PGM Endorsement: Lara Bars

My sis is married to a health nut, and she’s gotten pretty into it to.  So she is always texting me things:  Have you tried this recipe?  Have you tried this product? etc.  We love bouncing ideas off each other.  A while back she said something like, “Have you ever had a lara bar?  They are legit.”  I remember my health nut boss eating one a while back in NY, but I had never tried one.  The other day I was at Costco and the kids were sick of running errands, and hungry.  Not a good combination.  The Wild One seriously had his younger brother in a headlock, and he was (of course) crying.  If I didn’t do something quick I was going to turn into everyone’s favorite shopper with the melting-down kids.  I spotted a box of Lara Bars, glanced over the ingredients and then tore into the box.  I broke a bar in half and gave it to the kiddos.  Instant gratification.  They were quiet and they liked it!  I happened to give them a chocolate peanut butter bar, which was pretty tasty.  I’ve also tried apple pie (good) {ingredients: dates, almonds, apples, walnuts} and cherry pie (barf, but Tornado loved it.  More for him)  {ingredients: cherries, dates, almonds}.  Sidenote in case anyone is wondering…yes, I did buy the box.  I didn’t just tear into it and steal a bar.  Phew.  Glad I got that off my chest.

Check out the website here.  They have 20 different flavors to choose from.  Among my favorite so far  is

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

{Ingredients: Dates, Chocolate Chips, Peanuts, Sea Salt}

THAT’S IT!  Love it.  These bars a bit pricey, but to me it is worth it for a very healthy snack made of whole foods that the kiddos seem to love.  Thanks for the suggestion, sis!

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My New Favorite Dinner

This is seriously delicious!  It made a huge old batch and none of us minded eating it 3 days in a row.  I knew I was full but my fork was on auto pilot.  That’s okay because it’s good for you too.

This picture doesn’t do it justice…imagine fresh tomatoes, avocados, and sour cream on top.  YUM.

Southwest Rice and Bean Salad (original recipe from Enlightened Homemaker)

Ingredients

  • 5 cups cooked brown rice, cooled slightly
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 4 cups beans of choice, either home cooked or canned
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen white corn, cooked
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • avocados, peppers, chicken, etc.

**Mix all together and toss with dressing:

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 T. red wine vinegar
  • 2 T. sucanat or brown sugar
  • 2/3 c. expeller pressed grape seed oil
  • 6-8 pickled jalapeno pepper rounds from jar or fresh jalapeno
  • 2 t. chili powder
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1/2 t. salt

Combine all ingredients and put in a blender until smooth.
Toss over rice and bean salad mixture and add more salt and pepper as desired.  May also kick it up a bit with extra chili powder or chipotle seasoning. Serve on whole grain tortilla with a little melted cheese if desired or on a toasted corn tortilla or lettuce greens.

We also dipped chips in it to spice up the leftovers.  Give it a try.  This is my new favorite dinner!

New Segment: What We Ate

I’ve had several people ask me what I eat in a normal day, especially if I try not to use processed foods very much.  It’s been a very long transition, so most of this stuff seems pretty easy to me now.  When I think back to when I first started I was a completely lost, so I hope this helps give some ideas to someone out there…I think I’ll make this a new segment, and I’ll try to take pics of everything in the future.

This is not a perfect day, but pretty good.

Breakfast:  Bagels and cream cheese (we don’t normally have bagels but they were leftover from company in town), fruit salad made up of fresh pineapple, oranges, and apples

Snack: Raisins

Lunch: Ham Sandwiches (leftover from a honey baked ham we had recently), sweet potatoes sprinkled with brown sugar and butter, cottage cheese

Snack:  Dried Fruit Mix (the kind with no added sugar or preservatives…just fruit)

Dinner:  Sweet and Sour Chicken over Rice (Original Recipe from my MIL)

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Meaty Thighs
  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Ketchup
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped
  • 1 Can Chunk Pineapple
  • 1/2 Cup Vinegar
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar ( I use less of this and pour in pineapple juice to sweeten it up)
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 2 Tbs Corn Starch (sometimes does not need)
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1 Green Pepper, chopped

Directions:

Boil and debone the chicken.  Fry meat with the onion and green pepper in small amount of oil until vegetable is tender.  Add 3/4 cup water, ketchup, sugar, salt, pineapple juice (drained from the can of chunk pineapple).  Simmer.  Thicken sauce with the cornstarch, diluted in 1/4 cup water.  Stir until thickened.  Serve over warm, cooked rice.

My hubby took one bite of this and said, “mmmmm…tastes just like Sybil’s.”  His mom is an amazing cook.  The boys liked it too and it’s a pretty easy yummy dinner.  We also ate a salad and some sort of side vegetable…probably peas.

There you have it – a typical day in our house.  We normally eat meat about once a week, so I guess this was the day!

Drugs During Pregnancy

I ran across this article the other day and felt so many emotions – shock, anger, frustration, helplessness, and mostly sadness.  It is basically a drug that will be given to obese pregnant women so that their babies will not be born fat.  Does this not sit right with anyone else??  One time I got a really bad cold/cough and I was still nursing my baby.  I called the Dr. to see if there was anything I could take since it kept me up all night long.  She said no.  Before I hung up I said, “But I can take cough drops, right?”  I was shocked when she said “Absolutely not.”  They seem so harmless.  If we can’t even take cough drops while nursing, shouldn’t that scare us about taking anything at all while we are pregnant?  And a drug for ensuring your baby comes out leaner just seems weird…what are the longterm effects?  And it doesn’t really get at the root of the problem, right?  I wish somehow that we could all see there is no quick fix for these things.  Being healthy is a permanent lifestyle change.  Anyway, keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t get passed!

What’s For Dinner Wednesday: Time Saver Edition

I didn’t really do that much today, now that I think of it, but for some reason it just felt like a crazy day.  If your house is anything like mine, 5:00pm is the “bewitching hour” where the kids are bored and tired after a long day and mom is not in the mood to deal with it, and is trying to get dinner going (right? I’m not the only one, right??).  So luckily this meal is pretty easy to throw together with what you have lying around, and it is quick start to finish.  I made a few changes to this original recipe – I didn’t have sausage so I left it out, I used a white onion instead of red, I doubled the broccoli amount, and I added a bit of ricotta cheese at the end (because I had to use it up!).

Whole Wheat Penne Pasta with Turkey Italian Sausage (original recipe from For the Love of Cooking)

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 turkey Italian Sausages, removed from casings
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thickly
  • 1 cup of broccoli florets
  • 1 cup of grape tomatoes
  • 1 dash (or more) of crushed red pepper
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8 oz whole wheat penne pasta, cooked per instructions
  • 3-4 tbsp reserved pasta liquid
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, drizzled
  • 2-3 tsp butter
  • 3-4 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the penne pasta per instructions in salted boiling water.

While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, removed from casings, along with the red onion. Cook the sausage and onion for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, making sure to break up the sausage into crumbles as it cooks. Add the broccoli florets, the grape tomatoes, and crushed red pepper and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic then cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

Add the cooked and drained pasta and the reserved pasta liquid to the pan then drizzle some olive oil on to the pasta as well as the butter, Parmesan cheese, sea salt, and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Gently mix until evenly coated. Taste and re-season if necessary. Serve immediately. Enjoy.

Consensus

Me:  I really liked it a lot.  Sometimes marinara sauce can get a little mundane so it’s nice to switch up the flavors.  The vegetables added a nice crunch.

The Mr.:  Missed out on this one!  He’ll have to have it for lunch tomorrow.

The Wild One:  He ate it but wasn’t super interested.  He’s not a huge pasta lover (and that’s ok).

Tornado:  Ate it all!  And tried to steal broccoli off my plate.

Get Your Garden On

Oh my goodness, how I love Spring!  This winter hasn’t even been that bad weather-wise, but I just get so excited about all the blossoming trees, and the sun coming out every day, and the chance to play outside!  It seems everywhere I turn people are getting their vegetable gardens ready, and I am a tortured soul!  We have an awesome space for a garden outside, but we’ll be moving back to NYC for the summer so I won’t get to reap the benefits!!  Hopefully there will be some left when we get back.  I am going to try to find a way to grow something in New York -either on my balcony or roof, or window, or community garden.  Stay tuned for that one.  Anyway, last year I was so anxious to grow some things and I found these awesome websites.  I am a complete gardening novice, so these pretty much lay it all out for the green-thumb-challenged (yes please).  Here they are:

Rebel Tomato

Interactive Gardening Tools to help you grow vegetables based on your U.S. state.

Sprout Robot

You can personalize your garden calendar, and even order seeds.  They send you emails to remind you what to plant that week.  Pretty cool.

Vegetable Garden

Another planting/harvesting calendar based on which zone you live in.

So if you are on the fence about growing something, here’s your chance to jump on it!  It can’t get much easier than that!  Let me know if you have any other awesome gardening resources.  Good luck!