Monthly Archives: March 2013

Little Family Vacation

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We had a great 2 days in Myrtle Beach! I have little fish for children so they had a blast at the waterpark. Neither of them have ANY fear of the water what so ever. I love their fearlessness because it allows them to enjoy themselves and learn to swim really early. But we just have to be very careful because even Cassidy jumps right off the edge and doesn’t want us catching her. She wants to jump in without us helping, go under water, have us retrieve her, try to swim to the edge, and repeat. If we stood in front of her to catch her, she’d walk to another location to make sure no one could catch her and prevent her from going all the way under the water.

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The hotel had activites for the kids including hair braiding/beading and scavenger hunts.

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While we did hair braiding, Dave and Cassidy floated the lazy river.

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Baby girl was great considering she didn’t nap either day. Since we only went for 2 days/1 night we just spent all of our time at the waterpark instead of going back to the room for 3 hours for her to nap. Luckily she is such an adaptable kid and really doesn’t get fussy. Although she was thrilled to hop in bed for a nap this weekend!

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It was a great little family vacation!

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I did not cook a single meal. We went out to a nice Italian restaurant for dinner, hotel breakfast buffet, and then an authentic greek restaurant for lunch. Every meal was really good but we were all happy to get back to meals based more around vegetables.

This week we will be having, for dinners:

Easter dinner (Ham, mayo-free potato salad, deviled eggs, buttermilk rolls, roasted asparagus)

Grilled steak salads with romaine, feta, green peppers, mushrooms, homemade dressing

chicken pot pie with a biscuit crust

Seasoned Ahi tuna steaks, collard greens, roasted sweet potatoes

Ginger Chicken

Zucchini boats stuffed with ground turkey and quinoa

Breakfasts will be the normal pancakes, oats, apple omelets, and I am also going to try a breakfast rice bowl with brown rice, eggs, and peppers. I need some more breakfast variety and I want more make ahead and freeze options.

HAPPY EASTER!

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

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Cabbage is one of my favorite vegetables. Which is probably one reason why corned beef and cabbage is my favorite holiday meal. Since cabbage is in season right now we have been eating a lot of it. Usually I just sautee it up with some garlic, salt, pepper, and vinegar and serve it as a side dish. I could eat that every single night, but I think my family would soon stop wanting to eat it.

I saw a recipe for stuffed cabbage leaves but it seemed labor intensive and it didn’t really use all that much cabbage, it was more filling. A couple weeks later I came across a recipe for stuffed cabbage casserole and that seemed perfect. I took a couple different recipes, combined them, and came up with my own to fit my personal tastes.

Alyssa ate 3rds and was asking for 4ths when I told her she needed to slow down a little. Girl must be growing! Although with lean ground beef or ground turkey, whole grain brown rice, and fresh cabbage, it’s a nice healthy meal to grow on for sure!

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

serves 5

1 lb lean ground beef

3/4 cup brown rice

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 head cabbage, chopped

28 oz. diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)

1.5 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 Tbs Brown sugar

2 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

Brown meat, onion, garlic. Add rice, salt, and pepper.

Mix diced tomatoes, chicken broth, brown sugar, mustard, and season with a little extra salt and pepper.

Layer 1/3 of cabbage in a 9×13 baking dish. Place 1/2 beef mixture on top, then another 1/3 of cabbage, the remaining beef, and then finally the remaining cabbage. Pour tomato mixture evenly over the top, do not stir. Cover and bake at 350 for 1 hour 15 minutes. Uncover and cook 30 minutes more.

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 374

Fat: 7.7 g

Sodium: 440 mg (18%)

Carbohydrates: 41 g

Dietary Fiber: 7 g

Sugars:12 g

Protein: 35 g

*The winner of the squooshi reusable pouch giveaway is Olivia L! Email me your name and address at Lindsayfmf@gmail.com so I can have the package shipped to you!

Italian Salad Dressing Recipe

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I found yet another food that I can’t believe I was still buying from the store when its so easy to make. I eat a lot of salads, not because I feel like I should, but because I love them. Topping a salad has endless possibilities and I load them up with leftover meats, cheeses, any vegetable, hummus, beans, etc.  Yet on top of those beautiful healthy salads, most people load it up with unhealthy processed salad dressings. Pretty much anything that is shelf stable for months is not great for you. And then add in that most people use way too much of it, its turning an otherwise healthy meal into a high calorie preservative doused meal.

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I made an Italian dressing today that is not only healthy but it tastes great too. And my frugal side also loves that I won’t be spending 3 bucks per bottle of dressing any longer! I also use it as a marinade for grilled chicken. I have plans for a healthy berry vinaigrette too!

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Italian Dressing Recipe:

makes 16 servings (1 Tbs each)

1/4-1/2 cup water

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup oil

1 Tbs honey

1 Tbs Parmesean cheese

1 tsp minced garlic

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp basil

fresh cracked pepper to taste

Combine everything in an empty bottle or salad dressing mixer. Shake well and store in the refrigerator.

I like mine thinner with a lighter taste so I use 1/2 cup water. However when I’m making it for guests I usually only use 1/4 cup water. Start with 1/4 cup and go from there!

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 37

Fat: 3.5 g

Sodium: 114 mg (5%)

Carbohydrates: 1.2

Sugars: 1 g

Protein: 0.1 g

Shortened Cooking Week

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*I’ll announce the winner of my giveaway for Squooshi reusable food pouches at the end of the week, go enter!

I have a shortened meal plan this week because we are going on a short trip to myrtle beach! Its only 2 hours away so we are just going for 2 days/1 night. Usually when we go on vacation, I bring breakfast and lunch supplies with us and we only eat dinners out. But since its only going to be dinner one day then breakfast/lunch the next, I think we will just eat all 3 meals out. We will eat dinner at an Italian place and lunch at a pizza place we loved last time we went. I’m sure breakfast will be the omelet and waffle bar at the hotel to make it simple. Typing this out makes me realize how much of a planner I really am…

Dinners this week:

Old Bay Roasted Chicken, garlic dill potatoes, steamed broccoli

Taco brown rice bowls (ground beef, homemade seasoning, avocado, greek yogurt, cheese, lettuce, brown rice, beans)

Grilled pork chops, collard greens, homemade baked beans

Turkey Chili and Cornbread

Chicken pot pie

Leftovers one night

Breakfasts:

Greek yogurt pancakes with cinnamon diced apples inside

apple omelet (Alyssa’s request)

Banana peanut butter oats x 2

Sausage, egg, and cheese sandwiches on freshly made waffles (like a mcgriddle kind of) plus cantaloupe

Homemade Graham cracker cereal, milk, banana

lunches: combinations of salads, greek yogurt, salmon and bean burgers, carrots and hummus, apple and peanut butter, and leftovers.

I can’t wait to have 3 meals in a row I don’t have to cook or clean up after, that literally never happens for me. Like maybe in years, since college! Even when I visit someone I always end up helping cook, and usually doing the dishes too. And I am excited we already know where we are going to eat too because i dont even have to decide that. Not to mention my excitement to ride waterslides for 2 days :). Having kids is a great excuse to go do fun kid activities again!

Baked Mac and Cheese

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Mac and Cheese seems to be the ultimate kid food. I make it occasionally but had yet to come up with my go to recipe. I go back and forth between the recipes that start with a roux, because I like their taste and creaminess better, and the ones that don’t, for ease and health purposes. Well I combined my 2 recipes into one that would be both healthy and easy.

I like my mac and cheese smooth and creamy, as most kids do too. I love onion flavor but don’t like chunks of onion in my mac and cheese. I used onion powder and a little mustard for grown up flavor, while still making it nice and smooth for the kids.

If you are watching your calorie count, use reduced fat cheese. I find it melts fine and has a little less calories. I like to use the full fat though because kids should not have a low fat diet, (healthier fats of course). Neither should adults in my opinion. We don’t eat any processed foods which means we don’t have many added fats to our food so I try and make sure the kids are getting plenty for brain growth.

At only 375 calories and 20 g protein per serving, it is actually a nice well balanced meal when paired with a veggie.

Baked Mac and Cheese

16 oz whole wheat elbows

1 Tbs butter

1 Tbs white whole wheat flour

1 cup skim milk

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 cup plain greek yogurt or sour cream

2 oz cream cheese

8 oz shredded sharp cheddar (2 cups)

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1 Tbs onion powder

fresh cracked pepper to taste

2 Tbs parmesan cheese

Cook pasta al dente.

While pasta is cooking, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook for a minute. Add milk, a little at a time, until its all combined and smooth. Stir in chicken broth.

Melt in cream cheese. Add mustard, onion powder, pepper.

Turn off heat and stir in shredded cheddar

Drain pasta. Add back to pot. Stir in greek yogurt. Add cheese sauce.

Place in a 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 378

Fat: 14.6

Sodium: 330 (14%)

Carbohydrates: 46.6 g

Dietary fiber: 6.6 g

sugars: 3.7 g

protein: 20.2 g

Squooshi Reusable Food Pouches (and a Giveaway!)

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I am at a point where health is my number one priority, especially for my children. I made both of my kids baby food and I didn’t find it to be much trouble. However, I know I am lucky to be able to stay at home so I have time to do those things. But even still there are the days where convenience just has to take priority. We will be running out the door and the kids want a snack. Or I know we will be out of the house for a long time, so snacks will be necessary, but I don’t want them eating processed junk foods. That’s where those nice little fruit and veggie pouches come in very handy. They are all fruits and vegetables, not messy, and for some reason kids absolutely love them. My kids would rather suck down broccoli, spinach, and sweet potato out of one of those pouches than have a cookie.

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They didn’t have those pouches when Alyssa was little, but they did with Cassidy. We used them some, like I said for convenice, but I still didn’t love using them because they are a processed food. They were sitting on a shelf for months at a time losing all that valuable nutrition as time ticked on. They also were heavy on the sweet fruit and not so much the veggies. I really preferred making my own baby food. But again, sometimes convenience won over.

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I recently came across a reusable pouch and almost bought it. But it was a hard plastic and didn’t have the same spout, so I figured, knowing how finicky kids are, it just wouldn’t be the same. A couple months later I researched it a little more figuring someone had to have had the genius idea of making a reusable pouch just like the one all kids love. And they do! There were a couple different brands I found, but one stood out, Squooshi.

Reusable food pouces

squooshi features:
Extra sturdy zip-lock bottom for easy-to-fill and easy-to-clean convenience & usability.
Unique designs make even picky eaters happy.
Compatible with spoon attachments.
Great for baby food, yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies and more.
Freeze, store and serve from the same container. No more freezer cubes needed!

BPA free, Phthalate free, PVC free, Lead free
Dishwasher safe

I originally typed up my own reasons for wanting to use the Squooshi pouch. Then I looked back at their website and my points were identical to theirs…

• You control the ingredients in your little one’s food. Organic, local food reduces exposure
to overly processed ingredients, pesticides, food dyes, preservatives, sugar, added salt,
and genetically modified organisms (GMO’s).
• You give your child the gift of nutrient rich, real food in a variety of recipes
• You enjoy the cost savings of homemade vs. pre-prepared. A 2.5oz pouch or jar of baby
food can cost anywhere from 50 cents to $1.40; homemade costs about 5 to 10 cents per
2.5oz; Savings which can add up to hundreds of dollars saves annually.
• You reduce wasteful food packaging going into landfills and energy used in food transportation.
• Your child learns to enjoy the flavors of fresh, wholesome food.

I have been using the pouches for several weeks and I honestly love them.

What I love:

The zippers on the bottom don’t leak or bust open from tight squeezes (I was afraid of that)

They are shaped just like the ones in the store. Many of the other brands were square shaped so food could get stuck up in the top corners, making it harder to get all the food out and clean it.

When held upside down, they don’t pour out (I was afraid of that as well)

The store bought caps fit their pouch, so if you lose one, its easily replaced (although i think they sell replacement caps as well).

The kids love them too and I have complete control over what goes in them!

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Tips (these might sound self explanatory, but that doesnt mean I didn’t have to learn the hard way):

Keep the lid on while filling them up so it doesn’t spill out the top.

Make your puree thick but not too thick. A thinner consistancy will pour out too fast and make a mess but too thick and it will choke the kid up. Theres not a perfect consistancy you have to reach or anything, but just thicker than pure liquid, and thin enough it can easily be squeezed out. (just like the store bought kind)

Only fill them about 2/3 of the way before zipping them closed. Don’t be like me and try and shove more into the pouch just to find its going to squish out when you try to zip it.

Have I convinced you yet? If not, maybe trying them out for yourself will! Squooshi is going to give a Fuel My Family reader one of their variety packs, two 2.5 oz and two 4.5 oz pouches! To enter, leave a comment with what recipe or produce combinations you would want to make for your little ones (or not so little ones, my 4.5 year old still loves them!). For an extra entry, go to Squooshi’s facebook page, “like” it, and leave a separate comment telling me you did so.

Check back next week and I will announce the winner!

Lightly Sauced Baked Beans Recipe

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Lightly Sauced Baked Beans

2 cans white beans (white northern, cannellini, pinto), or 3 1/2 cups soaked and cooked from dry beans

1/2 small onion, chopped

1/4 cup diced tomatoes (canned or freshly diced)

1 Tbs real maple syrup

1 Tbs brown sugar

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

3/4 tsp dijon mustard

1/8 tsp liquid smoke (Optional)

Place onion in a little oil and sauté until translucent.

Drain and rinse the beans.

While the onion is cooking down, put all ingredients besides beans, onion, and water in small food processor (like magic bullet). Puree together.

Add pureed sauce ingredients and beans to onion. Simmer on low for 10-20 minutes until hot and thickened.

You could also transfer it to a baking dish and bake at 325 for 40 minutes.