Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Week Meal Plan

Well it's here!  Christmas week is upon us- a week of good eating, lots of time in the kitchen, and the last minute rush to get everything done.

Before we look at this week's menu, let's see how we did with last week's menu:

Sunday: Bagel Pizzas
Monday:  Homemade Pho and Naan 
Tuesday: Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
Wednesday: Chicken Curry Soup-nope.  switched it to homemade bangers and mash with peas and onion gravy. (we make hamburger patties instead since we don't eat sausage). The recipe is from our Harry Potter cookbook and is a kid favorite:-)
Thursday: Birthday Dinner Chili bar: vegetarian chili, meat chili, and all the fixings.
 Friday: Smoked Salmon- nope.  Changed it to my Christmas Salmon, sautéed kale, and roasted red potatoes.

 4 out of 6 isn't too bad.  We still ate at home, still had home cooked meals and that is what is important.  For breakfasts and lunches we deviated a little bit, but for the most part the planned menu was pretty close. All the meals worked out well because I also added a few meals to my freezer stockpile.  We made extra hamburger patties so I wrapped them individually in parchment paper and froze them for lunches or meals.  We have 2 meal size servings of chili and 1 large jar of black bean soup in the freezer as well. Cook once, eat twice!

This week's menu:
Sunday: Pizzas (my girls LOVE homemade pizzas and they are so easy), oven baked zucchini spears.

Monday: Quinoa bites, broccoli, Portobello fries (trying out 2 new recipes).

Tuesday: Christmas Eve at Mom and Dad's: She is making Beef Bourguignon. We are bringing garlicky Kale on crostini and crab cakes.

Wednesday: I host Christmas dinner: fresh organic turkey, roasted red potatoes, baby peas, roasted carrots, cornbread stuffing, homemade cranberry orange relish, gravy, rolls. My husband might make shrimp cocktail, and we will have some appetizers before dinner as well.

Thursday: Leftovers- probably open face turkey sandwiches:-)

Friday: Chicken Curry soup OR Beef curry.  Haven't decided yet on which kind of curry we want.

Saturday: planning and shopping for New Year's Week and friends coming to visit.

Breakfasts and lunches aren't planned this week since both my husband and I are off from work. 

 Just looking at this menu is making me hungry! Time to go bake some more cookies, and wrap some gifts.

Until next time:
Have a Happy Healthy Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


For my birthday this past summer I decided I wanted a  Breville Juicer.  I really had no idea what to do with it, just that I wanted to begin to make my own juice.  The idea of green juice was intriguing to me, even though I had never had it before.  My ever-so-patient husband yet again went along with one of my whims and for my birthday I became the proud owner of this fancy new machine. 

Isn't it pretty?

On the way home from buying this we stopped by Whole Foods and picked some up some fruit to practice with. Since we really had no idea what we were doing, we decided to start simple.  Our first juice ever was apple pineapple.  I believe the recipe was 1 pineapple and 4 apples.
Green apples have a lower sugar content than other types of apples, and are therefore better for juicing.
I am not going to lie, at first I was a little skeptical because of the smell.  It had an earthy scent to it.  It wasn't a bad smell at all, just not what we are used to smelling when it comes to juice.  Because there is no added sugar or water, you smell the fruits, not the sugar. My girls tried it with no hesitation and loved it.  I have to say that on a hot summer day, this juice is amazing.  It would also make great homemade Popsicles for the kids.
We have since tried several more recipes and have started making up our own as we go along. We recently started phasing out fruit and just juicing vegetables. 

I wanted to share some of our favorites with you:

 Pineapple, 1/2 lemon, 3 green apples, 1/4 cucumber and a small handful of parsley. Split 3 ways of made the perfect portion sizes for kids.  This one was my 3 year olds.

You can juice a lemon with the skin on, as long as it is organic.

Strawberry Watermelon:  1/4 watermelon (no rind of course) and a cup of fresh hulled strawberries. One of my personal summer favorites. 
Watermelons yield a lot of juice since they are mostly water.
Mango Limeade: I believe this recipe was 1 mango and 2 apples, 1/2 lime..
Make sure your mangoes are ripe or this juice will be very tart.
Our first ever attempt at a "green" juice.  It came out a little less green and a little more brown, but it was still very good.
Immune Support
handful parsley, 3 kale leaves, 1 cup blueberries, 1/2 lemon, 1/2 cucumber, 2 green apples.
I add ice to my juice because I prefer it very cold.
This one is my personal favorite.  I absolutely love juiced carrots- they give you an energy boost that you can't get anywhere else.
 4 green apples, 3 large carrots, 4 stalks celery.
We juice for more than 1 person and we use small apples.  If you are juicing only for yourself, cut this recipe in half.
Pineapple, 1 large honey crisp apple, 4 oranges peeled. So good, especially for kids!
Juices that are mostly fruit do have a high sugar content so they are not good for daily consumption.  For kids, I would cut them with water or ice. Any leftovers you can make into Popsicles.
"we stayed up way too late and need an energy boost" juice: 4 stalks celery with leaves, 3 carrots, 3 green apples, 1/4 of a lemon, quarter size slice of fresh ginger.
When juicing be sure to only use organic fruits and vegetables.
My newest juice concoction: kale, apple, orange, celery, lemon. I love the bright green color of this one. 
When juicing lemons, only use 1/4 unless you want a strong lemon flavor.
We juice roughly 3 times a week so far.  If one of us is feeling run down we may add an extra day to boost our nutrients and help kick our immune system into gear.  You should drink your juice on an empty stomach in order to properly absorb the phytonutrients in the juice.  If you have never juiced before, I recommend starting simple like we did with just two kinds of fruit.  Work your way up to green juices, as they have a much stronger flavor.  Also remember that juices are not low calorie, so don't over do them. 
As for the expense- it can be a little pricey if you are buying tons of overpriced fruits and vegetables and not using them.  Keep it simple and buy in bulk.  Juice fruits and vegetables you  like. We buy carrots, celery, kale, apples, oranges, lemons in bulk.  Those are basic ingredients to make some very delicious juice combinations.  I also always have ginger and garlic on hand so I can throw those into a juice if I need to. (garlic and ginger are both immune boosting). We will get a pineapple occasionally if they are priced well. I also buy cucumbers to juice but usually the girls eat those before we get the chance.  You don't need to go overboard to get the benefits.
If you have any questions about juicing please feel free to contact me. I will try to answer any questions as  best as I can.
Until next time:
Happy, Healthy Cooking!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Week Meal Plan

As of today we have just a little more than a week until Christmas.  I don't know about anyone else, but I know that I am definitely feeling the holiday crunch this week.  With all that is left to get done, time feels as though it is quickly slipping away.  Not only is Christmas next week, but my oldest daughter's birthday is this week so we get a double whammy this time of year. 

To make my life just a little bit easier, I made sure to take the time and make our weekly meal plan yesterday morning.  We do try to meal plan every week, and some weeks we are a little better organized than others. We follow the Nutritarian  lifestyle ( I will write a post on that later this week), which makes meal planning a little easier in my opinion. Basically that means we eat foods based on their nutritional value. Our diet is filled with greens, fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, high quality grains, smaller amounts of animal protein - eggs, turkey, beef, fish mostly.  The idea of this way of eating is that 90% of the time you eat very well, 10% of the time you can indulge. It works well for us as a family and is pretty easy to follow.  I have learned to cook more foods that I never thought of trying, and my girls will eat just about any vegetable I put on their plate.  Except Brussel sprouts. None of us like Brussel sprouts.

On our meal plan we try to include a new recipe, a family favorite, something easy, a crock pot meal, and one big Sunday style family dinner.  Not this week.  This week the idea is to keep it simple.

On the menu:
Sunday: Bagel Pizzas (made by my oldest) and a movie night
Monday:  Homemade Pho 
Tuesday: Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
Wednesday: Chicken Curry Soup ( we are going to use turkey since I have some in the freezer)
Thursday: Birthday Dinner! She has chosen to have a Chili Bar.
Friday: Smoked Salmon, roasted veggies, wild rice pilaf.
Saturday: We don't usually plan Saturday's meals.

I realize there are 3 soups on the menu this week.  The thing is my girls and my husband love soup, especially this time of year.  Soups can be a complete meal all on their own, which make them great for busy weeks.

Breakfasts and lunches are just as important to plan during busy weeks. A good breakfast will keep cravings away and give you a great nutritional start to the day. I don't normally plan our breakfasts, but we are trying to make our mornings a little less crazy by planning ahead.

Monday: Green Juice, cereal w/almond milk and a banana
Tuesday: Homemade slow cooker oatmeal
Wednesday: Homemade juice, overnight oats
Thursday: Cinnamon rolls for our oldest daughter's Birthday breakfast.
Friday: Homemade juice, oatmeal or cereal

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday mornings we make homemade juice. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we make green monster smoothies.

 For lunches the girls will have sandwiches (pb&j or peanut butter and banana), a snack plate (veggies, cheese, crackers, fruit), or veggie pasta. 
For the grownups:  My current favorite lunch is: 1 egg fried in coconut oil topped with sautéed greens (kale or Swiss chard) served on toasted Ezekiel bread.  Otherwise it is leftovers.

Saturday we will plan for Christmas week and do our shopping.

Dinnertime is the time of day that my husband and I get to enjoy a conversation, a glass of wine, and catch up with what is going on with each other. Having this all planned out will ensure that our meal time is less stressful, and that we still eat well balanced meals. 

Other posts coming up this week:
What is the Nutritarian Lifestyle?
Biscuits and Gravy
Favorite Christmas recipes

Until next time,
~Happy, Healthy Cooking!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dairy Free Dining at Disney

This year we took our very first BIG family vacation- we flew to Orlando for the week of Halloween.  We take a vacation every summer, but normally we only drive about 2 hours away to our favorite beach resort.  Since our girls are finally old enough to all enjoy Disney World and Universal, this was the perfect year for our first trip. 

Planning was crucial for a successful and fun vacation.  We have a 3 year old, a child with Cerebral Palsy (which presents strength and stamina issues), me with my severe lactose intolerance, and the oldest with a newly diagnosed deadly tree nut allergy.
As I mentioned, planning was CRUCIAL to this trip.  For the sake of length of this post I will write only about meals while we were on our trip.  My parents joined us, so finding dining options for 7 people, that would accommodate me, was a bit of a challenge.  We spent a couple of evenings going through online menus, making notes of the most allergen-friendly places on property, calling Disney World, and making meal reservations.  We did get one of the meal plans, which allotted each of us 20 snacks, 10 quick service, and 7 sit-down meals, for 7 days. 

Two days before our trip we mailed a box of food to our resort.  We filled it with: two cartons of shelf stable almond milk, a box of the girls' favorite (organic) cereal, granola, small packs of organic popcorn, crackers, peanut butter pretzels, pita chips,  and more.  Basically easily packable snacks to take into the park.  Disney World DOES allow their guests to bring in outside food. 

We decided to fly to Orlando rather than drive to save a day of travel.  From where we live it was a 1.5 hour hop to one airport, then a 45 minute hop to Orlando- so not too much time in the air. I packed organic lollipops for in the air (my kids don't chew gum but needed something to ease the ear pressure), packs of Annie's Bunnies, organic popcorn, and granola for munchies.  The hardest part was our lunch in between airports.  There are very few healthy options for the traveling public.  My husband and I walked the entire concourse during our 90 minute layover in order to find a suitable lunch for our girls.  We settled on Honest Tea juices, fruit cups, cheese sticks, and crackers. That was honestly the very best option. Sad, but true. 

Once we landed, our transportation was waiting for us at the airport. After a short trip to our resort, a very easy check-in, and exploring our hotel a bit,  we were on our way to Downtown Disney in search of dinner.  We chose to eat at Fultons Crab House, because they served salmon and  I could get it made to order.  Dinner was decent that night, but my fish was salt encrusted, which I do not like.  I will say our waiter was quite good, and they had some terrific, healthy options for kids.  They are pricey, but covered on your Disney Dining Plan as a table service.

Our first day at Disney World was on Halloween, and we headed straight to The Magic Kingdom. We had bought tickets to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party later in the evening. Plus, when you go to Disney, you have to start your trip at the Magic Kingdom!  We had reservations at the Crystal Palace for a late lunch- a sit down character dining with Winnie the Pooh and Friends.  The chef went through the entire buffet with both my daughter and me, showing us what we could and could not eat.  On a negative note- he did forget to bring my meal, but I had two servings of salads from the buffet so I didn't leave hungry. 

For snacks at the parks they had carts with Honest Tea juices, waters, fruit.  It was also covered under our meal plan. 

Day two we ventured to Epcot for the day. We met up with my husband's sister and her husband.  Since they live in Tampa they were able to come spend the day with us.  We didn't have reservations anywhere so at lunchtime we wandered to Japan in the World Showcase and found their Tokyo Dining restaurant.  I spoke to the manager and we were able to get veggie sushi that was INCREDIBLE.  It was so good we ate there a second time- for dinner on our very last night at Disney.

On our 3rd day, which was a rainy Saturday, we took a day off from the parks and went to explore and shop at Downtown Disney. For lunch we hit up Babycakes Bakery- a totally allergen free bakery.  Yes,  I know that doughnuts are NOT the best lunch, but man they were GOOOOD! We bought a box to bring back to the hotel so I could have breakfast the remaining days we were there.

For dinner we went back to Fulton's that evening since we had had good luck there before.  Unfortunately my luck ran out.  All the adults ordered steamed Alaskan crab legs.  I had a conversation with our waiter and the chef and they both assured me my meal would be fine.  And I have to say my meal was delicious.  However 20 minutes after  I finished eating my tummy rebelled in the "oh no I had dairy" kind of way. Totally ruined the remainder of my evening.  Those of us with food allergies/sensitivities/intolerances know that is always a risk we take when eating out. But it still stinks when it happens.  Luckily after some medicine I was feeling a tad better. Our thinking is that my plate and my husband's plate got mixed up when we had to send the crab back because it wasn't quite warm enough.  Not enough dairy to make me violently ill, but enough cross contamination to make me wish I hadn't eaten at all and to ruin my evening. :-(  Good news- by the next day all was well. 

Breakfast was a bit of a challenge.  Our hotel had a cafeteria style restaurant.  They served Belgian waffles, bacon (I don't eat bacon EVER), eggs, hash browns, oatmeal... basically all things made with dairy.  My husband would bring me fruit and a V8, which were the best dairy free option there.  Luckily I like V8 and fruit. If you need a more substantial breakfast, I recommend calling ahead and asking how they can accommodate you or your child.

Day 4 we headed off to Universal Studios- Islands of Adventure.  Our first destination- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Before we left I had read that Universal was the worst park for dealing with food allergies. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that was not true.  I did know that Butterbeer was probably not an option for me, so I opted to try the pumpkin juice instead.  I think I won on that one because the general consensus on the butterbeer was that it was "way too sweet".

At each "movie" section they have snack carts with several fresh fruit options, water, juices. At one point I was starving so I snuck off and grabbed a bag of red grapes for less than $2.50.  It was about the size you would get at the local grocery store. Big enough to share with several people. 
For lunch we tried our luck at the restaurant called Mythos.  I figured I wouldn't eat lunch, but the main chef came out, went over vegan options with me, and made my meal herself!  I had Pad Thai and it was DELICIOUS.  Hands down the best meal I had on vacation. 

The park closed at 7pm so we opted to eat on the way back to our resort.  We stopped at a Chipotle, which is dairy free friendly. There is also a Whole Foods in Orlando in between  Walt Disney World and Universal, closer to Universal. 

Day 6 was back at the Magic Kingdom.  We ended up at a quick service in Tomorrowland  at Cosmic Rays Starlight Café for lunch. Again I spoke with the manager and got a made-to-order allergy free meal: a grilled veggie sandwich on ciabatta bread with fries cooked in the allergen-free fryer.  It was quite good! 

Day 7 was our last day on vacation.  We went to Hollywood Studios for the day and had reservations for a table service meal at The 50s Prime Time Café.   The menu there was mostly old style comfort foods- meatloaf, roast, fried chicken.  Again I spoke with the chef and they made me a poached salmon with sautéed greens and fries ( I couldn't have the other sides because they all had dairy.) For dinner we went back to Epcot for the fireworks and sushi.

Seven days, only one relatively mild mishap.  Not too bad for someone with a severe lactose intolerance who cannot eat out in her hometown.  I would most definitely go back to both Disney World and Universal again, and eat with no fear of getting sick from dairy.  My oldest daughter has a severe allergy to tree nuts and that was not a problem either. My favorite meal: Mythos in Universal. Favorite snack: Babycakes Bakery in Downtown Disney.

If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World I recommend visiting the Allergy Eats Disney World website. They were a great source of planning information for me.

Until next time:
Healthy, Happy Travels!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

From Amateur Blogger to Health and Nutrition Coach

My blog has been sadly neglected these past few months so it's about time I let you all in on what's new and good.  The neglect has not been without good cause.  I have been launching my new career as a Health and Nutrition Coach. It has been an extremely exciting, challenging, chaotic, amazing time- an endeavor I never dreamed of but that was handed to me on a silver platter.  Back about a year ago I was offered the opportunity to work with an amazing Chiropractor in my area, one who focuses on a more holistic approach to healing.  Her views and ideals are right in line with my own, not to mention she is an overall wonderful person, so the choice was clear.  Lucky for me my husband is the most supportive man so after a conversation of how we would work out the logistics of two working parents, who also happen to home school, we were all set.

I have spent the past 4 months finding my niche, figuring out what path I want to take with my coaching. I feel that at this point it is falling into place. My main specialties are shaping up to be: guiding people with chronic illnesses to a  more healthful diet specific to their needs; and helping people discover what their food intolerance is through an elimination diet and then how to deal with it in their everyday life.

While those are my specialties, I am not limited to dealing with just those issues.  I also: guide people through healthy weight loss, work with children and families to develop more nutritionally balanced meals, help people end their addiction to sugar, teach clients about the many different dietary theories and help them pick the one that best suites their current needs, teach nutrition and wellness classes.  In the next month I will be teaching Balance and Posture classes in addition to health coaching.

My own struggles with food intolerance are what first led me to have a passion for food and healthier eating.  My struggle with allergies and then a diagnosis of asthma led me to further clean up my diet and heal myself.  I am now medication  free, with no signs or symptoms of asthma in several months. I am proof that food as medicine works, and I am passionate about sharing that with as many people as I can. In coming days I will have my Health and Nutrition Coach website up and running, where I will share more of my story and my own struggles with health and food, post nutrition information, tips, and recipes.  I will also outline my programs and offerings for those who are interested.

I will continue this blog with recipes for my dairy free followers of course! I plan to post many recipes in the future, so there will be something for everyone.

If you would like more information about our practice you can visit:

Wright Spine and Sports Health

Our Facebook Page

We also have a Pinterest page

Feel free to email me with questions at

Until next time:
Healthy, Happy Cooking!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Product Review: Good Karma Flax Milk

I have been trying to write this post for a while, but thanks to some technical difficulties, it's been delayed until now.
Milk is a central part of the American diet it seems.  But if you can no longer have cow's milk,  finding a comparable alternative can be tricky. When I first went dairy free 7 years ago I immediately turned to soy milk as my go-to dairy free replacement.  When my youngest daughter started drinking milk, we put her on soymilk because she was showing signs of lactose intolerance.  However, the soy didn't seem to agree with her so we looked for another alternative.  We have tried almond, rice, and coconut milk. I am always looking for new types to try and see if they work better in recipes, or just have more health benefits than we currently use. We use almond milk on a regular basis now since it is the one all 5 of us can agree on.

Recently the good people at Good Karma sent me a cooler with two containers of their flax milk to try.  I had never had flax milk- I had never even heard of it! But since I am a HUGE fan of flaxseeds, I was more than happy to give their product a try.

What first caught my attention was that it has added protein- always a plus.  The first day I used it on my cereal and on my 3 daughters' bowls of cereal.  My girls can be pretty picky when it comes to the milk I put on their cereal- they don't like soy, rice, or coconut milks.  They can even tell when I switch brands of almond milk.  Several bowls of cereal have been dumped because they didn't like the milk.  The first to try it was the pickiest of the 3- the little one.  She ate her whole bowl and asked for more!  The middle one was able to give me more of a verbalized opinion.  She said she liked it, that it did taste a bit different than almond milk, but not bad different.  My husband and I also used it on our cereal and we both liked as well.  Test #1- success.

We are also HUGE smoothie fans- I make them pretty much everyday for my kids and husband.  My normal recipe calls for almond milk and flaxseed meal.  Since I was using flaxmilk, I replaced the flaxseed meal with chia seeds.  WOW!  Seriously the best smoothie I've ever made!  It was so creamy, the milk added no flavor to the smoothie (sometimes almond milk will if I have to use more the thicken it.)  Even my husband commented on how creamy the smoothies were with the flax milk as opposed to the almond milk.

We also used the flax milk in our pancake recipe- again it worked just as well as the other milks we have used. I had wanted to try it in my vegan gravy recipe but we drank it all before I got to that.  Oops. 

Instead I will share my smoothie recipes using the Flax milk.  If you have a chance, I highly recommend you try this.  It is probably the best alternative I have found so far.  In searching for it to buy I found it at Whole Foods.  I have not checked my local Kroger, Fresh Market, or Harris Teeter yet. 

My Favorite Green Monster Smoothie:
1 frozen Banana
handful of spinach
1 tablespoon all natural peanut butter,
1 tablespoon chia seeds.
Flax milk

Blend until smooth.  That's it.  So simple and so good.  The flax milk really adds a creamier consistency.

If you are looking for a healthy milk replacement for your coffee, the flax milk is also great for that.  I drink my coffee black now, but I did try it one morning, just to see how it would taste. It was much better than almond milk.

 Flax milk has now become a regular item in our fridge.  I even bought some to take on vacation.  In my personal opinion, it is hands down the BEST non-dairy option I have ever had.  I highly recommend giving it a try.

*All opinions in this post are my own.  I was not compensated in any way, other than receiving the product to try.*

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

3rd Birthday Fun

Her coming home outfit, the shirt from her 1st birthday, from her
2nd birthday, and this year.
Yesterday our littlest one turned 3- where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday we were bringing her home from the hospital! Now she's a funny, sweet, mischievous little monkey who keeps us laughing, and is always on the go.  She was definitely all the 2 year old she could be, but not in a bad way.  She's very inquisitive about everything, has a wildly active imagination, and loves to be outside.  She's very different than her sisters in every way possible.

We just had a simple party on Sunday afternoon with close friends and family. Saturday I was camping with my oldest one's Girl Scout troop, so while I was gone, my husband took care of some of the party prep. He cleaned the house (yes, you read that right), ordered balloons, wrapped presents, and took care of a few other chores.  We got home Sunday morning, and started in with all the prep for her party. Abby had decided she wanted cupcakes, so I made her vanilla bean cupcakes, and for the adults I made an orange cake. We kept it simple with all of Abby's favorite foods:  fruit and veggie platters, chips and salsa, and pizza - she LOVES pizza!  She had a blast being the center of attention-as usual.
She had the sweetest look on her face as we sang to her. 

Make a wish Abby!
After the candles were blown out (it took a couple tries of course!) and she had gotten the first cupcake, she got right down to business opening her gifts.  We had a hard time shopping for her because she doesn't actually play with toys.  She has so many toys and she just doesn't play with them.  And she is not a fan of stuffed animals.  She would rather play games, do puzzles, draw, or go outside than play with toys.  
We decided to get her a tricycle, since she is still a bit young for a bike, but wants to be big like her biggest sister.  We got her a good old fashioned Radio Flyer- the one she picked in the toy store last month actually.  Good thing Mommy has a great memory! ( It does have a handle on the back for parents to hold on to, but that will be coming off very, very soon I am sure.)  Although she loves to have her sisters push her around- she thinks it's "Awesome".  Of course, we got her a few other things too.

My parents got her the coolest bubble machine (my Dad picked it out).  It's a leaf blower shaped bubble blower.  The kid was in HEAVEN!  So was our friend Chad- it was the first gift out of the package, and the first one played with... by the adults of course! They also got her a picnic table, earrings, and outfits, but the bubble blower was the coolest thing ever.  

Abby absolutely loves "Uncle Chad":-)

Our friends also definitely spoiled her rotten with all of her favorite things and they all know her well- everyone included bubbles in their gifts.  She loved having them here, getting to play with the kids, getting her birthday hugs, and just being the center of attention.  She's a very lucky little girl to have such wonderful people in her life.  

Luckily the rain held off so we could get in some outside time as well.

I'm pretty sure this was her favorite gift!

She has grown and changed so much in the past year- from a toddler into a preschooler. She can count to 20, knows all her colors, her alphabet, her animals. She has opinions, likes and dislikes, and a hilarious sense of humor. While I am sad that my last baby is growing so fast, I am excited to see how much she will change and grow in her 3rd year. Happy 3rd  Birthday to our sweet baby girl.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

New Pescatarian Lifestyle, New Weekly Menu Plans

For Lent I gave up meat- beef, pork,and  poultry, and I haven't gone back to eating it yet. We had watched "Forks Over Knives" in February and the information in the documentary really struck a cord with me.  We had already gone to 3 meatless meals a week, but I found that certain kinds of meat were upsetting my stomach again. I also wanted to see if cleaning up my diet even more and going more plant based would help with my asthma, which was TERRIBLE during the end of summer last year.  I did decide to keep eating seafood since we get such great seafood where I live, and shrimp and salmon are two of my favorite foods.  That makes me a Pescatarian at this point in time.  I do still cook meat for my husband and kids- we grill burgers often and I'll have a veggie burger instead.  If we do chicken, I'll just make extra veggies, or baked buffalo or BBQ tofu (It's really good!) When we make our buffalo chicken dip, I'll make a small one for myself without chicken, and a large one for my family, and so on. We  try to do fish a couple times a week since we have a the best fresh fish market right down the road.  I also make a lot of vegetarian or vegan dishes that my family loves, so we have a huge menu to choose from. It's not been too much of an adjustment to be honest.
 My oldest daughter has asked me if I'll ever eat meat again, and my answer is yes, most likely I will. Life is a really long time and I can't imagine never having a steak again.  I have explained to her that everyone goes through dietary changes or phases in their lifetime, and that at this point meat doesn't really appeal to me.  (Although I do take Trader Joes turkey jerky on camping trips. Since we are so active I need the quick protein, and peanut butter just doesn't always do the trick. )   I will never go back to eating the same amount of meat as before, but I will reincorporate it in small quantities at some point, except pork.

This new way to eat has meant some changes in the way we meal plan and grocery shop.  We used to grocery shop twice a month- huge shopping trips on the Saturday of payday.  We would sit down together and make a huge list before heading out for a marathon shopping trip.  We would hit up BJ's, Trader Joes, and Kroger.  It did help us budget, and I never had to run out and buy anything during the week- which saved tons of money.  But it was tedious, and we couldn't get as many fresh fruits and veggies since A. my fridge isn't that big, and B. they wouldn't last a full 10 days.
We now eat at least twice as many fresh veggies as we used to so we have decided to shop once a week, and cut our BJ's trips down to once a month or less. Since we no longer need diapers or wipes in bulk, we don't need to go bulk shopping as often. It has actually cut our bill even more, and we waste far less than we used to.  We still don't have to make daily visits to the store because we plan ALL our meals- breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  My husband will stop at Whole Foods when he commutes to his office since there is one nearby (which is an hour from where we live.) He commutes once a week on average, and will take a short  list with him about twice a month- usually for bulk grains, dried beans, granola, GMO free oils, and a few treats we can only get there.

We get our beef fresh from a farm twice a year, and we have a plentiful garden in the backyard to pick from so this week's menu required 1 short trip to Trader Joes, and a very small grocery bill.

Monday: Baked chicken ( I'll have Gardein chicken strips), fresh fruits and veggies.
Tuesday: Stuffed Shells, baked fried zucchini,  fruit for dessert
Wednesday: French Bread pizza and mixed  veggies
Thursday: Burgers on the grill (Dr. Praegers for me), homemade mac and "cheese",  kale chips, sriracha baked beans.
Friday: Grilled Salmon, shrimp skewers, stir fried veggies, Asian pasta salad (recipe to come)
Saturday: We will put together next week's menu and grocery shop for the next week so dinner will be planned that day.

For lunches: I'll make up a Lemony Quinoa Salad, and have leftovers.  The girls have "snack plates"- fruits, veggies, cheese stick, tortilla chips. We also have peanut butter and jelly, or leftovers.
Breakfast: I made an orange cake yesterday that is good for breakfast or dessert, I'll make a banana bread today, and we have cereal. On the weekends Daddy make pancakes or Belgian waffles, or we have biscuits and gravy. 
Snacks: Cheese sticks, homemade granola bars, fruit- we have grapes, strawberries, pineapple, apples, and oranges, fresh cut up veggies, ants on a log, or chips and salsa.

So there you have it- our super easy meal plan that incorporates two different diets into one easy plan.  Next weekend we get to go to the Farmer's Market, and I can't wait to share that menu with you!

Lemony Quinoa Salad

 Quinoa has become one of our favorite grains to use- my daughters especially love it.  I keep a jar full in my cabinet at all times for lunchtime salads, casseroles, and quick side dishes. I've even started taking this salad on camping trips because it's a great source of protein and energy. It keeps well in a cooler, and a little goes a long way.  Needless to say I get a lot of questions whenever I break out the container of this "funny looking" food!  I also keep a bowl of this in the fridge during the week for quick lunches or a snack.  It's really good as a dip with tortilla chips, or in a wrap with baby spinach. The possibilities are endless with this simple salad.
 I change around the veggies each time I make it depending on what I have on hand, but the dressing remains the same. It has a summery, lemony flavor that goes with just about any veggies. So we'll call it Lemony Quinoa Salad

 Quinoa Salad:
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • handful tomatoes, chopped ( I use grape tomatoes, cut in quarters)
  • Pepper (your choice of color), chopped
  • 1/4 of a red onion finely diced
  • 1 cup white corn
  • handful Cilantro, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • Rice Vinegar- add to the oil in the measuring cup - enough to get to the 1/3 line.
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • teaspoon Sriracha

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.  1 cup of quinoa cooks in 2 cups of water. Bring to a light boil and simmer until done.  Once cooked set aside to let cool.
2.Measure your olive oil in a measuring cup, then add the rice vinegar to that to get to the 1/3 line.  Add the juice from 1 lemon ( I microwave it first for 10 seconds to get the juice flowing), and add the teaspoon of Sriracha.  Whisk it all together so it is well mixed.
3. Once the Quinoa is cooled, add the veggies,  pour the dressing mix over it and mix well.  The dressing won't make it wet or oily- just give it a nice flavor.  If you can, make this ahead and let the flavors mingle for at least a couple hours in the fridge before eating.

This past weekend I made this same salad for a camping trip, but with diced carrots, English cucumber, corn, and tomatoes.  (Since I was camping I didn't want the onions to smell in the cooler).  I've also done shallots, corn, black beans, red peppers, and tomatoes.  

This has definitely become our go-to summer salad. What is one of your go-to summer salads?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Nacho Pizza

If you've been following this blog for a while you will have noticed that we love pizza in this house.  I mean, what kid doesn't?  Since we can't just order a pizza, we tend to get creative when we decide to have pizza nights.  We've had stromboli, buffalo chicken pizza (I should probably share that one!), flat bread pizza, pizza bake, bagel pizzas, good old fashioned pizzas.  My oldest has been asking me to make a taco pizza for some time now.  We had a sort of taco pizza casserole a while back- with prepackaged dough and ground beef.  But since we no longer eat prepackaged foods, and I don't eat red meat, I had to come up with something new. So we hunted through the cabinets and fridge to see what we had on hand and this is what we came up with: A vegan Nacho Pizza.
This took about an hour to make, start to finish. And that was with help from my 9 year old, wrangling a toddler, and chasing down a puppy who stole a few toys and shoes while I was trying to make dinner. You know, just a typical evening with kids.  On my own it would have taken about 45 minutes.

Nacho Pizza:

  •  Pizza Crust ( the recipe for my homemade crust )
  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • 1 can vegan refried beans (I used Trader Joes)
  • 1 can organic red kidney beans
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 onion, diced finely
  • 1/2 package taco seasoning ( I used Trader Joes)
  • Dairy free/lactose free cheese of your choice 
  • 2-3 green onions, diced
  • handful cherry tomatoes, chopped.

1. Make your crust. I leave this totally up to you. This recipe can easily be made gluten free if you make a gluten free crust.  You could also use a store bought crust if you are crunched for time.  We have a tried and true recipe we use each time we make pizza- it takes about 10 minutes and is so much better than store bought.  Once your crust is ready press it out on a pizza pan and set it aside.

 2. Dice the onions, chop your peppers and tomatoes.  Preheat a skillet and add a teaspoon of cooking oil of your choice.  (I used GMO free canola oil).  Once the skillet is heated add the onions and peppers. Cook over medium heat until the onions start to become translucent.   Add the chopped tomatoes.  Drain and rinse the beans, and add them to the pan.  Let this mixture cook on low-medium heat until the tomatoes cook down.

3. Add a handful of taco seasoning to the veggie and bean mixture. The seasoning I use is spicy so I don't add a lot because of the kids.  You can add more or less depending on your preference.  Let simmer until the tomatoes have cooked down to make a sauce.

4. Spread the pizza crust with refried beans.  Top that with the bean and tomato mixture, and then top with cheese. Sprinkle with a little extra taco seasoning (about a teaspoon).

5. Bake according to directions for the crust-mine baked at 425F- until the cheese is melted and the crust is done. About 2 minute before it is done, pull it out, sprinkle with chopped grape tomatoes and diced green onion.  Put back in the oven to warm the topping. 

This tasted just like nachos on a pizza crust. The beans take the place of meat nicely- it is very filling. You could use black beans instead of kidney- it really is your preference.  Topped with a little homemade guacamole, or just left as is, it was a great, easy weeknight dinner.  Kid tested and approved. 

We also had Kale chips on the side.

*Thanks to my husband for grabbing the camera and taking pictures while I made this. Otherwise there wouldn't have been a post today.
*This recipe is Vegan and can be made Gluten Free.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A New Journey

For several years I have been wanting to go back to school, either furthering my degree in History, or pursuing another field of study. I have flip-flopped between a Masters in Education, getting my MBA, finding a Registered Dietitian program, and at one point I even toyed with the idea of becoming a NICU nurse.  I was actually just a few steps from signing up for a Masters of Public Health program when we found out we were pregnant with our third daughter. 
I always knew I wanted to go into a field that helped people, either teaching or health related services, but nothing felt RIGHT.  Then a couple months ago a dear friend of mine pointed me in the direction of a holistic nutrition and health coach program and offered me an amazing career opportunity that I would have been crazy to pass up.  After looking into the program it was clear that this is exactly what I have been looking for.  Twelve years ago this week I graduated from college, and now here I am on my first day of school over a decade later.
My days as a SAHM are numbered and to be honest this terrifies me.  Six months from now I will go back to work officially for the first time in 9 years.(The program is a year long, with a 2nd year continuing ed option, but we can start working after 6 months.)  Some work will be done from home, some from an office (I'll have my own office!!).  I will still do the online schooling with my girls but my schedule won't be as free as it has been for these past 9 years. I have been looking into how  professional parents work and still home school so I am confident it can be done.   I won't be a full time SAHM like I have been for the past nine years and 6 months.  The practice I am joining is very family oriented so I am not worried about my girls.  I know I will have a little less time with them, but I think that is going to be a good thing.  Sometimes I take for granted the time I have  so I don't use it wisely.  Now I am making more time to go outside and push my toddler on the swings, build train sets with them, kick the soccer ball around, blow bubbles, or just enjoy being with them.

Even though I am scared, apprehensive (slightly terrified), it is time do something for ME.  I am extraordinarily blessed by the fact that I don't have to work.  We have made one income work for many years so we are pretty good at it. My husband has always supported my decision to stay home with our girls and has not once made me feel as though it was a burden. I've watched him become extremely successful in his career, and while I am so proud of him, it has been hard to feel as though I am standing still.  So now it is my turn- and I can't wait.  All of the fear aside, I am beyond excited to start this new journey. 

What does this mean for Dairyfree Omnivore?
The break is officially over! Most exciting of all- the blog is getting a professional makeover! I will be posting many recipes and other health and food related posts.  I took a large portion of this past year as a break for many reasons- lack of time, chasing around a toddler, and prioritizing aspects of my life.  We also started volunteering as fosters for dogs and puppies rescued from high kill shelters-and that requires a lot of time. (More on that in a future post.) For now, it's time to get back into the habit of blogging.

I have already met some amazing people through my new school program, and many have blogs.  I can't wait to share their blogs with you too!

For now, let's get back into the swing of things.  Keep an eye out this week for a product review, a kitchen tour, and at least 2 new recipes!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines Day

Ah Valentine's Day.    I have never really been a fan of Valentine's Day. To be honest this is my least favorite Hallmark Holiday.  There's no horrible underlying reason for this- I have never been dumped on Valentine's Day, or had some horrible experience. In fact most have been quite wonderful.  I've been given flowers, jewelry, balloons, stuffed animals, fancy dinners out.  So why do I dislike it so much?  Mostly because it is a holiday filled with all little materialistic things that annoy me.  For one thing, I am not a fan of the color pink.  And all things Valentine's Day are pink.  I am reminded of the quote from "Steel Magnolias"  "It looks like the sanctuary has been hosed down with Pepto Bismol!" That's how I feel about every Hallmark store and shopping mall around this time too.  Pink is definitely NOT my signature color. 

It's not just the millions of shades of pink that I find irritating.   When I became a Mom I learned first hand just how obnoxious all those little Valentine's cards are.  Yes, I have been the recipient of those cards, but as a Mom I just see them as one more pointless chore.  Staying up late to stick lollipops, fake Scooby-Doo tattoos, pencils, whatever, to flimsy, cutsie cards  is not my idea of spending my time (or money) wisely.   And don't get me started on the two most popular  Valentine's gifts: flowers and candy. First off Conversational hearts are just gross.  They are like the candy corn of Valentine's Day- totally pointless. The chocolates in those heart shaped boxes are just as bad. Even before my dairy free days I did not like boxed chocolate.   Plus if you want to get your sweetie some good chocolate it's all been marked up to some ridiculous price.  Same with roses. $100 for roses is ridiculous!  I much prefer wildflowers or a pretty mixed bouquet.

Even though I am cynical about the materialism of the day and what marketing has turned it into, I am still a hopeless romantic.  I have had the same Valentine for 14 years and every day I fall in love with him even more.  He is my rock, my best friend, my soul mate. Every year he does something special for me- I get flowers and a gift, and he takes me out to a very nice dinner.  This year it's a bit different. We gave ourselves a joint gift- a bedroom makeover complete with new bed, mattress, décor, and desk for me. Since he worked so hard on that home improvement project, this year I planned our date instead of letting him do it.  Instead of a super fancy dinner out like we had talked about, I decided we should do something fun together, so this weekend I am taking him to a local Microbrewery for a tour and tasting, and then to dinner.

Our kids are definitely not left out.  They are our 3 little Valentines and we make sure they each get a little gift and we have a special family dinner (tonight it's fillet Mignon and shrimp) This year our oldest made us all gifts on her own- she wrote each of us a poem telling us why she loved us.  THAT is what today is about-not pink hearts, candy, flowers, and fancy gifts. It's about letting those you love know how much.  As my husband says, everyday is Valentine's Day for us. 


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mango Sriracha Chicken

Back this summer my favorite blogger Beth at It's Good to be the Cook  posted an amazing recipe for a dish she called Mango Sriracha Chicken. Since everything she makes is amazing, I knew I had to try it.   It has since become a family favorite of ours. A little bit sweet, a little bit spicy, and very easy. We have made it several times since this summer and each time it's a huge hit.


  • 2 Tablespoons Mango Butter (found at Trader Joes)
  • 2 Tablespoons Sriracha
  • 2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil (although I sometimes omit this)
  • 1 Teaspoon Minced Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 Chicken Breasts or 6 Bone-in Chicken Thighs

1. Whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce.

2. Pour about half of it over the chicken and let sit for a few minutes- until it becomes room temperature. Use the other half of the sauce as a dip for the chicken.

3. Cook in a skillet, either cast iron or non-stick, over medium heat until done all the way through.

I deviated a bit from the recipe this time based on what I had on hand.  I used bone in thighs and baked them at 375F for about an hour first.  When they were done but not browned, I removed them from the oven and finished them on my stove top grill pan.  I brushed each thigh on both sides with the sauce and let them cook on medium  heat until they were browned.  They weren't quite as spicy this way since they weren't marinated in the sauce but that worked out for the kids. Plus I had perfectly baked chicken on the inside with a spicy crispy outside. (Crispy but not burnt- that's the key.)

Doesn't it look like there is mac and cheese on my plate? That's because there is!  That recipe is for another post:-)
We also served these with the edamame and corn frozen veggie mix from Trader Joes.  It was a total kid win-even the picky toddler.

Thanks Beth for yet another great recipe!