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?

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.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Sausage and Peppers!

This recipe is dead simple and so tasty! The best part is you can use any kind of Dinner sausage you want. We used Italian Sausages (made with pork), but you can use whatever you like (including veggie sausages if you are meatless).

You can use fresh or frozen peppers and onions (Yes, you can buy frozen peppers and onions at the store- They are often branded as “Fajita Mix”), it’s really up to you.

And you can load your yumminess onto a hoagie roll, top with cheese and chow down, or top a bed of pasta or Zoodles- It’s really up to you.

The best part is this recipe makes a lot, so there are always leftovers!

Sausage and Peppers Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 Package Dinner Sausages (Italian or your choice)
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 1 20-ish ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 T Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In your slow cooker, combine all the ingredients.
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  3. Turn up to high, remove the lid and cook for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Serve on a roll/bun, on pasta or zoodles.
  5. OPTIONAL- Top each serving with cheese.

8/16/2020 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’ve been buying snacks in bulk and only putting weeks worth out in the snack box. It keeps us out of the stores, and its healthier. I’ve been doing this for about 2 months, and I’ve gotten really good at hiding the extra snacks.

I took the kids with me to the grocery store today, and while we picked up a few extra things, overall we were good and stayed within our budget. I did forget to buy cat litter, though, so I’ll be off to Target tomorrow morning.

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 (Peanut butter sandwiches and baguettes toasted with garlic butter are high on the list as of late). I may make up a cheese pizza and serve that for a few lunches during the week with apple slices (or apple sauce), cheez-its, and milk (as well as some sort of dessert- I made these cookies over the weekend, and they make a good lunch dessert)

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.

School starts for us on Wednesday. We are distance learning for the foreseeable future, and while I never imagined I’d be teaching Kindergarten and Special Ed 4th grade at the same time, here we are. The kids are still excited about going back to school, seeing friends via their class Zoom meetings. I am going to try and organize a socially distanced Pokemon hunt with Pokemon Go for some of our classmates and friends who play.

  • Sunday:  Leftovers
  • Monday  Stuffed Peppers, garlic bread, fruit
  • Tuesday: Salad and Sandwiches
  • Wednesday: Stir Fry veggies and chicken
  • Thursday: Pizza Night (pizza and salad or fruit)
  • Friday: Salad and Soup
  • Saturday: leftover fiesta

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?

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.
kalechips
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.

Recipe: Hearty Veggie Soup

IMG_9958.JPG
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!
IMG_2740
Hot, frothy milk!
IMG_2741
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.