Friday, March 30, 2012

Sushi Night

Friday night is my favorite night of the week for several reasons, but mostly because it usually means sushi for dinner.   Lucky for us there is a fantastic sushi place about a mile from where we live so getting really awesome sushi is easy. Sometimes too easy. We save this treat for Friday since by that point we are all pretty worn out from the week and the last thing I want to do is cook.  Actually, if we're being honest, the last thing I want to do is clean up after cooking.  Our daughters especially love when we get sushi-even though they don't eat the raw stuff like we do.  Their favorite meal is chicken fried rice, miso soup ( even the Little One loves miso soup) and edamame.  They usually have a couple pieces of veggie sushi too.

My favorite is the volcano roll - I love anything spicy!

I like to share the volcano roll with my husband and get a veggie combo to go with my meal.  This way I can share with my daughters.  The Little One and Big One eat the avocado rolls and the Middle One likes the cucumber roll.  (The Little One doesn't eat the wrapper though.)

All of us girls get Miso soup with ours. 
Not the prettiest picture but it was so good!
And no sushi dinner is complete without an order of edamame, at least in my opinion.

Doesn't that just look so good? 

Nothing says TGIF like an ice cold Sam Adams.  

There is no better way to wrap up the week than with a no stress dinner. While I do love to cook and most of our meals are homemade, it is nice to get a break. Now I am ready to face the rest of my weekend, and I don't even have to do the dishes first! 

What is your favorite type of sushi?  Or if you don't eat sushi, what is your favorite takeout?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Easy Weeknight Dinner~Chicken Sausage Subs

During this time of year our girls have activities 5 nights a week.  Three nights a week we have a normal family dinner but the other two nights a week my oldest daughter and  husband have Lacrosse practice for an hour and a half- right at dinner time.  I need something that is easy and quick for those nights rather than ordering takeout for dinner.   During our last trip to the grocery store we came across these chicken sausages. Since they are precooked they make for a quick, easy, and very tasty dinner.

We tried a flavor totally new to us -a sweet chicken sausage made with apples and maple syrup.  
(I never thought sausage in a package looked very appetizing)
     We decided to pan fry them with peppers and onions.  Super quick, super simple.  

The only preparation required with this meal was slicing my veggies. And I did slice each sausage in half long ways so they would brown a bit easier.    

We threw some fries in the oven and baked those while the sausage and veggies were cooking.   I also toasted a couple of crusty hoagie rolls in the oven for a few minutes.

Somewhere under all those veggies is a piece of the sausage.  What can I say- I love my veggies!

I filled mine with sauteed veggies and some lettuce. It was filling, but not overly so.  I wasn't sure what to expect from the sweet sausage, but I really did like it.  It had such a mild flavor and  was not greasy at all. If you eat meat, these are a great thing to keep on hand for a quick weeknight dinner. 

We had leftovers since I cooked up the whole package so my husband used them in scrambled eggs they next morning.  They made a very tasty breakfast!  

**I was not paid for this blog post.  I just wanted to share a new dairy free find**

What is something you keep on hand for a quick dinner?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Dairy Free Find: Cinnamon Rolls

Let me start by saying this is NOT a health food blog.  This is a food intolerance/allergy blog.  I do try to eat healthy 99% of the time but the word omnivore in my name means just that.  I will eat just about anything- other than dairy of course! My goal is to lead a normal life, eating things that I used to love just without the dairy. I believe moderation is key, and a treat now and then is not a bad thing.  That being said, let's proceed to my latest  dairy free food find:

Growing up it was such a treat to  have cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven on a Saturday morning.  I don't mean made- from- scratch, mom slaved over them for hours, cinnamon rolls.  I mean the kind from a can- the gooey, oh so sweet, twist the can and jump when it explodes, cinnamon rolls. The ones we all know aren't super good for us but are such a treat to have. The same ones my husband made for me the morning he proposed to me.  That's right, my husband popped the question over a plate of  cinnamon rolls.  It was such a sweet moment.

Since canned cinnamon rolls have held a special place in my heart for the past 11 years it was a sad day when I could no longer eat them.  I have read every can I have come across- even the ones from Trader Joes. But they all contained whey or another form of dairy.  Until I found  this little gem at my local grocery store on Sunday afternoon:
 I used to have an issue with buying generic.  Call me a brand snob,  but I prefer brand names when it comes to food items.  But these store brand cinnamon rolls are just as good as the brand name ones.  

I was so excited when I found them I think I let out a little squeal right there in the freezer section.  My husband laughed at me, but he was as happy as I was to find these.  Now we can add cinnamon rolls back into our life! Don't worry, they won't be an everyday occurrence.  I don't have that much of a sweet tooth. 

 Yesterday morning I made this special treat for my family- the perfect start to a Monday after a very busy weekend.  
Yummy cinnamon goodness ready to go in the oven.

Needless to say once these were done they lasted all of about 5 minutes.  The littlest one even had one (minus the frosting of course!)   I limited myself to one roll and added a couple Cuties to my plate- you know, so it was a balanced meal.

 This morning we are back to our healthy breakfast- eggs with whole wheat toast for me, low-sugar cereal and fruit for the kiddos. But this is such a nice treat to have every now and then.

What is one food you miss the most since giving up dairy?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Coffee Creamer Conundrum

Coffee and milk- they go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Unless you take your coffee black, which I do not, cannot, and never will.  I am very particular about my morning cup of joe. I prefer Starbucks to any other brand, and I like medium and dark roasts. I always add my creamer and 2 teaspoons of organic sugar to the cup and mix them well before I pour in my coffee (or push the "on" button on the Keurig).   After almost 10 years of marriage my husband has actually perfected my cup of coffee and makes it better than I do.He does it the same way I do but it always tastes better when he makes it for me.  That's true love right there- when your spouse can make your coffee better than you can:-)
Before my lactose free days I would use 2% milk in my coffee.  Once those days were over, I switched to vanilla Silk soy milk.  I have been trying to find something different for the past year.  I have tried almond milk- that was a totally ruined cup of coffee.  I know some people love almond milk- I do like it in my smoothies or my oatmeal, but it just does not go well with coffee.  I tried plain coconut milk ( not coconut milk creamer but plain milk.) Again, not a fan.  Rice milk was too watery.  I did find some actual  flavored coffee creamers by International Delight that were lactose free. I LOVED them, but unfortunately they did not love me back.
Recently I have found a couple of options that I have come to love.

So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer
I mentioned above that I didn't like straight coconut milk in my coffee, but I do love their creamer.  It is so good!    There is no coconut flavor at all in this creamer. It's creamy, a little thicker than regular milk, and slightly sweet.

Trader Joe's Soy Creamer. 
While not quite as good as the So Delicious, it is a close second, especially if you don't want your coffee too sweet.  It also works as a fabulous dairy substitute in cooking.  I use it to make creamy sauces, like in my vegetable pot pie.

Coffee Mate French Vanilla Creamer
This is totally Lactose Free (but does contain casein). It does not contain palm oil, which is what I think upsets my stomach in the International Delight creamers.  This is a good one to have on hand if there are other coffee drinkers in your house who do not like milk substitutes.

Hopefully these new finds will end my search.  Although I am hopeful that there is always something better out there that I have yet to stumble upon.  For now, I am very happy with these three options and can once again look forward to my morning coffee. 

What is your favorite coffee creamer or substitute? Or are you still looking for one?

Fitting in Fitness

I will admit one of my biggest roadblocks when it comes to working out is trying to fit it into my Mommy Schedule.  With 3 kids, a husband who works far more than 40 hours a week, and my own volunteer responsibilities, there is no way I can just escape to the gym whenever I want to.  Our day is on a tight schedule during the school year from the time our feet hit the ground in the morning until the girls get tucked into bed at night. And I know I am not the only one. So many  mothers, especially of more than 1 child, lead a life very similar to mine.
Right now we have activities 5 nights a week and on Saturdays.  We can't just drop our kids off at their activities- I am my oldest daughter's Brownie Leader, and my husband coaches her Lacrosse team.    On top of the activities, I also homeschool our oldest daughter during the day.
 So with all of this going on around me, when am I supposed to fit in fitness?
Luckily I found an online Boot Camp that fits into my life perfectly!  I don't have to get up at 5am to go work out.  I don't have to have an overpriced gym membership and pay a huge fee to a personal trainer.  My workouts come in my email and I can fit them into my day, changing up my workout schedule daily if I need to.  It's been amazing and has kept me on track so far.  Since my mornings are typically chaotic with trying to get the 3 kids ready for their days, early workouts aren't usually possible.  (and no, I am not willing to give up my precious sleep for exercise.  Both are equally important and I don't get enough sleep as it is).
Since I am usually home during the day, I try to do my workout around 10:30am or so.  By this point in the day the middle one is at preschool, the littlest one is occupied with some toys, and the oldest is working on some independent school assignments.  I don't have a fancy home gym or a ton of expensive equipment.  I roll out my yoga mat, grab my weights, (and my trusty laptop with the routines on it) and get to work.
Notice the Little People Castle in the background?:-)

The best part about working out at home during the day is my daughters can join me- and they often do.  They will try to do the lunges, planks, or crunches with me. (without weights of course!)
My Littlest One trying to do some crunches just like Mommy.

They see Mom working out and join in and  hopefully this is setting up a good foundation for them to do this in the future.  I am not trying to make my kids health fanatics, but an early love of exercise and fitness will hopefully help to improve their overall health as they get older.  
I don't always include my girls in my exercise though.  I have started running with another Mommy friend of mine a couple mornings a week.  We enjoy the time out and away from our busy lives for a little while.   And I do enjoy letting my husband take over the morning routine those couple mornings a week! 

With 3 kids and the insanely busy lifestyle that goes along with that, I am happy that I have figured out a way to make exercise a part of my day.  If I miss a day or two for some reason I don't beat myself up over it- life happens despite our best intentions.  There's no sense in feeling guilty over it.  If I have to shorten a workout because the little one gets bored or fussy, or because the oldest one needs some help with her schoolwork, then I do.  Working out at home is so flexible.  Any workout, even a shortened one, is better than no workout at all.  

Moms-How do you find time to fit in fitness into your day?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Potato-Less Potato Salad

One of my major food weaknesses is pasta salad.  I love all types of pasta salads and during the warmer months we have one with just about every meal.    My two favorites are potato salad and pasta salad.  This recipe takes the two of them and  puts them together.   It is a pasta salad made the same way you make potato salad, but with noodles instead of potatoes.  You get the same flavor, it just takes less time and less work ( no peeling and slicing of potatoes involved).  It has quickly become a staple salad in our house and one I have to share with you.

 Potato-Less Potato Salad

1 box pasta noodles of your choice. I like to use shells or elbows.
6 hard boiled eggs
3 stalks celery, diced
dill pickles, diced (optional)
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
seasoned salt
1. Boil  your pasta noodles according to package directions.  While pasta is cooking, hard boil your eggs as well.  

2. When the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain it, rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process, and let cool.  

3.Once your pasta and eggs are cooled off add the pasta to a large bowl.  Chop your eggs into the size pieces you desire and add them and the celery and the noodles. 

4. I add roughly 1/4 cup of mayo, or enough to make the salad creamy.  Add as much or as a little as you want-the same as making potato salad.

5. Add your mustard (you can omit the mustard if you like).  I add about 1-2 teaspoons.  Mix well and sprinkle with paprika,  seasoned salt, and fresh ground pepper.  

You can either serve immediately or chill for about an hour before serving.  It also makes great leftovers.  

*You can make this Gluten Free by using Gluten Free noodles.


Back On Track

Oh hello there! Sorry I sort of disappeared there for a little bit.  It's been two wild and crazy weeks here in my house.   I knew March was going to be busy but I had no idea just how true that would be!  It seems that lately everything has been happening at the same time- start-up of Lacrosse season, my girls big Seussical, Jr performances (more on that in another post!), Girl Scout events, and to top it all off the dreaded stomach bug made a 2 week stop by our house this year- yuck.  This was the first time in 2 years we have had a bug like that in the house and it couldn't have hit at a worse time.  My husband and I got hit the hardest- probably because we were in the direct line of fire when the baby got it.  Despite my best efforts at Lysoling, Cloroxing, and sanitizing every surface in my house we could not escape it this time.  Because of my already temperamental stomach it took me a few extra days to get back into eating normally, which means that I was not cooking much during that time. But now we are back to our regular meals and back on track with our daily routine.

I am still doing the Best Body Boot Camp and loving it!  I did miss a few days thanks to my illness, but I am getting back on track with it.  I love that I have something to keep me accountable with my workouts and with what and how I eat.  I am also in full swing training for my first 5K that is in less than a month.  I am so lucky to have a friend who is helping me train and keeping me motivated.

So now that this small interruption is over we will be get back to our regularly scheduled blogging:-)

Friday, March 9, 2012

I'm Going to Bootcamp

When I was in college I worked out on my own every day.  I had my own routine that I really loved.  I ran a little bit in my later college years as well.  My boyfriend (now husband) and I tried running together but he is a full foot taller than I am, and used to run cross country so that didn't work out very well.  We did go to the gym together on occasion, but for the most part I like to work out on my own.

Even though I don't have an issue with my weight, and I am happy with my diet, I am not  as physically fit as I would like to be. I need to start doing something for myself-t o better myself.  In 4 months I will be 34.  YIKES!!  I want to make sure that as I creep closer and closer to my 40's ( Oh that was so scary to write- my 40's- ouch!) I am in the very best shape of my life.  I have been running more lately, but I wanted something with strength training and toning as well as cardio.  I talked to my husband about joining the Y or a gym but  I can't really get away during the day to spend an hour or two in a gym. Plus I don't think it is fair to take my 3 kids and put them in the gym daycare just so I can work out. Some kids love it, mine would not.  I needed an at home program I can do on my time, that fits my ever changing daily schedule.   Not too long ago one of my favorite fitness bloggers, Tina Reale, posted that she was going to do an online Boot Camp.  This was EXACTLY what I had been looking for!  I can do it on my own time, at my own pace.  
Over the next 8 weeks I plan to do a weekly post  about my experiences with the Best Body Bootcamp and about working out in general.    Yes, this is a food blog, but I  think that food and fitness go hand in hand.  Cutting dairy from your diet because of dietary issues helps you feel better overall. But adding in exercise can make you feel even healthier.  I am so very excited about this challenge and am looking forward to seeing results. 

If you are looking for a great fitness blogger, you should check out  Best Body Fitness.