I was planning to make some chicken tortilla soup this weekend but we have been snowed in here in Texas for a few days and I was unable to make it to the grocery store.  So, what did I do?  I came up with a soup recipe based on what I had in the house.  My husband did offer to walk to the Kroger down the street for me but I assured him I had enough stuff here to come up with something.  I had one jar of homemade chicken broth, turkey, corn and chopped bell pepper all in the freezer.  I also had an onion, beans and garlic in the pantry.  The spices I used are staples in our house so I had them on hand.  Around Super Bowl time my local health food store, Sprouts, had organic corn chips on sale for super cheap so I had a package of those in the pantry as well.  I figured with all of those ingredients I could make some sort of chili recipe.  I think it turned out pretty well.

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I have not always eaten the way I do now.  Minus the last 3 1/2 years, I’ve spent almost my entire life losing and gaining weight over and over again.  I went through times of eating almost nothing, times of eating whatever I wanted, and times of eating what I thought was a healthy diet.  I just never seemed to be able to keep the weight off and find a healthy balance with food.  I was most unhealthy during my college and young adult years.  My highest weight during those years was about 35 pounds more than I weigh now.

Fast forward to almost four years ago.  This was about a year after I had my second son and decided to quit working to stay home with my two boys.  We needed to save money and I decided it was time I learned how to cook at home so we weren’t relying on eating out so much.  I started cooking more, though it was mostly out of boxes and I was still using heavily processed foods in my meals.  I honestly knew nothing about cooking home cooked meals that didn’t come from a box.  I started looking for recipes online and in cookbooks.  I started stepping out of my comfort zone by trying new things.  But still, at this point, I thought healthy meant low-fat, fat-free, Lean Cuisine type meals.

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In my “What We Ate” posts each week I’ll share some of the recipes we ate for dinner the previous week.  I love to get inspiration from what other families are eating so I thought it might be helpful to some of you. If you are just now starting to cook more at home and your kids are used to eating only a few things, take it slow. It has taken about 3 years for my kids to get to where they will mostly eat whatever we eat. I’ll honestly report on each recipe and let you know how the family liked it.  Please leave a comment if you have questions about any of these recipes!

Parmesan Pesto Tuna Melts from Belle of the Kitchen

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  • I don’t use mayonnaise often because it’s hard to find a version that has a healthy ingredient list but I thought the recipe looked good and I had some tuna in the pantry and homemade pesto in the freezer so I went for it.
  • To be honest, my husband didn’t love it because he isn’t fond of tuna.  The kids and I loved it.  I made theirs like a sandwich to make it more kid friendly and made mine open faced.
  • I served this with steamed broccoli and added celery with peanut butter and carrot sticks for the kids.

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If you are looking for a healthy treat look no further!  These chocolate crunch cups are full of healthy fats and protein and if you chop the nuts finely enough they taste like a healthy version of a Nestle crunch bar.

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Ingredients:

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup natural nut butter (I used half peanut butter and half almond butter)
2 oz of a dark chocolate bar (or 1/3 cup chocolate chips)
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups raw nuts and/or seeds (I used macadamia nuts, cashews, and walnuts because that’s what I had on hand)
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut

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Before we started eating real food my only experience with green beans was from a can.  To be honest, it took me a while to get used to the texture of fresh green beans.  I love them now and prefer them to the canned ones.

This dish is one of my favorite ways to prepare them.  You may be tempted to leave the almonds out.  Don’t!  The almonds absorb a lot of the flavor in this recipe and they definitely make all the difference.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!  Now if I can just get the kids to like them as much as we do I’d be one happy momma.

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Asian Inspired Sautéed Green Beans
 
Author:
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 8-10 oz fresh green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half
  • 1½ T olive oil
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 3-4 T slivered or sliced almonds
Instructions
  1. Steam the green beans for 4-5 minutes, or until soft. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oils in a skillet on medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add green beans and sauté for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the soy sauce and almonds and sauté for one minute.
Notes
I like to steam my green beans first because it softens them up. If you don't want to steam your green beans first you can just add several minutes onto the sauté time.

Throw away those store bought bags of microwave popcorn and enjoy the homemade version for a healthy snack.  The homemade version tastes so much better and is a much better option for your health.  Have you ever looked at the ingredient list for a bag of microwave popcorn?  There are several unhealthy additives that are best avoided.

Did you know that you can freeze popcorn?  It’s true!  I recently started making a big batch of popcorn and freezing it.  Then I pull out a little bit here and there for the kids’ school snacks or lunches.

Stovetop Popcorn

Stove Top Popped Popcorn with Coconut Oil

Ingredients:

3 T coconut oil
1/2 cup popcorn
sea salt

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All you need is popcorn, coconut oil and sea salt.

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Hello! Thank you for stopping by. My name is Dana and I am a wife and mom to two boys, ages 5 and 7. About 4 years ago I decided to start cooking and eating healthier and making family meals at home a priority.

For the last 6 months or so I have been toying with the idea of starting a blog but I’ve hesitated for multiple reasons. It feels a little stilly to think others would be interested in or care about what I might have to say. And what do I really know about nutrition and cooking!?!? I am not a dietician and I haven’t eaten healthy all my life. But with the encouragement of my husband I decided to take the plunge. I really do have something to share. I’ve gone from years of yo-yo dieting and having an unhealthy relationship with food to losing about 30 pounds and keeping it off for over 3 years. I’ve gone from a diet of almost entirely processed foods to a diet of mostly whole, real foods. Over the last 3 years I have found a joy in cooking that I never knew was possible. I absolutely love to talk about food. So why not blog about it?

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I’m going to start sharing what we ate for dinner the previous week.  I can’t promise I’ll do it every week but I will when I can. I love to see what other families are eating so I thought it might be helpful to some of you.   If you are just now starting to cook more at home and your kids are used to eating only a few things, take it slow.  It has taken about 3 years for my kids to get to where they will pretty much eat whatever we eat.  Please leave a comment if you have questions about any of these recipes!

Kung Pao Chicken Zoodles For Two from Skinnytaste

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  • This only makes enough for two people.  I decided not to double it since it was my first time making zoodles (zucchini noodles.)  I was skeptical and wasn’t quite sure if we’d like it.  Turns out…it was DELICIOUS.  I will definitely be making this dish again.
  • You will need a spiralizer or mandolin for this.  I got an inexpensive spiralizer for Christmas so it was nice to put it to use.
  • We left out the chili paste because we prefer things more mild.

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My oldest son and husband love boxed macaroni and cheese.  They would eat it every day if I made it.  Long ago I stopped buying Kraft because of the artificial dyes and other questionable ingredients.  I switched over to Annie’s brand because it is a little more clean, especially if you buy the 100% whole wheat version.  But it is still processed and not as healthy or natural as homemade macaroni and cheese.

I have one tip for you if you are trying to eat more naturally:  don’t use pre-shredded cheese!  It took me about 30 seconds to shred 1 cup of cheese from the block.  Pre-shredded cheese has cellulose added to it to keep it from sticking and it just doesn’t taste near as good as freshly shredded cheese. Organic cheese is really expensive but I buy rBST (a hormone given to cows) free cheese from Sprouts that is inexpensive.

You can make this a meal by serving it with a salad or steamed/roasted vegetables on the side.  OR you could add some steamed broccoli right into the macaroni and cheese.  That would be delicious.

This recipe makes about the same amount of one box of macaroni.  If you need more you can double the recipe.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

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Ingredients

8 oz pasta (I usually use 100% whole wheat pasta but you can use any type)
2 T butter
1 T flour (I used white whole wheat but you can use any type)
3/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheese (I used colby/jack because it’s what I had but I usually use cheddar)
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste

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pancakes

When I started eating healthier a few years ago one of the first recipes I tried making homemade was pancakes.  Of course at that time I was making them with white flour and served them with regular table syrup (made with high fructose corn syrup and no maple syrup at all.)  I’ve since learned and ditched the white flour and processed syrups.  Over the years I’ve tried several different whole/multi-grain pancake recipes and found several that I love.  The last few months I’ve played around with the recipes, trying to make a version that has a little more protein and less sugar.  Finally, I’ve settled on these.  The whole family loves them and I feel good about serving them.  They have a nice little crunch due to the oats and coconut.  They are delicious drizzled with real maple syrup.

When I make pancakes I always like to make a big batch of the dry mix to save time the next time the kids want pancakes for breakfast.  This recipe makes enough for 3 batches of pancakes.  Tip:  don’t make this mix the morning you are planning to make pancakes.  Save time on those busy mornings and make the mix the night or afternoon before.

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