The USDA has a nationwide database that is accessible here (for my readers not in the San Diego, CA area).
And if you are in need of food for your entire family, but you find yourself not qualifying for P-EBT or other social services, I recommend that you check out Facebook. There are tons of local groups of neighbors getting together setting up Tables of Hope. In San Diego, there are several. Tables of Hope are small groups of neighbors that have set up food distribution tables within neighborhoods to help those who might be experiencing food insecurity.
Churches and community organizations are offering free food distributions that require no proof of need, like Faith Chapel in Spring Valley. They are offering free produce each Friday through mid-August. You can find out more info here.
And the San Diego Food Bank is continuing their neighborhood distributions– Lots of produce and goodies are available each week. No proof of need or residency requirements.
There are all sorts of organizations looking to help families in need.
Copycat Strawberries Gone Bananas (from Jamba): 1 cup apple juice (or milk), 1 frozen banana, 1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.
The Big Orange Smoothie: This one is the big kids’ favorite and is a version of one of his Jamba Juice favorites that is no longer on the menu. 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup frozen peaches, 1/2 c. frozen mango pulp, 1/2 cup chopped carrots, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.
Green Berry Surprise: The surprise is the spinach. You can’t see it or taste it! 1 cup water & a scoop of protein powder (Or milk of your choice), 1 cup frozen berries, 1 frozen banana, 2 large handfuls of fresh spinach, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.
Tropical Freeze: 1 cup juice (I like to mix orange and the pineapple juice from the can if you used canned pineapples until it’s 1 cup), 1 frozen banana, 1/2 c. frozen mango pulp, 1/2 cup pineapple, 1/2 c. frozen peaches, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.
The nice thing about smoothies is that you can use fresh or frozen fruit or veggies, any kind of juice, it’s all up to you!
Milk: Dairy, Oat, Hemp, Soy, Almond, or other nut milk. Your Choice.
Juice (Apple, Orange, and Carrot are popular)
Water and a scoop of protein powder
Some of our favorite fruits include:
Bananas (I peel and slice overripe bananas and put them in ziploc bags, so they are ready to use!)
Strawberries- 99 Cents Only and Dollar Tree both stock 12 oz bags of strawberries. If you can’t find them in season, this is a great alternative.
Peaches- I usually buy them frozen.
Mangoes- 99 Cents Only sells Mango pulp, which is just the good parts of mango formed into a brick and frozen. I love mangoes, but I hate peeling and slicing them.
Mixed berries- 99 Cents Only sells mixed berries, which is usually strawberries, blueberries, blackberries.
Pineapple- Either canned in its own juice or frozen chunks. Frozen Pineapple is good straight out of the bag. Fresh pineapple is a lot of work to process just to turn into smoothies.
Tasty Veggies we enjoy in our smoothies:
Carrots- I usually chop them up small so they are easily incorporated.
Spinach- It blends in well and isn’t noticeable.
Talk Back: I’d love to hear what your favorite smoothie flavors are!
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It’s a pretty common complaint that kids eat A LOT during the summer. There are lots of causes: Increased activity, change in schedules, and let’s face it- kids just eat a lot. This can increase a families grocery budget at a time when they are already spending extra money on activities for their kiddos.
Distributions take place in our nonprofit partners’ parking lots. The majority of the food distributed consists of fresh fruits and vegetables which is part of the Food Bank’s Nutrition Initiative to provide healthy, nutrient-rich food to our clients.
Neighborhood Distribution Program sites welcome anyone in need of food assistance. I.D. and documentation ARE NOT required, and there are no income or asset restrictions for this program.”
White onions, red potatoes, watermelons, honeydew melons, oranges and Washington apples were available today. And it’s not just a few of each. Each person who came through got a bag of white onion, a bag of red potatoes, 1 large watermelon, as many honeydew melons as they wanted, a bag of oranges, and a dozen apples.
This produce is often “ugly” or considered an “allowable second” (a production term used in several industries for an item that is functional but may not be perfect looking), but it’s always tasty and nutritious.
If you’ve got hungry faces that need food this summer, I recommend stopping by your local distribution at least once this summer. If you aren’t in the San Diego County area, check with your local food bank for Neighborhood Distribution Program.
Don’t forget that there are tons of free summer lunch locations all over the state of CA (for more info on San Diego locations, check out this post). Text FOOD (Or COMIDA for a list in Spanish) to 877-877, or call 211 and you can find a list of free summer lunch locations near you.
And if you need further help, here is a post with food resources in San Diego County. If you are outside San Diego County, Feeding America has a really great Food Bank Locator.
Talk Back: What is your kids favorite summer snack?
Mr.husband is doing a cleanse with a few friends this week and next, so the menu this week is extra healthy. The kids and I will will be eating some similar foods, it’s hard to convince the kids to eat kale and steamed salmon night after night.
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 tan usual. With Mr. on the cleanse, we’ll be eating a lot of whole foods/vegetables raw, and an old family friend steel cut oats will be coming to breakfast.
We’ve been blessed (?) with an abundance of yellow zucchini as of late. Friends with gardens and a CSA box have brought us literally 10 lbs of yellow zucchini…. That’s a lot. So after making lasagna, stir fry, and zoodles, We were still left with 6 of those little yellow bastards, staring me in the face.
I googled “What to do with Yellow Zucchini” and the answers were shockingly, NSFW. However, deep in the recesses of Google were many recipes for baked chips. Figuring it had to be better than my kale chips debacle (5 lbs of burnt, greasy kale bits, no thanks), I set off to work.
The first batch was too greasy, so the batch that’s in the oven now has far less oil (only 2 tablespoons). Hubs said they were tasty (albeit greasy), and even Itty Bitty gobbled a bunch down today (after I blotted them with a paper towel).
Feel free to sub in any herb or spice blend you like, I grabbed the first one off the spice rack.
Baked Yellow Zucchini Chips
2 lbs yellow (or green) zucchini
2 T. olive oil
2 T (or more), your favorite salt free herb or spice blend
salt, to taste
Thinly slice coins of zucchini- you can use a mandoline like this one, or a knife- whatever you’ve got.
Blot them dry between two paper towels. I let mine sit between two paper towels for about 30 minutes.
Toss with oil, and spread 1 layer on a cookie sheet topped with a sil pad (or you can use parchment paper- whatever you’ve got).
Sprinkle oiled slices with herbs or spices.
Bake at 225 degrees for a minimum of 2 hours. Check after 2 hours. Depending on how thick your chips are cut, it may take up to 2 1/2 hours.
After they are room temp, then sprinkle with salt to taste. Store in a sealed container on the counter. They stay good for 3-4 days, but they won’t last that long.
Chop the squash in half. I do it length-wise, so it takes less time to cook in the oven.
Take a spoon and scoop out the stringy guts and seeds. Discard them.
In a large glass baking dish, place the squash halves cut side down. Pour a 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of the baking dish.
Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until the squash are fork tender (about the same feeling as a baked potato).
Remove baking dish from oven and set the squash halves on a cutting board. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes, or until you can comfortable handle the vegetable.
With a fork, “rake” the interior of the veggie. The “meat” of the interior should flake off in long strings that resemble broken spaghetti.
Once complete, discard the exterior of the squash.
Toss the “spaghetti” with the sauce of your choice.
1 medium sized spaghetti squash serves 2-3 people, with a serving size of about 1 1/2 cups. It’s yummy with sauce (Spaghetti/red sauce, pesto, or even a cheesy sauce), or just a little butter and herbs. It’s a great way to get extra veggies into your diet, or if you’re Gluten Intolerant, it’s cheaper (and tastier) than GF pasta.
Later today, I’ll be posting a recipe that uses spaghetti squash as a main ingredient! With winter veggies starting to make an appearance in grocery stores and farmers markets, you’ll start seeing more and more squash!