin

    • Premium children’s vitamin–mineral supplement.
    • More than 30 fruit & vegetable concentrates.
    • NO artificial sweeteners or preservatives.
    • Free of allergens (no wheat, dairy, gluten, or soy).
    • Improved great berry taste.
    • Fun for kids to eat.
    • No isolated vitamin A or beta carotene.

    • Essential for bone growth and maintenance of bone density
    • Increases calcium absorption to maximize bone health
    • Promotes strong bones, hair, and nails
    • Formulated to reduce the risk of, and for the treatment of, osteoporosis
    • Vital for maintaining a healthy immune system, regulating cell growth, & preventing cancer

    • Especially Important for nursing and pregnant women
    • Improves your child’s intelligence
    • Aids depression and Attention Deficit Disorder
    • Improves memory
    • Important for brain and eye development
    • Promotes smoother skin; prevents wrinkles
    • Helps prevent heart disease and arthritis
    • Lowers risk of Alzheimer’s and senior dementia
    • Lowers “bad” cholesterol

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009


    Here we go, good ol' classic guacamole... I make this all the time whether it's for an appetizer, to munch on, to go on burgers, burritos, or sandwiches, or whatever else you can think of! It's an easy and tasty spread for all to enjoy! I like to keep it simple with ingredients you are likely to have around at any time, double it up for large groups because it goes fast!

    4 avocados
    1 fresh lemon (approximately 1 TBSP)
    1/2 tomato, diced
    1/2 tsp pepper
    1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1 fresh clove, minced
    3/4 tsp salt

    Peel and pit your ripe avocados (save one pit), put the avocadoes in a glass mixing bowl and mash them up with a fork, potato masher, or pastry masher (like the one in the picture). Add your lemon juice and seasonings and mix thoroughly with a fork or spatula. Add your tomato chunks and gently mix those in. Put one of the pits back in the dish to help if from turning brown so quickly. Cover and chill until serving or eat right away! (Don't make this dish too far in advanced because it will brown with time and heat).

    *Always taste before serving and add a little of this, and a little of that to your likings!

    Sunday, July 19, 2009

    Garden Pasta Salad with Chicken

    Here is a dense and hardy pasta salad that's great as a meal in itself!

    1 lb pasta ( I use the rainbow colored pasta from TJ's, cork screw would work well too)
    2  large chicken breasts, browned (or 3 small)
    1 red bell pepper, chopped
    1 med. cucumber, chopped
    1 cup shredded carrots
    3 stalks celery, chopped *
    1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
    2 roma tomatoes, chopped *
    1/4 cup basil, finely chopped
    1 cup parmesan cheese
    * is for optional items, depending on your taste buds and what's left in your fridge!

    4 TBSP balsamic vinegar
    2 TBSP olive oil
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp sugar
    1/8 tsp garlic powder or 1 fresh clove, minced
    1/8 tsp pepper

    *** Note, I use this dressing on green salads all the time, so when I make this for the pasta salad, I double the dressing recipe and keep it on hand if the pasta salad needs more (especially the next day because it tends to dry out as the pasta absorbs it) or I if not, I have it on hand for a green salad whenever I need it!

    Simple. Cook your pasta per bags directions. Cook and chop your chicken (or use left over chicken), chop all your veggies, combine in a big bowl. Refrigerate (if you want to serve cold) and add the dressing and parmesan cheese at the last minute. Toss and enjoy!

    * In the picture, I double the entire recipe (2 lbs pasta) and I used one bag of wheat cork screw pasta and one bag of colorful vegetable pasta from Trader Joe's.

    Meal Plan July 19th- 25th

    Here's another Meal Plan for July 19th - 25th

    Sunday: Taco Salad
    Monday: left overs with Taco Meat (you choose your families favorite Tacos, Burritos, or Enchiladas)
    Tuesday: Ginger Glazed Mahi Mahi, Snappin' Snap Peas, Brown Rice
    Wednesday: Garden Pasta Salad with Chicken
    Thursday: Onion Chicken in Balsamic Sauce over Pasta & Green Salad, 
    Friday: left overs
    Saturday: dinner out!

    To make your dinners easier this week, you can double your taco meet on Sunday so that you have some for Sunday nights meal as well as Monday nights. You can also cook enough pasta on Wednesday night to have some for your Thursday night as well! If you want left overs for lunch or the weekend, double the Garden Pasta Salad recipe and it will last you a while! 

    Shopping List
    • Romaine
    • Black Beans
    • Kidney Beans
    • 2 lbs. ground turkey or beef
    • Cheddar Cheese, shredded
    • handful of tortilla chips (optional for Taco Salad)
    • tomatoes, I like roma (for taco salad & pasta salad)
    • avocado
    • 3 bell peppers (for taco salad, green salad, & pasta salad)
    • balsamic vinegar
    • olive oil
    • s & p
    • garlic powder
    • mahi mahi steaks
    • honey 
    • soy sauce
    • ginger (in a jar or fresh)
    • 3 clove garlic
    • brown rice
    • snap peas
    • lemon
    • mint (left over from last week??)
    • 2 red onions
    • chicken breast (for 2 dishes, Balsamic Chicken & Pasta Salad)
    • sun dried tomatoes (in a jar in oil)
    • chicken broth
    • 2 bags pasta (cork screw or bow-tie)
    • can of olives (sliced or halved)
    • celery or cucumber (depending on your taste buds preference)
    • shredded carrots (left over from last week?)
    • parmesan cheese (shredded)
    • basil (optional)
    You can use your left over veggies from the week (from taco salad & the pasta salad) to make your "green salad" on Thursday! Also, don't forget to include any other ingredients you might need for Tuesday's meal- tortillas or enchilad sauce????? for "your choice" left over taco meat night!

    Saturday, July 18, 2009

    Snappin' Snap Peas

    Okay, so my friend Krissa asked what to do with the left over mint she had (after making her Thai Chicken Wraps) so here's another recipe that calls for mint. It's a veggie dish, with some different flavors mingled in, give it a go for something new.....

    Snap Peas (I buy a package of them at Trader Joe's)
    Olive oil
    Red Pepper Flakes
    lemon juice
    lemon zest
    mint, chopped

    Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. You are going to rinse your snap peas and "clean" them if desired (I pull the little strings off both ends to make them easier to chew!) Put the rinsed snap peas in a bowl, lightly drizzle some olive oil, shake some salt and a few shakes of red pepper flakes (if you have them, you can omitted if you don't). You are going to roast them for 10 minutes, then when you pull them out, give a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (and a few zests of the lemon rhine) over top and lightly sprinkle your chopped mint. Enjoy as a unique side of fresh veggies at lunch or dinner!

    Thursday, July 16, 2009

    Red Potato Mashers

    I L-O-V-E this recipe for many reasons! 1. it's so tasty 2. it has minimal (& healthy) ingredients (the worst of which is 1 TBSP butter so it's "low fat"), and 3. it's quick and takes little effort! I usually plan 2-3 potatoes per person I am serving (depending on how big they are, the potatoes, not the people!).

    4 large red potatoes
    1 TBSP butter
    1 clove garlic (or garlic powder)
    s & p

    For this recipe, I use a vegetable steaming basket and so it only takes 5-10 minutes to prep the potatoes. So, put about 1-2 inches of water in your pot and heat until it boils. Wash your potatoes and cut them into chuncks, the bigger the chunks, the longer they will take to cook. (I usually cut mine smaller and get about 12 chunks per potato). I leave the skin on, that's how we like it, kinda like Tahoe Joe's! OK, put the potato chunks into the steaming basket and lower that into your pot with boiling water. If you have a fresh clove of garlic, peel that and add that to the basket as well. Let that cook for about 5-10 minutes. (again, it depends on the size of your potato chunks, so lift the lid and test them after 5, 7 and 10 minutes until they are soft and a fork easily pierces them). Remove them from the heat and get out a big bowl to do your mashing. I am not really a gadget person, but my mom bought me this potato rice masher from Williams & Sonoma and I LOVE it! It makes the fluffiest, lightest mashers ever! Use what ever you have to mash- a potato masher, a pastry masher, or worst case scenario a fork! Slice a TBSP of butter and put it on top while the potatoes are still hot and it will melt throughout. Then mince your garlic, sprinkle your s & p (and garlic powder if you didn't use a fresh clove) and fluff that altogether with a fork! These are so good, they don't need extra butter or gravy- they are fluffy and fresh and a great side dish! Enjoy!

    Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    Cooking Night #2

    This cooking night will be postponed until August, I will post another night again soon once summer schedules slow down! See you soon!
    If anyone is feeling like another girls night out cooking demo- let me know! My mother-in-law offered her kitchen again, so if you are available next Tuesday Night (July 21st) at 6 p.m. let me know and we'll plan out an evening! If you want to join in, leave me a comment to let me know and also tell me what dish you want to try! 
    Thanks, ~Andrea

    East-West Marinated Asparagus

    Here's another great recipe for asparagus- you have to plan ahead because it needs to be marinated, but the great thing is- you can do it before hand and have it ready with no work for dinnertime! I found this recipe in my Vegetarian Times magazine.

    1 lb asparagus spears (approximately 20 medium sized spears)
    2 TBSP soy sauce
    2 TBSP rice vinegar
    1 TBSP olive oil
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/2 tsp. ginger
    1/2 tsp agave or honey
    1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

    Cook asparagus in pot of boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Then drain them and plunge them into a bowl filled with ice water. Whisk together your soy sauce, rice vinegar, oil, garlic, ginger, agave/honey, and cayenne pepper. Remove your asparagus from the ice water, place them in a baking dish and pour this mixture over top, adding water if necessary in order to submerge them. Cover and chill for 4 hours or overnight. Before serving, drain off the marinate and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Enjoy!

    Monday, July 13, 2009

    Confetti Slaw

    This is a light and mayo-free coleslaw that makes a really great alternative to your average salad. Great as a side dish to any meal.

    4 cups finely chopped red cabbage (I did 2 cups red, 2 cups green)
    1/2 large red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
    1/2 large yellow bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
    1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
    1/2 seeded, minced jalapeno chile, *** optional, I omitted 

    3 TBSP olive oil
    3 TBSP lemon juice
    1 TBSP cider (or white) vinegar
    1 1/2 TBSP finely chopped mint
    1 TBSP finely chopped fresh cilantro
    2 tsp sugar
    1 clove garlic, minced

    In a large bowl toss together your chopped cabbage, peppers, green onion, and jalapeno (if using). Make your dressing in a small bowl and toss them together until all the veggies are evenly coated. Season with a little S & P if desired. Serve chilled or at room temperature as a side dish to any meal!

    Sunday, July 12, 2009

    Meal Plan Sample

    Here would be a sample Meal Plan for your week...

    Meal Plan
    • Sunday- Turkey Chili and Artichokes (*optional: cornbread or baked potatoes)
    • Monday- Chinese Chicken Salad with Firestone Fries
    • Tuesday- Thai Chicken Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce
    • Wednesday- Chicken Tortilla Soup (Crock Pot) 
    • Thursday- Turkey Breasts, Green Salad, Red Potato Mashers
    • Friday- left overs!!!
    • Saturday- out!!

    Thursday, July 9, 2009

    Fruit Salad with Zest!

    My sister in law makes this, it is so yummy and just a fun twist on an old favorite. It's from the Food Network, and she makes it for big group gatherings. Give it a whirl the next time you make a fruit salad!

    1/4 freshly squeezed lime Juice
    1/4 c sugar (max, you can use less if your fruit is really ripe)
    1/2 pineapple, cut and peeled
    2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
    1/2 pound grapes, pick off stems
    1/2 small melon, peeled, seeded, and cut (I use watermelon and cantelop)
    1 pint any seasonal berry (I use black berries, blueberries, and strawberries)
    1 mango, pitted, peeled, and cut ( I don't always add this guy)
    1 orange, peeled and cut (not in the original recipe, but I like it in there)

    Cut up all your fruit, shortly before using it. If you need to prep this significantly sooner (like the day before if it's for a shower or party) cut all the fruit and put them in their own individual large ziplocks and then combine them at the last minute to ensure the best flavor with the least mushiness.  Juice your lime juice and add about 1/8 cup sugar, mix, taste, add more sugar if needed (depending on how ripe your fruit is already). Add up to 1/4 cup sugar (so another 1/8 of a cup)  to the mixture, then pour over top and toss the fruit. You can also add a dollup of vanilla yogurt to the salad and mix it in for another fun variation. This will definitely be gobbled up so make sure you make enough! You can also zest a little of the lime peel on top of a pretty and tasty presentation!

    NOTE: I rarely ever cook with exacts, so use approximations, especially with the fruits and amounts, use what you have, what you like, and what's in season!  

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    Beer Can Burritos

    Well, when I posted my Salsa Chicken recipe I remembered this recipe I used to make with a jar of green salsa (thanks to Jocelyn's comment!) and so I thought I would post this recipe as well! 

    3 chicken breasts
    1 jar green salsa ( I use Trader Joe's Authentic Verde Salsa)
    1 bottle of beer (light is better- I use Corona or "Trader Jose"!)
    1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
    cheese, shredded (jack or cheddar)
    other toppings???

    Wash your chicken and place it in your crock pot. Pour the salsa over the top, then add the bottle of beer and turn on low for 8 hours. Anywhere from 1 hour before to 15 minutes before serving, shred your chicken with 2 forks and add your drained black beans to heat them up. (If you add them too early they will overcook and break down into mush! ) This chicken is super moist and juicy- thanks to the beer- so serve it with a slotted spoon before scooping it onto a tortilla. Add your toppings and enjoy!

    Sunday, July 5, 2009

    Meal Plan July 5th- 11th

    Here is this weeks Meal Plan- change the days around to suit your family. I plan around our schedule and make adjustments for evening plans, meals out, and late work nights for my husband. I will give you 5 meals for 7 days, I figure between leftovers and a night out, it should cover you, improvise where you need to! Also, see the "Shopping List" on the side column to print off an easy to use Grocery List for items you will need to make the following meals.
    • Sunday: Strawberry Salad (garlic bread/bread rolls optional)
    • Monday: Gremolata Mahi Mahi, Asparagus, & Sweet Potato Fries
    • Tuesday: BBQ Chicken Legs w/BBQ Sauce, Corn on the Cob, Artichokes
    • Wednesday: Tostada Pizza & Fruit Salad
    • Thursday: Salsa Chicken Burritos (Crock pot) & Green Salad
    • Friday: left overs 
    • Saturday: dinner out
    I am working on getting my shopping list to post in  Word Doc for easy printing, but for now, you will have to cut and paste this into your own Word Doc for printing purposes. (If you know how to do this and can help me out, email me- thanks!)

    This Weeks Shopping List
     ( I will list the items, you decide the quanity depending on how many people you are feeding. An * indicates an optional item, see recipes for clarification)
    • Romaine
    • Strawberries
    • Candies Pecans
    • Feta Cheese *
    • Bundle of Parsley 
    • Red Wine Vinegar
    • Bread Sticks/Rolls
    • Mahi Mahi Steaks
    • Fresh Lemon
    • Butter
    • Bread Crumbs
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Asparagus
    • Parmesan Cheese *
    • 4-5 Chicken Breast (3 for Salsa Chicken, 1-2 for Strawberry Salad)
    • Large Jar of Salsa
    • Tortillas
    • Cheese
    • Lettuce
    • Tomato
    • Tortilla Chips
    • Sour Cream
    • 2 Green Onions
    • Black Beans *
    • Avocado *
    • Pizza Dough (or Boboli)
    • Chicken Legs
    • BBQ Sauce
    • Corn on the Cob
    • Artichokes
    • Fruit Salad Items *
    • S & P
    • Garlic Powder
    • Olive oil
    • foil 
    • parchment paper

    Taste This- Archieve

    LARABARS... how has this scrumptious little bar not made the TASTE THIS COLUMN?? I love these little guys and carry them with me almost anywhere I go! My friend Monica turned me on to them about 4 years ago, but I have fallen even more in love with them since having a kid because they are the prefect snack for little ones too! They are just fruits, nuts, and spices- nothing else- no junk, no preservatives, no nada! And they stick with you and fill you up, give them a go! Trader Joe's sells them for $1.29 a piece (Costco used to carry them, but no longer does, at least in Bakersfield) and other nutritional stores do as well for a little bit more $ but also more selection in the flavors.... by the way, Cherry Pie is my all-time favorite!

    For those of you in a bind this Thanksgiving with too many things to make and not enough time, try this quick fix! This stuffing from Trader Joe's is really fluffy and light with great seasoning and flavor! ! Add to it (sliced celery or cranraisins) or leave it as it is.... and pick some up to serve with Turkey Left overs!
    This is a perfect and QUICK fall treat, great for a snack, breakfast, or a trip to the pumpkin patch! Super easy and a basic bread/ muffin that can be doctored up if you want! Trader Joe's carries this bread/muffin mix around the holidays, so get your fill! I have added raisins or chocolate chips or left them plan, but if you really want to get fancy, turn them into a cupcake and add a cream cheese frosting!

    This Week: Mediterranean Hummus from Trader Joe's. This packs a ton of protein, can be served as a snack, lunch, or appetizer with a veggie platter, flat bread, pita bread or pita crackers. It is goooooood!

    This Week: This is some seriously tasty popcorn, great afternoon snack for young or old- light, crunchy.... and best part: 3 ingredients: popcorn, olive oil, sea salt- that's it!

    Costco had the BEST peaches this week that were LOCALLY grown!!! We have been eating them all week, for breakfast, with our smoothies, a snack, or for dessert! I also bought an extra box to cut and freeze for smoothies later on. Try dehydrating them as well- they are so tasty! You will find the best quality and prices when you buy fruit in season- and these guys are definitely in SEASON!

    Shredded Parmesan Cheese from Trade Joe's...This is my all-time favorite parmesan cheese, it is fresh and flavorful and lasts me a long time... I always use it all before it goes bad! I love that it's shredded in thick pieces because it adds a ton of flavor to any dish- whether it's a salad, pasta, or veggie- this is a staple in my fridge!

    Coconut Oil.... I am trying to make the switch to cooking with coconut oil (when cooking things above 200 degrees) for the nutritional benefits. I usually use Olive Oil, but I have been reading a lot about how the properties of the oil changes when it's heated to high temps, and how it is better to use an alternate oil like Coconut or Grapeseed. So, we have switched to coconut with our eggs in the morning- and we got 2 thumbs up from the husband AND the baby- she didn't bat an eye! And as a side note, my sister uses coconut oil on her skin (which is beautiful)- she swears by it!

    Chocolate Fix Anyone??? Now, let me start by saying I have a couple fabulous recipes for homemade brownies, but I have to say, these are honestly just as yummy and SO much easier, and TOTALLY chocolatey!!! If you need a fix, or a quick dessert for friends, keep a box of these in the pantry, they are sure to not disappoint! Truffle Chocolate Brownies from... Trader Joe's!
    Another alternative cooking oil that I have been using is Grape Seed oil. I picked mine up at Trader Joe's and have used it in just about everything! Some benefits: it raises good cholesterol levels and lowers the bad, helps lower blood pressure, it also has the lowest levels of saturated fats of any oil, and grape seed oil is lighter than olive oil but can withstand higher temperatures while retaining flavor and therefore is perfect for sautéing and frying. What more do you need to hear???

    Saturday, July 4, 2009

    Fresh Fruit Juice Popsicles...

    Happy 4th of July! Here's what we are serving for dessert today to the little ones- and to the adults that can't resist! I just juice some fruit- today's fruit is watermelon- I put it in my Vitamix for 10 seconds or so, and then pour into these nifty popsicle holders I found at Target for $3.49. Pop them in the freezer in the morning and they will be ready in a few hours! You can use any variety of fruit to make these, and you can use a juicer or blender if you don't have a Vitamix. They are great for a refreshing treat any day of the summer!

    SIDE NOTE: For those of you who live in Bakersfield- Vitamix is coming to Bakersfield Costco around August 17 & 18th for those of you who have asked where I purchased mine. 

    Friday, July 3, 2009

    Fiesta Fajitas from Scratch

    You can make these yummy fajitas with chicken or beef- your choice- they are quick and easy and a real crowd pleaser! This recipe was borrowed from my sis- Danika Stokes! I love this recipe because you will most likely have all the spices in your cupboard already- so no seasoning packet is need!

    2 lbs. chicken or beef, cut into long, thin strips
    1 red bell pepper, cut into long, thing strips
    1 green bell pepper, cut into long, thin strips
    1 red onion, thinly sliced
    1/2 cup water
    1/2 tsp. oregano
    1/2 tsp. cumin
    2 TBSP salsa
    2 cloves garlic
    salt & pepper to taste 
    **Optional toppings: grated cheese, sour cream, guacamole, cilantro...

     Heat up your frying pan with a little olive oil, then add your meat (chicken or beef) until browned. Set the meat aside on an extra plate while you heat up a little more olive oil and cook your bell peppers and onions, adding your seasoning, garlic, and water and salsa. Mix it around, add your meat back to soak up the flavors. Let simmer for 5 minutes uncovered. Warm up your tortillas, dish some fajita yummies onto the tortilla, add your toppings and enjoy!

    Serve with: I serve these fajitas solo sometimes, they are really filling and it makes a lot. You could serve them with some black beans, spanish rice, or a side salad if you're an over-achiever.

    Thursday, July 2, 2009

    Trail Mix for Munchikins....

    So, when I am on the go with Emery, I make sure to take a snack trap (love those little cups) full of something that will keep her busy when we are out. I decided to throw it all in a jar instead of making a small bowl of it everyday and I leave it on the counter for a quick go-to on my way out the door. There really are endless possibilities, so feel free to change it up- I try to keep it as nutritious as I can... Here we go:

    Ingredient Options:
    Raisins (Brown and Yellow ones)
    Dried Cranberries
    Dried Apricots (cut up into bit size pieces)
    Dehydrated Bananas, Raspberries, Blueberries, and Mangos (see Trader Joe's/Lassen's/Whole Foods)
    1 type of dried cereal (Cheerios, Puffins, or Shredded Wheat)

    As your kids are older, you can add all sorts of raw nuts like:
    Sunflower Seeds
    Pumpkin Seeds
    Almonds (slivered or whole)

    The list could go on and on! One bit of info that I want to pass on to you that my dentist told me, was to be careful when eating dried fruits. Because they are so sticky, they have a tendency to hang around and cause cavities because of the amount of sugar they have in them. For me, not a reason to avoid them, just something to take into consideration. Try to swish with water to get any remnants off and brush when you have the chance!

    The "WORKS!!!" Hamburgers

    So with the 4th of July coming up, I was thinking what can I serve to a group of people that's fun, festive, and easy enough for me to enjoy the day as well??? Now, because this is a special holiday, I can't claim that this is exactly "healthy", but it's not double fried!

    The "WORKS" Burgers:

    Your choice of patties, beef, turkey, or veggie
    Buns, whole wheat or white
    Typical toppings (ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles)
    Platter of Different Cheeses
    Bacon (I love Trader Joe's Apple Smoked Bacon)
    Sauted mushrooms
    Grilled Onions


    Guacamole: 2-3 avocados, 1 large clove of garlic minced (or 1/8 tsp garlic powder), S & P to taste, 1/2 tsp lemon or lime juice. Throw in some chopped tomatoes or onions if you have them. Chopped Cilantro??? why not! Mash it all up and chill it in the fridge with a pit in the bowl to keep it from turning brown.

    Bacon: cook it in your non-stick frying pan (you don't need any oil or butter, the bacon has enough fat!) remove and set on a plate lined with a paper towel to cool.

    Sauted Mushrooms: Slice 4 cups mushrooms, heat 1-2 TBSP butter in a frying pan, add mushrooms, 1 TBSP white wine, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 1 large clove of garlic, minced.

    Grilled Onions: Use a sweet onion slice it thinly in rings, coat it lightly with olive oil so it doesn't stick to the grill, and put it on when you grill up the burgers. Grill it to your liking.

    Serve this with: corn on the cob, watermelon or fruit salad (maybe a pasta or potato salad if it's a big crowd) and finish it up with a Rootbeer float for dessert! It's the 4th of July for Pete's sake!

    Wednesday, July 1, 2009

    Cucumber Salad

    This is a refreshing addition to any meal, great for summertime- perfect for a BBQ or the 4th of July! 

    1 large cucumber, peeled, quartered, and sliced
    2 Roma Tomatoes (or large handful of Grape?Cherry Tomatoes- use what you like/have)
    1/4 red onion, sliced as thinly as you can get it
    1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
    2 TBSP basalmic vinegar
    2 TBSP red wine vinegar
    1/4 tsp sea salt
    1/8 tsp pepper
    1 clove garlic, minced OR 1/4 tsp garlic powder
    * a shake of dill, or some fresh parsley, or chopped fresh basil if you feel up for it! 

    Slice your cucumbers, chop your peppers, slice your onion, and wash your tomatoes. Toss them all in a bowl. Pour olive oil, vinegars, and seasoning on top. Toss it to make sure everything is evenly coated. Refrigerate and let marinate for an hour or two before serving. Taste, add more S & P if needed, toss and enjoy!