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Posts Tagged ‘Real Food’

a slow cooker Oval Crock Pot

Image via Wikipedia

You’ll see in my menu plan this week that I am planning on bringing back dinner.  The midday meal of yesteryear!  Whether a larger midday meal works for your family or not, crock pot cooking is extremely convenient.  So, if you are a “High for 4 hours” or a “Low for 8 hours” kind of gal, read on!

In theory, if I can plan ahead and get dinner (otherwise known as “lunch” :)) in the crock pot in the morning, either before or during breakfast prep, this should work like a dream.  Think about it!  This will mean that the bulk of the supper prep dishes that are usually staring at me (and often laughing) when I come downstairs after tucking the kids in will be done before noon.  Oh, that sounds so good.

The problem with crock pot cooking is that it can mean a lot of trial and error to find recipes your family loves.  And, if you are into eating real food, like we are, it can be difficult to find truly healthy crock pot dishes.  No canned cream soups allowed!  The following are some of my favorite sources for real food crock pot dishes:

  • Soups and stews – Just about any of your favorite soups and stews can be modified to cook in the crock pot.  If you plan to use ground beef, brown it before putting it in your crock pot.  Beans will need to be cooked ahead of time, or use canned, if you plan to eat the soup at noon.  If you plan to cook a cream soup in the crock pot, don’t add the cream or milk in the beginning.  If you add it about half an hour before serving, the results should be delicious.
  • Large Family Logistics – Kim Brenneman (who inspired me to use my crock pot more for the lunch meal!) has five yummy recipes specifically for the crock pot.  If you are not into eating meat, or are looking to save money by eating fewer meals with meat, these can easily be converted to meatless as well.  Also, check her easy lunches here.
  • Make It Fast, Cook It Slow – Stephanie O’Dea is a wonderful writer in addition to being a fantastic source of amazing crock pot recipes.  I happen to own both of her cookbooks, but all of those recipes, and many more, are available on her website.  And, bonus – they are also gluten-free!
  • Nourishing Crock Pot Carnival – Lindsay from Passionate Homemaking hosted a Nourishing Crock Pot Carnival back in 2009.  Who knew I would still be loving it in 2012!  There are definitely treasures in this link up.

These should absolutely be enough to inspire and motivate you to drag out your crock pot or to add a few new recipes to your usual line-up.  Come back here and let me know if you find any gems!  Or, just post your favorite recipe for us all right here in the comments.

I’ll be sharing this post with the readers over at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Good Cheap Eats.

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When I sit down to meal plan for the week, I love knowing that all of you are going to be reading it.  It inspires me to be balanced and creative every week.  You are my meal planning accountability partners!  So, thank you :).

Here are my plans for this week:

BREAKFAST:

Yogurt, Oatmeal or Christmas Cookie Granola, fresh fruit x 4

Waffles (I bought a new mix from Country Life that is made of oats, corn and sesame seeds – should be interesting :).  I nearly broke my waffle iron last time I tried a new recipe.  It was more like dental cement than waffle.  Fingers crossed this time around . . .), blueberry syrup

Smoothies, cereal bars

Coffee Cake, fresh fruit

LUNCH:

Eggs, fresh veggies

Baked Potatoes, cheese, steamed broccoli, apples and PB

Lettuce Rolls with tuna or PB & J (I know it sounds really weird, but all four of my table food eaters really like it – definitely worth a try), cheese, fresh veggies

Pizza, fruit and veggie smoothies

Beef and Barley Stew, fresh fruit

Turkey Sandwiches and apples to share at church pot luck

Leftovers and Whatevers

DINNER:

Lentils and Spinach with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, fruit and veggie smoothies

Cottage Mac and Cheese, steamed corn

Roasted Chicken, Garlic Carrot Potatoes, steamed peas

Lemon Tuna, steamed green beans, fresh fruit

Cream of Chicken soup served over mashed potatoes (hoping to resurrect the potatoes from Wednesday night – we shall see)

Mexican Mix-up (beef, bean and corn tortilla casserole thingy), fresh veggies

Christmas Party with my husband’s side of the family!  I’ll be bringing cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, and Cracker Toffee.

‘Tis the season for celebrating and holiday parties.  Which means it is also the season for holiday eating.  Anyone else starting to be overwhelmed by sugar :)?

Don’t forget – all this week you can still enter (multiple times :)!) to win a book on food dehydrating, an all natural lotion and a handmade bar of soap!

Happy eating!  Are you trying any new recipes this week or sticking to the standbys as the holiday craziness ramps up?

If you are feeling adventerous, head over to Menu Pan Monday and look around.

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Apple Spice Muffins

Since we all seem not very excited about the fall weather, but extremely excited about the fall food – I thought I would share a new fallish muffin recipe.

Oatmeal Apple Spice Muffins

by Blessed Roots Farm

(I always make at least 24 muffins or there aren’t enough to feed our family.  If you only want 12, you need to cut this in half.)

2 2/3 c. flour (I use white whole wheat flour)

1 c. quick oats

1 c. rolled oats

2 Tbsp. baking powder

3 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 c. honey

1/2 c. maple syrup

1 c. milk (I use almond milk)

1/2 c. (1 stick) melted butter

2 eggs

4 c. peeled and chopped apples

1 c. raisins and/or chopped nuts (if you like ’em)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Prep your muffin pans by greasing or using liners.  Prepare your apples.  In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.  In another large bowl, combine all the wet ingredients.  Toss both the apple chunks and raisins in the dry flour mixture.  Dump the wet into the dry and mix until combined.  Fill your muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 17 -20 minutes or until done.

Join me over at Jam Hands for Recipe Sharing Monday  and Melt in Your Mouth Monday for more inspiration.

Enjoy!

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2 wicker baskets full of muffins sit on a blue...
Image via Wikipedia

Real food just takes longer.  Sometimes I just want to throw up my hands, buy a giant case of cheap processed foods, and chuck my “from scratch” lifestyle down the garbage disposal.  Then the moment passes, I get a grip, and I remember the zillion reasons I don’t do that in the first place.

Reality is though that the time required to cook and serve a whole foods diet, while parenting and teaching 5 children 7 years old and younger, is challenging.  Admittedly, I start to turn a little green when I think too long about the hours that other families don’t spend in the kitchen.  Even though I meal plan extensively, I still find myself wishing I could freeze time a few times a week while I cook.  (I am going to take for granted here that you do realize that you must begin with having a meal plan.)

But, there are ways to make preparing real food more palatable for everyday real life.

Here are several of my common sense tips for the day:

1.  Involve the kids as much as possible.  I know, I know.  TRUST ME – I know.  Allowing 4 little people to “help” with bread baking or muffin making when I only have 30 minutes to get it done before the baby is going to want to nurse again is not my ideal culinary experience either.  But, the joy is not found in my own experience.  The joy is found in watching them all learn and grow and delight in theirs.  And, the more hours I spend baking at the speed of a sloth now will pay off in the coming years when I can say, “Sophia, please go make a quadruple batch of pumpkin muffins.”  And she won’t say, “How in the world do I do that?!”

2.  Keep them in the kitchen.  This is not groundbreaking advice, I realize.  But, all too often I forget this one myself.  When the kids aren’t interested in helping me cook or bake, or I am making something that they are just too little to help with – they can still be there.  They don’t have to have their hands in the actual process in order to take part in the fellowship of working in the kitchen.  I love to tell the kids that I have a few hours of work in the kitchen, but I want us together.  I send everyone off to get something that they can do or work on quietly in the kitchen for an hour or so – drawing, books, puzzles, stitching – and we can still hang together even if I am stuck in the kitchen.  Waiting for bread to rise or muffins to bake is the perfect time to sneak in a few wonderful picture books, or even listen to an audio version together!

3.  Keep most of the meals simple.  Jason works from home most days, and works out of the house most evenings.  He works a lot.  But, we are blessed to have Daddy join us for lunch just about every day.  This means that we keep breakfast and dinner simple, and have our bigger meal of the day around noon.  Simple meals could mean a lot of different things, but at our house we eat fresh fruit or a fruit and veggie smoothie with some kind of grain (toast, bagel, oatmeal, granola) for breakfast.  Dinner is usually some kind of grain (bread, pasta, granola bars, etc.) and fresh veggies or a fruit and veggie smoothie, and nuts or beans.  Sometimes I make a fresh fruit sorbet for dessert.  Keeping two of the three meals of the day quick and easy is a huge help.

4.  Batch bake.  I make one batch of pumpkin bread which makes 4 loaves.  Double, triple, or increase even more the recipe for muffins, granola, granola bars, etc.  Set aside one week or weekend to pound out as many baked goods as you can and freeze what doesn’t get eaten the first day.  Next week all you have to do is pull your baked goods out a few hours before you plan to eat them.

5.  Batch chop.  Since we eat tons of fresh veggies every week, it is nice to chop all at once and just serve later.  When we come in from the garden or home from the market, I try to wash and prep a few days worth of veggies at a time.

I have found that if I make it too complicated I will start to slide back in to the mentality of, “Oh, one box of this or that isn’t too bad.”  Which quickly turns into far too many boxes of this or that.  My budget and our nutrition suffers from my lack of planning and common sense!

Following these tips myself helps us to keep it real.

Don’t forget to head over to one of my favorite blogs, Tammy’s Recipes, for more great kitchen tips.  Happy cooking!

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