Monday, February 25, 2013

Meal Prep tips

I have always known somewhere inside that I would save a lot of time by prepping food for the week ahead of time but I just couldn't make myself do it. I usually have something better/more relaxing to do when I get home from grocery shopping. Last week however I overcame my desire to do nothing and managed to prepare some things. There are so many benefits to taking a little bit of time on a Sunday afternoon (or whenever you do your grocery shopping) and making a plan for the coming days. Here are a few reasons I will continue to take the time to prepare:

  • I eat healthier/more veggies - do you ever feel like you are in a rut- constantly eating food that isn't good for you because you don't have the energy / time to make something else? Chopping fresh fruit and veggies as soon as you get home from shopping provides a quick and easy snack for times when you are hungry but don't want to cook
  • Save time on weekday nights - I don't know about you but the last thing I want to do on a weekday night after we get Lewis down for bed and finish eating dinner is think about making lunches for the next day. Making a giant bowl of salad / grilling protein at the beginning of the week solves this problem
  • Learn a lesson in organization - being organized is a discipline that you really have to work at. For me it is mostly a mental battle. I can talk myself out of doing something that will lead to a more organized life in no time at all, simply because doing nothing is, in the moment, easier. Sacrificing some of my time to provide healthy and abundant breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks for the family is well worth the effort and teaches me the valuable lesson about how personal organization can lead to serving others.
Here are a few ideas of how you can prepare food at the beginning of the week so that you can save time and eat healthy during the hustle and bustle of everyday life:
  • Make a big salad - romaine, baby spinach, kale, and swiss chard for every day lunches - I wash and dry all of the greens I want to use and store them in a very large bowl in the fridge. The hubbs is able to throw several handfuls into his own tupperware in the morning before work. Using pre washed salad mix makes this process even easier
  • Chop and mix salad toppings - I like to dice a bell pepper, some cucumbers, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, etc and store them all in a small bowl on top of the lettuce in the fridge
  • Grill/prep your protein - grill chicken breasts, make some burgers, or throw together some meatballs for easy salad toppers throughout the week. 
  • Roast your heart out - roasting veggies is super simple and a delicious way to prepare a side for lunch or dinner. Simply choose your veggies (carrots, broccoli, parsnip, acorn/butternut squash, cauliflower, zucchini) chop, drizzle with olive oil and salt & pepper and stick in the oven at 375 until they reach their desired done-ness. 
  • Bake some sweets - not real sweets but sweet potatoes. They are good for you, delicious, and filling. Bake several to have on hand for lunches, dinners, or a quick snack. Tip: they taste delicious with almond butter!
  • Eggs - I think I eat eggs every day. If you are a busy person and don't have time to cook eggs on the stove top in the morning I recommend boiling some or making some egg muffins for a quick grab n go breakfast. 
  • Have snacks handy - I'm a total snack fanatic. If I don't have healthy snacks on hand / in my belly I will resort to eating ungodly amounts of peanut butter and/or raisins. Some awesome snack ideas that you should make right away: home made Lara barsraw "cookie dough" bitesbaked breakfast cookies, fresh fruit, fresh pre-cut veggies
Please please please try this for just one week. I promise you will love having healthy snacks around the house to enjoy and time to relax and be with your family during the week!
-xoxo Leah

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Loving Lately

Here are some things I have been loving lately!

The Les Miserables sound track. I have loved the music for as long as I can remember and after seeing the newest remake I can't seem to stop listening to the sound track. The story and the passion in the music will change your life.I get my fix from the Les Miserables 2010 cast radio station on Pandora. Check it out!
7th Generation multipurpose cleaner. This stuff is the best because it is non toxic and all botanical so I feel comfortable using it on surfaces that the babe comes in contact with during the day. It acts as a cleaner or as a disinfecting agent (just spray it on and let it dry). A great every day cleaner!

The Fitnessista's baked breakfast cookies. These have been the perfect go to snack for me the past few weeks. Make a double batch on Sunday and have some for the whole week. I put shredded coconut, raisins, chocolate chips, and peanut butter in my latest batch and they are delicious!

Peanut butter. 'Nuff said. Not really though. I have an unhealthy obsession with peanut butter. I'm pretty sure I eat it at least once a day, like by the spoonful, not on celery or a sandwich. I know what you are thinking, and no, I didn't eat the whole container in 1 day...

Ahh, raisins, they get me every time. My (second) greatest weakness. These giant raisins from Trader Joe's are soft, juicy, and a little tart: everything raisins should be. I love the golden raisins best. They taste awesome in baked breakfast cookies and, coincidentally enough, on peanut butter. Easy snack idea: giant spoonful of peanut butter with a handful of raisins thrown on top. I have problems.

Friday, February 15, 2013

11 months old

11 months old today!
Lewis is such a big boy. He has been chatting up a storm every day. He is even starting to say some words:

He understands so much, how to play games, when its time to eat or drink water, when I tell him no no, how to be gentle

Things he loves:
*throwing toys in the bath tub
*bath time
*being chased/hide and seek
*playing "so big"
*shaking his head no
*turning pages in his books
*feeding mommy and daddy snacks
*dogs & little children (he points and squeals)
* his little wooden puppy toy. He chews on it all day and loves putting the beads in his mouth

Instead of spending my day with a baby it's beginning to feel more and more like I'm spending time with a little boy. He is just the sweetest boy and is always happy and laughing. He makes each day so fun!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Colorado trip

We recently took a trip to Colorado to meet our sweet niece Sophie and to spend time with family and friends. We took about a gazillion pictures so I can't put them all up but here are a few

Baby Sophie, so beautiful and cuddly!

2 mommies and their babies!

Beautiful snowy Colorado

Baby lew lew (& Mr. Panda) and Great Grandmother Hines

sweet baby Sophie and uncle Jeff

home again home again

Monday, February 11, 2013

Weekly meals + recipe recap

As I began meal planning this week I realized I was less concerned about our actual meals and more concerned about what we would have to snack on...I never buy snacks at the store. We don't have chips, pretzels, cookies, granola bars, or popcorn in our pantry. I tend avoid the snack isle because 1) our food/lifestyle preferences don't really include many of the things offered and 2) when we do get snacks (spicy nacho doritos) we usually end up killing the entire bag in one seating. I generally keep mixed nuts and dried / fresh fruit around for when we get hungry in between meals but lately that hasn't been cutting it. So, while I did plan out some meals for us to eat this week, I also though up a few things for us to have on hand to snack on

Here's what we have on the menu for this week
Some notes on last week's meals:
Last week I spend about 20-30 minutes doing some minor food prep for the week and I could not believe how much time and mental energy it saved me in the end. After grocery shopping last week I washed 3 Romaine hearts and tossed them in a giant bowl with a bag of spinach and some baby kale and swiss chard. In another bowl I cut up a bell pepper and one cucumber and threw in some broccoli slaw as well. Both bowls went into the fridge and we had ready prepped salad stuff for the whole week. Jeff takes a salad for lunch almost every day so having everything ready to go with no additional work before bed each night was AWESOME. This week I plan to do the same as well as make the egg muffins, cookie dough bites, and fruit and nut bars so we can have those made and ready to go for the week as well. 

Now back to the food - 
Last weeks meals were good but the best were the asian meatballs with cauliflower rice and the beef and sweet potato stew

  • My cauliflower rice turned out so much better this time because I cut as much of the stalk off as I could before processing the cauliflower. If you leave too much of the stalk on it gets mushy and gross when you cook it. We also made some pot sticker sauce to drizzle over the meatballs and cauliflower this time.SO so good. Just mix a few tablespoons of soy sauce, a couple of teaspoons of garlic chili paste, and a teaspoon or so of white wine vinegar together for a delicious sauce
  • I was originally going to make this beef and butternut squash stew but I didn't like how the butternut squash turned out last time I put it in this stew so I switched up the recipe a bit. I used 2lbs stew meat, browned it in my dutch oven, threw in the onion and garlic, then added the beef broth + spices and brought it to a boil. Then I added in 2 potatoes, a parsnip, a sweet potato, and the mushrooms. Covered and let it all simmer for 4 hours or so. It was super yummy

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Weekly meals

We just got back Sunday night from a little trip to Colorado. Here's what's cooking at our house this week: