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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No Toast French Toast

French toast, a kids favorite. I have very fond memories of eating french toast for breakfast as a kid and it was a regular on our breakfast rotation in times past. Nowadays the girls will randomly suggest it for breakfast but I often shut it down so we don’t start the day off on a bad note (see: tummyaches before lunch!). I wondered if there was a way I could make french toast without actually using toast and I stumbled upon a Pinterest pin for squash french toast. It’s basically zucchini pancakes but with cinnamon and vanilla to up the french toastness of it.

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The girls called it pancakes but they did really like it. The egg and cinnamon really do add to the french toast flavor even if it doesn’t look like french toast.

For lunch we had vegetable tacos. Cauliflower, broccoli, onions, and peppers with taco seasonings. We ate these in lettuce with a side of lentils and some mango.

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Lunch love! The girls managed to eat these without making a huge mess and Lexi was convinced she needed more.

Over the weekend we camped for one night in Yakima. Since we were in eastern Washington there was a no campfire burn ban in effect. Nobody really talked about s’mores but on our drive home the girls kept playing that they were making s’mores and marshmallows for their toys. I think they realized they had missed out on some camping s’mores. Since then, I’d been thinking how we could recreate them at home (and no, not in the microwave). I searched my recipes and found this for peanut butter s’more bites. It’s marshmallows cut in half, spread with peanut butter, and dipped in chocolate. I coated our bites with actual graham cracker crumbs.

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In addition, I made some apples the same way. These were tasty but maybe a little too indulgent. I guess that is what s’mores are all about.

Tonight was girls only dinner. Brian got Mariners baseball tickets from work so he ate dinner there. It’s been a little while since we had a girls only dinner and nobody had ideas of what they wanted. Eventually, we came up with chicken nuggets. Not just any chicken nuggets, homemade chicken nuggets! The chicken nuggets are coated with almond and walnut meal, flax seeds, and some herbs. Also they were baked and not fried.

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Since I was baking the chicken nuggets I made some kale chips to go with it. Raw vegetables rounded out dinner. The girls have finally come around to homemade chicken nuggets! They used to not really like my homemade ones and preferred the store-bought junk filled kind (story of just about everything!). The less I feed them that stuff the more they come around to the homemade stuff. Macaroni and cheese, though, that is a battle I may never win. Kids and their love for chicken nuggets, macaroni, and french toast. What’s with it?!

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

The girls and I went to the Tacoma Rainiers game today. We’ve been waiting for a day game that worked for our schedule all summer and today was the day! I love watching baseball! It’s more of an outing for me that the girls can have fun at too. The game was at 11:35 am so there was no way around lunching at the game.

Before we could go anywhere we had banana nut porridge for breakfast. There are very few ingredients in this porridge. Some soaked nuts, a banana, almond milk, and cinnamon. All that gets processed in the food processor until smooth and then warmed up. While it’s warming the porridge thickens up a bit.

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This breakfast tasted similar to cream of wheat (in texture too) but it was wheat free (yay!). The girls liked it and I like that the recipe makes enough for two days worth of breakfast. So we started the day off right in anticipation of the goodies we would get at the game.

As I said, being an 11:35 game, there was no way around eating lunch at the stadium.

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Here’s the girls with their “main” portion of lunch. Lexi had a bunless hotdog and Izzy got the best deal in the park, a beef taco (fresh lettuce, cheese, salsa that they put on right in front of you!) for $2.50. Seriously, they sell anything in the stadium for $2.50?! It looked amazing but I didn’t get a bite so I’ll take her word that it was good. I snuck in (yep, I’m a rebel) an apple and a small bag of raw veggies. It’s not like there is anywhere you can purchase those items in the park. In addition, we snacked on popcorn and peanuts (peanuts were my lunch, ha, that’s how many I ate). Popcorn was crazy salty and we could only get through half of it. It also is what I believe did in Lexi’s tummy. She had a slight tummyache when we got home.

For dinner we did a repeat of tuna salads from last week. There was a little wild caught tuna leftover from last week so I added that and some avocado with pretty much the same stuff as before. Nobody minded the repeat since it was so yummy the first time. Plus, with Lexi’s tummy and our baseball food, salad seemed like the best option. Raw food helps heal the tummy.

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Sadly, that is all the wild caught tuna we have so we won’t be experiencing the yumminess of this salad again in the near future. Do you think I will be more inspired this week to make something other than salad for my family? I’m not sure, I don’t have a meal plan yet but in the morning I am going to try my hand at french “toast” with no toast and squash instead. We will see if it is kid approved or not. Seems like not, but since going mostly grain free the girls are much more open to my kitchen creations. Squash french toast, oh yes I’m going there!

Ocean Shores Bound

Ocean weekend getaway here we come! My family, my sister’s family, and my dad go to Ocean Shores each year and split the cost of a house on the beach. When I was little my family would go every year in July for the Surf and Sun motorcycle rally. Now that my sister and I have families we have continued the tradition. My dad has a Harley that he usually rides down there and while we spend very little time in Ocean Shores at the motorcycle show we still go that same weekend each year. This is our 5th year!

As I mentioned before we create a weekend menu to avoid everyone bringing everything and combat that last minute what are we having for dinner/breakfast. As my family has changed eating habits the menu system is not working out so well for us as I am having to bring additional stuff to accommodate our eating style. Bringing good food we enjoy eating is not the problem. All the other food that will be available is the problem. I dislike having to explain to my six and four year old why they cannot have or can have very little of insert any food here over and over again. As much as we explain it, they are little and don’t completely understand. They are happy to eat what we have and will enjoy it but what four year old gets the effect eating french bread will have on her tummy. All she knows is that it’s good and she wants to eat a lot of it (and who can’t sympathize with that!?).

Anyways, what I am bringing is A LOT of vegetables and fruit.

The first night we are celebrating my birthday since my actual birthday was spent getting ready for the trip. We are eating fish, green beans, and salad.  A perfect dinner for me. I also made myself a birthday cake which I totally don’t mind doing. It’s made out of love =) and won’t make me feel sick.

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The cake, filling, and frosting is grain and sugar-free! The crumb is made of almond flour and coconut flour (recipe from the Wheat Belly Cookbook). Next, I filled it with cherry chia jam and topped with chocolate frosting (seriously made of canned coconut milk and chocolate chips, that’s it!).

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I had a little taste test and liked it. Not too sweet but still satisfying. We’ll see how well it travels.

The menu for the weekend includes pancakes (subbing for almond flour pancakes), sandwiches (subbing for chickpeas salad and/or lettuce wraps), eggs and bacon and hash browns (hold the potatoes please, add some greens!), and muffins (healthy and made by me, sugar-free but not grain-free).

The other dinners planned are tacos. Mexi! This, also, is filled with substitutions for my family. I made homemade tortillas (it’s so easy!) to bring. Instead of ground taco meat we will have a taco seasoned veggie mix and refried beans, cashew cheese sauce, and avocado. Also, I’m making Mexi rice which we will actually eat and someone else is bringing chips and salsa. Here’s to hoping that taco night doesn’t take anyone out, ha ha!

Our last night is burger night. I pre-made veggie burgers and brought lettuce cups to wrap the burgers in. There will also be canned baked beans (subbing with 10 minute baked beans), twice baked potatoes (subbing with yams), and asparagus.

Man, that’s a lot of substitutions!

My fridge is crazy right now. I was tasked with bringing salad and lettuce. Fair enough, because I will single-handedly be eating the majority of it but I think I got overly excited because there is literally lettuce and greens in every nook in my fridge. Lettuce overload!

In addition to the planned items above I brought produce and stock to make soup (it may be necessary!), lentils, peanuts/mixed nuts, peanut butter and jelly, Terra vegetable chips, dipping veggies, and hummus. As an extra little treat I made lime coconut macaroons.

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I’ve never made macaroons before and these are sugar-free, grain-free, and vegan. They are delish, I had to hold back from scooping massive amounts of batter into my mouth! Maybe we can even share these with everyone else without having to explain they are a “healthy” version.

Yay for spending the weekend at the ocean! Yay for family and yay for good food! I’m really going to try to not worry too much about all the food substitutions while we are away and just rely on my planning. I’m 30 and vacation bound, let the good times roll.

 

Two Delicious Dinners! Starting the week right…

Back in the day Brian and I used to love on Papa John’s Ultimate Pepperoni pizza. It’s a thin crust pizza with double the pepperoni. We’d get it almost every two weeks. For some reason we were both feeling that this weekend. I really thought Brian was going to order one at 9 pm the other night. To combat the late night pizza ordering I made pizza salads for dinner.

These salads are so good! They have plenty of pepperoni, cheese curds (we couldn’t find fresh mozzarella!), olives, onions, crushed red pepper flakes, a tomato dressing, and little pieces of flatbread. For extra veggies I added roasted broccoli and shredded zucchini.

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The salads were loved so much that the girls wanted the same thing for lunch today. Probably not ideal that we have eaten almost an entire package of pepperoni in the last two days.

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Dinner tonight was also amazing (without pepperoni)! I tried a new recipe for cauliflower tacos. The idea of cauliflower and beans as the taco mix was not the amazing part. Taco seasoned cauliflower is not new to us but you should know that mixed with the beans it totally works (you don’t feel like you are eating cauliflower in tacos even though that is exactly what you are doing). The miraculous part of this dinner was the lentil soft taco shells. The taco shells are literally made of lentils (not cooked), water, and some seasonings. You blend that up in a food processor to make a somewhat runny batter that cooks like pancakes. I was pretty skeptical not only of taste but also of texture and most of all if they would even work. They did!

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The lentil wraps were all the talk of dinner. We imagined the many uses of something so versatile and easy. They turn out just like a wrap but thicker kind of like a flatbread in thickness but are pliable. We kept expecting them to crack and break or fall apart but they held up, even for the kids. And since the wraps are made of lentils there’s extra protein in these tacos and they are filling but not in a I-just-ate-bread kind of way.

Lentil pancakes, lentil sandwiches, lentils wrap breakfast burritos…..oh the possibilities! Very excited to add this recipe to my rotation!