Meal Plan Monday 11/5/18

stemarie_1650skitchen

I’m back home from Wow Summit, and I had 4 bags full of goodies- most of it was food- no lie! So this week is going to be incorporating a lot of the new foods into our lives and seeing how we like them.

Breakfasts are usually the same for us: 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 the grown ups, 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.

Monday: DIY Ramen Night with ramen kits I got from Wow Summit. One is Forbidden Rice Ramen, and the other is Red Miso Ramen. We’ll add poached eggs, bean sprouts, scallions and Asian veggie patties from Aldi’s. I love DIY Ramen nights- it’s a great way to have a yummy, filling vegetarian (or even Vegan) meal. I’ll be writing more about how you can do your own DIY Ramen bar at a dinner party soon.

Tuesday: Grilled Cheese sandwiches and soup, watermelon slices

Wednesday: breakfast for dinner! probably egg scrambles with bacon, veggies, cheese, and whole wheat toast (or whatever bread I have in the freezer)

Thursday: Fruit salad bar (I have a lot of fruit right now- it’s time to make a huge fruit salad), yogurt or cottage cheese, and granola.

Friday: Steak. I really want a steak right now, so I’m planning on pan seared steak with caramelized onions, and a red wine pan demiglace. Roasted veggies, twice baked potatoes, green salad, and popovers. This is a super simple, inexpensive dinner- Less than $20 for a steak dinner for three (Big kid doesn’t eat meat).  I will write about making a rocking steak dinner on the cheap soon.

Saturday: DIY Pizza night

Sunday: Leftovers

 

Talk Back: What are you craving for dinner this week?

Advertisements

Review: The Ritual of Ayurveda with #Tryazon

Screen Shot 2018-10-28 at 10.21.23 PM.png
I love this box!

Recently, the awesome people at Tryazon and Ritual sent me an incredible box of the most heavenly products to review… The Ritual of Ayurveda-Balancing Ritual.

Ritual recently opened up a store at one our local more upscale malls, and I was entranced by all of the varieties and scents. I was so excited to dig into the box and discover what Rituals products were all about.

 

Screen Shot 2018-10-28 at 10.21.51 PM.pngThe Ritual of Ayurveda-Balancing Ritual, comes with:

  • The Ritual of Ayurveda-Body scrub 4.4 oz
  • The Ritual of Ayurveda-Hand Wash 10.1 oz
  • The Ritual of Ayurveda-Balancing Body Cream 2.3 oz
  • The Ritual of Ayurveda-Harmonizing Foaming Shower Gel 6.7oz

Screen Shot 2018-10-28 at 10.22.09 PM.pngEach of the products in the set have the most intoxicating aroma: Indian Rose and Sweet Almond Oil. What I love about the scent is that it’s not what you commonly think of as ROSE. You know what I mean.. Heavy, sweet, cloying. Kinda like old lady perfume.

Indian Rose is a light, delicate aroma. It’s a mood booster, and roses have long been the universal symbol of purity and love.

Combined with sweet almond oil, which not only has a light scent, but is also rich in proteins and vitamins. It regulates moisture in the skin- the perfect base for skin and body products.

I started my Ritual in the shower with the Body Scrub. Not only is the smell heavenly, but, the scrub has an amazing feeling. The base is a mixture of rich oils: Sweet almond oil, macadamia nut oil, and jojoba oil. The actual scrubby part is pink salt, which exfoliated gently and left my skin so soft and smooth.

Afterwards I used the Foaming Shower gel, which is unlike anything else I’ve ever used. It goes out as a gel, but quickly lathers up to a rich, creamy foam.

I’ve been keeping the Body Cream next to my bed and applying it right before bed. I wake up with soft, supple skin. It’s a great feeling, especially with all the dry late summer/early fall weather we’ve been having lately.

If you want to check out  The Ritual of Ayurveda or any of the other awesome Rituals, Check out their website, or visit one of their stores.

While I received this set for free, all opinions are my own, and I was not financially compensated to write this review. You can learn more about my reviews on my disclosure page.

#ritualsusa #shareyourslowdown #tryazon

Five Ways to Help a Special Needs Mom

158b3ea47eb4b5467a381bf7aa1d910b.jpgAs much as love and tolerance for others is taught these days, sometimes the first reaction when someone sees a special needs kid in public having issues (read: meltdown or stimming/self soothing) can be to stare wide eyed, make offhand or rude comments, or just bristle at “the weird kid”.

Please remember that the parents are doing the best they can, and that just like your neuro-typical kids, their kids have bad days too. Here are my five tips for how anyone can help a special needs mom.

  1. Offer to Help:  Offer to carry a bag or box they may be struggling with, especially if they are trying to remove their kiddo from public. I remember a few years ago, we were at Chick-Fil-A and Our big guy was done. He was tired, there were 15-20 kids in the little sound-proof kids area, so it was crazy loud in there and he was over stimulated. He just broke down and started crying and was wailing like a banshee. Two moms at the next table helped us pack up our leftovers, got our drinks refilled, and helped us carry everything out to the car, so I could carry both kids out. No shame, no dirty looks. Just compassion for a situation that every mom faces: THE PUBLIC MELTDOWN.
  2. Be a Friend:  It can be very isolating to have a special needs kid, trust me. Text your friend. Offer to get together at a park or some place that her kiddo(s) can play, so you can spend time together. Some special needs parents have hectic schedules with therapy appointments or doctors visits sometimes weekly. Keeping in contact with your friend can really help “normalize” her life.  I so seldom see other moms, that texting and Facebook are two of the ways I am able to keep up friendships.
  3. Starbucks Run: Ok, so it doesn’t have to be Starbucks, but if you know she’s having a rough day, bring her a coffee or a treat. I had someone (and to this day it’s a mystery), send flowers to me after a really rough week.
  4. Expect to hear NO- and be OK with it: As much as you want to see your friend, hang out, go to the movies, get a pedicure, or just gossip over coffee, it can be hard for special needs moms to get away. Not everyone has family that can handle their kiddo, and special needs respite/care can be expensive. Sometimes, even the offer to hang out is better than being left out completely.
  5. Give Your Friend Grace, and Pray for them: Recognize that your friend may have a harder road to hoe that you and your family, and that’s ok. If you aren’t religious, think of them or send them good thoughts, dedicate your meditation or yoga session to them.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about a time when you helped another person!

Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

I spent a bunch of time late last week cleaning out the pantry, fridge, and freezer and worked up a list of meals that we can have over the next ten days.

Breakfasts are usually the same for us: 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.

Monday: Bean, Rice, and Cheese bowls, watermelon slices

Tuesday:Chicken meatballs (I’ll post my recipe later this week-it’s super simple) with BBQ sauce, herbed cauliflower rice, green salad

Wednesday: Stuffed Peppers, roasted brocolli, popovers (with lots of butter)

Thursday: Homemade Ramen (complete with veggies and poached eggs)

Friday: Veggie Burgers, fruit salad, butternut squash

Saturday: DIY Pizza night

Sunday: Leftovers

Gazelle Rewards: Earn More For Your Old Phone!

file000985579226.jpg

**This post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 

Ok, so maybe not a phone that’s as old as the one above… but…

Gazelle has recently launched the Gazelle Rewards program so that customers can get even more money for trade-in devices! I’m pretty excited about it because I need a new phone like whoah. My phone is 3 years old, and it’s starting to not hold a charge for long along with a few other things. But, I’ve kept it in an Otter Box, so it’s in really excellent shape.

How it works:
Step 1. Sign up for Gazelle Rewards by creating an account and opting into the loyalty program. If you have an existing Gazelle account, log in and opt into the loyalty program through the Rewards Dashboard.
Step 2. Sell your devices to rake in points.
Step 3. Redeem your points to add $5, $10, $20, $50 or $100 to your next trade-in payout from Gazelle!

Right now Gazelle has a couple awesome promotions: 10% Bonus on iPhones $150+ at Gazelle (10/22-10/28) But if you aren’t in the market for a phone, There is a pretty sweet deal on MacBooks: $10 Off Sitewide, Up To $100 Off Some MacBooks at Gazelle (10/23-10/29)

I’ve sold two of our old phones to Gazelle. I like that our old technology isn’t relegated to a junk drawer or ending up in a landfill.

Meal Planning 110: Batch Cooking

file6951293850756.jpgOk, so I’ve discussed Meal Planning here, and I try to post our weekly meal plans on Mondays, but I’m sure you’ve wondered if/how I actually do it.

One of my secrets is that I try and do meal prep and batch cooking once every few weeks. For us that means:

  • Setting aside an hour or so after grocery shopping to clean the produce, and prep it in single serving containers (they are reusable, don’t worry) if they are for lunches or snacks. Little bags of carrots, or grapes are both popular in our house.
  • I make my own smoothie kits too- cut up over ripe bananas and other fruits and put them into single servings ziploc bags.
  • Make frozen veggie bags too: I cut up onions, carrots, and celery for mire poix bags. They are the perfect base for most dishes, especially soups.  I also cut up fresh brocolli, cauliflower, bell pepper strips. Whatever I bought that we’ll be using in recipes.
  •  Depending on what is on the menu for the next week or two, I’ll prep some of the proteins.  I try to buy large packages of proteins, and re-package them with herbs and seasonings perfect for meals. Mostly chicken, because we don’t really eat all that much meat. Sometimes I’ll even prep ground beef into hamburger patties. This afternoon, I made chicken meatballs. I’ve included the recipe below.
  • Once the veggies are prepped and bagged, and the proteins are prepped and bagged, I get a bigger zip top bag and place everything needed for one meal into it, write on a sticky what it is, put the sticky on the bag and pop it into the freezer. Then we are all set to get cooking!
  • I try and prep a few crockpot meals as well. Salsa Chicken, Moosie’s Pot Roast are two great options. Crockpot freezer meals are perfect  for those mornings when you know you’ll want a hot meal after work, but won’t be in the mood to cook.
  • I also like to break up large packages of cheese, like I did here. Less waste, and we’re less likely to eat all of the cheese quickly.
  • Making baked goods. I prefer to make muffins, brownies, and cookies at home, that way I can control the amount of sugar that the family consumes.  I also add little healthy things: milled flax seeds, pumpkin, bananas. I try to do healthy swaps that aren’t really noticeable. This is a favorite cake in our house. It’s also great as muffins too. This time of year I also like to make Pumpkin Donuts too. YUM.

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 10.12.05 PM.pngAll of these things make meal planning a lot easier. Having ingredients already chopped, proteins mixed with seasoning, even snacks pre-packaged and set in a specific area of the kitchen.

I use a plastic Sterilite Basket to pack most of our shelf stable snacks that go into our lunches. I frequently skip buying large containers of pre-packaged snacks unless they are a better deal. If you notice, the goldfish are in Ziploc bags. The kids bring them home and I reuse them. But I only reuse them for more snacks.

I have a second shelf that stores all of our crackers (saltine, Ritz, graham, etc.) and puffed rice rolls, we eat those at other times besides lunch, but I grab them and pack them into individual containers or plastic bags for lunch as well.

Not shown are the lunch drinks which I have to keep hidden from the kids so they don’t drink them all after school/on weekends. I have a cache of goodies in the fridge and free to have in our lunches: fresh fruit, yogurt, cheese sticks, milk boxes, and bottles of water to choose from.

This “hack” aka pantry shortcut keeps my time making lunches a lot shorter, and I can spend more time with my kids!

Recipe: Ground Chicken Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 of a white onion, minced
  • 1 /2 Teaspoon of each: Salt, garlic powder, pepper
  • 2 T

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients (except oil) in a large bowl until well combined.
  2. Divide mixture into 12-20 balls and roll between your palms until uniform in size.
  3. Place meatballs on a cookie sheet or plate and stash in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Heat oil in large pan, fry meatballs in batches, and drain on a paper towel to blot out any excess oil.
  5. Once meatballs are cool to the touch, place them in a freezer safe container with a lid or zipper top bag. Store in the freezer.

I like to make several bags of meatballs, and I put as many in a bag as we need for one meal. For us, that 6-8 large meatballs- about the size of a cutie tangerine.

These meatballs are great because they work with a variety of sauces and cuisines.

 

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about some of the ways that you use batch cooking and food prep to make your life easier! What is your favorite time saving kitchen “Hack”.

Top Ten Fall Recipes!

9093f0e10c2228a8bdfe71f9fc533a2b.jpg

The air is starting to cool and fall is in the air! for us that means baking and enjoying some of the seasons yummiest produce.

Here are my family’s top ten fall recipes!

  1. Baked Pumpkin Donuts
  2. Apple Crisp
  3. Nutty Banana Bread
  4. Protein Chocolate Chip Cookies
  5. Tasty Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies
  6. Beer Bread
  7. Colonial Chowder
  8. Butternut Carrot Bisque
  9. Black Bean Soup
  10. Zuppa Toscana CopyCat Recipe

Talk Back: What is your favorite fall food?