Homemade Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is such a comfort food for all ages! It is by far my boy’s favourite lunch option. When we changed their diet to exclude dairy I was sad to have this favourite dish go by the wayside. But the reality is that dairy free mac and cheese is not that difficult. Here is the original recipe with dairy free alternates listed, and an extra boost of nutrition I like to add.

Original Recipe 

Ingredients

2 cups uncooked whole wheat macaroni

3 Tbsp. non-hydrogenated margarine

3 Tbsp. unbleached white flour

1.5 cups milk (this can be cow’s milk, goat milk, soy milk, almond milk, or cashew milk)

1.5 cups cheddar cheese, shredded (I use Daiya shredded cheddar for the dairy free version.)

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (I use Daiya shredded mozzerella for the dairy free version.)

Optuonal: 1/2 cup mashed sweet potatoes (peel 1 sweet potato, dice it, bake at 375 for 45 minutes, then mash)

Instructions

1. Cook macaroni.
2. Melt margarine in a saucepan then add flour and milk.  Heat over medium (to medium high) and stir continuously until thickened.  Stir cheeses (and mashed sweet potato) into white sauce until the cheese melts.
4. Fold in macaroni.
5. Put into greased casserole dish. Cover with glass lid or aluminum foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Hope this easy recipe is a crowd pleaser in your home too!
Until next time, stay healthy!
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A New Relationship with Food

Do you have a list of “bad foods” and “good foods”? Do you feel like you have “bad days” and “good days” based on the foods you eat? I have met with many clients that felt this way. They experienced guilt on a regular basis because they ate a tray of cookies or 1/2 of a tub of ice cream. You see, the issue with thinking of food as good or bad causes us to feel like we have blown it when we have one cookie and that we might as well have 5 more. Sounds familiar? If this applies to you I have exciting news…you don’t have to feel this way! I have a new perspective that I would love for you to try out and see how freeing it can be.

There are are two steps.

The first is to take on the perspective that all foods fit….it’s about how much and how often. If you choose a food that is less healthy, then you have smaller amounts, and have it less often. It’s not a bad food, but it doesn’t fuel your body as nicely as healthier foods, so we limit it (not eliminate it). For example, I love ice cream and would love to have it every night, but I know that berries and Greek yogurt or a smoothie bowl services my body with more nutrients and better energy. Because of this I choose the healthier snack most nights, but allow myself to have a small bowl of ice cream every once in a while.

The second step is to incorporate mindful eating. When you do eat a less healthy food, take time to savour it, enjoy it, notice it! Is it crunchy or creamy? Is it hot or cold? Is it sweet or salty? Don’t eat it so fast that you forget to notice these things. Relating back to my ice cream example, on then nights I have ice cream, I savouring every bite! I eat it in a way that I am not going to finish the bowl andwonde where it went or with I had chose something else.

If if you can adopt these perspectives/techniques, you may just find that your relationship with food becomes a much more positive one.

Until next time….stay healthy!

Personalized Pancakes

Happy Thursday! As we head into the weekend, I thought I would share one of our favourite weekend recipes…pancakes! These are pretty simple pancakes, but the fun part is that everyone picks what size they want. I have made them from as small as a 1″ in diameter to as big as the frying pan. The kids always love picking their sizes.

Like my waffle recipe, this is a great one to get the kids involved in as it is quick and simple with only a few ingredients.

Ingredients

1 cup unbleached white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 Tbsp. baking powder

1/4 cup  Baby brain organics (optional additional of omega 3 goodness)

2 cups milk (any milk is fine…buttermilk, cow’s milk, coconut milk, almond milk….etc.)

2 eggs (or 1 egg and 2 egg whites)

1/4 cup canola oil

Instructions:

1) Mix dry ingredients together.

2) Mix wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.

3) Mix all ingredients together until the dry ingredients are moist but do not over mix.

4) Then the fun begins….ask your kids if they want mini, small, medium, big, or super huge, etc. And scoop accordingly into the fry pan. If your kids are old enough, they can even scoop their own into the fry pan. I like to use my electric fry pan as I find the pancakes cook most evenly in there. I like that it is non-stick and I do not need additional oil or spray either.

You can further personalize them by adding different toppings such as: blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, diced peaches, banana slices, sauteed apples, yogurt, peanut butter, crushed nuts, honey, and more.

Last weekend, Rhett and Clay wanted “mini pancakes”, and Wes wanted “small”. Daddy wanted a stack of “mini” ones, and I went for one “normal” size….so boring I know. We topped them with strawberries and Coconut yogurt. Here are a few pics:

 

Until next time….stay healthy!

“Short week” Meal Plan

I love long weekends so much that I often have a hard time looking past the end when preparing for them. I went grocery shopping before the weekend started in hopes that I could be prepared for the whole weekend and all the events we had on. However, I did not do my usual meal planning and grocery shop on Saturday for the week to come. This means that I am planning meals tonight and will get the groceries we need tomorrow.  It will make the week feel a bit more rushed, but it was worth it to just focus on family and friends the past three days.

In case you are in the same boat, I thought I would share my plan for the next 4 days. All meals will be served with a mixed green or spinach salad topped with a variety of fresh fruits and veggies of course.

Tuesday: Black bean fajitas with peppers and onion. This meal is always a hit with our kids (as long as I take the onions out on their plates) and I love how easy it is to prep. It can be ready in 10 minutes flat. Slice peppers and onions and saute them in a bit of water and avocado oil until they are softened. Add in low sodium fajita seasoning and No Salt Added black beans, and stir until the beans are warmed through. Serve with diced avocado, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt), and whole grain wraps.

Wednesday: Wednesday is my mom’s birthday and she has requested homemade chicken burgers. The weather is supposed to be amazing so we are excited for a family BBQ to celebrate. If you want to have burgers and need a quicker recipe than the link above, try my meatball recipe and make burger patties instead. I do this quite often, BBQ them on a foil, and they always turn out great!

Thursday: Baked sole with roasted beets and Brussel sprouts. If I am turning the oven on, I like to bake as many supper items in there as possible. I will turn the oven to 375 degrees and put the beets in first, then add the Brussel sprouts and sole about 10 minutes later. The beets take about 35 minutes and the the sole and Brussel sprouts will be perfect after about 22-25 minutes. You know that fish is done when it flakes apart and isn’t “mushy” inside anymore.

Friday: Shrimp and veggie stir fry with brown rice. The trick with this one is cutting up all the vegetables ahead of time. I will plan to do this either Thursday night or during nap time on Friday, but definitely will not leave it until last minute as that is a recipe for disaster in the witching hour. I like to get the veggies all cooked and then add in the shrimp last so that it warms through, but doesn’t get too chewy.

That is what I have so far. Will have to think about next weekend as we go. Hope you have a wonderful “short week”.

Until next time….stay healthy!

Sweet Potato Chips

If you follow me on Instagram, you know these are a family fave in our home! I love that they are packed with nutrition and super easy to make and my kids love that they resemble chips.

Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta carotene which is an antioxidant and also a precursor for vitamin A in our body. Vitamin A is important in the health of our eyes, bones, and skin, and also plays a role in gene expression and cell differentiation. This means that it supports each type of cell to mature adequately and perform a particular function properly.

Here is the quick and easy recipe that will have your kids asking for this amazing veg!

Ingredients

Sweet potatoes

1 Tbsp. avocado oil or grapeseed oil

Instructions

1. Peel sweet potato and then slice it thinly…about 2 mm per slice.

2. Place on baking sheet. I like to use my stone as it allows for a crisper chip I find.

3. Drizzle oil over the potato slices.

4. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. You need to watch them closely so they crisp up but do not burn. I have learned from experience that this can be a thin line.

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Well that’s it! So easy!!! You and your minis can enjoy these as a side with salmon, a burger, or BBQ chicken, or with a salad.

Until next time…stay healthy!

Spinach

Spinach is an amazing food. It is one I try to include in my diet every day.

It is low in calories and fat and yet packed with nutrients such as:

  • beta carotene: an antioxidant and precursor for vitamin A in the body
  • vitamin K: important factor in blood clotting
  • folic acid: important for heart health and the prevention of neural tube defects
  • vitamin C: an antioxidant, important for wound healing, and helps with the absorption of iron
  • iron: part of hemoglobin (which carries O2 in the body) and myoglobin (with carries O2 for muscles)
  • and many more!

Are you looking for ways to add this amazing food to your diet?

Let’s start with salads. You can start any salad with a spinach base (and kale too!), then add veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, cheese, lean proteins, and more. You could make a different salad every day for months just by adding different combinations of toppings. Here are some ideas of things you can add:

  1. veggies: peppers, tomatoes, snow peas, cucumber, mushrooms, onions, etc.
  2. fruit: apple, pear, mango, grapes, pomegranate seeds, avocado, blueberries, etc.
  3. nuts: almonds, walnuts, or pecans
  4. seeds: sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, or chia
  5. beans: dried or fresh soybeans/edamame, white beans, red beans, black beans
  6. other proteins: hard boiled egg, diced chicken, salmon, tuna, shrimp
  7. cheese: feta, goat, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, etc.

The toppings and combinations are truly endless!

While salads are a great (and easy) place to start, but there are so many more options as well.

  1. Shakes: add in fresh or frozen spinach (or kale) to your next shake/smoothie.
  2. Scrambled eggs: add a large handful of spinach and diced feta in just as the eggs are done cooking.
  3. Soups/Stews/Sauces: add in a handful at the end or as a topping if you want it to stay fresh; or add it in and blend everything together if you want the nutrients but not the texture.
  4. Lasagna: replace the meat layers in lasagna with layers of frozen spinach
  5. With sauteed veggies: I love to saute peppers, onion, mushrooms, and spinach together and then add a Tbsp of pesto and a sprinkle of goat cheese and pine nuts.  SO DELISH!!!!

Hope these give you some fun ideas to incorporate this “superfood” into your diet in the coming weeks.

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

Mom, child, and baby approved! Crustless quiche.

Sometimes eggs get a bad reputation but really they are such an amazing food!   Eggs are great for any meal of the day or even hard boiled as a snack. Egg whites are a great source of inexpensive protein and egg yolks provide important nutrients, such as biotin, iron and vitamin A! Try to buy organic omega-3 eggs for the healthiest choice.

Here is a fun recipe for a crust-less quiche that the whole family will love. I like to do individual ones for each family member so everyone can have the fillings they like.  Kind of like “make-your-own-pizza” with even more nutrition packed in. Below is my favourite combination. My kids prefer just cheese with the eggs and then fresh veggies on the side.

 Ingredients (per one adult or 1-3 children):

2 omega-3 eggs (or 1 egg with 2 egg whites)

1 Tbsp milk (can be cow’s milk, goat milk, soy milk, almond milk, etc.)

¼ cup diced peppers (any colour)

¼ cup tomatoes, diced

2 mushrooms, sliced/diced

¼ cup shredded Cheddar or Swiss cheese or Daiya dairy free cheese

Optional: ¼ cup cooked and diced ham or chicken

Directions:

  1. Whisk eggs and milk together in a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Stir in all other ingredients
  3. Cook all in microwave for 3 minutes, or until eggs are cooked through.

Serve with whole grain bread, tortilla, or English muffin and a salad or extra cut up veggies.

Enjoy!

Until next time…stay healthy!

Soups on!

Soup is such a fantastic way to fill up on high nutrient and low caloric dense foods. I love having soups for lunch these days. I recently made a big batch of vegetable, bean, and tofu soup and portioned it out for lunches. I thought I would share my recipe in case it provides you with  inspiration to make a pot of your own.

Ingredients

4 Zucchinis, sliced (I used two green and two yellow)

3 peppers, diced (I used one yellow, one orange, and one red)

1 red onion, diced

2 cups snap peas

2 cups sliced mushrooms

2 cans No Salt Added tomatoes (or you could use 2 cans of tomato paste and dice up 5 or 6 large tomatoes)

1 Tbsp. dried basil

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

2 tsp. red curry powder

1 can No Salt added black beans, rinsed well

1 can No Salt Added white beans, rinsed well

2 cups diced medium or firm tofu

Instructions

  1. Prepare all vegetables, place them into a pot.
  2. Stir in the canned tomatoes, garlic, and seasonings.
  3. Simmer on medium low for about an hour or until vegetables are soft.
  4. Add in beans and tofu.
  5. If you are eating the soup right away, then simmer until beans and tofu are heated through. If you are portioning the soup for lunches, then you can let it cool and portion it out.
  6. When eating the soup, you may also wish to stir in some baby spinach and/or top with diced avocado.

This soup can be eaten on its own or with a whole grain side such as whole grain crackers or bread or wrap.

Here are a few photos of the soup I made. The first is the veggies at the start, the second is the final product, and the third was my lunch today.

Until next time….stay healthy!

Meatball Madness…Spice it up!

I tend to not follow recipes but rather come up with new ones on a regular basis. Tonight was one of those nights. I had purchased ground turkey to make turkey meatballs but wanted to spice things up a bit so I did just that! I never know when I try something new if my boys will love it or turn their noses up at it. Tonight was a HUGE hit so I thought I would share what I did.

I started out with a traditional ground turkey/bread crumbs/egg/grated onion combination. I would have usually added more grated veggies in at this point but decided instead to have some fun with spices from my favourite spice shop: The Spice House. I added in a bit of their Thai Red Curry Powder and Back of the Yard blend. An odd combo but it worked! If you wanted to try this and aren’t interested in ordering these exact spices, you could use any red curry powder and a steak type rub/seasoning.

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I mixed everything together and made good size meatballs. As I was placing them onto my stone, Clay asked to help me. I love when the kids help in the kitchen so I grabbed a large spoon for him and he spooned the last few on. He was so excited!

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I baked them at 375 degrees for 1/2 hour. Every oven would be different, but this is generally a good estimate for making meatballs.

I did not measure anything, but here is the approximate recipe that I used for tonight if you want to try to make these (or something similar).

Ingredients

2 pounds ground chicken or turkey

2 eggs

1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1 Tbsp. Thai Red Curry Powder (optional)

2 Tbsp. Back of the Yard  (or 2 Tbsp. BBQ sauce)

1/3 cup grated onion (I grate it so my children will not notice little pieces.)

You could also add grated carrots, zucchini, or other veggies.

 

Instructions: Mix ingredients together, make meatballs, and place on tray. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes, or until the inner is evidently cooked through.

I served these with brown rice, stir fried veggies (snap peas, mushrooms, peppers, and cauliflower), and a spinach salad. If you are following my meal plan for the week you will see that I was planning on just serving snap peas as my vegetable for the evening, but I had leftover cauliflower from last night and the mushrooms and peppers just seemed like a good idea.

For the boys I chopped the meatballs up and served with brown rice (mixed with apple sauce to prevent the typical “rice mess”), a few snap peas, avocado, and cucumber. They all loved it and Wes asked for more! Here is his first plate…

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I hope that this provides you with fun inspiration for the next meatballs you make.

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

Meal Plan for the Week (May 1-7)

It has been a while since I posted my weekly meal plan so I thought that I would pop on and do that today.  In addition to what is listed below I will make a salad each night spinach or kale or mixed greens and lots of chopped veggies and nuts, seeds, and/or diced avocado.

Sunday: Salmon (baked with salmon seasoning on top) with roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli. This was last night’s supper. Here is a pic of my husband’s plate and then my plate. I always start with salad as a base and then add other foods on top so that I fill up on salad. He prefers is salad in a separate bowl. We had company so the salad was a special one with an Asian Sesame dressing.

Monday: Coconut mango chicken with roasted sweet potato “chips” and cauliflower. Tonight’s supper is a great one for if you need to prep ahead. While Rhett was playing after lunch, I got the chicken marinating in mango juice and coconut milk and then peeled and cut up the sweet potatoes and cauliflower. At 4 when he is up from nap, I will put the veggies in the oven at 375 degrees and add the chicken about 4:20. That will free me up to play with all three kids for a while and by 5 pm we will be eating supper.

Tuesday: Turkey meatballs with brown rice and snap peas. This is another one that is easy to prep ahead of time. You can make the meatballs earlier in the day and store them in the fridge until it is time to bake them. You can also cook something like this on a Sunday and freeze for a very quick pull-out meal.

Wednesday: Lemon pepper halibut with roasted beets, peppers, and onions.

Thursday: Pork cutlets with with quinoa cranberry salad and roasted Brussel sprouts. In place of the quinoa salad, you could also saute up any leftover potatoes, sweet potatoes, beats, etc. as your starch side for this meal.

Friday: Manicotti with peas and corn. This is one of my kid’s favourtie suppers and an easy pic for Friday night when everyone is tired. I get the Manicotti from the fresh pasta section at Costco and pair it with a fresh rose sauce from the same section.

Saturday: Gnocchi coated in pesto, tossed with sauteed onions, peppers, baby shrimp, and sun dried tomatoes. (The boys will have plain gnocchi with a few shrimp and cut up veggies on the side.)

Hope this gives you some inspiration for this week or other weeks to come. For other meal planning ideas you can check out this post that I did as a guest blog for Three Little Crowns a while back.

Until next time….stay healthy!