March Wrap Up

Holy Bananas I can’t believe March is over! After all that dreadful winter, the calendar leads me to believe Spring is actually upon us and the rain gauge outside agrees. Yay! I bought some pea plants today to give the garden a jump start – they were so beautiful on the shelf at the Food Co-op that I couldn’t help myself. Sometime over the next few Spring-y days I’ll get them in the ground. Because if there’s one thing I love in Spring, it’s garden fresh peas. Mostly I love eating them off the vine when nobody else is looking, but I’ve also been known to throw them in food for others, like the Company Good Pea Soup featured in this week’s menu. I’ll have to buy some for that, but even store bought fresh peas are a nice welcome for Spring.

Bigg Sis and I have both had a busy month in the parts of our lives that we don’t really highlight here. She’s been working her behind off at work and school. I’ve been trying to keep the twins engaged in what has been a less than spectacular academic year and learning and performing a whole lot of music. All that activity helped to shake the winter blues away, but sheesh we’ve been busy. I can’t believe we actually managed to write some posts at the same time.

Bigg Sis tempted us with Healthy Stuffed Peppers – which earned her a 100% approval rating at her house (a score that is difficult to achieve in both of our homes). I shared a variation on one of my favorite simple one pot dishes: Lentils, Potatoes, and Tomatoes. So good, and great as leftovers (I just thawed and ate some yesterday). A fan of potatoes and want a new way to eat them? Try Bigg Sis’ Shepherd’s Pizza – we loved it! Or go more traditional, and make some dairy free gravy using a tried and true cooking technique for sauces and gravies – a roux. Oh sweet comfort food, how I love you.

  

If you are also a fan of comfort food, try some of our meal plans from March (especially earlier in the month when it was colder) to shake things up at your house. We do these plans every week and it’s made a huge difference in my ability to plan, budget, spend less time at the store and have something on the table in a reasonable amount of time. Nice, eh? Take a look at all our Weekly Meal Plans by clicking on that category in the sidebar.

Unfortunately March brought us some food warnings and recalls. We post these when they catch our attention (find them in the Health News and Views category), but if it’s something you’re worried about, you should check out the Food Safety News website. I’ve also been contemplating posting these to our Facebook page, which you’ll find at Baby Steps to Better Health.

Hope you’ve had a spectacular March friends. I don’t know about this lion/lamb business where March is concerned, I’m just glad it’s finally getting warmer. Lion or lamb, we hope things are looking brighter and sunnier in your neck of the woods.

Weekly Meal Plan 3/23-3/29

Another weekend behind us and 5 days of grind to get to the next one, but the next one has a date night in it!!! Wahootie! Mr. Little Sis and I will actually be leaving our house without our children and our beloved sitter (who is a kindergarten teacher, and yes that’s perfect and no, you can’t have her) will be entertaining the dynamic duo. We intend to eat something somewhere and then going to a singer songwriter coffeehouse. Perfecto. Spring is springing and now I am too.

Monday: Not Just Kramer’s Mulligatawny Soup, Homemade Whole Wheat Bread, green salad

Tuesday: Nofredo Orzo, roasted cauliflower, cut veggies

Wednesday: Lentil Bulgur Burgers, Oven Fries, green salad

Thursday: Oven Cooked Asparagus with quinoa and Mung Bean Sprout Namul (Spring has Sprung!!)

Friday: Homemade Pizza

Saturday: Date Night – That’s right I said DATE NIGHT!

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with Easiest Tomato Sauce Ever

Lunchbox Treats: Almond Lemon Jots

Adult Lunches: big giant salads with sauerkraut and miso dressing – don’t judge, it’s awesome

  

Here’s hoping Spring has really sprung where you are. Today was the first day our resident woodpeckers passed up the bird feeders in favor of pecking on actual trees, I imagine in search of actual bugs and stuff rather than seeds. I miss watching them – they are really cool, but I take as a sign that all is right in the world that they don’t need us anymore. Have a great week friends. Eat well, be well!

Weekly Meal Plan 1/26-2/1

As we get another week between us and the holidays, the kids’ resolve to detest everyday living is slipping. There have been some admissions of enjoying school sometimes and the occasional act of unexpected graciousness between siblings. As the weeks pass, we are also entering yet another season of activity. Ms. Picky Pants has started a new dance class and the Gentle Giant is poised to start basketball. They are both clamoring for more activities, but I’m holding steady at one. They also get piano at home. And when’s a kid supposed to play with all those great new Legos anyway?! So it’s a contained kind of chaos, which I’ve concluded is the best kind. ;-)

Regardless of what kind of chaos we find ourselves in, however, we still have to eat. At least I do. I’m sure some people can just skip the occasional meal now and then, but unless I’m doing it for a REALLY good reason (and I can’t think of an example), I am not one of those people. So as we sit, waiting for this snowstorm to actually become something, I better get my act in gear and figure out what we’re having. They are out in the centimeter of snow playing. If it does keep up, they’ll be in it tomorrow too, and they will be hungry. What’s the weather doing in your neck of the woods? Are you planning your meals with the weather in mind?

Monday:  a dairy free version of Broccoli Meatballs with Garlic Tomato Sauce (Vegetarian Times), served in whole wheat mini pitas, with sautéed green beans and a green salad

Tuesday: Lentil, Mushroom & Sweet Potato Soup,  No Fear Homemade Whole Wheat Bread, chopped veggies

Wednesday: Chickpea and Cashew Tikka Masala, steamed broccoli, green salad

Thursday: Warm Asian Noodle Salad (a variation on Big Sis’ version), crispy tofu, chopped veggies

Friday: Homemade Pizza

Saturday: Potato Pancakes (a la Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone), homemade slow cooker applesauce, sauteed spinach, green salad

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with red sauce, green salad

Lunchbox Treat: Date Chewies (I’ll share if this works ;-))

Adult Lunches: Leftover miso soup from last week, leftover homemade pizza (yes, It’s DF)

  

Well, there it is, and I’m pretty sure we even have what we need to do this plan until Thursday or so, so if it does snow more than a centimeter and state of Maryland goes into weather related lockdown we should be alright. Hope the weather is giving you joy, or at least not getting in your way. Have a great week! Eat well, be well friends.

Weekly Meal Plan 1/19-1/25

Don’t know if you’ve noticed… or if I’ve even mentioned it, but my meal plans rarely go entirely as planned. Truth be told there’s a lot around here that doesn’t go entirely as planned, but I think this has more to do with our family culture than with some sort of underlying deficiency with the plans themselves. I CAN report that even though plans have often required at least one last minute modification, since I’ve been planning our weekly meals there has been 1) a huge reduction in the number of trips to the store which means 2) lower spending on food, and 3) less stress in the critical after school timeframe. I already know what I’m cooking and can work on that while nagging (I mean advising, yeah that’s it advising) about homework and piano practice and hang your coat up and whose sock is that… You can imagine that making a decision in the middle of all that advising could be a little daunting.

This past week, as a result of invitations we could not refuse, our regular Sunday night pasta has not yet been made and eaten. So, the planning and cooking for me is a little lighter than usual as we will return to our regularly scheduled pasta next Sunday. We could eat pasta every night with great pleasure. If this is not true for your family and you’d still like a plan, feel free to peruse plans from past weeks or to scroll through some of our recipes in search of a replacement. Me, I’m glad to be eating it, and even more glad that Mr. Little Sis will be playing chef for all that pasta. I will be taking on some additional paid work this week, so we’ll be relying on a slightly different division of labor, and putting our bare bones 15 year old CrockPot to good use. And so without further ado…

Monday: Homemade Pasta with the Easiest Tomato Sauce Ever

Tuesday: Miso Soup with Rice Noodles (leftover from last week)

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Herbed Beans and Barley

Thursday: Slow Cooker Burrito filling in taco shells (they’re in love with tacos), chopped veggies and green salad

Friday: Homemade Pizza, cut veggies

Saturday: Three Sisters Savory Cobbler (from December’s Vegetarian Times) 

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with Pesto, green salad

lunchbox treats: Dark Chocolate Dipped Wheat Pretzels

Adult lunches: leftover Nutshroom Burgers from last week

 

In other news for the week, I will continue to attempt to get more sleep as part of my Year of Well-Being, which may be extra hard (and extra necessary) with a loaded schedule. Big challenge ahead. I’ll let you know how it goes… unless I blow it and I’m too tired, in which case I’ll post something like brm;kjasdkhjfklja;hzzzz.  Eat well, be well friends. If you need help with that first one, check out our e-book: Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individuals. Have a great week!

Weekly Meal Plan 1/5-1/11/2015

The hubbub has come to a close. 2014 ended with a giant yawp and a flourish over here. Good friends, good food, good times. After all this merry-making, I confess to being kind of ready to return to business as usual. I suppose that’s part of what all that merry-making is about, right? To rejuvenate, to replenish, to nourish all the parts of us that we ask so much of every day. I have been rejuvenated (in no small part because my fabulous husband insisted I sleep more than usual), replenished and nourished by seeing so many people who I love so dearly. And I have finally thoroughly dispensed with the respiratory part of the plague that has punished our household for the last few weeks. So here we are, the beginning of the beginning of everything else. What better to do at the beginning than to think about what you will eat?

Monday: Spinach Chickpea Burgers, roasted potatoes, sautéed green beans, green salad

Tuesday: Half Raw Veggie Stir Fry on quinoa

Wednesday: Tacos (inspired by a pal I’ll make Thirty Minute Bean and Bulghur Chili but add less tomato so it’s thicker and serve with fixings and taco shells)

Thursday: Lentil Casserole (when Ms. Picky Pants asks for something cheap, easy AND healthy, I make it)

Friday: homemade pizza, cut veggies

Saturday: Dinner Out (taking the twins on a day long outing for their upcoming 8th birthday)

Sunday: Homemade Pasta

There it is! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you all letting me hold myself accountable by publishing my meal plans. Believe me, there would be a whole lot more last minute winging it around here if I didn’t HAVE to plan. If you’re looking for more information on meal planning, and on planning to improve your health through better food, check out our new E-Book: Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individuals. Eat well, be well friends!

Weekly Menu 12/8-12/14

You thought perhaps it had all caught up with me, all this silly menu planning promising, didn’t you? You thought I’d finally hit the wall. Well… I guess I did, but then I decided to scale it. Aren’t I tough? In truth I didn’t want to plan a menu today any more than I wanted to do laundry or get out of bed; however, I was compelled both by my promise to you and by the fact that I knew if I didn’t do the menu, I likely would continue only to feel worse about doing any of those things. A case of the blahs is not defeated by last minute ill-considered meal consumption, at least it’s not for me. So, with all of that undersell out of the way, I give you the week in food:

 photo f618fbe6-237f-44d3-aa49-4f134f91e5c6.jpgMonday: leftovers – what else can one do when the fridge is full of lots of single servings, the cook is tired, and there’s holiday decorating to be done?!

Tuesday: Shweet Potato Stew, brown bread, pickled carrots, and green salad

Wednesday: Green Bean and Potato Coconut Curry, cucumber slices, green salad

Thursday: Nutshroom Burgers, Sauteed Green Beans, Freezer Pickles, burger fixin’s

Friday: Homemade Pizza

Saturday: Dinner with Friends – Yay!

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with spinach and a green salad

Lunchbox Treats: Sweet Potato Cookies (I will make lots and freeze some for the holiday crowd)

Adult Lunches: Cold Kickin’ Soup (Gotta keep that immunity up for the holidays!)

 

Hope your week goes swimmingly, or at least treadingly!

Weekly Meal Plan 12/1-12/7

Holy crow where is the time going?! I can’t believe I just typed those dates in… I sincerely hope you all have had a lovely weekend, and if you’re in the U.S. a superb Thanksgiving. We enjoyed our feast, spent some good time together, watched the kids play in the first snowfall and visited with old friends. We’re now working our way through what’s left of the leftovers and trying to get our heads around the fact that Christmas is around the proverbial corner. But even with leftovers and post/pre holiday chaos, there’s cooking to do and meals to eat, so while I’m a little late in the day, I’m keeping my promise to myself and those of you who heard me say it. ;-) A week of healthful yum for all of us.

Monday: Leftover Mashed Potato Soup, homemade wheat bread, green beans and green salad

Tuesday: Spicy Mushroom Gumbo (using a recipe in More with Less as guidance), brown rice, cut cucumbers, roasted root veggies

Wednesday:  Rockin’ GF Falafel, roasted potatoes, green salad with tahini dressing

Thursday: Leftoverlicious Lentil Casserole, steamed broccoli, cut cucumbers

Friday: Homemade Pizza, carrot fries, salad

Saturday: Middle Eastern Chickpeas with Spinach (Moosewood Low Fat Favorites), Power Tabbouleh, green salad

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with spinach, red peppers and green salad

Lunchbox Treats: Almond Joy Brownies

Parent Lunches: leftovers of all of the above as I will be making double batches :-)

Hope you all have a super duper week.

Weekly Meal Plan 11/17-11/23

How we react to things is a really good indicator of our core, our essence, those fundamental and if not unchangeable, at least strongly resilient parts of ourselves. This last week we discovered (while having someone complete one repair on our heat system) that a significant section of our venting was, in fact, not even connected to the thing that makes the heat. We have lived here for over seven years.

My husband, in a display of his generously sunny disposition, responded with “Yay! It’s finally going to be warmer in a big section of the house.” And I know he’s right, and I’m happy about it too. But right there along with my happy, is a calculator of all the wasted heating dollars, and frustration with all the HVAC people who’ve been here before now… because REALLY?! So, it’s fixed, and as tonight it seems that winter has arrived, I’m happy about it too. Really I am. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want warm comfort food, because just like my dollar wasting calculator, my desire for comfort food is core, basic me-ness. I’m pretty sure both my love of comforting belly warming foods and frugal dishes show up in this menu. Hopefully all my sunny people will eat them and still stay their wonderful sunny selves. Hope your week reveals something essential about you that you just love.

 photo b4b5fa15-af38-4aaf-93a3-efb49641c748.jpgMonday: 30 Minute Bean and Bulgur Chili, Quinoa, Cornbread, Green Salad

Tuesday: Lentil/Bulgur Burgers, Roast Potatoes, Broccoli, Green Salad

Wednesday:  Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup, Mixed Grain Bread, Green Salad

Thursday: Asian Varia Bowl with Rice Noodles, Veggies

Friday: Homemade Pizza, Cut Veggies

Saturday: Baked Butternut Squash Risotto, Green Beans, Green Salad

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with Spinach and Pesto

Adult Lunches: leftover chili, leftover Cold Kickin’ Soup

Lunchbox Treat: Peanut Butter Crisp Cookies (yes, I will share this one…)

  

I had completely forgotten about those cookies. Yeah, I gotta go. Hope your week is as easy or as hard as you need it to be and that all of your vents are properly connected. Eat well, be well friends!

Weekly Meal Plan 11/10-11/16

And then we got sick… I joked about last week’s menu looking like one written by someone who had a cold… I was apparently seeing the future. Our family has been passing around the most delightful illness. By midweek I was fevered and dizzy. The plan did not necessarily go as planned. The reality of that happening from time to time reminds me that it is always a good idea to have some fall back positions, especially the kind that only require heat in order to make food happen. Freezer food is your friend, especially if you have small germ factories in your house that make a daily deposit and withdrawal at the local public incubation system. We relied heavily on earlier efforts last week and as a result ate reasonably well in spite of my being completely out of commission. Mr. Little Sis is quite culinarily capable, but is strapped for time, so our freezer stock served us well. I will, over the next few weeks, make a concerted effort to include at least one very freezable meal (we have lots of ’em here) in the plan and double the amount so I can restock for the next round. In the meantime, while I am still coughing, I am at least able to stand up and move around, so life goes on, and that means food. On with the weekly plan.

 photo 554b547c-c3c4-4c40-a2a6-51f6ad6ad77b.jpgMonday: Potato Pancakes (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone) with Cashew Cream, Applesauce, Green Salad

Tuesday: Pakistani Lentil Kima, Spice Marinated Cherry Tomatoes(from Vegetarian Times), salad

Wednesday: Lentil. Mushroom, and Sweet Potato Soup, Wheat Bread, Salad

Thursday: Zucheezy Noodles (didn’t happen last week and I really need to throw Ms. Picky Pants a bone here), sautéed green beans, cut veggies

Friday: Homemade Pizza, cut veggies

Saturday: Roasted Vegetable Chili, cornbread, green salad

Sunday: Homemade Pasta with spinach, green salad

Grown-Up Lunches: Cold Kickin’ Soup

Aspirational Dessert (If I am up to it, IOW): Mango Coconut Bread Pudding… yeah, it sounds great, but don’t count on it. I’m not.

That’s my plan for the week. I’d say I’m excited, but it would be more honest to say I’m just hoping this week I can actually do it. ;-) Hope you are virus free and all your meals are healthful and delicious!

Weekly Meal Plan

Wow are we having some beautiful weather in Mid-Maryland! The trees are changing color. The mornings are crisp and the afternoons are sunny and warm. Oh fall, I love you. This week’s menu is definitely leaning in the fall direction, and probably also shows that we’ve got a wicked cold circulating through the troops. Lots of warm hearty comfort food working its way onto our table. Hope you’re enjoying autumn as much as I am! Continue reading