April 29, 2010

Herb Garden for Earth Day

After watching several cartoons on Disney and Nick Jr. Sunday about Earth Day, I wondered what we could do at home. I’m not one for just swapping out some light bulbs, we already recycle and I just wasn’t feeling inspired. Then, I checked out their website and found a great idea that also fits my own personal food revolution. The little one and I were going to start an herb garden!

After a trip to my local greenery for supplies, we spent the afternoon putting soil into cups, labeling each cup and planting the seeds (well, she lasted through labeling the cups and then got bored). I also made one for my mom for mother’s day, family and friends. What a great way to teach her about things that grow and have fresh herbs on hand for all of these new recipes I’m trying out.
The soil is in, the seeds are planted, the cups have been watered and now we patiently wait for some spouts.

I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, but never thought I would actually use the herbs. Hopefully pics to come soon of our little herb garden.
Happy belated Earth Day! What did you do to celebrate?

April 26, 2010

The Happy Box...What's so happy about it?

As I’ve said before, I’m not very adventurous with new foods. I can’t just pick something up at the grocery and figure out what to do with it. It looks enticing, but I just don’t know what to do with it. I decided that needed to change. I started figuring out what was in season and trying a new veggie every few weeks. If it was part of my menu and my shopping list, I would have to buy it.

I also discovered the Happy Box. A friend of mine has posted several times about her happy box. What is this box and why is it so happy?

The Happy Box is a community supported agriculture program that aims to make healthy, organic, homegrown produce more accessible to families in the Miami Valley. The Happy Box comes from Fulton Farms in Troy, Ohio. A box of organic fruits and vegetables are delivered to my house every week!

It has always intrigued me and this year I decided to take the plunge.

First, it forces me to use fruits and vegetables that I normally wouldn’t pick up at the store. Second, it encourages us to eat more fruits and veggies since they are on our doorstep. And finally, it saves me time. My schedule is crazy enough and having a variety of fruits and veggies at my door every week is a Godsend.

For the first year, I decided to split my happy box with a friend so we can both try it out and see what it’s all about. So far we love it!

My daughter gets excited every week when the Happy Box comes. We bring it inside and go through everything in the box and give it a name. She is a sponge and loves taking everything out of the box. She even tells me what goes to “Miss Beth” and what stays at home.

So far, we’ve had mostly items from other organic growers because it isn’t the right time of year in Ohio yet, but I’m so excited about what’s coming in the box this summer. Great find Steph!

Check it out if you are near Troy, Ohio. If not, find a local farm or farmers market to support local agriculture and your family’s health.



April 25, 2010

What's Cookin' This Week? April 26

This week I dug through some old favorite cookbooks to find this week’s menu. I’m looking forward to making a few new recipes and a few old favorites.

The Mexican lasagna on the menu this week is a family favorite that I haven’t made for years because my husband is anti-cottage cheese. I’m bringing it back this week, but with ricotta cheese. Hopefully the swap works.

I actually found the chicken nachos recipe while waiting at the pediatrician’s office and my family loves them! They are perfect for a Friday night meal.

Try one of these for your family this week and tell me what they think. I posted the recipes below for you to try.

This week we have dinner plans with friends so I get Monday night off from cooking. Although I will be preparing the chicken for Tuesday’s dinner on Monday night.

Chicken Kabobs (Biggest Loser Family Cookbook)

Sweet Potato Buffalo Chips

Lime & Honey Glazed Salmon with Warm Black Bean and Corn Salad (Rachael Ray 365 No Repeats)
Pitas and hummus
Fruit or veggies from the Happy Box

Mexican Lasagna
Fruits or veggies from Happy Box

Healthy Loaded Chicken Nachos


Party Chicken Kabobs (from The Biggest Loser Family Cookbook)
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 ½ Tbsp. freshly minced garlic
2 Tbsp. EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
1 ½ tsp. fresh sage (finely chopped)
1 ½ Tbsp. honey
1 ½ tsp. ground black pepper
¾ tsp. salt
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts in 1 1/2” cubes

Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, rosemary, sage, honey, pepper and salt. Place chicken in a resealable plastic container with prepared marinade and toss. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight turning chicken over at least once.

Preheat grill to high. Soak 4 wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes (or use metal skewers).

Thread the chicken cubes onto skewers. Place kabobs on the grill and reduce heat to low. Grill for two minutes and rotate a quarter turn. Continue to grill, turning, 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until chicken is no longer pink inside and juices run clear.

Sweet Potato Buffalo Chips
To make these, I cut the potato into pretty thin slices, put them on EVOO and cook them at about 375 or 400 for 20 minutes or so. This works great with regular potatoes too.

Lime and Honey Glazed Salmon with Black Bean and Corn Salad (Rachael Ray No Repeats)
4 Tbsp. EVOO
1 red onion, chopped (we will omit since we don’t like onions)
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
½ to 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. ground cumin
Salt and pepper
Juice of 2 limes
3 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. chili powder
4 6-oz. salmon fillets
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 10-oz box frozen corn kernels, defrosted (use fresh if in season)
½ c. chicken stock or broth
1 15-oz can black beans
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro chopped
6 c. baby spinach

Preheat medium skillet over medium heat with 2 Tbsp. EVOO. Add onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.

While onions are cooking, preheat medium skillet over medium-high heat with remaining 2 Tbsp. EVOO. In a shallow dish, combine juice of 1 lime, honey, chili powder, salt and pepper. Add salmon fillets to the lime-honey mixture and toss to coat thoroughly. Add seasoned salmon to hot skillet and cook until just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes on each side.

To cooked onions, add bell peppers and corn to cook about 1 minute. Add chicken stock and cook another 2 minutes. Add black beans and cook until heated through. Remove skillet from heat and add juice from 2nd lime, cilantro and spinach. Toss to wilt spinach. Serve salmon on top of salad.

Mexican Lasagna (from Tasty Temptations)

16 oz. ground turkey (NOTE: you can use ground beef, but brown and drain before adding more)
½ c. chopped onion
½ c. chopped green pepper
2 c. canned tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ oz pkg. taco seasoning mix
2 c. cottage cheese (trying ricotta instead)
6 oz. shredded cheddar cheese (or Mexican mix)
2 eggs
8 flour tortillas
1 c. chopped tomato
2 c. shredded lettuce
Black olives

Brown turkey with onions and peppers in large skillet. Add canned tomato and taco seasoning. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. In bowl, combine cottage (ricotta) cheese, 4 oz. cheddar cheese and eggs. Place 4 tortillas on bottom of sprayed 9x13 baking dish. (Edges may stick out top). Spoon meat evenly over tortillas. Top with 4 more tortillas, then cheese mixture. Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top of lasagna and continue baking uncovered for 5 minutes. Garnish with tomato, lettuce and black olives if desired.


April 20, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

One of the biggest challenges with my new food plan is keeping the motivation alive. Since my adventure in healthier eating for my family began several months ago, I have been inspired by so many things and people.

One of my biggest motivators is Jamie Oliver. This guy is a genius! If you haven’t seen this show, you NEED to watch it! I now own what my family eats because of Jamie's inspiration.

I had tears in my eyes as I watched so many kids struggle with naming everyday fruits and vegetables! In one episode, a woman who looked 60+ said this was the first meal she had ever cooked! It made my heart break.

No one is too young or child is too young to start learning about food and cooking.

It’s hard to learn to cook if you don’t have someone to learn from. It’s hard to just open a cookbook and make something if you’ve never done it before. Fortunately I learned a lot from my mom, aunts, grandma, close family and friends.

Jamie is offering cooking classes to people and opened a store just for that reason. EVERY city should have one of these! I would LOVE to go to one of those.

Even at nearly two, I want to get my daughter interested in food…healthy food and have her understand what it is. When I put groceries away, she tells me what fruits and vegetables we have. She loves getting up on her chair with her apron on and pouring in the ingredients for mom. II want her to enjoy cooking, or at least not be afraid of it.

Jamie Oliver – you are an incredible inspiration to me and I love what you are doing to change the way we think about food and what our children eat at school. I hope you succeed and I want to spread the word about your revolution like wildfire in this country!

It’s time for a change and it’s time that we stand up for the health of our families!

If you haven’t seen the show, it’s on (at least in Ohio) Friday nights at 9 p.m. on ABC. This week is the season finale, so check it out!

I have signed his petition. Have you?

April 19, 2010

YAY for a Cheap Grocery Week!

It doesn’t take much to make my day. Today, it was a simple, cheap shopping list. When I plan out my menus each week, I try to use as much of the stuff I already have as I can.

This week, I had a very short grocery list and only spent $17 on groceries for all of my meals this week. WOO HOO! I am not a big fan of grocery shopping so the shorter list the better. Of course this could mean that I have way too much food in my freezer and pantry…but at least I’m using it, right?

Just a tip - you can go to sites like allrecipes.com and recipes.com to get recipes to use ingredients you already have at home.

YAY for my cheap grocery week! How many meals can you make this week that come straight from your pantry and refrigerator?

April 18, 2010

What's Cookin'?

One of my biggest challenges in the past has been finding healthy recipes that still taste good. I want to share what we are eating and hopefully you’ll get some ideas for good recipes to try at your house.

As I mentioned before, each week I create a menu for the week and my shopping list. These aren’t always 100% healthy meals, but they are far better than processed meals in the freezer section! Here is my plan for this week.

Honey Mustard Chicken with Pretzel Crust (combining three of my husband’s favorite foods!)
Spring veggie bundle (to use veggies from my happy box…more on this to come later)
Dinner rolls

Mini tacos (these just look fun and cute)
Brown rice
Fresh fruit

Spinach & Ricotta Manicotti (a family recipe)
Garlic bread
Salad from the happy box


Friday is always a night out for the family. I’ve been cooking all week so I treat myself and the fam to a night out at least once a week. We enjoy this so much more after a hard week, especially if we haven’t been eating out all week.

This weekend we are super busy so I won’t be cooking, but usually I try to cook one other day of the weekend and finish up the leftovers before the next week.

April 17, 2010

My journey to own my family's food

Let me introduce myself. I am a full-time mom with a nearly two-year old daughter, a full-time wife and work full time outside the home. I set out on a mission in 2010 to prepare healthier meals for my family. I’m not going completely organic or taking on any fad diets.

I’m owning my family’s food choices.

At the beginning of 2010, I set two goals and figured I would see where things went. First, prepare at least two healthy meals for my family each week and to reduce our grocery bills. I actually enjoy cooking, but struggle finding the time and keeping all the other balls in the air. But, I was on a mission. Find a way to make meals that are healthy for my family. They are the most important thing in my life and I needed to make our health and future a priority.

So, I know that one of my biggest struggles was coming up with something to make after a long exhausting day at the office. I am not the most creative in the kitchen and like to stick to recipes. But, inevitably, several ingredients for something I wanted to make wouldn’t be there, I would get frustrated and just go out for dinner.

I started making a weekly menu on Saturday or Sunday. The GREATEST thing I have ever done. I actually look forward to making dinner now. I don’t schedule something for every night. I factor in leftovers and nights we have other plans, but I generally cook 3-5 times a week. Once I have the menu, I make the grocery list and STICK TO IT. This is probably the single most important thing to reduce my grocery shopping bills. I’m definitely an impulsive grocery shopper if I don’t know what I’m looking for.

I try to pick quick and easy recipes that have a lot of fresh ingredients so we can eat healthier and eat before midnight! I don’t have all day or night to cook.

Weekly menus and weekly grocery shopping…the adventure began…and now we just take it a week at a time to do what we can to make healthier choices as a family without sacrificing the foods we enjoy or making it difficult to eat with other people. Healthier doesn’t have to be crazy…it’s the simple things.