Weekly Meal Plan Returns!

That time has come. The end of the summer and beginning of school. The peak of the season for so much fresh produce; the beginning of cool evenings. Fall is coming, but it’s really not quite here yet. Perfect. My twin third graders return to school with new backpacks full of new supplies, new lunch boxes, and no small amount of hope. In honor of their rapidly increasing maturity, which sometimes shows itself in less than pleasant ways, I am doing an experiment. Today as we ate Sunday lunch I polled the table and gave each member the opportunity to suggest a meal for the upcoming week. Sure way to get some buy in at meal time, right? Right?! I’ll let you know how that goes. In the meantime, I’ll share with you our plan for the upcoming week.

Monday: Yellow Split Pea and Green Onion Lettuce Wraps from my latest cook book acquisition, Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook, baked tofu, pickled carrots and green beans (my pick and it seems to me the best one for the hot day we’re going to have tomorrow)

Tuesday: Zucchini “Crab” Cakes, Grilled Corn, Tomato and Nectarine Salad

Wednesday: Chickpea and Cashew Tikka Masala (Little Man’s choice, and yes, that makes me really happy),sautéed green beans, green salad

Thursday: Lentil Casserole (Ms. Picky Pants’ choice – on Thursday because it’s not going to be as hot that day), steamed broccoli, green salad

Friday: homemade pizza, cut veggies

Saturday:  Baked Falafel from Angela Liddon’s The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out cookbook, which I can’t recommend enthusiastically enough), falafel fixings and chopped veggies

Sunday: homemade pasta with raw spinach and fresh pesto, green salad

Lunchbox Treats: Summer’s End Zucchini Bread (because I still have about 25 pounds of zucchini sitting on the counter, even after the “crab” cakes

Adult Lunches: kale and romaine salads with miso dressing (because it’s been a long and unruly summer – we’ll be having a lot of salads for a little while to slim down for winter… wait… I think we’re doing it wrong)

May all your nights be cool and clear and all of your first days be joyful! Eat well, be well friends.

Weekly (well mostly) Meal Plan 7/13-7/19

So, yeah, you might have noticed I haven’t done this for a while. Sorry about that. I mean it – I’m really sorry. We have been in the best kind of whirlwind with school ending, quite a bit of traveling, home renovations, big positive decisions, and friends having babies. See what I mean? Okay, without details it probably doesn’t sound like a lot, but I can assure you that you wanted no part of any meal plan I might have been able to offer these past few weeks.

And now we are home. I have beaten back the weeds (and the cucumbers which were choking the tomatoes) in the garden. I have reclaimed the patio from the weeds and moss (um hello, what is with all the freaking rain?!) and mowed the lawn several times. I’ve done the loads of laundry that result from travel and chaos. I’ve gotten the kids working on the summer math program their school (insert curse words anywhere in the preceding phrase for accuracy) recommended over the summer to prevent summer learning loss. I’ve earned the dog’s forgiveness for his first kennel experience and I’ve admitted that it’s possible that I’ve endured yet another hormone shift that makes my metabolism something less than the wonder that it used to be. As you can see, much of my business has been internal and a little crazy. It’s okay to think it. I’m aware. But I’m home. And I’m finding my compass. And all is well, and in fact better for having visited amazing seashores, distant relatives, friends who are chosen family, and discovered that my kids are actually funny and interesting people. Funny and interesting people who still need to eat, so in order to cease this unrequested and unwarranted vomitous revelation, I shall get on with planning the week of the return to normalcy.

Monday: Lentil Casserole, sauteed zucchini, green salad, zucchini bread for dessert

Tuesday: Zucchini “Crab” Cakes, Grilled Corn, Sauteed Green Beans

Wednesday: Power Tabbouleh; Lentils, Potatoes, and Tomatoes; Green Salad

Thursday: Dinner at Beans in the Belfry before singing a little

Friday: Homemade pizza, cut veggies

Saturday: Zucchini boats with quinoa and vegan sausage (I’ll let you know and yes, we have a LOT of zucchini this year)

Sunday: Homemade pasta, pesto, green salad

Lunchbox Treats: HAHAHAHAHA! Okay, I will be toting some zucchini bread bits around.

Adult Lunches: These now include the children and I’m realizing my planning is entirely inadequate in this arena. More on this topic later, maybe… we’ll see.

I sincerely hope you’ve been having as much fund as I have and have perhaps been faced with exactly the number of life altering decisions that you are comfortable with. Eat well, be well friends.

Weekly Meal Plan 6/8-6/14

Strawberries, strawberries everywhere!! My own patch has been super productive this year and WOW are they sweet and delicious and red all the way through. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, try some homegrown or farmers market berries. Many of those available in the store have been bred to last a long time, but have lost some of their essential strawberry-ness. I am a strawberry freak and will happily even eat the bland cousins of my own garden strawberries when they are at their lowest price in early summer. I watch all my little strawberries closely (I mean the ones I’m not eating or putting in food) and when they get dusky (a little too dark, just pre-rot), I freeze them for use in smoothies. More on making the most of strawberries here.

So this week, since I’m inundated with strawberries, I thought it might be fun to experiment a little. Some savory strawberry dishes sound like just the ticket. Add to that a warm week and the annoying continuation of the cabinet renovation project and some cool dishes sound like a good way to go.

Monday: Strawberry Pistachio Quinoa with Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette, grilled corn, sautéed green beans

Tuesday: Strawberry Tomato and Fennel Gazpacho, Mixed Grain Bread, Smoky Baba Ghanoush, green salad

Wednesday: Vegan French Toast with Balsamic or Rosemaried Strawberries (working on the details there but thinking something like this)

Thursday: Asian Varia-Bowls (good for hot weather), chopped veggies, pickled carrots

Friday: Homemade Pizza, cut veggies

Saturday: Cucumber Soup with Herbed Cucumber Relish, Mixed Grain Bread,

Sunday: Homemade Kale Pasta with Basil Pesto, Massaged Kale Salad

Lunchbox Treats: Yeah, we have 8 school days left. I’m not baking right now. Sue me.

Adult Lunches: We will be meditating in the remaining quiet for lunch (and eating leftovers)

 

I hope it is a little less sultry and steamy where you are, and that your strawberries are plump and plentiful. Eat well, be well friends.

Weekly Meal Plan 6/1-6/7

Okay, so while I was blathering about all the stuff happening, I forgot to reveal the reality about May and June for us. It is one LONG celebration. Mr. Little Sis’ birthday was at the beginning of May. Something happened in the middle, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was – oh right, Mother’s Day. Then we had one nephew graduating, one sister’s birthday (yes,, that’s Bigg Sis)… oh, and wait a freaking minute! Did I mention she moved. She moved, she moved she moved. Sorry sorry Tennessee, but now my Bigg Sis is right near MEEEEEEE!

So you’d think that was enough celebrating, right?! But wait, there’s more! This weekend Mr. Little Sis and I will celebrate 16 years of marriage (at Ms. Picky Pants’ dance recital). and then Father’s Day and then my birthday and then the last day of school party, and then we’re going on a trip and then it’s the fourth of July (which we spend with friends). I feel like I’m exhaling crepe paper right now. Happy Everything!

Monday: Indian Summer Cold Sesame Noodles, spinach and cut veggies

Tuesday: Mulligatawny Soup, Oat Uttapam, pickled carrots, green salad

Wednesday: Lentil Casserole (a brief cold spell predicted this week says I may be able to appease Ms. Picky Pants with this very warm and hearty dish one more time this year), sautéed green beans, pickled carrots

Thursday: Strawberry Kale Salad with Almonds, crusty wheat bread

Friday: Homemade PIzza, cut veggies

Saturday: Dairy Free Womanicotti, bruschetta, green salad

Sunday: Homemade Pasta, Spinach and Strawberry Salad

Lunchbox Treats: Almond Lemon Jots

Adult Lunches: leftover sesame noodles, salad and soup (we rarely have leftover lentil casserole anymore…)

 

Here’s hoping your upcoming week is full of real food, loving family and true friends… oh, and a celebration or two if that’s your thing! Eat well, be well friends!

Weekly Meal Plan 5/25-5/31

I am alive. THAT was a long week. So, remember how last week I posted that I’d be late with the meal plan because my husband was away and my daughter was throwing up? Yeah, when’s the last time THAT was a one day problem. It’s been a long and tiring week although everyone was home and well in time for the weekend and this weekend has been really swell. Lots of time spent with friends and lots of almost summer weather. Tons of time in the garden and things are really looking pretty good. I’m liking the straw as mulch I’ve tried this year, and I’m just glad with all the events planned for May and June that I’ve found a little time to weed and water.

This week will, I do hope, be more pleasant than last, but it’s still pretty full. We’re enjoying the last few hours away from our usual responsibilities here today and then we have 3 short days until the next celebration, when my nephew graduates from high school (not Bigg Sis’ son – I have many nephews). Then there’s a pool party with friends and time to see BIGG SISSSSSSS! Yay! I keep having to remind myself to care about these last few weeks of school for the kids. “Finish strong.”  Yeah, how about we just finish, K? With all the parties and chaos it seems particularly important to me to plan some healthful meals so we can be sure we don’t only survive on party food (wait, is that bad?). So… the week.

Monday: Vegan French Toast with Garden Strawberries (yeah, okay, not the most healthful, but a great way to welcome the strawberries that I picked this morning), Spinach and Strawberry Salad

Tuesday: Chickpea and Cashew Tikka Masala, green salad

Wednesday: Lentil Bulgur Burgers, Power Tabbouleh, cut veggies and pickles

Thursday: Company Good Pea Soup (we’ve got garden peas y’all), crusty wheat bread and green salad

Friday: Graduation Party

Saturday: Pool Party at Friends’ House

Sunday: homemade pasta, green salad

Lunchbox Treats: Healthy Pumpkin Cookies

Adult Lunches: Salad City, some greens ready in the garden too!

 
I hope your week is full of celebrations, even if they are small ones and that your early summer is proving fruitful.

More On Sleep and Awareness

Well-BeingEven though it’s Monday, I won’t be posting a meal plan today. Not because I don’t want to, but because I am totally impaired. It is not possible for me to write a meal plan today. Those of you who’ve been playing along may know that I have some determination to get more sleep this year.These last two days have been a major fail on that score as I have a sick little one (why does vomit only happen in the middle of the night?) and I’ve gotten very little sleep… hence the impairment and lack of meal plan. I’m shooting for tomorrow on that.

As for the larger sleep  goal, while I can’t say definitively that I have gotten more sleep all the time, I do think an important trend has emerged. I have become significantly more aware of the negative impact of not getting enough sleep and I have become quicker to recognize when I’m not getting enough sleep. I’ve made some observations lately that have been critical to the development of my sleep practice.

First of all, I now have a FitBit. Now, I know I know we’ve said you don’t need to spend money to get more fit and you don’t. HOWEVER, I’ve really been struggling with acknowledging my fluctuating reality in getting exercise and feeling good. I needed a reality device. I needed the equivalent of the pedometer I got after I gave birth to twins. The cool thing about the FitBit is that it also tracks how long I sleep. This dumb (and slightly creepy tracking me) little device has made the connection between the amount of sleep I get and my mood the next day crystal clear. I’ve only had it for a little while, but in that little while Mr. Little Sis has been away on business. A good time to make a change in my own behavior. Earlier to bed it was and guess what? When I get more sleep, I like my kids a WHOLE LOT MORE. I am more patient. I find humor in situations that would otherwise aggravate me. I’m more willing to be in the moment and enjoy them, to play with them rather than just do what’s required to get through the day. And know what else? Even with all that zen lahddie-dahddie fun with my kids, I still got a ton of stuff done in the yard and the garden AND made decent progress on the cabinet project.  It seems so silly, so simple. It couldn’t possibly be as simple as that, right? It couldn’t just be that we need more sleep… or could it?

For a little reinforcement of that learning, while Mr. Little Sis has been away the kids got sick (which almost always happens and I don’t really want to think about how that can be true). We’ve had some nights with very little sleep. And know what? (I realize I sound like a 5 year with all the “know whats”; I don’t really care.) Adults are no different than children. We all have a harder time holding it together when we don’t get enough sleep. My two, who really are generally well behaved and affable seem to have a limit of two fundamental problems. Lack of adequate sleep is one seriously fundamental problem. What that means is that one other thing being wrong on a sort of basic level means game over. I’m hungry and you’re not giving me food right now, tears. I feel yucky and you’re not making it go away, tears. I can’t find the Lego piece that you just stepped on and nearly broke your foot, tears.

Yes, kids can be like this, but in particular TIRED kids are like this at my house. Two things help: 1) more sleep and 2) acknowledging out loud to them that they are tired and you understand it’s hard to deal with things when you’re tired. Tears stop, sometimes there’s even an apology. Then we fix the secondary problem because without a fever there is no napping at our house anymore. Here’s a banana. Everything’s okay. Really.

Well-BeingAll of this gives me significant pause. It seems, from this long and rambling series of observations about sleep while I’m completely exhausted. Perhaps it is not just my children that can only have 1 fundamental problem at a time. Given inadequate sleep any other problem of any significance becomes too much to handle. All problems added on to too little sleep also become much larger than they are in reality – I’m hungry for a snack becomes tears. I can’t find my Lego becomes tears. My boss didn’t love my presentation… My car broke down… The dog ate 2 pounds of chocolate chips (yes, this is a real example and also occurred while Mr. Little Sis was out of town and required me to make the dog vomit, we’re a regular vomitorium)… tears or an adult over-reacty equivalent. What would happen if we all just got more sleep? Would we be more productive? Would we be more tolerant of each other? Would we remember to enjoy the good things? Hmmmm. I’m going to make sure to get more sleep tonight (assuming the vomit part is over, which with twins is a big assumption) and see about all of that. Anybody want to join me? I mean in your bed, of course. My sick child and misbehaving dog will be in mine.

Sleep well, be well friends.

Weekly Meal Plan 5/11-5/17

It’s been an exciting domestic week here in mid-Maryland. The kids are giving me the daily countdown on school. The garden is in and mulched with straw (which if you ever purchase is a great time to line the car with a tarp, duh… The cabinet project proceeds and in acknowledging how very long this is bound to take, I’ve surrendered to the pace and am focusing on purging things as I approach each cabinet. It has been very liberating. While there is a certain charm to a chipped cup, the ones with cracks down the side are decidedly less cute. We had a lot of cracked bits. Some will be used as plant holders, some for pencils, some for fai

ry houses, and those that still function but were unnecessary are being donated. VERY freeing. I may need to find the cracked bits in all the other rooms as well.The things that accumulate in 25 years of adulthood can be staggering. All that we don’t need and that could be of use in some other way to to some other person… staggering. Dogs shed in the spring, and I’ve always thought there was sort of a built in zen wisdom to dogs. Perhaps it’s time to take a lesson from Baxter and shed away as though it’s the most natural thing to do. Meanwhile light meals that are easy to prepare (I’m flying solo this week) and that don’t add spiritual or physical weight to this lighter feeling are the order of the day.

Monday: Rice sticks with raw veggies, cashews and Asian dressing (Bragg’s, rice vinegar and garlic chili paste)

Tuesday: Super green salad, crusty bread, seasoned chick peas, olives, pickles (it’s supposed to be H.O.T.)

Wednesday: Zucheesey Noodles, peas, green salad

Thursday: Sesame Pancakes with Honeyed Oranges and Kale Smoothies (yes, I’m playing to the kid crowd while Dad is away… can you blame me?)

Friday: Homemade Pizza, cut veggies (we eat this while we have a movie picnic in the living room)

Saturday: Creamy Daal, Vegan Palak Paneer, Naan (we’ll see about all of this, ambitious after nearly a full week flying solo)

Sunday: Pasta (from a box, Daddy’s the homemade pasta king around here) with red sauce AND pesto, green salad

Lunchbox Treats: Nut Butter Bliss Balls

Adult Lunches: salads, leftovers, hummus and spinach sandwiches

There. The week is much less daunting now. I hope it is for you too. ;-) Eat well, be well friends.

Weekly Meal Plan 5/4-5/10

Wow. I kicked some major garden booty this past weekend and I am feeling pretty smug. Or at least I was feeling pretty smug until I looked at the weather forecast and realized that it’s supposed to be in the high 80s most of this week. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m A-OK with some summery days arriving, but my little newly transplanted seedlings will not like it very much. What can I do about that? Give them a little shade is what I can do. I happen to have some of the kind of cover a lot of folks use for hoops to protect from frost or bugs. Here in mid-Maryland where late winter frequently hangs out until summer can make an appearance, I have found this kind of cover to be very useful – for cold nights and sweltering “Spring” days. So starting at about 2 pm I will cover those little babies and then get on with birthday preparations… for Mr. Little Sis.

Birthday planning is one of those areas where having different family cultures can really throw a wrench in things. In my extended family birthdays are pretty low key. Like, we are happy you were born, but let’s not get carried away, okay? In Mr. Little Sis’ family it’s like the freaking circus is coming to town JUST FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY. It took me a while to realize that this basic family culture difference was at the heart of what I rightly discerned as his very polite and yet still perceptible letdown on every birthday that I have orchestrated. I’ve upped the ante for the last couple of years with positive results, but am finding myself at a bit of a loss this year in the food department of the birthday celebration. I’ll sort it out, and it will be good, but you’ll notice an incomplete spot on my meal plan… and that is SUPER irritating to my inner OCD freak. Please forgive the omission and my neurotic response to it. I hope you are having a great week, that all your endeavors are established before the heat rises on them, and that you have plenty of cool foods to eat if you will be sweating… like the ones we have here…

Monday: Umbrian Lentil Salad, Green Salad, Whole Wheat Bread, Navy Bean Herb Hummus

Tuesday: Nutshroom Burgers, Sweet and Sour Pickles, green salad

Wednesday: Mr. Little Sis’ Birthday…. aaagh I don’t have a plan and I’m FREAKING OUT. Okay, not quite freaking out, but it’s not good people. I may just let him choose whatever he wants, which could mean just about anything depending on his mood.

Thursday: Singapore NoodlesMung Bean Sprouts Namul

Friday: Homemade Pizza, cut veggies

Saturday: Taco Salads (Picadillo as the chili, big greens and cut vegetables, some healthier tortilla chips)

Sunday: Homemade Pasta, green salad

Adult Lunches: Power Tabbouleh, Kale Avocado Sprouts Salad

Lunchbox Treats: Almond Lemon Jots

 

Looks like a great week. Nice cool summery foods to welcome what looks to be a very warm May. I hope you have a stellar week and that all the important people let you know how much they love you. Okay, maybe if just one does that it would be good. right? Eat well, be well friends.

Weekly Meal Plan 4/27-5/3

Another day, another massive inhalation of paint fumes. But wait, you say, aren’t you concerned about your health? Aren’t you using low VOC paint? Don’t you need your brain cells Little Sis? The answers: yes (of course), yes (on the insides of the cabinets), and I guess sometimes. The cabinet project proceeds apace. I’ve finished a couple and am making my way around the first corner on the upper cabinets. Yes, this is time consuming. Yes, I now understand why people we talked to wanted to charge so very much to do this. Yes it looks fantastic, even only partially complete. And let me tell you how much more rewarding this is than any of the other chores that await, well except cooking which I still love, but confess is not quite as fun in my disarranged kitchen. I am not a terribly neat person, but I am not a big fan of a disarranged kitchen. I am working on my ability to accept said disarray as part of the process. Yeah, I’ll let you know how that’s going as soon as I rinse the sawdust out of my tea mug… For your meal planning enjoyment:

Monday: Potato Squashers, sautéed green beans, green salad

Tuesday: Easy Veggie Lo Mein (from Meatless Monday)

Wednesday: Spinach Chickpea Burgers, burger fixins, pickles and cut veggies,

Thursday: Tofu Bahn Mi, Quick Pickled Asian Carrots, green salad

Friday: Homemade Pizza, cut veggies

Saturday: Chickpea and Cashew Tikka Masala

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with Nofredo Sauce, green salad, Wilted Mediterranean Kale

Lunchbox Treats: Healthy Pumpkin Cookies

Adult Lunches: Namuls and leftovers all week

There it is folks. We’ll see if I can stick with it enough to share a recipe with you later in the week. How’s that for some ambition? If you’ve not yet checked out our FB page, give it a like . You know you want to. Eat well, be well friends.

A Big Winner!

unnamedThe long wait is over. After a week of entries, we have pulled a name from the hat (okay, it was a large measuring cup because yes, we’re that high tech around here) and Rita is the winner of our friend Annie Oliverio’s new cookbook. In case you miss the first description of this fantastic book, I’ll give you a short version Annie is a super creative and accomplished plant based cook. She has assembled a cookbook based on the kind of craving you might be having. Each craving includes a variety of healthful plant based answers to that craving call. She is really super talented. Bigg Sis and I have both been using recipes of hers for a few years and have yet to be anything but Wowed. So, Rita is the lucky winner, but you can get your own copy of Crave, Eat, Heal: Plant-based, Whole-food Recipes to Satisfy Every Appetite on Amazon. Check out Annie’s blog here. Rita, if you are a Facebook user, please go our page and use the message function to let us know where to send your book. If you’re not a Facebooker, let us know in the comments and we’ll devise another communication scheme. Congratulations to Rita for winning and to Annie for putting together such a wonderful book!