Eating In

Truth be told eating out is not as exciting as it used to be. Because I cook all day everyday I’ve become very accustomed to having my food the way I prefer it. So much so, that when I go out to eat I’m not as thrilled about my food because it’s not as good or how I would do it. Also, we have now become those people who are very particular about their food order. Can I sub this for that and please leave off the bun, dressing on the side, etc.

Well, to be fair I have had some really unexpectedly great meals out to eat and those always seem to come when I am fairly specific about my requests. Hmmm, maybe be an annoying orderer is worth it. I’m thinking specifically of a dinner Brian and I went out to together a month or so ago when I requested that the contents of a mushroom burger or wrap, not sure which, be put on a salad instead. That salad was made for me! It had portabello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, pesto, Dijon mustard, and balsamic. I’ve been recreating various versions of that salad since.

However, for the most part I’d say I prefer to eat in. There are plenty of recipes to experiment with out there that are just as good and better than what you would get eating out. All this came up because we went out to dinner tonight as a family. My food was ok, not amazing, and likely to make me feel not my best tomorrow. And little Lexi, the girl who knows no limits, could not resist a hot dog and fries. She will be a little off tomorrow as well. And funny little side note: Isabelle has outgrown the kids menu. Kid’s menus are always the same: hot dogs, burger, breaded chicken, or macaroni. Lame. I recently heard a thing that most other countries do not have separate menus for the children. “Kid Food” is a totally American thing. So, now, Isabelle prefers to order something off the actual menu that is a little more “real food”. I totally support her not wanting to eat the typical kid food. Her choice tonight? Southwest chicken salad. And with the exception of the little bit I ate she finished that thing! And she was full!

So, eating out is not as glamorous as it’s made out to be. It reminds me of some pretty great dinners we’ve had recently. Dinners that got a lot of yummy noises.

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First up is this one. I actually commented while I was eating this dinner that it was so much better than anything we’ve had in a restaurant. These tacos are made with my homemade tortillas. They have sautéed broccoli, beans, onion, and garlic with taco seasoning inside. As well, as a hint of cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and olives. Salsa, plain yogurt, smashed avocado, and a little cashew cheeze sauce on top. All those flavors! Next to them we had roasted green beans (my fave!) and cob corn (or corn cut off the cob if you are my husband, he just can’t get down with the corn on the cob).

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This dinner was a snap to prepare. The veggies come in a big fresh stir fry mix filled with chard, carrots, snap peas, broccoli and kale. I cooked up some onions and added the veggies with a homemade teriyaki sauce. Toasted cashews top the stir fry. That little tiny brown stuff next to the veggies is kaniwa. We found it on our most recent trip to the natural market I love so much. Apparently, this kaniwa stuff is related to quinoa and cooks the same way. We call it mini quinoa because that’s exactly what it looks like. Kaniwa and quinoa are both seeds and you definitely get that sense with stuff because of how little each one is. It tastes very similar to red quinoa.

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Stuffed pepper casserole! I used to get so excited to have peppers on hand and want to make stuffed peppers. Then I would make them and we would always struggle to eat them (they just tip over or have the stuffing spill out!). What’s more is that it never seemed like the ratio of filling to peppers was enough. I have learned! Now, when I get the urge to make stuffed peppers I tell myself, no, and make a stuffed pepper casserole instead. Same idea, easier to eat, more filling! Problems solved. I made this stuffed pepper casserole with beans, riced cauliflower, peas, kale, canned diced tomatoes, and, of course, the roasted peppers. Mine and Brian’s got the last bit of cashew cheeze leftover from the tacos above. Mmmm. I can still remember the warmth of this filling casserole in my tummy. Piping hot casseroles in colder weather, yes please!

I’d gladly take these dinners over what I ate at the restaurant today (a lettuce wrapped burger, in case you wondered). However, we didn’t go to the restaurant because we didn’t want to cook or didn’t have the time to. We went, purposefully, to spend time as a family doing something different and going to a new place. The girls look forward to doing these kinds of things and we don’t eat out very often. In the end it’s much less about the food and more about being together. (But darn those kid’s menus!)

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Between Vacations

We have been home from Spokane for a few days now and have been busy catching up and thinking about our Ocean Shores weekend getaway coming up.

While we survived most of the six-day vacation without too much tummy troubles, Lexi barely made it the last day. Her poor tummy was not doing so well, overloaded with pizza crust and breakfast potatoes. You can be sure I made a lot of soup for our first full day home:

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This soup happens to be white bean soup. For lunch we had Asian mushroom soup. And for breakfast we had smoothies. Determined to give Lexi’s little tummy only things that would heal it.

However, that was days ago now and we’ve had some other great meals since then. One of my favorites is this bok choy stir fry with homemade hoisin sauce. Oh my, it was tasty. The sauce recipe came from the Wheat Belly Cookbook. I’ve never actually had hoisin sauce before but now that I have I feel like I’ve been missing out!

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The stir fry has green beans, peas, bok choy, onions, and garlic. The veggies were sautéed in a little soy sauce and sesame oil and then served over raw shredded carrots and millet. White beans and the hoisin sauce topped the bowls. How I wish there was still leftovers of this!

This dinner was also loved by the family:

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I had been dying to make the mushroom gravy (Oh She Glows cookbook) and decided to make it the super star of the meal instead of a side dish. The mushroom gravy tops grilled cauliflower, kale, chicken and white beans. Next to it we had grilled corn. The gravy was so good and I’m glad I finally got to try it!

Other than that we have had some pretty amazing desserts. Brian and I had a few people over to jointly celebrate our 30th birthdays (mine is on the 24th!). Per usual Brian wanted a cheesecake to celebrate. Since we had recently had the Oreo cheesecake a more basic flavor was in order:

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Plain cheesecake topped with raspberry chia seed jam and melted chocolate drizzle. Oh, and the crust had to be Oreo. I have to admit, while this cheesecake is totally not healthy it is absolutely divine! I had a little taste (or a few) and was in awe of how good it was.

Since that cheesecake was too decadent for me I made a blueberry cobbler on the grill. Not to be outdone by the cheesecake the cobbler got a little chocolate drizzle too. =)

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So that’s what we’ve been eating lately. Some good healthy dinners and some very delicious treats. I’m busy modifying our Ocean Shores getaway weekend menu to suit our family. We take the trip with my sister, her fiancée, my nephew and my dad. None of whom eat anything like we do. When my sister and I discussed the menu it was laden with thing after thing that I’d prefer my family not eat. If it was just one meal or two it would be no big deal and we wouldn’t modify much but every single meal is filled with meat, carbs, and sugar. I’m pretty much bringing healthier equivalents to everything on the menu. Not very much fun but I want my girls (and me) to be able to enjoy the whole weekend and not just the one meal that seems delicious but makes them feel sick later. The interesting thing was that she actually had no idea that we don’t generally eat so many “regular” things. Despite being frustrated by the menu I took that as a compliment that we are not overbearing with our “We don’t eat that!” or health choices. That being said, all bets may be off after this trip and all my substitutions.

Grilled Tofu

Last night a very sad thing happened while I was grilling dinner. Our charcoal chimney starter broke! The metal fell out from underneath (with hot coals inside). The chimney starter is what makes it possible for us to ever use the charcoal side of our grill. We had the grill for years and only used charcoal once or twice until I discovered the chimney thing. It heats up the charcoal way faster and no lighter fuel required. A replacement is definitely in order. The first was a Father’s Day present for my husband. Since I do most of the grilling and Father’s Day is still weeks off I doubt I can duplicate that gift.

We managed to save the coals and I grilled a sugar snap pea stir fry, kale, and tofu. The tofu was marinated in soy sauce, garlic, and rice wine vinegar and then dipped in a spice mix before being put on the grill. Underneath the stir fry we had millet.

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We have all become fond of tofu. That is not something I ever expected to say about myself or my family.

Lunch was fairly simple I cooked up some frozen salmon burgers and served them on lettuce. Love the frozen salmon burgers, they cook up in mere minutes but seem like such a fancy meal. I slathered them with a little veganaise.

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This lettuce burger was not quite as messy. Much more kid friendly than little pieces of fish. Both girls think red cabbage is delicious and I try to put it on their plates as often as we have it. They also ate pickles, cucumber, banana, and steamed cauliflower. It was incredible how fast Lexi finished her burger. Not so incredible with the cauliflower.