Bless My Heart

the improvement of a southern girl


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Revamping the family supper time.

Anyone that has a job, a spouse, children, pets, bills, laundry, growing grass, etc…  we know how hard it is to decide what’s going to shake down at dinner (i.e. “supper”) time. We postpone the inevitable until it’s 6:17pm and everyone is starving, so that the only solution is hitting up the pizza place down the street.

I am very familiar with the Johnny’s Pizza less than 2 miles from my house (Fun Fact: It was my first job!).

Eating out, or eating unprepared in any form, can do major damage to not only your waistline, but your checkbook too. We are trying to find the best solution for that, and I think I might have found it.

The best day of the week for me has been Sunday because that is “pizza night”. Every Sunday. Period. We know what we are making every single week, and it is such a nice break to have that already scheduled. I have tried to do weekly menus, but let’s face it, that’s just as hard as planning for the evening each day. I don’t know what to make that far in advance! I don’t know what we are going to be “in the mood” for, either.

Solution – Theme nights.

Yep. That works. I gave each day a category, theme, genre… whatever you want to call it. It gives me an outline to follow, but doesn’t make it strict and set me up for failure. I’m an all-or-nothing kinda gal. If I’m going to have a menu, I’m going to stick with it for the week, or I’m going to mess up one day and crumple the paper the plan is written on in the trash and go out for burgers. Theme night seemed to be a good idea for a little structure, but still have freedom to choose what I’m hankering for.

Here is what I came up with:

Monday – Mexican

Tuesday – Southern

Wednesday – Asian

Thursday – American

Friday – Italian

Saturday – Grill

Sunday – Pizza!

I’m pretty happy with this plan. Today I looked at the clock reading 4:00pm. I had no clue what I was making for supper, but I checked the plan and it said “mexican”. I investigated the pantry and decided I had everything I needed for tacos. Boom! Just like that, I had a plan.

Oh, yeah. But I had to make tortillas. That’s cool – every time I go to the grocery store I pick a package up, look at the ingredient list (too many chemicals!), look at the price (holy cow those are expensive!), and put it back down and tell myself I can make my own. A quick google search for a recipe and I was on my way.

I decided that I wanted my tortillas crunchy for taco salads, so I cut ’em up and fried ’em up 🙂

YUM! Don’t let the darkness full you, these are done juuuuust right. I actually made them with a white whole wheat flour that I order from King Arthur Flour. Whole grain chips are less guilt-inducing, even if they are fried!

The girls are always a little more receptive to eating new things when they get to participate in the cooking/assembly.

I ❤ Taco Salads 🙂


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Okay. So I’ve had enough of that.

I’m just going to put it out there. Medifast works. It is strict and controlled and very helpful for people that don’t really know HOW to lose weight. I completed about 8 weeks… then… I had enough.

I missed REAL food. One Lean and Green meal a day was not enough. I had started drinking Diet Cokes (which I never do) and buying artificial sweeteners and all kinds of other junk that I am against. All for the sake of fitting into smaller jeans.

There has got to be a better way. And there is. The way I WAS eating. Just not so much of it 😉

Here is to new beginnings and never looking back.


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Getting kids to eat “healthy”

I  remember what it’s like to be a kid. I remember scrounging for loose change to walk to the convenience store for as much 10 cent candy I could buy. I remember being super excited any time we drove into a town with a McDonalds, since our little one in Arkansas had none. The joy of opening up that little Ronald McDonald box to see my fries, nuggets, and toy – that kind of stuff is not easily forgotten.

I remember my mom frying us up pop-can biscuits into donuts and drowning them in powdered sugar icing. No-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies. A box of Whoppers and a bag of Lil’ Debbie donuts always waiting at Granny’s house for the kids. Eating fresh baked french bread by the chunk on the way home from the grocery store.

I remember only having a bag of Funyuns and a Delaware Punch for lunch in high school. Every day.

Ah, the memories.

I also remember being called a fat cow. But that’s another blog post….

…..

…..

Anyway, I am determined to teach my kids about all aspects of food. The nutrition. The fun. The flavors. The importance of balance. We talk each day about foods that are “healthy” for us, and foods that are “treats”. Bananas, carrots, turkey, nuts, yogurt, string cheese, milk, tomatoes, cucumbers, peanut butter – these are all daily staples around here this summer.

Common treats are the ever-popular Icee (preferably in blue), fruit roll-ups, a bag of M&M’s, or those pesky powdered donuts.

I find that a big help in getting the girls excited about the meals that we are having here at the house is to make them very involved in the cooking process. Kids want to have a claim over something. They want to be able to say, “I DID THAT!”.

We had a great day, lounging around at the house on a lazy Sunday. It started with an oatmeal buffet. I knew Abby had eaten instant oatmeal when she used to go to daycare, but hasn’t had it at all here at the house. Time for that to change. I made a batch big enough for the four of us and had Savannah help me put out different toppings in ramekins. Toppings included: brown sugar, raisins, banana slices, walnuts, blueberries, peanut butter.

  • Abby had oatmeal with brown sugar and bananas. She took forever, but eventually ate it all.
  • Savannah had oatmeal with brown sugar, bananas, and raisins. She didn’t eat a bite. It’s a process…

But here’s the deal. If you don’t eat your main meal, you don’t get snacks. Period. Being a little uncomfortable for a while is okay with me, it makes them look at their next meal with a little bit more of a hungry eye. Less options = more acceptance.

Tonight I made some whole wheat pizza dough, recipe courtesy of Clean Eating Magazine. It was my first time using this recipe, and I am very happy with the results. Definitely a keeper.

I called the girls into the kitchen to make their own personal pizza. They love doing this. They love it even more now that we watched Caillou and his friends doing it the other day.

Slices of real mozzarella

Van had ham and three cheeses (mozzarella, lowfat cheddar, feta)

Abs had cheese and shredded carrots (I know that’s odd, but that was her choice, and it worked)

I had mozzarella, ham, artichoke, bell pepper, spinach and feta

Before

After

The Man had ham, bell pepper and pineapple. Because he’s cool like that

It was a great supper for the family. No TV going on in the background. No clutter on the table (a rarity). Just my little family and our personalized homemade pizzas. It was a good.

As you can see, they ate their fill of it. Score one for momma tonight! I also declared Sunday night “Make Your Own Pizza Night”. I have always wanted to designate certain nights to certain meals. Seems like it would take a lot of stress off of figuring out what to make. Sunday night is covered now. Maybe I’ll put carrots on my pizza next time 😉

I’ve bathed and put the kids to bed while making this post. Now it’s time to put up some laundry and head to bed. If you are interested in reading a bit more on kids and eating clean, here are a few links to articles I’ve found around the net:

Getting Your Teen to Eat Clean

Healthy Eating for Kids

Good, Clean Eating: What works at my house

Main things I believe are key is to limit or eliminate the amount of junk food that you buy and bring into the house. If it’s not there, neither your kids nor YOU will be eating it. And secondly, is to stick with it. Abby absolutely hated broccoli, now she loves it. She loves declaring things “healthy” and knowing that she is helping her little body to grow big and strong. Stick with it. Let them get a little hungry if need be. It’ll be worth it.


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A Change of Pace

I have been super frustrated with my physical fitness routine here lately. Although The Man and I have been steady weight-training 3x’s a week now for about 3 months, and I’m stronger than I’ve been in a long time, I still feel like the Stay Puft man’s ugly big sister. Why? Because of a severe lack of cardio, that’s why. I haven’t been running regularly for, well, forever. I can hardly believe that I completed a half marathon just 6 months ago. If you remember, my left foot was giving me quite a bit of trouble so I just laid off for a little while. Then it got hot. Then it got HOTTER THAN HELL!

And I’m not running in that junk. I’ll run in below freezing temperatures. I’ll mow the yard when it’s 104 degrees in the shade. I’m NOT, however, going to go run down the road and back and back and back and back while the weather is frying worms on my sidewalk. Sorry. It’s not going to happen.

Next option was to run on the treadmill at the gym, but we have been so strength-oriented there, I just didn’t have time before we had to get home to relieve the babysitter (my awesome mom!). So there I was. Getting strong and getting fat. Yuck.

I’ve gained about 6 lbs since I’ve relaxed on my cardio. I blame this entirely on liking food a little too much, and being used to the caloric allowances that running 4, 5, 6 miles at a time were affording me. Now that I’m not moving and shaking like I was, I still want to EAT like I was, and that’s not a good thing.

So – new plan!

I’m relaxing on the gym strength training and refocusing it here at the house with two different dvds. Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred, and a pilates conditioning dvd. I’m going to take my 3 days at the gym and bust it on the ‘mill as much as I can.

So far, it’s working well. I’ve done one each of the videos (Shred made me soooooore), and today ran for 20 minutes strong. It felt good. I felt strong. I was bored. I hate the treadmill. I feel the change of pace will do me well for a little while.

On the food front, I pulled together a decent meal today with some food that was on it’s last legs here at the house.

What you see there is:

  • fried squash (sliced up, tossed around in one beaten egg, coated with a cornmeal+flour+salt+pepper+garlic powder, fried in olive oil till brown).
  • kale chips (kale is a dark leafy green. you know, the dark leafy green that every article and show you see is telling you to eat for your health. yeah, that’s it. pulled off the woody stem and tore into bite size pieces. sprayed with olive oil and shook on some Tony’s seasoning. baked in oven at 350 for 10 minutes until crispy. good with ketchup, too.)
  • baked macaroni (this was a complete throw-together as i didn’t have any planned out ingredients. I cooked a bag of mac, grated up the little bits of parmesan/romano/vermont cheddar cheese that i had in the fridge, tossed one egg into the cheeses and mixed it up well. added about a pound of ground venison that i had browned and seasoned yesterday, added one jar of homemade marinara and the noodles. mixed it up. put in a casserole dish with a little more grated parm on top. cook for 25 minutes at 350. done.

Served up with some homebrew and The Man got a slice of sweet sourdough bread. It was all good. I may or may not have had another helping of cobbler and ice cream 😉

Off to watch the Disc 3 of True Blood- season one. We are so behind.. but thanks to Netflix, we’ll be caught up in no time!

Night!


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New! If you only knew..

Not far from where I live, an empty lot is now a shiny new Burger King. It has happy little strings of flags hanging all throughout the parking lot. Happy signs that say “Now Open!” accompany posters of that creepy king guy smiling in his creepy mask. The parking lot has been full each time I have driven by.

There was a time in my life where I would have been tickled pink to see a new fast food restaurant pop up close by. I would probably rub my hands together in anticipation of what it was going to be, and make sure I dropped by as soon as it opened up. But that was when I weighed 35 pounds more than I do now. That’s when I didn’t really care what my food tastes like, just as long as I had it. I was a saturated fat/sodium/sugar addict, just waiting for my next fix.

Gross.

I have just about given up on fast food altogether. I will NOT buy it when I’m by myself, and usually only get something once every two weeks or so when I’m stuck in the car with the whole family. The last few times have been either Chick-fil-a or Taco Bell. Although I like Chick-fil-a as a whole, I am beginning to taste how much sodium is in the chicken and it’s not as good now that I can taste it. Taco Bell… well, I have no excuses. But I can say that I only eat there once every two months or so, as my girls don’t like eating there.

I think I’m ready to give up fast food. This would be a little harder to do when traveling on vacations, but as far as day to day, it’s totally feasible. Just a little planning is all it takes. This pretty much goes for chain restaurants as well. I read the other day that we are getting a Cheddar’s in town soon. Just another chain restaurant, but I’m sure the parking lot will be packed for quite a while. I don’t really consider chain restaurants anything more than big fast food restaurants, as it is mostly all frozen food that comes out of a box with directions for preparation instead of a recipe. I want something a little more real. We don’t eat out a whole lot nowadays, but when we do, it’s usually a local restaurant for us. Much better food.

So instead of eating out… we eat at home. With just a little preparation and planning, it’s really not that hard to do.

Today, for instance, I made homemade buttermilk biscuits with fig preserves (that I canned), scrambled eggs, and bacon.  Abby woke up earlier than her sister, so she got to be my biscuit cutter. We had a great time mixing everything up and talking at the kitchen counter, and as I put the pan in the oven she said “It doesn’t take a whole lot to make biscuits”.

No, baby. It doesn’t take much at all.

Dinner tonight was cheeseburgers, made with our very own venison meat, of course. I minced up 3 slices of this morning’s leftover bacon to put into the patties. Pretty good addition I must say. Baked some sweet potato fries in the oven, and then had this for dessert:

Oh. Mercy.

A Peach-Blueberry Cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream. The peaches came from Ruston during last year’s Peachfest. I peeled and sliced them and put them in the freezer, and these are all that I had left and definitely needed to be used up soon.

I had a gallon bag full of peaches that had quite a big of frost on them, but weren’t freezer burned. That frost, however, melted down and created just enough liquid to pull this off without adding any more. I put them on medium heat and let them warm up, sprinkling a 1/2 cup of sugar on top.

Once they got bubbling a little I decided that it would be a good use of some of my blueberries to add them to the peaches. So I did. Two big handfuls in the pot. Then I dissolved a heaping teaspoon of cornstarch in a tablespoon of lemon juice, then dumped that it the pot as well. Stir, stir, stir. By this point, the fruit is nice and limp and the sugar/water/cornstarch has made a nice syrup. Done.

This cobbler is a recipe I pulled out of my Bob’s Red Mill cookbook. I am always looking for ways to add/substitute whole grains into good eats. This was good eats!

The topping is :

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup unbleached white flour (you can use all-purpose, but I like having less bleach in my life so I already had this)

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground allspice (or nutmeg would be nice)

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and diced

1/3 cup buttermilk

Mix up the dry ingredients, cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until a crumbly texture forms and butter is well incorporated. Stir in buttermilk until just combined.

Plop the topping on top of the fruit (which you have put into your favorite casserole dish), and bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.

The nutritional data on a serving (dividing cobbler by 10) is:

Not too shabby if you ask me 🙂

So there’s the food. Good food. Fun food. And a whole lot better, all the way around, than something I could get through my car window.

There you have it.


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Slip’n and a slide’n

Nothing much going on today. I took the afternoon to set up my ebay account again. I have a tendency to use it only during the summers off of teaching, so I forget how to use it all and my passwords during the school year. I successfully added nine items today, though. Have a billion yet to add. Mostly cds. Try to turn a buck or two out of each one. It’ll add up…. hopefully.

I cut up one of my market tomatoes today for lunch –

Enter a multi-grain flatout wrap, hummus and turkey and there’s my grub.

I’m not going to say anything AT ALL about the brownies I made for the GIRLS today. Nope. Nothing. I didn’t have more than….   well…

Like I said, I’m not going to say anything about them.

brownie face

Anyway.

I’m fixing to go sit out on my back porch and listen to the bugs sing to me for a little while. Momma needs some quiet time. I’ll leave you with some pics of my beautiful girls enjoying a summertime evening. It’s amazing, the Louisiana weather kind of disappears when there is a water slide in the yard.


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Fresh!

I took the girl’s to meet the Man at the local farmer’s market during his lunch break yesterday. We got there right at noon and it was already 100 degrees. Yuck. The heat pretty much took all enthusiasm for shopping for fresh veggies out of my little babies, but I had a ton of fun.

I’m going to make it my goal for the summer to buy the majority of my fruits and veg from the market. Some things are cheaper, some things are more expensive, but you just can’t beat the taste of food that was grown practically in your backyard.  After eyeing the goods, we settled on tomatoes, squash, okra, bell pepper, organic blueberries,  and watermelon. Watermelon is Abby’s absolute favorite food. She salivates just thinking about it.

It was a good looking stash!

Doesn’t it all look tasty? The cucumbers came from my garden that morning. They are decent, but we are not getting enough rain. I’m resorting to watering them with the hose from now on. It’s dry, dry, dry here.

So I thought I would show you what I’m doing with my market foods as I eat ’em up. Today, one of the bell peppers was chopped up and put into this:

I don’t know really what to call this besides Chicken Sausage Rotini. That’s the ingredients, basically. I picked up this sausage from Sam’s and we have been really happy with it. It’s got spinach and asiago cheese mixed in and, besides being high in sodium, has pretty good nutritional stats. Low in fat and high in protein. That’s what we like 🙂

Sauteed the sausage with olive oil (don’t be afraid!) and then cooked down an onion with the pepper. Added some dried oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. I tossed it all with the pasta in the pan and added fresh cilantro in the last minute. Done. Pretty simple, but hit the spot tonight after our workout 🙂

Speaking of workout, we killed it tonight. 45 minutes of hard lifting followed by some HIIT (high intensity interval training). We went to a field and did 30 sec. sprints followed by 30 sec. rest, 10 reps. It was killer. Followed it with a quarter mile lap of jogging and then a lap cooldown. We will definitely be adding that to the routine from now on.

Thanks for the feedback from some of you on my last post. Sounds like we all need to step out of our turtle shell a little more 🙂

I’m fixing to enjoy some of my market watermelon and watch The Late Show. ‘Night!