Healthy Swap Recipe: PB Chocolate Malts!

This is a family favorite, and I’ve been making this shake recipe for almost 10 years.

I’m linking to most of the items on Amazon, so if you don’t want to leave home to try this recipe, you won’t have to. As a reminder: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

This recipe all started back when I was doing medically supervised weight loss and we had to drink 5-9 shakes per day, so adding in low-calorie flavor options was a must. A few of the “approved” options were peanut butter powder, malt powder, and in phase 2, frozen fruit (in the case of this recipe, frozen bananas). Now that I’m no longer on the program, I still have a shake once a day, usually to curb cravings for sweets.

Feel free to use whatever type of protein powder you like. I use the HMR brand. My kids love these shakes. In fact, the big kiddo has one a few times per week for breakfast.

I use a Calphalon Active Sense Blender, but any blender or immersion/stick blender will work.

Mrs. Bear Special –  PB Chocolate Malt

serves 1 grown-up, or two kiddos

Ingredients:

  • 1 Scoop Chocolate protein powder
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter powder
  • 2 tablespoons malt powder
  • 1 frozen banana, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1-2 handfuls of ice
  • 8-12 ounces of water (If you want it creamier or are not calorie conscious, you can use fat-free or plant milk)

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients into the blender.
  2. Blend on smoothie or ice breaker mode until smooth.
  3. Serve with a milkshake straw.

 

Depending on your protein powder, the completed shake will have 25-30 grams of protein per shake.

 

Family Recipe: Bean, Rice, & Cheese Bowls

You may have noticed that BRC Bowls is a regular item on our weekly meal plan posts.

Beans and Rice are pantry staples in our home. You can do a lot with both, but the BRC bowl is a quick, easy, and healthy meal that everyone in our home can agree on. If I’ve got more time, I can add roasted veggies too.

We use vegetarian, fat-free refried beans because a lot of commercially made refried beans contain lard, and since I’ve got a small vegetarian in the house, I gotta keep meals vegetarian as often as possible.

It’s also a great recipe to make extra servings of and store in the fridge for lunches throughout the week.

Here is the basic recipe:

Bean, Rice, & Cheese Bowls

Ingredients

  • 1 large can refried beans– approx. 28 ounces (or make your own from scratch), heated per package directions. Sometimes we use Ranch-style Beans instead.
  • Rice (I usually make 2 cups rice with 4 cups veggie broth so we have lots of leftovers)- The variety of rice is up to you, but we love jasmine or basmati rice. Did you know that you can freeze cooked rice in portions?
  • Cheese- your choice of variety. I really like the Mexican blend, which generally consists of a blend of Monterey Jack Cheese, Cheddar Cheese, Queso Quesadilla, And Asadero Cheese.
  • Roasted vegetables (optional, but I recommend). I like to roast onions, garlic, bell peppers, potatoes, broccoli, and carrots. Cut them up into bite-size pieces, toss in avocado oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Roast in the oven on a baking sheet for 30-ish minutes at 450 degrees. You can also add 2 T. of fresh lime juice for some zest.

Directions

Once all ingredients are cooked, assemble individual bowls as follows (from the bottom up):

  1. Rice
  2. Roasted veggies
  3. Beans
  4. Cheese

You can do it in whatever amount each person wants. Kids don’t like cheese? Skip it. Watching your carbs? Go easy on the rice.

As I said before I make a few extra servings in leftover containers and stash them into the fridge for lunches later in the week. The girl kiddo loves rice with butter for lunch, so I always make extra rice for her.

New Recipe: Baked Tortellini

00169 (1).jpgThis recipe is dead simple. Make it as complicated as you want. Use jarred sauce, make your own from scratch, or take a jar of sauce and church it up yourself. Whatever.

Frozen pasta, fresh pasta, heck, you can even use the shell stable/dried tortellini. You could use ravioli if you wanted.

You can make this Vegetarian, Vegan, Chock Full o’ Meat, Gluten-Free, it’s up to you.

This is one of those recipes that’s a big hit at potlucks too. It’s pretty inexpensive, and we always have the ingredients in one form or another to make a batch.

Baked Tortellini

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 cups of Red Pasta Sauce.  I usually make a big batch of this sauce and portion some out just for this recipe. If you use jarred sauce, I recommend  you add 3-4 cups of veggies (carrots, onions, celery, bell peppers, zucchini, chopped/diced tomatoes, etc.)
  • 22-30 ounces of Tortellini/Ravioli, cooked per the package directions (this will probably take a couple packages)
  • 2 Cups Italian Cheese blend

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta per the package directions. Drain.
  2. Pour pasta sauce into a baking dish (I use a 9×13), toss cooked pasta in sauce.
  3. Sprinkle cheese on top.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-ish minutes until food is bubbly, and cheese is brown and delicious looking.
  5. Serve with hot French Bread or Garlic Bread and a green salad.

This serves 8-10 people as a main.

 

If you are vegan, substitute in filled pasta and cheese that works for you.

Recipe: Refreshing Cranberry Kale Salad

kalecutI know, KALE. It’s weird and has that super crunchy stem. It’s really good for you, but it gets a bad rap.

This salad recipe is dead simple and is so good that you will fight over the leftovers (if there are any).

I like making this in the morning and letting it sit in the fridge all day. That gives the ACV in the dressing time to mellow out and all the flavors to mingle.

I like starting with a bag of triple-washed chopped kale, since it’s usually the same price as whole kale, and it saves me time, but you do what works best for your family and budget.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package triple-washed chopped kale, or 6 cups of kale, washed and chopped into bite sized pieces.
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cide Vinegar, with the mother (I like Bragg’s)
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite oil, we prefer avocado oil (like this one)
  • 1 t. honey or agave
  • dash kosher salt
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • 1 T. fresh, chopped rosemary, or 2 t. dried rosemary (whichever you have)
  • 1/2 c. crumbled herbed feta or goat cheese (your choice)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds (you could substitute sliced almonds or almond slivers if you prefer)

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix oil, vinegar, honey, rosemary, salt and pepper. set aside.
  2. In a large salad/mixing bowl, add kale, cheese, almonds, and cranberries. Dizzle over oil/vinegar dressing and toss gently.
  3. Store in Fridge 4-6 hours minimum before serving.
  4. This is great as a side dish, or top with a grilled chicken breast or steak for a great main dish.
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Yum!  Kale!

Serves 6-8 as a side or 3-4 as a main dish.

If you are vegan, substitute honey for agave and use vegan cheese crumbles of your choice.

What I’ve Been Up To…

_DSC2099As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t been posting a lot lately, either here or on Social Media. I’ve been busy. Distance learning is coming to a close for the year, so we’ve been doing a lot of meetings and paperwork (I’ll be glad when the mountains of homework packets stop).

In addition to supervising all of the learning (for both kiddos), I’ve also been taking a more active role in helping my big kiddo find behavioral therapies that will work well on his journey through life. My big kid is on the Autism spectrum (ASD) and that means that we do behavioral therapy a few times a week in addition talk therapy. So lots of time helping process feelings and emotions, and that leaves this mama bear feeling tired.

I (try to) get up early about 6:30 each morning, make coffee, do emails, and work on getting stuff set up for the day before the kiddos wake up. Sometimes I’m super successful and get it done. Sometimes I’m lucky if I get a shower.

Successes for the days are measured so much differently now. Did we make it through a day without tears? Missing friends, regular routines, going to the gym, extracurricular activities- all of these weigh heavy on the kids, and grown-ups.

We’ve also been trying to get our home more organized, and we’ve been getting some help from a family friend who is a Konmari guru. We’re about halfway through the process, and it’s been super liberating to get rid of stuff that no longer serves us. We sold all of the DVD’s/video games that we no longer wanted, and raised over $200, that we’ll put towards family fun (maybe sock it away for a 2021 vacation?). Thankfully our local thrift shops are accepting donations at this time. We’ve been loading up the back of my car weekly to donate goods.

In an attempt to wear the kids out physically, I’ve been taking them out for a walk a few times a week with my parents at a local park. Social distancing and masking occur- Also a liberal application of mosquito repellant is applied- The kids and I are very tasty according to the local ‘squito population. We also picked up a small pool for the patio- We are on our second. The first was not heavy-duty enough. This is the one I recommend. We also put tarps under it to protect it from the textured decking. I also use this solar fountain to keep the water moving all day, and we cover it with a tarp at night. I usually dump the water and refill it 2-3 times per week.

downloadSaving money has been a challenge as of late- There aren’t as many deals as supplies aren’t being delivered to stores regularly, less staff to stock shelves, etc. And really, who has been shopping lately for fun? Not many of us. I’ve been using coupons when I can find them, but what I have really found useful is Honey. Honey is a browser extension that helps you find coupon codes and sale prices on items that you are shopping for online. I used it to save over $145 when we bought the big kids new bed a few weeks back.

And I’ve been making masks for family and friends- I made some especially for the kids this week too.

kalecutI’m here y’all! I’m up to my eyeballs, but I’m here. And of course, I’m doing the Always Eat After 7pm program, so I’ll be posting about that. There are so many good recipes I am excited to try (dark chocolate dipped PB cookies, uh, yeah). and I’ll be posting some recipes this weekend- I’ve got a killer Kale Salad recipe that is so tasty and easy (and it keeps in the fridge for a few days too).

I’ll be hosting an Amazon Gift Card Giveaway soon! I want to spread the love with you!

 

Talk Back: What have you been doing lately? 

Recipe: Hearty Veggie Soup

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This soup is vegan and high in protein!

I made this last month while it was cold and rainy. I keep forgetting to post this recipe. It’s so tasty. And easy. The leftovers (if there are any) freezes well.

 

It’s vegan and gluten-free as is, but you can make changes and use bone broth if you want, or even add meat of your choices I think kielbasa pieces would be really great in this soup!

I used Right Rice in this recipe in place of regular white rice. What I like about Right Rice is that it’s made from Lentil Flour, Chickpea Flour, and Rice Flour.  Those ingredients mean that this “rice” is high on protein! The “rice” thickens up the soup for sure.

 

AAVS2954.JPGI found Right Rice at Grocery Outlet, but you can also order it on Amazon.  You can substitute canned chopped tomatoes for fresh tomatoes- Use what you have on hand.

Hearty Veggie Soup

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup bell pepper, diced (I used green)
  • 2 T. cooking oil (your choice)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green or yellow zucchini (whatever is in season or you have on hand)
  • 2 quarts veggie stock
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (you can also use a large can of diced tomatoes)
  • 1 14oz.-ish can of tomato sauce
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 2 cups Right Rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 T. Penzeys Forward Spice Blend
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large, heavy-bottom stockpot, heat oil.
  2. Saute carrots, celery, bell pepper, and onions until onions are soft and clear, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and spices. Cook on low for 20-30 minutes, or until right rice is done and soup has thickened up.
  5. Soup can simmer on low as long as you like. I let it simmer on low for about 45 minutes.
  6. Serve with bread and butter and salad.

IMG_9957.JPGForward Seasoning blend contains extra bold black pepper, onion, paprika, garlic, turmeric, spice extractives (including oleoresin of celery, rosemary, black pepper, thyme, basil and paprika).

Coffee House Copycat Recipes & Enter to French Roast K-Cup® Pods!

I love Cross Country Cafe! They always have great deals, contests, and recipes!

Barista Prima French Roast K-Cup® Pods box of 24Right now, they are running a contest for FOUR full-size boxes of French Roast K-Cup® coffee pods! Enter to win before March 30th, 2020.

One of the ways that we stay on budget is to limit how many coffee shop beverages we have each week.  I load $25 every two weeks onto my Starbucks card. Honestly, it’s usually used on treats for the kiddos.

I make a big pot of French Roast Coffee each morning and make our coffee shop style beverages with it as the base. Here are a few of our favorites:

Quick & Easy Misto (aka a Cafe au Lait)

Ingredients:

  • 20 ounces Hot Coffee (prepared however you like)
  • 1 cup milk (whatever kind you like, I prefer whole or 2%).
  • Sweetener, if desired
  • Ground Nutmeg or Cinnamon, if desired

Directions:

  1. In a heatproof cup, heat milk for approx. 30 seconds in the microwave.
  2. Froth milk in a Magic bullet, blender, or using a Milk Frother. This takes about 30 seconds. The more fat the milk contains, the foamer the milk gets. Fat-free milk (either dairy or non-dairy) does not get too frothy.
  3. Pour Hot Coffee into your serving cup. Add your sweetener and stir. This is a great time to try a new sweetened syrup!
  4. Using a spoon, Push frothed milk to the side and pour milk over the coffee.
  5. Top with Foam if desired.
  6. Get extra fancy and sprinkle the top of the foam with nutmeg or cinnamon!
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Hot, frothy milk!
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The finished product, time for breakfast!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick & Easy Mocha: If you love a Cafe Mocha to start your day, simply add 2 T. of your favorite Chocolate milk mix or instant hot chocolate (I like this dark chocolate hot chocolate) to the milk before your heat and froth it. Follow the same directions as above.

Caramel Macchiato: Pour 1 cup, hot frothed milk into your mug, followed by 6 ounces of very strong hot coffee. Top with a little more foam, and drizzle caramel syrup over the top of the foam.

Cinnamon Dulce Latte: Pour Coffee into mug, add steamed milk and two pumps/Tablespoons of Brown Sugar Cinnamon Syrup. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Cooled/leftover coffee makes GREAT iced coffee. Simply pour over ice, add any milk and sweetener/syrup you’d like and serve. YUM!

For an Iced Mocha, mix 2 T. of your favorite Chocolate milk mix to the milk before adding it to your ice and coffee.

I love the Torani Sugar Free syrups, they come in over 40 flavors and most of them are great in coffee. We like the following flavors:

  • Irish Coffee (it’s non-alcoholic)
  • Caramel
  • Hazelnut
  • French Vanilla
  • Brown Sugar Cinnamon
  • Almond
  • Pumpkin Spice
  • Coconut (it’s good in a mocha)

unnamed.pngAnd Cross Country Cafe has a new recipe on their blog: Almond Milk Honey Flat White. Yum!

If you start your morning with a protein shake, here are a couple recipes for coffee drinks that use protein powder in place of milk.

Veggie Soup Recipe- 2/4/2020 is National Soup Day!

cooking--3.jpgI received an email from Olive Garden this morning telling me tomorrow is National Soup Day. WOOO! In the mood for their Zuppa Toscana? Here is my copycat recipe.

I had planned to make veggie soup this week, it’s a perfect way to use up all the bits and bobs of veggies you have hanging around your kitchen.

Here is my No Fail, Easy Peasy Vegetable Soup Recipe. It’s Vegan and Vegetarian as is.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts Veggie Stock
  • 2 c. onions, diced
  • 1 c. celery, chopped
  • 1 c. carrots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 Bell peppers, chopped (your choice of color)
  • 2 T. grapeseed oil or your favorite cooking oil
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 large can (approx. 28 ounce) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2T. Mural of Flavor
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1-2 yellow crookneck squash or zucchini with skin on, cut into bite-size pieces

 

Directions:

  1. In a large stockpot, saute onion, carrots, bell peppers, and celery until veggies are soft and onions are clear (about 20 minutes).
  2. Add garlic, cook 5-10 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Add Veggie Stock, Tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, herbs, and simmer on medium/low for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Add squash/zucchini and continue to simmer for 10-20 minutes.
  5. Serve with bread (I like Beer Bread). Top with Nutritional Yeast or cheese of your choice.

Feel free to substitute in veggies in the amounts that you have. This recipe is just a guide! Other veggies that go great in soup: potatoes, cabbage, green beans, turnips (cook just like potatoes), kale, and spinach.

Leafy greens are added to the soup about 10-15 minutes before serving. Potatoes and turnips should be peeled, chopped and added during step 3.

Fall Recipe Round-Up!

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Thanksgiving in the US is just a few days away, and for most of us, it means cooking a HUGE feast to share with family or friends.

I wanted to share with you some of my family’s favorite fall recipes- They are all pretty tasty, and easy to make. Some are great for Thanksgiving dinner, and some are just tasty fall recipes.

Frugal, Tasty Meals with Dinnerly!

To facilitate this review, the awesome folks at Dinnerly provided our family with 3 meals (4-6 servings each). I received no financial compensation to write this review- All opinions are my own.

I’ve reviewed dinner/meal kits before, and my complaint is always that they are so expensive, upwards of $10 per person, per meal. At that point, I better be going out to dinner, and I am not washing dishes! Secondly, the meals are usually not child-friendly, especially if you have a kid on the spectrum (like we do), who also happens to be a vegetarian.

Enter Dinnerly! At $4.49 per adult-sized serving, Dinnerly is so much less expensive than other meal kits. But how? digital recipe cards instead of paper, fewer ingredients per dish (which means less chopping and cleaning), simple packaging, and no fancy marketing campaigns.

The big kid and I looked at the website and he chose two meat-free recipes, and I chose one with meat.

  • Mediterranean Meatball Stew with Carrots & Couscous
  • Coconut Curry Ramen with Snow Peas & Jammy Eggs
  • Baked Squash & Kale Risotto with Parmesan

recipeWhat I really like is that the recipe tells you what is in the kit for your recipe, and what you will need from your own kitchen (and trust me, it’s nothing special or fancy).

The directions are great for those who don’t have a lot of cooking experience. My 8-year-old was able to read the steps and follow them. He helped me cook the Risotto, and he measured, stirred, poured, and ripped up the kale into bite-sized pieces.

The 4-6 adult-sized servings are pretty generous, by the way. With every meal, there were closer to 7 servings. I always serve side dishes with the main dish. Most nights we had salad or some kind of veggie side dish. When we had ramen, I picked up a bag of pork potstickers from 99 Cents Only for the grown-ups, and also made a miso dressing coleslaw. If you want to stretch meals further, I suggest adding sides, or maybe sneaking in some extra veggies (I added 1 cup of peeled, diced crook-neck squash to the Mediterranean Meatball Stew).

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Tamari Sauce for Ramen

Some of the recipes needed a little “kick”- especially the ramen- so we added ginger, red chili flakes, and a bay leaf to the broth. BUT, since everyone has different levels of spice tolerance, Dinnerly Kits are a great place to start if you want to explore different flavors and cultures without having the buy a bunch of new and/or different spices. For example, the ramen kit comes with two of these cute little packages of Tamari sauce. I did clean one of them out when I was done and now it’s in the kid’s toy kitchen.

Everything is pre-measured and ready to go, even the spices. This is another reason I love Dinnerly- It cuts down on food waste.

75557570_10157525826901061_3062456495460319232_n75443029_10157525826876061_5954310997228388352_nThe veggies are all super fresh and ready to be cut up! The risotto came with two little cubes of parmesan cheese, that my 8-year-old grated and sprinkled like a pro!

I made the Mediterranean Meatball Stew with Carrots & Couscous and took it to a friend for a night in. It was cheaper, healthier, and tastier than stopping to grab takeout. It was so tasty and filling.

If you want to check out Dinnerly, they have been nice enough to create a promo code just for my readers! The code to use at check out is hewesfamily15, and it’s active through the first week of December and only valid for first-time users. The coupon code is worth 15% off! To get started, visit Dinnerly here.

I think Dinnerly would also make a great gift for a family that just has a baby,  or someone who might need a little love.

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Butternut Squash & Kale Risotto
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Coconut Curry Ramen
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Meatball Stew and Cous Cous