Wednesday, November 26, 2014

the 2014 savory pumpkin cannelloni project in pics

Drooling on your keyboard and want the Savory Pumpkin Sage Cannelloni recipe? Here you go.  And, you may click here for an amazon associate link to my recommended freezer packaging, if that's something you need for homemade holiday gift giving, or make-ahead meals

Saturday, November 8, 2014

3 Easy Family Dinner Ideas… For Days When I'd Rather Spend My Afternoon Walking vs. Cooking

I've been so focused on taking better care of myself that I haven't set aside time to write here in a few weeks. I won't lie, there is some angst that I'm not keeping up with this blog enough; that I should be posting more. But I've decided that sporadic posts are ok. It's my best effort in this moment.

That said, I came up with a few quick and EASY dinners these past few weeks, that are worth sharing. And I found myself with a few open hours today, so it's time for a new post. These recipes are for days when a lot of cooking isn't the priority, but nourishing my family still is key. So, pour yourself a glass of something delicious and let's spend a few minutes together giving you some ideas for the busy week ahead!

Easy Dinner #1 - Mediterranean Chicken

This was inspired by a recent trip to our local Whole Foods. They have this gorgeous antipasto bar, and as I whizzed through the market, I knew I was short on time to cook that afternoon/evening. So, I loaded a medium deli container with a combination of {layers, top to bottom since I know they're a little hard to see in this pic} capers, roasted garlic, roasted tomatoes and pitted kalamata olives. The other two ingredients I bought were a package of organic chicken tenders and a 15 oz jar of fire roasted crushed tomatoes. That's it. Those three ingredients.

Then, when we got home from after-school activities I preheated the oven to 350, and placed the chicken in a roasting pan, placed the contents of the antipasto tub on top, poured the crushed tomatoes on top of that, gave it all a stir, and into the oven it went until the chicken was cooked through {about 15-20 minutes, depending upon the size of your chicken pieces}. And while the kitchen was filling with these amazing aromas, the kids did homework, and I went upstairs and worked out.

Super easy, crowd pleasing dinner.

Easy Dinner #2 - Tomato-Quinoa Soup with Grilled Cheese

I have one vegetarian child, which means a few nights a week we all enjoy a veggie-based meal. And on a chilly Fall evening, really, what's better than tomato soup and grilled cheese? You can get fancy with your grilled cheese and add pesto, or you can just use good bread and some good cheese and go simple. But if I go simple on the grilled cheese, I try to make sure we're getting a protein boost another way. Easiest way I've found? Simply add a scoop of cooked quinoa to everyone's bowl of tomato soup. Usually this meal comes about when I have some leftover quinoa in the fridge. But if the request comes another night, I always have these packets in my pantry. {Oh, and I get lots of questions about my tomato soup… it's store-bought. The bowl above is Trader Joe's-brand Creamy Tomato Soup. My other favorite brand to keep on hand in my pantry is Pacific.} 

Easy Dinner #3 - Veggie Curry

Another crazy day of afternoon chauffeuring… another plant-based meal needed…. one that'll please the whole family… and can be made in mere minutes? I keep a stash of Maya Kaimal Simmer Sauces on hand in my pantry.  

On the above night, I didn't make it to the supermarket as planned after one of my children ended up home sick from school, so I had to come up with dinner from a pretty measly selection of ingredients. Normally, I like to make a veggie curry with all sorts of colors and textures, but this go round I had:
I cubed the tofu and cut the new potatoes in half and roasted them on a olive oil drizzled baking sheet, at 350, just until they had a crispy edge {about 12 minutes}. Then I popped the tofu, potatoes, rinsed and drained chickpeas and the jar of simmer sauce into a sauté pan until everything was warmed through. The result? Awesome. Everyone loved it.

So, when I am not hauling something out of my homemade freezer stash, I'm figuring out ways to get dinner on the table quickly easy and healthfully so I have enough time to take good care of myself without compromising mealtimes around here.

And it's working. I'm thrilled to share that by making more of an effort to move daily, and connecting with friends for walks a few times/week, I have lost 9 lbs in 9 weeks (!!!) in that friendly weight-loss challenge my friends and I embarked on. Want a kick in the pants too? See the small product that made a difference in my fitness journey. I truly cannot say enough good things about how something so simple has inspired me to re prioritize how I spend my days.

Here's to us all figuring the dinner gig out, and taking even better care of ourselves along the way.

Alrighty, so if a bit of time passes before the next blog post you'll know I'm just getting my skinny on, walking around town with friends… so be sure to wave if we pass each other.

Fitbit Zip

Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links that help run the full plate blog. Thank you for helping to keep this blog going!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

crunchy lentil and sweet potato salad with lemon-tahini dressing

We've just passed the half-way mark of the friendly weight-loss competition I have going with ten friends. And {drum roll} I continue to lose weight, and am feeling more and more fabulous-- and energetic-- every day. My strategy for the second half? Keep on doing what I'm doing….

Today, after hoofing it around town with a friend, she mentioned she was going to go home and enjoy leftovers from a dinner party she'd hosted. With no lunch plans of my own, I decided to forage in my own fridge and see if I could come up with an equally delicious and healthy lunch.

Saturday, I'd made a veggie frittata with Trader Joe's Cruciferous Salad {kale, broccoli and cabbage blend} + peppers + onions. But I'd eaten the last wedge of it for breakfast this morning. Bummer.

But I did find:
  • the rest of the bag of Trader Joe's "Cruciferous Salad"
  • some roasted sweet potatoes from last night's dinner 
  • a package of Trader Joe's already cooked lentils
  • a tub of Trader Joe's Tahini Sauce
  • a bunch of lemons from the hot lemon water I have first thing each morning
  • some garlic

Crunchy Lentil-Sweet Potato Salad with Tahini Dressing

Lemon-Tahini Dressing {makes about 1 cup}:
  • 8 oz container tahini (sesame paste)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-4 cloves garlic
  • water
  • salt and pepper, to taste
In a blender, combine all ingredients, starting with 1/4 cup of water and adding water bit by bit until you get to desired consistency. 

Drizzle desired amount of Lemon-Tahini Dressing over Trader Joe's Cruciferous Salad mix. Toss to coat. Top with lentils and rough chopped sweet potato. 


Now I just have to come up with a way to incorporate the Lemon-Tahini Dressing and these leftover lentils into dinner… so the happy cycle of simple, healthy meals continues around here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

winning at losing -- the friendly weight-loss competition

If you've been following me on Facebook you know that I just wrapped up Week 3 of an 8-week weight-loss competition* I have going with 10 mom friends. And {drum roll}-- for the second week in a row-- I am in the lead, based upon % of weight lost.

So what's working?

First and foremost, for me, it's my fitbit.

Far from deprivation, my eating has been some combination of what I learned during the 10-day detox {though I no longer need to follow it to a "t"}, Bittman's VB6 {though I didn't realize I was eating this way until a friend mentioned it… more veggies = always a good goal} and Eating Rules' October Unprocessed Challenge. Food-wise, I took the pressure off myself to be perfect. Instead, I make an effort to crowd out the bad with good. I allow myself treats, and have enjoyed several meals out {with delicious beverages}... but I also log everything I eat-- both the good and the bad-- into the food journal on my fitbit dashboard. It is powerful for me to understand where I stand, and what exercise would have to happen to balance out that next glass of wine, or dessert, so I can make choices.

While I am by no means perfect, generally speaking, I feed my family well. But for me, exercise was the piece that was apparently missing. I always assumed that whatever walk I took, tennis I played, or time I spent on the elliptical was enough. But I had no way of really knowing how much I was doing. Did it matter?

Plus, I felt like the last thing I needed was another reason to be online. But then I trusted a few friends who swore their fitbits were helping them get where they wanted to be.

Worth a shot.

So, I strapped a fitbit on, committed to taking at least 10,000 steps/day, and from Week 1 it had me swooning {and losing weight}. I began to understand-- in concrete terms-- how much I needed to move if I was going to eat x, y, or z. I'm never going to give up on real, delicious food. I enjoy eating, and I have a family that needs to be nourished each day. But now that I better understand the role movement plays, I am encouraged and empowered to move more. It's simple math, not rocket science.

And I am surrounded by friends doing the same. We see the steps each other is taking and challenge each other to garner more.

My kids know that badgering me to use the iPad will now, more often than not, be met with an idea to get outside and go someplace on foot.

I still love a good book by the fire, a lunch date within a friend, and the laundry isn't going to fold itself… but these days, all that happens after I meet my daily Fitbit goal. I'm hooked.

*Since many of you have asked, here are the details on our friendly weight-loss competition:
  • We have 11 moms participating, all friends and friends of friends;
  • We each put $100 into the pot, making our 1st place prize $600 and our 2nd place prize $500;
  • Since everyone came into the competition with a different amount they'd like to lose, you win based upon your % of weight-lost compared to your starting weight {vs absolute lbs, inches, etc};
  • We chose to do the competition for 8 weeks in hopes that real, lasting change could occur;
  • On day 1, we all went to one participant's house and got on her scale, which became each person's starting weight;
  • Each Monday, participants weigh themselves at home {using their own scales} and email their weight to the spreadsheet keeper before 10am. Once all weights are tallied, the spreadsheet keeper emails current rankings out to the group {just %, weights are kept private} so everyone has an idea of how they're doing relative to the group;
  • After 8 weeks, we'll regroup live at the original scale we used, and there will undoubtedly be a lot of hooting and hollering as the winners are announced!!!

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What would you do if dinner was made?

Guess what?!! The make-ahead meal program I poured my heart and soul into last Fall is now 1-happy-year-old!

The feedback has been amazing. Every single family who has purchased the Stock Your Freezer in a Snap program has absolutely loved it. A testament that it was truly worth spending all that time making an easy-to-follow program that would help all busy parents learn to cook ahead.

What have I been up to instead of cooking dinner every night?

Reading in the yard while the kiddos play...

Spending the afternoon cheering on my kids….

Going for long, long walks with friends...

And, taking in this gorgeous Fall knowing I don't have to worry about feeding my family well-- even on the busiest of days.

In celebration of one-year, I am offering Stock Your Freezer in a Snap for only $9.99 the month of October. This is my gift to all of you. So, if you've wanted to join me in stocking your freezer with nourishing meals, now's the time! Click here to learn more about the program. Or, you can click the button below to purchase it right now for instant download.

{The button will take you to a PayPal payment page, but you can use any credit card to purchase. Once purchased, you will receive a link from SendOwl to instantly download the program… because, I know, patience isn't one of my virtues either!}