This lightly sweet and tangy Apple Cider Vinaigrette is super simple to make and tastes great on just about any salad.

apple-cider-vinaigrette

This dressing takes just a couple of minutes to make and it’s mild and slightly sweet flavor make it perfect on just about any salad.  It pairs especially well with a salad that has sweet and salty toppings.  I love it with apples, candied nuts, and Feta or honey ham, avocado, and Cotija.  Just the other night I had it on a salad with sautéed kale and mixed greens, roasted butternut squash, Feta, and sausage.  It was SO good!  The possibilities are endless.

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Triscuit Mini Pizza

Today I have a super easy “recipe” that’s perfect for lunch or a busy weeknight.  I love Triscuit crackers because they only have three simple ingredients: whole wheat flour, oil, and salt.  As an added bonus, Triscuit now makes an organic version with organic whole wheat, organic sunflower oil, and sea salt.  (I found them at Costco.)  Obviously, I wouldn’t call them a health food but as far as convenience foods go, these aren’t too bad!  If you serve these little pizzas with some fresh fruit and veggies you have a simple and easy meal that both kids and adults will love.  As an added bonus these can be customized so that everyone has the toppings they like.  Get the kids involved and let them make their own little pizzas.

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I try to cook healthy homemade meals most days of the week, but the truth is I just can’t do it all.  Like everyone else, I use some convenience (processed) foods on a regular basis.  These are things that decrease stress and are useful when life just gets too busy.  I’d rather use some of these at home than eat out multiple meals a week.  It’s cheaper and healthier to consume most of your meals at home, where you know what’s going into them.

When it comes to processed foods I do try to pick the best choice that my budget allows.  I try to choose cereals without excessive amounts of sugar and artificial colors/ingredients, whole wheat pasta over refined pasta, crackers and breads with at least some whole grains, etc.  With that said, here are five of my favorite convenience foods that I buy on a regular basis:

Crackers

crackers

I always keep a box or two of crackers in my pantry.  My kids like these Back to Nature crackers.  I prefer the Crunchmaster multi-grain crackers that I wrote about here.  I use crackers for peanut butter/almond butter cracker sandwiches in the boys’ lunches.  I also use them to make homemade lunchables.  I pack a little nitrate free ham or turkey, cheese, and crackers and the kids can build their own “lunchable”.  I try to stock up on both types of crackers when they go on sale because they can be expensive otherwise.

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

School has started and we are back into our fall routine.  We have one in first grade and one in pre-k.  We also have both kids involved in sports for the first time.  So it’s a busy time of year but we are all settling into our new rhythm.  I, for one, am looking forward to the beautiful fall weather.  (But I do not like waking up to the dark outside!)

We’ve had a lot of simple dinners over the last few weeks and I’ve been relying a lot on my freezer.  I’ve been so thankful to have a freezer full of meals ready to go.  Here are a few meal ideas for you from the past two weeks.  Most of these are pretty simple.

***Mini Quiche Cups
We made about 36 mini-quiches the other night.  I detailed how we made them at the end of this post.  They made a delicious dinner and we had tons leftover for the freezer.  I pull them out the night before I want to cook them and they are ready for the oven in the morning.  I like involving the kids in this recipe because it motivates them to eat a few veggies.

mini quiches

quiche

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school lunches

Are you in a lunch-making rut?  Do you pack the same thing every day?  Are you wanting to make your kids’ lunches a little healthier?  Well, today I’m here to help you out.  I’ve got a few tips that have helped me out over the last few years and I’m going to share them with you today.  My kids’ lunches aren’t perfect and I’m okay with that but I do try to provide a variety of real, wholesome, healthy foods along with a few convenience foods when needed.  I don’t do anything fancy or cutesy but I have found a system that works for us.

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Occasionally I share pictures of our school lunches on Facebook or Instagram so I thought I’d do a post here on the blog with some lunch ideas for you.  My lunches aren’t beautiful or creative but I do try to send a well balanced lunch most days.  I send lunch to school with my four year old twice a week and my 6 year old almost every day.  My kindergartener does buy pizza once every two weeks or so and I do let him buy a treat on those days as well.  I always send a thermos of water with their lunches.  We’ve never been juice drinkers so they haven’t had a problem with me sending water.

School Lunch Ideas

You can click on any of the pictures to see the picture gallery for each set.

Leftovers in a Thermos:  I use the thermos to send warm leftovers to school.  In these photos I sent leftover homemade tomato soup, leftover pasta with cauliflower sauce and leftover whole wheat macaroni and cheese.  On the side I sent carrots, applesauce, graham cracker bunnies, raw sunflower seeds, and different types of fruit and veggies (grapes, strawberries, cucumber, and peppers.)

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