Weekly Meal Plan 2/1-2/7

Well… I’m sorry I didn’t post last week. I suppose I could have come up with some fabulous “Here’s What to Cook When You Can’t Leave Your Neighborhood Post,” but honestly I just wasn’t up to being that positive about it. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I live in Mid-Maryland about 5 minutes from the “eye” of where Winter Storm Jonas landed just over a week ago. What this meant for my little town is that we got 3 feet of snow in in about 36 hours. That’s about 32 inches more than a “usual” snow dump for this area. Needless to say, systems pretty much came to a complete halt. If you didn’t have a snow mobile or snow shoes, you were pretty much confined to the house or your yard to play in the snow. There are a lot of good things about that kind of confinement, and I think there’s a wellness post coming on that… but logistically it’s not so great.

The other part of it that wasn’t so great for me personally is that the storm made it impossible for Mr. Little Sis to return from a class he was attending in Chicago. So, there I was. Stuck in my house, with my twins, and my very large dog, with 3 feet of snow all around all around, 3 feet of snow all around.

Now mind you, I have no objection to physical work. I actually kind of dig physical work (get it, dig, har har) – gardening, landscaping, even snow removal… for awhile. The kids and I figure that when it was all said and done I probably spent about 8-10 hours moving snow, mostly by myself, despite well intended efforts of Little Man. I took breaks, I didn’t venture down heart attack way… but it was coming down so fast and there was SO much that it was really hard to manage. My hands are just now recovering and everyone I’ve spoken to has some twitch, twinge, ouch from snow removal. All of that would still have been difficult, but what was really the kicker, was coming inside from that scene and realizing I would still have to make a meal for the kids.

I’ll be honest. I don’t even remember what we ate, except that I know we had some lentil casserole using the lentils Bigg Sis kindly supplied when I couldn’t bear to go the store with the crazed pre-storm panic filled people just for lentils.

So now the big snow induced drama is over. All said and done, it really was kind of a nice week (even though we missed Mr. Little Sis terribly). Aside from the dreadful amount of physical labor, there is something awfully restful about NOT being able to go anywhere. Now we can, and we have plenty of places to go… and not quite so much delicious reading and tea drinking to do. But we’ll still eat. Here’s what we’re having.

Monday: Creamy Lentils with Mushrooms and Kale (slightly modified from this), whole grain bread, green salad

Tuesday: Nutshroom Burgers, cut and pickled veggies, spinach salad

Wednesday: Vegan Scalloped Potatoes with Chickpea Cheese Sauce, sautéed greens, green smoothies

Thursday: Vegan Picadillo, corn bread, green salad

Friday: Homemade pizza, cut veggies

Saturday: Mulligatawny Soup, brown rice, curried sauerkraut salad

Sunday: Homemade pasta, winter pesto, spinach salad

Adult Lunches: leftovers, salad

Lunchbox Treats: Nut Butter Bliss Balls

  

 

So there it is folks, a whole lot of eating amidst the melting piles of snow… Hope it’s sunny where you are!

 

Sugar Back on my Back and the easiest ‘Sweet’ Treat Ever!

It does seem to happen every year.  After the holiday season the bar has been reset and my sugar problem has started creeping back in on me.  It never gets back to the days of eating multiple fireballs each day and spending my entire allowance on candy, but it is a slippery slope my friends and I am thinking that like the Grinch, my little dog Maxx needs to grab the back of my shirt and pull hard.

Little Sis and I did a whole series called Sugar Busting chronicling and encouraging our journey (and perhaps yours) to reduce sugar, but it appears to be a life long battle with hills and valleys / highs and lows / fruit and pixie stix…. Gag, but I did love pixie stix back in the day.

I may be beyond the temptation of Pixie Stix but the amount of dark chocolate I eat has been creeping up, along with a penchant for bottled sweet salad dressing and the ‘need’ for something a little sweet after meals.  And it’s not just weight and cavities that are cause for concern.  A link has been found between sugar consumption and heart disease regardless of the quality of the rest of a person’s diet. And there are other health issues with

As we preach in Baby Steps to Better Health: A Guided Journey to Healthier Eating, I am trying to cut back and replace that chocolate (and okay some baked goods as well!!) with something healthier that fits the bill.  If I totally deny that sweet craving I’m likely to go back to the chocolate with a vengeance!

Enter my 15 year old son who although he is becoming a bit more rebellious lately where Mom’s food offerings are concerned, he is helping me out!  As part of our rule that one must have a piece of produce prior to eating a less healthy snack (P.E.P. – pre-emptive produce – also in the book), he often chops an apple, sprinkles on a bit of cinnamon, pops it in the microwave for a few minutes and presto – pie filling type dessert that is warm and wonderful and has no added sugar.  I added a few broken up walnuts so the snack would fill me up longer.  Fabulous.  I ate it.  I felt satisfied and able to pass up the chocolate…

As for cutting back, I have stopped taking dark chocolate in my lunch bag….. too easy to eat too much of it.  And who says I need a piece of chocolate to get through the afternoon, anyway?  I don’t.  After all, the best reward and motivator is to treat my body with respect and reward myself with health.  A little bit doesn’t hurt, but I know when I am slipping down the slope.  And when I notice or have trouble remembering the real rewards, I go back to sugar busting and baby stepping.  Eventually I am back on track.

Here’s a photo of the apple…. good luck to you if you have a sugar monkey on your back.  It is possible to let the monkey get back to the trees, so hang in there.

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Teriyaki Roasted Broccoli

The search continues for broccoli that both My Boy (er… young man…. almost 15!) and I both like.  Mr. Bigg Sis is not at all picky, (one of his many fine qualities), but ever since I was pregnant with My Young Man broccoli has fallen to the bottom of my vegetable list.  But it is SO very good for you that I simply can’t forget about it.  I have roasted broccoli before to good effect, but My Young Man was not sold on plain roasted broccoli.  He does love Asian flavors however and perhaps the combo of flavor and roasting would please us both!

I decided to try a teriyaki sauce and a google of said delicacy led me quickly to an easy version from allrecipes.com:

2/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cooking sherry
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 clove garlic, minced

I cut the sugar in half and used vermouth instead of sherry because I recently substituted vermouth for madeira and figured that would work here as well.  I also used granulated garlic because I was out of fresh, but normally would definitely opt for fresh whenever possible.

To make teriyaki broccoli, preheat oven to 400.  Cut broccoli in bite sized chunks.  Mix teriyaki sauce and toss  with broccoli.  don’t over do the amount of sauce.  It should be a light coating on the broccoli.  Pour onto a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes – checking at 10 minutes for your preferred level of done-ness / tenderness.

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The brown you see on the broccoli is teriyaki sauce sunk in – not burning.

And if you are chopping and roasting, might as well throw in a pan of red potatoes cut in fry-like shapes, and roasted with oil, salt and pepper.  For me, I then know that My Young Man will enjoy something on the plate!

I also had some chicken and doused that with teriyaki and baked at 400 for about 15 minutes.  One oven, 3 dishes, reduced stank, happy eaters.  My Young Man says this is the best way he has ever eaten broccoli (although he still wouldn’t choose it over potatoes).  Any positive comment about broccoli is a very welcome thing and noted as a success!

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Other broccoli dishes?

Broccoli Meatballs
Vegan Broccoli Cheese Soup
Broccoli Burgers
Bok choy & Ginger & Broccoli

And just in case you are new to our blog…. We can help you meet your goals to eat healthier and feel better.   Follow our gentle, sensible “Baby Steps to Better health: A Guided Journey in Healthier Eating”  Great for you or someone you love :-)

 

 

Weekly Meal Plan 1/17-1/23

I know, I know. I missed a week. All this talk about how you keeping me accountable is such a lifesaver just didn’t cut it last week. Mr. Little Sis was gone for the week and all of my various activities (work, school, music practice and performance) seem to be ramping up at the exact same moment (how does that always happen that way). I just let it go. I let the meal plan go. Mostly because when I got to Sunday night, when I should really start writing the post and working on the plan, I just couldn’t bear to have another required item. So I let it go. I’m hoping our significant archive of meal plans (click on weekly meal plans in the sidebar) meant nobody was left in the lurch. While not having that plan did require a little more fancy footwork than usual in the kitchen, I really just needed to take one thing off the list. Now, I’ve got to add that thing back to the list so as to avoid continuance of said fancy footwork. Ain’t nobody got time to be that fancy two weeks in a row.

Don’t know how it is where you are, but it’s brutally cold here, so I’m all over the comfort food this week, particularly as we get toward the end of the week when they’re saying it might snow, just a little (like for two days). Warm and comforting coming up.

Monday:  30 Minute Bean and Bulgur Chili, cornbread, green salad

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Vegetable, Bean and Barley Soup, whole wheat bread, green salad

Wednesday: Broccoli Mushroom Patties, Oven Fries, Sautéed green beans

Thursday: Shweet Potato Stew, whole wheat bread, green salad

Friday: Homemade pizza, cut veggies

Saturday:  Slow Cooker Herbed Beans and Barley, steamed broccoli, pickles 

Sunday: Homemade pasta (assuming Mr. Little Sis can get back from Chicago in spite of the weather), green salad

Lunchbox Treats: Believe it or not we are still working through some slightly stale cookies from the holidays over here.

Adult Lunches: Since it’s just me this week, I’ll be humming it up with a lot of hummus and salads.

  

So that ought to get us all ready for whatever this storm is going to turn out to be. A few inches, a couple of feet. That’s the range we’re looking at. Hope you get whatever precipitation you’re looking for and that while the winds may blow, your foundation will ne’er be shaken. Eat well, be well friends.

Flop to Fantastic in 1 Broccoli-Laden Burger Bite

We Sis Sisters can’t seem to leave well enough alone.  Little Sis is an inveterate messer-arounder of recipes and I frequently stray from the written path myself.  But I recently had a hankering for a straight from the recipe veggie burger and I couldn’t decide between Little Sis’ incredible Nutshroom Burgers and the Broccoli Meatballs that made the year end list…. which I have never tried.  Shame on me for never trying Broccoli Meatballs.  I thought I could burgify those balls, which hardly counts as recipe tampering, but couldn’t get the nutshroom burger taste out of my mind.  AND I had 2 heads of broccoli because Mr. Bigg Sis and I both acquired broccoli a day apart without revealing the haul…. (poor communication plagues modern hunter gatherers it would seem).

So of course you see where this is heading…. Recipe meddling and a ‘Get your chocolate out of my peanut butter’ moment had arrived…. The result I was hoping would be a new combination even be better than the originals.

Well at first I thought, no – what a flop!  Literally.  These burgers are too wet.  I couldn’t flip or flop them tidily after baking for 30 minutes.  But having poured some expensive ingredients and invested in actually eating dinner that night I decided patience was in order.  So I reached way down deep to find the little tiny pieces of patience that exist somewhere in the rather un-necessary organs like my appendix or gall bladder and managed to let these babies cook another 20 minutes or so.  The result?  A tougher outside that allowed for flipping (and another 10 minutes of baking) and a tender inside that remained tender for the leftover burger taken to work 2 days later on a whole grain bun.  Wow these things rock and pack a powerhouse of nutrition.  Truly tasty and packed with broccoli.  Nothing wrong with that.

One could probably speed up the cooking by adding some oats or something, but I don’t think I will mess with this concoction.  I will just make them on a weekend when there is lots of time for them to sit in the oven….. and eat them all week!

A name for this glorious combination?  Nutshroom Broccoli Bombs?  Brocshroom Burgers.  Beats me.  I just call them ‘Broccoli Mushroom Patties THAT ROCK’

1 cup chopped onion (I used sweet onion)
1 large clove garlic
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
salt to taste
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
2 Tbsp Bragg’s liquid aminos (or soy sauce)4 cup broccoli cut into chunks and steamed or nuked still soft but not mushy (if you use bits of stem, cook that longer)
1/2 cup almond butter

Pre-heat oven to 350
Saute onions and garlic in a little oil until translucent.  Add mushrooms and any broccoli stem you might be using.
Cook until mushrooms are shriveling and even a little browned if you can be that patient
Add salt, rosemary and liquid aminos
Stir and saute another 5 minutes or so.
Pulse the cooked broccoli in a food processor to make small but not mush
Remove and place in mixing bowl with flaxseed and almond butter
Pulse the onion mixture in the food processor.  This should be pretty mushy.  Make sure you get all the scrapings from the pan.
Add to the mixing bowl and mix together
I used a big flat wooden spoon to shplunk patty type dollops on parchment paper on a baking sheet
Bake for 30 minutes or until firm enough to flip

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Bake until firm on both sides but still soft in the middle.
Have people try it without telling them what it’s made of.  Or take the Calvin approach (from Calvin & Hobbes) and tell your children it is monkey brains.  Mine would be more interested in that than anything that contains broccoli.

I don’t really care what these contain….. okay that’s not true.  I’m thrilled they are full of wholesome ingredients because I will be eating a lot of them!  Have you eaten your broccoli today?  ;-)

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Weekly Meal Plan 1/4-1/10

Happy New Year Friends! I hope you all had the chance to ring the new year in however you most wanted to. We honored a multi-year tradition with some of our very oldest (and by that I mean long time and absolutely youthful and fabulous) friends. 6 adults. 6 kids. One big ball dropping from the sky. It was a lovely break from the rest of everything.

It would seem that while we were on that break, however, winter decided to finally arrive.  The wind is howling and it is chilly. So as we readjust to life in the “real world” (meaning homework and other things we’d rather not do mixed in with all the rest), we’ll be digging into some warm bites this chilly week.

Monday: Rockin’ Gluten Free Falafel – gonna try to bake it this time, sautéed green beans, salad

Tuesday: Lentil Casserole (preparing Miss Picky Pants for chili), carrot fries, cut veggies

Wednesday: Roasted Veggie Chili, quinoa, raw cut veggies for garnish or for making a chili salad

Thursday: Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup, whole wheat bread, green salad

Friday: Date Night (it’s so wonderful when all of the children get invited somewhere)

Saturday: Homemade Pizza, cut veggies

Sunday: Homemade Pasta, mushroom sauce, green salad

  

Here’s to finding pleasure in routine and remembering the simple joys of every day living. Eat well, be well friends.

 

The Pantry’s Year in Review

It’s been a big year for both of us. Moving, new jobs, new schooling, new music, new friends and finally, a new book in print. We are so very pleased and proud to have completed the print version of Baby Steps to Better Health: A Guided Journey in Healthier Eating. What a long and wild ride it has been and even though we now live 18 minutes apart (wahoo!) rather than 12 hours, we still really enjoy sharing with each other and with you. We hope your year has been satisfying, fulfilling, and challenging in all the right ways.

Here’s what you’ve told us, by the sheer virtue of repeated clickery, you just couldn’t get enough of in 2015.

The Top 10 of 2015

Well-Being#10. 2015: A Year of Well Being

A series of thoughts about self-care, at which I am still a sub par performer, but I am working at it. This piece lays out 3 goals, and I’ve actually made at least modest progress on 2. I feel pretty good about that. Need to give your own self-care some thought? Take a look.

#9. We Did It! Our Book is Finally Ready!

Here is the post introducing said book. We are so proud and relieved to have completed it and are so very honored that you are interested. Thank you.

#8. Weekly Meal Plan 2/16-2/22/2015

The real fun of looking back at old meal plans is remembering what was going on and seeing how clearly the food reflects that. This week is full of warming comfort food, so if you’re somewhere where it is NOT 70 degrees like it is here right now, this meal plan is a good one for you.

#7. Weekly Meal Plan 4/27-5/2

This meal plan is full of quick and easy dishes. This post also reveals the early days of my kitchen cabinet refinishing project. Guess what I just finished TODAY, eight months later. HOW, how, how, you may ask did I take that long? Folks in other areas may not be familiar with the armpit that is summer in the mid-Atlantic. Hot and humid do not good finish drying make. So I did the tops in Spring, took a break for summer, and did the bottoms this fall. If you’ve got a kitchen project going, this plan will help you get the food done quickly and easily even amongst disarray.

#6. Three Sisters Savory Cobbler

Just made this dish last week and loved it loved it loved it again. Apparently you all enjoyed it too. Warm and hearty, full of vegetable-y goodness and there’s breading on top. Really, what’s not to love? Mr. Little Sis and I have a long standing love affair with pot pies and this dish really scratches that itch in such a wonderful way. Give it a try. I bet you’ll love it too.

 

#5. (OMG) GF Fudgy Mocha Pudding Cake

Bigg Sis gives a really enticing review of the fabulous Angela Liddon’s Mocha Pudding Cake recipe. This one is a true winner, regardless of whether or not you eat gluten, milk, or any of the other things that are NOT in this cake. Bigg Sis and I really do like our sweets, and we like them best just about like this. Thank you Angela Liddon. Chocolate cake fans, look no further.

#4. Weekly Meal Plan 3/16-3/22

A meal plan from a glorious time when Bigg Sis was visiting, which she can do a WHOLE lot more now!! This is a standard meal plan in the sense that it mixes things that adults like with foods approved by Miss Picky Pants. A St. Patrick’s Day nod and moving on.

#3 Broccoli Meatballs. Really? Yes, Really.

I admit that it takes a special kind of person to be intrigued by the words “broccoli meatballs.” Can I just tell you that I am delighted that I am not the only person who is special in this particular way? I have always been a broccoli fan, which I suspect is indicative of everything that is strange about me. These particular brassicas are the under appreciated hero of the vegetable world. Give them a try, especially if you’re a broccoli fan.

#2. Weekly Meal Plan 1/19-1/25

This post has a lot to say about why meal planning is a great idea – and the reasons are the ONLY reasons I, an extremely poor planner, continue to do it. Meal planning saves me 1) money (I am seriously cheap at times), 2) trips to the store (while cheap I am terrible at staying on list so any trip will be more expensive than it should be), and 3) concerns and effort during the part of the day when I am often needed for other tasks like nagging the crap out of my children. That’s good enough for me. Plan follows…

And our #1 post of last year… yet another meal plan. Seems you guys like that I’m compelled to continue doing this. ;-)

#1. Weekly Meal Plan 1/5-1/11

Maybe it was the favorite because it was early in the year, New Year’s Resolutions and all. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s a nice plan. Truthfully, they’re all nice plans, especially when you get to 5 pm and you realize you already sorted all that crap out and now all you have to do is cook it. I am ever so grateful to your attention to these posts so that I can continue to have this moment.

So there it is, the big wrap up. It’s hard to believe yet another new year will soon be upon us. If you’re a resolutions person, here’s hoping at least one of those is to eat well and be well friends.

 

Whole for the Holidays Part 3

WholeHolidaysHere we are. The final countdown. If you’re still checking in on this series, you are one of a special crew. You may not even admit it, but at least a little Bah Humbug is in there. And you know what? It’s okay. You can have that. Just grab it. Claim that Bah Humbug and love it. You are allowed to be whoever you are, even when the rest of the world is telling you to be different. Eh, maybe you’re not a Bah Humbugger, but one of those folks who have one of us Bah Humbuggers in your life (bless you) and want to know if anything will actually make us tick in December…

We’ve been having a little chat about the dark side of the holidays (yes, blatant and completely unsponsored Star Wars reference) and have covered a WHOLE lot of territory – expectations, history, but there is one last bit. One last eensy, teensy bit.

What’s left? Fear. Ugh. Fear. Fear of being judged. Fear of being inadequate. Fear of having changed too much or not having changed enough. Fear of not measuring up. Fear of not being appreciated or wanted. Fear that the whole day won’t be good. I have a couple of thoughts about this whole fear thing, specifically in relation to the holiday gathering scene. Most of those thoughts can be summed up with a very just pre-adolescent retort: “So what?” So what if someone judges us? So what? It doesn’t matter if they’re right or wrong. It’s theirs. That judgment is theirs. Let them stew in it, right there with those stewed tomatoes (no I’m not serving them as they are a part of the food nostalgia that I did not care for).

FearSO many of the rest of these fears are all about paying a lot more attention to what’s going on in someone else’s head and heart than what’s in your own. So what if they think that? So what? Let them think whatever they want and you go back to thinking what you think – you remember all that jazz about setting realistic expectations and trusting others to do the same. Think that thought. Think the thought that you WOULD be thinking if you weren’t so afraid of messing it all up. How about this thought: what if it turned out that being you was absolutely perfectly enough? Sit with that for just a minute. You are enough. How would the day be different if you believed you are enough? How much easier would it be to let go of the expectations, let go of the history, and let go of your fear if you just thought you are enough.

What kind of holiday are you ready to have now? Is it possible to redefine it? To reshape it? To potentially even experience it as a holiday – a break – a respite. A nice deep breath in the middle of the dark part of the year. No expectations, no history, no fear. Just a respite. For you too, because yes you do deserve it you amazing thing. Go be you. Go rock that holiday.

But wait, Little Sis, you didn’t talk about food, like how to not completely blow it out at the holiday table… You’re right I didn’t. If you need to blow it out at the holiday table, be my guest (well, not literally, at least not without calling). If you want some help to not blow it out, please check out our holiday eating tips designed to help you maintain any recently gained momentum or just to not roll away in a food induced coma at the end of the whole thing. And if you do roll away in a food induced coma, I promise we won’t judge you even if you’d say so what if we did. ;-)

 

Weekly Meal Plan 12/21-12/26

Just a few days left before chaos erupts… or not. I was reminded today by a very dear truth teller that the level of chaos and the degree to which it has anything to do with me is at the very least partially within my own control. Breathing deep, rolling along. Kids have one more day of school. My studies are on hold for two weeks. I’m going to start seeing this whole thing as one big breath. Rolling along. With chocolate… And maybe wine.

In the meantime we have to eat some scraped together meals that can be made and consumed between baking and choral practices.

Monday: whole wheat pasta with raw spinach and the Easiest Tomato Sauce Ever, cut veggies

Tuesday: Leftover Pot Pie  – taco pie style with Slow Cooker Burrito filling from last week (frozen double batch, oh yeah), green salad

Wednesday: Lentil, Mushroom, and Sweet Potato Soup, green salad, wheat bread

Thursday: Dinner at Bigg Sis’ house

Friday: Dinner with Super Stepmom and Sweetie Dad

Saturday: Dinner with Mr. Little Sis’ family

Sunday: Homemade pizza, cut veggies

  

That’s it for me this week, friends. Got presents to wrap. I’ll chime in sometime tomorrow or Wednesday with the last installment of Whole for the Holidays. I hope your preparations are going at your pace and your holiday season honors your heart.

Whole for the Holidays Part 2

WholeHolidaysWe’ve been taking a look at the darker side of holidays, those pesky feelings that sometimes get in the way of the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

In our last installment, we took a long look at the role expectations play in setting us up for Humbuggery. Expectations are part of a nasty trifecta that make our holiday a lot of emotional work.

The second of that crew is history.

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