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!