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chick pea

Chick Peas and Vegetables with Coconut Peanut Sauce

This is a really quick, yummy recipe that is very easy to make. My hubby & I really liked it, but to be honest my kids didn’t. My teenagers don’t like too each much of anything I make unless it’s pizza. It’s been a difficult year dealing with their sudden teenager independence. They can eat a sandwich at this point or scrounge for whatever. I’m not making two meals, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. If they refuse to eat it, that’s their problem.

On to the recipe!

Chick Peas & Veggies with Coconut Peanut Sauce

This makes a lot. I don’t know if it would freeze well, Likely, but I haven’t tried it. I just had this for lunch for a few days.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1 whole bell pepper (I used two kinds, so 1/2 of each – it’s prettier!)
  • 3-5 cloves garlic (I like lots)
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (I used a mild one and it wasn’t enough zing – use a spicier one if you like spice)
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter (not the sugary Krap – I mean Kraft – kind)
  • 1 can (398mL or so) coconut milk (found in the International section of the grocery store in case you’re wondering 😛 )
  • 2 cans (398mL or so) chick peas (make sure you drain and RINSE these or you’ll be farting up a gas cloud)
  • 1 can (398mL or so) diced tomatoes (I save $ and buy the big can & use 1/2 for this and 1/2 for a chili later in the week)
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach (I used super greens – use whatever you have in the fridge. You have greens in the fridge, right?)
  • salt & pepper
  • peanuts to sprinkle on top

How To:

  1. Get your rice cooking while you make this – I don’t want you to forget in case you’re one of those people who don’t read through a recipe BEFORE you start cooking. (Shut up! It was just that one time 😛 )
  2. Cook the onion & bell peppers in the coconut oil in a large sauce pan (like the one in my pic above) for 8-10 minutes (until soft)
  3. Add the garlic & curry powder, stirring to mix
  4. Add the peanut butter
  5. Gradually stir in the coconut milk until everything is smooth
  6. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, and spinach & mix for about 5 minutes
  7. Add salt & pepper to taste & simmer everything for about 7 minutes – long enough for you to tidy up the prep mess!
  8. Serve over rice with peanuts sprinkled on top.

Less than 1/2 hour and your done. Very easy cleanup – the hardest part is chopping up the onion, cry baby! This isn’t a really strong flavor (that’s why I’d use more curry). However, your kids might like it better with less spice (mine wouldn’t eat it anyways because god forbid it has color in it; but yours are likely better behaved). It’s really quite a simple meal and very filling. There’s lots of protein to keep anyone going for a while.

This literally takes about 20 minutes to make and less than 10 to cleanup. Your claim that it takes too long to make something healthier for dinner is moot when making something this simple. Yes, it could be even healthier if you avoid the canned options here and go for adding your own cooked chick peas & tomatoes and coconut cream from raw powder instead. I’m going for a compromise (and I use organic whenever I can afford/fit it in).

As I mentioned, there is a lot of food here, so not only do you have a supper ready; put the leftovers together in a container and you’re done for lunch the next day. Don’t be a goof and push it to the back of the fridge. Put it right in front of your coffee cream so that you have to move it in the morning to get to it and then you’ll remember what’s for lunch.

How about you? Do your teenagers eat what you make or do they bitch and moan like mine do? Tell us your story in the comments!

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Lunch Lunacy

I have been ranting a lot with my husband about this topic. My kids are pretty much teens and have begun to flex their independence muscles. This is a good thing, but at times I have been getting extremely frustrated. I know that they are frustrated with me too because I’m constantly throwing it out there at them and I get the eye roll and ignored.

It’s hard not to make a big deal about it. My only excuse is that I’m so passionate about this.

What is it?

It’s eating a decent lunch…

Not a bunch of crackers.

Not just an apple.

Good grief, certainly not the cafeteria food she now has access to and he sometimes does in the “canteen” or whatever they call it.

Not NOTHING for Pete’s sake!

I admit, it’s been quite the journey for them the past couple years. An about face from where we were (eating tons of pre-made meals & take out) to eating raw as much as we can and a lot more healthy homemade foods. We did discuss it – I started it for my own personal journey and they wanted to join me. They were younger and much more eager. They have learned so much about labels and ingredients. They have been teased and bugged about their healthier food options in their lunches. They’ve been in arguments with cousins about what labels mean. They’ve been missing many of the foods we used to eat often and now only have as a “treat”.

There is the answer to why it is difficult lately.

It now becomes a battle of denying them foods they think they want instead of encouraging them to eat the foods that are healthier choices. I help people in the store all the time with that. I share that my personal journey with food turned completely around when I stopped thinking of it as denial and started thinking about all the great, yummy foods I do get to eat! Why have I stopped doing that with my children?

It’s partly because they do contradict me more to flex their muscles, as I mentioned above. But, I also think it stems from a lot of my guilt around feeling like a “less cool” mom when I don’t serve the foods their friends eat. I then do my usual over-compensation for my guilt and let them have the “treats”. And when I tell them it’s a treat, I imply that the other food is not. DUH!  Of course they want the treats more. They are still people! We all want things that we think are “special” (and even a little bit taboo).

It’s also because of their environment/peers. I now get to work in an environment where my “granola” lifestyle is part of my work! They have to go to school everyday and be faced with less than satisfactory choices. They have the knowledge now to know that these foods are not healthy, but I’m sure they must get sick of constantly knowing it’s not as good for them yet it’s everywhere and everyone else eats it. On top of that, they have been actually teased about the weird foods they’ve eaten. Let’s face it, as teens, they are much more influenced by their peers. I would be sick of the constant battle too if I were in that environment, especially as a teen trying to be “accepted”.

I have struggled with the answers for this since the start of the school year. My daughter in particular seems to be eating less healthy food and more “junk” food. She’s got so many more options at her new high school. She’s got a busier schedule. She has her own money to spend from her job. I’m sure she’s under a lot of pressure to “fit in”. Plus, the poor girl has a sweet tooth like her mother. My husband and I have talked about this a lot lately. What should we do, how can we help them? I’ve been buying way too many “compromise” type foods that I’m not happy feeding my children just to get them to take something for lunches. It makes me squirm and have a split personality: the mom who knows what her children need to be eating and the mom who is trying to keep the peace and have things “easier” rather than causing upheaval. I’ve not been true to myself in trying to please the kids and keep things on an even keel.

We had a chance to talk some more when the kids were gone yesterday. It was partly spurred on by our budget chat.

It is waaaayyyy cheaper for us to eat healthier. I’ve proven this several times. Those foods cost more money and do very little to actually fuel their bodies & minds. I’m so done with this “compromise” that really doesn’t work for me. It’s going against my beliefs.

However, I need to approach this in a positive way.

There are a lot of healthier options that I know they love to eat. An example: fruit salad (homemade). It takes a little planning and preparation that I simply just haven’t done lately. I haven’t recruited help in this either like I have done. Again, because it’s easier to just do it myself. But….it’s not really easier because this whole thing has been bothering me so much, plus, I have other things to do than do all the work myself.

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SO, the ACTION plan:

  1. Meal planning on Sunday will again include the iPod-lazing-on-the-couch-teens. They actually don’t complain about this when I ask them what they want.
  2. Grocery shopping will include shopping for only those items on the above list.
  3. The word “treat” will be used to describe awesome healthy goodies that we discover. Again, when I empower them to find these, they have fun and come up with some great stuff! Raspberry “ice cream” is a prime example!
  4. I will have some understanding of the pressures that they are under eating around their friends. They know what’s healthy and what’s not, they’ve learned what I’ve learned. I will let them make the decisions at school/among thier friends without giving them a hard time about it. My snarky comments on these choices does not help them make the choices, it only makes them feel worse. And as I say to customers – whatever food you choose to eat, ENJOY it with all your heart. Your body will use it accordingly. I’m nicer to my customers than I am to my kids.
  5. Learn more about ways to encourage teens to eat healthier. Yeah, it was easier when they just did what I told them too. But…on the bright side, now that they’re older, we can have even more awesome conversations and foods that they make!

I know I’m not alone in this struggle. I talk to moms every day about this. I learn a lot from other moms. I know you can too. We are putting on an event where we can all learn more about making healthier lunches for our kids (and ourselves!)

Grab your tickets right now to Healthy Lunch, Happier Bunch (here in Olds at Health Street Tuesday, October 8th 6:30 to 8:30):

 

Fast Leftover Steak Fajitas

It was CRAZY hot here on Tuesday night. The usual 20+ weather became a muggy 35+! It was waaay too hot to cook, but Bruce and I figured out a great way to quickly use up some leftovers! This is another simple, budget-savvy and very fast weeknight meal. No need to turn on the oven or even the BBQ again! Just a quick warm up on the stove! Grab your team and get this done FAST!

fajita

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive or camelina oil
  • juice of one whole lime
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
  • sea salt & pepper
  • leftover steak – about two – sliced in strips, about 1 1/2 inches long
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion – we used white
  • 1 sliced and diced bell pepper – we used the last bit of orange & yellow & that we had in the fridge!
  • 4 tortillas
  • grated cheese

How To:

  • Mix the oil, lime juice & spices together in a bowl.
  • Heat this mixture on medium temp in a pan
  • Add steak and peppers and stir until heated through and peppers/onion are cooked to your tastes – we did about 5-7 minutes
  • Serve warm on tortillas with salsa, cheese and/or fresh guacamole (I basically mash an avocado, add some lime juice & salsa & voila, that’s the quickest fresh and good for you!)

Serves 4

This is really easy and doesn’t use those salty, chemically-laden spice “mixes” from the store. Use whatever “Mexican” spices you have to jazz up the sauce. I would have added fresh cilantro if I had any. It’s also a great way to use that leftover steak. You do not want to waste those expensive cuts that you always BBQ too much of!

Meal Planning and using up leftovers is what we do! Get our meal plans delivered straight to your email and eliminate the “What’s for supper?” question! Click on the badasses below to find out more!

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Shawna’s Simple Hamburger Helper

As you know, we love, LOVE to simplify! We are all busy, and it’s very easy to resort to eating out or eating something that doesn’t make us feel good. We’ve all done it. It’s time we get over our mistakes; understand that we’re not alone and then try again another day. I decided that I was going to make something good for us and quick and easy for a busy Thursday night last night.

Tinkyada PenneI didn’t want to resort to the highly processed “Hamburger Helper” like I used to! Instead, I came up with my own that was just as easily prepared and was gluten-free! It took less than 1/2 hour to get it on the table. We ate it so fast that I forgot to take a photo!

Here’s my simple recipe:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup Tinkyada Penne (or other gluten-free pasta)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 green onion (optional), chopped

Brown beef. Add water, penne, salsa & corn. Simmer for 15-18 minutes (rice pasta takes a little longer than regular pasta noodles). Remove from heat and stir in mozzarella cheese until melted through. Serve immediately with green onion sprinkled on top.

We like to add more “spice” to ours, so we added Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or you could use a spicier salsa.) You could also top with a dab of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream. Serves 4 (You could also add some black beans to make it “go further” and serve 5 or so). Make it even faster by browning the beef ahead of time (when you buy a big package of beef at the grocery store, brown it up and freeze it individually, ready to use for these kinds of recipes! That’s planning ahead! Plus, only one mess to clean up!)

Let us know how it worked for you and any variations you made. We love your feedback!

Did you know: We have created a meal plan just for YOU! It was created to help you find that balance between healthy (mostly!) and simple recipes with ingredients that you can actually find at the grocery store. It is called Bad Ass Meal Planning.

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We teach Meal Planning Classes? Yep! Get your group of gals together and let’s learn how to eat healthier AND save money!! Contact us to set up your custom class!

Kitchen Organizing

❦Kitchen Organizing

Here is a post that I wrote a couple of years ago on how to help you set up your kitchen. After all the kitchen is the heart of the home!

I popped over to a friends house the other day (just for a visit but I couldn’t help myself!). Her and her family have currently undergone several months of renovations in their home. Basically they have renovated the majority of the inside of their home. Now they are in the process of bringing their belongings/household items back in. I was assisting her in her kitchen. This is where her challenge was. She was trying to figure where to put the items. Let’s face it the kitchen is a high traffic room; it has to be functional!

Here are a few tips to help you organize your kitchen:

Determine what you really need! We are so obsessed with having MORE storage space when really we probably only use about a third of what we already have in our drawers and cupboards! Take an inventory as you are unpacking and think about what you do not use or need. Be honest with yourself, when was the last time that you used that melon baller or cookie press? Then separate what you don’t use into: Garbage, Donate/Garage Sale/Give Away, and Keep piles.
Utilize your space well. Find containers that are like sizes and stack them. If you have pots and pans or containers that have a lost/broken lid then find a storage use for it or recycle it!
Use racks and dividers to get the most out of your space. Not only will this save space but it will also save frustration when you are trying to ‘dig’ out the pan that you need that’s on the bottom of the pile!
Things that don’t work well or are missing pieces; get rid of them! You know what I am talking about, the pot that always burns the food and is impossible to clean. Anything that needs replaced put on a wish list, ready to replace when you have saved your pennies.
Keep things that you use often in easy-to-reach locations. Figure out what you use the most and the least and store accordingly. Remember that if you rarely use it then get rid of it!

Store items according to where they will be used the most. I found this list on Wiki of how to separate your kitchen areas.
Storage or pantry. Consider your freezer an extension of this area. Whether you store foods in a true pantry, a cabinet, a closet, or someplace else entirely, don’t forget to go through periodically and clear out items that are hopelessly old or will never be used.
~Preparation. Cutting board, knives, measuring cups and spoons, and mixing bowls all go here.
~Cooking. The stove and oven plus the utensils that go with them. This area should include pots and pans, pot holders, spoons and spatulas (a utensil jar works well for these).
~Baking. If you love to bake, you might find it handy to store your flour, sugar, baking powder, a set of measuring cups and spoons, your favorite mixing bowl, etc. together in one convenient spot.
~Serving. The table, plus tableware, serving dishes, napkins, trivets, and anything else you need to sit down and eat. Soy sauce? Salt and pepper shakers? Sugar bowl? Ask yourself whether it would be more convenient to store your dishes and silverware near the table or the dishwasher.
~Cleaning. The sink, dishwasher and surroundings. Soap, gloves, dish pan, drying rack, cleansers, towels, etc.
~Waste disposal. Keep a trash can handy, plus recycling and compost bins, too. Locate them as centrally as possible without being in the way. They should go near the cleaning and food preparation areas.

Make lists! I love lists. 🙂 Keep an inventory of what you have in your freezer. This keeps you in the know and is easily available for you to see what you have or don’t have. (Ever gone through your freezer and found several of the same items that you didn’t really need to buy?!) As you use things from the freezer you can erase them. Add whatever you need to replace things on the list too.
Make the most of your space by using baskets to store ‘like’ items. Consider using racks for things like cans so that you do not have any wasted space in a cupboard. Also hanging/mounted racks are great for spices. They make them all easily visible and store them together so they are easy to find.

~Most of all enjoy your space and all of the memories that you make in it!

Contact the Simple Life Gals if you need some help getting started in the kitchen.

What’s For Dinner?

It was 6:13 when she opened the door. She struggled to balance the jug of milk, two bags of groceries, her lunch bag, her purse and her laptop as she pushed the door the rest of the way with her foot. Her two young boys raced past her on the stairs…

“Hi Mom! What’s for dinner?” They didn’t even wait for an answer as they took off.

Just as well, she had no idea at the moment. She sighed because she knew they’d be back.

The laptop bag, purse and half the groceries spilled from her hands at the top of the stairs. She sighed again as she gathered up the groceries and shoved her crap out of the way so no one would fall down the stairs (she hoped). She’d picked up a few necessities she kinda knew they needed, none of which helped her in her plan for supper. In the back of her mind, she knew she’d forgotten something else important, but couldn’t remember what.

“Hi Hon! Are you still making chili for supper? You’d mentioned that this morning. Sounds awesome and I’m starving!”

Damn! That was what she’d forgotten! Chili powder! CRAP! Well, I guess we’re not having chili! She grumbled to herself as he shook his head, grabbed a brownish banana and wandered off.

She opened the pantry door and just stared. Stuff spilled from one shelf to another. Piles of unknown items tumbled over on top of each other. How could she have so much stuff in this pantry and have no idea how to make something of it? I see the empty bag of chips in here. You’d think someone would know where the garbage can is. How hungry can they be after eating a whole bag?

At least she’d had the forethought to thaw the hamburger. She knew it was ready to go in the fridge. Oh! And there’s a box of Hamburger Helper. I’ll whip that up. She pulled the box out and glanced at the ingredients; sighing again. I hate feeding the kids this stuff that I can’t even pronounce. I just know it can’t really be good for them. But I don’t know what else to do…

Have you ever felt like this before? Most of us have been in this situation (frequently!) We have definitely been there! (Still are somedays!)

It is not something that you “just KNOW” how to fix. We sure didn’t. We have learned how to plan meals, organize the pantry, and find healthy foods that even the kids will like! It takes time and learning new skills but we’re here to help you! We are offering a live class next week (July 24th; 6:30 to 8:30) at Health Street called “A Simple Healthy Kitchen”.

The class is only $39 and you will learn so much:

  1. How to organize your pantry/cupboards
  2. Get started with meal planning (including a free sample BBQ meal plan)
  3. Understanding food labels
  4. Buying in bulk and saving money
  5. How eating healthy can save money!
  6. …and you’ll get to sample some yummy food (a Health Street class tradition!)

We know how busy life is. We’re working moms too and life can sure be overwhelming sometimes. That’s why we’re here to help you with this class and our services. We know what it’s like.

Call for more information and to register for the class: 403-507-4488 Watch the video here: A Simple Healthy Kitchen to learn more as well.

As always, you can also email or call us directly too: Shawna@simplelifecelebrations 403.586.1525 or Krystal@simplelifecelebrations.com 403.586.1978