Thursday, January 24, 2013

Breakfast Brown Rice Pudding

In my meal plan this week I added a new recipe to our morning breakfast routine. Although we never seem to get tired of overnight oats, I wanted to throw in another option for a warm quickie breakfast packed with nutrition. It didn't disappoint and has quickly become a favorite among all of us.

I am not one to measure, so after I made the first batch by measuring the next day I sort of eyeballed everything and just threw it all in a pot together and hoped for the best. By the 3rd time we ate it I had made enough modifications to make it pretty darn near perfect. The original recipe is here.

I cooked my brown rice in a rice cooker at night then put in the fridge for the next few days. I tried another recipe for breakfast brown rice pudding that had you cook the rice on the stove top and it failed miserably. After 50 min - 1 hour the rice was still hard. So, I haven't mastered the craft of making brown rice on the stove top yet (obviously). BUT, in the rice cooker it comes out perfect. Just make sure to soak your brown rice for at least an hour before cooking. Then rinse until the water runs clear.

2 cups brown rice
*1 1/2 cups milk of your choice
Handful of raisins
1 T of maple syrup
1 T (or so) of brown sugar
1 T chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 mashed banana (the riper the better)
*Chopped walnuts or choice of nuts
diced up fruit (we used strawberries and blueberries and oranges)
Sprinkle of flax seed/wheat germ mix

Put rice, milk, raisins, maple syrup, brown sugar, chia seeds, vanilla and cinnamon in a pot and simmer on low to med heat until it becomes a thicker consistency. While that's cooking, mash 1/2 banana in each person's bowl. Once the mixture is heated through and slightly thick spoon it over the banana. Top with flax seeds, walnuts and fruit. Add another splash of milk if you want/need to thin out the consistency.

*We use Trader Joe's unsweetened vanilla almond milk (found in the refrigerated section). Make sure your nut milks DO NOT contain carrageenan. Almond Breeze brand is one that does, while Silk does not. Even TJ's shelf stable almond milk contains it, while the refrigerated version does not. Go figure. So read your ingredients or even make your own rice, almond, hemp milks! It's actually simple to do!

*Kid tip: Madelyn likes walnuts while Kaiden could totally live without them.  I usually will grind my walnuts in the Vitamix (use a food processor if you don't have a Vitamix) to make the walnuts into a powdery form.  This way when I sprinkle them on things like this or in overnight oats they won't even know it's there but they are getting a healthy dose of Omega 3's!  It will be slightly sticky because of the oil in the nuts...so don't over process   And probably best to store them in the fridge.

Give it a try and let me know what you think! MMMmmmmm! Want more recipes and tips? Come look at our new blog about real food at www.realfood.life.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Meal Plan-1/19/13

I don't know if I have mentioned that I returned to work this past week on a part time basis.  It's been 5 years since I have worked in the "real world" and I was terrified at the thought of it all.  But all in all this week went surprisingly well and I actually really enjoyed the familiarity of being back and work.  And of course the "quiet time" while at work in my office was pretty sweet.  I guess I can compare it to going to the grocery store without kids.  It all kind of seems like a big vacation.  

At any rate, all the "free time" that I have now (as if!) has been cut in half.  I am still trying to figure out and navigate this new schedule of mine but I suspect it's going to consist of laundry and grocery shopping at night or on the weekends as well as trying to prepare breakfasts/lunches the night before so as to not be completely crazy in the mornings.  

In addition to the lack of time the New Year has brought us, we also started off 2013 on a STRICT budget.  We have gone to CASH ONLY system.  Dave Ramsey style.  We even cut up on credit cards on New Years day (GASP!).  Oh the horror!  But, both lack of time and strict budgeting has forced me to put meal planning back at the top of my list (notice how it's taken me 19 days into the new year to accomplish it?  Ho hum.).  Cause a funny thing happens when I actually have a meal plan in place.  I actually spend less at the grocery store.  Imagine that!  So here goes nothing...

Saturday-Left overs
Sunday-Roasted veggie and eggplant parm sandwiches
Monday-Whole wheat pasta with veggies.
Tuesday-Salmon and rice with veggies
Thursday-Crock pot tortellini soup
Friday-Hamburgers/veggie burgers
Saturday-Plant powered pizza
Sunday-Veggie chili in my crock pot
Monday-Sweet potato burritos
Tuesday-Olive Garden Minestrone soup
Wednesday-Curry veggies over rice
Thursday-Broccolli slaw salad
Friday-Breakfast for dinner.  Eggs and hash browns and toast.
Saturday-Spring rolls with thai noodles

Breakfasts:
Overnight oats
Breakfast rice pudding
English muffins with almond butter and banana slices
Rips big bowl

Lunches:
Hemp salad
Left over quinoa waldorf salad
PB&J
Bagels and vegan cream cheese
Veggies, fruit and hummus with crackers
Left overs

I encourage you to start a meal plan today.  Remember it's not set in stone but rather a guide to use during the week.  It gives you a plan as to what to buy at the grocery store and helps with that 4:00 dinner rush.  I know that it's best to have a meal plan in place just finding the time to do it is another story!  What's on your menu this upcoming week?  I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Green Smoothie

 (Come visit our new website, Keepin' it Real, for more real food recipes and information!)

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  We had a great Christmas (thanks for asking) with our family.  We did our best to make it less about the presents this year (as last year was ridiculous!) and more about Jesus.  I think we succeeded   The kids had a blast, as well as the adults.  As for New Years...well, it just seemed to be another day like every other day around here.  I think I stayed awake until about 9:30 on NYE.  I tell ya, the excitement never ends.    

So here we are with Christmas behind us and two days into 2013.  If you are like most Americans, you put "lose weight" as your #1 New Year's Resolution.  In January 2012 my resolution to "eat healthier" caused me to adopted a plant based diet (mostly vegan) and I haven't looked back.  The first few months were a challenge to my meal plans, taste buds and will power, but I can honestly say that I feel so much better and don't worry about my weight since adopting this way of life.  Although we still occasionally eat meat and dairy products it is only a fraction of what it used to be.  Quite honestly, if and when I do eat meat or dairy I often regret eating it within 30 minutes as it makes me feel bloated, nauseous and just plain "icky."   

If you have read my blog for any amount of time you know that we often start our mornings out with a fresh green juice.  We started juicing after watching Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead last year.  Go watch it now if you haven't seen it (free online).  Watch now.  Come back and read later.  I have recently switched to making green smoothies for the past couple months.  No real reason other than that my Vitamix is a little easier to clean than my juicer.  None-the-less it's been a good to switch it up a bit.  I encourage you to start the New Year off right.  If you do nothing else this year as far as changing you diet, at least start adding green smoothies or juices to your daily routine.  Oh, and ditch the caffeine.  You'll thank me later.  

                                               

Ingredients:
1-1 1/2 cup water
1 T chia seeds
1T flax seeds/wheat germ mix
1T of hemp seeds
1/2 cucumber, cut up (peeled if not organic)
2-3 organic celery stalks, cut up
1 apple, seeds removed, skin left on, cut up
1 ripe banana (the browner the better), fresh or frozen
Handful of kale
Handful of spinach
10 drops of stevia
1 date 
1" pc of ginger peeled
*Children's probiotics

I often add some mixed berry frozen fruit, or feel free to freeze your bananas first.  If you don't have kale or spinach, substitute any greens that you have on hand.  I often use two kinds of greens in one smoothie.  romaine or collards can work as well.  In fact, today we used romaine and spinach with frozen banana and mangos.  Oh yum!  Another option is to add a half of an avocado (don't worry, it doesn't change the taste too radically) or some almond butter.  Maybe some coconut, chocolate chips (vegan of course) or cashews. The possibilities are endless!  Go ahead and experiment.  

If you are new to green smoothies, you may want to stick to spinach and collards or romaine first to get used to the taste as these greens will be less noticeable.  Work your way up to kale if you can (along with another green) since it will add the most bang for your buck nutritionally speaking.  I would advise against using greens such as arugula and mustard greens as they tend to have a "spicy" flavor that is VERY apparent in your juices/smoothies.  Fill your Vitamix up to the top and blend away.  Although I have never used any other type of blender, I believe it's possible to get a smooth green smoothie with another type of blender.  You might just have to add a bit more water or blend for longer period of time.  

*I often will mix in 1 tsp child's probiotics in the kid's smoothie (Yes, my kids drink up their smoothies and even ask for seconds:).  Then I will sometimes mix in a scoop of Green Vibrance in hubs' and my smoothie.  This will definitely change the taste of the smoothie and can be a hard taste to get used to.  But it's loaded with extra nutrition that will help ward off those winter germs!

                                               
Now get going!  Make your green smoothie today and watch your energy soar!