Archive for the ‘Inputs’ Category

Healthy Fish & Chips

This week’s menu plan included meals inspired by Irish dishes, in honor of St. Patrick. While all things deep-fried sound tempting and tasty, avoidance is a better idea. Of course, if you have your heart (and your taste buds) set on true Fish & Chips, the following recipe will disappoint. But if you’re up for a healthy version that’s inspired by the real thing, this might be right up your alley.

Chips — start with some Yukon gold potatoes and cut them thinly. Place in a large and spray liberally with non-stick vegetable oil spray. Add seasoning salt and toss. Spray a cookie sheet and lay out the potatoes. Bake at a pre-heated 350 for about 12 minutes. Remove the pan, flip the fries, and put back in the oven for another 12 minutes or so.

Fish — I picked up a large package of tilapia fillets at Costco several weeks ago and individually froze them until needed. For this recipe, I took 4 fillets out and thawed them. A light spray of olive oil spray on each one gives some non-stick functionality and a hint of flavor. After spraying, lightly season with salt & pepper or another of your favorite seasonings. Place on a baking sheet (also lightly sprayed) in a pre-heated low broiler for a 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan, flip the fillets, then put back under the broiler for another 3-4 minutes. Depending on the thickness of your fillets, they may need a couple more minutes. You can tell they are done when the fish starts to flake, especially when lightly touched with a fork.

Our oven’s broiler is inside the top of the oven, so it worked out well to put the potatoes on a middle rack; then after the 25 minutes or so the potatoes were in, I kicked on the broiler to preheat for the fish. The broiler gave the potatoes a nice crisp to them and when I put the sheet of fish in, it blocked the flames from the potatoes.

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The Search for a Healthy Granola Bar

A couple months ago I posted on Facebook that I was searching for a healthy, homemade granola bar. The quick-and-easy convenience of grabbing a granola bar on a busy morning is very necessary everyone once in awhile. Historically, our go-to bars have been Quaker Chewy. That is, until we started caring about ingredients and seeing all the stuff that’s jammed in those. You might as well call it a candy bar.

We’ve gotten some great recommendations as far as healthy ingredients, but unfortunately many of them have high carb or protein counts which, while not necessarily bad for you, drive up the Weight Watchers Point value which is another thing we are trying to balance.

All that to say, I’ve found a tremendous bar that is incredibly easy to make (I started these at 9:00 on a Sunday night, on a whim), include many staples already in the house, make a ton, are healthy, and dollar-for-dollar are super cheap. Weelicious is becoming a go-to Web site for food and treat planning and Catherine there has saved the day again in the granola bar department.

Grab the full details and recipe here : http://weelicious.com/2011/09/06/chocolate-chip-granola-bars/

One note: be sure to follow the instructions as far as when to cut the bars. They’re seemingly pretty soft out of the oven, but do firm up quite a bit and cutting would be awfully difficult if you waited too long.

You won’t be disappointed in these bars. And I doubt your kids will be either (Rayna – just under 4 years old) loves them!

Meal Plan for March 5-11

The last couple weeks have been crazy around here and I’ve been negligent in posting our menu plans. We have had them, however, and I’m posting them anyway (albeit late) in the hopes that the prove helpful to some readers.

Here is the plan for March 5-11:

Monday
B- Banana Nut Muffins
L- Tuna Salad sandwich; bean salad; fresh fruit
D- Chuck Wagon Pot-roast rip off (slightly modified; Yukon gold potato fan

Tuesday
B- Greek Yogurt w/ granola
L- Lentil stew (from the freezer); bread; grapes
D- Slow-Cooker 4 Bean Chili on spaghetti; roasted garlic on bread

Wednesday
B- Toast w/ apple butter and craisins
L- Homemade Whole wheat bagel pizzas; applesauce
D- Tex-Mex Chicken with Zucchini

Thursday
B- Mixed fresh fruit
L- Turkey & Cheese Pita Sandwich (w/ laughing cow spread); veggie straws
D- Crock Pot Chicken Chili Verde

Friday
B- Bagel w/ peanut butter
L- 4 Bean Chili on baked potatoes (same chili from Tuesday night)
D- Sloppy Joes; sweet potato fries, corn

 

Meal Plan for February 26 – March 3

As I wrote in this post, last week we didn’t do a menu plan, which was a rough experiment.  We’re back on the game this week. A few highlights worth noting from this week:

  • We’re short on real intense and creative options this week. It’s the end of the month and the ‘food envelope’ is short on cash.  We need to do a better job spreading out our budget week-over-week, so this week we did a small shopping trip for some staples and are making do with what we have.
  • Tuesday night’s chicken strips will be homemade boneless, skinless chicken breasts with panko crumb breading. Homemade and fairly healthy.
  • Wednesday we’re having Eggos for breakfast. While we need to “leggo the eggos” for health purposes, we have them in the freezer and need to work their way out of the house.
  • Thursday’s lunch has “squid dogs”.  This is a recipe Robyn found in a magazine where you push whole pieces of spaghetti through an inch-long section of hot dog.  Boil them until done. Fun!
  • Our local Jewel had some varieties of Progresso soup on sale this week, so we picked up a can for lunch on Friday. I’ll be traveling for work which increases the amount of work for one person to do around here, so something quick-and-easy like this is a good plug-in. (Of course, homemade soup would be a better option, but this isn’t an awful move either.)
  • Last point — there are quite a few gaps in here where we’ll be away from home for lunch or on the go. We’ve found with our planning that we typically end up with leftovers, which can easily plug into these gaps.  (For some families with more people, leftovers might not exist!)

Monday
B- Egg white omelette w/ veggies; toast
L- Pierogies, veggie straws
D- Tacos, rice

Tuesday
B- Toast w/ apple butter
L- [out]
D- Oven-baked chicken strips; mashed potatoes, corn

Wednesday
B- Eggo Waffle w/ pure syrup, strawberries
L- Egg sandwich, fruit
D- Chili, baked potato

Thursday
B- Banana slices with peanut butter & craisins
L- Squid dogs, applesauce
D- Pot roast w/ veggies, potatoes

Friday
B- Cheerios & Raisins
L- Progresso soup, cheese & crackers, carrot sticks
D- Leftovers

Saturday
B- [out]
L- [out]
D- Buttered noodles; bread

Sunday
B- TBD
L- TBD
D- TBD

The “No Menu” Experiment

Last week we tried to roll through the week without having our weekly menu planned out. There were two primary reasons for this:

  1. The weekend got busy and we didn’t have time to make it up on Sunday like usual.  We could have taken the time on Monday to plan, but:
  2. We intentionally decided to try to go for the week without a plan. The goal was to see if we could make do with what we had on hand in the house (financial impact) and see if we could make wise, healthy decisions accordingly (health impact).

After a week, I think we give ourselves a “C”.  It was an average week. We didn’t jump into the deep end with poor choices, but the week ended up being far more stressful than it needed to be. Come lunch time, rather than look at the menu and start preparing, you find yourself starting at the fridge or pantry for an extra ten minutes figuring out what to do (not easy when you’re on a schedule with kids). When time is a little frantic and stressed, you’re tempted to go out to eat rather than stick to the plan (we didn’t cave). And even in decision-making, you can make decent choices which are not necessarily the most healthy.

What did we learn from this experiment?

It’s worth the time to plan the menu for the week.  You ensure you’re getting the appropriate daily intake of all the good stuff. You cut down on stress. And you eliminate temptations.

We’re back on with a plan for this week.

Meal Plan for February 13-19

The last couple weeks have been a bit light on new recipes, so we’ve added a few more in for this week. Nothing that out of the ordinary this week. A few fun features include a few recipes using some homemade wheat bread that I (Kevin) made this morning on a whim. Recipe for that bread can be found here.

A couple things on the list this week that I’m not linking recipes to…because they don’t exist (kabobs on Monday, Quiches on Tuesday). I’ll try to take some pics and jot some notes about how they go for future reference.

 

Monday
B- Blueberry muffin
L- [Subway]
D- Salad; Steak kabobs w/ brown rice

TO DO:
Make scones

Tuesday  VALENTINE’S DAY
B- Heart-shaped Craisin Scones; strawberry milk (pink!)
L- Heart-Shaped PB&J sandwiches; sweet potato straws
D- Heart-shaped Crustless Bacon & cheese quiche; breakfast potatoes with pepper & onion

Wednesday
B- English Muffin w/ apple butter
L- Grilled cheese & pickle panini; veggie straws
D- Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore with brown rice

Thursday
B- Eggwhite omelette w/ cheddar cheese
L- BLT Sandwich; crackers; fruit
D- Chicken & cheese quesadillas; corn; tortilla chips

Friday
B- Homemade wheat bread toast with apple butter or local honey
L- Leftover Pizza
D- Pancakes

TO DO:
 Make apple chips

Saturday
B- Banana Dog Bites
L- Sloppy Joe; fruit; apple chips
D- TBD

Sunday
Whole day TBD.

Meal Plan for February 6-12

Last week 3/4 of our family was knocked down with a nasty sick bug and the other 1/4 was out of town for work. 😦  Time for prep of meals was simply not there and we were blessed by the help of some friends. This week you’ll see some duplicates of last week because they weren’t made.

Another note for this week is lunch on Wednesday. Indeed, chicken nuggets and pudding aren’t the healthiest things on the planet. But we have a bunch from before we made this shift. Back to the stewardship equation – we’re going to work through what we have and then cycle them out with some healthier stuff in the months to come.

Monday
B- Chocolate chip banana bread muffin (made end of last week)
L- Fish sticks, potato & onion pierogies, fruit
D- Leftover chicken pot pie soup or leftover baked mostaccoli

Tuesday
B- Bagel Thin w/ apple butter
L- [out with friends]
D- Rigatoni with sausage & Kale

Wednesday
B- English Muffin w/ butter
L- Chicken Nuggets, pudding
D- [Out: Pizza Night at Awana]

Thursday
B- Smoothie/fresh fruit
L- PB&J; veggie straws, fresh fruit
D- Cheese & Chicken Quesadillas

TO DO TODAY:
Make Blueberry Muffins/Bread

Friday
B- Blueberry muffin
L- Tuna melt; corn
D- Oven baked chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans

Saturday
B- Bagel or English Muffin w/ butter, fruit
L- 15-minute chicken gumbo, rice
D- Dinner out after church

Sunday
Brunch- Breakfast Potatoes, Quiche, Fresh Fruit
D- Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore with brown rice