Thursday, October 27, 2011

Barbacoa Beef

So, I'm not a huge fan of meat.  But, I do like me some shredded beef every now and then.  I especially love Chipotle, yum!  This recipe is pretty yum, too ;)

Adapted from Skinny Taste

  • 3 lbs beef chuck roast
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 c. salsa
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 medium lime, juice
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 t. adobo sauce
  • 1 T. ground cumin
  • 1 T. ground oregano
  • 1/2 t. ground cloves
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 T. brown sugar/honey
  • 3 bay leaves OR 3/4 t. thyme
  1. Trim meat of fat, then cut into 4 inch chunks.
  2. Heat skillet over medium-high heat.  Add a little oil and sear/brown meat on all sides.  Place meat in crock pot.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients in a blender (except bay leaves); blend until smooth.
  4. Pour sauce over meat and add bay leaves.  Turn crock pot on low and cook for 6-8 hours.
  5. Shred beef and allow to simmer in juices, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  6. Serve with pico de gaillo, guacamole, roasted corn, and sauteed onions & green peppers.
Brad likes to eat his barbacoa as a salad.  I like mine in some corn tortillas.  Either way, it's darn tasty!  *B

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Perfectly Preserved Strawberries

This recipe makes enough for two 22oz jars of strawberry preserves: one for the fridge, and one for the freezer.  And yes, it sets up beautifully - as in it's spreadable, and won't be mistaken for strawberry jello...  This jam is indeed pectin free, in that pectin is not an ingredient.  But, pectin is naturally found in the white/greens of strawberries and in the rinds of lemon!  True story.  Strawberries really do make up the bulk of this recipe, not sugar.  These preserves have just the right amount of sweetness AND tartness, just like the strawberries they're made from.  Using just three simple ingredients, it's preserved perfection! 

Adapted from Cincinnati Locavore

  • 1 four pound flat of strawberries (make sure to get some with green/white tips)
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 c. white granulated sugar, unbleached
  1. Wash, hull and roughly mash strawberries.
  2. Add sugar and allow to sit for a bit, letting it macerate in its juices.
  3. Pour into non-aluminum stock pot (high sides helps with the splattering) and bring to a rolling boil for five minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from heat and strain the strawberries bits from the liquid, making sure to collect all available syrup.
  5. Return syrup to pot and add lemon juice AND lemon peels.  Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Boil for a few minutes, until syrup thinckens further.  If you have a candy thermometer, temperature should read close to 220 degrees.  Be careful not to burn!
  6. Return strawberries to pot and bring contents to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.
  7. Remove from heat and discard lemon peels; allow to cool.  Pour into jars suitable for storing in the fridge or freezer.
I love this freezer jam so VERY much!  And every time we have it, I think, "Dang, I have GOT to share this, with the WHOLE world!"  It's taken me forever to post it, and for that I apologize profusely, as strawberries are no longer in season (in most places).  But, I had to write it down before I forgot... And luckily, the hub manages produce at Costco, so we always get the best strawberries at the best price.  Even in the Fall!  I guess AZ has its perks after all.  *B

Monday, October 17, 2011

Meal Plan: 10/17 - 10/23

I know, I know.  Been a while?  Yup.  But, I have a confession and what I believe is a dang good excuse!  I may not have been cooking much in the kitchen, but I've been baking something for the past 15 weeks...  something that has kept eating, or even thinking about, food to a minimum!  But, I've been feeling quite "well" for the past week.  So, fingers crossed that I can return to loving food, and all that it entails ;)

Mexican Monday:  tortilla soup w/ avocado chunks
Oriental Tuesday: veggie stir fry w/ yogurt peanut sauce
Twisted Wednesday: pot roast w/ leftover mashed potatoes
Authentic Thursday: rustic marinara w/ polenta
TGIFriday: hotdogs (as requested by the eldest) w/ carrot sticks, veggie straws & "soda-pop"
Super Saturday: Halloween potluck (?)
Special Sunday: lentil stew w/ rye bread

Upcoming recipes: Barbacoa Beef and that darn blasted jam!  Feeling better now, so it "should" happen this time...  Or at least sometime within the next twenty four weeks!  *B

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Meal Plan: 9/19 - 9/25

Well, the overwhelming silence from my last post is... disappointing.  Yet, somewhat expected.  I guess that's what happens when you go on a blogging hiatus ;)  Never you mind, because I will continue to post my plans along with my food-based rants, raves, tips, tricks, etc., etc., etc.  So there!  Take that silent interweb.

Mexican Monday: taco salad (nachos)
Oriental Tuesday: beef & broccoli w/ brown rice
Twisted Wednesday: quiche w/ fruit salad
Authentic Thursday: mini pizzas (bagels)
TGIFriday: ham & cheese sliders (per begging husband)
Super Saturday: DATE NIGHT (?)
Special Sunday: Asian salad w/ crab wantons

Upcoming recipe: I recently pulled out my freezer jam, and am loving it!  So, I will try my darndest to post the recipe, because it really does need to be shared.  And maybe when I start posting more recipes, I'll have more readers.  *B

Monday, September 12, 2011

Meal Plan: 9/12 - 9/18

Sorry for the lameness that is now known as my blog!  I have yet to post any tips, recipes, etc. and frankly dear, I don't give a dang ;)  Ok, so I do give a little darn.  But for now, the meal plan posting will have to suffice.  Mostly because it helps me and my family stay on track, which is something we desperately need...

The other night I was perusing the interweb to see if anyone had come up with a book or lifestyle plan based on the Word of Wisdom.  I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but if someone were to ask what "diet" me and my family live by, I like to call it the WOW diet.  And I'm talking about the food we should eat (vs. 10-16), not just the harmful substances we abstain from (vs. 5-9).  Just a side note, I find it humorous that we focus on those five verses outlining the dont's more than we focus on the seven verses outlining the do's...  So, what do the Summers eat?  Basically, it's a whole-food plant-based diet.  We eat lots of grains, fruits, and vegetables.  But then we supplement that with bits of meat and dairy.  I will never be vegan, because I do believe in the power of the WOW and I do believe that animal protein (when eaten in moderation, aka. "sparingly") can be for our own good.

Anyway, apparently there's a woman out there who has written a book called The WOW Diet.  I haven't read it; it doesn't really speak to me...  But, she also has a book about food storage.  This book has piqued my interest because it makes food storage seem possible and manageable for someone like me.  I don't really have a food storage system, but I'd like to.  Honestly, I don't have the money or space for it.  But that doesn't make me want it any less (go figure). 

The idea is that instead of buying food in bulk, you buy and store food items as meals.  Brilliant!  I believe (strongly) in meal planning, so it only makes sense to extend that to my food storage.  So, the other night I wrote up a list of 50 meals (dinners) that my family enjoys.  And most of them are food storage friendly.  How great would it be to finally have a year supply of individual meals?  Even better is that it makes rotating food storage totally feasible.  I'm thrilled at the prospect of having a quick and easy meal that's already planned and prepped.  I've yet to get started, but I'm already daydreaming of turning my Wednesdays into food storage rotation days.  It's true, my food nerdiness has no bounds ;)

So, if you've read this far then maybe you can do a bit more and help me out.  I've got a question: has anyone used a vacuum sealer?  If/when I start building my food storage, ideally I'd like to buy both canned and dehydrated/freeze-dried food items.  I was thinking that I could individually vaccum seal certain dried foods in jars and put them into their respectable meal bags... that's the plan, so now I'm just curious as to what vaccum sealer is best?  Sure, sucking air out of bags would be great for the freezer (since I freeze just about everything), but I'm really interested in depriving jars of oxygen.  Suggestions?  Please share!

And now on to this week's meal plan.

Mexican Monday: food - I know, very specific...
Oriental Tuesday: tilapia w/ stir-fry veggies & quinoa
Twisted Wednesday: leftovers (soup w/ muffins)
Authentic Thursday: Greek salad
TGIFriday: Tuna melts
Super Saturday: DATE NIGHT
Special Sunday: ravioli bisque

And I'll leave it at that.  Who knows what this week will bring, but it's gearing up to be a doozy!  *B

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Meal Plan: 9/5 - 9/11

Woah.  Apparently I need a vacation from my vacation ;)  Seriously though, in the past couple of weeks we've had a few birthday celebrations along with a few visitors.  So meal planning was out of my hands half the time.  Oh, and school started.  It takes me a while to get used to a routine, even if I'm ready for it...  Anyway, this time I really am ready for some more consistency.  It's time to tighten up our wallets and expand our food horizons!

Monday: Labor Day - family BBQ (mmm, portobello burgers)
Oriental Tuesday: spring rolls w/ sweet & spicy peanut dipping sauce, and veggies on the side (carrots, celery and grilled corn)
Twisted Wednesday: peanut butter cup pancakes
Authentic Thursday: lentil marinara w/ walnuts
TGIFriday: baked pumpkin sneaky noodles
Super Saturday: chicken Cesare salad

Upcoming recipe: no idea.  And I'm making no promises.  *B

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Meal Plan: 8/8 - 8/14

I know I'm a day late; more like a couple of weeks late!  But hey, we just got back from a lonnng, and much needed, vacation :)  And as of tomorrow, Summer is over!!!  Now, if only this heat would wrap things up...

Oriental Tuesday: tortilla tilapia w/ sweet mustard green beans & mushroom wild rice
Twisted Wednesday: ham hocks & beans -- cleaning out the freezer ;)
Authentic Thursday: avocado pesto pasta w/ grape tomatoes & walnuts
TGIFriday: hearty tomato stoup w/ cheese sammies
Super Saturday: Grimaldi's Pizzeria
Special Sunday: dinner w/ the parentals

Upcoming recipe: those darn strawberry preserves!  Sorry for the wait.  *B

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

drink water, and lots of it

It's hot outside.  Like, really (really) hot.  Feeling parched?  Drink water.  Sweating much?  Drink more water.  Feeling fine?  Drink water anyway.  Here's the thing: by the time you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated.  In fact, a lot of times when we feel hungry, we're actually thirsty!  Another thing: you should be drinking at least half your body weight in ounces.  So, if you weigh 140 lbs. then you should be drinking 70 oz. water.  Drink more if you're nursing, and/or if you're working out, sweating, etc.  Don't like the "taste" of water?  Try adding slices of lemon, orange, or cucumber.  Get creative and throw in some mint leaves while you're at it ;)  Drinking (iced) herbal tea(s) would be swell, too.  There are great health benefits to drinking water, including weight loss, clear skin, less headaches, and more energy.  So drink up!  The more water you drink the healthier, and happier, you'll be.  *B

Monday, July 11, 2011

Meal Plan: 7/11 - 7/17

Is Summer over yet???

Mexican Monday: Southwest salad
Oriental Tuesday: grilled vegetable carrot quinoa
Twisted Wednesday: scrambled eggs & walnut pancakes w/ maple syrup
Authentic Thursday: avocado pesto w/ kamut & quinoa pasta
TGIFriday: salmon burgers w/ spiced fries and/or watermelon smoothies
Super Saturday: DATE NIGHT
Special Sunday: BBQ chicken, roasted potatoes, grilled asparagus and watermelon (cousin game night)

And look!  Someone out there was able to host a successful meal-plan link up - Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie!  Exciting, no?  I thought so ;)

Upcoming recipes: less-sugar strawberry preserves.  I better post it before I forget it!  *B

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Meal Plan: 6/13 - 6/19

I can't believe we survived last week!  Just barely, sheesh.  The Summer vs. the Summers family.  Yikes.

Mexican Monday: awesome meatless chili w/ avocado chunks
Oriental Tuesday: veggie stir fry w/ spicy peanut sauce
Twisted Wednesday: banana walnut pancakes w/ homemade vanilla yogurt
Authentic Thursday: eggplant parmigiana w/ brown rice pasta
TGIFriday: salmon burgers w/ grilled veggies & watermelon smoothies
Super Saturday: curried cashew salad w/ strawberry frozen yogurt for dessert
Special Sunday: FATHER'S DAY (at the folks)

Upcoming recipe: undecided.  I'm leaning (rather heavily) toward overnight oats.  Or maybe my less-sugar strawberry preserves...  Decisions, decisions!  *B

Friday, June 10, 2011

blend it up

I've had a VitaMix for most of my married life.  My in-laws offered us the choice of said blender or a karaoke machine for Christmas, and I've been happy with our choice ever since :)  It really is one of my most prized possessions... I even grabbed my blender alongside precious family photos during a fire evacuation in CA.  It's my other baby, and I use it all the time.  I make sure to bring it to any class I teach; it gets the job done!

Now, if you're in the market for a high-end blender, I would definitely recommend a VitaMix or the Blendtec.  Check out the reviews at Got Greens? and Blend Happy for a side-by-side comparison.  I prefer the VitaMix because it's straight forward.  I can control my blending with the flip of a switch, or the turn of a dial.  I don't care for high-tech buttons or display screens, or preset blending options.  And I like using the tamper for making frozen yogurt.  Besides, VitaMix has been around longer (since the 1940's).  It's a solid, well built machine.  It's also the machine used by Starbucks, Jamba Juice and Food Network's Iron Chef.  And it's the machine for me :)

If you're serious about raw/wholefood blending, then you need a serious blender.  Otherwise you'll find yourself forever chopping, peeling, coring and hulling.  And you'll probably have issues with leaking, overheating, not-so-smooth smoothies, etc.  You'd be better off putting your money toward something that'll really blend.  Your health, and the health of your family, is definitely worth it.  *B

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Slightly Nutty Green Drink

My green drinks all have one thing in common: their hue.  But each one has a very distinct flavor all their own...  This one is smooth and nutty, and very satisfying.

  • 1 c. rice milk
  • 1 T. almond butter
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach, frozen
  • 1 banana, frozen
  1. Place ingredients in order as listed in a blender.  Blend on high until super smooth.  If you don't have frozen spinach or banana, then throw in a couple of ice cubes.  Serve cold.
I love to drink this one sometime between lunch and dinner, right when those afternoon munchies hit!  It always hits the spot.  *B

Energizing Green Drink

Growing up my mom would occasionally make us a green drink with parsley and spinach.  I loved them!  But she never had a specific recipe (she never does).  So I came up with my own... In college, my friends/roommates were seriously disturbed with my blended beverages, and none were brave enough to try them.  I think they might have attempted an intervention of sorts, they were that worried about me.  During my final year at school, I made a green drink as part of a presentation for my classmates.  Most tried it, and several liked it.  Take that, roommates!  And thank you mom for raising me proper :) 

  • 2 c. pineapple juice
  • 1 T. chia seeds (opt)
  • 1 handful fresh parsley, trimmed
  • 1 handful baby spinach, frozen
  • 1 tiny cucumber, peeled & frozen (about 4 inches)
  • 1 celery stalk, frozen
  1. Place ingredients in order as listed in a blender.  Blend on high until super smooth.  If you don't have frozen veggies, then throw in a couple of ice cubes.  Serve cold.
The pineapple juice makes for a really sweet drink, but balances nicely with the rest of the ingredients.  If you don't like parsley (Mandi), then replace it with another handful of spinach.   If you don't like cucumbers, substitute zucchini.  If it's too sweet for you, try it with half juice and half water.  Just make it work for you... Because if you're feeling sluggish and need a little fresh pick me up, this oughta do it!  *B

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

going halfsies

I hate oatmeal.  Pretty sure I've said that before...  I've tried to make oatmeal from scratch for my kids with little success, and I wasn't going to force them to eat something I couldn't.  The only kind I can choke down is the sugary instant kind that comes in individual packets.  So, nowadays I buy said packets.  I read the ingredients and buy what's best on the shelf (I prefer the store brand from Fresh & Easy), then I combine all the packets into one container.  When the eldest has a bowl of oatmeal, I just eyeball a packet's worth of oatmeal and then I add a handful of rolled oats (I prefer Coach's Oats, which we get at Costco).  Half sugary-instant, half wholesome.  I do the same thing for cold cereal: half honey-nut Cheerios, half regular Cheerios.  I mix my white and wheat flours when I bake, too.  Same goes for white/brown rice, and white/wheat pasta, etc.  The ultimate goal is to eat wholesome foods.  But eating half-some is better than none-some.  *B

Monday, June 06, 2011

Summer-friendly Meal Plan

Last week was our first week of Summer.  And let me just say, it's going to be a lonnng one!  The husband is MIA from 1:00 AM to 5:30 PM (with a bedtime of 7:00 PM), 5-6 days/week.  In the meantime, the soon-to-be first-grader is going stir crazy.  Not to mention I'm still working a few hours every week, and filling up the rest of our days with gym and library outings and swimming and piano lessons, all without my own car.  Many thanks go to my chauffeur mom who makes it all possibe!  So my weekly meal planning is a little more... relaxed.  I still try and stick with the daily themes, but I don't have a specific meal planned for dinner.  Instead, I sat down with the eldest and together we came up with a Summer breakfast/lunch plan:

-scrambled eggs

-soup w/ cheesy toast

-chicken nuggets w/ steamed broccoli

-sneaky quesadillas w/ grapes

-breakfast drink w/ muffin
-nachos w/ apples & carrots

-sandwich w/ crafty applesauce

Snacks (to be eaten between meals):
-rice crackers w/ hummus
-fruit & yogurt pops
-hard-boiled eggs
-animal crackers w/ almond butter & honey
-trail mix

And I pretty much eat the same as the kids.  Except I opt for overnight oats in lieu of oatmeal, and I almost always pick granola over cold cereal...  My snacks also include things like homemade vanilla Greek yogurt with chopped walnuts and prunes.  Mmm, so good!  I tried to keep our meals (and snacks) nice and balanced.  For example, I don't like to eat wheat or dairy more than once a day.  So I didn't want to have a muffin for breakfast then a sandwich for lunch.  It's important to make sure to eat a varied diet, so that we're getting all the nutrients we need from all sorts of sources.  Plus, it keeps things interesting ;)

Upcoming recipe: another green drink, or two.  And hopefully this week I'll have some energy to discuss blender options!  *B

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Apple "Coffee" Cake

If you know me (very well), you would know that I don't much care for breakfast.  I also believe that muffins et al. shouldn't taste like cupcakes sans frosting...  This apple cake is the perfect balance and is my definition of the perfect breakfast baked good: it's moist and wholesome.  More importantly, it's tasty (aka. sweet, but not too sweet)!  I blame the crumb topping ;)

  • 1/2 c. unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 c. wheat flour
  • 1/2 wheat germ
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1.5 t. baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 6 T. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. rice milk
  • 1/3 c. apple sauce
  • 1 green apple, chopped
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 4 T. flour
  • 4 T. butter, melted
  1. Combine flours, wheat germ, salt and baking powder in bowl.  Set aside.
  2. Combine egg with 6 T. brown sugar, whisk in rice milk and apple sauce.
  3. Add dry ingredients to the wet until just mixed.  Fold in chopped apples.
  4. Spread batter into the bottom of a prepared square baking dish.
  5. Combine 1 c. brown sugar, 4 T. flour, and melted butter to make the crumb topping.
  6. Crumble topping over the batter; bake at 425 for 15 minutes, or until fork comes out clean.
I don't know about you, but my family eats our coffee cake with yogurt on top.  Apparently that's how they ate it in France, and my dad was kind enough to introduce us to the yumminess.  If you haven't tried it, you really should!  And maybe next week I'll have a yogurt recipe for you, too.  But this is probably the only cake recipe you'll get from me (I'm more of a pie person).  *B

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Meal Plan: 5/23 - 5/30

    I was just about to forgo posting a meal plan, but then thought the better of it...  Thank you blog for motivating me to stay scheduled ;)

    Mexican Monday: Southwest chicken burritos w/ quinoa & avocado chunks
    Oriental Tuesday: Fancy Ramen (yes, again)
    Twisted Wednesday: apple coffee cake & homemade yogurt
    Authentic Thursday: Cucina salad
    TGIFriday: grilled cheese sammies w/ tomato soup
    Super Saturday: DATE NIGHT
    Special Sunday: something w/ fennel...

    Upcoming recipe: Apple coffee cake.  It's wholesome and delicious, yesss!  *B

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Super (Green) Smoothie

    This green drink is the husband's favorite, and I don't blame him!  It's sweet and satisfying, and full of green goodness :)


    • 1 c. rice milk
    • 4 oz. vanilla yogurt
    • 1 T. natural peanut butter
    • 2 handfuls of spinach, frozen
    • 1 frozen banana
    1. Place ingredients in order as listed in a blender.  Blend on high until super smooth.  If you don't have frozen bananas or spinach, then throw in a couple of ice cubes.  Serve cold.
    PS - the kids love it, too.  *B

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Meal Plan: 5/16 - 5/22

    So, we've been participating in Bountiful Baskets for about a month (?) now... And I've got to tell you, I'm a fan!  It's not necessarily ideal, but it works for us.  Ideally, I would have a garden and grow my own produce.  I would love to try supporting our local CSA, but it's just too much money right now.  We only get a basket every other week.  And for the most part, I've been pretty pleased with our baskets.  Our produce consumption has gone through the roof!  I couldn't be more thrilled :)  Admittedly, our family probably eats more veggies than most families.  But I would only buy what I needed.  Now it's more of a forced variety, and that's a good thing!  Now we eat things like pineapple and fresh corn, things I love but wouldn't normally buy.  And it's been nice to have the extra fruit on hand for snacks, etc.  Also, it's been fun planning my meals around our groceries vs. the other way around.  You know me, I like the challenge ;)

    Mexican Monday: turkey tacos
    Oriental Tuesday: veggie chow mein
    Twisted Wednesday: banana pecan pancakes w/ buttermilk syrup
    Authentic Thursday: spinach & cheese ravioli/tortellini
    TGIFriday: English muffin pizzas
    Super Saturday: DATE NIGHT
    Special Sunday: chicken pot pie w/ salad

    Upcoming recipe: green super smoothie.  You're gonna love it!  *B

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    Overnight Caramel Apple French Toast

    You will never have tastier french toast than this...  You're welcome.  Perhaps I should be apologizing?  Oh well ;)


    • 1 c. packed brown sugar
    • ½ c. butter
    • 2 large tart apples, sliced
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 c. milk (psst - rice milk works great, too)
    • 1 t. vanilla
    • 9 slices French bread
    1. In small saucepan, cook brown sugar and butter until thick about 5-7 minutes.
    2. Pour into ungreased 9 x 13 baking pan.  Arrange apples on top.
    3. In mixing bowl, beat eggs, milk and vanilla.
    4. Dip bread slices into the egg mixture and place over apples.
    5. Cover and refrigerate over night.
    6. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
    And there you have it!  I'll have you know that it is even great eaten cold (after it's been baked, of course).  Enjoy (you can simultaneously bless/curse my name afterwards)!  *B

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    why be dairy free

    There are several reasons you might want to cut back on your dairy.  Maybe you're a nursing mother whose baby has a sensitive tummy.  Maybe you have an irritable child with dark under-eye circles.  Maybe you suffer from a consistent stuffy nose.  Maybe you just don't like the taste of milk...  Whatever your reason for avoiding dairy, just know you're not alone.  And please know that your life isn't over ;)

    I can't even tell you the last time I bought a gallon of milk.  I noticed the stomach aches, the headaches, the coughing, the sneezing, etc.  My body was trying to tell me something.  So finally, I listened.  Yeah, I've tried Lactaid.  It doesn't work, for me.  So I simply stopped buying milk.  We use rice milk instead.  I prefer its mild taste and use it for just about everything (but pudding).  There's also almond milk, hemp milk, and soymilk.  Just FYI, I do not condone the regular use of soymilk...  I worry about the quality of soybeans used and I'm concerned with the estrogenic side effects.  But, that's just my personal opinion.  That's not to say I don't enjoy the occasional soy steamer from Starbucks, though!

    If you want any more of my opinion, keep reading.  Just know that it is just that, my opinion.  In my opinion, milk sold in your general grocery store holds little to no nutrition, especially skim milk.  In my opinion, the only contribution milk has is its fat content.  But when that is removed, it's just a source of sugar.  I know what you're thinking... What about the protein?  The calcium?!  Here's the thing: commercially prepared/offered milk has been stripped of all its natural nutrition.  It goes through a rigorous process of decontamination.  Those nutrients were boiled to death.  Later, they were added back in.  And don't even get me started on homogonization.  What I'm saying is that since most of your commercially prepared foods are also enriched with calcium (including rice milk), you're not necessarily missing much by skipping milk.  Calcium is also found in several fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.  Basically, if you eat a well-balanced diet you not only get calcium, but you also get other vital nutrients, and fiber.  The same thing can be said for protein.

    Rant over :)  My entire family is dairy sensitive.  So we I watch what we eat.  I'm the mean mom who only lets my kid have chocolate milk once a week.  However, we do buy yogurt and cheese.  When eaten in small amounts, it doesn't seem to bother us as much.  I think it might have something to do with the (beneficial) bacteria that makes it easier on our tummies...  But I still try to limit our consumption of dairy to once a day.  If we're having pizza for dinner, then I don't serve yogurt for breakfast.  If I could get my hands on some raw, whole milk, I would gladly use it.  But I can't, so I don't.  If you're concerned with losing weight, cut the cheese (sorry, I couldn't help myself).  And the milk.  And eat yogurt sparingly.  Regardless, eat lots of OTHER foods.  Drink lots of water.  And if you're desperate for your morning cereal, remember that you have choices!  Experiment.  Give it a fair trial.  Then listen to your body.  How do you feel?  Better?  Then you have your answer.  *B

    Monday, May 09, 2011

    Meal Plan: 5/9 - 5/15

    Mexican Monday: quesadillas & green drink
    Oriental Tuesday: Fancy Ramen
    Twisted Wednesday: lemon blueberry pancakes w/ buttermilk syrup & scrambled eggs
    Authentic Thursday: Tortilla Tilapia w/ fancy broccoli & quinoa
    Super Saturday: cousins night out
    Special Sunday: to be determined

    Upcoming recipe: Caramel Apple French Toast.  It's amazzzing!  And not necessarily healthy...  *B

    Thursday, May 05, 2011

    Strawberry Smoothies

    Mmm, strawberries.  No matter how they're made, or what they're in, I love them.  Especially au naturel.  Did you know that strawberries help thin the blood?  True story.  After a long Winter of meat and starches (foods your body craves/needs in the cold), strawberries really do make the perfect Spring treat and help you get ready for those long (hot) Summer months...  And here in the AZ, we're ready for smoothies!  This sweet and sneaky smoothie not only has fruit, but also has veggies in it.  Which makes it perfect ;)

    • 1 c. apple juice
    • 1 carrot
    • 1 celery stalk
    • 1 frozen banana
    • handful of frozen strawberries
    1. Place ingredients in order as listed in a blender.  Blend on high until super smooth.  If you don't have frozen bananas or strawberries, then throw in a couple of ice cubes.  Serve cold.
    I usually end up watering this down, after I've poured it into the kids' cups.  It thins out the smoothie into more of a crafty juice...  So add as much or as little water as you'd like!  Or leave it thick and icy.  Either way, it's yummy AND healthy.  The kids love it, naturally.  *B

    Tuesday, May 03, 2011

    substitute your eggs, vegan style

    If you know me personally (or read this here blog regularly), you'll know I'm always up for a culinary challenge!  Yesterday I made some muffins sans eggs.  I've always wanted to, and I didn't have any eggs.  Perfect timing ;)

    The muffins turned out pretty dang good, if I say so myself!  Now, I don't think I will ever go vegan (or completely vegetarian).  I'm what you might call a flexitarian... And a self proclaimed subsitution queen.  I am ALL about subbing fruit/veggie/bean purees in lieu of oil or butter.  Why not take it a step further and sub out your eggs in favor of chia seeds or flax seed?  Don't get me wrong, I love eggs.  In moderation.  But think of all the great health benefits chia and flax seeds have to offer!  Both are full of awesome fats, protein and fiber.  It just makes those healthy baked good even better (aka. nutrient dense).

    • 1 T. chia seeds OR flax seeds
    • 3 T. water
    1. Throw water and chia seeds into blender and blend until smooth.  Allow to sit for a few minutes until a gel forms.
    2. If using flax seeds, grind in a coffee grinder and combine with water.  Allow to sit and gel up.
    3. Add gel in place of 1 egg.  Double recipe to yield the equivalent of two eggs, etc.
    And depending on what you're baking, you can use white/black chia seeds.  For example, black chia seeds would work just fine in chocolate brownies.  But if you're making cookies you might want to try something a little less conspicuous, like white chia seeds or flax seeds instead.  This works great for muffins, and I know people who have made cookies and cakes with much success, too.  I would not even attempt to try it for quiche or scrambled eggs, though.  Just in case the thought crossed your mind...  *B

    Monday, May 02, 2011

    Meal Plan: 5/2 - 5/8

     Mexican Monday: taco soup w/ quinoa
    Oriental Tuesday: peanut satay w/ noodles
    Twisted Wednesday: pancakes w/ strawberries & cream
    Authentic Thursday: walnut pasta w/ chicken sausage
    TGIFriday: tomato soup w/ grilled cheese sammies
    Super Saturday: DATE NIGHT
    Special Sunday: to be determined

    Upcoming recipe: also to be determined!  I have a few...  *B

    Thursday, April 28, 2011

    Avocado Pesto

    This super yummy pasta sauce is super creamy without the cream!    An excellent source of good-for-you fats, it's very quick and easy to make.  And it's so good, I didn't get to take a picture before it was devoured...

    • 1 avocado
    • 1/4 c. pesto
    • 1/2 small lemon, juice (or to taste)
    • 1 T. rice milk
    • 1/2 t. garlic
    • dash of nutmeg
    • salt & pepper, to taste
    1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Serve over warm pasta.
    Due to the avocado, this is best when fresh.  And green.  Remember, green is good ;)  I just love avocados, don't you?  I think they're my favorite (savory) fruit.  And so fun to say!  Go avocado!  *B

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    soak your veggies

    Sometimes I waste my vegetables.  Sad story, but true.  Lots of times I have the best of intentions, so I buy lots of veggies.  Then a week (or two) later, I end up throwing out half of what I bought!  Today's tip may not be earth shattering, but consider it a refresher on how to freshen up those limp veggies...  Soak 'em.  Vegetables consist of 70-90% water.  When your celery stalks start to slacken, or your broccoli turns to rubber, don't toss them in the trash!  Toss them in a container of water, instead.  They just need a little TLC in the form of H2O.  *B

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    Meal Plan: 4/25 - 5/1

    Sorry for the hiatus.  I needed the break...  Just too much on my plate, and most of it was unrelated to food (unfortunately).  But, it feels good to be back doing what I love best :)

    Mexican Monday: tortilla tilapia w/ broccoli & Mexican style quinoa
    Oriental Tuesday: tofu coconut curry stir-fry w/ brown rice
    Twisted Wednesday: sweet potato pancakes w/ peanut butter syrup and "sausage" patties
    Authentic Thursday: avocado pesto pasta
    TGIFriday: pizza bagels
    Super Saturday: DATE NIGHT
    Special Sunday: pot roast

    Upcoming recipe: avocado pesto!  I mean it this time.  *B

    Wednesday, April 06, 2011

    Tuesday, April 05, 2011

    sleep tight

    Today's tip is about sleeping.  Which has nothing to do with food, but a lot to do with your health.  I'm also an expert on not sleeping well...  Which is why I'm going to bed because it is so dang late!  But, I will have you know that it's the hours before midnight that are the best for your health.  Which has me wondering how good a half hour will do me?  *B

    Monday, April 04, 2011

    Meal Plan: 4/4 - 4/10

    Mexican Monday:  Nacho Bar
    Oriental Tuesday: Fancy Ramen
    Twisted Wednesday:  Quiche w/ Mighty Muffins
    Authentic Thursday: Veggie Lasagna
    Super Saturday:  DATE NIGHT
    Special Sunday:  dinner at the folks'

    Upcoming recipe: Avocado Pesto!  Nope, I did not forget (Candra).  *B

    Friday, April 01, 2011

    oh she glows

    Hello yummy pizza :) And hellooo beadboard!
    This site/blog, along with its author, is amazzzing!  You really must check it out.  I found it (re)inspiring, and uplifting.  And guess what?  She's a green drinker, too!  If I were Canadian, we'd probably be neighbors and best friends.  For now, I'm just a loyal stalker fan.  *B

    Thursday, March 31, 2011

    My Go-To Green Drink

    I will have you know that I've been drinking green drinks since my teens (many thanks to my mother), and I've been making them since college.   Apparently it's all the rage nowadays, as even Jamba Juice is making veggie smoothies.  But, I will have you know that mine taste WAY better!  Seriously, my coworker (who is always such a willing guinea pig) told me that she tried one that had bell peppers in it.  Bell peppers?!?! Seriously.  Anyway, she told them theirs are yucky and mine are yummy.  She literally told them that mine are better!  Because they are.  True story.

    • 1 c. apple juice
    • 1/2 c. water
    • 1 T. chia seeds (opt)
    • 1 carrot
    • 2 handfuls of baby spinach, frozen
    • 1 frozen banana
    1. Place ingredients in order as listed in a blender.  Blend on high until super smooth.  If you don't have frozen bananas or spinach, then throw in a couple of ice cubes.  Serve cold.
    I have a few more versions up my sleeve, so stay tuned!  But this particular recipe is the best for converting vegetable haters to the green side.  Honestly, my kids (and meat obsessed husband) love them.  No joke, they request them!  They really do crave them...  And some most days it is the only way I can get anything even remotely green into their picky little (big) mouths.  I make it, and they drink down it.  It keeps them healthy (and regular), and even makes them smile.  And there's nothing better than a green smile.  *B

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    the magical fruit

    We're talking beans, people!  Legumes are as nutrient dense as they are cheap, making them a worthwhile addition to your meals.  I use them regularly in soups, salsa, salads and even baked goods, like my super yummy not-so-guilty chocolate muffins!  You really must try them, they seriously are a big hit anytime I make them.  Seriously.  Anyway, so beans are good for you.  Very good for you.  But, they can sometimes be a little hard on your tummy...

    To mitigate unpleasant side effects, simply drain and rinse your canned beans.  For bagged beans, discard the soaking water and rinse before cooking.  I like to cook up a big pot of beans to freeze later, so I also throw out my cooking water.  But if you're making soup, just be sure to remove any foam or bubbles that form at the top.

    Legumes are low fat, cholesterol free and full of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals (like calcium and iron).  Like I said, very good for you.  So please, eat them.  Not necessarily at every meal... But, the more you eat the better you'll feel!  *B

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Meal Plan: 3/28 - 4/3

    Mexican Monday: Black Bean Salsa burritos w/ carrot sticks
    Oriental Tuesday: teriyaki chicken stir fry w/ brown rice
    Twisted Wednesday: baked potatoes w/ awesome meatless chili
    Authentic Thursday: avocado pesto pasta
    TGIFriday: tomato soup w/ cheese sammies
    Super Saturday: DATE NIGHT
    Special Sunday: pot roast w/ roasted veggies

    Upcoming recipe: The infamous Green Drink!  Be excited.  Be very excited.  *B

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    the book that changed my life

    [I ♥ iPhone pics]
    "Nutrition goes beyond calories and food groups. Our bodies have the ability to heal themselves and our food can facilitate that power."  Yes, I'm quoting myself (I can do that, right???).  How about Hippocrates?  Ever heard of him?  Of course you have!  This is my favorite quote of his: "Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food."

    I went off to college with the intention of becoming a doctor, or something.  I ended up with a B.S. in Health Science, a minor in Biology and an emphasis in Health Promotion & Lifetime Wellness.  I took several courses dealing with the human body, and I loved  But no textbook taught me what I knew to be true.  And then I came across Paul Pitchford's book, Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions & Modern Nutrition.  I lovingly refer to it as my food bible :)

    This book also played a key role in my marriage.  True story!  Once I read said book, there was no going back...  My roommates and professors alike were concerned with my "quackish" beliefs.  I even had a quasi boyfriend at the time who thought I was borderline sacrilegious, all because I experimented with brown rice syrup and drank copious amounts of green smoothies.  Oh, and not going to the doctor for common ailments = dangerous.

    A friendly admirer (Brad) took me out for my birthday (not the pseudo BF).  Over our dinner conversation we talked about what we wanted for Christmas.  I sheepishly and quickly mumbled the name of the book.  Because that's all I wanted; the school library was tired of me hoarding it... I braced myself for the oncoming scorn that never came.  Not only had Brad heard of this book, but his own mother owned it!  I wasn't crazy.  I was NOT crazy!  Poor pretend boyfriend never had a second chance after that fateful night ;)

    I love food.  I love my body.  I love this book.  And I love my husband.  *B

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Soup Sans Cheese (aka. Cheesey Cheeseless Soup)

    This soup is smooth and creamy, without the dairy.  It's naturally nutritious, and deceivingly delicious :)

    • 5 medium-small russet potatoes, cut into 2 inch chunks -or- 1 2lb bag of country style hashbrowns (frozen/rehydrated)
    • 3 smallish carrots, cut into 2 inch segments -or- 1 can carrots, drained -or- 1/2 lb carrots (frozen/rehydrated)
    • 1/2 onion, chopped -or- 1-2 T. dried onions
    • 6 c. water
    • 1 c. milk (DF works fine)
    • 2 T. chicken bouillon (MSG-free please!)
    • 1/2 c. white beans, drained & rinsed (opt)
    • 1/2 c. sweet potato puree -or- pumpkin puree
    • 4 T. butter (1/2 stick)
    • dash of nutmeg
    • dash of paprika
    • salt & pepper, to taste
    • 1 small bag frozen vegetables, Normandy style (redhydrated in chicken broth)
    • 2 handfuls of shredded rotisserie chicken -or- 1 can chicken, drained (opt)
    1. Place potatoes, carrots and onions into large soup pot.  Add water, then add salt until water tastes salty.
    2. Bring to a boil, and cook until veggies are tender.  Add bouillon, then (s)mash potatoes and carrots.  Blend with a hand mixer until smooth.  Reduce heat to simmer.
    3. In a food processor, add sweet potato puree and white beans and process until smooth.  Add puree blend to soup.  Blend with hand mixer until smooth.  Add spices and stir.
    4. Add frozen vegetables and chicken and heat through.  Garnish with shredded cheese and green onions.
    This is perfect for those avoiding or limiting dairy.  It looks and tastes cheesey!  But if you're wanting to cheat, you can top your bowl with a handful of cheese and only feel slightly guilty ;)  Change up your mixings and fixings and slurp to your heart's content!  *B

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    freeze your greens

    It is still March, right?  I haven't gone and missed all of April or anything...  Well, in honor of the month o' green, I thought we'd start our first Tipsy Tuesday talking about everyone's favorite green: spinach!  Oh, you don't like spinach?  How unfortunate.  Because it really is worth your liking :)

    Now, my little family "likes" spinach.  I love it in a salad, my husband tolerates it, and my children (loudly) acknowledge its existence.  I love it in soups, and I love it steamed.  My husband tolerates it in soup, and he only likes it steamed if bacon is involved.  My kids like love bacon.  So why do we buy the huge bag of spinach from Costco?

    More often than not, we drink our spinach!  I'm addicted to green drinks.  And my husband/offspring?  They love it!  Seriously.  Both of my kids request green drinks.  And when they hear my blender whirring, they start doing little happy dances.  I love that they love it, almost as much as (if not more than) the drink itself.  I'll be sure to post a recipe soon, alongside a pic of some of the cutest green mustaches you've ever seen ;)

    So, back to the freezing.  If you've ever had good intentions of eating your greens, and end up buying them in bulk, only to find out that it's not so easy eating that huge bag of spinach before it goes bad, then you're not alone.  Been there, done that.  But, there is a solution!  Freeze those leaves.  Here's what I do: Stuff two HUGE handfuls of spinach into one freezer bag.  I get about 10 freezer bags' worth of frozen spinach out of one large bulk bag.  Pop them into the freezer and they're good to go, all fresh and ready for all those yummy soups, drinks and the like.

    Going green has never been cooler.  *B

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Beth tested, and approved

    This post is for you, dear cousin and loyal reader of mine :)  I have gone through and removed any recipes I have not personally tried.  I hope that helps you sleep better at night...  Thanks for having such confidence in me and my culinary skills!  *B

    Meal Plan: 3/21 - 3/27

    Mexican Monday: Tortilla Soup topped with avocado chunks
    Oriental Tuesday: Peanut Satay w/ tofu & cilantro
    Twisted Wednesday: Pancakes w/ strawberry-banana syrup & whipped cream
    Authentic Thursday:  Noodle Cheese w/ peas (thanks Ash!)
    TGIFriday: Mini Pizzas & green drinks
    Super Saturday: DATE NIGHT
    Special Sunday:  dinner with the folks... my daddy's bday :)

    So far, Candra has been my go-to-gal... and she's pregnant!  She puts me to shame, planning AND freezing her meals.  So let me know if you're interested in linking up, too.  Because I have a vision!  *B

    my plans on planning

    Perhaps you noticed yesterday's post was lacking some vital information: my meal plan.  Oh, you didn't notice?  This is the second time in six months you've visited my blog?  Right.  So it's just me then.  Well, that's a relief!  That means what I'm about to propose will probably influence/excite me more than you, whoever you are...

    I've been planning my meals based on themes for the past who-knows-how-long, and with much success!  No, I do not always stick to the plan.  But I don't stray too far from the planned genre du jour either.  It's been nice knowing that at least something in my life is somewhat organized, and I don't have to play the dreaded "what's for dinner" game unless I'm feeling peckishly frisky.  And so I've decided to bring a little planning into my posting!  And I'm ok being the only one excited about it ;)

    Meal Plan Monday
    Tipsy Tuesday
    Wordless Wednesday
    Food-for-Thought Thursday
    Feature Friday

    I'll now be sharing my meal plans with the world wide web on Monday rather than Sunday.  Anyone still interested in linking their meal plans OR recipes, let me know and I'll bring the link-up back.  Tuesday will be used for sharing any kind of kitchen tips/tricks, including healthification suggestions and the like.  We'll see how Wednesday works out, but I'd like to have some kind of picture posted (because this poor blog is seriously lacking in photos).  Whether that photo is taken by me or found elsewhere on the internet will depend entirely on where the wind blows that day.  Thursday will be recipe day.  Either made-up recipes by yours truly, or adaptations of others' (aka. healthified).  And Friday.  Friday is fun day!  Friday is the day I'll feature blogs, recipes, products, books, etc.  It's the day I'm most excited about :)  I can share/show off all my fancy kitchen utensils, cookbooks, etc.  Yeah, baby.

    So be excited!  Or not (see last sentence of paragraphs #1-2).  *B

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    ramblings of a (health) food addict

    When me and the hub were in Vegas, we were lucky enough to have brunch at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill.  OH.MY.HECK.  If you ever have the chance to go there, you simply must go!  Everything was super yummy.  Like, super-hero yummy.  We foolishly tried to walk-in for dinner, and ended up making reservations for the next afternoon.  If we canceled, it was a hundred smackaroos automatically charged to our card.  They mean business!  But what an excellent business they have.

    We shared the following: Rough Cut Tuna "Nachos" + Tiger Shrimp Roasted Garlic Corn Tamale + Barbecued Lamb Cobb Salad.  I honestly can't tell you which was my favorite.  Even their bread basket was an assortment of deliciousness!  Four different biscuits/scones, and we HAD to try each and every one.  So much goodness.  And everything complimented each other.  The flavor(s) in our mouth by the end of the meal was almost as rewarding as the food itself.  Almost ;)

    Brad and I tried to explain our Mesa Grill experience to our friends.  Pretty sure we failed...  You just had to be there!  But, Mr. friend noticed how much my face lit up and how excited I got when I was describing the food.  And you know what?  I get like that anytime I talk about good food!  For example, the Buffalo Blasts at The Cheesecake Factory: life changing.  Seriously.  And I don't even like chicken!  When I was trying to convince my husband how amazing they really were, he noticed my immediate animation.  Because nothing turns me on like food.

    Pretty sure I'm a foodie.  And I think I'm a pretty good judge of what constitutes as good food.  But my real passion: good food that is good for you.  After a week(end) of indulgence, my body was crazy out of whack.  My stomach hurt.  I was lethargic.  Headaches galore!  No amount of tasty food is worth a life of discomfort.  I love the occasional Tiramisu cheesecake.  But I can't eat it every day.  What once tasted amazing now tastes... gross.  Because I'd feel gross.  Sometimes I have a hankering for a Whopper.  Yes, meat.  So I eat it.  But having a burger every single day?  No thanks.  When I'm planning meals for my family, I make sure it tastes good.  And I make sure it feels good.  It makes those trips to Chuck E. Cheese and Coldstone, or the Mesa Grill, that much more special.

    Sometimes my mouth craves the unhealthy.  So I eat it.  I enjoy it.  And I relish in the flavor(s).  But then it's time to move on.  Because my body craves healthy. And I listen to it.  Because my body is worthy of good food.  I deserve to be healthy.  I enjoy being healthy.  And a healthy body is much more appreciative of what Life has to offer, such as food.  I eat to live, and I live to eat.  It just makes sense that food can (and should) taste good and be good for you.  It is not about denying what tastes good.  It's about tasting what is good.  *B

    Sunday, March 13, 2011

    this week's plan: 3/14 - 3/20

    And we're back!  Time to restore our tummies to healthiness ;)

    Mexican Monday: Veggie Fajitas
    Oriental Tuesday: Tofu Coconut Curry
    Twisted Wednesday: french toast w/ peanut butter syrup
    Authentic Thursday: rice pasta w/ grilled vegetables & avocado sauce
    TGIFriday: pesto portobello burgers with spiced fries and applesauce
    Super Saturday: DATE NIGHT
    Special Sunday: Pot Roast w/ roasted veggie medley

    Looking forward to a healthy week, and a happier tummy.  *B

    Monday, March 07, 2011

    Parmesan Popcorn

    Guess what?!  You can make microwave popcorn, from scratch!!!   I got the idea from Our Best Bites, but made a minor tweak here and there... It's cheap and beyond easy, and there's no fake nothin' about it.  Just pure yumminess :)

    • scant 1/4 c. popcorn kernels
    • 1 T. butter
    • 1 t. canola oil (you can use a good flavored olive oil, too)
    • 1/8 t. salt
    • scant 1 T. grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 brown paper bag
    1. Pour popcorn kernels into bag.  Flatten out bag and then fold the top of the bag over twice.  Make two notches about 1.5 inches apart, and fold flap over (see picture).
    2. Place bag in microwave and cook for a little over 2 minutes, depending on your micro.  Mine turns out great at 2:15, with just a few kernels unpopped.
    3. Lightly shake bag and dump popcorn into a medium bowl; set aside.
    4. Melt butter (about 15 seconds in the zapper); add oil and salt and stir well.
    5. Pour butter mixture over popcorn and immediately toss.  Add Parmesan and toss to coat.
    I'm normally anti-micro, but for quick air-popped popcorn I can make an exception ;) This is our family's new favorite snack!  Everyone from the oldest to the youngest just loves it.  I'm excited to try some different flavors...  I'll keep you posted if/when I do.  But imagine all the possibilities!  Most excellent snacking indeed.  *B

    Sunday, March 06, 2011

    curious still

    Wow, who knew grocery budgeting would be so... conversationlistic?  I haven't quite figured out how much is too little or too much, but I definitely appreciate the feedback!  Thank you, thank you :)  The problem with eating cheaply is that most cheap meals are overly processed.  Example: Top Ramen or boxed Mac & Cheese.  We do eat those on occasion, especially when we're feeling pinched in the pockets.  But I do my best to healthify them as best I can when we do eat them.  Like my Fancy Ramen or my Sneaky Noodles!  Otherwise, my pantry is seriously lacking in prepared food.

    Which brings me back to coupons.  I definitely admire those who take the time to make them work.  It's a skill I do not have.  But as many of you said, unless there are coupons on produce or whole food items, coupons just don't do it for me.  Call me lazy, but I don't like driving around to five different stores to find the best priced item either.  I'd rather save the money in gas...  But we do buy stuff in bulk.  Costco is our friend :)  We have to be very careful though to go there with a list in hand.  Something that we have learned with a small wallet and a small house (no real room for food storage) is that overbuying is the ultimate downfall.

    My best trick for making my groceries go farthest is to plan my meals.  If I know what I'm buying and why I'm buying it, then we're pretty safe.  I'll never buy 20 boxes of Fruit Loops, because we won't even eat one box.  But I look forward to the day when we can afford to buy 10 pounds of oatmeal, and have a place to store it.  On the other hand, I'll never have room for Kool-Aid ;)

    Next question(s):  Bountiful Baskets vs. CSA.  What's the difference?  Anyone have any experience with both?  And how do they compare to a Farmer's Market?  Thanks (much) in advance!  *B