Avocado got your taste buds? There are many things you can do with this amazing fruit. Due to my IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) I have had to simplify my diet. So, when I make a meal I keep things as simple as possible. With avocados, I usually just put a shake of salt on them and add them to my meal, but lately, I’ve been more adventurous and have been making guacamole and now pesto!
This is actually my new favorite find. With normal pesto, there are ingredients in there that are hard for me to digest, like dairy, nuts, and various spices. Yet, my recipe only has six ingredients without dairy or nuts. Honestly, I can’t tell the difference. And it’s healthy for you!
Avocado is a great source of potassium (more than a banana), folate, magnesium, B Vitamins which include: B2, B3, B5, B6, and it has Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. This fruit also is a great source of healthy fat. The fat avocados have isn’t going to make you fat, so don’t be afraid to eat it. They have monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats; these are good fats.
They also are high in fiber which is good for us IBD people. Many fiber foods are extremely taxing on our intestinal tracks. Give me an A.V.O.C.A.D.O.!
Overall avocados help people get healthier! They help your eyes, assist in weight loss, help you make you feel satisfied, ease arthritis symptoms, prevent cancer, and help your body absorb nutrients…which is hard for people with IBD. It also helps our metabolic health.
How to eat them
If there is one thing that turns my son off about avocados it’s how slimy they are. Yeah, it’s kind of gross. This is where we can be creative. Guacamole is probably the best way to eat them, until TODAY FOLKS! I kind of just stumbled upon this experiment. I was craving pesto and wasn’t going to eat the real stuff…it is so not worth it.
Why not make a sauce that is super good for you? Combine all these awesome benefits of avocado and mix them with garlic, basil, lemon, olive oil, and salt. That’s all there is, people. Six ingredients to play with and make it your own.
Hold up there friends. This isn’t just for gluten-free or keto pasta, you can use it as a sandwich spread! This all depends on how long you blend it. The more you blend the creamer it gets. Oh my goodness, it’s such a great substitute for mayo or ‘dressing’ as some people say. Heck, you could probably add more oil and make it a salad dressing! Endless ideas with avocado.
2clovesgarlicLarge cloves. If you like a lot of garlic add more or less if you don't.
Gather all your ingredients so they're ready to go.
Chop your avocado. You want to make sure the avocado is ripe. They should not be rock hard. You want them to have a bit of give. Look for darker skins, not the green skins.
Place in the food processor and put your 2 pinches of salt in.
Give your galic cloves a rough chop, remove the skin first! Add you lemon juice, chop your basil leaves, and add your olive oil. Put them in the processor.
Process all the ingredients. For a chunker pesto, only blend for a short while. For a creamier version blend longer, like I did for this one. All done!
Eat it as the main meal or serve as a side…like with a piece of smoked chicken thighs and fresh chopped tomatoes. YUM!
The serving size is about 2-3 tablespoons. The calories are based on serving size. The entire calorie count for the whole recipe is estimated to be 589 calories. This recipe will keep for 24 hours. If there are leftovers, store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. If the pesto turns brown, discard it. Totally makes the sandwich. Enjoy!
Hope you enjoy this amazing recipe. I know you’re body will love you for it.
Game day sloppy joe sandwiches at your service. Whether it’s basketball, football, baseball, or table tennis, this is by far my favorite sloppy joe recipe. Not only is it super easy, but it has simple ingredients. It’s perfect after a long day at the field, and it’s excellent for watching the big game. Having a party? These sandwiches are a great dish to serve to guests! Try them in slider buns. Full of flavor and super easy to make.
Come NCAA Final Four Basketball, this recipe will be sitting in my Crockpot. So what’s in it? First of all, let me tell you what’s not in it. My sloppy joe recipe doesn’t have any high allergen ingredients, that’s right, it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, grain-free, egg-free, nut-free, and soy-free.
My choice of protein is venison, but if you’re not a fan, go for beef. I haven’t tried it with turkey (because I am allergic to turkey) or chicken, but I think it would work minus the ketchup. You’ll have to experiment if you want to go the fowl route.
What’s so good about venison?
Venison is open-range, free-range, organic, plant-fed protein. Venison is lean, there is hardly any fat, and it’s low in calories. It’s full of iron, B6, B12, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin…essentially many B vitamins. Which are super important for your body and brain to function properly.
Oh, if you didn’t know, venison is deer meat. Yes, yes, a “Bambi”, but not all deer are “Bambi’s”. In some parts of the country, the deer have destroyed habitats for other animals by eating foliage from the ground up. It’s a problem! Not to mention farmers’ crops and our simple home gardens.
For this recipe, you can substitute ground beef, which is very good. But! Be sure to get the lean ground beef, like 90/10. Plus, you’ll have to fork-over some coins for the organic grass-fed kind. You pick, this recipe isn’t picky.
Perfect sides for sloppy joe
As for sides, I personally like a little crunch. My favorite side is low-salt potato chips. I also like something green on my plate, like steamed broccoli, green beans, coleslaw, or a fresh spinach salad. Adding a slice of cheese to your sloppy joe makes it more of the meal, but I’ve also had sloppy joe on its own, no bun included. When I do this, I combine my joe with roasted butternut squash! So yummy.
This recipe is passed down from my dad. He is a rock star at making this. And it's so delicious! Please note, my dad can only make pancakes, so if you can do that, you can do this recipe!
Course Main Course
Keyword bbq, burger, easy meal, sandwiches, Sloppy joe
Prep Time 5minutes
Cook Time 3hours30minutes
3 tbspOlive Oil
2lbsLean burger or vension
1largeSweet onion choppedAbout 2 – 3 cups worth
3tbspApple Cider VinegarI usually only put 2 tablespoons in.
2cupsCatsupI like the Simple kind without High Fructose Corn Syrup.
1/4cupBBQ sauceUse your favorite. I personally like the kind that doesn't have High Fructose Corn Sysrup.
1/2 cupBrown Sugar
Warm the frying pan and put the olive oil in the pan
Immediately put in the ground beef or venison and brown it.
Add the onion at the same time…I know it's weird, but that's how my dad does it.
Drain any excess fat and grease.
Add to the crock pot
Add the water and the vinegar
Add the ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, and sugar
Cover and set to high for 2-3 hours
Add bun and eat!
When the sloppy joe is done, you can eat it alone or with a bun of your choice! I personally like to add cheese…in my case, it’s fake cheese.Delish!The calorie, cost, and servings are all an educated guess.
Pull up a chair and let your Crockpot do all the cooking. This is a slam dunk, touchdown, and homerun of a game-day meal! Your kids will love it. Be sure to check out my other recipes!
Oh my goodness, I am hooked on this warm kale salad recipe! Seriously, this is my new favorite lunch. I also feature this recipe in a post. If you missed it it’s here for you: Warm Kale Salad Plus 4 Tips to Change Up Weight Loss you’ll want to check’r out. I actually call this recipe Autumn Awesomeness, but I’ve been eating it all year round. There is something about all the flavors blending so well, crispy curly kale, roasted butternut squash cubes, dried cranberries, grilled chicken, and olive oil…and salt. And my mouth is watering once again. This is a super easy recipe with quick clean-up and packed with nutrition.
More about kale and butternut squash
Curly kale is nutrient-dense. I don’t even know where to start, so I’ll just mention the big guys. Per Healthline, curly kale is a huge source of antioxidants, antioxidants fight off free radicals in the body. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. Vitamin K is important for blood clotting. Kale is a source of calcium, potassium, and magnesium! And get this, it even helps us lose weight.
I’m not a big fan of it raw, but I LOVE it crisped up in a pan, especially with a little…do I even say it?…bacon. Be sure to buy organic. The non-organic is has pesticides on it and is one of the Dirty Dozen foods. You can read more about it here. Spend the extra bucks on organic.
Butternut Squash is my favorite squash. It’s easy on the digestion and has great flavor. This squash is a good source of calcium, potassium, vitamin A, E, folate, B-6. It helps lower blood pressure, cancer risk, and asthma. Butternut squash is also great for your hair, skin, and immune system.
Roasting it in the oven with a little olive oil and salt is my favorite way to cook it. I’ve also had it mashed, which is delightful especially with a little butter or non-dairy butter. Yum!
Tools needed for this dish
The number one tool for this dish is the trusty cast-iron pan. It gives the food an extra layer of flavor. Believe me, I’ve done a lot of research on what pan is the healthiest to cook with. One that won’t leach chemicals, aluminum, or Teflon into my food and the cast iron wins every time! It may be heavy, but it’s extremely low maintenance. In fact, if you’re anemic (iron deficient) it helps put a little iron in your system.
One more thing about the cast iron pan, it’s SUPER easy to clean, no soap required. Seriously, no soap, you’ll wreck the ‘seasoning’ of the pan. I highly recommend getting a cast iron pan, even if it’s the small one. You can find them on Amazon.
Other ingredients and variations
As for other ingredients, I recommend grilled chicken breast. You can opt for already cooked or make it yourself. When I’m in a hurry I’ll buy the already grilled chicken strips. Or if I’m in a BIG hurry I’ll just microwave gluten-free chicken nuggets.
The piece that brings it all together for me is the olive oil. I use a little bit in the pan for the kale, and then at the end to finish the dish. I absolutely love the flavor it brings to each ingredient. My favorite, hands-down olive oil is California Ranch Olive Oil. It’s 100% olive oil. With that said, be sure you get an olive oil you trust is 100%. We don’t need no stinkin’ canola or vegetable oil fillers.
Variations to the recipe. This is such a versatile recipe that any protein would work: brats, strips of steak, shrimp, or bacon. Adding a thinly sliced red onion also adds more depth. Enjoy!
This is an amazingly healthy yet tasty dish for lunch or dinner. The chard kale and roasted butternut squash complement each other, while the dried cranberries make it pop. This is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, and nut-free!
4Strips of grilled chicken or 4 GF Chicken nuggets
2TBSPDried Cranberries or Cherries
3 TBSPOlive Oil1TBSP for frying kale, 2 TBSP for topping at the end
Heat cast iron pan on low.
Wash thoroughly, pat dry, remove stalks, and chop. Put chopped kale into the pan. Then add 1 TBSP olive oil. It might get messy and splatter if kale is not dried off. Be careful.
I pre-roast an entire cubed squash. 350 for 40 minutes. Just toss a little olive oil and salt in before baking. Tip: Costco usually has raw cubed squash. Do not use frozen squash! You can also peel and cube your own squash.
After kale is charred and well cooked, wrap a dish towel around the cast iron panhandle and put kale on a plate.
Take leftover chicken, pre-cooked grilled chicken (Costco), or Gluten-free chicken nuggets. Microwave for the allotted time, or cook in your cast iron pan to warm. When done, put on top of kale.
Add squash to kale and chicken. Sprinkle dried cranberries on top. Drizzle olive oil and add a pinch of salt. Delish!
For added flavor, add thinly sliced red onion, roasted pecans, or crispy bacon!
Calories may vary on chicken type and the amount you use.
Spicy shrimp are two words that were made for each other. This is a dish that won’t disappoint your spicy palate. I’m not going to bore you with a long story about this recipe, because there isn’t a story. My husband was experimenting in the kitchen and concocted this amazingly delicious dish! He calls it: Mark’s Spicy Shrimp… super creative name, right? This recipe is packed with nutrition and flavor!
Did you know that one BILLION pounds of shrimp are eaten every year? That’s crazy. Shrimp not only live in the ocean, but they are found in estuaries, rivers, and even lakes. Another fun fact about shrimp is their lifespan, it’s from one to seven years. Move over hamster, I’m getting a shrimp! In case you’re wondering hamsters only live for about three years.
As for nutrition, shrimp are very low in calories. About 15 grams of shrimp is 18 calories, that’s close to three shrimp depending on its size. Shrimp are high in protein and low in carbs. It’s loaded with selenium, which is an antioxidant that can boost your immune system, protect your brain, and reduce your risk of certain cancers. (1) These bottom feeders are also a great source of iodine, which is super beneficial for your thyroid to work properly. And yes, shrimp do have omega fatty acids in them too! If you want to learn more about omega’s read my post about them.
There is good reason to enjoy something spicy now and then. If your tummy can take it on, add some spice to your dishes. I guess if you didn’t like spicy things you wouldn’t be reading this post. Spicy foods have multiple benefits. For one it speeds up your metabolism and puts the brakes on your appetite. This stuff is good for weight loss.
Some other benefits of spicy food are that it helps fight inflammation in your body, it lowers your mortality rate…yep, helps you live longer, and it can fight off bad bugs in the body…bacteria that is. (2)
Tools needed for this dish
The number one tool for Mark’s Spicy Shrimp is the trusty cast-iron pan. You’re going to want a medium-size one. It gives the food an extra layer of flavor. Believe me, I’ve done a lot of research on what pan is the healthiest to cook with. One that won’t leach chemicals, aluminum, or Teflon into my food and the cast iron wins every time! It may be heavy, but it’s extremely low maintenance. In fact, if you’re anemic (iron deficient) it helps put a little iron in your system.
One more thing about the cast iron pan, it’s SUPER easy to clean, no soap required. Seriously, no soap, you’ll wreck the ‘seasoning’ of the pan. I highly recommend getting a cast iron pan, even if it’s the small one. You can find them on Amazon.
Other ingredients and variations for spicy shrimp
As for other ingredients, I recommend gluten-free Ramen noodles. Our family likes Lotus Foods noodles. Gluten is super inflammatory on the body, why eat it when there is a gluten-free version. It may be a few cents more, but it beats going to the doctor for issues.
This recipe may only call for a little olive oil, but it’s worth getting the good stuff. My favorite, hands-down olive oil is California Ranch Olive Oil. It’s 100% olive oil. With that said, be sure you get an olive oil you trust is 100%. We don’t need no stinkin’ canola or vegetable oil fillers.
The secret ingredient that really makes this dish is the Hatch Valley Flame Roasted Green Chile. My husband eats this stuff by the spoon! Make sure to get the chopped-up version, not the whole. It’s kind of like a relish. Amazon has a two patch for sale. Simple ingredients, gluten-free, and non-GMO. This is good stuff people!.
Variations to the recipe. This is such a versatile recipe that any protein would work: brats, strips of steak, grilled chicken, breakfast sausage, or vegetarian with tofu or almonds.
1/2cupRed Bell PepperSlice half a red bell pepper, this is close to a half cup.
1/2cupOrange Bell PepperSlice half a orange bell pepper, this too is close to a half cup.
3/4cupRed OnionSlice red onion, slice as much as you like. Your preference to how much.
7pepperoniPepperoniChop about 7 pepperonis into 4ths. Use your favorite pepperoni.
1/2 cupFrozen green beans
1unitRamen Noodles or Gluten Free Ramen
1tbspBragg's Liquid AminosYou can use soy sauce instead, your preference.
1/4cupPickled gingerWe prefer the pink color. Any pickled ginger will do. This is a garnish.
3tbspHatch Valley Green ChileUse to your liking. If you want a milder dish, use only 1 tbsp.
2tspSriracha SauceUse to your liking. For a milder dish, use 1 tsp or less.
1/4 cupGoat Cheesethis is optional
Using a saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
While water is warming up, chop the red onion, red bell pepper, orange bell pepper, and pepperoni. Count 5 shrimp out and have them ready.
Line up ingredients so you have the ready to use.
After water has boiled, gently place shrimp in the boiling water. Watch them closely as they cook. During this time, turn on the heat on for the cast iron pan. When shrimp turn pink, turn heat off and set aside.
Now that the cast iron pan is hot, put 1 tbsp of olive oil in the pan and place the red onion, red bell pepper, orange bell pepper, along with the hatch chilis and aminos into the pan. Stirfry until you get an aroma.
Remove shrimp from hot water, remove any shell and tail.Chop the shrimp up. Place shrimp into cast iron pan. Turn pan on low.
Boil another 4 cups of water and place Ramen into boiling water. Let cook for 4 minutes.
Drain 90% of the water from noodles and add noodles to the cast iron pan. Add green beans to the cast iron pan. Add ginger.Add pepperoni to the pan.Turn heat to medium heat.
Add sriracha and goat cheese. Turn off heat and serve!
Calories are estimated not including the goat cheese. To make the cooking time go faster, use two saucepans, and have the water boiling. If you’re not a fan of pepperoni try breakfast sausage. And again, adjust the spiciness to your liking. Enjoy!
I absolutely love cookies. My favorite cookie hands-down is the chocolate chip cookie. The gentle crisp on the outside and soft center is the perfect texture to satisfy anyone…in my opinion of course. Oh, and then you get a chunk of chocolate that is slightly hard but surrounded by dough…oh, so good from a texture point of view. However, when I was told I couldn’t eat gluten anymore due to an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) my heart sank, to say the least. My pleasure of baking and having a fresh cookie out of the oven was a thing of the past. How am I going to live? I thought.
After I let that devastating news sink in, I was more determined than ever to recreate my guilty pleasure of chocolate chip cookies but gluten-free style. It’s not 100% the same, but it’s good enough. To the store I went to find gluten-free flour. I must say I was not only confused about all the flours but I was a bit sticker shocked, which will do my body good because I won’t make them as often, but when I need a fix I’m making the da*n cookies.
This can be overwhelming. And I did get overwhelmed. There is so much information on the internet I honestly am not going to reproduce it, but I will give you some sources to check out. If you want to learn more about different flours Healthline has a good article. If you want to make your own blend, I recommend Sarah Bakes Gluten-free. She’s got some great recipes I’ve had before too.
As I said, gluten-free flour is not a spitting image of ‘normal’ flour, but it does the trick to satisfy your fix.
It’s important to note, that there are many gluten-free pre-made chocolate chip cookie mixes at the grocery store. I’ve tried a lot of these, and they’re okay. If you look at the ingredients on these mixes you’ll find that sugar is the first ingredient! And as with any ingredient list, the first ingredient is the most abundant ingredient and so forth. For my taste, those mixes are too sweet and there are some unwanted ingredients in them too, like soy. With that said, in the refrigerator section, there is a premade chocolate chip cookie that is quite good when you don’t have time to bake your own. It’s Sweet Loren’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk. Here is her website to check things out.
Products I use
To keep this recipe low on inflammation and allergens at bay I use Enjoy Life Mini Chips. These are super good. We like them more than the normal kind. They’re great in brownies, pancakes, melted over rice crispy treats, or on a spoon full of peanut butter! Great. Now I need to go eat some.
If you missed my post about food combining you’ll want to check’r out. This amazing steak recipe I’m about to give you goes in line with food combining. You might think to yourself, “Food combining matters? It’s all going to the same place anyway. What gives?”
When I was a kid, eating with my grandparents was torture for me. Not only did I have to eat everything off my plate, including the extra ketchup…yes, with a spoon, down the hatch it went; I had to watch my grandparents pretty much swirl everything on their plate and eat it. As a kid, I didn’t want my peas to touch my mash potatoes, or for Pete’s sake my jello to touch my chicken pot pie! This kind of food combining is not what I’m talking about, but it gives you a visual.
What happens in the belly
Let’s take steak n potatoes, a classic meal. It’s a meal that has withstood the decades. Many would call it a ‘healthy’ meal. To the eye, it is, but to the stomach not-so. Combining a protein with a heavy-duty starch like buttery mashed potatoes spoils in your stomach. Starchy sugars don’t mix well with hard-core proteins. Ew! With spoiling in the stomach comes indigestion, bloating, gas, burping…sluggishness.
If you want to feel better after a steak dinner, change your side to a low starch veggie, like salad, broccoli, green beans, or grilled summer squash. I know garlic mashed potatoes with steak is OH SO YUMMY, but if you’re feeling icky after a meal like that it could be the food combo. Hold up, I’m not telling you to stop eating that combo, not at all. All I’m saying is that you might want to mix it up every once in a while. Just letting you know what I’ve learned. If you want a download of my food combination aid, you can get one here at freebies. It gives you examples of what to eat with what, along with a list of foods, and when to eat fruit. I personally tape mine to my kitchen cupboard.
Ingredients needed for this dish
With this Better Belly Steak recipe, I use a cast-iron pan. It really does make a difference, especially if you can’t cook on the grill. I highly recommend getting one, even if it’s the small one. You can find them on Amazon.
I also use Kirkland’s Frozen Organic Green Beans. Love these things. They come pre-washed. And for my other side I simply visit the frozen veggie section at the grocery and pick up Green Giant Simply Steam, Riced Cauliflower Italian Style. This is actually my new go-to when I’m running low on time.
1tbspMcCormickGrill Mates 25% Less Sodium Montreal Steak Seasoning
1cupfresh or frozen organic green beansWashed and trimmed
1boxGreen Giant SimplySteam, Riced Cauliflower Italian StyleIn frozen section at grocery
Take yourcast iron pan, put it on the stove, and preheat on high for 4-5 minutes, oruntil very hot (wink).
Pat your steak dry with paper towels. In this recipe I used Strip steak, highest grade.
Sprinkle McCormick Steak Seasoning, this is gluten-free!
Put alittle salt in the bottom of your hot cast iron pan.
Place the steak in your hot pan. It might get a little smokey, so make sure you’re cooking in a well – ventilated space…I do not recommend a tent. I personally turn my kitchen vent on and crack a window.
In the next one to two minutes, carefully flip the steak placing it in a different spot on the pan. Cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Continue turning and flipping the steak until it’s cooked to your desired doneness.
To be on the safe side, use a meat thermometer and insert it in the thickest part of the steak. Here’s a quick guide on temperatures. · Medium-rare:135º· Medium: 140º· Medium-well: 145º
Place the steak on your plate and let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it. Keep in mind the steak may continue to cook after it has been removed from the pan.
While steak is resting, take your green beans and put them in a sauce pan with an inch of wate on medium heat. Cover the pan. with lid. Cook 5 minutes and check. Keep checkingevery couple minutes. Cook to desire. Do not burn!
While green beans are cooking. Grab your box of Green Giant SimplySteam, Riced Cauliflower Italian Style and follow the microwave instructions. Stir after it has been cooked.
Dish up the steak, green beans, and cauliflower rice on your plate. Salt lightly if desired. Enjoy!
This walleye recipe is a family favorite! If you missed my post about Omega, Oils, Why I’m Picky, you’ll want to check’r out. Walleye has got to be one of the best fish to fry, well Crappies are good too. But walleye is definitely a special treat.
More about Walleye
Walleye got its name from its eye. The eyes are very big on a walleye and it’s pearlescent, which helps them see and feed at night. With that said they are a nocturnal fish. It lives in freshwater and is related to the perch family. Walleye like cold deep waters. You can find them in the Great Lakes region, Canadian lakes, Northwest Territories, and the Mississippi River basin.
To eat, walleye is one of the healthiest fish. It’s a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for our hearts and brains. Walleye is also a good source of vitamin D. The fish has white flesh and has a clean, succulent taste, it’s mild and sweet perfect for frying or baking. Yum! My mouth is seriously watering now. I should mention to not eat ‘walleye sushi’ so-to-speak. Always cook walleye before eating.
Ingredients needed for this dish
I use a cast-iron pan, not a deep pan, just you’re regular pan. We’re pan-frying for this walleye recipe, not deep frying, we’ll leave the deep frying for Blue Gills. A cast-iron pan really does make a difference, plus it’s SUPER easy to clean, no soap required. Seriously, no soap, you’ll wreck the ‘seasoning’ of the pan. I highly recommend getting one, even if it’s the small one. You can find them on Amazon.
As for other ingredients in this fried walleye recipe, we use coconut oil. It has a high flash point, which is great for frying. It heats up quickly. The coconut oil is a clean oil. It doesn’t taste like coconut at all. And it’s good for you! Much better than Canola or Vegetable oil. We get ours through Costco because we go through quite a bit. If you don’t have a Costco Membership, no problem! You can get it on Amazon. I highly recommend this product. When buying coconut oil get the Virgin, Unrefined.
For the breading, since my family and I need to be gluten-free we use a gluten-free pancake mix. I personally like Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Buttermilk Pancake Mix. We’ve tried Bisquick Gluten-Free too (that’s dairy-free). And I should mention we also tried Potato Starch. All work well! If you’re not gluten-free, I recommend any pancake mix. With this recipe we only want a dusting on the fish, we aren’t getting the pancake mix wet. Simply put the mix in a bowl and dust the fish with it, done!
As a side dish, anything works well. Although I’d stay away from pasta. Green beans and a store-bought potato salad are easy and good. Or the infamous broccoli/bacon salad is a favorite. If you’re going to have fruit, eat it while cooking your meal. You can check out my food-combining chart here to learn more about it.
How can we make a quick healthy meal on a budget? When it comes to meals I use five criteria to measure success: taste, health, speed, digestion, and budget. Let’s jump right in.
My secret ingredients to add flavor
Have you noticed when you eat something that tastes good, stress doesn’t exist for that moment? Bland food is quite boring and can leave us unsatisfied. Let’s fix the “bla” with a little “bam-bam”. Here are some of my favorite flavor touches that are easy to use and budget-friendly:
My husband is Mr. Hot Sauce. He enjoys: Red Hot and Sriracha.
I make my own garlic bread with fresh garlic, I simply use a mincer. It’s a much cleaner and healthier way than garlic powder or garlic salt.
This herb helps fight bacteria, it’s high in antioxidants, helps reduce viral infection and many more benefits.
We love our salt but need to watch the blood pressure and bones. Salt helps with fluid balance, nerve transmission, and even muscle function.
Methods for a healthier meal
My second criteria for reducing stress in the kitchen is to concoct a healthy meal using the right tools. I have five main ways to cook healthy meals:
The oven. Baking fish and starches instead of frying save us a lot of heartaches…literally…and calories for that matter. Roasting potatoes, squash, and even cauliflower are super easy and a healthier method. All you need to do cube the veggie and toss it in olive oil with a little salt set the oven at 350 degrees and bake for 30-40 minutes with a little toss mid-way. Simply test with a fork for your liking.
The toaster oven. If I’m in a hurry yet want a break from the microwave, I opt for the toaster oven. I love this thing! I use it for warming up homemade waffles, a small batch of cookies or brownies, garlic bread, a small pizza, and chicken nuggets. The toaster oven I use automatically shuts off when the timer is done, so I can put my dish in it and forget it. Here’s my favorite toaster oven.
The grill. We use our grill all year round and we live in Michigan! To keep grilling safe and healthy, it’s important to keep it clean. Be sure to scrape the grill with a brush before using, and clean the grill at least three times a year if you’re a heavy user; meaning, giving the grates a good soak in Dawn dish soap.
The microwave. Yes, I use the microwave to warm up meals when I’m in a hurry. My main reasons for the microwave are frozen veggies, chicken nuggets, and microwave popcorn.
Cast Iron Pan. This is my secret weapon in the kitchen when it comes to speed, taste, and easy cleanup. Everyone should have a cast iron pan. This pan, as my son would say, is ‘Beast’…meaning cool. When it gets hot, it stays hot. And cleaning it is a piece of cake, no soap! Simply rinse and heat back up on the stove to dry. Easy peasy! I love my cast iron pans.
I do love my Crockpot, but I only use it maybe once a week. There are loads of kitchen gadgets promising this or that; we get excited for a few weeks then tuck it away in an abyss cupboard. Keep it simple in the kitchen, stick to the old fashion way of cooking. You’ll find it actually goes pretty fast.
Cast iron pan
I wasn’t joking about old fashion. Like my son says, “It’s beast!”
The old saying to put a wooden spoon on top of the rim of the pan to make the water boil faster? Well, it works. Simply lay a wooden spoon across the top of the pan, kind of like a bridge. In about a handful of minutes, the water is ready for the pasta.
I’m not a fan of freezing meals unless it’s leftover chili or stew. Lasagna is another good freezer meal, but other than that, it’s easier to resort to the grocery’s freezer meals. You should venture into your freezer and clean it from old food every quarter.
There are a lot of factors leading to diarrhea, gas, bloating, constipation, acid reflex, and cramping. They range from food allergies, food sensitivities, food combining, eating too fast, the lack of digestive enzymes, hormones, bile acid, autoimmune disorders, gut flora, leaky gut, and/or viruses and bad bacteria.
My first strategy in figuring out why I feel icky is to eliminate the most common inflammatory foods: dairy, gluten (wheat), nuts, soy, and eggs. Food elimination will take time, but it’s worth it when you figure it out.
*Please note, I’m not a doctor, nor am I trying to be. I share information I have either experienced myself or are extremely interested in, and then I keep things simple and give you the nutshell version. Please consult your physician before jumping into new things.
Just so you know, it takes about three weeks for cow’s milk protein to vacate your system. For wheat, it takes two weeks to feel a bit better, but around three months for it to be out of your system. For soy and eggs, it’s two weeks. Here’s a good post from All Ways Well on how to go about it. Keep it simple, your body will love you, and you’ll help it heal!
Budget: 6 ways to save on meals
1 – Join store membership
One of the ways I save money on meals is to join the store membership. One of my stores kicks back $7.00 after I reach a certain goal. They also have online coupons. Not to mention member only specials! And you can even shop and scan with the app.
2 – Buy what’s in season
Another way I save is to adjust my menu with what is growing in season. For squash dishes, I delay until fall and early winter. Strawberry pie is good in March. Here is a quick guide to knowing what fruits and veggies are in season so you know when you’re getting the best deal on them. Download my In-Season guide now.
3 – Go to different stores
A third trick is to go to different stores to get the best price. For instance, the coconut milk ice-cream I buy isn’t on sale at my normal store, but it is on sale at my secondary store. This may be a lot of running around, so you’ll have to make the call whether it’s worth the gas, but I find this technique helpful. I have about five go-to stores to get the best deals. But how do you remember where you got what? You can download myWhere I Buy Memory Guideand tuck it in your planner or handbag. Now you’ll never have to remember where you got what again!
4 – Buy store brand
Buy store brand. There is not much difference in taste and quality from name brand goods to store brand.
5 – Watch the ingredients
Watch the ingredients! Yes, you can save money by reading the nutrition label. How? Some food manufacturers use ingredients that are addictive, like High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and MSG…not to mention salt and just plain sugar. When you eat more, you buy more of it! Steer clear of HFCS and MSG. I know they’re tasty but they don’t do you any favors from a wallet and health perspective.
6 – Don’t skimp the protein
Don’t skimp on the protein. Sure some proteins can be expensive, but so are second helpings and snacking! When our bodies don’t get the protein we are hungry all the time, which can lead to overeating, weight gain, and crankiness…yes, carbs do that. Make a point to eat some protein at every meal. To save even more money, buy protein in bulk at a membership store like Costco or Sam’s. Be sure to look at the price per unit to make the best decision.
Sources of protein include nuts, dairy (unless you’re sensitive), seeds, chicken, fish, pork, beef, turkey, tempeh (soy), quinoa, broccoli, and lentils.
When it comes to meals, use your head not your stomach. My five criteria get the job done for me. I go for taste, health, speed, digestion, and budget. My hope is that you found some new ideas to test out. As an added bonus, here is a 5-day menu plan based on all my criteria. Enjoy!
There is something about molasses cookies that I crave. When I grew up, every Christmas my grandma would bake molasses cookies. Her cookies were about the size of a silver dollar and so addicting! My grandma would always have them neatly packed in a wax paper-lined cookie tin. The cookies would literally melt in your mouth. As I grew older and found out she’d use grease from the meal before in her recipe, I thought about making a healthier kind of molasses cookie.
Another cookie favorite of mine is peanut butter. It’s such a simple cookie with so much comfort! I’m not sure if it’s the sugar coating or if it’s the texture of the fork grooves. Peanut butter in cookie form is peanut better!
How Molasses Peanut Butter Cookie came to be
This past November I was messing around in the kitchen with molasses. I wanted a cookie but was having trouble figuring out an egg substitute. Since my body doesn’t like eggs, it’s been a challenge coming up with an egg substitute that works for the particular recipe you’re working on. When you have a specialty diet, you have to be creative and experimental. So that’s what I did and discovered molasses and peanut butter marry well together.
Molasses was first around in 1582, some say 1600. In other words, it’s been around. There are many health benefits to molasses. On some mornings I will actually drizzle molasses on my peanut butter toast just to get the added molasses advantage.
A little touch of molasses has a big nutrition punch! What exactly is in blackstrap molasses? You’ll find it is a source of iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium, copper, and selenium (antioxidant). Needless to say, blackstrap molasses is good for your red blood cells due to its iron content; and because of its potassium volume, it also helps lowers blood pressure. Get this! In case you missed it, blackstrap molasses contains calcium which we all know is good for our bones. And because it contains B6, blackstrap molasses can fight off stress. These are just a few benefits that it has. More benefits can be found here.
What kind of molasses to buy?
To get these great benefits from molasses, you must get blackstrap molasses. Light molasses and Dark are not the same as Black. Blackstrap is the darkest type of molasses and it is the most concentrated form, hence, it has the most health benefits. After all, molasses is sugar. From what I understand it’s the leftover juice from sugar cane after they crush it to get sugar crystals. They boil it, then boil it again, and then again.
*Warning, if you eat too much of this dark syrup, you’ll probably get diarrhea. Know your limits.
Peanut Butter Benefits
Peanut butter has been around since only 1904. It was introduced at the St. Louis World’s Fair. It was used as a protein source for World War I and World War II.
Not only is peanut butter a good source of protein, but it also contains omega-3 fats. It is a good source of vitamin E, vitamin B6, manganese, and magnesium. Believe it or not, it also has copper in it!
Peanut butter is good for your heart; it can help reduce the risk of diabetes, and it even has some anticancer properties.
What kind to buy?
The best kind of peanut butter to buy is organic. Organic peanut butter doesn’t have any added trans fats, sugars, or other hydrogenated oils. When those extra things are added to peanut butter, there are no health benefits; in fact, it’s the opposite. Hydrogenated oils increase omega-6s, and when you get too much of a good thing (omega-6) it makes it bad for your body and may cause weight gain along with inflammation. Yikes! Spend the extra money and buy organic! Organic peanut butter is simply organic peanuts and salt. Please read the labels on your peanut butter, it makes a huge difference. I personally like Costco brand, Kirkland Organic Peanut Butter. Plus, I store my peanut butter in the refrigerator.
The marriage happens!
What happens when you put the two together? Talk about a B6 and magnesium powerhouse! The flavors work and complement each other. Your mind might be saying “Ew”, but your taste buds beg to differ.
Because my diet is limited, I made these cookies with gluten-free flour. They are also egg-free, soy-free, and dairy-free. They do contain peanuts. Baking egg-free can be tricky. One great substitute for eggs is…you guessed it…peanut butter! To get a list of other substitutes I have one in my new workbook: Simple Happy Wellness Strategies. You can download it on Etsy.
1/2cupCoconut oil (solid form)You can use shortening as a substitute.
1/2 cupSugarWhite grandular or Organic Sugar Cane works
3 tbspBlackstrap Molasses
3tbspCoconut MilkYou can substitute any kind of milk alternative
3tbspOrganic Peanut ButterHeaping tablespoons, you can try it with Almond Butter or even Tahini.
1cupGluten-free flourHeaping cup of Gluten-free flour
1 tspBaking Soda
Preheat oven to 350 and prepare the cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment paper on top.
Mix coconut oil, sugar, peanut butter, and coconut milk.
Add blackstrap molasses and mix.
In a seperate bowl stir flour, baking soda, and spices.
Gradually combine dry ingredients to wet with mixer. The dough will be thick. If it looks dry add a splash of coconut milk, if it looks wet add a tbsp of gluten-free flour.
Chill dough for 1 hour.
In a small bowl, put in 1/2 cup of sugar.
Make small 1 -1 1/4 inch balls and roll them in the sugar. Place them on the cookie sheet an inch or so apart.
Gently push the bottom of a fork into the cookie so it makes small groves.
Put the cookie sheet into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes.
Let cookies cool for 10 minutes.
For an added bonus mix 2 tbsp peanut butter with 1/2 tsp of coconut oil and 2 tbsp of powder sugar. Put in the microwave for 20 seconds then stir, put it back in the microwave for another 15 seconds and stir. Then put a dollup on top of the baked cookie…kind of like a frosting.
The calories and price of the cookies are an educated guess.
I hope you enjoy this tasty nutrition-packed cookie. Happy baking!
When it comes to meal planning it can either be super fun or a drag. Cooking and I have a love/hate relationship. There are days when it is soothing to my soul, and other days it’s like a ton of bricks on my shoulders. For those hard days, it would be easy for me to tell you to look at it with a fresh perspective; like a form of entertainment or a ‘serenity scene’. There are times when kitchen-time will do that for me, but let’s face it, just figuring out what to eat has been a chore. Today I have a simple yet powerful solution for you when you have to answer the question “What’s for dinner?”. It’s my secret weapon to reduce stress for everyone under the roof!
What’s for dinner?
During my morning coffee time with my husband I noticed when we ask each other what we want for dinner I start sweating. How could three little words stress me out? What’s for dinner?
Starting the day out with these words was not doing me any favors. The problem? I didn’t know how to answer the question. Foods would start swirling in my mind with questions like What does Mark like? What can Dave eat? What is easy? What is healthy? Should we go out? But where? When can we all eat together? Hence, the sweat.
There are times in life when it’s actually nice to have someone tell you what you’re having for dinner instead of giving you a choice. Have you ever looked at all the different kinds of jelly and jam at the grocery store? There are a TON of them. How did we get to this point of too many choices? For me when there are too many choices, my friend, Mr. Overwhelm, comes to visits. He tornados through the shelves blurring my vision and confusing the heck out of me. I’ve had times I even walked away because there were simply too many choices.
So when someone asks me “What’s for dinner?” and I can’t answer that, it usually results in me thinking about it ALL DAY LONG. This can be a major distraction and a nuisance. If only I put more thought into meal planning!
How to answer the question
My fix to this madness is to have a piece of paper tell me what’s for dinner. Yep, a simple piece of paper. If you really wanted to get creative, you could origami a paper puppet and have it talk to you. Okay, that’s a little crazy, but your kids might like it!
When I have a plan in place, my stress level drops tremendously and I can move forward with my day. There are a couple of ways we can go about this. We can either look up meal plans online or we can create our own. Either way works. But to make life simple, just use my monthly guide and fill in the blanks. You can find my guide in Freebies. Some meal planners online can be overly complicated and have ingredients or items that are unrealistic.
Meal planning made simple, we’re not going to die
For my family, simply writing out the source of protein and one side dish does the trick. With that said, every Sunday I grab my piece of paper and write out the week’s meal plan, and if it’s like last week, so be it. No one is going to die.
When I plan I only plan dinner; breakfast and lunch are ‘whatever meals’ in my head. As long as I have healthy choices for the kiddos, I’m good. In fact, I gave my son a guide for making his own lunch. His lunch needs to include a source of protein, a veggie, and some fruit…then he picks what he eats! Our kids have to learn how to meal plan and prep too!
As I said earlier, for dinner, I only pick a protein and maybe a side dish, then I fill in the gaps with what I have laying around. For instance, tonight, we’re having brats and green beans. I’ll probably fill in the gaps with either noodles or plain potato chips. Tomorrow we’re having salmon and baked potatoes, and I’ll probably throw in blueberries. The next day it’s grilled chicken and roasted butternut squash, and I’ll probably add some strawberries. Simple, easy, and good for our bodies.
Grocery shopping made super simple
To save time and cravings at the grocery store, don’t go to the store. That’s right, now a day, there are people who will grocery shop for you! This is an incredible service, especially if you hate grocery shopping or you just can’t get to the store for other reasons.
My preferred service is Shipt. Not only am I a Shipt shopper…because I do love grocery shopping…but I know the quality Shipt delivers. These shoppers take it seriously because Shipt takes care of the shoppers. Sure you’ll run into a few incompetent eggs, but most shoppers do their best. We want to help people and earn a few extra dollars. With that said, tipping is always appreciated.
But I have food sensitivities
My family is a bit unique. Remember the jelly and jams in the grocery store? Well, our specific diets went from being able to have many choices, to just a handful. Actually preparing meals, where we could eat anything, was a heck of a lot more stressful than being able to eat just a few things… the bright side to food allergies and sensitivities.
My son and I have limited menus due to inflammation in our bodies. Sure, we could continue to eat everything we wanted, but we would pay a huge price for it. It’s been my choice to reduce the inflammation in our bodies as much as I can by making a few changes in my diet. And it has been very effective and I don’t feel deprived!
My son and I can’t eat dairy or gluten (wheat, rye, barley). He also can’t have nuts. But I can. I can’t do eggs or soy, but he can. It gets really confusing. We both have gone through tests and we also went through food elimination to help us determine what we could eat and what would backfire. We want our bodies to heal, in order to do that we must eliminate the bully. So when it comes to meal planning, it actually becomes a little easier after you figure out what is causing issues! Yes, I said easier. How? There are fewer choices.
But what if you don’t have a special diet to follow?
If you want to be healthy, stop weight gain, and put an end to cravings, eat like you meant it. Food is meant to fuel our bodies. Having food taste good is a bonus. When we cut back on processed and sugary foods, our bodies will be given a chance to heal and be happy.
As our body adjusts to a cleaner menu, our cravings will change from wanting junk to wanting pure food. You might be like, “Shut-up Christy! I’m not doing that!” Friend, that’s the junk food talking, not you. Bad mood foods? Yes, they exist. Trans fats disrupt the balance of our omega-3 fatty acids, and when our omegas are low, it can lead to a bad mood. Not only that, but blood sugar can play a role in mood swings as well. When our nutrition is off, so is our frame of mind. I didn’t even talk about hormones and foods.
You might save a few bucks too by eating a simpler menu. Less doctor visits, simpler food. Cha-ching!
Meal planning in a nutshell
Circling back to taking the stress out of meal planning; simply use a pencil and my meal planner to extinguish the “What’s for dinner?” question. It’s okay if you have the same menu plan for a couple of weeks. We just need to feed our family wholesome foods.
Post your planner on the refrigerator or a kitchen cupboard so everyone can see what the main meal will be for the night. Heck, you can even use a paper talking puppet to tell your little ones what’s for dinner. Download the Meal Planner in Freebies. Bon appétit!