Monday, June 11, 2012

getting my meal plan on

We have been working on getting healthy, easy dinners on the table now that Lila is old enough to understand that eating frozen pizza from the couch does not a dinner make. I know, story of the life of every mom on the planet. Here are the easiest, cheapest things we have done to help get our family on track:
1. Sign up for eMeals 
2. Use my crock pot more often

I have found that my biggest hurdles to getting dinner on the table are not shopping ahead of time (so there is never an easy meal with all of the ingredients at hand), not planning out meals for a specific day, not thinking ahead on busy days. No, this is not a sponsored post for eMeals; they do not know I exist. I purchased a Groupon (which they have been running on and off for several months...check your local city) for half off a year of meal planning. I have played around with the different plans (they have Weight Watchers, low carb, low fat, clean eating) and we are sticking with the low fat family plan. The regular family plan had too many cream sauces and cheese for me. 

I try to do my shopping on the weekend because honestly, who wants to try and grocery shop with a toddler after work or even worse, in the evening after they go to bed. That time is reserved for me and Brian and my wine. I have not gotten to this point, but I have heard several friends say they prep all of their meals as soon as they come home from the grocery store (cut veggies, divide up meat, etc.) so there is very little prep on meal night. I have also been trying to use the crock pot more on nights that I know I will be busy, so I do not cheat and drive through somewhere. I saw this great crock pot recipe on Skinny Crock Pot's Facebook page for Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken. I adapted it a little bit and I think we have found a new favorite! Hope you try it out in your slow cooker this week!

Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken
In crockpot:
4 chicken breasts
1 jar of all natural salsa (I used a mix of lime salsa and salsa verde since I had a half jar of each...delicious!)
Juice from one large can of pineapple (pineapple in juice with no sugar added)

In your crock pot, add the three items above. After draining your canned pineapple juice into the crockpot, set aside the pineapple in your fridge for later; do not add the actual pineapple to the crockpot. Cook on high for 6 or low for 8 hours. 

Evening ingredients:
1lb of sliced fresh mushrooms
1-2 small zucchini, sliced
Onion powder 
Olive oil
Pineapple from can
Half package of Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend (you could also use regular rice but this is 1000x better: Israeli couscous, red and green orzo, split dried garbanzo beans, and red quinoa)

Shred the chicken in your crockpot with a fork, now that it is fully cooked. Save the juice in the crockpot. 
Cook half a package of Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend according to directions.
Saute the fresh mushrooms and sliced zucchini in a little bit of EVOO with a dash of onion powder. I do mine barely cooked so they are not slimy. 

Put a scoop of the Harvest Grains Blend on your plate, a scoop of chicken (with plenty of salsa/pineapple juice), a handful of mushrooms and zucchini, and top with chopped pineapple. Delicious!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

wrangling the feral cat

How do toddlers know the exact moment you are getting ready to walk out the door and choose it to announce "Pee pee potty time??!" Even though you have been asking them repeatedly every 3 minutes if they need to use the potty. It is like the exact moment when you slither out the door from the floor beside their bed as they have finally started snoring, and suddenly their hand is on the light switch, standing up in a half second with a "Gotcha" look on their face? Or my personal favorite, that second you click open your email when they have been happily playing with blocks on the floor for five minutes and like lightening they are at your side, "Bites Mommy! Hungry!"
Our life has been the epitome of toddlerhood lately. One minute Lila is sweetly staring up at me asking "Hold you Mommy" with her arms outstretched (those pronouns are so stinking tricky). The next she is throwing her fork at the dog and arching herself backwards out of her high chair in what will either end up in a perfect Olympic dismount or a trip to the ER. 
I am loving the sweet tickles and learning to sing all of the words to Five Little Speckled Frogs. I am learning to love the tantrums that I know are allowing her to better understand rules and social norms and her own place in life. The sillyness is what gets me the most, when she very seriously looks at me and says, "Mommy hair messy" first thing in the morning and then bursts into laughter trying to pat my curly afro down. I know that the tantrums will continue to spread out over time and I will not always be the mom at Target abandoning half full grocery carts to make a mad dash out the exit with a feral cat squirming out of my arms.  But at the same time, I will soon not have the baby that snuggles up in my lap at the end of the day with her paci and Grinch stuffed animal and sings herself to sleep.