Category Archives: Food

Vegetable Soup

I had been looking for a crockpot vegetable soup that didn’t have meat in it and I came across this recipe. I think I found it on Pinterest. There were a lot of ingredients, but it was really simple to make. You just need to give yourself enough time to chop all the veggies.

First you sauté the veggies a little.

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Then you let your toddler help stir the vegetables because she insists on doing so.

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Then dump the rest of the ingredients into the crockpot.

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Then move your toddler to a different location to do more stirring and keep them busy by having them name all the vegetables she can find on the spoon.

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The soup tasted really good. I was very pleased. This time I added some frozen corn, a can of white beans, a can of peas and half the amount of green beans. I also used petite diced tomatoes because I don’t like big chunks of tomato in my soup (or in general) and vegetable broth to make it vegetarian. The recipe said to add the pasta right away. This made the pasta a bit mushy and I would either cook it first and add it at the end or skip it all together. It didn’t add a whole lot to the soup for us.

Modifications I will make the next time I make this:

  • use sweet potatoes instead of red potatoes
  • make my onions and peppers a little bigger (Chuck likes more variety in size and texture in the soup)
  • omit the pasta
  • stick with adding white beans, corn, peas, petite tomatoes, veggie broth and half the green beans
  • invite a small army over to help us eat it all

It was also very good frozen and then reheated. Overall, I highly recommend this for a yummy veggie soup. Let me know if you make it and if you make any notable changes I should consider the next time I make it. Mmmmm….now I’m hungry!

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Winter Playdate

My friend Tricia hosted a MOMS Club playdate early in December. She always makes the most adorable snacks for playdates! Check out these cute snowmen.

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The kids enjoyed eating them. Maddie liked the chocolate chip eyes and the M&Ms the best. Dannie was all over the donut! Smile

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What We’ve Been Eating These Days

A few people have been asking what we’ve been eating since we overhauled our diet a number of months back. I sent a long email of ideas to a friend and thought some of you might be interested as well. Maybe this will help some of you get some new meal ideas.

Zucchini Chips

Onion Rings

Lettuce Wraps – we have added carrots and have even made them without meat before.

Szechuan Green Beans

General Tso Chicken Love this one with brown rice. We ate it last week without the rice and just had sautéed veggies with it.

Turkey Burgers – we made a twist on these and froze them for Maddie. But Chuck and I loved them. We used ground chicken and added shredded zucchini and shredded carrots. So yummy! We splurged once and had them on pretzel rolls! 

Wild Rice Burgers – my new favorite!

Kabobs – we make kabobs a lot when guests come over. If you have time to prep them the night before, you would save time when you get home from work. We add cherry tomatoes, peppers, onions, and sometimes chicken that was marinated in a teriyaki sauce. But usually the chicken is left off for us and we eat the veggies. I will sometimes make some wild rice to go with it.

Quesadillas Chuck used to make quesadillas when we first started eating this way, but we started making tacos instead because it was faster. But for lunch, I will take a whole wheat tortilla, add peppers and onions, some salsa and cheese and microwave it. If we have been to the farmers market, I will add some black bean hummus to it. :) Very fast, really tasty.

We make veggie tacos a lot. Cut up peppers and onions, sauté in a little olive oil until tender and add taco seasoning. Then use toppings as usual.

Veggie pizza – whole wheat Boboli pizza crust (in pizza isle), sauté some peppers and onions until slightly tender, add pizza sauce (or salsa) to the pizza, top with veggies and cheeses and bake until lightly brown. Chuck has also learned to make his own pizza crust…yum!!

We also sauté peppers and onions and add some soy sauce to season as they are cooking. Then we eat them with salmon (which we bake on a cookie sheet for the package’s suggested time, brushed with a little olive oil and a little cayenne pepper).

Some useful tips: cut up a bunch of peppers and onions when you have time and keep them in a container it the fridge ready to use. 

We use yellow and red onions and all colors of bell peppers almost every day. 

Soy sauce makes veggies yummy! Yes, there’s some salt, but get low sodium and don’t worry too much about it. 

We also eat a ton of fruit, strawberries, pineapple, apples, berries, watermelon…anything you want. We have a fruit with all our meals. 

We buy Annie’s food for Maddie. And there are a bunch of soups by Amy’s that I really like. They are a good lunch. 

We eat a bunch of nuts for protein.

Mostly, look for products with a very short list of ingredients. Triscuits have only three ingredients. At least look for ingredients that you can pronounce. 

I have been taking lots of pictures of my meals. Here are some of the pictures from my phone of meals we have eaten. I apologize for the poor quality. And these have been taken over many months. For instance, we don’t have rice in our tacos anymore. Smile

Veggie tacos.

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Veggie quesadilla. I have these many days for lunch since there are usually chopped veggies in the fridge already. Today I added my Black Bean and Chioptle Hummus to it! YUM!

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More veggie tacos. Chuck will add zucchini into the cooked veggies, too.

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Amy’s Vegetable Barley soup. I have bought it at Target by the soups and Cub in the Organic section. It comes in a green can and I LOVE IT!

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Soup and salad.

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More quesadillas.

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Salad, fruit and nut crackers that I brought to a picnic lunch. On our last picnic, I filled the large section with chips, the small section with our homemade salsa and the medium one with fruit. That is my favorite picnic lunch!

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Turkey burgers. We froze these in hopes of Maddie eating them, but she didn’t like them that much. We ended up eating them one night on a splurge of pretzel buns. It was delicious!

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Sautéed veggies, pineapple, onion rings and turkey burger on a pretzel bun.

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My favorite onion rings. I really like them dipped in BBQ sauce! I could eat these every night!

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Another quesadilla.

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My favorite pizza! This was a crust that Chuck made. It was delicious and so filling. I like using salsa instead of tomato sauce and I like pepperjack cheese.

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Zucchini chips. Yum! They have a little spicy kick to them.

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Lettuce wraps with lettuce from our garden. This was made with chicken, but we have made it with tofu and just veggies, too. Did you know that Noodles has an amazing order of lettuce wraps? I get them every time….with some potstickers!

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Szechuan green beans. So flavorful and the only way I will eat green beans.

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Szechuan green beans, pineapple and pan fried walleye. I at lots more walleye than this!

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Sautéed veggies, salmon and zucchini noodles. (We tried the noodles a couple times and a couple ways, and I don’t really care for them. Chuck thought they were really good, though.)

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Wild rice burgers!!! Chuck’s newest meal and my new very favorite! I want to eat this for every meal. It was so good and melted in your mouth.

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Melty pepperjack cheese on my wild rice burger! So good!!!

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I hope you find something on here that you might be willing to give a try. I am so grateful that Chuck likes cooking and has done all the grocery shopping, cooking and dinner clean up. He’s amazing and I am eating so much better because of him!

Happy eating!!

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Farmer’s Market & Como Zoo

This morning we went to the Farmer’s Market and then Como Zoo. We haven’t been to the Farmer’s Market in quite a while. It was so nice to go now that there are so many fruits and vegetables there! WE got the most delicious watermelon, a cantaloupe (because Maddie LOVES them), green beans (because Chuck makes really yummy ones) and the black bean and chipotle hummus that I like. I can’t stop eating the watermelon. SOOOO good!

We also saw the cutest food ever! Check out these baby cucumbers!

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Maddie got a bag of popcorn and we were off to the zoo. She had a good time riding on Chuck’s shoulders today.

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She was able to get a good view of the baby giraffe! So very cute. It was 130 pounds when it was born. I think the volunteer said it was only 5 days old!

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These cute little Spider Monkeys were snuggling!

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And the tiger was hanging out in his pool.

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The antelopes were fighting, the zebras were walking around, the wolves were chasing each other, the seal was being trained and doing fun tricks, the polar bear was swimming all over in front of the glass and the orangutan was wearing a box to entertain its baby. It was a great trip to the zoo!

Dannie loved it, too!

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The girls went right down for naps. We wore them out! That’s the sign of a good Sunday morning! And who knows what adventures we will have this afternoon. Weekends are the best!

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Farmer’s Market & Stone Arch Bridge

We really like going to the Farmer’s Market. We have gone to all sorts of them around town. I really like the St. Paul Farmer’s Market because there’s a stand that sells this yummy Black Bean and Chipotle Hummus. I love it!

A favorite thing to do at any of the Farmer’s Markets is to get Maddie to point out fruits and veggies. I keep hoping she will be adventurous and try some new foods, but that will come eventually. Smile

Another small Farmer’s Market we have gone to a couple times is the Mill City Farmer’s Market. It’s not very big, but we like to take a walk over to the Stone Arch Bridge. We look at the waterfall and let Maddie meander and look at stuff. It’s a fun morning activity.

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We invited Chuck’s sister, Paige, her husband, Brian, and their daughter, Amira, to come with us one day. We got some really cute pictures of the girls.

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Chuck took one of our all time favorite pictures of Maddie this day.

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Rocket Pops & Huckables

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I came across this recipe in an email and thought I would give it a try for the 4th of July. They were very easy and really yummy! I think I am going to make more of these in different colors/flavors for other events. Here’s a picture of mine, still in the small cup I froze them in.

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They pop right out of the cup when you warm them with your hand. Maddie loved them!

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And Maddie calls popsicles the cutest thing….”huckables.” Here’s a video.

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Taste of Love Bakery

The other day, Maddie, Dannie and I took a little trip to a new bakery called Taste of Love. I heard that they had a play area for kids and their pictures of food from their Facebook Page looked so delicious.

The bakery was very cute and the staff was very nice. Maddie picked out a cake pop and they gave her a bag all to herself. She thought that was pretty great! There are a few tables to sit at in the main room. If you go down the hall, You can see them baking all their goodies and just past that is the play area for kids.

What a brilliant idea. It makes it low stress to bring them with you and you know that they don’t mind your kids being there when they give them a place to play!

They have all kinds of goodies….muffins, cake pops, cupcakes, slices of cake, doughnuts, coffee, a few sandwiches and more.

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This was a Raspberry Lemonade Cupcake…lemon or vanilla cake, filled with raspberries, lemonade frosting, drizzled with raspberry and topped with a raspberry. I am drooling just remembering how yummy it was!

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It was a fun new place for us to try and I definitely recommend checking it out!

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Tea

I’ve been really into tea lately. I get herbal and rooibos tea because they don’t have caffeine in them. I add some rock sugar and a little honey to my tea. Mostly, I love having a hot drink that isn’t filled with tons of calories and junk like hot chocolate. Don’t get me wrong….I do still love hot chocolate, I just drink it very infrequently.

When I first started to buy tea, I could never make it taste good enough for me to enjoy drinking it. But I was eating a lot of sugar and soda at the time. Now that my tastes have changed, I have really started to LOVE my tea! I just got a tea kettle because I thought it would be easier for heating up water when I want more than one cup at a time.

If anyone else likes fruity tea, I tried some new ones from Teavana that are delicious!

I also still like the ones I started with. I have a mix of Blueberry/Strawberry and Strawberry/Orange. Both are fabulous!

Have you found any teas lately that you really like? Do you like sweeter, fruity teas like me? Do you like your tea hot or cold? Will you drink any kind of tea? Or do you dislike tea all together? I know it was a learning curve for me to find what I liked best and make it just the way I liked it.

Now I’m off to make some for myself. All this talk about tea made me thirsty!

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A Speaker & An Update On Our Eating

Today at my MOMS Club meeting, we had a speaker come to talk to us about nutrition and snacks for kids. A couple months ago, all of this would have been new information to me. But after a couple months of eating well, I was proud and happy that I knew a lot of the information he provided. Nonetheless, he gave us some great ideas for snacks for kids (or adults), making healthier choices and some substitutions you can use in your cooking.

Here is a list of some healthy snacks we were given for you and your kiddos.

  • Yogurt (but check the ingredient list…some are better options than others)
  • Carrots and celery
  • No sugar added peanut butter and whole grain crackers
  • Milk and fruit
  • Cheese
  • Hummus with veggies or whole grain crackers/pita
  • All natural peanut butter or almond butter
  • Turkey bacon with no nitrites
  • Homemade sweet potato fries
  • Veggies and dip (Vegannaise makes a great base for dips)
  • Homemade mini pizza with cheese or veggie toppings
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Homemade smoothie
  • Homemade trail mix
  • Hard boiled egg or egg salad
  • Tortilla (all natural or whole grain) with cheese and salsa on top
  • Homemade ice cream (with all natural ingredients…you know what goes into it)
  • Fruit or veggie kabobs

My favorite snacks right now are Triscuits (only 3 ingredients) with hummus, Pretzel Crisps (4 ingredients) with hummus and Jack’s Special Salsa (I like the medium). I love using this salsa on tacos, quesadillas and on homemade pizza! My favorite hummus right now is Sabra and I like the “Supremely Spicy” or “Roasted Red Pepper.”

His wife writes a blog and documents meals she makes. I scrolled through and found so many that I wanted to try. The website is called Premier Life Eating. Not all of her posts have pictures, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to try them! I just like pictures so I know if I am doing it right or mine turns out correctly. Smile

As far as an update for how we are doing with our new lifestyle…we are doing great! We are finding more new foods to try, both at home and when we eat out. I have become way more adventurous and I look forward to my flavor-filled meals! I have gotten Maddie to try more foods. Many days she still wants noodles or chicken nuggets, but she is given whole grain, organic or healthier options of these things. I have also tried to get her better snack options for when we are out. And she is two, so yes, she still has days where she will eat cookies or chips for a meal. Pick your battles! Smile

The other night, I made spaghetti with whole wheat noodles, Veggie Prego (has more veggies in it) then I added ground turkey meatballs and two cups of extra veggies into the sauce (onions, peppers, carrots, zucchini) and it was DELICIOUS! We had enough for two meals and I loved it just as much the second time and cleaned my plate. Two months ago, there was NO WAY I would have eaten all the vegetables in that dish.

I am very proud of how far I have come in such a short time. I even ordered a salad for my lunch today and LOVED it! Who am I? Smile I was skeptical of this change, but I am so glad that we did it. And I thank my dear husband for giving us the push we needed to make it happen!

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Real Food

Almost two months ago, Chuck and I had a discussion about the food we eat. After a long talk, (and some persuading on his part) we have done an overhaul of the food we eat.

We knew this wouldn’t happen overnight, but we knew we could make some immediate changes. First, I watched Food, Inc. (you can find the video online, Netflix and some other video sites) as well as some other related shows. I also started reading the website 100 Days Of Real Food. I just wanted to learn. Turns out, I was interested, intrigued, a bit disgusted by what we normally eat and very ready to give it a try.

What we decided to do was eat A LOT more fruits and veggies, less meat and minimal processed food. So many meals were heavy on the carbs or came from a box. It’s so easy to just make some Hamburger Helper and hardly realize we ate almost all of it.

We started making meals with lots of veggies and minimal, if any, meats. We eat salmon maybe twice a week now…which is a big feat for me since 8 weeks ago I would barely eat fish at all! I make smoothies with many dinners which are filled with fruit and spinach, and willingly eat veggies with lunch. I am realizing it isn’t that hard to make better choices when I go out to eat.

We have made lots of new meals lately. Just the other day, Chuck said “what would you have said if I put this meal in front of you 7 weeks ago?” I told him I would have laughed at him and asked where my pasta was! And it’s true! I will be posting some of the meals and new foods we have been eating in the coming weeks.

I am one of those people that really needs something to motivate me. Yes, eating better, healthier and teaching better habits to my kids should be enough…but well, I’m weak. So if we completely fall off the wagon with this and go back to eating the way we were, we lose our smart phones. We get flip phones or the cheapest thing possible that just does phone calls. That might not seem like much, but I am addicted to my phone and this would be devastating! So, it seems like a great penalty!

Eating this way is a huge adjustment. There’s a lot more food prep that needs to be done (chopping lots of vegetables, longer cooking time…) and more frequent trips to the grocery store since we are buying mostly perishable foods. But my wonderful husband has taken on this task. Since I am still nursing Dannie and tending to her every need and keeping Maddie occupied, he does the shopping AND food prep AND cooking AND cleaning! He is amazing. I am looking forward to being able to help with this more, but I need the girls to not need me quite as much at dinner time. Which will happen before too long. So I am very thankful that Chuck has been able to do this.

And honestly, I think it is a great thing that he has been able to do that because he is mush more adventurous when it comes to trying new foods, so he has had us try a lot of things that I am not sure I would have tried if I were the one in charge of the meals.

We have both lost a lot of weight just by eating better and not snacking. We aren’t drinking soda anymore and drink a lot of water. Granted the soda we drank was usually diet, we have cut out a bunch of calories by making better food choices.

No, we aren’t perfect. And yes, we still have a toddler at home that eats goldfish crackers, chicken nuggets (I’m going to start making my own) and macaroni and cheese. But I give her the healthiest options of those that I can (whole grains, wheat, organic…). And I just provide her with healthier options. She may still choose to eat the most unhealthy thing on the plate, though and that is ok. And seeing us eat what we have given her is a huge deal for her. So many times I would give her vegetables and never eat any myself. Now this isn’t the case and it has made a difference.

Getting Maddie involved in helping with meals or smoothies has made her try new things. She loves to help or watch us cook. And for a kid that wouldn’t touch any vegetables and now asks for carrots at a meal, or who wouldn’t try anything new….to me, that means this is successful and we are doing something right.

Now I am sure you are thinking that this won’t last. Doing such a huge overhaul and not splurging now and again….well, we do splurge. And I have a LONG list of things I want to eat when I hit my goal weight. But honestly, I don’t have the desire to eat those foods like I did before. I struggle to find something I want to eat at McDonald’s. If I am going to eat something, I want it to be worth while. And most of the bad foods just don’t appeal to me like they used to. I would rather eat a huge amount of something good for me than a tiny bite of something horrible for me. Another thing that has helped me is to not order soda with a meal. Or leave out the fries. These are small things that make a big difference when eating out.

This is still a learning process. Some people may not agree with what we are doing and that is fine. I am still getting used to the concept. But for us, it was the right thing to do. And we are happier and healthier for making this change.

There will be more coming on this topic since we are just at the beginning of this journey. But to look back at how much we have changed in a short time is amazing to me. I am so thankful that we did this. And I am really proud, too.

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