Banana Blueberry Flaxseed Waffles: Fun Activity, Fun Lunch

The recent cold snap has hit us in Williamsburg, though not so badly as our family in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Indiana (stay warm you guys!).  The lower temperature has meant staying indoors more than normal, which calls for some creative play.

Enter waffle making!

119Joe loves to help in the kitchen.  I’ve never had him (or Jack) out of there when I’m cooking.  It’s nigh impossible.  Where I am, there they want to be.  I once tried rigging up baby gates to have some separation (“Do you really need to follow me everywhere?!”) but our current kitchen won’t allow for that.  I make sure that the fridge and oven have safety latches, keep all cleaning supplies out of the bottom cupboards and only store things down there that I don’t mind them getting into, but other than that the kitchen is a family territory.

128Yesterday morning I went online and researched waffle recipes.  I had ground flaxseed and coconut oil in the pantry that I recently purchased from Vitacost along with rice milk chilling in the fridge.  I found a few recipes that I liked and morphed them into one.  Joe helped with measuring flour and baking powder, helped count tablespoons of coconut oil, poured the rice milk, and (gently and slowly!) stirred the mixture together.

Waffles are great to make because (a) you can make healthy versions, (b) there are usually a few minutes between pouring the batter in the iron and the waffle being done which gives time for things like cleaning up, getting kids in highchairs for lunch, etc., (c) it’s easy to make a bunch for freezer breakfasts, and (d) you can eat them for just about any meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert!).

Oh goodness, I’m starting to sound like Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation.

image via

The waffles were a big hit.  I put peanut butter on top of Joe’s and he gladly ate them for lunch.

174Okay, maybe “gladly” is an understatement – more like ecstatically :-)

Jack loved ‘em, too.

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Happy tummies.  Happy kids.  Happy mom.  You’re welcome.

Here’s the recipe that I came up with.  I had a bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer so I added a few of those, too.  I’m sure you could use fresh blueberries or leave them out entirely – whatever suits your needs and preferences.

Banana Flaxseed Waffles with Wholewheat Flour (makes 5 – 6 waffles)

1 ripe banana, mashed with a fork

2 C rice milk (or other milk)

2 T ground flaxseed

6 T very hot water

4 T coconut oil, melted

1/2 C wholewheat flour

1 1/2 C unbleached all-purpose flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 – 3/4 C blueberries, fresh or frozen (optional)

In small bowl, combine ground flaxseed and hot water.  Set aside.

In medium bowl, combine ripe banana and rice milk (if you don’t want any banana lumps, pour banana-milk mixture in blender and pulse for a few seconds).  Add coconut oil and flaxseed mixture.  Stir to combine (if your milk is cold, the coconut oil may harden somewhat – this is fine).

In another medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, and salt.  Stir together till fully incorporated, then add to wet ingredients and mix well.  If adding blueberries, stir these in last.

Spray waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray or brush with some extra melted coconut oil.  Pour batter into waffle iron according to your machine’s instructions and bake.  I like a crispy crust, so I always set my waffle iron to well-done :-)

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Avocado, Corn, Tomato, and Red Onion Salad with Lime Dressing // One of My Faves

This recipe is definitely up there in my top 5 favorite salads: “Avocado, Corn, Tomato, and Red Onion Salad with Lime Dressing”.

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I can never seem to make enough of this dish.  It’s always – poof – gone within 24 hours.  Chris will even eat it for breakfast.

Why do I like it so much?  I’ll give you 5 reasons: (1) it’s easy to make – takes about 10 minutes, (2) it’s a lettuce-less salad, and lets be honest – lettuce gets a little boring after awhile, (3) I don’t have to heat anything up or use a blender/food processor, (4) it’s pretty, and (5) it’s filling enough to take the place of a main dish, at least in our house.  Just serve it with some bread + olive oil and you’re set.  Oh, and it’s incredibly healthy – no sugar, like so many other homemade dressings.

Avocado, Corn, Tomato, and Red Onion Salad with Lime Dressing

For salad…

  • 6 C frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 punnets cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (I’ve also used diced, regular tomatoes)
  • 3 – 4 large ripe (but not overly-ripe) avocados, chopped into bite-size chunks

Place the above ingredients into a large bowl in order listed.  Don’t toss till you add the dressing – you don’t want to smash the avocados.  Oh, and in case you don’t know what a “punnet” is (I didn’t before moving to New Zealand), it’s the small plastic basket that fruits and veggies are displayed in at the grocery.

For dressing…

  • 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 T lime juice (or juice from 2 limes)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (go easy on the salt)

Combine the above in a small bowl and whisk rapidly till well combined.

Drizzle over salad and toss with salad forks.  Store in refrigerator till ready to serve.  If your avocados aren’t overly-ripe (i.e., mushy), then the salad can be made 24 hours before you need it.  You don’t have to worry about the avocados turning brown thanks to the lime juice dressing.

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The original recipe can be found here.  I’ve slightly modified it and written it up above as we prefer.

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What are some of your favorite salad recipes?  Do you have a fool-proof, never-fail, go-to salad that you make whenever you’re asked to bring one to a meal?  Please share!

Good Eats (and cookie dough that this pregnant woman can safely eat!)

I’m still enjoying having access to a full, complete kitchen once again.  My cooking and baking senses have gone into overdrive, and Chris and Joe (and lets face it, me as well) are reaping the rewards.

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This is a photo of two meals that I made recently.  The first is the one in the background and is unfortunately blurry – Slow Cooker Chicken Black Bean Tacos from Skinnytaste.com. I didn’t realize how much of a difference adding red cabbage could make to tacos but trust me, it takes them from fine to fabulous.  Joe was a big fan, which always makes me happy.

As usual, I made a few modifications to suit our tastes.  You can click on the link above for the original recipe.  Here’s what I did to change it up:

  • Use lime juice as suggested in lieu of red wine vinegar
  • Don’t add as much chili powder (Joe can’t handle the extra heat)
  • Double the recipe and up the crock-pot time by 1 hour – this yielded 16 tacos which made dinner, lunch leftovers, and extras to go with the next night’s salad
  • Shred the chicken on a plate, then return to black beans and mix together
  • Start the layers with coleslaw on the bottom
  • Top with shredded cheese, homemade salsa, hot sauce, or whatever else you like
  • These go well in taco shells but also in a tortilla or in a pita… I actually preferred them the next day when the chicken mixture was cold

004aNext up is Chickpea Salad.  I came across this gem on Fit Pregnancy and oh my, is it delicious.  I left out the butter lettuce and olives, but other than doubling it kept it exactly the same.  It makes a large bowl with enough for leftovers.  Yes, I like to have leftovers.  As my mother once said, “If you’re going to make a mess, you might as well make a big one”.  Joe was a fan of this recipe, and it goes well with the chicken tacos.  I made it with the toasted pitas but didn’t double those (I figured that we could do without the carbs).

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These were some zucchini fritters that I threw together using leftovers.  We were in a rush for dinner and I wanted something easy.  They turned out to be perfect and another Joe-pleaser.  They might sound semi-complicated, but they’re simpler than what you’d think.  I added a small amount shredded cheese to suit our tastes and would recommend following her suggestions of serving with sour cream, plain full-fat yoghurt, or lemon juice.  We didn’t have those on hand and while they were yummy without them, one of those additions would have been nice :-)

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These are (almost) vegan oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies.  Almost, because I added some decidedly unvegan dark chocolate chips.  Mid-mixing them up, it dawned on me: these are vegan.  Vegan, as in no dairy and no eggs.  Which means that this pregnant mama can safely indulge in some raw cookie dough.  Yahoo!

Yes, I doubled them and yes, they make a lot.  I put most of them in the freezer for things like giving to friends, bringing to parties, etc. (okay, okay, I admit that they’re also for when we’ve I’ve got a chocolate craving!).

Based on doubling the recipe, here are my substitutions:

  • Use 5 C whole wheat flour instead of 5 C spelt flour
  • Use 2 C raisins + 1 C dark chocolate chips in lieu of 3 C raisins
  • Add the optional finely chopped walnuts
  • Use 1/2 tsp cinnamon + 1/2 tsp allspice instead of 1 tsp cinnamon (don’t skimp on the cinnamon – I usually add a bit extra)
  • Use 1 C real maple syrup, 1/2 C mild liquid honey, and 1/2 C warm water in place of 2 C maple syrup (I ran out of maple syrup so had to make up something on the fly – turned out pretty well, though I’m sure you could use syrup only and they’d be great)
  • Use the coconut oil.  I’ve made these with sunflower oil and they’re good, but the coconut oil gives it a little something extra.

These cookies are kind of dry, in my opinion.  If you’re mixing them up and you think that the dough is too crumbly (like I thought), then add some oil a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency.  Don’t be afraid to use your hands to mix the dough.  Another note: these don’t spread out much.  I had them in nice little spheres on the cookie sheet and they came out as slightly flattened nice little spheres, a bit like biscuits, as you can see in the photo.  No worries – I just pressed the next batch down a bit and they were fine.

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What’s been cooking in your kitchen lately?

Oatmeal Applesauce Mini Muffins (egg-free, dairy-free, refined sugar free)

I was packing Joe’s gear for our swim lessons on Monday morning when I realized, “Hmm… there’s nothing here that’s great to take for a snack.”

Joe’s lessons are at 9:30am, which is prime morning tea time.  I’ve found that if I wait to give him a snack after lessons, he’s grouchy and not as energetic in the water.  Food and timing are big deals to this little guy.

What to do, what to do… I decided to whip up some mini muffins and bring those along.  It was just before 8am, so I had plenty of time.  I scoured the internet and combined a few different recipes to come up with this one…

Early morning mini muffins

Oatmeal Applesauce Mini Muffins

  • 1 C almond milk (if using wholemeal flour, increased to 1.5 C milk)
  • 1 C rolled oats
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 3 T warm water
  • 1 C flour (can use plain or wholemeal, but see note next to milk)
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 190C/375F.  Spray mini muffin tin with non-stick spray or line with baking cups.

Combine milk and oats in large bowl and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder and spices.  Stir together with a fork.

When 10 – 12 minutes have passed, combine chia seeds with warm water in a cup and swirl once with a fork or spoon.  You want the seeds to soak for at least 3 minutes but no more than 5 minutes.  Pour in with oats and milk.  Add honey and applesauce, stirring to combine.

Pour flour mixture in with oat mixture and stir till ingredients are moist.  Fill muffin cups almost full and bake for 20 minutes or till toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen mini muffins

Notes:  I made these with regular flour the first time around, but the second time around I decided to use wholemeal flour.  I used the exact same amount of flour but increased the milk from 1 C to 1 1/2 C.  I’ve found that wholemeal flour tends to make things drier.  It was the perfect substitution.  Wholemeal has a lower GI and I could definitely taste the difference.  They weren’t as sweet, but that was fine with me.  Joe gobbled them up regardless.  I would also note that if you decide to use regular flour, you may be able to cut back the amount of honey to 2 or 3 T… it just depends on how sweet you like muffins.  They weren’t overly sweet with 1/4 C, but they would have been fine with a little less.  I would leave the honey the same if using wholemeal.

Made using wholemeal flour

Chocolate Avocado Mousse? More like Chocolate Avocado Fudge Frosting (and only 3 Ingredients)!

I’ve seen the recipe for chocolate avocado mousse floating around for the last few months.  I even considered making it when I was doing my “30 Days, No Processed Sugar” challenge, but the thought of mixing avo + chocolate put me off.

Then, I met a friend who made it and I thought, “If she can make it… and eat it… then it’s worth giving it a try.”

So I did.

Dense.  Chocolatey.  Thick.  Fudgey.  Rich.

It’s chocolate to the extreme, and you can’t taste even a hint of avo in there.  This is a dessert for dark chocolate lovers, oh baby.

The best part?  It’s got 3 ingredients, which means that it’s incredibly simple to make.

  • 1 avocado
  • 3 1/2 T of unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 1/2 T of honey

Combine avocado, cocoa, and honey (in that order – the honey will come right off the spoon if you use it to measure the cocoa first) and blend till smooth.  You can use either a food processor, a blender, or probably even an electric mixer.  I used our small hand blender and it did the trick, no problem.

Warning: if you’re using a bowl, make sure that it’s small enough to cover partially with your hand, because the cocoa powder will POOF out with the initial mix.  Trust me.  I know.  So does my kitchen floor.  And kitchen wall.  And teapot.

This is a v-e-r-y thick mousse.  From the start, I thought, “This is almost like a fudge frosting”.  Putting it in the fridge for a bit only made it more fudge-frosting-like.  Chris chowed it down, but I couldn’t eat more than a few bites, it was so rich.  And after those few bites, I felt like glugging down a giant glass of milk.

So, yes – it’s delicious, though a bit too thick to be a true mousse, in my humble opinion.  I think that the next time that I make it (and I will make it again) I’ll use it as an icing for brownies.  It needs a sturdy dessert.  My advice is to put it on the brownies shortly after mixing, because once it’s set up in the fridge, it’s quite difficult to spread.

Amazing.  Chocolate + avocado.  Who’d have thought it possible?

My Monster

Most people think of scary, terrifying things when they hear the word “monster”.

I’m sure that some of you might be a bit surprised to hear that I have my own personal monster, and I actually like it.

I’m talking about a green monster, of course.  A green monster monster smoothie!

In my journey to eat just a bit more healthily, I started researching smoothies.  I was actually researching spirulina smoothies, but came across the Green Monster Movement website along the way.  I decided to give it a whirl (tee hee) and try one.  I used Angela’s basic recipe and thought that it was quite tasty.  So, I thought that I would try a few more.

Unfortunately, my blender was not a fan of green monsters.  It broke after the second one (a chipped chunk of plastic from one of the screws = husband decided he could muck something together to make it work = sparks and smoke and an entire pitcher-full of smoothie ingredients being dumped down the sink with the remnants making it into the rubbish bin = less than pleased email to husband).

Fast-forward a few days: the Easter Weekend was over, stores were open again, and I was able to buy a replacement blender.  I used what was left of the spinach (much of it had been eaten by then in other forms: salads, omelets, etc.) to make another smoothie.  It was as yummy as I remembered, which led to making today’s green monster, pictured above.

I’ve tried various adaptations of the original recipe.  I’ve used regular milk, soy milk, Greek yoghurt.  I’ve used peanut butter and gone without.  I’ve added ice or skipped it.  I think that what I like the best about this recipe is that it’s very adaptable to what you have on hand.  The things that have remained the same in my monsters are (1) at least 2 big handfuls of rinsed spinach, (2) a tablespoon of chia seeds, and (3) a frozen banana.  In cases where I’ve only used the banana, I found that it wasn’t quite sweet enough to mask the spinach flavour (and let me tell you, drinking spinach and having it taste like you’re drinking spinach isn’t as nice as drinking spinach and having it taste like something else).  In those instances, I added a bit of honey and that was enough.

Today’s green monster was put together in the following order:

  • 3 large handfuls of rinsed spinach
  • 1 T of chia seeds
  • 1 avocado, peeled and with the stone removed
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 small handfuls of frozen berries (try to find ones w/o added sweetener)
  • 1 C of milk
  • Juice from 1 orange

It was delicious.  I think that the avo helped give it a smoother, less liquid-y texture, more like a green monster shake.  If you don’t have any avos, just use unsweetened yoghurt in place of the milk, blend, and add water to thin as needed.

I’d recommend checking out the recipes over at Green Monster Movement and seeing what works for you.  The smoothies that I’ve made have never been overpoweringly fruity – I’ve always felt like I could taste just a wee bit of the spinach – but that’s because of the way that I’m making them.  If you don’t want to taste any veggies, then just add more fruit!  My advice is to take a small taste while it’s still in the pitcher, and then adjust as needed.

Overnight Oats: Vegan Version

I’ve heard about overnight oats before.  Thought, “Eh, that sounds interesting” and then moved on with my day.

I’m not sure what inspired me this time around, but I decided to give them a try.  Before Joe, Chris and I had a fairly even split as to who decided what we ate.  I did most of the shopping and cooking, but there were days when he would throw stuff together, too.

Now that Joe is here and I’m at home most of the time, the responsibility of cooking and meal planning has fallen to me almost entirely.  Rather than complain about this, I’m embracing it and looking for ways to steer our family toward a healthier eating lifestyle.  Overnight oats is one of those ways.  Food isn’t broken down and nutrients aren’t lost by heating the ingredients.  Instead, it all stays in one bowl which I get to eat in the morning!

I researched several recipes, but ultimately decided to start with one that seemed the most basic and that did not use any unsweetened yoghurt.  I like unsweetened yoghurt, but I also think that there can be too much of a good thing.

I turned to “Oh She Glows” (a site that’s been around for awhile but that has only recently come into my regular rotation) and found a recipe for vegan overnight oats.  You can make these using any type of milk (though if you use cow’s milk, they’ll no longer be vegan, which is fine with me) and they’re sweet enough as is that I haven’t needed to add any of the “morning of” ingredients, such as honey, maple syrup, or peanut butter.

I whipped up my first batch, stuck it in the fridge, and the following morning, voila!

It may not look too appetizing, and the thought of eating cold oats might turn you off, but don’t let it.  It doesn’t have the consistency of oatmeal, and it’s not the consistency of cereal, either.  It’s somewhere in-between.  The chia seeds add a really nice bit of texture, and the sweetness from the bananas is just enough.

For those of you who are interested, click on over to “Oh She Glows” for the recipe!

And yes, Chris does tease me when I tell him that I’m “making my oats”.  He neighed like a horse once, and from that point on, I’ve just said that I’m making my breakfast :-)

Pizza Made From Cauliflower? Yes, Please!

I tried a new recipe tonight.

And you know what?  It was sooooo good.

Healthy, too.  And yes, it was pizza.  And I love pizza.

You should try it.  It’s pretty easy.  And the crust?  There’s no grains in there – it’s made from cauliflower.

Cauliflower.

Check it out.  This is what fresh cauliflower looks like once it’s been riced {using either a food processor or a cheese grater}:

Chris loved it, too.  So much so that he ate about half of a pizza by himself, then quickly got up, and packed the rest for his lunch the following day.

If you’re crazy for deep-dish, thick-crusted pizza, then this likely isn’t for you.  But if, like us, you enjoy a thin crust pizza packed with veggies, then make this pizza.  Yes, you’ll likely need to eat the pizza with a fork, but that’s a small price to pay.

Cauliflower Pizza

  • 1 C riced cauliflower (uncooked)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 C mozzarella cheese (grated)
  • 1/2 tsp oregano (or 1/2 tsp Italian herbs blend)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Toppings of choice {pizza sauce, cheese, veggies, whatever}

Preheat oven to 450F/230C.

To rice the caulifower, remove stems and leaves and either put it in a food processor or do what I did: grate it using a cheese grater till you have 1 C.  Put into a bowl and microwave on high for 6 – 8 minutes till soft (I did 8 minutes).  Add beaten egg, cheese, spices, and garlic.  Stir till well combined.  Spread out onto a greased baking sheet using your hands, forming into a circle.  Brush with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, top with toppings of your choice, and broil for 5 minutes or till cheese is melted.  Serve, and enjoy!

Yield: 1 pizza {9 inches}

Notes

I found that half of a cauliflower head gave me 2 C of riced cauliflower.  This was great, because I wanted to make one pizza with my preferred toppings and one with Chris’ preferred toppings.

Make sure that your toppings are already cooked.  I put raw veggies on ours and it was fine, but if you put raw meat and think it’ll be cooked in 5 minutes under the broiler, think again!

Lentil Rice Supper

If you’re like me, then you’re often on the lookout for recipes that are filling, nutritious, easy to make, and easy on the pocketbook.

Here’s one that satisfies all of those criteria, and it’s a cinch to modify based on taste.  It can function as a side dish or, if you’re like us, work as a main meal.

Lentil Rice Supper

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 – 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 C lentils {I’ve used brown and French green}
  • 1/2 C uncooked rice {I prefer wild rice}
  • 6 – 7 button mushrooms, chopped with stems
  • 1 2/3 C broth {veggie, chicken, or beef – you choose}
  • 2 – 3 T of extra virgin olive oil

Put the olive oil, onion, and carrots in the pot.  Sauté for a few minutes, till onions begin to soften.

In the meantime, put the lentils in a small bowl and cover with very hot water.  Let them soak for a few minutes and then drain off the excess liquid.

Add lentils, rice, and broth to the pot.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes.  Add mushrooms, replace cover, and simmer for a further 20 minutes.  Season to taste.

Some Variations: You can add a chopped green capsicum {bell pepper} or some chopped cooked chicken.  Throw a cup of peas in there.  You could also cook up some Italian sausage at the very beginning, add the veggies, and follow the rest of the recipe from there.

The lentils in this dish aren’t soft and smushy, so if you like your lentils that way, then leave them in the hot water for a bit longer.  This is a great dish for putting together and then forgetting about while I’m doing other stuff.  You don’t need to stir it while it’s simmering away.

Chris and I aren’t the only ones who like this particular dish.  I’ve taken a couple of spoonfuls out, pulsed them a few times with a hand blender, and served it to Joe.  He loves it, but no surprises there.  The boy eats pretty much everything we put in front of him!

Easy, Naturally Sweet, Homemade: Carrot Raisin Breakfast Cookies

This week’s recipe is a good one – Carrot Raisin Breakfast Cookies.  They remind me of a sweet  muffin or bread, only in cookie form.  And I love muffins and bread!  They do have added sweetener, but the sweetener is real maple syrup – something that’s naturally occurring.

I’ll admit that they’re a little on the plain-looking side…

…but who cares about looks, right?  The important thing is: how do they taste?

In a word, they taste delicious.  They’re yummy and healthy and easy to make.  Oh, and they’re vegan – nice to know for when you happen to be entertaining vegan friends!  I don’t think that I’ll be using these to replace my morning cereal, but they’re a great little snack.  Like the granola bars, I store these in the freezer and just take one out when I have a craving.

And if you happen to be on the WW plan, you’ll be happy to know that 1 of these sweet little morsels is only 2 WW ProPoints.  Nice.

Carrot Raisin Breakfast Cookies

  • 1 1/2 C whole wheat flour {you can substitute with all-purpose, if you prefer}
  • 1 C rolled oats
  • 3 T dry millet
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp ground cinnamon {I love cinnamon, so I always tend to add a bit more!}
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C light coconut cream {not the same as coconut milk, but can be subbed with melted coconut oil}
  • 1/2 C real maple syrup
  • 1 heaping cup of finely shredded carrot
  • 1/2 C raisins
  • 1 – 2 tsp fresh grated ginger {I prefer a less gingery taste, so I only used 1 tsp}

Preheat oven to 350F/180C.  Prepare baking tray by coating with non-stick spray.

In large bowl, combine all of the above and mix thoroughly, being sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.  Place medium-sized scoops onto prepared trays.  Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or till cookies are slightly firm and golden on top.  Remove from oven and let sit on trays for a further 10 minutes.

Yield – 2 dozen cookies

Notes – The original recipe called for dried cherries, but I happen to prefer raisins.  I’m guessing that you could substitute them for other complimentary dried fruits and it would still taste good: cherries, cranberries, apple chunks, or something else.  Just make sure that the dried fruit is chopped down to about the size of a raisin.

With the coconut cream – be sure to shake the can before opening.  The coconut cream has a tendency to separate into layers, as I discovered after opening it.  Bummer, but easily fixed by pouring the can into a bowl and giving the whole thing a good stir.

Another thing – if you don’t have fresh ginger or you just don’t like ginger, you could leave it out and bulk up the flavor by adding a few other complimentary spices or more cinnamon.  I’m not a huge fan of ginger, but I’ll admit that adding 1 tsp made the cookies taste a-mazing.

Adapted from Joy the Baker’s “Vegan Carrot Cherry Breakfast Cookies”

Menu Monday

Hey everyone – I hope that you’ve had a great weekend!  Joe and I have a few things going on this week.  We’re going to a Plunket parenting class where we’ll hopefully meet some other mums and bubs.  The menu for the week will be pretty low-key with lots of veggies and healthy options.  Here’s what we’ve got on our plate:

MONDAY

Southwestern Goulash

I’ve made this before and have always added more pasta than what’s called for in the recipe.  Without it, it just reminds me of pasta with too much sauce!

TUESDAY

Homemade Chicken Soup

My recipes varies depending on what I’ve got in the kitchen.  This time around, I cooked roughly 1kg {2.2lbs} of chicken breasts in a stockpot with water.  I strained the water into a colander over a bowl, diced the chicken, put it + the water back in the pot, added 4 large stalks of celery, a lot of carrots {I used just under 2lbs/1kg this time}, 1 diced, red capsicum {bell pepper}, 1 diced onion, and a bag of frozen corn.  I add enough extra water to the pot to cover the whole mixture, then add 2 vegetable bouillon cubes and simmer till the veggies are soft.  Add salt + pepper to taste, then serve.  Delicious, and a great soup for the freezer.

WEDNESDAY

Lentil & Cheese Wedges – this is another new recipe.  I’ve been experimenting with lentils and have seen this one on several websites.  We’ll see how it turns out.  The ingredient list seems pretty basic… 8 oz (225g) red lentils, 3/4 pint (450mL) water or vegetable stock, 1 large onion, 1 T oil, 4 oz (1oog) grated cheese, a tsp of mixed herbs, 1 egg, 1 oz (25g) breadcrumbs, and salt and pepper.

Cook lentils in water till soft and all liquid is absorbed.  Saute onion in oil.  Combine all ingredients and press into oiled 9″ round baking tin.  Cook at 190C/375F for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly, then cut into wedges.

THURSDAY

Panko Breaded Eggplant

image via

I saw this recipe and thought it sounded like a yummy, healthier version of eggplant parmesan.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m hopeful that it turns out well!

FRIDAY

Leftovers and a “clean out the fridge/freezer” night.  I’m planning to do some cooking and freezing later on, so I want to make sure we’ve got space :-)

Menu Monday

I haven’t done a Menu Monday in awhile.  I was working a crazy schedule prior to our move: I worked, slept, and that was it.  I ate once a day, if you can believe that {no, that wasn’t a diet plan – I was too tired to eat and too busy at work to take a “lunch” in the middle of my night shift}.  Our “weekly menus” were dishes that I could cook a large amount of on my day off, freeze, and eat during the week.  Anything made in a slow-cooker was a favorite!

I’ve discovered that meat in NZ is a bit more expensive than in the US {except for lamb!}.  Do I hear a vote for vegetarianism, anyone?!

This week, I’m making things from Cooking Light.  First is Butternut Squash Lasagna.

Over here, squash is referred to as pumpkin, and there’s a lot of it.  Might as well capitalize on that and turn it into something useful.  The recipe calls for homemade sauce, but I went the easy route and bought it pre-made.  I don’t have many cooking implements in NZ yet {still waiting for our stuff to arrive!}, so making anything too involved is out of the question.  And yes, homemade sauce is too involved in my book.  I made 1 big pan instead of 2 smaller ones, and used frozen spinach and dried parsley instead of fresh.  I also used 1/2 reduced-fat ricotta and 1/2 reduced-fat cottage cheese instead of only using ricotta.  This is a yummy, healthy alternative to meaty lasagna, but I thought it was a little on the bland side.  When I make it again, I’ll probably add a bit more salt and pepper {and maybe a hint of garlic!}, buy a better sauce, and use more cheese.  Chris loved it and said that he thought this should be one of my new staples.  That’s always nice to hear!

Second on the list is couscous with chickpeas, tomato, and edamame.

Image via

Since edamame is harder to find, I’m going to substitute it for peas.  I’ve never made couscous, but Chris bought some, so I’ll give it a shot!

Next up is antipasto-style penne with provolone.

This dish calls for prosciutto, but I’m going to replace it with provolone, as the recipe suggests.  I’m not an olive fan, either, so I’ll trade those for broccoli.

And last but not least, we have Chipotle Bean Burritos.

Doesn’t that look good?  I love burritos, and I love chipotle style food.  However, if you’re not a chipotle fan or if you can’t seem to find chipotle powder, then you can substitute the 1/2 tsp of chipotle chili that this recipe calls for with 1/2 tsp of regular chili powder with a dash {or 1/8 tsp, if you want to be specific} of ground red pepper.

So tell me – what’s on your plate for this week?  Do you have any simple yet to-die-for recipes?  If so, please share them with me!  You can send them my way at mrs{dot}practicallyperfect{at}gmail{dot}com.  I’d love to give them a try, and maybe they’ll be featured on a subsequent edition of “Menu Monday”, ha ha ;-)

*Images via Cooking Light unless otherwise specified

**I should also add, we are not switching to a vegetarian diet.  I still love my meat :-)

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