Our Favorite Smoothies

When looking for a quick grab and go breakfast or a protein packed snack a smoothie is something we often forget, but is super simple and takes little to no time!

My number one favorite smoothie is the green monster, you can see my exact recipe here.   It contains frozen peaches, frozen pinapple, a banana, spinach and orange juice.

Simply Living Green Monster Smoothie
The makings of a Green Monster smoothie

At this point I have made it so many times I don’t use measurements, but just eyeball it.  It’s a great way to get some leafy greens in, without even tasting it.  It may look green, but it tastes just like banana and pineapple.  This would be a great way to get your kids to eat some spinach!

Simply Living Green Monster Smoothie
The delicious Green Monster

My second favorite smoothie is the one we made during our Whole30 here.  This one contains banana, almond butter and coconut milk.  That’s it!  

8.3 Whole30 Breakfast
Almond Butter Banana Smoothie

Again, I don’t really use measurements, just more of an eyeball.  If I don’t like the consistency I just add a little extra coconut milk to loosen it up, or more banana to thicken it.  Since typically the 3 ingredients are room temperature, you can add a little ice if you would like to make it nice and frosty.  Packed with protein and good nutrients, but not a good idea around children with nut allergies!

My last go to smoothie is a triple berry smoothie. I like to use raspberry, blueberry and strawberry.  Pop them in a blender with a banana, a handful of hidden spinach, a scoop of vanilla yogurt and a splash of almond milk.  So delicious and beautifully colored!   

If you’re looking for an extra protein punch you can also always add in a scoop of your favorite protein powder.  I love that there are so many ways to get in fruits and veggies, and it’s nice to mix up the liquid.  A little OJ when you need extra vitamin C, or perhaps Coconut Milk or Almond milk of you are looking for a lower fat dairy free option.  The options are limitless!

Another tip is to stock up on fruit when it is on sale and freeze, then it’s ready to go!  We make baggies ahead of time of the fruits we need, then when we are ready to make a smoothie we empty a packet into the blender, add some leafy greens, our liquid of choice and you are ready to blend.

 These days we use our nutribullet. which was a wedding gift.  I think it’s great for making single servings when you are literally on the go.  If you use a single serving cup, you can just take off the blade and attach a lid and you take the whole thing with you.  They also have larger attachments if we are planning to share.  We also find that it is way easier to clean than trying to stick your hand inside a large blender without getting cut on the blade.  We highly recommend it!

What are your favorite recipes?

Whole30 Days 13-19

This week marked the halfway point of our Whole30 journey!  We are feeling good and I’m proud that we haven’t slipped up so far.  Here are our thoughts so far:

Pros:

  • Well Rounded Meals
  • Sitting Down to Breakfast starts the day off right
  • Making Healthy Choices
  • Becoming more aware of the hidden sugars and ingredients lurking in processed foods
  • No more headaches
  • Less Craving
  • Fewer trips to the grocery store with a solid meal plan
  • Discovered foods we didn’t know we would like

Cons:

  • Lot’s of meal prep
  • Expensive grocery bills – organic foods are killer!
  • Turning on the oven in 90 degree weather…
  • Lack of motivation to create a full meal after a long day (this is when we used to fall into the takeout habit)
  • So. Many. Dishes

Honestly we haven’t noticed any of the main things we were looking for, ie: more energy, better sleep at night, clearer skin, etc.  And we obviously won’t know whether there was any weight loss until the end.  Overall the pros outweigh the cons, but there certainly haven’t been any life changing moments.

On to the meal plan!

Whole30 Meal Plan
Weekly Meal prep for Whole30 Days 13-19
Whole30 Meal Plan
Whole30 Meal Plan for Days 13-19

We are continuing to use our meal planning app, which is a great way to keep us on target and share meals for the week.  This is not endorsed, but we are using the free version of “Meal Planner” from the apple store.  I give it 2 thumbs up.  You will see meals being repeated, we are falling back into comfort zones, easy meals, and ones we have found we really enjoy.  I don’t have photos for every meal, just the new or really great ones!

Without further delay… da photos:

Whole30 Breakfast
Sunday Breakfast, 2 scrambled eggs and trail mix. Dried fruit and nuts, lots of healthy fats.
Whole30 Lunch
Sunday Lunch: Zoodles with a cold heirloom tomato sauce and pesto
Whole30 Dinner
Sunday Dinner: Compliant Hotdogs, avacado oil chips and broccoli slaw with compliant ranch

We have received some skepticism regarding how there could possible be a “whole” hotdog, aren’t they super processed food?  The best brand we have found is Applegate.  Again, NOT endorsed, we just love them.  Applegate creates natural and organic meats.  Here is their label, which shows that the hotdogs are made from grass fed beef and other simple ingredients.  No preservatives, no antibiotics, no added sugar, no nitrates.  We highly recommend them, not the easiest brand to find, but we found them at Wegmans.

Applegate Hotdog, Whole30 approved
Applegate Hotdog Label, Whole30 approved
Whole30 Lunch
Monday Lunch, Turkey Burgers with Pineapple Mango Salsa, Avocado Oil Chips and Guacamole
Whole30  Dinner
Monday Dinner: Garlic Shrimp on a bed of Zoodles
Whole30 Breakfast
Tuesday Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs and chicken sausage (Also Applegate brand!)
Whole30 Dinner
Tuesday Dinner: Crockpot Pot Roast and potatoes. Seasoned with pineapple juice not from concentrate, coconut aminos, garlic and onion
Whole30 Dinner
Wednesday Dinner: Pan fried polish sausage, carrots and oven roasted sweet potatoes. We tried the sweet potatoes with cinnamon, not bad!
Whole30 Lunch
Thursday Lunch: Pico de gallo, avocado, bacon and hard boiled eggs wrapped in lettuce.
Whole30 Dinner
Thursday Dinner: Onion burgers topped with guacamole and a oven roasted potato medley
Whole30 Dinner
Friday Dinner: More Zoodles topped with Applegate Hotdogs. This was one of the hottest days this summer…I had to adjust our meal plan to avoid turning on the oven!
Whole30 Lunch
Saturday Lunch: Bed of arugula and spinach topped with cherry tomatoes, blueberries, red peppers and smoked salmon. Odd combination, but it was really very good.

We had a lot of really good meals this week, and a lot of repeated meals.  But I think that is ok.  I am finally getting comfortable with the ingredients I can use that I’ve been able to branch out from just strictly following recipes, which has felt pretty good.  Would you like to see some recipes on a later post?  Let me know if you do, I would be happy to share!

Whole30 Days 7-12

If you would like to read about the beginning of our Whole30 journey check out days 1-6 HERE.

Currently we are almost wrapping up week 2, which means we are almost half way done!  I still don’t feel any major differences, but my headaches are pretty much gone.  It must have just been from detoxing my body off of sugar and caffeine.  You are allowed caffeine on the Whole30, but without cream and sugar in my coffee I have virtually stopped drinking it.  My husband did notice that by Friday afternoon he was seriously dragging.  He gets up and does early morning workouts and then is pretty active all day long outside in the heat, so we are thinking we need to up his caloric intake.

I do think that clean eating has started to become a habit for us.  The extra time it takes to meal prep can be frustrating.  I have definitely had more than one occasion where after a marathon day at work I would so much rather stop for take out rather than coming home and preparing a whole meal.  And the dishes….SO MANY dishes.  But so far we have resisted, 12 days down without a single cheat.  We did go out to dinner once, I got grilled Salmon and broccoli and my husband got lettuce wraps…so impressed with us!

I downloaded a free app this week called “Meal Planner Pal” and it has been great!  You can add in Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks for a whole week.

meal plan1
Meal Planner Pal from the App Store

Then, you can choose who to email it to.  So I was able to share the whole week’s worth of meals with my husband.  It has definitely helped us stay organized and stay on plan.  Here is what it looks like when you receive an email:

meal plan 2
Meal Planner Pal free email…sharing our weekly menu with the hubs just became that much easier!

I also made a big pitcher of green tea to last us through the week.  I just brewed mandarine green tea and then added frozen peaches and fresh mint from the garden.  It was a great morning replacement for my normal cup of coffee.

peach tea
Mandarine Green tea with frozen peaches and fresh mint

Now onto some of our meals!

Breakfast:

breakfast 1
Sweet potato, onion and compliant sausage hash. It was nearly impossible to find a compliant sausage, but it was well worth the hunt! We added a fried egg on top a couple times this week for a breakfast choice.
breakfast 3
Any tupperware fans out there have the egg cooker? This has been a saving grace for us with on the run breakfasts! It will cook your scrambled or poached eggs in under 2 minutes in the microwave. That’s why so many of my omelets have this shape
breakfast 2
Banana and a Larabar. Larabar’s were our best find this week. They are all natural fruit and nut bars, perfect for a meal addition or snack on the go and totally compliant.
Breakfast 4
Two fried eggs and a fruit salad
Breakfast 5
2 friend eggs and a trail mix (dried apricots, raisins, almonds and cashews)

I think we are starting to get a little bit sick of eggs, and I’ve been trying to limit our fruit intake and replace with more vegetables.  So I need to really do some research on breakfast ideas for this week!

Lunch:

lunch 1
Home made chicken salad (left over roasted chicken, compliant mayo, red onions, red grapes and celery) avocado and strawberries
lunch 2
Spinach salad topped with grilled chicken and a light italian dressing
lunch 3
Black olives, banana, smoothie, larabar, sweets and beats and guac. A snacky meal but surprisingly really filling!
lunch 4
Sweet romaine lettuce, tomatoes and broccoli topped with grilled steak tips and light italian dressing
lunch 5
Cobb Salad…sweet romaine lettuce, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, avocado, bacon and left over grilled steak tips.
Lunch 6
Turkey burgers topped with pineapple mango salsa, avocado oil chips and guac

Dinners:

Dinner 1
Beef and bacon stuffed orange peppers, black olives, home made kale chips
Dinner 2
Sweet potato and zucchini latkes and baked white fish
Dinner 3
Home made guacamole on taco meat
Dinner 4
Oven roasted potatoes, steamed broccoli and grilled chicken
Dinner 5
zucchini noodles with homemade marinara sauce and meatballs
Dinner 6
Grilled salmon with steamed broccoli

Overall our meals have been time consuming but pretty filling and delicious.  One of my favorites were the sweet potato and zucchini latkes.  I shredded 2 zucchinis and 2 sweet potatoes and added one egg.  I sprinkled in some almond flour, onion flakes, and a few spices to taste.  Formed them into pancakes and fried in light olive oil.

zucchini latkes
sweet potato and zucchini latkes

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a huge sweet potato or zucchini fan, but these were delicious!  I have also really enjoyed the zucchini noodles we have made.  Maybe my tastes are changing after all…

And for a sweet treat on a night when I needed dessert we cut up a granny smith apple and added almond butter.  Yum!

Dessert
Granny Smith apple and almond butter

2 more weeks to go!

Welcoming 2016

Happy New Year!  I absolutely love this time of year, for me it has always been about fresh starts and new beginnings.  I don’t usually do “New Years Resolutions” because I generally set myself up for failure.  But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be a time to start fresh and a time for thinking ahead to what we can accomplish in the new year.

This year we are looking forward to many things, particularly finding a place to call our “home”.  And we have certainly started off the year full force ahead!  We visited 8 homes today.  Talk about exhausting!  In the meantime we have major budgeting goals and will be starting to put into place the debt snowball method.  We haven’t checked out Dave Ramsey’s book yet, but if you are interested in learning more about the Debt Snowball Method I would recommend checking out his book: The Total Money Makeover.

In addition having relocated Simply Living to this location, and finally purchasing our own domain, is a big New Year step!  Out with the old and in with the new!  I’m excited for the potential that this new location has to offer us and I’m excited that you are all along for the journey!

And now, here is how we ended 2015…

Homemade Donuts!
Homemade Donuts!

That’s right…we made homemade donuts!  It’s been years since we’ve done a NYE party, and tend to prefer staying in and enjoying each other’s company instead.  So this year we decided on games and appetizers, and then to try a new recipe for dessert.  Gotta check off another month, if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, check out my Ravioli post where I talk about my birthday wish.

The best part is how easy this recipe was.  You would never be able to tell based on how amazing they tasted.  We only needed to purchase one ingredient, we already had the rest in the kitchen, and it took less than 20 minutes from start to finish.

Ingredients needed:

  • Pillsbury Homestyle Biscuits
  • Melted Butter (about 1 cup)
  • Cinnamon and Sugar mixed together, use judgement, we mixed until light brown.
  • Oil for frying (We used vegetable Oil)

That’s it…told you it was easy!

Step 1:

Cut the donut hole out with a cookie cutter.  We didn’t have a circle, so we used a star, and it was straight up adorable.

Star donut holes, because, why not?!
Star donut holes, because, why not?!

Step 2:

Warm oil in pan on medium high.  Add biscuits and brown on each side.  The middle still seems gooey, but I promise that will make them soft and delightful.

Brown biscuits in warm oil
Brown biscuits in warm oil

Step 3:

Dry and cool fried biscuits on a plate with a paper towel.  We fried 4 at a time, so we cooled 4 while we fried the other 4.

Cool on a plate with a paper towel. This will also absorb excess oil
Cool on a plate with a paper towel. This will also absorb excess oil

Step 4:

Once all biscuits are cooled, dip one side into melted butter.  Drip off excess butter and dip into cinnamon sugar.  Repeat on other side.

Donuts and Donut holes dipped in butter and cinnamon sugar.
Donuts and Donut holes dipped in butter and cinnamon sugar.

Step 5:

Enjoy!  OH wow they were SO good!  So good that I need to emphasize with all caps!  They were unbelievable warm, but were still soft and yummy the next morning.

Homemade Donuts!
Homemade Donuts!

I would absolutely recommend this recipe.  Not only are they delicious, but they are super easy.  They made the perfect dessert with our sparkling apple cider on NYE, but they would also make a wonderful addition to a breakfast or brunch.  No messy recipes, no deep frying, easy peasy and YUM!

What are your plans for the New Year?

New-Sunday-Features-I-Love-To-Party

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Apple Nachos – Delicious Fall Treat!

This fall I have seen so many people post these delicious looking fall snacks, I wish I had time to make them all!  We didn’t have time to make it apple picking this year, but I snagged some at the grocery store and decided to give Apple Nachos a whirl.  Essentially they are disassembled caramel apples, you can’t go wrong!
I started by slicing up 6 apples, and then I soaked them in ice cold water with a splash of lemon juice.  This will prevent the apples from browning once they are sliced, it’s a great trick if you are planning ahead want to pre-slice them for a snack later.  If you don’t have lemon juice you can even soak them in a lemon lime soda for the same effect, small splash of sprite will do the trick!

Sliced apples soaking in iced Lemon Water
IMG_8437

While these soaked I melted about 20 marshmallows with 4 tbsps of butter…

Marshmallows and butter melting

IMG_8438

Unwrapped and microwaved 20 caramel’s with a teaspoon of water…

Caramels waiting to be unwrapped

IMG_8439

Melted caramels and a smidge of water, just pop in the microwave!

IMG_8440

While I waited for these to melt I arranged the sliced apples on a plate

Arranged apple slices

IMG_8441

And then drizzled them with marshmallow and caramel.  We decided to add mini-M&M’s, but really you could use any topping you like.  Think of all the delicious caramel apple toppings out there!

Drizzle, add toppings, and enjoy!

IMG_8443

The end result was really tasty.  Still kind of messy since the marshmallow and caramel dripped off, but not as messy as trying to bite into a loaded apple.  They were a hit at the party, and I would highly recommend them!

What fall treats do you like to make?