Saying Good-bye

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Losing someone is probably one of the more surreal experiences of human existence. With the recent loss of my uncle I have been even more reflective on the process of letting go and saying good bye.

It takes our brains a while just to process the very idea of someone no longer being in our lives. When I was initially told he was gone I spent the next few  hours just trying out the sound of the words, “he is dead”. It sounded so final and I was struggling with that very thought. It meant that I had to integrate this huge concept of him no longer being not only in my life, but living at all.

I was okay that day because it was still a concept. A foreign idea that needed time to really sink in. My main sadness was for his family and how they must be struggling.

The next day I was not okay. I knew he was dead and that there was no return. The idea that this is a natural part of our existence just seemed to make it all feel so much more confusing. I had a hard time wrapping my head around what was making me so sad.

At first I thought it was all of things he would miss out on. I thought I was grieving his loss. Instead I realized my grief was for the physical  loss I felt. The removal of him from my life, my cousins life, his wife’s life and all of the other lives he had touched. The hole that was left be his dying.

I started to really feel the hole that this loss made. He would never again be a part of any of my new experiences. I only had the past. Memories of him kept bubbling to the surface. Memories that had formed my understanding of him as a man and the place that he held in my life. I also saw how he was a part of my foundation and was intertwined with the very core of my being.

As I explored this hole I also started to feel grateful.  I could honour him by continuing to live in a way that was meaningful. He wasn’t as gone as I had thought because I had a part of him with me forever. I could nourish those parts and carry them on to my family and the people around me. I can share who he is by being me.

The hole now feels a little less gaping and more a space that I will hold and treasure. It is his place and I have no need to fill it.

Good bye is still painful and I know there are still many tears to fall but I am okay to move forward. I can support those around me now and be there as they find their own way.

Peter Beltgens  July 2, 1954 - February 19 2014

Peter Beltgens
July 2, 1954 – February 19 2014

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You are How You Eat

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Taking care of myself and my family has become more and more important.

I feel the years creeping up and I want to be an active part of my kids lives for as long as I am able. Now I am no where near ‘old’ but I have no delusions that anyone else is responsible and if I want to be healthy it’s up to me.

I also know that my kids health habits will be based in what we teach them and that is another responsibility I don’t want to screw up.

Being active, enjoying the outdoors and connecting to our natural environment all rank high on how we already make this happen.

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We also eat in a way that I believe is healthy meaning, real delicious food.

Overall we avoid heavily processed foods, make veggies the focus of most meals and I try to make what I can from scratch. This isn’t always realistic so when I am buying pre-made foods, like bread or pasta, the focus is on the highest quality with the fewest number of ingredients.

I also immediately back away from anything that has light, diet, low- fat or any other glowing sign that it is packed with sugar, filler or other things that just aren’t food in my eyes.

When the rest of my life is in balance what I’ve talked about is more then enough for me to generally feel great and maintain a healthy weight. But with returning to work, two kids, stress and financial worries my balance has kinda tanked and my overall health isn’t where I’d like.20140111-213034.jpg

Some of those things are just beyond control but there a few changes I can make and that I think will make a big difference in getting back to the way I want to feel.

And since it is the New Year what better time. Now we are not talking huge changes because honestly I am mostly happy with the way we eat. But I think it’s time for a refresh and a few updates. Call it version 2.0.

And while I want to lose a few pounds and then maintain a healthy body weight this is not just about the shape I am in. My focus is on overall well being not on having a skinny bod, in fact I like having an ass and plan on keeping it. 

So here are the changes I have in the works for the New Year. Some I’ve already been experimenting with and some will be a slower shift but all are goals I think are realistic and will become another part of the way I define health.

1)  Drink Mostly Water or Herbal Teas

Growing up when I went to my mom for something to eat she would always say drink some water first. I thought she was just trying to save money or being momish but she was right.We often mistake thirst for hunger, and although food is a source of moisture it’s really no match to a tall drink of water.  We need 6-8 glasses a day and I can definitely say I fall short. 

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Like a lot of people I forget my water bottle, drink caffeine to stay awake and sometimes partake in a tasty glass of wine. But I’m missing out on probably one of the easiest health changes I can make. Water helps us digest our food, eliminate waste, and lubricates our insides. Our blood depends on us staying hydrated to flow nicely and all of our organs use it in some way.

Being dehydrated can also make us groggy and sleepy, which my children are already doing, so really a little effort around this one will be well worth it.

2) No Seconds at Supper Time

I am brutal for going back for seconds. We eat well and the food I make tastes good so I want to eat it. I also for some reason think that because my husband was born with a hyperactive metabolism and is physically active, I somehow can eat the same amount or should be allowed to. Truth is I can, but  it has the unfortunate side effect of me eating twice what I probably need and my bum being a little more ample then I like. I don’t know if it’s jealousy or what but it’s slightly ridiculous so I am cutting back to one plate and then having a glass of water until my body can check in if it’s full or not.

Licking

3) Tune in to when I am full

Recently I became aware of the actual sensations of feeling full. I’ve been working on tuning in to my body so while i’ve been eating I have tried to really listen and pay attention to what is going on.

What I realized is I associate a certain level of fullness with a comforting, happy feeling. It’s like this lovely warmth that radiates out from my tummy. What I have also realized is that this sensation is often followed by eating more then I needed and then the “oh god what was I thinking” feeling of discomfort and over fullness.

Wow, my mind was kind of blown, I was so disconnected that my body had a built in message to tell me when I’d had enough and here I was only just noticing it. So this week I tried an experiment of enjoying the warmth in my belly and the happy feeling but then stopping once it was there. It was amazing, I stuck to my one plate plan and left the table feeling happy and satiated.

4) Eat at least 3 Vegetarian meals a week

What!!! Actually I have already been doing this and it was a lot easier then I thought. Even my hubby who would never make this change on his own has been okay with it. I have a few reasons for this one.

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First, we’re broke and I save a lot of money by not buying meat. Generally I would spend 7-15 dollars a meal on meat alone. This means I save at least 20 bucks a week or close to 100 a month. That’s almost a whole week of groceries again.

Second, it’s healthier. When you eat a plant based meal it’s generally lower in fat (see next point), higher in nutrients, fibre and healthy fats.

Finally, it’s more environmentally responsible. We all have to do what we feel is right and for me animal farming is just not sustainable on the level we currently consume meat. The amount of land, feed, processing and waste created by our meat consumption is astounding. I was doing some mental math one night and realized that in a city of one million 20 000 chickens were potentially killed and processed every night. That’s not counting pork, beef or any other meat sources. Can you even fathom that?

Actually that’s not the final reason. Finally, finally is that we have decided to only purchase meat that is locally raised and butchered and this costs more. To counter the big nasty factory farms that treat animals in deplorable ways we have decided to support our local farmers that treat their animals with respect, feed them properly and we end up with a finished product that I don’t have to worry was dipped in bleach. I’m not trying to get preachy but we as a society need to be more responsible for the choices we make in what we purchase. Our dollars impact how the billions of animals we  chose to eat are treated.

5) Eat a Little Less Cheese

Switching to more vegetarian meals was pretty easy but for some reason it meant that I added cheese instead. Well actually I know why. No meat, no problem, just put cheese on something and everyone will be happy. It’s true and it probably was a great transition food for us. Now that we’re all a little more used to not eating meat with every meal reducing the dairy goodness is doable.

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I’m even a little excited to branch out more and may even try one or two vegan meals. Let me be clear, cheese is not evil. I buy locally made white cheddar and it is tasty and an important part of my meal plans but covering mac and cheese in more cheese becomes a little heavy handed and unnecessary.

5) Move my body

This isn’t exactly food related but since I returned from my maternity leave I spend a lot more time parked on my butt. I sit a lot, like all day, and it’s killing me. I recently found out I have a pretty bad back (deteriorating disks) and I have always known my posture was crap. Sitting is just making it worse. I have found some exercises I can do in my office to work on both my back and posture and I am taking a quick break every hour or so to do them. I also plan on trying to walk at least once during the day. How I work with clients is pretty flexible so I am going to encourage some walking and talking:)

I also plan on creating an exercise routine that can be done at home. I don’t have a lot of time but I do have an elliptical trainer, resistance bands, a yoga mat, and a Wii. Really there are a lot of options and my body needs me to make it a priority. I’ll keep ya’ll posted.

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7) Cutting back on white, refined sugar

I am switching whenever possible to sugar cane, maple syrup, agave or other options. These have less impact on our blood sugar, reducing the up and down spikes that white sugar creates and our body is better suited to dealing with these types of sweeteners. Also there is a lot of processing involved in making white sugar and since my goal has been to move away from processing it only makes sense to move to more natural sources.

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So that’s it, nothing crazy…well to me. I’m not making it so I have to take out another mortgage to buy groceries and I think my meal plans and recipes will still be accessible to everyone.

If you are ready to make some of your own changes in your diets and lifestyle I suggest finding small changes that don’t require a whole life overhaul, (unless that’s what you want, then go for it!!!).

Small changes can have big impacts. Consider them gateway changes, opening the door for more shifts in a healthier direction. I started years ago making small shifts and now like to think that my family and I eat in a way that is healthy, sustainable and budget friendly.

For inspiration I recommend In Defence of Food, by Michael Pollan and The Undiet, by Meghan Telpner. Both are great reads if you are sick of dieting or trying to follow food trends that just can’t be sustained over time. These books promote looking at food in a whole new way and at it’s core is the super simple idea that real food is best. 

Let me know what you all think and if you have any plans on making changes this year:)

If you are looking for inspiration I share what we had for supper each night on my Facebook page too www.facebook.com/myweeklydish

Balance might be futile…

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I used to think that being a working mom meant finding the perfect balance.

Homoeostasis if you will, where there is harmony and equilibrium. That place where my attention is equitably divided between family, work and a little social too. Houses are mostly clean, files are up to date and my children happily play while I follow my passions and hubby builds something…

I think I invisioned the place where June Cleaver and Gloria Steinem meet.

But the truth and reality is no where near that.

I have had to accept messes and I sometimes have to resort to using TV as a distraction to get supper on the table. My toilets are so gross that I have quarantined one bathroom to minimize the damage. I can’t even imagine where I would send someone to pee if they came over.

My sons books create Mandalas on his bedroom floor and there is the semi permanent pile of laundry on our couch that I tuck my feet under while I watch TV, officially dubbed Laundry Mountain.

Although all attempts are made at being super, working mom I forget keys to my office, photocopy the wrong thing twenty times, have a laughable pile of ‘to dos’ and have a coworker that I am sure must wonder how I remember to put on pants.

I was obviously deluding myself about what it would look like. I have realized that a ‘balanced’ life is futile and that the type of women I imagined was barely possible on paper.

My day starts in chaos and ends in exhaustion. It is no where near that glorious, balanced place I imagined. But somehow I feel like a better mom and a better wife, probably not a better friend but definitely a better me.

When I was home with the kids all day I would feel just outright drained. I would run out of things to do, ways to entertain them and I could tend towards getting a little yelly (thank you ohdeerestme for the apt description). Bed time was the only relief I could see and I was so tapped I hurried through the moments that I now savour.

Now, I can lie with my son forever, squished snuggly in his little bed. Surrounded by furry things and staring at a starry ceiling we discuss our days. He tells me about spiderman and playing pirates and I tell him about going into a school or working on my computer. We snuggle and he tells me he loves me and that I’m the best mommy in the world and I believe him.

My daughters special time is in the morning. I used to dread the early wakeups and now I listen for her little peeps to bring her in to our bed. We look at books, touch our noses and toes and cuddle while she has her morning bubba.

My time with them has become more valuable and precious. I know I have less of it in the day and I refuse to waste a single second of it. Laundry Mountain be damned if my kids want a story read to them. And if at the end of the day I’m too tired to make the house all sparkly and perfect for the next day, screw it, I need to write or pin until I fall into a well deserved sleep.

My work is also important. It is a part of my identity and who I am. It is a seperateness from my family and space where I am the professional that I spent all those hours and dollars to become. It doesn’t define me but it is a part of me and even with children that part of me still needs to be nourished, encouraged and explored. I am good at what I do and I love it.

In a way I suppose that is a type of balance. I have the love of my children and the support of my husband. I’m in a profession that provides challenge and growth. I have a home that feels lived in and safe to be who we are and every night I create a meal that nourishes my family.

“Roots of Love in a Beautiful Storm” is our family motto and I think that sums it all up pretty well.

Speaking of roots…This weeks plan shows my new goal of half vegetarian meals. In another attempt at finding balance I am trying to meet my wants for lighter non meat meals and hubbies needs for calorie dense and meaty meals. I think so far it’s working pretty well and you’ll probably see this in my meal plans from now on. I’ve also started branching out and trying some fellow bloggers recipes so I don’t always have to be a creative genius.

Lasagna

Lasagna

Sunday

Lasagna
My sauce starts with celery, carrots and onions then Italian sausage and ground beef. I add diced tomatoes, garlic, dried oregano and basil and a cup of stock. I let this cook down as much as possible and season with salt towards the end so that it doesn’t end up overly salty. I layer this with noodles and a mixture of a large container of cottage cheese, two eggs, pesto, spinach and parmesan. This turns into a creamy layer that’s less expensive then using ricotta. Top the whole gorgeous thing with mozzerella and bake for an hour. The biggest thing I have learnt about lasagna is to let it sit at least 20 minutes before serving. If it’s served too soon you end up with soupy glop instead of the lovely slices you see on Pinterest

Butternut Squash and Kale Pizza

Butternut Squash and Kale Pizza

Meatless Monday

Butternut Squash, Kale and Sage Pizza
I love the combination of kale and squash it’s a little sweet and a little savoury and combined with sage it’s just plain delicious. I used a creamy garlic white sauce as the base and then layered on the kale and squash then finished it all with a combination of parmesan and old white cheddar. A good friend made a dairy free version that sounds delic!

Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas

Tuesday

Chicken Fajitas
I oven roasted 3 chicken breasts and then thinly sliced a large zucchini, a large onion and two red peppers. The veg was sauteed with 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tsbp olive oil. Once it had cooked down I seasoned the veggies with salt and a sprinkle of cumin and finished with some chopped cilantro. Toppings were diced tomatoes and grated cheese plus some plain yogurt and hot sauce…of course

Sweet Potato Nachos

Sweet Potato Nachos

Wednesday

Sweet Potato Nachos
One of the few times I made an easy supper for the kids so I could have dinner with hubby when he got home. I used a recipe from Pinterest as inspiration. I thinly sliced two large peeled sweet potatoes and tossed them in a combination of olive oil, cumin and chili powder then roasted them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once they were cooked and a little crispy I topped the whole thing with grated cheese, diced green onions, cilantro, and diced tomatoes and then baked it for another 10 minutes until the cheese was lovely and bubbly. Served with tomatillo salsa and plain yogurt I will definitely be making these again. 

Asian Salmon Meatball Subs

Asian Salmon Meatball Subs

Thursday

Asian Salmon Meatball Subs
I used this recipe to create the meatballs but using canned salmon instead and adding an egg to hold it together. For bread I used a multigrain baguette cut the old school Subway style and a mayo with added siracha, grated garlic, ginger and a splash of sesame oil. I layered in cucumbers, and grated carrots. It was different but really tasty. I can see myself making it again for sure although I’d love to try the meatballs with fresh salmon. I imagine they’d be even better.

Falafel

Falafel

Friday

Falafels
I used a box mix of falafels called Casbah. It came together really quickly and dinner was ready in 20 minutes. While the mixture was resting I sliced cucumbers and tomatoes and set out some sprouts then made a sauce of cumin, chili powder, plain yogurt, feta and parsley. I used Roti instead of pita because pita always fall apart and piss me off.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Saturday

BBQ Chicken Pizza
This is one of the earliest recipes I posted on my blog. I still make it regularly and I think it’s a family favourite. I love the combination of the slightly spicy BBQ sauce with sweet pineapple and my favourite cilantro.

Butternut Squash and Sage Mac and Cheese

Butternut Squash and Sage Mac and Cheese

Sunday

Butternut Squash and Thyme Macaroni and Cheese
I think this will be my new favourite mac and cheese. I followed the recipe almost exactly (strong almost). I used sage instead of the rosemary in the recipe and added a clove of garlic to the cream sauce. Other then that no changes needed and I have a feeling this will be become super popular in your home too.

Well that’s another week of meals and a little more about my family. If you want to see what we eat everynight you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

I hope I’ve provided some meal inspiration and made feeding your family and friends a little easier. I always love to hear thoughts and comments so please leave me a message:)

I Just Wanted to Say Thanks

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The Canadian version of Thanksgiving doesn’t quite have the same spectacle that it does to our Southern neighbours. Yes, we have our turkeys and pies, plus a few good football games. But there are no pilgrims, large rocks or bowls and the best history I can find is that explorers had a heck of a time not dying while wandering around Canada so they ate a lot and were thankful. (I could be very wrong so please don’t quote me).

We do have our own traditions though and one is that during supper someone always asks those at the table to say what they are thankful for. Unfortunately, this is usually after stuffing myself into oblivion and even though I have lots to say  it never quite makes it out. I give the usual response of family or friends and if its been an especially good year maybe a new job or a something like that. It would seem too long winded and take too much work to say what’s really rattling around in my head.

But I really do want to share what I’m thankful for and since I’m lacking in a spectacular Thanksgiving recipe this seems like the perfect chance.

What I am so very grateful for is the second chances and sometimes third or fourth ones that the people around me freely give.

I’ll give my most recent example. This last week I was sick, Not bed ridden, the plague has arisen sick, but definitely sniffly and miserable. It seemed to linger on and on and with two small children I just couldn’t get the sleep I needed to kick it. Finally my body gave up and I took a day off just to catch up. I slept most of the day and still passed out at 9. I woke up in the morning feeling kinda icky but more alert than I have in a week.

With this alertness came a kind of saddening reality. That whole past week I had been absolutely short tempered with my lovely son. He has entered the “why” phase of childhood and my cold addled self just couldn’t answer his increasingly frustrating whys, (no I’m not going to pretend they’re not exhausting). So instead I was a little yelly and a little impatient and really the poor kid got the short end of the stick.

So today after picking him up from daycare and on the drive home I apologized. I explained that mommy realized she’d been angry this week and that I was terribly sorry for not listening better and for being upset a lot. He dropped his little head and agreed that I had been cranky and that he was sad about it. My heart broke and I thanked him for being so wonderful and told him that mommy would try to remember not to  be a jerk.

And that was it, we moved on and he was back to his exuberant little self, full of  new and wondering “whys”, except this time I harnessed all my energy and answered every last one, even if it was with “hmmmm, maybe dadddy knows”.

So that’s what I’m truly thankful for, the opportunities to fix mistakes, apologize and carry on. The space to be human and hope that even when I hurt those around me I can repair the damage done. Knowing that I can never take advantage of these chances because then maybe then they wouldn’t be given so freely.

Because the gods know I’m far from perfect and this will not be my last apology but most likely one of many that I will have to make.

So if you happen to be at the table with me when I say “I’m thankful for friends and family”, then see me shove more pie in my mouth, know that there is a lot more behind those words and that I am grateful for the chances you all give me throughout the year.

Happy Thanksgiving all and may your long weekend be filled with pie and love!

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Turning Points

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I have to be honest, I had a hard time writing this week.  Life just feels kind of beige, like being stuck in neutral or purgatory. Work is slow, the kids are pooped from daycare and at the end of the night hubby and I just plop on the couch to watch garbage TV. Not that I crave excitement, that usually means drama or stress but something would be good.

I see it too. That’s the worst part. I walk by the mirror seeing my apathetic face and all I do is shrug and plunk back down on the couch. I’d score a 2 out 10 on the “I give a crap” scale.  Continue Reading »

Damn Good Chocolate Zucchini Cake

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Years ago my mom gave me her cookbook of handwritten recipes. I love it and sometimes flip through just for the memories. There are blobs of oil, smears of chocolate and a thin dusting of flour on some pages. Plus my mom’s unique handwriting that I spent hours as a child and teen trying to imitate. Some recipes are so familiar I can almost taste them by looking at the pages, conjuring up images of me and my sister licking beaters of delicious, dripping batters. Continue Reading »

Walking in My Grocery Shoes

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I think there is no better way to understand someone then to walk a kilometre (I’m Canadian) in their shoes, so I’m going to share my grocery shopping routine.

Over the years my hubby and I have had our financial ups and downs. Being a student and typical life stuff have made us look at how we spend our money and I’ve been able to develop a grocery routine that works no matter how much income we have. An ability to stick to our budget and prepare for the worst has helped us ride out the more difficult times. Generally my monthly budget is $650.00 for a family of four and that includes toiletries and household supplies.  At this point in my life I have decided to make a few choices around food that raised my budget a bit. If you are on a more restrictive income or if your priorities are different then mine you can cut some of the costs for sure.

Once a month I stop at a local grocery store, Country Grocer in South Nanaimo, one of the few places I can find local meat at a price I can afford. Local purchasing is something that has become a priority for me but does increase my food costs.  Being the saavy, thrifty lady that I am I go through their meat department and buy everything I can that’s marked down. Most goes immediately into the deep freeze and it saves me between 30-50%. Sometimes this means that I get a random assortment of meats, I got a lot of ground bison one week, but I can work around this and just incorporate it into my meal plan.

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My sweet little helper

I shop weekly at Superstore for all of my pantry items, there is no where I’ve found with better prices regularly. They have a great selection of healthy options and insanely cute kids clothes (so super helpful for the budget). I also keep close watch on the shelves for items that I regularly use that are on sale. This week they had my favourite tomatillo salsa on sale. It’s something we go through consistently so I grabbed two even though I had one at home. I do the same when there’s a bargain deal on toilet paper, toothpaste or really anything. Now, I’m not one of those wackadoos with a bomb shelter filled with enough canned goods to last me a year, or a plague of locusts. My kitchen is tiny and I don’t even have a pantry so I only get what fits, but this has saved our ass a few times. These last few months are a great example. I’ve been on maternity leave and my hubby was taking time to be at home with us, so we were on a really tight budget. Not having to buy toiletries and having food to pull from meant we could ride out this tight time a little easier.

Produce is also a place where I have made a few personal choices. Where ever possible I try to buy local and at the very least Canadian. At the right time of the year this is easy and actually inexpensive. Off season this becomes a bit harder and I need to shift my menu or spend a little more. My favourite spot for buying produce is Russell Farms Market. It’s a lot of their own or local produce and their prices are great. Farm stands or farmers markets are a fabulous option for local, reasonably priced produce. This does add an extra stop on my grocery date but it’s become a fun stop where we often get ice cream and check out the nursery. If this extra stop doesn’t work, Superstore has a decent selection of produce that is reasonably priced.

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My other grocery pal

I also have a Costco membership and make a trip every few months for baby wipes, and a few items that I get a good deal on there.

It’s taken a bit of trial and error to find out what works for my family. We all go shopping together when my hubby’s in town and make it a fun family day. When he’s out of town I make a date with a friend and we use our shopping as a chance to hang out. Farmers markets can also be a weekend family adventure and a chance to check out local food culture.

Our budget has also stayed pretty constant. I don’t like going much below the budget we’ve set because of some of the food choices I’ve made for our family. This has meant I cut back in other areas instead. However, I get that a lot of people live on a lot less and if I used more generic or less organic/natural products my budget could almost be 100-200 dollars less a month.

I’d love to hear what your grocery routines are and if you’re interested in how I meal plan click HERE.

Green Bean and Ham Casserole

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A good casserole is something everyone needs to have in their cooking arsenal. It can be an easy meal for a big crowd, a meal for a family that can’t think about cooking or a week night dinner that can be used for lunches. I’ve loaded it with green beans and used yogurt in the sauce so it’s healthier then many casseroles while still being rich and creamy.

Finished casserole in dish

I made this recipe for the first time years ago. It was for a close friend who had a new baby and one of my gifts to them was dinners that they could just heat and serve. If I remember right, her and her husband finished it off immediately and were both super happy not to have to think about cooking. I still make this regularly, sometimes reducing the recipe so we aren’t up to our armpits in casserole.

1 450g box of farfalle pasta

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup yogurt
1/3 cup softened cream cheese
1 cup milk
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 clove crushed garlic
1.5 cup grated extra old cheddar cheese
3 cups sliced green beans (I used frozen, fresh works too)
2 cups cubed ham
pepper to taste

Cook the pasta al dente (still a little bone to it) and set aside. Whisk together the first six ingredients. Mix in the cheese and then combine with all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Stir together well and pour into a large casserole dish. Top with bread crumb mix and bake in a 350F oven for 1 hour.

Panko topping

1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and sprinkle over your casserole before baking.

Casserole with Dinosaur

I hope you find lots of use for this casserole and your friends and families enjoy it as much as mine have.

If you want to see how this dinner fits into my weekly meal plan check out my post, Weekly Meal Plan – Meals That Bring a Little Love to the Table

Family Meal Plan Week 3

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Daddy and Maddie

It’s another quite week coming up for us. My husband has taken a leave until March so our lives are exceptionally peaceful right now. Although our savings are quickly dwindling, having him home for the last two months has been amazing. He had to leave for work in Alberta when our daughter was only 6 days old so I never felt like they had the same chance to bond he did with our son. But they’ve made up for lost time and now that little girl only has eyes for her daddy. I’m her meal ticket but once she’s done with me, right back to the love of her life.

Mostly we walk and explore around where we live. So my meal plans don’t have the normal chaotic, life stuff influencing them right now. However, because we are out so much I’ve had to make sure dinners can be made quickly. So, most dinners I post can get on the table from start to finish in under an hour. Many closer to 30 minutes.

Monday Night

Vegetarian Paninis – Sure, I’ll jump on the meatless Monday bandwagon. It’s been a plan to cut back on our meat intake anyway, so why not? Toss strips of zuchini, sliced mushrooms, sliced red onion and strips of red pepper in a splash of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Spread on a sheet pan and roast for about 20 minutes at 400F. I use foccacia cut in four. Spread each side with a thin layer of mayo and lots of pesto, sprinkle on goat cheese or your favourite cheese and top with layers of the roasted veg. Cook in your sandwich press until crisp and brown and serve with tomato soup. If you don’t have a press, place your sangie in a skillet and squish it with a large heavy pot on top. It works just as well. I’ll post a recipe for an easy tomato soup as soon as I can.

Tuesday Night

BBQ Chicken Pizza – Easy, fast and delicious. My husband’s favourite pizza hands down! I’m shopping this day so using a rotisserie chicken will save me some time when I get home and I can use the rest for dinner on Thursday.

Wednesday Night

Breakfast Night – Banana Pancakes with walnuts. I use the basic pancake recipe from the Joy of Cooking and slice in one banana and stir in a handful of chopped walnuts. Top with plain or vanilla yogurt and a touch of maple syrup. Serve with breakfast sausages and some fruit salad. I keep mine basic with apples, pears, banana and orange. If you leave out the sausages you have another meatless meal:)

Thursday Night

Chicken Tortilla Bake – A creamy, cheesy, vegetable filled casserole that is where I’m using the rest of the rotisserie chicken. It’s one of my dad’s favourites and I can almost guarantee he’ll find a good reason to come for dinner if he knows I’m making it.

Friday Night

Mediterranean Chicken Meatballs, with Tzatziki and Greekish Salad – Ground turkey or chicken make these super flavourful meatballs leaner and delicious. Served with warmed pita this is my version of a Greek dinner in just over half an hour. I’ll be posting this recipe later this week.

Saturday Night

Home Made Burgers with Ceaser Salad – I like to use half and half beef and bison. It’s leaner and I find the bison has a lot more flavour. We like to top our burgers with sautéed onions, tomatoes, lettuce and my home made HP sauce. I’m addicted to the stuff and made the recipe from Canadian Crafter.

Sunday Night

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks with Coleslaw and Mashed Potato – Drumsticks are inexpensive and delicious. I place the chicken on a cooling rack on top of a sheet pan. Bake at 375F and baste with your favourite BBQ sauce every 10 minutes. They take about 30-45 minutes, but always go by temperature, chicken is cooked at 165F.

I hope you find this meal plan helps make your week a little easier. If you haven’t checked it out yet here are my meal planning basics. I’d also love to hear any feedback you have or any questions.

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