Free E-Books!

mf809.jpgIf one of your New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight, eat better, and get healthy, here are a few awesome free e-books from Amazon. Remember, prices on Amazon can fluctuate- so it may not be free for long!

 

Talk Back: What is your favorite healthy snack?

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Affected by the Government Shut Down?

4cad5a265dc46a2ca38b1727137b1b6e.jpgI know there are so many families in San Diego that are affected by the government shutdown. I wanted to post a small round up to try and help those who may need help with groceries, clothes, or help with paying bills.

Food: Here is a post about San Diego, CA area food banks, food pantries, and produce distributions. You can also call 211, or visit the 211 website. They have tons of great recourses, including information on housing, utility assistance, and transportation.

Utilities: For those of us in San Diego County, SDG&E has several ways you can save money on your power bill. I’ve gone over a few here.  SDG&E also has information on their site specifically for furloughed Federal employees.

We switched to Time-of-Use pricing a few months ago, and combined with being more mindful of when and how we use power:

  • Turning off lights during the day and opening the shades/curtains
  • Turn your thermostat up.
  • Doing laundry and dishes before 4pm or after 9pm
  • Using Smart Plugs and using OhmConnect to help us conserve power actively during times when there is extra demand on the grid. You can learn more about OhmConnect here.

Clothing Resources: Here are a few resources that can help you with clothes. There are clothing swaps all over San Diego County.

Pet Resources: The San Diego Humane Society is offering free pet food (cat or dog) for furloughed Federal employee. Per their Facebook page: “We will offer free pet food to federal employees affected by the government shutdown Monday, Jan. 14 through Friday, Jan. 18, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at all three of our campuses. Two bags of pet food will be provided to each family who can show proof of federal employment. All pet food will be available on a first come, first served basis while supplies last. You can help by sharing this post, donating on our website (https://bit.ly/2AJJtcN) and/or by donating dog or cat food at any of our locations.”

It’s Back! Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

I cleaned out the pantry last week. There was a lot of weird/unusual stuff- Thanks to my food blogging/cooking endeavors. I also went through the fridge and tossed a bunch of condiments that were of various “vintages”.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

You may notice a lot of plant based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Protein shakes for grown ups, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. We have plenty of protein shake fixins’- I buy the over ripe bananas, peel and slice them pop them into ziploc bags, and freeze them for smoothies and protein shakes. I also keep sandwich ziploc bags of  other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or a protein shake for me and the Mister, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently). Bitty Bird eats whatever I’ll feed her.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

This week is going to be a little different. There is going to be some traveling this week, so I’ll be relying more on my freezer stash.

  • Monday: Table5 Pizza and Fruit Salad
  • Tuesday: Chicken Tetrazzini with brocolli (Hooray for 1 pot meals)
  • Wednesday: Pesto Pasta bake (it’s a new recipe I’m working on- if it turns out well I’ll post it later this week).
  • Thursday: Grilled Cheese sandwiches made with Chef Shamy Garlic Butter and sharp cheddar cheese, Homemade Tomato Soup.
  • Friday:  Stir fry veggies and cauliflower “rice”.
  • Saturday: Spanish Rice casserole- Sausage, Spanish rice, and veggies.
  • Sunday: Leftoverpalooza, or breakfast for dinner.

And I’ll be making some cookies with Kodiak Flapjack mix (Protein Chocolate Chip Cookies), and at least one batch of Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins.

Talk Back: What will you be cooking this week? 

My New Favorite Cooking Oil: Malaysian Palm Oil!

Screen Shot 2018-12-15 at 10.41.45 PM.pngAt The Moms Meet Wow Summit last month, I was introduced to Malaysian Palm Oil. As someone who cooks daily, I’m always looking for new, healthy ingredients to incorporate into the family diet.

I’d never tried palm oil before, nor had I heard of it, so here are some cool things I learned:

  • Palm oil comes from the fruit of a special species of palm tree grown near the equator. Oil palm plantations are incredibly high yielding and also provide an environment where native animals can thrive. You can learn more here.
  • Palm oil comes from the palm oil fruit, not the tree itself, so there is no deforestation. Also each tree produces fruit all year long for up to 25 years! In Malaysia, palm oil is only produced on legal agricultural land in compliance with Good Agricultural Processes. Fifty percent of Malaysia’s land area is mandated forest cover.
  • It’s better for cooking as it is stable at higher cooking temperatures, is free of trans-fatty acids, rich in vitamin E tocotrienols, and red palm oil is also an abundant source of pro-vitamin A carotenoids.  Red Palm oil has more carotene than carrots and tomatoes.
  • I recently used the Malaysian Palm oil in place of Olive Oil when making Pizza Crust last weekend. It didn’t change the crust at all texture-wise, but it did give it more or a golden appearance and a more buttery flavor.
  • Overall, Malaysian Palm oil have a very velvety, butter mouth feel and taste.
  • I like that Malaysian Palm oil is a Non-GMO. More than 90% of other cooking oils (soy, corn, rapeseed/canola) is made from crops grown with genetically modified seeds,
  • Malaysian Palm oil is a natural substitute for partially hydrogenated oils (the trans fats). That’s great news for me, since I cook a lot of scratch!

Screen Shot 2018-12-15 at 9.30.53 PM.pngI wanted to showcase the oils natural buttery taste and feel, so I whipped up some popcorn on the stove top, the old-fashioned way.

Screen Shot 2018-12-15 at 9.31.27 PM.pngAll you need is:

  • 3 T. Malaysian Palm Oil
  • 1/2 C. popcorn kernels
  • Whatever seasoning you like (I like salt and pepper)

Directions:

  1. In a large pot (6+ quarts, I have this one), heat the oil and add 3 kernels. Cover with the lid,
  2. Cook on medium-high heat until kernels pop. Remove the pot from the heat, scoop out popped kernels, and add in the rest of the unpopped popcorn kernels.
  3. Cover with the lid, and give the pot a good shake (use potholders!). Let sit off heat for 30 seconds to 3 minutes.
  4. Put pot back on the heat (medium-high), set the lid slightly askew, so the steam may escape. Shake the pot a few more times. Once the popping starts, it pops quickly.
  5. Once the popping has slowed, remove from the heat and pour the popcorn into a bowl and top with desired seasonings, butter, etc.

A big thanks to the Malaysian Palm Oil Council for the bottle of Palm Oil and Popcorn to try out this recipe. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated.

I can’t wait to substitute Palm Oil into my favorite recipes!

 

Review: Truth Bars

When I was at the Moms Meet Wow Summit last month I was introduced to Truth Bars. I also posted about Truth Bars on Instagram the other day.

Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 3.40.26 PM.pngThe Truth Bar is a great on-the-go snack for hectic mornings, to include in your child’s lunchbox, or for whenever you need a midday pick-me-up.
Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 3.54.50 PM.png
Afternoon iced coffee and Truth Bar.

I’ve been enjoying them with my coffee in the morning before we head off to the school and gym. The kids love to share a Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch bar with their morning milk.

Truth Bar is a nutrition bar that gives you your daily dose of prebiotics and probiotics to balance your micro-biome, boost your immune power, give you sustained energy, and promote gut health. Truth Bar focuses on building strong gut health because there are so many great outcomes as a result, such as: shedding toxins that clog your metabolism, treating inflammatory disorders, and improving your digestive system. The Truth bar is perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth while remaining nutrient-dense and completely free of “junk” that does not serve the body well.

There are five available flavors: Chocolate Peanut Butter CrunchMint Chocolate ChipChocolate Almond CrunchChocolate Raspberry Coconut, and Dark Chocolate Coconut. Truth Bar has vegan options and all of their bars are gluten-free, non-GMO, kosher, and under 200 calories — so there are choices to fit virtually every lifestyle.

It can be hard to achieve balanced nutrition in the midst of a busy life, which is why Truth Bar aims to be the quickest, most convenient way to get you what your body needs.

I love that the vegan bars are as satisfying and rich as the others.

By using purposeful ingredients such as chia seeds, coconut oil, and chicory root, you can rest assured you’re making a nutritious choice that the whole family will enjoy. With five varieties, there is bound to be a flavor everyone in your family will enjoy.

If you are looking for a way to save money on Truth Bars, order them via Amazon Subscribe and Save. You can save 5% or 15%, depending on how many you order. If you want to buy them in stores, CVS, Gelson’s, and Lazy Acres, all sell them. Check out the Truth Bar website to find the store nearest you.

Recipe: Kitchen Sink Chip Cookies

IMG_2799
Yeah, I have on a cute apron too!

It’s finally winter in San Diego! It’s rainy, cool, and we even had an awesome thunderstorm this afternoon. Cooler weather means that I can turn on the oven and get cooking!

 

IMG_2798
That’s a lot of cookie dough!

I made these cookies for the first time last weekend for a Cast Party. They were so well-received (read, I think only 3 came home, out of the 3 dozen I made) that I knew I had to make them again.

So why Kitchen Sink Chip? You can use whatever kind of chips or candy you’ve got. Everything but the Kitchen Sink. The first time I used peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, and M&M’s.  This time, I used butterscotch chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and M&M’s to accommodate a friends peanut allergy. Additionally, you could use white chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, milk chocolate, speciality holiday chips, M&M’s (of any variety), or any yummy candy- I got Andes Mints pieces to put in my next batch. Whatever sounds good to you.

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 4C. AP Flour
  • 2t. Baking Soda
  • 1t. Salt (I use pink salt)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2C. softened butter or shortening or coconut oil (or some combination of two or more- I use half butter and half shortening)
  • 1C. white sugar
  • 1C. brown sugar, packed
  • 2T. Vanilla
  • 1.5C Chocolate Chips (or whatever kind you like)
  • 1.5C. Butterscotch Chips (or whatever kind you like)
  • 3 oz box M&M’s- movie theatre sized box (or whatever kind of candy you like)

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl combine flour, soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time.
  4. Add vanilla.
  5. Using mixer on low, slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture.
  6. Once two mixtures are completely combined, add chips/candy one variety at a time and mix well.
  7. Drop spoonfuls of dough on greased cookie sheets or cookie sheets lined with silicone baking pads.
  8. Cook in a 350 degree oven. You can adjust the size and baking time, depending on the size cookie you want. I used rounded tablespoons and it took about 12-15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  If you make them smaller, adjust cooking down to 8-10 minutes.

Tablespoons: 2 dozen large cookies

Teaspoons: 4 dozen smaller cookies.

These cookies are dead simple to make. You can make adjustments as needed: 1 for 1 gluten free flour for AP flour, Sola or Splenda for white sugar. I like that these cookies are not overly sweet. They use approximately 1/2 cup less white and brown sugar than other cookie recipes. I think that and the salt help the flavors of the chips/candy pop.

 

 

Recipe: Easy Cheesy Enchiladas

IMG_2712.jpgI love enchiladas. I seldom get them when we get Mexican take-away because they aren’t baked, so the cheese isn’t melty. And really, life is primarily about melty, gooey cheese.

The other night, I had a hankering for melty cheese, so I rifled through the cupboard and discovered that we had all the fixins’ for cheese enchiladas. I added caramelized onions, because… why not?

This recipe is easy to make, vegetarian, gluten-free,  and can be made vegan if you use dairy-free cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1T. butter or olive oil
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 can enchilada sauce, approx 24 -26 oz (I prefer green) Las Palmas is my favorite brand
  • 12 pepper jack cheese sticks
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheese (I used cheddar, but Mexican cheese blend works great)

Directions:

  1. In a pan, cook onion in butter/oil on medium low for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.once onions are golden brown, remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Once onions are cool, add to enchilada sauce. Pour 1/2 of sauce into the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 of shredded cheese.
  3. Place 1 cheese stick at the edge of a corn tortilla and roll the tortilla around the cheese. Place in the baking dish, flap side down.
  4. Continue until the baking dish is full.   I do one layer, but depending on how many people you need to fee, you might do two layers.
  5. Pour remaining sauce on top of enchiladas, top with remaining shredded cheese.
  6. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and edges of tortillas are crisp.

 

I serve with beans, rice, and Mexican Cesar salad. They make great leftovers too- not that it will last.