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 20-26

As we rounded the home stretch to our first Whole30 I made my biggest mistake.  No weekly meal plan.  It resulted in last minute trips to various grocery stores, repeat meals and panicking at the last minute trying to throw something compliant together for a meal.  I learned my lesson!  In order to really follow the Whole30 you have to have a plan in place, it saves so much time, so much money, and really helps mentally prepare yourself for the coming week.

Here are some of our meals:

7.22 Whole30 Breakfast
Breakfast of fried eggs, fresh fruit and a tall glass of water

My newest favorite kitchen gadget is the mandolin I received for my birthday.  It makes perfect french fries, my most favorite food ever!  I could have eaten just a plate of french fries alone for a meal!

Whole30 French Fries
The mandolin makes the perfect french fries, we baked them in the oven to make them Whole30 compliant!
Whole30 French Fries
Potatoes sliced by the mandolin and tossed in light olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, basil, salt, pepper and a little bit of paprika. Baked to perfection in the oven
Whole30 Brunch
We re-fried left over potato medley and topped them with 2 poached eggs and complaint “faux” hollandaise sauce. A side of compliant bacon made the perfect Brunch.
Whole30 DInner
Turkey burgers topped with pineapple, mango salsa, avocado oil chips and broccoli
Whole30 Breakfast
Smoked Salmon was the perfect breakfast addition when I needed a break from eggs. I had this with a side of fresh fruit and was good to go!
Whole30 Dinner
Back to the oven baked French Fries, because they were that good! More broccoli and a perfectly grilled steak.
Whole30 Restaurant Dinner
One of the rare times we’ve braved going to a restaurant…ice burg lettuce, grilled chicken, apples and dried cranberries. Dressing on the side.
Whole30 Dinner zoodles
Back to the zoodles! We have had so so so much zucchini on this diet
Whole30 lunch
Quick stop at Whole Foods, well balanced salad with avocado dressing and a cold pressed grapefruit juice. Perfection.

Stay tuned for our last 4 days, and what our final results end up being!

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!

Whole 30 – Days 1-6

My husband and I started our Whole30 journey on Tuesday July 5th.  We made it through the Holiday weekend enjoying all of our favorite meals before tackling a month of health eating!  If you would like to learn more about the program, check out their website.  There is all kinds of free information and downloads, including shopping lists!

Essentially you are cutting out Dairy, Grains, unhealthy fats, sugar, artificial ingredients, alcohol, and legumes.  You are adding in meats, eggs, healthy fats, lots of vegetables and some fruits.  3 well rounded main meals a day, no snacking unless necessary or right after a work out.  And you can only weigh yourself on Day 1 and Day 30.

We are on day 6, and feel pretty good.  Aside from two pretty terrible migraines and headaches the first few days, I haven’t noticed any changes or side effects.  One of the biggest adjustments for me is getting up and preparing a breakfast.  I hardly ever ate breakfast, and if I did it was something quick I could grab and eat on the run.  I think that is one of the best changes that will stick with me even after the 30 days are over.  We are also constantly having to read labels, who knew that almost every salad dressing out there has hidden sugar!

The diet is hard, but not impossible.  I think we have both agreed that the hardest thing has been giving up cheese…and not being able to put cream/sugar in coffee for me.   We had two different birthday parties/family events yesterday and definitely felt tempted, but not enough to give in.  Self control at its finest.

We have found that it takes an incredible amount of prep time, and so so so many dishes to wash!  Our grocery bill is definitely higher, but we haven’t gone out to eat at all, so we are saving on that end.  Here are a couple of meals from our first week:

Breakfasts:

Whole30 Breakfast
2 scrambled eggs with watermelon and blueberries
Whole30 Breakfast Omlet
2 scrambled eggs with green pepper, onion, and ham
Whole30 Breakfast
2 Fried Eggs and Fruit Salad
Whole30 Breakfast
Fruit Salad, Scrambled eggs with green pepper, onion and ham, and an orange smoothie

I’m finding it really difficult to enjoy coffee black, which I think may have added to some of my headaches.  I’ve substituted this with tea occasionally, or on a day I’m really dragging I just suck it up and sip on the black coffee.

Whole30 Iced Tea
Iced Tea with breakfast in place of my usual coffee loaded with cream and sugar

Lunch:

Whole30 Chicken Salad lunch
Chicken Salad made with left over Chicken, grapes, celery, red onion and vegan mayo
Whole30 Lunch
Red Smoothie and green Salad

I didn’t take pictures of all of my lunches, but there were a lot of salads involved.  One of our favorites was a spinach and arugula salad with Strawberries and Ham topped with an oil and vinegar dressing.

Dinners:

Whole30 Chicken Crockpot
Used the crockpot to roast a seasoned chicken on top of sweet onions, russet potatoes and carrots
Whole30 Crockpot Chicken
Finished Chicken Dinner
Whole30 Sausage, peppers and onions
Spicy Sausage fried in Olive Oil with Green Peppers and Onions
Whole30 Marinara with Turkey Meatballs and Zucchini Noodles
Another Crockpot Meal: Homemade marinara with Turkey meatballs on top of Zucchini noodles
Whole30 Paleo Meatloaf dinner
Paleo Meatloaf, oven roasted potatoes, broccoli and avocado drizzled with balsamic vinegar
Whole30 Burger
Beef/Chicken burger topped with guacamole, green salad with compliant dressing, cherries and fruit.

My sweet tooth is definitely hurting, we tried a simple dessert to satisfy it:

Whole30 Bananas and almond butter
Slightly frozen bananas topped with almond butter

We are off to plan our menu for this coming week and hit the grocery store.  I think we are on a roll!

A new kind of play dough

As I’ve said before in other posts I work in Early Childhood.  A great way for children to learn is through the different use of their senses, so we are constantly looking for new sensory activities to try.  I saw a recipe for a new type of play dough with only two ingredients, how hard could it be?  So I decided to give it a try with my pre-kindergarteners.  I can honestly say that this is one of the absolute best home-made play dough recipes I have found.  It is incredibly soft, easy, and mess free.

Two simple ingredients, hair conditioner and corn starch.  How easy is that!  And the best part is that it turns out the best with the cheap $1 conditioner, and smells amazing!
Two basic ingredients for a simple play dough

For the most part I don’t use real measurements, it ends up being the whole bottle of conditioner and the whole box of corn starch.  This is a great opportunity to let the kids help out and practice using measurement tools like measuring cups.

Added math lesson, measuring cups!
Turn it into science!  What happens when you mix a dry powered with a wet liquid?

So, dump them all together…and mix!

Kids will love getting their hands dirty!

This is another great sensory lesson for kids.  How does it feel as you are mixing it together?  What happens when you mix a dry solid with wet conditioner?  What are some words you can use to describe what you feel?  How about what you smell?
The end result is the silky soft play dough.  You can mold it, roll it, and shape it.  It has the added benefit of being incredibly hydrating for you hands, and smells great!  Here are some pictures of what we were able to do:

Cutting the play dough
Feel how soft it is!
We like to roll it out nice and smooth
You can easily shape and mold it
All kinds of different shapes, we can use cookie cutters and play dough tools

As you can see it is very smooth and easy to shape.  For the most part it is pretty mess free, no more mess than normal play dough would create.  If you are looking for a fun, cheap and easy sensory activity I would strongly encourage you to give this conditioner play dough a try.  You won’t be sorry!  I love how much control the kids can take when following this basic recipe, and they are entertained for hours with the end result.  Two thumbs up!

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