Eating “Real Food” doesn’t have to be complicated

Tonight’s dinner is a great example that eating real food doesn’t have to be hard, or require a lot of planning ahead. While I have a menu planned for 4 weeks,  and several crock pot meals in the freezer, yesterday’s events (my husband and 3 of our children were in a car accident….they are all fine, even though the truck was totaled) threw my plans off a bit.

It was a late night last night, so I wasn’t on top of my game and forgot to put dinner in the crock pot this morning. Dinner time kind of snuck up on me tonight, so I just dug around and threw together dinner. We had turkey burgers, sautéed onions and peppers, fresh pineapple slices, sliced tomatoes, and steamed broccoli. It turned out to be one of my new favorite meals.

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Salsa Verde Beef

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Today I tried a new recipe that I found here. The only modifications I made to the recipe were to make my own taco seasoning and salsa verde. Believe it or not, I’ve never tried salsa verde, much less ever make it myself. So, I googled it and found a recipe that looked easy enough for me to start with. I served cilantro-lime rice and black beans for sides. My family loved this meal…..always a huge plus!

Salsa Verde Beef

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2-3 pounds stewing beef 
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tablespoons taco seasoning
1 cup salsa verde*
corn tortillas (I used Food For Life brand corn tortillas, which are GMO free.)

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add beef chunks and brown on all sides to caramelize. Remove to crockpot. Add onion to drippings and sauté until lightly browned. Stir in taco seasonings and heat about 1 minute. Add salsa and stir, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer liquid to crockpot. Stir to combine. Cook on low 6-8 hours.

*You can use any kind of salsa.  

 

Chocolate Strawberry Shake

IMG_2227This shake takes care of my sweet, chocolate, and ice cream cravings all at once. It is so simple to make, and it makes a great snack.

Chocolate Strawberry Shake
1-2 servings
Ingredients:
1 cup milk (may substitute any non-dairy milk)
1 TBSP cocoa powder
1 TBSP mild honey (or other sweetener to taste)
1 handful frozen strawberries (to taste and to achieve desired consistency)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions:
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until completely smooth.
Serve immediately.

Granola (gluten free!)

Before giving up processed foods, I loved eating cereal for breakfast. I switched from processed, sugar filled cereals to making my own granola. Although I eat the granola (topped with raisins) as a cereal, my family didn’t really take to eating it as a cereal. However, they love it as a snack or adding it to their yogurt.

Here’s what put in my granola:

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After I mix all of those ingredients together, I melt 6 tablespoons of butter in 1/2 cup honey. When it’s melted, I add 2t. vanilla. Then I add it all to my granola mix. Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, for 70-75 minutes at 250°F.

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Banana Nut Waffles (gluten free!)

The Food Babe posted a recipe for banana nut waffles and I just had to try them. I didn’t have any bananas on hand, so I substituted a cup of applesauce instead. I also didn’t have walnuts, so I used pecans.

The recipe calls for almond flour, which can be expensive, so I make my own. I threw a handful of sliced almonds in the food processor and ground them up. You do need to be careful as you do this, because it can quickly go from almond flour to almond paste.

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My waffles didn’t turn out as pretty as the Food Babe’s, but they tasted good.

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Breakfast Burritos

I’m not sure why I never thought of making breakfast burritos in bulk, and then freezing them for a quick and easy breakfast on the go, but I’m glad I saw the idea on Pintrest. Yesterday I made a few to see how they would go over, and they were well received this morning!

I scrambled eggs, fried bacon (I got nitrate and nitrite free bacon), and cooked some hash browns. After everything cooled down, I started to assemble them. I made a few different varieties:
~egg, potato, and bacon
~egg and potato
~egg, potato, and cheese
~egg and cheese
~potato and bacon (for my child who doesn’t like eggs)

I rolled them up, then wrapped them tightly in plastic wrap, and placed them in a gallon size freezer bag. Because I made just a few of each kind, I also wrapped them in foil so I could label them with a sharpie. Next time I plan to make several of the favorite varieties, and put them in separate freezer bags, and skip the foil wrap. To heat them, you just unwrap them and microwave them for 2-3 minutes.

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Strawberry Shortcake Muffins (gluten free!)

I found this simple recipe for strawberry shortcake muffins, and had to try it out. I’m glad I did! They are great for a quick breakfast muffin, or an after school snack.

I made a couple of small changes to her recipe. I didn’t mix all of it in my blender like she suggests. I just ground up the oats in the blender, and then mixed the oats with everything else in a bowl. I also used 1/3 cup of honey instead of stevia.

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Enchilada Sauce

This recipe will yield 3 cups, or about two “cans” worth of enchilada sauce. I usually double the recipe so I can have several “cans” of sauce on hand. I adapted this recipe from this website

Ingredients:
2 T olive oil
2 T whole wheat flour
2 T chili powder
1 t. cumin
2 cups chicken broth
8 oz tomato sauce
1 t. salt
1/4 t. garlic powder or 1 pressed garlic clove

Directions:
Heat oil in large sauce pan.
Stir in flour and chili powder with a whisk. Cook for one minute.
Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
Cover and simmer on low for 5-10 minutes.

To Freeze:
Let the sauce cool completely (give it several stirs while its cooling).
When it’s cool, ladle into quart size freezer bags. I put the bag inside of a cup, and then pour the sauce in the bag.
Lay flat and freeze.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup that uses enchilada sauce.

More Planning Ahead

I love having several meals in my freezer, prepped and waiting to be put in the crock pot. It makes busy days a lot easier. Yesterday I stocked my freezer with six crock pot meals and six cups of salsa. The meals I prepped were:
Mexican Shredded Beef
Chicken Fajitas
Beef Fajitas
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Divine Chicken
Black Beans and Chicken

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It took me just a couple of hours to prep all of the meals, and that was with a four old “helping” and distracting me. I prep one meal at a time. I know there has to be a more efficient way for me to do this, but this is what works for me. With all of the distractions, I can focus better if I stick to one recipe at a time. This time around I did chop the onions, peppers and jalapeños the night before, which really helped. To be honest, prep day is my least favorite day, but I love the pay off, so it is worth every minute.

Chicken Fajitas
Ingredients:
1 yellow onion, sliced
3 sweet peppers, sliced
1 ½ pounds boneless chicken breast or thighs
½ cup chicken broth
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cumin
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
Squirt of lime juice
Tortillas
Fajita fixings

Directions:
1. Place onions and peppers in a quart size freezer bag.
2. Place chicken in a gallon size freezer bag, put seasonings in the bag, and toss to coat the chicken. Add the chicken broth. *Since I make my own broth, I store it in the freezer in plastic containers. I just pop the right amount out of the container and toss it in the bag.
3. Place both bags flat in the freezer.

On cooking day: (straight from the freezer)
1. Place onions and peppers on the bottom of the crock pot.
2. Dump the bag of chicken on top of onions and peppers.
3. Squeeze a bit of lime juice over the top, cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
4. When the chicken is done, shred, and stir back into juices.
5. Serve meat mixture with a slotted spoon on tortillas and top with your choice of fixings.

Beef Fajitas from Ring Around the Rosies
Ingredients:
2 lbs beef round steak, cut into strips (across the grain)
15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 red pepper, cut into strips
2 t cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t cumin
2 t chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 jalapeño, chopped

Directions:
Place in gallon size freezer bag (*you can also divide it into two bags for a smaller meal…and stretching things out to another meal). Lay flat in freezer

On cooking day:
Dump in crock pot, and cook on low 5-6 hours. Serve as you would fajitas.

(Please note, I haven’t tried this recipe yet. )

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Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 pound shredded, cooked chicken
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
10 oz enchilada sauce (I make my own)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn (organic)
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 c chicken broth

Directions:
Put the chicken in a gallon size bag, and the rest of the ingredients in another gallon size freezer bag. Lay flat in freezer.

Cooking Day:
Put into a slow cooker and add 2 cups water. Cover, and cook on low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours.

Divine Chicken (makes 2 meals) from Ring Around the Rosies
6 chicken breasts
4 cups baby carrots
4 cups fresh broccoli (chopped)
2 onions
salt/pepper to taste
2 bags of cream of chicken soup (add 1 each at cook time)
2 cup milk (add 1 each at cook time)

Directions:
Split everything into two gallon sized freezer bags. Lay flat in the freezer. make sure you make a note on the baggie to add the cream of chicken soup and milk at cooking time.

Cook Day:
Add 1 cream of chicken soup and 1 cup of milk, cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours

(Note: I haven’t tasted this recipe yet.)