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  1. Wednesday, October 26

    Sweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium Vinaigrette + Sodium Breakup + A Low-So Good Giveaway!

    I’m going to start a post about low-sodium eating with a crazy statement: I love salt. No, really. I LOVE SALT. So when I met my friend Jessica Goldman Foung (a.k.a. Sodium Girl) many moons ago, I have to be honest that low-sodium eating was something I had never even thought about. Then I heard Jessica’s story. In 2004 she was diagnosed with Lupus and learned that the autoimmune disease had attacked her kidneys and brain. As a result of all the craziness, she had to adjust her diet, including eating no sodium. This pretty much blew my mind. No sodium? How is that even possible? After following Jessica and her culinary adventures all these years she has proven to me that a life without sodium can be a rich and delicious one indeed. She is quite the inspiration.

    Sweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium Vinaigrette | Low-So Good | @janemaynard

    The American Heart Association recently asked if I would help spread the word about their new Sodium Breakup campaign. I was more than happy to so that people like me (a salt lover who could definitely improve her diet to help her heart) and people like Jessica (someone who had to give up salt to save her life) could both learn all about low-sodium eating. I was honored to be given the opportunity to write the kick-off post for the campaign on AHA’s website, which you can read by clicking here! Over the next few months you can keep checking in with the AHA to get all kinds of great low-sodium information, tips and more. The AHA is bound and determined to make your breakup with sodium a breakup you are happy about!

    And I have even more low-sodium goodness for you today: a book, a recipe and a giveaway!

    Sweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium Vinaigrette | Low-So Good | @janemaynard

    First, the book. Low-So Good is a beautiful resource written by my friend Jessica. The book has 70 mouthwatering recipes (hello, Jerk-ish Fish Tacos with Sauce, Slaw and Salsa, I need you in my life), but it is also a complete guide to low-sodium eating. Low-sodium novices and experts alike can benefit from what Jessica has to offer, and I love the guest articles peppered throughout the book from other food experts. The photography is gorgeous, the book is well organized and easy to read, and, best of all, Jessica’s infectiously happy personality shines through. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to cut some (or even all!) sodium from their diet…or really to anyone at all! Click here to buy Jessica’s book!

    Sweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium Vinaigrette | Low-So Good | @janemaynard

    Second, the recipe. A really helpful part of Jessica’s book is advice for eating in restaurants when you’re trying to go low-so. One of my favorite recipes in the entire book is MacGyver Vinaigrette. It’s more of a formula than a recipe, providing the guidance you need to make a salad dressing on the fly with ingredients you can find at restaurants. It’s awesome. So today I’m sharing one of my MacGyver no-sodium vinaigrette creations, which is sweet and zesty! The recipe is below and sized for one serving.

    Sweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium Vinaigrette | Low-So Good | @janemaynardSweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium Vinaigrette | Low-So Good | @janemaynard

    Lastly, the giveaway! One of you lucky, randomly-selected people will win a copy of Jessica’s book Low-So Good. Here is how to enter! (All comments must be posted before Midnight PT Wednesday 11/2/16. Prize must be shipped to an address in the U.S.)

    And now for a no-sodium salad that will make your taste buds super happy! And good luck with your sodium breakup adventures!

    Sweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium Vinaigrette | Low-So Good | @janemaynard

    Sweet & Zesty MacGyver No-Sodium Vinaigrette
    Prep time
    Total time
    Inspired by "Low-So Good" by Jessica Goldman Foung. If you're trying to eat low-sodium, this on-the-fly dressing can be thrown together at a restaurant! (Or at home. Because it's good no matter where you eat it.)
    Serves: 1 serving
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 teaspoons lime juice (about 4 lime slices)
    • 1 teaspoon honey
    • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • Generous pinch black pepper
    1. In a small bowl or in a small mason jar, add all of the ingredients. Whisk with a fork or shake well.
    2. Serve over salad!




  2. Tuesday, October 25

    Vote for Clean Air and a Happy Earth This November!

    Hey, guys. I don’t get political here on the ol’ blog. I believe all sides of all issues have valid arguments and, well, this is a food blog and not really the place to hash out those issues and arguments. But you do know that I care deeply about the environment and write about environmental issues all the time. In addition to caring about the environment, I am a firm believer in the idea that every little bit helps and that all of our cumulative small actions lead to big change, hence a focus on my blog over the years on things like cutting paper towels, composting and eating less meat.

    Clean Air Moms Action - Pledge to Vote for the Environment!

    In case you weren’t aware, there is an election in two weeks. (Hahahahaha! I am so funny!) I am not publicly backing any candidates or telling you which way you should vote. But I am excited about voting and have gotten more involved on the local level this year than I ever have. I am really excited to turn in my ballot and have loved talking with my kids about the election. I was recently approached by the Clean Air Moms Action to see if I’d be willing to encourage the same excitement among my readers and I was like, YES! And, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, I also want to encourage you to consider clean air, environmental factors and climate change when you vote.

    I am not a one-issue voter, but if I was, the environment would be that issue for me. I feel like this election season (and society at large) is like Game of Thrones. In Game of Thrones you have all these warring and competing political factors, all vying for power, all doing anything and everything to get that power. But while that squabbling is happening, “winter is coming,” i.e. literal winter but also those scary glassy-eyed White Walkers that the politicians don’t even believe exist. For me climate change is that proverbial winter. We are concerned with all these other issues while the environment, the one thing that is absolutely crucial to our survival, gets largely ignored. Rising waters are eating away at our coastline (interesting NY Times report here and Wharton podcast here). Drought will not go away. CRAZY WEATHER (no links necessary!). All of it is happening, and yet the presidential debates barely touched the issue, with 82 seconds in the first debate, one question from the audience for the second debate (go Ken Bone!), and two seconds in the third debate, despite the fact that “How will you address climate change?” was the fourth most popular question submitted to the Open Debate Coalition. What the WHAT.

    Okay, obviously I have a strong opinion about all of this, so I’m going to cut myself short and just ask you to think about the environment when you vote. I’m not asking you to make it your one issue (although I’d be cool with that! ;)), I just want you to give it some good consideration. The changing climate is impacting food production and so much more. Let’s get ahead of the problem and make some positive changes, starting with our elected representatives and ballot initiatives!

    There are tons of great voter guides online, partisan and non-partisan alike, where you can find out where candidates stand on this issue. If you’re a fan of the Sierra Club, you can view their endorsements on this page. Seek out good resources and learn all you can. Vote as if your child’s health depends on it…because it does!

    And if you are feeling as pumped up about this issue as I am, go to Clean Air Moms Action and pledge to vote!

    We live in an imperfect yet great country and I am grateful for my opportunity to participate in our democracy. Happy Voting! Happy Earth!

    This post was produced with support from Clean Air Moms Action.

  3. Monday, October 24

    Week 509 Menu

    Hi friends! I am sitting at piano lessons realizing we need a meal plan for the week! Oh my!

    Week 509 Weekly Menu from @janemaynard including FREE printable weekly dinner plan and ingredients list!

    – Tacos

    Creamy Chicken & Broccoli Pasta
    – Salad (we are loving this simple dressing I wrote about for Alpha Mom!)


    – Leftovers

    – Steak, roasted potatoes and veggie (need to use some meat in the fridge)

    – Leftovers and/or Eat out night

    – Day trip to Julian, CA! (We had to reschedule this from a few weeks ago)

    Click here or on the image above for a free PDF printable of this week’s menu and ingredient list!

    As usual, we would LOVE to see your dinner plans for the week! Please share in the comments! Thank you! 🙂

  4. Sunday, October 16

    Week 508 Weekly Menu

    Hello, friends. So, it’s time to plan a menu and I have NO CLUE what I want to make this week. Here goes nothin’…

    Week 508 Weekly Menu from @janemaynard including FREE pdf printable menu and ingredients list!

    – I’m going with free kids’ night at Corner Bakery Cafe again – hard to resist!

    – Leftover Homemade Pizza

    – Sausage, Pepper & Onion Hoagies

    – Honey Mustard Chicken Wraps

    – Loaded Nachos with Guacamole

    – Leftovers

    – Eat out night…we’re spending the day in Julian pumpkin picking and exploring!

    Click here for a free PDF printable menu and ingredients list of this week’s meal plan.

    You know the drill, my friends! We need to know what you’re having for dinner this week! Tell us in the comments!

  5. Friday, October 14

    Mexican Brownies + Fair Moments for Fair Trade Month

    Today I have a Mexican brownies recipe for you. And it’s fair trade. And it’s delicious. Are you ready? Let’s go!

    #FairMoments Fair Trade Mexican Brownies recipe from @janemaynard

    I love Mexican chocolate. I was first introduced to this wonderful flavor by my Mexican college roommate Estela. She brought me Abuelita Mexican hot chocolate tablets from home and I hoarded, um, I mean cherished them. (Okay, hoarded. I would not allow anyone to use that chocolate willy nilly!) Fast forward to today and basically if we go anywhere and anything is Mexican chocolate flavored, I order it. The hint of cinnamon and chile peppers paired with chocolate just makes me happy. (And it reminds me of Estela, too, which also makes me happy!)

    #FairMoments Fair Trade Mexican Brownies recipe from @janemaynard

    Fair Trade USA approached me to help celebrate their Fair Moments campaign this month, which is all about showing how our small everyday decisions can have a huge impact, something I really believe. For the post I wanted to share a recipe that used lots of great fair trade ingredients, but for some reason I was having a hard time settling on something. Then, as I was sitting in my kitchen staring at a pile of fair trade goodies with the kids, discussing what we could make, Cate mentioned brownies. Then the cinnamon started chanting, “Abuelita, Abuelita, Abuelita” and I knew Mexican brownies had to happen. (Okay, maybe that last part didn’t happen, but whatever. Close enough.)

    #FairMoments Fair Trade Mexican Brownies recipe from @janemaynard

    Brownies are one of our family’s favorites and probably the most frequently baked item around here, after chocolate chip cookies, of course. Anna and I decided to make the Mexican brownies together and had a great conversation about what fair trade means. We talked about which ingredients in the recipe were fair trade and about how they are ingredients we use all the time. It was really cool neat sharing this with my daughter and I was grateful I could show her how we actively support such a great cause day to day.

    #FairMoments Fair Trade Mexican Brownies recipe from @janemaynard#FairMoments Fair Trade Mexican Brownies recipe from @janemaynard

    The best part was taste testing with Anna and my mom, trying to get the perfect amount of cayenne pepper and cinnamon in the brownies. In case you’re wondering, we succeeded. The brownies came out awesome and everyone in the family loved them (even my mom who was most certainly suspect when I used the words “cayenne” and “brownies” in the same sentence). The cinnamon and cayenne flavors come through but in a subtle way and without too much heat.

    #FairMoments Fair Trade Mexican Brownies recipe from @janemaynard

    Before we get to the post, let’s do a Fair Trade giveaway! One lucky, randomly-selected winner will receive a package from Fair Trade USA with the following goodies:

    Fair Moments Fair Trade Giveaway at @janemaynard

    To enter this Fair Trade giveaway, please do the following:

    • Leave a comment on this post! (Optional: Tell us your favorite fair trade ingredient that you use all the time!)
    • Bonus entry: Like Fair Trade USA on Facebook! (Please leave a separate comment indicating you have done so. If you already follow, that counts!)
    • Like This Week for Dinner on Facebook! (Please leave a separate comment indicating you have done so. If you already follow, that counts!)
    • Follow This Week for Dinner on Pinterest! (Please leave a separate comment indicating you have done so. If you already follow, that counts!)
    • All comments must be posted by Midnight PT on October 31, 2016.

    #FairMoments Fair Trade Mexican Brownies recipe from @janemaynard
    And now, the recipe! I basically just used Ruth Reichl’s “A Better Brownie” recipe, which is one of my most favorite brownies. The brownies come out super fudgy and rich with this amazing crusty top that is to die for. Click here for the original non-spicy version. If you want to try the spicy version, here you go!

    #FairMoments Fair Trade Mexican Brownies recipe from @janemaynard

    Mexican Brownies
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
    This is one of my favorite brownie recipes, originally written by Ruth Reichl. I've given the recipe a Mexican twist with sugar and spice and everything nice...and Fair Trade!
    Serves: 16
    • 5 ounces unsalted high-fat butter (I use regular old salted butter!)
    • 5 ounces unsweetened fair trade chocolate
    • 2 teaspoons best-quality, fair trade vanilla extract
    • 1½ teaspoons fair trade ground cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon fair trade cayenne pepper
    • 4 farm fresh organic eggs (Jane note: my eggs are not farm fresh, everything turns out fine!)
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 cup all-purpose white flour (spooned into a cup and leveled with a knife)
    1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
    2. Butter a 9x9 or 8x8 square pan and line the pan with parchment paper. Butter the bottom and sides once again.
    3. Melt the chocolate and the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
    4. Beat the eggs and salt in a stand mixer. Add the sugar and beat on high for about 10 minutes, until the mixture has turned very light and thick. Add the chocolate mixture to the eggs, beating on low until just mixed.
    5. Gently stir in the flour until it just disappears.
    6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, place in the middle of the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350ºF. Bake for 40 minutes; the brownies will be quite fudgy and a toothpick should come out not quite clean. Cool on a rack.
    7. Lift the brownies out of the pan by pulling up on the parchment paper. Set on a cutting board and cut into pieces.


    The little plates in this post are from Q Squared NYC, in case you need to buy them because they are the CUTEST.

  6. Monday, October 10

    Week 507 Menu

    Hello! Yes, it’s Monday. And, yes, I still haven’t planned this week’s menu. I am quickly throwing something together now while I have a minute! I’m on a deadline right now, so no fancy PDF…but if I can get my act together I will update the post in the next day or two! But at least we’ve got a plan…

    – Free kids’ meal night at our local Corner Bakery Cafe and we are going to take advantage of it!

    – Barbecue Chicken Wraps

    Cilantro Sour Cream Enchiladas

    – Leftovers

    Homemade pizza night (Honey Goat Cheese and Margherita)

    – Eat out night

    – Breakfast for dinner (probably waffles!)

    Thank you in advance for sharing your menu with us in the comments! I am so happy each and every week to see your comments!!

  7. Friday, October 7

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party!

    If you’ve been reading my blog for at least the last year then you know that I love making cute birthday cakes for my kids. It’s pretty much the only “supermom” thing I do. I think it’s because my mom made cute cakes for us growing up, so I simply cannot not make fun birthday cakes! Owen recently celebrated his 5th birthday and asked for a monster-themed birthday party. I thought I would shared how I made his cute yet simple monster birthday cake as well as give you a quick outline of the whole party. It was a lot of fun and easy to pull together, so I need to share the love!

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party How-To

    The Party

    • GAMES: We played two classic party games. First, Pin the Eye on the Monster. Owen and I drew the monster on posterboard then I printed out eyeballs for the kids to attach. Click here to download a PDF of the eyeballs. In addition we played Hot Potato with a stuffed monster. The kids LOVED. THE. GAMES.

    Pin the Eye on the Monster! (i.e. pin the tail on the donkey monster edition!) from @janemaynard including FREE PDF template for the eyes!

    • FELT MONSTER PUPPETS: For the main activity we made felt monster puppets! I bought felt squares at Joann’s Fabrics. I used a very simple template I created for the monster head (click here to download the template). Cut out two of each color, then hot glue gun the two pieces together, gluing around the entire edge EXCEPT the flat bottom, leaving that open (it’s a puppet, you need a place to stick your hand!). I provided the kids with cut up felt shapes, pipe cleaners, pom poms and googly eyes. The kids assembled their puppets on the floor. As they finished their designs, I carefully carried the puppets into another room. The kids played while my friend and I hot glue gunned everything onto the puppets! If you have more than a few kids, you should definitely have two glue guns and two people gluing so it doesn’t take too long. (Thanks to my friend Marie from Make and Takes for the felt puppet inspiration!)

    Simple Felt Monster Puppets for a Monster-Themed Birthday Party from @janemaynard

    • FOOD: Monster Cake (see below for instructions), ice cream and water. Easy peasy!
    • PRESENTS: We opened the presents while everyone was still at the party. I’ve started doing the coolest thing for the thank you notes. I take a picture of my child with their friend and the gift they gave with my phone. I then use the Postagram app to write up quick thank you notes (I make the kids help – I type the note while they dictate). Postagram automatically mails the postcards, then the friends not only get a thank you note but a picture from the party! It’s really cute and makes you seem like a super put-together parent (even if you’re not!). 😉
    • GOODIE BAGS: Simple goodie bags included monster pencils, monster bendables and monster lollipops.
    • DECORATIONS: These monster wall decals worked great for decorating. I added a couple of mylar balloons from The Dollar Tree and a few hanging decorations from Party City. Done!

    That’s it. Two hours of monster party fun that was cost effective and simple for me to implement, even during a busy work week. Heads up: We made 12 puppets and it took me a couple of hours to prep all the felt for the monster puppets (I worked on that while watching TV one night).

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake How-To

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party How-To

    And now for the cake. This simple monster birthday cake was one of the easiest cakes I’ve made yet. NO PIPING NECESSARY. Woohoo! Decorating the cake still takes some time (it took me about 2 hours to do all of the decorating; that does not count baking the cake the day before), but this cake design is very simple and definitely doable for all skill levels.

    Be sure to read my Cake Decorating Guide before diving in. That post has all of my tips for successfully decorating cakes as well as the recipes I use for the chocolate cake and buttercream frosting.

    • Step 1: Bake a 9″ x 13″ cake. Level cake if needed, wrap in plastic or parchment paper and freeze until hard.

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake from @janemaynard - How to Shape the Cake

    • Step 2: Place cake top side down on a cutting board. Simply cut two corners off with a curve to the cut, like you see in the photo above. The corners should be on one short end of the rectangle. The resulting cake will look like a gravestone.
    • Step 3: Do a crumb coat frosting layer then freeze or refrigerate until hardened.
    • Step 4: While the crumb coat is hardening, make the eyes and mouth. I bought white rolled fondant and black rolled fondant (Wilton’s makes fondant, I buy mine at Michael’s or Joann’s). I colored some of the white fondant blue. Click here for a free printable PDF of the eyeball and mouth template. Print one copy of this page. Roll out the white fondant and place the full eyeball template on top. With a sharp knife cut around the circle. Set the large white fondant circle aside. Roll out blue fondant then cut the eyeball template down to the size of the blue circle. Place on the rolled blue fondant, cut the circle and set aside. Repeat process again for the black circle and small white circle. Stack all the circles so they look like the original eyeball template. For the mouth, roll out the black fondant, place the mouth template on top then cut around the edge, forming the oval shape. Next cut just one of the teeth shapes from the mouth template and use that with the white fondant to make six teeth. Place white fondant pieces on the black fondant mouth. Set aside.

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party How-To

    • Step 5: Frost the cake with blue icing, using a knife or cake spreader to make icing on the top and sides as smooth as you can. Wash and dry your hands. Using your index finger, make little swirl marks all over the top of the monster so it looks like fur.
    • Step 6: Place the eyeball and mouth on the cake like you see in the picture above. You’re done!

    I’m super happy with how everything turned out, but in the end finding Owen looking at his cake like this was definitely the best part!

    Simple Monster Birthday Cake and Party How-To

  8. Sunday, October 2

    Week 506 Weekly Menu

    Hello friends!

    Week 506 Weekly Menu from @janemaynard including FREE printable weekly menu + ingredients list!

    Confession: The last 2 weeks have been a bear and I’ve hardly cooked at all, despite my weekly menu planning. This week I’m hoping we can get back on track…wish me luck!

    – Carnitas Tacos

    – Naan Pizzas

    – Rachel Sandwiches

    – Leftovers

    – BBQ Grill Night (chicken, hot dogs, etc)

    – Take out night

    Bistro Chicken
    – Mashed potatoes and salad

    Click here or on the image above for a FREE printable PDF of this week’s menu and ingredient list!

    Your turn! And thank you in advance for sharing your menus, you guys are the best week after week!

  9. Friday, September 30

    Friday Show and Tell: Entertainment for your weekend!

    Hi friends! It’s Friday Show and Tell time, and today it’s all about watching and listening to good stuff. This should keep you busy over the weekend, when you’re not cheering on Stanford football, that is. 😉


    Netflix just keeps on keeping on with the great content. Here are a few things I’m most excited about this week:

    Disney on Netflix!

    • Disney on Netflix! It’s official – Netflix is the only place you can stream Disney movies on a pay TV service, which means they will continue to keep adding great Disney films to Netflix all the time. Zootopia is on there right now (my kids are obsessed) and Robin Hood. (We all had a crush on that sly fox when we were kids, right? Just me?)

    Marvel's Luke Cage on Netflix!

    • As of today we can finally watch Luke Cage! Luke Cage is the third of the Marvel Defenders series on Netflix and I can’t wait to get watching. We liked Daredevil a lot (although still need to watch Season 2), loved Jessica Jones and anticipate adding Luke to our list of favorite superheroes.

    Amanda Knox on Netflix

    • I’m intrigued by the new documentary Amanda Knox. They say if you liked Making a Murderer then this one is right up your alley (and it’s simply a movie rather than a whole series, which is kind of nice, actually).

    Narcos Season 2 on Netflix (one of our FAVORITES)

    • I almost forgot! Have you watched Narcos yet? We blasted through Season 2 in less than a week. SO GOOD.


    Just a heads up that I added a bunch of songs to my Kitchen Tunage playlist on Spotify (it’s been a while). Also, I created a new playlist called Happy Music. These are all the songs I made my family listen to in the car on my birthday. They make me car dance like a fool. Enjoy!

    I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, which means they send me cool stuff from time to time. For the record, I would be addicted to Netflix in spite of said cool stuff.

  10. Monday, September 26

    Week 505 Menu

    It’s Monday. Yes, I’m a day late with my menu. But yesterday was my birthday and I just couldn’t bring myself to open up the computer!

    Week 505 Weekly Menu from @janemaynard including FREE printable PDF with meal plan and ingredients list!

    So, here we are. This week’s menu! On Monday! We’ve got the whole Santa-Ana-heat-wave-wind-thing going on around these parts, so I am doing my best to minimize using heat in the kitchen this week.

    – Leftover pizza
    – Salad

    – Chicken Caesar Salad

    – Caprese Salad

    – Hamburgers and/or hot dogs on the outside grill

    – Leftovers

    – Take out night

    Bistro Chicken
    – Mashed potatoes and salad

    Click here or on the image above for a FREE printable PDF of this week’s menu and ingredient list!

    You know the drill, my friends! Please share your menus in the comments! THANK YOU!