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.

 

10/18/2020 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI’ve started doing weekly meal planning on Sundays. It’s easier to do it while I’m writing up the weekly calendar/schedule and prepping the snack box for the week.

I went to the Vons on Friday and I was able to score 4 Taylor Chopped Salads for $2.96 after Vons Club special and a special coupon ($5/$5+ purchase). This is all we needed to complete our shopping for this coming week.

Thanks to some local deals, offers, and the school lunches the kids bring home, I have been able to keep our grocery budget to $60 per week for the past MONTH! It’s amazing. The extra money is going into our holiday savings account.

If you have kids between 2-18, check with your local school to see if they are offering free lunches and/or breakfasts. You can also check the USDA Website– but it might be a little out of date.

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.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

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

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  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. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM. I’ll be posting the recipe for his current favorite this coming week.

Lunches will be whatever the kids want for the time being. The big kid has lunch at school, so it’s whatever he chooses from the lunch box in the cupboard, plus some fruit and juice or milk. Since the little girl is in the morning cohort at school, she has lunch at home. Buttered noodles, yogurt, apple slices, and a popsicle are her go-to lunch.

Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday:  Leftovers (we’ve got a lot of salsa chicken leftover- maybe I’ll make them into Quesadillas)
  • Monday:  Entrees & Salad
  • Tuesday: Chicken Tika Masala, rice, veggies (It didn’t happen last week)
  • Wednesday:  DIY salad bar, garlic bread
  • Thursday: Soup and Quesadillas (or grilled cheese sandwiches), fruit
  • Friday:  Pizza Night!
  • Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

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

Tasty Freebies from Social Nature!

 If you are into Organic/Natural/Healthy products, then Social Nature is up your alley. Sign up and apply to sample products that you are interested in. I get probably 1-2 products to sample each month. And most of the time it’s full-size products, not just a tiny sample.

Most of the time, Social Nature will mail me a coupon for a free product and I go to my local Target, Sprouts, or other retailer and pick up the item. I’ve gotten products valued at $20+ too (recently sampled and reviewed skincare products, kombucha, frozen entrees, and veggie burgers to name a few).

Right now, Social Nature has TONS of great products available for sampling- from Ice Cream, skincare products, meat alternatives, and more.

10/12/2020 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI’ve started doing weekly meal planning on Sundays, but yesterday was a busy day (swimming reservation at the Y, a special needs conference, and lots of playtime), so I didn’t have a chance to post.

It’s easier to do it while I’m writing up the weekly calendar/schedule and prepping the snack box for the week.

I’m hitting up the store this morning for some last-minute items that I thought we had (note to self: Do not put empty cereal box back in the cupboard). I’m thinking about making a batch of cookies today to have a sweet dessert for the kids.

Thanks to some local deals, offers, and the school lunches the kids bring home, I have been able to keep our grocery budget to $60 per week for the past 3 weeks! It’s amazing. The extra money is going into our holiday savings account.

If you have kids between 2-18, check with your local school to see if they are offering free lunches and/or breakfasts. You can also check the USDA Website– but it might be a little out of date.

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.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

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

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  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. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Lunches will be whatever the kids want for the time being. The big kid has lunch at school, so it’s whatever he chooses from the lunch box in the cupboard, plus some fruit and juice or milk. Since the little girl is in the morning cohort at school, she has lunch at home. Buttered noodles, yogurt, apple slices, and a popsicle are her go-to lunch.

Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday:   Salsa Chicken and veggies ( I didn’t end up making it last week like I had planned)
  • Monday:  Entrees & Salad
  • Tuesday:  Chick’n nuggets (vegetarian nugs for our buddy) and fruit
  • Wednesday:   Sausage and Peppers in the Crockpot, noodles, and veggies
  • Thursday: Chicken Tika Masala, rice, veggies
  • Friday:  Pizza Night!
  • Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

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

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.

San Diego, CA Area Residents: FREE Produce and Perishable Groceries- Every Friday in October!

It’s back for the month of October! Every Friday in October, our friends over at Faith Chapel understand that with all that’s going on in the world that some of us still need help finding healthy food during this difficult time. And that’s it not always safe for us to go to the store or hit up a farmers market.

Distribution is happening this every Friday in October (8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th), beginning at 10:00am.

This is a drive-thru style event, so you don’t have to leave your vehicles.

Here is a picture of what was available in previous weeks! Sometimes you get produce, sometimes is eggs, milk, and other dairy products and meat- it changes weekly!

Faith Chapel is located at 9400 Campo Road Spring Valley, CA 91977

10/5/2020 Weekly Meal Plan!

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI’ve started doing weekly meal planning on Sundays, but yesterday was a busy day, so I didn’t have a chance to post.

It’s easier to do it while I’m writing up the weekly calendar/schedule and prepping the snack box for the week.

I didn’t have a chance to shop over the weekend, so this morning after school drop off, I’m hitting up Food4Less for a few things. I stocked up on fresh fruit last week (there was a produce giveaway locally, and that filled both fruit bowls). Big Kid has requested home made apple sauce, so I’m going to make it this morning as well as Kodiak Chocolate Muffins.  The free school lunches that our school is providing gives us some yummy stuff the kids like (baby carrots, milk, and apple slices to name a few), and the stuff that they don’t care for or contains meat we share with some of our friends who have kiddos that aren’t able to stop and pick up free lunches.

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.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

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

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  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. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Lunches will be whatever the kids want for the time being. The big kid has lunch at school, so it’s whatever he chooses from the lunch box in the cupboard, plus some fruit and juice or milk. Since the little girl is in the morning cohort at school, she has lunch at home. Buttered noodles, yogurt, apple slices, and a popsicle are her go-to lunch.

Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday:  Leftover Extravaganza
  • Monday:  Entrees & Salad
  • Tuesday:  Pancakes and fruit
  • Wednesday:   Patty Melts made with Veggie Burgers
  • Thursday: Salsa Chicken and veggies
  • Friday:  Pizza Night!
  • Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner  (I’ve been itching to make blueberry waffles with vanilla ice cream)

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

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

10/2/2020 Friday Freebies & Deals

bright boxes

This Friday’s freebies and deals: This week is chock full of Freebies! I’m stoked. Both kids are back to school (part-time), so I’ve got a little wiggle room in the morning to get some writing and deal-hunting done! Also, now it’s October- Time to get Spoopy!

If you find a cool deal or freebie, please leave a comment!

Free Chips and Guacamole at Rubio’s

Free Red Chocolate Bar at Walmart

Free Digital Issue of Clean Eating Magazine

Free Ice Cream at Baskin Robbins

Free Sample of Wanderer Eau de Parfum

Free MegaFood Women’s One Daily Multivitamin Soft Chews

Make Money from Home

Free Taco at Rubio’s

Free Tub of Enfamil NeuroPro

Free $3 VUDU Movie Credit

Free Cards Direct Greeting Cards

FREE Amazon Baby Box Samples Back in Stock

Free Beauty Spatty Tools Spatula

Free Sample of Giorgio Armani My Way Fragrance

Free Sample of La Roche-Posay SPF 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk

Free Pint of Nightfood Ice Cream

Free 1 Year ShopRunner Membership

Free Copy of Amazing Me It’s Busy Being 3! Book

Free Coloring Book for Adults App

 

Deals:

Get A Slice for $5.00 on October 1st at The Cheesecake Factory

3 Grilled Chicken Tacos for ONLY $2.49 at Del Taco

Starting Friday 10/2, Get $10 Off $40 at Cheesecake Factory

Buy 2 Get 1 FREE Footlong Subs at Subway

Buy 1 Get 1 FREE Boneless Wings at Buffalo Wild Wings

Tree Hut Shea Sugar Scrub ONLY $3.69 (Reg. $9)

Germ-X Hand Sanitizer In Stock – Large 32oz Bottles NOW $3.99

LEGO Disney Frozen II Olaf Kit ONLY $7.99 (Reg. $15)

Essentials Cotton Bath Towel ONLY $2.80 (Reg $8)

Disney Toy Story 4 Add-A-Charm Jewelry Set ONLY $5.99 (Reg $15)

Gaming headsets with Noise Canceling Mic ONLY $16.99 (Reg $30)

Melissa & Doug Luke & Lucy Twin Dolls ONLY $20.99 (Reg $40)

 

Shopping Smartly: Using the Cycle of Sales to Save Even More!

Manufacturers and stores use holidays or events to entice people to spend more in their stores by offering sales, coupons, cashback offers. I have listed below, by month which types of items are on sale. Not only food, but home goods, furniture, and electronics.

I recommend checking out sale flyers (most can be found online) and cashback apps (A list of my favorites can be found here) before each shopping trip.

JANUARY

  • Diet Food and Weight Loss Equipment (New Year’s Resolutions)
  • Gyms have sales and free trials
  • Healthy Food including Veggies
  • Television and other Electronics (Super Bowl Sunday)
  • OTC Medications (FSA’s expire in Jan./Feb.- Use it or Lose it!)
  • Winter Clothing and Shoes (Formal clothes are usually 75%+ off)
  • Organizers (totes, Christmas ornament storage containers)
  • White Sales (Sheets/Towels)
  • Snack-y food for Super Bowl parties: chips, dip. Velveeta, salsa, taquitos. There are often times really great rebates for snack food and beer or soda around the Super Bowl.

FEBRUARY

  • Diet Food and Weight Loss Equipment (New Year’s Resolutions)
  • Healthy Food including Veggies
  • Furniture and Housewares
  • Candy and Chocolates

 

MARCH

  • March is National frozen food month. Many Stores like Albertson’s have a “fill a bag” sale where you are given a paper or plastic bag and you receive a discount (typically 15-25%) on each frozen item in that bag.
  • Spring Apparel (Easter Dresses and Suits)
  • Depending on when Easter falls, look for sales on Easter Dinner food: Ham, Prime Rib, stuffing, veggies, eggs, and Easter Basket Supplies.
  • Luggage and Travel (Spring Break)
  • Spring-cleaning sales will start and there will be rebates for cleaning supplies- especially with SC Johnson Products.
  • Between March 13-17th (St. Patrick’s Day) Corned Beef, Potatoes and Cabbage are all Dirt Cheap. Stock up!
  • During Lent, seafood is inexpensive.

 

APRIL

  • More Spring cleaning sales and rebates
  • Paper products (plates, napkins) start to have really good sales.
  • Paint & Wallpaper (In the same vain as spring cleaning, a lot of people start to spruce up their homes in the spring)
  • Jewish Foods and Eggs (Passover)

 

MAY

May is the start of picnic season. Barbeque food, Hotdogs, hamburgers, ribs, condiments will all be on sale throughout the summer and will be until September.

  • Auto Maintenance (tires, oil changes, tune ups)
  • Beverages, Hot dogs, Ground Beef, BBQ sauce, Ketchup, Mustard, Ribs (Often times there are some really great rebates WYB beer or soda)
  • Bug repellents – Sprays and Candles
  • Home Maintenance (carpet cleaning, duct cleaning)
  • SPF and After Sun products (like Aloe)

 

JUNE

  • Summer Clothes
  • June is National Dairy Month- Dairy Products
  • Summer Activities (local attractions sometimes have “locals only” days or rates)
  • Beverages, Hot dogs, Ground Beef, BBQ sauce, Ketchup, Mustard, Ribs (Often times there are some really great rebates WYB beer or soda)

 

JULY

  • Air Conditioning units
  • Summer Sports Equipment & Craft Supplies (things for families to do together)
  • Beverages, Hot dogs, Ground Beef, BBQ sauce, Ketchup, Mustard, Ribs (Often times there are some really great rebates WYB beer or soda)

 

AUGUST

  • BBQ and Patio Equipment (Just in time for Labor Day!)
  • White Sale – Linens and Towels
  • Back to School Supplies – Sales may Start in Late July, Depending on when school starts in your part of the world)
  • Bathing Suits and the last remnants of summer clothes
  • Back to school clothes
  • Jackets and light coats for fall
  • Beverages, Hot dogs, Ground Beef, BBQ sauce, Ketchup, Mustard, Ribs (Often times there are some really great rebates WYB beer or soda)
  • Breakfast foods (cereal, oatmeal, juice, bars) Cereal sales will start this month and continue into September as school starts up.
  • Lunch box food- juice boxes, lunchables, snacks, chips, yogurt

 

SEPTEMBER

The traditional Back to School Sales will start. For most schools, classes begin the Tuesday after Labor Day. This is a great time to stock up on snacks that are healthy and shelf-stable. 100 calorie snack packs, fruit leathers, 100% juice boxes, bottled water, peanut butter. Watch the inserts for Lunchables coupons too- they will start going on sale!

  • Back to School Supplies (Office Depot, Staples, and Walgreen’s often have Freebies)
  • Canned Goods. Canned soup and spaghetti sauce also starts to go on sale in September.
  • Frozen Pizza

There are LOADS of rebates and special cashback offers through apps like Ibotta and Checkout51 in the last quarter of the year. Why?

The last three months of the year are packed full of holidays and entertaining possibilities. Sales, rebates, and cashback offers will most likely be for the types of food and beverages that are associated with entertaining: crackers, cheese, wine, beer, candy, nuts, etc. Many of these food items are shelf-stable and it can be a good opportunity to buy a few extra to stock up, especially if it’s something that your family consumes regularly.

OCTOBER

  • Home goods such as serving dishes, and glassware (to prepare you for the onslaught of entertaining you will be doing for the holidays)
  • Candy, nuts
  • Baking/candy-making items (choc chips, sprinkles, vanilla, corn syrup, nuts, etc)
  • Fall/Winter clothing
  • Fabric, Patterns, sewing machines (Halloween)
  • Coats/Jackets

NOVEMBER

  • Winter Clothing
  • Blankets and flannel sheets
  • Heating Devices
  • Turkey, ham
  • Canned goods (soup, chicken broth, condensed milk, veggies, etc)
  • Baking goods (flour, sugar)
  • Baking wear

DECEMBER

  • Toys- there are usually deals through Target’s app, and online as well
  • Gift Items-Stock up and fill your stockings and keep your wallet full.
  • Post-Holiday Sales- I like to stock up on plain colored paper goods after each holiday and stockpile them to use throughout the year for parties and events. No one will know the red napkins are from Valentine’s Day, not from Christmas. Light Blue gift paper from Chanukah will wrap a present for a baby shower gift just the same.
  • Party Foods, Baking Goods, and Various Meat There will be a lot of rebates, keep your eyes open!
  • Canned goods (broth, soups, etc)
  • Prime Rib, Turkey, Ham

 

Year-round after a holiday, you can always pick up cheap cookie dough. Cookie dough freezes really well for about two months.   You can also find plain colored paper goods, including plain-colored wrapping paper and tissue paper after each holiday in the clearance section.

 

 

9/28/2020 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI’ve started doing weekly meal planning on Sundays. It’s easier to do it while I’m writing up the weekly calendar/schedule and prepping the snack box for the week.

As I posted on Instagram yesterday, the big kid and I hit up Sprouts and Food4less yesterday to pick up produce and a few others things (milk and butter) to round out what we already had on-hand. The free school lunches that our school is providing gives us some yummy stuff the kids like (baby carrots, milk, and apple slices to name a few), and the stuff that they don’t care for or contains meat we share with some of our friends who have kiddos that aren’t able to stop and pick up free lunches.

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.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

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

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  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. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Lunches will be whatever the kids want for the time being. The big kid has lunch at school, so it’s whatever he chooses from the lunch box in the cupboard, plus some fruit and juice or milk. Since the little girl is in the morning cohort at school, she has lunch at home. Buttered noodles, yogurt, apple slices, and a popsicle are her go-to lunch.

Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday:  Leftover Extravaganza
  • Monday:  Entrees & Salad
  • Tuesday:  Bean, Rice, and Cheese Bowls (I’ll post the recipe this week)
  • Wednesday:  Kofta Meatballs, Rice, Salad, Hummus
  • Thursday: Cheesy Ravioli and Veggies
  • Friday:  Pizza Night!
  • Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner (Probably pancakes, eggs, and fruit salad)

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

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