San Diego, CA Area Residents: FREE Produce! This Friday, June 19th

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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.

For the next NINE (9) weeks, Faith Chapel is offering FREE Fresh produce straight from the farmers to give to you! Distribution is happening this Friday, June 19th, beginning at 10:00am.

This is a drive-thru style event, so you don’t have to leave your vehicles. Take as much as you’d like! Tell your family and friends!

Here is an example of what was offered last week: unnamedNavel Oranges, Grapefruit, Plumcots, Lemons, and nectarines. All free.

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

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).

Organic/Healthy Savings with the Makeena App!

logo-small.pngIt’s no surprise to long-time readers of my blog or followers on Social Media that I like a good deal. You probably do too.

I also know that like me, most of you have endeavored to eat healthier over the past few years, and it can be hard to eat healthy on a budget. Most of us have turned to rebate/money-saving apps since the paper couponing industry have effectively written healthy eaters off.

I’m always on the lookout for ways to feed my family healthy food and save money. Makeena is a newer app (owned by the same company that does Common Kindness– Which is an AWESOME printable coupon website that helps give back to the charity of your choice) that features rebates for healthy food, organic food, natural toiletries, and more sustainably produced products.

Makeena can be used at ANY STORE! For use Grocery Outlet shoppers, this means that we’ll be able to save more- I practically live in their NOSH section.

Here are some screenshots I grabbed with some of the products that I’ve seen or purchased recently at Grocery Outlet:

 

 

And at the time that this post was written, there were rebates for what I call “Brandless” or “Any Brand” rebates:

  • Any Organic Vitamin K
  • Any Organic Whey Powder
  • Organic Fennel (fresh)
  • Organic or Naturally Derived All-Purpose Cleaner
  • Organic Sunscreen
  • Organic Serrano Peppers
  • Organic Baking Soda
  • Biodegradable or Organic Paper Towels
  • Organic Cantaloupe
  • Organic Mushrooms

And as far as I know, you can also use coupons when you purchase items redeemed for rebates in the app, and there may be the possibility to double dip with other apps like Checkout 51, Ibotta, Fetch Rewards, or BerryCart.

So, Cheers, here’s to another avenue of saving in 2020!

Talk Back: Have you downloaded Makeena yet? Are you excited for an app that has healthy/organic/natural products?

Crockpot Chili Recipe (GF, Vegan, Vegetarian)

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Easy, Delicious, and Healthy!

I realized the other day when searching for my chili recipe on my blog so I could share it with someone on Facebook, that I have not posted my chili recipe, ever! Which is weird, because I make it at least once a month.

What I love about making chili in the crockpot is that you can use either fresh, frozen, or canned veggies, it really depends on what you have in your house, and what your budget is.

Because I get vegetables and fruit twice a month at our local co-op, frequently I will have fresh vegetables that I have diced or prepared and put into Ziploc bags to store in the freezer. It ensures that we have nutritious vegetables with no additives at our fingertips throughout the month.

Another great thing about this chili recipe is you can make it vegetarian, you can put meat in it, or you can make a vegan! This recipe is naturally gluten-free.

Slow Cooker Chili

  • One large onion diced
  • Two bell peppers, diced
  • 3 cups tomatoes. You can either use canned tomatoes, or if you have fresh tomatoes available you can quarter them.  No need to peel or seed them.
  • Two cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 T. Avocado oil
  • 1 pound of meat (optional) I usually use ground pork, but other good choices include ground beef, ground chicken, ground turkey, or bite-sized pieces of stew meat. If you want a meat substitute, I like these crumbles from Beyond Meat.
  • One can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3T chili powder
  • 1t cumin
  • Salt and pepper as needed

Optional, but delicious:

1 cup corn niblets. If you use canned corn, drain and rinse it prior to adding.

If you do not care for black or kidney beans, you can swap in Northern beans, or navy beans.

Directions

  1. Personally, I like to brown the meat on the stove prior to adding it to the slow cooker. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch Oven, heat avocado oil and brown meat until thoroughly cooked/browned.
  2. Add onions and peppers, cook until onions are clear and fragrant, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, and cook, stirring often until garlic is fragrant about 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. If your pan has a lot of brown food remnants on the bottom, I recommend taking 2 to 4 tablespoons of liquid (you can use water) and pour it in the pan stirring and scraping all the yummy brown stuff off the bottom. This is where all the flavor lives.
  5. Pour all of the ingredients from the pot into your slow cooker.
  6. Add remaining ingredients, place lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

I love serving chili with cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

This recipe is incredibly versatile.

If you don’t have fresh onions and peppers, you can grab a bag of fajita mix out of the freezer (which is pre-chopped onions and bell peppers).

If you don’t have fresh tomatoes (which let’s face it a lot of us don’t) you can use canned tomatoes. You can use whole canned tomatoes you can use diced, you can use chopped, whatever kind of tomatoes you have in your cupboard.

Use whatever kind of canned beans you have on hand. One time I made chili and I used chickpeas! And it turned out delicious!

If you don’t have cumin and chili powder in your cupboard but you have chili seasoning, use that instead.

I find the chili is a great go-to meal for when you are at the end of the month, and you are low on funds but you have lots of canned goods and frozen veggies.

If you were strapped for time, you don’t have to brown your meat, you can just put it in the crockpot and pour all the other ingredients over top, cook it, and let it cook. Just make sure to break up the meat (if you’re using ground meat) with a spoon prior to serving.

Harvest Veggie Ravioli Soup

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All Great Soups start with simple flavors!

Last month I posted a Ravioli soup recipe, but this one is a lot different, as it is mostly a veggie soup, and the cheese ravioli was added as an after thought.

This soup is easy to make, tasty, and you can add in whatever kind of pasta you like: filled pasta like ravioli, or simple pasta. This is a perfect dish for potlucks, and you can use vegan ravioli or gluten free pasta, depending on the dietary concerns of family or guests.

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts Veggie Stock
  • 2 c. onions, diced
  • 1 c. celery, chopped
  • 1 c. carrots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 T. Butter (or grapeseed oil if vegan)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2T. Mural of Flavor
  • 1 yellow crookneck squash or zucchini with skin on, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 package filled pasta, or 2 cups pasta (uncooked)

Directions:

  1. In a large stockpot, saute onion, carrots, 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, herbs, and simmer on medium/low for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Add squash/zucchini and continue to simmer for 10-20 minutes. Add pasta and cook for the amount of time indicated on the package (usually 6-10 minutes).
  5. Serve topped with parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast (if vegan).

 

If you wanted to add extra veggies, here are a few that are tasty in a soup that should be added at the same time as the squash/zucchini:

  • Fresh Green Beans, ends removed, cut into bite-size pieces
  • Canned chopped salt-free tomatoes, drained
  • Bell peppers, de-seeded, chopped
  • Cabbage, roughly chopped
  • small potatoes, peeled, cut into bite-size pieces

 

Quick & Easy Meal: Ravioli Soup

cooking-1.jpgThis recipe is super easy, you can add meat (like in the picture) if you like, or keep it meat-free and add some extra vegetables.

I try to have the ingredients for this soup on-hand. It’s quick and perfect for when you want a hearty bowl of soup in a hurry.

Ravioli Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 c. each: chopped carrots, celery
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 14.5 ounces (or so) fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1-quart vegetable stock
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 T. Mural of Flavor
  • 1 9oz. package of Ravioli (I Like 4 cheese)
  • 1/2 c. good quality parmesan cheese, divided

Directions:

  1. In a stockpot, heat olive oil and saute all of the veggies for about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Lower the heat to medium/low, add tomatoes, tomato paste, and veggie stock.
  3. Simmer on medium/low for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Add ravioli and cook 8-10 minutes, until ravioli are cooked.
  5. Ladle into 4 bowls, top with cheese and serve with a green salad.

It’s that easy!

Substitutions-

  • Add 1/2 lb. of protein- your choice. I like cooked, crumbled Italian sausage. Meatballs or  Italian sausage sliced into rounds work great too. Add into the soup after step 2.
  • Use ravioli with meat if you prefer.
  • Use Gluten-free ravioli if you need to.
  • If you want more veggies in your soup, add 3-4 cups of fresh spinach when you add in the ravioli.

 

 

Recipe: Chicken Tortellini Soup

00169.jpgAs promised last week, here is our new family favorite soup recipe. This soup came about after a shopping trip to Grocery Outlet. I discovered a bunch of cool looking ingredients I’ve not seen before. Notably, This Parmesan Brodo broth. It’s OMG so amazing. It adds what foodies call “Depth of Flavor”.

This soup is super quick and easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 c. onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1.5 c. celery, chopped (if you are like me and wonder why celery is so expensive, here’s the answer)
  • 1.5 c. carrots, chopped
  • 2 cartons Swansons Parmesan Brodo broth
  • 1 package Chicken and Mozzarella Tortellini
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, washed
  • 2 T. parsley (I used dehydrated, but if you’ve got it fresh, use it)
  • 1 T. Rosemary

Directions:

  1. In a large stockpot, melt butter, and add onions, celery, and carrots. Saute on low until onions are clear and soft, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and continue to cook on low, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add broth and herbs. Cook on low/medium for about 20 minutes.
  4. Add tortellini, and cook per package directions.
  5. Turn off the heat and toss in the spinach. It cooks super quick
  6. Serve soup with garlic bread.

Note: This soup isn’t vegetarian or gluten-free. If you need a gluten-free option, there is GF tortellini available.

10 Tips to Stay on Budget for Groceries

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I frequently get skeptical looks, the side eye, or people thinking I’m starving my kids when I tell them that our grocery budget is $80/week.

It takes a lot of work, but it is doable. I cook a lot from scratch- it’s healthy, cheap, and I can control what goes into each dish (hidden veggies, fruit, less sugar, etc.). I can make a cheese pizza at home for less than $4, and that is enough pizza for the kids for two meals!

Here are a few of our family tactics to stay on budget:

  1. CASH! Go to the bank/ATM and get your grocery money out of the bank every week. This is a great way to start. I get $80 out of the ATM each Saturday for the upcoming weeks’ groceries.
  2. Inventory your Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry. Bonus- You’ll also find stuff that needs to be thrown out or donated. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printables, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.
  3. Menu Plan. Start by using what you’ve got on-hand. Eat food that’s on sale or in season. We eat a lot of strawberries in the summer because they are cheap!
  4. Make a grocery list. Stick to the list Don’t be afraid to substitute brands, or make changes based on what is on sale, or any in-store markdowns you find.
  5. Don’t be afraid to go to more than one store. I’m not saying run all over town, but going to two stores is OK. In our area, there are a 99 Cents Only store and a Grocery Outlet in the same shopping Center. I hit up both each week. Then, on the way home, I stop at Food4Less and buy milk (cheapest in town!), eggs, and bread (if 99 Cents Only doesn’t have the high protein bread we like).
  6. Eat Less Meat. Not only does it save money, but it’s better for the environment.
  7. Take advantage of local resources. There are a few food co-ops in our area. Additionally, there are free produce distributions too. A couple of my friends and I split a co-op lot twice a month. It comes out to less than $20 per person, and we get all kinds of cool stuff. A quick google search can help you find both in your area.  In the summer, we take advantage of Kid’s free lunches too.
  8. Coupon and/or use money-saving apps.  My complete list of apps can be found here. Right now my favorite apps are Fetch Rewards and Ibotta.  I love that I can use Fetch at any store. It helps because I shop a lot of Grocery Outlet and 99 Cents Only.
  9. Speaking of which… Don’t forget to check out stores like 99 Cents Only. There are all kinds of great bargains. Here is my list of 10 Great Buys at 99 Cents Only!
  10. Be Flexible. Some weeks you will go over budget. It happens. Sometimes you need to stock up on staples, or your family wants to eat something that isn’t on sale. Sometimes you really want to order a pizza and wings. That’s OK! Frugality is a journey, it’s not a punishment or a life of austerity and suffering. You can still live a fun, full life while being frugal.

Talk Back: Share a few of your families tips for staying on budget?

One Roast Chicken, Three Meals!

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I love roast chicken and veg. It is one of my favorite meals to prepare and serve. It’s dead simple, it’s impressive, and there are always leftovers to repurpose.

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So many veggies!
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Compound Butter

 

 

The other night I made a roast chicken with veg and I had enough meat leftover that I was able to stretch the meat into three meals: Roast Chicken and Veg, Chicken soup (use the directions for using a rotisserie chicken), and chicken enchiladas (this recipe, but I added 1 cup shredded chicken).  Here is my fool-proof recipe for a tasty meal.

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Bock Bock Bock!

Roast Chicken, Veg, and Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, rinsed and plucked of any errant feathers. Remember to remove the bag of giblets
  • 1 stick of butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon of each of the following: Rosemary, Shallot Pepper, Parsley
  • 2 cups of the following veggies, chopped into bite-size pieces: carrots, celery, zuchinni
  • 1 cup of the following veggies, chopped: onion (I used sweet yellow), shallots, red bell pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 T. corn starch (this makes the recipe Gluten-Free)
  • 1/2 c. water or chicken broth

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small dish, mix butter and Rosemary, Shallot Pepper, Parsley.
  2. Spread the butter mixture under the chicken’s skin. If there is any remaining, drop a dollop in the cavity and smear on the outside of the bird.
  3. Stuff the cavity with veggies, place chicken breast side down in a baking dish.
  4. Pour remaining veggies into the baking dish around chicken.
  5. Cover loosely with foil, and bake the chicken for 20 minutes per pound.
  6. About 20 minutes before the chicken is done, remove foil and finish cooking.
  7. Chicken is done when internal temp reaches 165 degrees (we have this meat thermometer)
  8. Remove the chicken from the oven, and allow to rest for about 15-20 minutes.
  9. Remove chicken and veg from the pan and set aside.
  10. In a saucepan, heat the juice/pan drippings and 1/2 cup water or chicken broth.
  11. As the liquid comes to a boil, combine cornstarch and 1/2 c. cold water in a cup, whisk until lump free.
  12. As the liquid comes a rolling boil, slowly stir in water/cornstarch mixture and stir constantly until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper, remove from heat.

Serve the chicken, veggies, and gravy with mashed potatoes (or cauliflower).

There are no photos of after it came out of the oven. The locusts (aka the dinner guests) descended upon the chicken and carved it up.

Talk Back: What is your favorite meal to serve guests?

 

 

 

 

 

Meal Plan for the Week!

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This week has been crazy, and it’s just Tuesday! Mr. is sick, so our usual routine has been thrown off.

I’m just posting dinners for our meal plan. The kiddos usually have a small toasted bagel with cream cheese for breakfast along with fruit.  Hubs likes Oatmeal (my recipe for an easy almost instant oatmeal mix can be found here) if he’s got time, otherwise he and I have protein shakes with frozen bananas and PB2.

Lunches for Lil’ Man are usually Peanut butter and crackers, fruit, milk, a protein muffin (aka a kid cupcake), and applesauce cup. He takes his lunch every day! Hubs usually has a protein shake or I pack him leftovers or a frozen entree.

Bitty Bird and I usually have leftovers from the night before, or soup, sandwiches, quesadillas. She eats almost anything!

We’re pretty stocked up of food for the next week or so- We’ll need milk, cream cheese, and cheese. I’ll probably hit up Costco tomorrow.

Monday:

  • D: Chicken Tortilla Soup and toast

Tuesday:

  • D: Soup and grilled cheese (While Mr. is sick, we may be eating a lot of soup)

Weds:

  • D: Breakfast for dinner

Thursday:

  • D:  Spaghetti Squash boats with Vegetable Marinara sauce

Friday:

  • D: Date Night! (we go out)

Saturday:

  • D:  BBQ hamburgers and BBQ veggies

Sunday:

  • D: Leftover buffet

The menu may change, as  I pull stuff out of the pantry to rotate what we’ve got (I am trying to cut down on waste, and put the older stuff up front to get eaten first).