What Are You a Slave To?

Last weekend I decided that I needed to treat sodas like I do alcohol because I sure drink them the same, and I decided to quit completely. I have been putting this off for many reasons: I didn’t want to … Continue reading

A Healthy, Balanced Plate

For years, the info out there about “nutrition” would frustrate me because I never knew what to believe about health.  I have come to the conclusion that a healthy plate is balanced with protein, carbs (whole grains if I can), … Continue reading

Establishing Our Values and Goals as a Family

I feel like I have so, so much to share and I don’t even know where to start! Robert and I went to Big Bend State Park last weekend and it was so amazing and just what we needed for … Continue reading

My Vision and “All Or Something”

Yesterday, I relaxed all morning (drinking coffee of course), then I worked in the house all afternoon.  The kids and I cleaned the whole house, I did some laundry, and I organized my office. I also made an amazing vision … Continue reading

Meal Plan, Week of February 26-March 4

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Like I said in my post yesterday, I have a lot of food, and I’m trying to find something new to cook!  I also have two instant pots and try to make most things in there.

As usual, my breakfasts, lunches, and snacks are in a list to choose from.  My dinners are specific for the day.

Breakfasts

Lunches

  • Sandwich 🥪 , veggies 🥕, and crackers
  • Boiled egg 🥚, salami or summer sausage, veggies 🥦 and hummus, and Triscuits
  • Leftovers
  • Soup 🥣
  • Wraps

Dinners

Snacks

  • Triple Zero Greek yogurt
  • Almonds
  • Peanut butter crackers
  • Clif bars
  • Granola bars
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Apples or bananas and peanut butter
  • Pretzels and cookie butter

Next week, most lunches and dinners will be in the dining hall.  Can’t wait!  It saves us so much money and time, and it is a great way to get to know the staff

Prep for meals

  • Veggie tray
  • Move frozen meat to the fridge
  • Make breakfast casserole
  • Thaw steel cut oats
  • Bake bread (only because we love it!)

I buy pre-cut veggies when I can and already boiled/peeled boiled eggs.  I know it costs a little more and it’s worth it at this point.  I may go back to prepping these things eventually.  I’m also probably going to reduce the amount that I make Greek yogurt.  It hasn’t been turning out!!

My Plan for the week

  • Monday- Robert and I will go to town to pick up the love seat and maybe have a lunch date.  We are making dinner for my mentee.
  • Tuesday- I’m reading to Levi’s class, AA, lunch, library time, then a birthday party for a little one here that’s turning one.
  • Wednesday- Bible study at noon (at my house), and I might have a friend over for coffee.
  • Thursday- Day at home, then AA at 7:00pm
  • Friday- Rest day, and I might have a friend over for coffee.
  • Saturday- Family day
  • Sunday- Church, lunch with the pastor, counseling, maybe the park

As you can see, Monday and Tuesday are my only busy days this week!  That’s much different from last week!

Also, daily chores will happen and my schedule chores will happen.

I hope you have a great week!  What are your plans for the week and for meals?

Instant Pot “Boiled” Eggs

I love having an instant pot! The most common things I make is homemade Greek yogurt and boiled eggs (along with many dinners!).

These “boiled eggs” are so easy!

I use boil 14 eggs to fit in my plastic carrier, but you can just use a dozen if you want.

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Measure 1 cup of water.

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Pour water into pot.

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Place eggs on trivet.

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Put lid on, and make sure vent is closed.

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Set manual 2 minutes.

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Natural pressure release for 15 minutes.

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Place eggs in an ice water bath (I accidentally broke a few…).

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Ready to stick in the fridge!

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They peel easily and have a fantastic yolk!  Enjoy!

Grati-Tuesday, January 3rd

My start to the new year has been amazing!!!  I feel like I have so much to be thankful for.  I’ve already shared some of these pictures, but I’ll share again!

Some important things that I’m learning:

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The ability to buy plenty of food for multiple weeks (besides produce and other items that spoil, we’ll be able to make this stretch for 3-4 weeks).  This is a huge blessing because we have had years in which this was difficult to do.  We are blessed. (some of this we bought to cook for 8 summer staff, but we ended up not having to do that so we have more food for us!)

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New, amazing music thanks to a gift card!

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Game playing time with my best friend.

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A new found confidence.

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Organization that makes my days easier (and a notebook cover with my chips in it!).

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My hubby who loves me for who I am (I don’t think I look great in this pic, but Robert always thinks I look great).  The photo bomber cracks me up.

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Hubby bonding with his kids over our new Wii U (he has never had a video game console before, so this is new).  He has also been playing Nerf gun wars with them :-).

My hubby and kids in general.  I am so incredibly blessed by them.  They are all a person could ask for.  Robert is the most patient, supportive, loving, caring, and honest man a wife could ask for.  He loves with all that’s with-in him.  Karis is creative, caring, loves Jesus, and is loving towards others.  Ethan is passionate, so helpful, and organized.  Levi is a silly guy, loving, caring, and loves Jesus.  I am so excited to see them grow up!  They are amazing people.

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AA Twenty Four Hours a Day, the Big Book, and AA step work.

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A candle that smells like a fresh, new year!

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A new Bible study to dig deep into God’s word.

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  • My mental health is the best it has ever been.  THIS IS HUGE.  My medications make a huge difference, and the work I do on a daily basis also makes a huge difference!
  • Coffee
  • Coke Zero
  • I am beginning to be content with my body the way it is, knowing that my body doesn’t let go of weight due to medications, and I’m ready to just live life and not try to lose weight.
  • The fact that the kids are now in school… which means I have less to be anxious about.  I miss homeschooling a lot, but I know that this is what we all need.
  • Healthy food
  • Unhealthy food that makes me happy

I could probably go on and on, but I’ll stop for now :-).  What are you grateful for on this Grati-Tuesday?

Grocery Geek, Part 2, Updated

Well. I ended up doing some more grocery shopping.

I was worried about what I spent today, then I came home and crunched the numbers.  It all evens out :-).

Yesterday I got a few things that I knew we needed while we were at Walmart (I switched a meal from this week with a meal next week so I can use some produce that I already have).  The kids were shopping using their Christmas money.

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  • 2 boxes whole wheat pasta
  • 1 bag whole wheat egg noodles (for chicken noodle soup that we had yesterday)
  • Newman’s Own pasta sauce (I usually make my own, but this is actually cheaper!)
  • Ivory body wash
  • Neutrogena face wash
  • Puff
  • Candle (this was misc)

Then today I decided to get everything for next week except the produce.  I will buy the produce Wednesday or Thursday.  Next week I won’t need to buy anything until Friday!

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  • 4.5lbs ground chuck (I split it into 4 bags when I got home… it was super cheap this way)
  • 3lb chuck shoulder roast
  • 2lbs pacific whiting filets
  • 3lbs Bone in pork chops

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  • 2 boxes Pop Tarts (this is a treat)
  • 2 boxes family size Triscuits (one original and one cracked black pepper and olive oil)
  • 11oz bag of Unmomento breakfast blend coffee
  • 11oz bag of Unmomento decaf coffee (these are half the price of the HEB coffees that I have been buying!)
  • Nature’s Seasons (we use this on almost everything)
  • Coarse sea salt

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  • Quart size freezer bags
  • Gallon size freezer bags
  • LOTS of toilet paper (Charmin basic… had a coupon for it)
  • 14pk of Goodnights
  • 2 dozen eggs
  • 1 gallon whole milk (to make homemade yogurt)
  • Natural bliss coffee creamer
  • 16oz roasted red pepper hummus

This leaves us with $34.30 to buy produce for next week (I won’t spend that… all I’ll need is a few broccoli crowns, a few avocados, cabbage, and a few tomatoes).  Whatever is leftover will be moved to my savings account.

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I had to get Levi HEB brand Zaditor and Zyrtec because the cedar has been killing his allergies!  This came out of our health and wellness budget.  There won’t be anything left in this budget once I pay for my $180 doctor appointment and $30 for prescriptions next week.

I’m kind of excited because it looks like I’m going to come in under budget for gas!  I added up how much I will be spending this week and next week and it’s less than what I have budgeted for.  Whatever is leftover between gas and groceries will be moved over to my savings account.  Every little bit counts.

I think I can do this.  It’s tough because I always end up spending more than I planned… but I guess budgeting takes some time to get used to.

*Update*

I bought produce today (and 2 sneaky bags of popcorn that they were selling 2 for $1.79 at the register…).  It was $25 for all of it (that big bag of carrots was only $3!).  And I am done shopping for this pay period!

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Also, I was able to stretch dinners for most of the month of January between what I have on hand and dinners in the dining hall!

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All I will need to buy later this month:

  • Coffee
  • Half and Half or creamer
  • Eggs
  • Milk (for drinking and making yogurt)
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Lunch meat
  • Cottage cheese
  • Butter
  • Hummus
  • Produce
  • Sodas (ha!)
  • Whole chicken
  • Goodnights
  • Maybe a few other things…

Meal Planning Sunday, January 1st! (Two Weeks)

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Breakfasts

Lunches

  • Sandwiches on sprouted bread with Hormel natural deli meat and Tillamook cheddar, veggies and hummus, fruit
  • Cottage cheese, boiled eggs, veggies and hummus, fruit, Triscuits
  • Leftovers

Dinners

Week of January 2-8

  • Monday- Chicken and Dumplings in the Instant Pot
  • Tuesday- Pulled pork using our homemade BBQ sauce (for our summer staff that will be here)
  • Wednesday- Dining hall
  • Thursday- Dining hall
  • Friday- Pizza
  • Saturday- Pasta and homemade meat sauce (recipe coming!) and steamed broccoli
  • Sunday- Creamy cauliflower and potato soup

Week of January 9-15

  • Monday- Burrito bowls (brown rice, Instant pot pinto beans, avocado, tomato, cheese, and sour cream)
  • Tuesday- Cheese enchilada stacks (corn tortillas with shredded cheese and canned enchilada sauce) and brown rice
  • Wednesday- Easy Chili and corn bread
  • Thursday- Fish tacos
  • Friday- Pork chops (grilled) and roasted veggies
  • Saturday- Hot Dogs
  • Sunday- Roast, potatoes, and carrots in the instant pot

Snacks

  • Breakfast cookies 
  • Fruit salad
  • Veggies
  • Cheese sticks
  • Homemade Greek yogurt
  • Austin cracker sandwiches (treat!)
  • Organic cheddar “frogeez”
  • Organic animal cookies

Weekly Prep

  • Bake breakfast recipes
  • Cut veggies for lunches and snacks
  • Make fruit salad for the week
  • Bag up veggies and fruit for lunches
  • Make yogurt

What is “Real Food?”

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***I wrote this YEARS ago.  It was on my old blog.  I decided to copy/paste it here (with a few added notes) as a reminder to myself and just to share some information that I once spent hours researching.

There is so much debate as to what “REAL FOOD” means.  For years, this would frustrate me because I never knew what to believe or follow.  I have done much research over the years, and I have come to the conclusion that real/whole food means that the food hasn’t been processed or refined. It is a food that is in its original form. The best way to eat is to cook from scratch using whole foods.

Whole grains
Grains are one of the most widely controversial foods right now.  There is much debate about whether or not your body needs grains, whether you should cut them out completely, eat whole grains only, or eat some… I have come to the conclusion that it’s just up to you.  How do you feel your best?  Most people can and should eat whole grains, some can’t.

Whole grains contain fiber, iron, protein, calcium, essential carbohydrates, and minerals.

This includes whole grain breads (I either make/use sprouted or whole wheat), whole grain pasta, brown rice, oats (steel cut and rolled), quinoa, brown rice, etc.

Fruits and Vegetables
You need at least 4-6 servings per day, heavy on the vegetables because they do not contain sugar.

Fruits and veggies give your body countless vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, fiber, carbohydrates, and other nutrients. Organic is best because they are not sprayed with pesticides and herbicides.

Proteins
Protein is necessary for developing the right amount of blood cells, and it gives you more energy! It is important to get protein from a variety of sources including:

  • Pastured/grass-fed meats, poultry, and eggs (high in iron, complete protein and fat, and rich in minerals)
  • Nuts (peanuts, almonds, cashews, etc)
  • Seeds (flax, sunflower, pumpkin)
  • Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc)
  • Whole grains (wheat, spelt, quinoa, oats, etc)
  • Sprouts
  • Nutritional yeast (this can be found in health food stores; we sprinkle it on fresh, stove-popped popcorn)
  • Beans and lentils
  • Wild caught fish

Fats
You NEED healthy fats. Fats provide energy, and aid in the absorption of calcium and Vitamin A.  Good sources are avocadoes, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil (research shows that even though this has saturated fat in it, there are many nutrients in it that counter act the saturated fat; we use it in some things such as baked oatmeal, muffins, etc), butter (same as coconut oil), eggs, meat, and milk. Through research, I have learned that canola oil isn’t good for you as some think.  It is highly processed and genetically engineered!  Here are some reasons why we use the fats that we use:

  • Coconut oil
    • According to  Mercola, coconut oil is the “smartest oil you can use.” Benefits are: “promoting heart health, promoting weight loss when and if you need it, supporting your immune system health, supporting healthy metabolism, providing you with an immediate energy source, helping to keep your skin healthy and youthful looking, supporting the proper functioning of your thyroid gland.”
    • Food Matters considers this one of their Superfoods. This is straight from their website: “Coconut oil’s saturated fat is of the medium-chain fatty acid variety, which are digested more easily and utilized differently by the body than other saturated fats… the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil are sent directly to the liver where they are immediately converted into energy. Coconut oil will actually speed up metabolism so your body will burn more calories in a day which will contribute to weight loss. Coconut oil supports healthy metabolic function and is a revered anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal agent. Pacific islanders deem coconut oil to be the cure-all gift from nature for all illness.”
    • The Weston A. Price has a study on coconut oilOrganic facts says that coconut oil has many benefits including: hair care, stress relief, skin care, premature aging, heart disease, weight loss, pancreas (treats pancreatitis), digestion, immunity, healing, infections, liver, kidney, diabetes, bones, dental care, HIV, cancer. Go to their website to see the explanations of all these benefits.
    • The list could go on and on for all the research that shows coconut oil to be one of the best.
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil- Made from the skin of olives.
    • Because it’s made from the skin and not seeds, it requires less pressure and lower heat during the pressing process; this means that the nutrients are contained in the oil.
    • This is high in oleic acid and in linoleic acid.
    • It is slow to spoil.
    • Contains 90% unsaturated fats.
    • This oil contains omega 3 and omega 6, but not a high source of it (information from askdrsears.com).
  • Butter-
    • According to the Weston A Price Foundation, butter contains Vitamins A, D, and E.
    • It contains lecithin, iodine, and selenium.
    • It contains short and medium chain fatty acids which have strong anti-tumor affects.
    • It contains the minerals manganese, chromium, zinc, copper, and selenium.
    • Butter provides the perfect balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids (this is the best in grass fed butter)
    • It protects against heart disease, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, thyroid health, digestion, weight, etc.

 Water
A lot of water (at LEAST 8 cups a day) is necessary. Naturally decaffeinated and herbal teas are included in this category. I also drink La Croix water!  It’s sparkling flavored water.  Yum.

 

Organic and Why It’s Important

I don’t always have money in my budget for organic everything, so I pick and choose.

Organic foods are not sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. Pesticides and herbicides can alter hormones, can disrupt immune systems, and can cause certain types of cancer (breast, uterine, prostate cancer, and leukemia). See “external toxins” for more detailed information on what pesticides and herbicides can do. Organic meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not contain hormones, antibiotics, steroids, or pesticides. Meats, poultry, milk, eggs, etc are the highest on the list to buy organic, if possible.

  • Local harvest is a great resource for finding CSA’s, Farmer’s markets, Farms, etc that sell organic foods in your area.
  • A great resource to find out more information on organic foods and why they are important is Organic Consumers.

Pastured animals and eggs

I can’t always afford grass-fed meats, but I always buy cage free eggs.

Eating grass-fed/pastured animals and eggs is more important to me, even, than organic.

Pastured means that the animals are not confined and are able to graze the pasture. Not only are the animals able to eat grass, they are able to walk around, which means they exercise. Because of this, the meat is lower in fat.

The benefits of grass-fed vs. grain fed are that pastured animals (beef, pork, chickens, etc) contain more omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, and Vitamin A, beta carotene, lecithin, and are lower in fat. Pastured animals and eggs contain no hormones, antibiotics, or steroids. And, most of the time, they don’t contain pesticides.

A great resource for finding grass fed meats, poultry, and eggs is Eat Wild. Not only will you get a lot of information, you can search for local farmers that sell pastured meat, poultry, and eggs.

Real Foods has some more information on why to eat pastured animals and eggs.

Sweeteners that we use (in moderation)

  • Sucanat (SUgar Cane NATural)- evaporated cane juice.  Keeps all of the original nutrients intact because it is just evaporated… not refined or processed at all.  Another brand/type is called Rapadura.  It’s basically the same thing.
  • Raw, unfiltered, unheated, local honey
  • Molasses
  • Pure Maple
  • Stevia (a natural, zero calorie sweetener) 
  • Erythritol (I use Swerve… mostly in my tea… it’s a sugar alcohol)

Foods, drinks, other things to limit/avoid

  • Food coloring
  • Artificial flavors and sweeteners
  • Caffeine- Some is okay, but excess can cause many problems.  Also, if you drink this, you need to drink more water to counter act it. Caffeine is a diuretic. It depletes your body of necessary water and nutrients.
  • Nitrates- these are found in lunch meats, hot dogs, and bacon that is not specially made nitrate-free.
  • Refined sugars and flours- these can cause diabetes and can alter brain chemistry. They do nothing good for you.
  • Hydrogenated oils (“trans fat”)- this raises the bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol. This oil is found in many packaged foods and commercially fried foods.
  • High fructose corn syrup- found in almost every canned, packaged product. Look at labels!!
  • Alcohol (mainly for me because I’m an alcoholic!), cigarettes, drugs