Menu Monday: 8/27/12

It’s the first day of school for my three oldest kids…..yay!  While I really enjoyed having my kids home this summer, and it really did fly by for all of us, I think we are all ready for a new routine.

Meal planning is even more important for me during the school year.  Just because three of my four kids are in school all day does not mean I have more free time on my hands to grocery shop and cook.  My youngest will require more of my attention during the day without her three favorite playmates, fall sports and church activities are starting up, and the homework will start piling up as well.  I need to have meals planned ahead and do some prep-work during the day when I can to ensure that my evenings are as stress-free as possible.

We have two new recipes this week and a few favorites:

Monday:  Eggplant and Sausage Stackers

Tuesday:  Cumin-spiced Pork Tenderloin (from Practical Paleo)

Wednesday:  Southwest Meatloaf (this was a hit a few weeks ago, with a few alterations)

Thursday:  Chicken Tacos

Friday:  Big Salad and Left-overs

What’s for dinner at your house?  Any back-to-school traditions?



Chicken Tacos

We love tacos at our house and they show up almost weekly on our menu.  I’ve shared my steak taco recipe before…..below is its close cousin, chicken tacos.  Yum!


Boneless, skinless chicken breast (4-6, or enough to feed your family and have left-overs)

Taco seasoning (this recipe is perfect)

1-16ounce jar of salsa (red or green)


Pour jar of salsa into the bottom of your slow cooker.  Add 2-3 tablespoons of taco seasoning and stir well.  Add chicken breasts and toss to coat.

Cook on low 8-10 hours, or on high 4-6 hours.  Shred chicken about 30 minutes before serving and let simmer in juice.

Serve in your favorite taco shell, tortilla, over chips, with cauliflower spanish rice or in a lettuce wrap.  Enjoy!

Easy Chili

This chili makes a regular appearance each fall and winter at my house, both for dinner and in my kids’ lunches.  It’s easy, can sit in the slow-cooker all day, and can be changed up to suit your tastes. Plus, it’s served with Fritos and grated cheese… can’t go wrong with that!

1-46oz can/jar of tomato juice (not V8, just plain juice)

1 or 1 1/2 lbs ground beef, browned

1-14.5oz can diced tomatoes (undrained)

2 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

dash of cayenne pepper or hot sauce (more or less to taste)

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low all day.

Alternatively, place all ingredients in a large pot on the stove, bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer 20-30 minutes.

Serve with grated cheese (pepper jack, cheddar, colby jack all work well) and top with Fritos.

I usually make up a batch of cauliflower rice to add to the bowl when I serve it.   I also like to add 1/2 an onion to my ground beef while browning.

This freezes well so make a double batch and stash some in the freezer for another day.




Day 30!!!

I did it!  Today is the last day of my Whole30 challenge.  Yay me!

I asked my husband last night if he truly thought I could do it.  His response:  I knew you could, I just didn’t think you would.

And he was right.  The other two times I’ve attempted a 30-day challenged I’ve hit a wall at two weeks and caved.

But not this time.  I made it the whole 30 days without grains, dairy, legumes…..and best of all, without my daily dose of caffeine, high fructose corn syrup and caramel coloring:  Coca-Cola.

Now I’m not saying giving up soda is anywhere near as hard as giving up smoking, drinking, drugs, etc.  My deepest respect is held for those that have overcome an addiction.

But I am soooo proud of myself for sticking it out, for not caving when we passed by about 15 Dairy Queens on a two-day road trip.  For not running out to a drive through for a Coke when my hormonally caused headache hit.  For making the healthy choices when the unhealthy choices were more convenient.

Will I run out for a Coke today?  Nope, not going to do it.  I’m not saying I’ll never have another one, but I’m going to wait until it’s an intentional decision rather than drinking it out of habit.  I want to choose to drink it because it sounds good, not because I think I need it to get through an energy slump brought on by poor food choices.

Now, I know what people always want to hear when someone has completed a diet challenge (though this is not just a diet, it’s a lifestyle…..more on that another day):

Weight lost:  5 pounds

Inches lost:  4.75 (measured my hips, waist and chest)

I’ve said it before, my goal wasn’t really to lose weight, though it’s definitely a bonus.  Muscle weighs more than fat, so as a CrossFitter I wouldn’t mind putting on weight as long as it is fat turning into muscle.  I’m actually most excited about the inches lost.  Obviously I lost some fat this month….yay!

The most important results for me are the following:

I’m sleeping much better, falling asleep more quickly and staying asleep all night.

My energy levels are more consistent throughout the day.

The general bloated feeling in my stomach is gone.

I’ve been, ummm, more regular, if you know what I mean.  (Too much information,I know, but I believe a lot of people struggle with “stomach issues” and never talk about it.  It’s more common than you think!)

My emotions have been more even-not as many ups and downs throughout the day.

So what’s next?  Another 30 days?  I’m definitely going to loosen the reins a bit now, but do not plan to revert to my usual habits from a month ago.  I feel too good to go back…..none of those food choices were worth how I was feeling.

My gym is starting a paleo challenge on September 3rd.  I’ll be posting more info, recipes and tips of how to successfully plan for and complete a month of really clean eating.  I hope you’ll join us!


Tomato Sauce

This is a simple and yummy sauce I almost always have on hand.  I use it for spaghetti, spaghetti squash, chicken parmigiana, or any other italian-flavored dish.  It freezes well so I usually make a double batch.

1/4 cup olive oil

1 small to medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cups red or white wine (optional)

3 cans (14.5oz each) crushed tomatoes

Salt and Pepper to taste

1.  Heat the oil in a large sauce pan.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until softened.  (skip to step 3 if not using wine)

2.  Add the wine and simmer until reduced by about half.

3.  Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer 20-30 minutes.

If you like a thicker sauce you can add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste while simmering.

Most tomato sauce recipes call for 1-2 tablespoons of sugar.  I prefer a more tangy sauce so I don’t add the sugar, but you certainly could if you prefer a sweeter sauce.

If I’m making a meat sauce I brown the ground beef or pork (or a mixture) in a separate pan, drain any excess fat, then add the beef to the sauce to simmer the last 10 minutes or so.

Menu Monday: 8/20/12

The new recipes from last week were a hit, even with my visiting nephews….yay!  I’ll post them soon.

This week we’re gearing up for school starting so I’m working on a list of things to cook ahead and have on-hand for school lunches and snacks.  Hopefully will get that finished soon and posted.

Monday:  Spaghetti (squash), Meatballs and Tomato Sauce

Tuesday:  Big Salad

Wednesday:  Buffalo Chicken Wraps (another new recipe….looks yummy!)

Thursday:  Chicken Tacos

Friday:  ????

Any suggestions for Friday???

Menu Monday: 8/13/12

I just made it home from a mini-road trip with my husband to drop my two oldest girls at camp for the week.  My mean wise husband refused to stop the car as we passed by multiple “texas stop signs” along the way.  Oh man….an icy cold Coke and/or a Blizzard would have been lovely after a hot afternoon moving the girls into their cabins, but I settled for a glass of ice water.  Sigh….someday I’ll thank him.

After my little trip I’m a little late with my menu plan, but here it is….

Monday:  Five Guys (I had a bunless burger that was super yummy!)

Tuesday:  Roasted Chicken Thighs with Braised Leeks and Cauliflower-Rice (leeks are new for us….wish me luck!)

Wednesday:  Taco Salad

Thursday:  Lettuce Wraps with Baby Bok Choy (yay for another new veggie!!!)

Friday:  Favorite Chicken with miscellaneous veggies

Both Tuesday’s and Thursday’s meals are from new cookbooks I recently purchased….I’ll let you know how they turn out!

What’s cooking at your house this week?