Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Week Ahead... 4/1/13

Happy Easter to all who celebrate it! Just a quick menu post for today as I have 14 people for Easter dinner this afternoon.

Menu for the Week of April 1st
It's a busy week, so this is an easy menu!

Monday: leftover soup from the freezer, Salad Spring Rolls
  • prep Sloppy Joes
Tuesday: Sloppy Joes, mashed veggies

Wednesday: I have an early meeting so my husband and son will likely go to Chipotle

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: fried eggs, tater tots, wilted spinach

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chocolate Feel-good Protein Smoothie

I've been trying to figure out a way to work more exercise into my life. Ok, to be honest, I should say that I've been trying to figure out a way to work exercise into my life. I can't really use the word more because I currently don't get any official exercise. Sure, there's running after a almost-3-year-old and an occasional walk, but those don't really count.

I've always enjoyed swimming but haven't taken lessons except for a week here and there at summer camp. To kick start a swimming habit I decided to take swimming lessons. I absolutely love it! I've learned so many new things in just 3 weeks and am already feeling better.

The downside to the lessons is that they're at 12:45 on Saturday afternoon which is hard because it's right around lunch time. I generally try to get a snack around 11:30 and then make a smoothie when I get home. This recipe is a smoothie I've been making for a while, but I keep improving on it and I love where it is now.

The two shining star ingredients are hemp seeds and cinnamon. I recently learned here that hemp seeds are very high in protein, have a complete amino acid profile, and are a sustainable crop! Cinnamon is a natural anti-inflammatory, among a host of other benefits, which is excellent for a person with autoimmune diseases.

One thing that I've discovered about smoothies is that yellow squash adds a creaminess without adding any flavor! I have a high-speed blender, so I'm not sure how well the yellow squash works in a regular blender.

Chocolate Feel-good Protein Smoothie

  • 1 c milk (I use either almond milk or coconut milk beverage in the carton)
  • 1 tbsp nut butter (I usually use almond or peanut)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa or carob powder
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 small yellow squash (optional)
  • 1 tbsp hemp hearts
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend on high until smooth, about 45 to 60 seconds (in a high-speed blender).
UPDATE 4/6/13: a handful of spinach also hides well in this smoothie!

This recipe has been shared on Diet, Dessert and Dogs' Wellness Weekend, Vegetarian Mamma's Gluten Free Fridays, The Daily Dietribe's 5-Ingredient Mondays, and Allergy Free Alaska's Whole Food Fridays.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Freezing Beans and The Week Ahead... 3/25/13

I used to buy canned beans but a few years ago I switched to preparing dried beans myself. I cook them in large batches and then freeze them. Beans defrost rather quickly so it's almost as convenient as canned beans, but you control the amount of salt. One might also argue that using dry beans is more environmentally friendly as you are reducing the shipping weight. I'm not sure if the carbon footprint of the dried beans is lower, but I like to believe it is.

I make 2 cups of dry beans in my pressure cooker and let them cool a bit. Then I put a ladle-full of the liquid in the bottom of a labeled quart-size freezer bag. (Note: Most ladles are 1/2 cup.)

Then I strain a few scoops of beans in a colander set over the pan, this way I retain more of the liquid. I then use the ladle to scoop measured volumes into the bag. From what I've read, most cans of beans have 1-1/2 cups of beans. After making these bags, though, I'm guessing a can of chickpeas is actually 1 cup.

Next, I add some more of the liquid and seal the bags. I spread them out flat and place them on a tray that fits nicely in the freezer.

Last, I pop them in the freezer and leave them on the tray until they're frozen flat.

I store all my beans upright in a freezer drawer.

Menu for the Week of March 25th

Monday: Curried Spinach and Chickpeas with rice (sweet potato for me)

Tuesday: leftovers
  • defrost soup
Wednesday: leftover soup from the freezer and Salad Spring Rolls
  • cook beets, defrost goat cheese
Thursday: Beet Salad
  • soak quinoa
Friday: Halloumi Quinoa (we didn't get to it last week)

Saturday: out

Sunday: hosting Easter dinner...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Week Ahead... 3/18/13

What a weekend! Most of my husband's cousins from one side came to our house and we talked and played games all night! There were 9 adults and my almost-three-year-old son. I made Cranberry-Orange Chicken for dinner with quinoa and a strawberry and spinach salad. We had ice cream sundaes with a grain-free blondie that I've been working on (still not right!). For breakfast I made baked french toast with bacon and Canadian bacon. The house still smells like bacon. It was such a lovely get-together and I hope we do it again soon!

Menu for the Week of March 18, 2013

Monday: Spinach Quinoa Socca Cakes, leftover spinach and strawberry salad

  • prep meatloaf and veggies

Tuesday: meatloaf, mashed veggies (cauliflower and sweet potatoes)

  • prep beans

Wednesday: Cuban beans (source), brown rice (sweet potato for me)

Thursday: leftover ham bean soup

  • soak quinoa

Friday: Halloumi Quinoa

Saturday: chicken, roasted veggies (beets, brussels sprouts, potatoes, cauliflower, onion, zucchini), quinoa, fruit pie (maybe!)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Week Ahead... 3/11/13

So I write my weekly menu every week and post it. However, the number of people who read this post is very minimal so I'd either like to improve it, or stop posting the menu. Please leave me a comment considering the following questions... Do you like seeing my weekly menus? Are they helpful? Do you find yourself considering them as you make your own menu? Would it be more helpful if they posted a different day than Sunday night? Is there something else you would like to see or know?

Menu for the Week of March 11, 2013

Monday: acorn squash, roasted cauliflower
  • prep socca cakes
Tuesday: Spinach Quinoa Socca Cakes, kale

Wednesday: Something from the freezer

Thursday: Hot dogs, baked beans, salad

Friday: Curried Spinach and Chickpeas with rice (sweet potato for me)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cranberry Orange Chicken, Roasted Potatoes, and Roasted Green Beans in Under 1 Hour

If you read my last post, yes, I did pass the exam for which I was studying!

I was inspired last week by Megan's post on her blog, Allergy Free Alaska, on what she feeds her children for dinner. One night she served baked chicken and it looked really good, and I realized that I had not made baked chicken in years (yes, years!) I combined chicken breasts with yummy roasted potatoes and roasted green beans. It was delicious and completed in one hour, start to finish.

I'm going to give the directions for staging the entire meal, but feel free to extract portions of the meal.

Cranberry Orange Chicken, Roasted Potatoes, and Roasted Green Beans in Under 1 Hour
Serves 4

  • potatoes, I used 1.5 lbs of red, washed and cut in half
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb chicken breasts
  • 1/3 c orange juice
  • 1/4 c dried cranberries
  • 4 handfuls of green beans
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Place cut potatoes in a bowl and toss with olive oil until coated. Add salt and pepper and toss some more.
  3. Place potatoes on a cookie sheet, cut side down. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and put in oven and set timer for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, trim chicken of fat and place in pan (I use a glass pie plate). Pour orange juice over chicken and sprinkle with dried cranberries and salt and pepper.
  5. When the timer goes off, remove foil from potatoes and return to oven. Place chicken in the oven. Set timer for 10 minutes.
  6. Wash and trim green beans. I like to cut them in half, as well. Place in bowl and toss with olive oil, then salt and pepper.
  7. When the timer goes off, remove the potatoes from the oven and carefully turn each one over. (Leave the chicken in the oven.) You'll want to make certain that you don't leave some of the potato attached to the pan. I use a thin silicone spatula, but a metal one would also work well. Move the potatoes to one side of the pan to make room for the green beans on the same cookie sheet. Place green beans on cookie sheet. Set timer for 5 minutes.
  8. When the timer goes off, flip the green beans over (or just move them around a bit.) Set timer for 5 minutes.
  9. When the timer goes off check everything to see if it's done. The chicken should be at 165°F (mine took 5 more minutes.)
Timing Totals Summary
potatoes: 20 minutes covered, 10 minutes uncovered, flip, 10 more minutes
chicken: 20 to 25 minutes
green beans: 10 minutes, turning at midpoint

This recipe has been shared on Vegetarian Mamma's Gluten Free Fridays and Allergy Free Alaska's Whole Food Fridays.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Week Ahead... 3/4/2013

This is going to be quick tonight as I have to finish studying for an exam! It's (another) certification exam. My industry has fallen in love with certifications over the past few years. I suppose it's good overall, but it's really annoying on a personal level.

Menu for the Week of 4 March 2013

Monday: Spanish Quinoa (source)

  • prep Sloppy Joes, make bread, clean kale

Tuesday: Sloppy Joes, Kale with Cranberries

  • prep potatoes, grate cheese, defrost black beans

Wednesday: Cheeseburger Soup

  • prep Thursday's meal

Thursday: trial recipe with acorn squash

Friday: leftovers

  • defrost ham bone

Saturday: ham bean soup