Sunday, September 14
Is it really time to plan another menu? These weeks go by far too quickly.
It finally feels like autumn! I LOVE FALL. It’s my favorite season hands down. I love everything about it. The weather, warmer clothes, the leaves, the colors and the food. Butternut Squash Soup, here I come!
- Butternut Squash Soup
- Whole wheat french bread
- Bolognese (recipe to come!) over whole wheat pasta
- Spinach salad with strawberries & green onion
- Roast Chicken (from Costco)
- Spaghetti Squash
- Potatoes of some sort
- Chicken Stir Fry
- Pick up a few sides from our local Chinese restaurant
- Eat out
- Spinach & Pancetta Stuffed Shells w/Asiago Cream Sauce
- Garlic Bread
PS: I’m back to ‘normal’ eating. But here’s the healthy eating plan going forward: less sugar (way less), little white flour and MORE VEGGIES. That’s the biggest goal…incorporating more vegetables into every meal. I’m sure I’ll be posting more on that!
Okay, it’s the end of this post…you know what that means…time to share your menu for the week!
Friday, September 12
Time to check in on the experiment. I’ve been good, friends. Seriously, I haven’t eaten any refined sugar, white flour or dairy yet this week. Amazing. Truly. If you know me, you know I like me my treats. Here are a few observations…
- I feel good after everything I eat, which isn’t always the case in “normal” life – more often than I’d like, I have meals that make me feel heavy and sorta yucky. That hasn’t happened this week.
- I’ve never done any kind of diet before. Now I know firsthand why they don’t work. If you can’t have something, you think about it and want it even more. That is no way to live and I know why it doesn’t work.
- It is really tricky planning meals without sugar, white flour or dairy allowed. The salad I had planned for the week? Sugar in the dressing. The bolognese recipe I was going to try called for 1 cup of cream. Even when I thought I had planned meals that would work, they didn’t. It’s been tough!
- Sugar is in everything. Seriously. When you cut sugar, you realize how much you eat it. Now I totally believe the stats about the amounts of sugar Americans eat each year. That’s because it’s in everything we eat! Pasta sauces, salad dressings, cereals, dried fruit, the list goes ON.
- I was so hungry (and grumpy) the first 2 or 3 days! But that’s getting better…I think because I’m figuring out better snack foods, planning our meals better, etc.
I’m proud that I’ve stuck to my plan and I will continue to do so through the end of the week. But, I have to admit, I can’t wait to be done.
However, I am not going to simply revert to my old ways. I will definitely watch my sugar intake more closely from now on. White flour was the easiest to cut for me, so I think that won’t be too hard to keep to a minimum. I’m not a huge dairy person normally, so there won’t be much of a change there. I have to say, though, I can’t wait to eat some cheese!
PS – Some of you were wondering why dairy got the kabosh this week. I don’t have a good scientific answer for you yet, but here is a nice, short, balanced article about the pros & cons: Dairy: Good or Bad?
Thursday, September 11
Today’s recipe comes from reader, Kate. It was on her menu a few weeks ago and I stole it shamelessly. Nate and I really enjoyed this dish, and it is super easy to prepare. Plus, it’s so pretty!
Caramelized Onion & Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
From Robin to the Rescue by Robin Miller, via TWFD reader Kate
- 12 oz spinach fettuccine (Kate note: I always use regular fettuccine or whole wheat spaghetti with great success)
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced into half moons
- 2 Tbs sugar
- 1 cup sliced roasted red peppers (Jane note: I just bought a jar of these at the store)
- 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup vegetable broth (Kate note: I usually use chicken b/c i have an open container in my fridge)
- salt and fresh ground pepper
Cook pasta and drain. While pasta is cooking, heat the oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sugar and cook, stirring a couple of times until the onions are golden brown and carmelized, about 10 minutes (Jane note – took longer for me). Stir in the red peppers and vinegar and cook for 2 minutes. Add the broth and pasta and simmer for 2 minutes to heat through. Season with salt and pepper and serve. The sauce will thicken up a bit upon sitting for a minute or two.
Kate note: I am only making this for 2.5 of us so I usually make half the pasta, but a full recipe fo the sauce. It’s so good and we like it really saucy! Enjoy!
Jane note: I had a 9 oz package of spinach fettuccine…and I thought it was too much pasta for the sauce, so go with Kate’s tip of just doing 6 oz of pasta (half the recipe), but the full recipe of sauce. Also, I’m going to throw some chicken in here next time – I think that would taste good. Great dish!
Wednesday, September 10
Homegrown tomatoes are the BEST, but until the day I start growing them, I’m stuck with buying tomatoes at the store. Which can lead to very disappointing results. But occasionally I come across some flavorful tomatoes that make me happy…like the Splendido little tomatoes I wrote about a few months ago.
I have a new tomato love. Heirloom tomatoes. I’ve gotten them at my regular old grocery store and at Trader Joe’s. I have been very happy with both. First off, they actually have flavor. Go figure. In addition, they all have slightly different flavors from one another, making for more dynamic tastes in your meals. Plus, they look so pretty on your plate!
I’m sure many of you have heard about NieNie, a mom blogger from Arizona who was recently in a serious plane crash. If you’d like to read more, her sister’s blog is a great place to visit. Lots of wonderful updates, beautifully written.
As I’ve followed this story it’s been both heart wrenching and uplifting. Such a mixture of feelings…sadness for this young family, amazement at the love offered to them from friends, family and the blogging community. I wrote a little about it here.
There was an article in the New York Times a few days ago that is awesome, and I just wanted to share it with you all.
As always, love and prayers to NieNie and her family…
Sunday, September 7
Let me preface the following paragraph with this statement: I think “diets” are bad news. That said, I’m trying something out this week. It’s not a diet. I’m just not going to eat sugar, white flour or dairy. Just for 1 week. My Aunt Barbara, who is a health food nut, has been trying to get me to do this 1 week experiment for ages. I’m finally gonna do it. And when the week is over, the goal is to incorporate more healthy, whole foods into my diet. Don’t worry, I’ll let dessert back into the kitchen…so you’ll still get good recipes!
What’s driving all of this? I don’t eat badly and I don’t eat much junk. But I could eat healthier. So, that’s the goal. To kick it off, I’m going see how I feel when I cut out some of the big offenders (like refined sugar). I will report on how it goes and how I feel after the week is through. I’m sure you’ll all be waiting with bated breath.
Now, on to the menu!
- Grilled pork chops
- Whole grain rice
- Veggie or salad
- Some sort of big dinner salad…
- Whole grain french bread
- Bolognese over whole wheat pasta
- Spinach salad with fruit
- Something chicken…I’m going to try something new from TJ’s, but have to browse the aisles to find that special something
- Eat out
A few menu requests…Candice – cream cheese chicken over pasta…Tamara – lasagna roll-ups and london broiler sammies…Emma – slow cooker orange chicken. I’m going to stop there…I could be requesting recipes from you all day!
Time for your menus.
P.S. You guys rock!
Friday, September 5
Warning: These pictures will make you want to find the nearest bakery and pig out. TWFD is not responsible for readers’ weight gain.
This is the storefront. Looks like a movie set, no?
Wednesday, September 3
Today’s featured recipe is one of my favorite pasta dishes ever. It was No. 3 on the menu at American Grill, a restaurant in SLC, UT that has been out of business for some time now (sadly). Our family always just calls it No. 3 or Green Noodles, and we all love it. You’re gonna love it to.
PS to you parents out there…Cate, my 3-yr-old who has been quite picky about food lately, ate two servings of this tonight!!
Number 3, aka Green Noodles
- Spinach Fettuccine, 8 or 9 oz package
- 1 boneless/skinless chicken breast, cubed
- ~3/4 of a package of mushrooms, chopped
- ~2.5 oz prosciutto, chopped
- Pesto cream sauce
- Feta cheese, to taste
Saute chicken & mushrooms in a bit of olive oil. Add prosciutto once chicken is cooked and heat through.
Cook pasta as directed on the package (I use fresh pasta). Drain.
Make a cream sauce with pesto mixed in…or buy the Garlic & Herb pasta mix (pictured…Knorr makes it, and one of the other brands makes it as well…don’t buy the pesto pasta mix, it’s not quite the right flavor). Follow as directed on the package, but use about 1/3 more milk…so if it calls for 1 1/2 cups milk, use 2 cups. This stuff tastes pretty good and is close to how American Grill’s tasted, BUT…a fresh pesto cream sauce would be even better.
Mix everything together…pasta, chicken mixture & sauce. Add crumbled or cubed feta cheese at the end so it doesn’t melt away…but mix it in. Put in as little or as much as you like.
Makes enough for about 4 people I would guess.
Tuesday, September 2
What kitchen ‘accessories’ do you use ALL the time that just can’t live without? Here are my true loves…
Cheapo plastic mixing spoons. We received these as a wedding gift and I honestly could not live without them. They aren’t made out of fancy plastic or anything (I’ve melted a few of them). They aren’t fancy at all. But they are my mixing spoon of choice…even over my much nicer wooden and plastic spoons. The shallow shape of the spoon just makes them awesome.
Pyrex mixing bowl set. I use these ALL THE TIME for EVERYTHING. My friend Ashely gave them to me when she moved. I still wonder how she is living without them. Oven proof, microwave safe, different sizes, shatterproof (for the most part…I’m sure if I tried really hard I could break them). And look at this set here…they even have lids. I may have to upgrade!
Utensil holder. I love my utensil holder. Mine is a wooden canister from Crate & Barrel with the lid removed. We received one of these for a wedding present (the original is since broken) and it’s something as a newlywed I would have overlooked as a kitchen necessity. But having all of my utensils handy on the counter is the BEST.
As you can see, my tried and true ‘accessories’ are quite simple. But I feel pretty passionately about how they improve my quality of life. What do you use ALL THE TIME that you just can’t live without?