Thursday, October 23, 2014

10 ideas for adding more veggies to your diet:

Last night I had the awesome privilege of speaking to and cooking for the biggest loser group that I am a part of. The idea for the evening came about when one of our members expressed her frustration about her dislike of fruits and vegetables she wanted a healthy food redo. I am so glad that she spoke up and the idea for the night was born. I have found that I love to give people (especially moms) tips and tricks to healthy up their diets. So here are my ten ideas plus the recipes for the things I made last night. My hope is that last night really helped that member and maybe gave a few more some ideas! I know it made her son happy because when he asked if he could take home a plate of the spaghetti squash and veggie pasta sauce!
10 ideas for adding more veggies to your diet:
1.  Have vegetables with every meal
Stir in some fresh tomatoes and mushrooms  to your scrambled eggs
Make egg muffins loaded with your choice of veggies:  
Spread Avocado onto toast
Breakfast burritos loaded with peppers, onions and mushrooms
Zucchini bread made with unsweeted apple sauce
Celery and Carrot Sticks with Peanut Butter (All Natural is best)
Sugar Snap Peas with Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip
Ham and Cheese roll up stuffed with Cucumber or radishes
Kale Chips 
Instead of using Iceberg lettuce in your salad or wrap start using other lettuces or even spinach. Others can include- Green leaf, Red Leaf, Romaine, Arugula, Butter Lettuce
Always have carrot and celery sticks available
When out opt for a side salad instead of fries (watch the dressing though)
Load sandwiches up with veggies, lettuce, and tomato are great , but try adding cucumber, carrot, and radish as well.
Shred zucchini into pasta sauces
Roast veggies and puree with broth and a splash of cream for a delicious soup.
Use grilled portabella mushrooms as a “bun” for a sandwich
When making mashed potatoes use half potatoes and half turnip or cauliflower
Shred carrot into meatloaf, meatballs or hamburger patties
Top pizzas with extra vegetables

2.  Drink your veggies
Smoothies are a great way to get vegetables as well as fruit into your diet. Mix any combination of fruit and spinach or kale in a blender with plain Greek yogurt and a splash of milk.

3.  Make a goal to try one new vegetable per month
Have you always wanted to give spaghetti squash a try or maybe Brussel sprouts? Just buy one and give it a chance. If it isn’t a hit that’s ok try something else next month. Mine for this month is bok choy!

4.  Keep vegetables front and center in your fridge
If the first thing you see when you open your fridge is healthier options you are more apt to use them.

5.  Double the amount of vegetables in recipes
A soup you are making calls for 1 cup of carrots double it. A casserole calls for 1 can of green beans try two. You see the trend…

6.  Try a meat-free night per week
A vegetable stir –fry or vegetable soup are great options. If your house is like mine and meat free doesn’t work. I do a  light meat night, using ½ the amount of meat in recipes replacing it with vegetables.

7.  If you don’t like the canned version of a vegetable try the fresh or frozen
I cannot stand canned asparagus, but will eat fresh by the pound. Broccoli is another that I prefer fresh to frozen.

8.  Try vegetables in a new way
Roast broccoli, try cauliflower in soup, grill mushrooms, stuff spinach inside chicken breasts, the possibilities are endless.

9.  Have a vegetable/food prep hour per week
Set aside 1 hour per week for prep. I usually do this on Sunday evenings. Cut up carrot and celery sticks, dice vegetables (peppers, zucchini, onions, mushrooms) roast on a sheet tray this can be a quick side for all week, wash lettuces and chop for quick salads, prepare your egg muffins. When doing these things make sure you are making enough for the entire week. It will set you out for a better week.
10.       Cut pasta amount in half and replace with vegetables cut into long strips
Zucchini, carrots, and yellow squash all can be cut into thin ribbons. You will still have the pasta but you will be consuming vegetables with each bite.

Here are some of the recipes I made for the group last night hope you will give them a try!

Spaghetti Squash
1 spaghetti squash
3 tbsp EVOO
1 clove garlic
Dash red pepper flakes
Salt and peper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 400. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scrape out all the seeds and center membrane. Drizzle with ½ tbsp EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Place each half cut side down on baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minutes. Allow squash to cool a bit, and scrape out the “noodles” into a bowl with a fork.  (This can be done during your weekly meal prep time)
In a large non-stick skillet heat 2 TBSP of EVOO add garlic and red pepper. Sauté squash for a few minutes to coat in the mixture.  Top with your favorite sauce.

Veggie packed marinara sauce
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 small zucchini shredded
1 carrot shredded
6-8 mushrooms shredded
3 cloves garlic
Dash red pepper flakes
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
 In a large pot heat oil pepper flakes and garlic over medium heat until garlic is browned. Remove garlic. Add remaining ingredients to the pot and all to simmer for 30 minutes. Season to your tastes and puree for a smooth texture.

Egg Muffins (12 muffins)
9 eggs
Splash of milk
Several dashes of tabasco
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetables of your choice
Cheese of your choice
Pre-heat oven to 350. Spray a muffin tin with Pam. In the bottom of the tin place vegetables of your choice. In a large bowl whip eggs together with milk, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Pour over vegetables; only fill tins between ½ and ¾ of the way top with cheese of choice. Bake for 40 minutes. I find it is easier to get these out of the pan if they cool completely first.

Carrot and Kale Chips
3 carrots
1 bunch of kale
Salt and Pepper
Heat oven to 400. Slice carrots thin, the thicker you slice the chewier the chips are. Tear kale in to small pieces. On a lined cookie sheet spread out the carrots and kale you may need more than one sheet. They need space to crisp up. Drizzle with EVOO and season. Bake for 10 minutes stir and return oven to crisp.

Green Smoothie
1 cup of Strawberries
1 cup of Blueberries
1 Handful Spinach
½ cup plain Greek Yogurt
Splash of milk

Add fruit and veggie in the blender with yogurt and milk. Fill the remainder of the blender with ice. Blitz until smooth. 

Potato Turnip Mash
1 Large Yukon gold potato peeled
1 large turnip peeled
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP Plain Greek Yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste
You can increase this recipe by adding more of each just remember a 1 to 1 ratio. Cut potato into larger chunks than the turnip into. Put your turnip and potato into a pot and cover with water. Boil until tender then drain. Add butter and yogurt. Season and mash. I use a hand mixer because I like a smoother consistency. If your mixture is too thick you can add more yogurt, if the mix gets too thin stick it in a hot oven for several minutes to draw out some of the moisture.  Serve warm

Ranch Veggie Dip
1 large container of Plain Lowfat Greek Yogurt
1 packet Ranch Dressing Mix
1 Packet Green Onion Ranch Dressing Mix
Mix all ingredients together and chill. Serve with veggies or thin with milk and use as a salad dressing.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Beautiful Wedding Recap...FINALLY

The pictures don't do this wedding any justice. It was absolutely perfect. I am still so honored and humbled that my dear friend chose me to stand be side her on her day. I am keeping this short just enjoy the beauty and love present in each of these pictures. Congratulations Matt and Tracy, and thank you for letting me be apart of your day!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Copy Cat of Chili's Southwest Chicken Soup

The first time I experienced this soup was a few weeks ago when Charlot and I were having a Sunday shopping lunch date. Chili’s is near Sam’s and Charlot could eat her weight in chips and salsa so Chili’s was the perfect choice. I knew I didn’t want to blow all the good decisions I had made that week so I ordered soup and salad. I thought since this soup was marked as a healthy option it probably would be not so good. Was I wrong…hum Yes! It was chocked full of flavor and spice and just over all deliciousness. Plus it was really filling without being heavy.

I have been dreaming of this soup, I looked online for a Copy Cat recipe but couldn’t find this one. I could find ones for their chicken tortilla soup which were loaded with cheese and I am sure delish but I wanted this one. I knew I just had to give it a go.

This week has been the perfect time for soup, since today is the first day we have seen the sun in nearly a week. I will say for my first shot at it, this was some dang good soup!

Southwest Chicken Soup

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 packet of chicken taco seasoning

1 onion (diced)

1 can diced tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 can corn (drained) (I used our fresh frozen corn, use what you like)

1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)

1 can white hominy (rinsed and drained)

1 box vegetable stock

1 ½ cups water

2 TBSP cumin

¼ tsp red peper

1 tsp salt

Heat oven to 350. Place chicken breasts on a sheet pan and sprinkle with ½ of the taco seasoning. Bake for approximately 20-30 minutes. While chicken bakes sauté onion and corn in a large soup pot (I use my dutch oven). Once they get a little color to them add remaining ingredients including the other ½ half of the taco seasoning. Simmer until chicken is done. Dice up your chicken and add it to the pot. Simmer for at least another 15 minutes. Top with tortilla strips if you like!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cinnamon Rolls

Now I will admit yeast and I are not exactly friends. I don’t deal well with it, I know if my friend Amanda is reading she is shaking her head. I am trying to be better I think it is a patience thing someday I will conquer all bread/pastry making, maybe. But who knows. But I love cinnamon rolls and so does one of my co-workers and that is what she seems to request each year for her birthday. Most of the time I pull the amazing daughter trick and swindle my momma into making them for me. If you know my momma you know she makes cinnamon rolls that are so good you will want to slap your momma. Well I don’t slap my momma but you get the point they are good!

This year was no different my co-worker again requested cinnamon rolls for her birthday treat. For some reason I didn’t exactly remember to ask my mom. And as I was driving home from a career fair on Thursday afternoon I remembered I need three dozen cinnamon rolls in the morning. Well fantastic. I’ll just whip those out right quick! NOT. But again like a beacon from above, I remembered a recipe I had saw on Pintrest. Something with pudding, butter and Rhodes Frozen cinnamon rolls. I headed to the grocery store and figured I would give it a go!

I know it sounds crazy dry pudding, melted butter, and frozen cinnamon rolls. But man alive do they make an amazing roll. Moist and buttery not too sweet with a hint of extra creaminess. Yea this one is a keeper. Added bonus they can proof in your fridge overnight and be ready to bake in about 20 minutes in the morning. I think these would be a perfect addition to a holiday breakfast! Or maybe just my Tuesday morning breakfast no I shouldn’t oh but they are so so so good.
Check the crazy good butteryness on the bottom of the pan. I may have eaten it with a spoon!

Cinnamon Rolls

1 package Rhodes Cinnamon Rolls

1 box Cook-n-Serve Vanilla Pudding

1 stick butter melted

In a greased 9x13 pan place your rolls a few inches apart, reserve the icing that comes with (you will use it!). Sprinkle the dry pudding over the top and then pour the melted butter over. This is where you have choices, if you are like me you just let them rise on your stove top the night before and baked at 350 for 25 minutes and then poured on the icing. Or you can get the rolls pudding and butter together and stick them in the fridge overnight, bring them out in the morning and let them finish rising for 20-30 minutes and bake at 350 for 25 minutes and then pour the icing on. Whatever method you choose do not for get to use the icing, it is delish!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thankful Thursday‘s-Plus a Prayer Request

I have gotten away from doing these and the past few weeks have proven to me just how much I truly have to be thankful for. Tomorrow is not promised, health is not promised, and perfection is for sure not promised. With that said I can say that I am oh so very thankful for my amazing life with a healthy and happy child, spouse, parents, and siblings.

The area we live in is a pretty close net place. Sometimes it can be a bit frustrating since pretty much everyone knows everyone and anything that happens pretty quickly becomes public knowledge. But there are for sure some pretty amazing things about this area as well. The most amazing to me seems to be that in times of need all the communities in the area rally around one another. I have seen this first hand over the past week.

With no warning, other than flu-like symptoms, a little boy just 12 year old in our area was recently diagnosed with liver and pancreatic cancer. In addition, the cancer was tagged as being very rare, having almost never been seen in children. That’s right a healthy active little boy, is now it in the toughest battle, the battle for his life. As a parent this is your nightmare coming true, you should never have to face the big “C” word with your kids. But this is the hand that was dealt to this family. Ayden for sure doesn’t know me and I really don’t know if his parents remember me but I do remember him as a toddler going to church with him. I was always impressed with his parents they appeared to be the most caring and committed parents. The kind of parents I had and the kind of parent I wanted to be. What I have seen through this is these parents are giving this to God and fighting with all they have got.

Over the past week I have watched people from all over our area come together to try and help this family. There has been a Porch Light Prayer on Facebook set up, that has touched nearly every country. A Give Forward Fund has been established to help offset the astronomical amount of medical bills this family is facing. Bracelets are being made, a benefit dinner is planned, a local photographer is doing a shot for Ayden. And above all else more and more people are offering their prayers to this family. Because prayer is a powerful powerful thing.

So today I am so thankful for health and I am very thankful to live right where I do. I ask that if you have a moment to please say a prayer for Ayden and his family. Every single prayer helps!!!

If you are interested in joining the Porch Light Prayer (for Ayden)- Click HERE

If you have it in your heart to help this family financially (every penny helps) - Click HERE

Again please just pray and pray some more.

Charlot supporting Ayden in her Purple and Green!