Peppermint and Dark Chocolate dipped pretzel sticks

I love to cook but that love does not extend to baking. I know many people look forward to the holidays because of all the yummy baking they get to do.  I am definitely not one of those people  Maybe it’s because after I bake I spend the next several days trying NOT to eat what I baked.  🙂  I much prefer to make simple sweets that don’t involve a lot of actual work.

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I’m a fan of eating fresh and healthy foods but they can sometimes be expensive and they often go bad rather quickly.  Learning to utilize your freezer helps minimize waste, allowing you to stretch your grocery budget further.  Knowing you can freeze ingredients and/or leftovers for later also decreases the pressure to “use up” produce and food that is close to going bad.

Over the years I have learned that you can freeze almost anything.  When I first started cooking more at home I would often google “how to freeze _____”.  It’s not very often that I learn about something that can’t be frozen.

I thought I’d share a few posts detailing my experience with freezing different types of foods.  Today I’m going to share how I freeze soups, broth, and sauces.

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6 Tips

One holiday down, lots more to go!  Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean your healthy habits have to be completely thrown out the window.  You can still enjoy all that this time of year has to offer without compromising your health.  Here are a few tips to help you.

1. Try to practice balance as much as possible when it comes to eating during the holiday season.  Balance out the more indulgent meals with lots of salads, fruits, veggies, lean meats, healthy fats and whole grains.    Fill up with nourishing foods when possible so you feel well throughout the winter.  Don’t use the holidays as an excuse to completely let go of your healthy habits.

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Sausage Kale and White Bean Soup

Today’s recipe is perfect for cold fall days.  It’s made with smoked sausage, in-season kale, and white beans.  To boost the nutrition I also added in some onion, carrots, and celery.  This soup is super simple to throw together. Start by browning some smoked sausage slices, such as kielbasa or even andouille if you prefer a little spice.  (I used Kroger’s nitrate free Simple Truth brand kielbasa.)  Set aside the sausage and, in the same pot, simmer some kale and veggies in chicken broth. After the kale has wilted, add the beans and sausage back to the pot, season, and cook until heated through. Serve with some freshly grated Parmesan on top, if you wish. Warm, filling, healthy, and delicious!

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dark chocolate peanut clusters

Several weeks ago the boys noticed a picture of peanut clusters on Pinterest and they declared that we needed to make them for an after dinner treat.  (Yes, we do scroll through pictures of food on Pinterest together.  :-))  You may have noticed that I have a special affinity for dark chocolate and nuts so of course I was completely on board with their request.  The recipe they saw was actually made in the crockpot and used milk chocolate.  But I knew I could make it without having to pull down our crockpot and I could use dark chocolate, which would make it a teeny bit more healthy.  This may be the simplest recipe I have ever shared.  And it’s delicious too!

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Pumpkin Coconut Cashew Bites

I’m back with another pumpkin recipe today.  I just can’t stop making foods with pumpkin.  It’s one of my favorite ingredients!  It’s always a plus when something you love is healthy too.  I adapted these from a favorite “cookie dough” ball recipe that’s made with cashews, oatmeal, and coconut.  I just added some pumpkin for a little fall flavor.  These pumpkin coconut cashew bites are full of healthy fat, protein, and fiber, which makes them the perfect snack in my book.  I keep ours in the freezer and pull one or two out in the afternoon when I need a pick-me-up.  They are just slightly sweet so if you are wanting them for more of a “treat” I’d suggest upping the amount of honey and adding in more chocolate.  I wanted them to be more of a heathy snack so I kept the honey and chocolate to a minimum.  But they are still delicious as is.

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***In my Good Eats and Good Reads posts I’ll share a recap of the last several weeks in recipes, photos, and links.***

Things have been super busy around here.  I feel like the blog has been put on the back burner for a few weeks and I’m really trying to get back to it.  I recently gave two presentations to a local MOPS group and I spent a lot of time and energy preparing for that.  Hopefully future talks will take a little less preparation now that the first one is under my belt!

Here are a few yummy things we’ve eaten over the last few weeks.  (I share a lot of these on Facebook and Instagram so it may be a repeat for some of you.)

***One night I pulled out some Salmon Patties from the freezer and cooked them for the purpose of topping salads.  They make such a delicious topping for just about any salad combination.  Our salads had mixed greens, tomatoes, peppers, avocado, cucumbers, onions, and mushrooms.  We used my homemade balsamic vinaigrette for the dressing.

salmon patty salad

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fruity frozen yogurt drops

These frozen yogurt drops make a great snack or addition to your little one’s breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Honestly, I really like them too, and I’m not even a huge yogurt lover.  They are full of protein and probiotics (from the yogurt) and fiber/vitamins (from the fruit) and have just a little added sweetener (maple syrup).  My boys love them and cannot get enough!  They feel like they are some sort of treat when in reality they probably have less sugar than the flavored yogurts you buy at the store.

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Easy Flatbread Pizza Bar

I have a super easy and really quick weeknight dinner idea for you today.  Put together a flatbread pizza bar and let each family member create their own pizza.  There are so many flatbread options out there and many of them are whole grain.  Just spend a few minutes at your local grocery or health food store and you should be able to find one that will work well for you.

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