Green Smoothies Rock

My go-to (and to-go) breakfast is a green smoothie. It’s convenient, delicious and healthy. What’s not to love?

Think you don’t have time to throw together a smoothie? Here’s how I make it work:

Prep in advance. Using quart-size freezer bags, I add all the ingredients except for the liquid. On the label, I write the name of the smoothie and how much liquid to add. To increase the efficiency of the process, I choose one or two recipes to make in bulk at one time. Then, they all go into a drawer in the freezer.

Most of the recipes I use are from Simple Green Smoothies by Hansard and Sellner. One recipe makes two smoothies for me. Currently, my favorite is Simple Monkey on page 113.

In the morning, I pull a freezer bag out about 30 minutes before I need to leave. Sometime in that 30 minutes, I put the frozen ingredients in my Ninja blender with the liquid.

A minute or two before I leave, I start the blender, the kids cover their ears and act like the blender is louder than they are, I put on my shoes and jacket, and then the smoothie is ready to pour into a Tervis tumbler just before walking out the door.

Breakfast done.

eMeals vs. Real Plans

When it comes to meal planning, I’ll take all the help I can get. I’ve posted before about eMeals, the very first meal planning service I used.

Last year, I decided to give Real Plans a try. Elias has a mild gluten and dairy allergy, so I wanted to see if another meal planning service may be better for my family.

After using Real Plans for a few months, I opted to return to using eMeals. Here’s why:

Real Plans offers really nice features that allow you to fully customize your meal plans. You can even exclude very specific ingredients. Once you make your selections, your plan will be delivered to you each week. It’s great. It was just too many options for me.

eMeals delivers a weekly meal plan with minimal customization. I prefer that approach. I want someone to hand me a meal plan. That’s what eMeals does – I don’t have to do anything except for choose which category I want. I subscribe to the Paleo plan and make minor substitutions when I cook if needed to accommodate the gluten and dairy allergy.

Real Plans offers breakfast, lunch and supper planning options for the price of your subscription. That’s also great. However, I found that I didn’t use the breakfast or lunch planning options. eMeals has separate subscriptions for each meal. When they offered half price subscriptions in the fall, I purchased both a lunch and supper plan.

Each plan has recipes that my family does and doesn’t like. Each plan offers a good variety. Each plan is worth the subscription fee. I’d recommend either one; you really have to test drive them to find the best fit for you and your family.

For me, eMeals is the simpler of the two, and it works for my family.

 

30 Days of Thankfulness, Day 5: Food

Today, I am thankful for food. I am thankful both for the richness of the foods God has provided for us on this earth and for the ability to feed my family each day.

Matthew 25:35 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,

Eat We Must: Facing the Supper Challenge with Two Kiddos at Home

Now that BP and I have two kids, we’re once again faced with the challenge of figuring out how to get healthy meals on the table quickly. Though I’m not staunchly opposed to take-out, I feel better about things when we’re eating a healthy, home-cooked meal.

Just when I was getting a routine figured out with Kid #1, I need to change it all over again.

I’ve written before about eMeals, a meal planning service that I subscribe to. It’s been very helpful, but while we’re still in the New Baby Stage, even those meals can be too time-consuming.

Enter: freezer meals.

Quite some time ago, I started following Once A Month Mom. The author offers entire menus that can be prepared in advance and frozen. I’m not willing to devote an entire day to preparing meals, but I recently began pulling a few ideas from her site.

Last night, for example, I put together four slow cooker meals in 30-45 minutes right after the baby went to sleep for (half) the night. I prepared two baked bean chicken bags and two rosemary pot roast bags. Those puppies are sitting in my freezer as we speak (or read, whatever)!

My plan is to put together one or two freezer meals with each grocery trip, which ends up being about weekly for us. For now, I’m choosing the meals that require no cooking before putting them into the freezer.

Of course, last week when I decided to pursue this plan, I found a crack in the crock of my slow cooker. My small appliances hate me. Last year, the salad spinner, blender and microwave all bit the dust. This year, we’re starting out with the slow cooker. *sigh*

But, I carry on, with a new slow cooker freshly delivered from Amazon.

Reaching a Domestic Milestone with Potatoes

When BP and I were first married, spaghetti was a big-deal meal. I had to get two pots dirty! Three if I made (and I really mean pull from freezer and place in oven) garlic bread on a cookie sheet! And it was all supposed to be done at the same time! Ahhhhhhhh!

Our regular meals included spaghetti, frozen pizza and take out. For years, I couldn’t understand how other women could so effortlessly just pull together a meal. I’d ask for a recipe, and they couldn’t really give me one. How much water exactly do you put in the pan? How long exactly do you simmer it for? How much butter exactly do I need? How do you know exactly when it’s done?

Fast forward 9+ years. Through lots of trial and error, and a realization that if I didn’t learn to cook, we were in for a lifetime of mediocre, unhealthy meals, our meals have vastly improved.

And I reached a domestic milestone this week: I made a dish that wasn’t pre-planned, and I didn’t even have a recipe. Holla.

Needing a side dish, I looked at what I had available in my kitchen and needed to use up. I saw half a bag of redskins sitting on the floor and without much more thought, decided to make mashed potatoes.

Without a recipe in front of me. I threw those puppies into a pot of boiling water, mashed ’em up with some butter, sour cream and milk and they were done! How much butter? Not too much! How much sour cream? A few dollops! How much milk? A splash or two!

I’m still not to the point where I can whip out an entire meal without pre-planning and at least one recipe to guide me, but I’m getting there. If you’re new to the kitchen and feeling overwhelmed, hang in there. And keep practicing.

What are some domestic milestones you’ve reached?

BP and His Big Garden

BP not only plants four small raised garden beds in our backyard, but he also plants a giant garden at his parents’ house.

Really, it is giant.

BP and his big garden

This is BP standing in the middle of his garden. From this view, there are still several rows that can’t been seen.

His plan is to can or freeze spaghetti sauce, salsa, tomatoes in various forms, green beans, corn and I can’t remember the others!

He plants squash and zucchini because I love them (and my mom makes a mean zucchini bread).

BP working in the garden

BP uses his big guns to work in his big garden.

This guy works diligently to research, plant and care for his veggies until they’re ready for me to eat. How does he get it all done? Time, lots and lots of time! And dedication. I love that guy.

And just to be clear, this really is BP’s garden. I don’t help him. In fact, I start to melt if I’m out in the heat for too long.