Favorite Kitchen Tools: Reusable Sandwich & Snack Bags

I’m not perfect by any means, but I do like to try to tread somewhat lightly on this Earth. I am learning new ways to do this often enough to feel like I’m making a little bit of a difference. Being eco-friendly is important. I’m happy as can be that come April here in Maine everyone will be expected to bring reusable bags with them to the store, I now have stainless steal straws at my house, and I signed up for a monthly MightyFix by Mighty Nest more than a year ago. (Yes, that is an affiliate link, because I use their products and love them! I will be compensated if you click on the link and sign up.)

Because I signed up for this service ($11.00 per month at the time of this posting.), I’ve been introduced to some great products. Many times the item they have sent has even been worth more than that $11.00 and, because I am a member, I get discounts on anything else I buy from them.

I don’t like to spend all kinds of money on cheaply made things, but I don’t mind paying for things of good quality – especially when a discount is offered.

These baggies are two of my top favorite things in my kitchen right now, and I use them when packing my meals for work. I pack for four meals during my weekend shifts, and find these super helpful. I don’t make sandwiches, so the larger bag is used for other foods. The snack baggie is the perfect size for trail mix.

You could also use them for sweet potato chips, Paleo crackers,  throat lozenges when you are sick, Paleo cookies, and more. I have used the snack baggie for my vitamin C tablets during the winter months, and kept them in by tote bag so I always had some near.

Once I learn how to make Paleo sandwich bread, I will be using the bigger baggie for that purpose. These come in handy for school/work lunches, hikes, day trips, and more.

Sign up for MightyFix and get a surprise in your mailbox. (Again, this is an affiliate link. See above note.) It’s like a present every single month.

Do you use these types of baggies? What are your experiences with them? And, if you shop through MightyNest, let us know your experiences with that.

~ Shannon

Healthy Snacking Options

As per my new year goals, I’m consuming even more healthy foods this year. Whenever possible, I will be getting in extra vegetables, and consuming at least one fruit every day. I don’t want to go overboard on fruit because I’m working on weightloss goals and fruit has a good amount of sugar, but it’s important to include fruit in a healthy menu. And most fruit is simply delicious.

One way I’m meeting my goals is by really thinking through my snack options. And there are so many delicious, healthy snacks out there. The picture above is a snack I’ve made and intend to repeat. Fruits, veggies, and protein, with a little coconut oil in the dip for the healthy fat addition.

SnapIt Board used in this Photograph.

Some other things I’m doing more of:

  • Fruit-based smoothies with protein powder, a small amount of coconut oil, and ground flax seed, paired with raw green beans or other raw. Vegetables can be eaten fresh from the garden if you have one, to save money. And any affordable fruit can be used in the smoothies. (In this picture, I used two SnapIt Boards, which I am loving right now. I don’t have the best lighting or surfaces in the room that I rent, so these boards help with my picture taking efforts. This is not an affiliate link, but the people who make the boards did send me the pair to try out.)
  • Fruit-based smoothies, like above but with greens. Because greens are super good for you and I need more in my diet.
  • Fruit slices paired with some seeds. I especially love sunflower and pumpkin seeds, but I’m also roasting the seeds from different varieties of squash. (If I haven’t posted a recipe recently, I will be doing so!)
  • Chicken slices with strawberries, carrots, and celery.
  • Nut butter and celery sticks.
  • Home-baked chard and kale chips.
  • Trail mixes.
  • Non-dairy yogurt topped with berries.

I’m sure I’ll come up with more ideas.

So how about you? What health goals did you make this year? How are you going to reach them?

~ Shannon

What’s-on-Hand Salad

Because I’ve been getting the Madness Boxes from Misfits Market every couple of weeks, I’ve come up with a few salad combinations. All I’m doing is using what I have on hand that week for fresh produce. I’m not adding meat, seeds, or nuts, unless I want something with it when I am actually eating.

This type of salad is also good for using up those odd bits of produce leftover from other meals.

Don’t feel like you have to follow this recipe closely. Just use what you have available.

What’s-on-Hand Salad

Ingredients

mixed lettuce

spinach

cucumber

broccoli

  1. Rinse the produce well. Place on a towel and cover with another one. Press gently to dry produce.
  2. Break the lettuce and spinach up using your hands. There’s no kneed to use a knife.
  3. Slice the cucumber into rounds, then cut into halves or quarters.
  4. Chop the broccoli.
  5. Add everything to a bowl.
  6. Enjoy!

I take this a little further by breaking out the reusable containers and filling each of them with enough salad for a meal or a snack. With these in the refrigerator like this, I can just grab a salad when I want one. Easy-peasy!

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with soup on a cool day.
  • Serve with a meal of meat and potatoes.
  • Add some grilled chicken and seeds or nuts and call it dinner!

Tips

  • Use scraps so nothing goes to waste.
  • Use produce from your own garden to save money.

~ Shannon

 

Banana-Orange Smoothie

Smoothies are a great breakfast beverage to have alone or with a separate protein source. I’ve been adding pea protein to mine, but sometimes I’ll enjoy them with an egg. I don’t consume the smoothies regularly during the autumn and winter months, but I begin to enjoy them each spring and through the summer.

I may change this habit, drinking them during the colder months more often. They are a great way to extra nutrients into your diet.

I used store-bought bananas as a base, but the rest of the produce was from my Madness Box from Misfits Market (Affiliate Link). (Use this referral code so we can both get a discount: COOKWME-PI4FFE )

Everything but the bananas were organic. In all honesty, I don’t usually bother with organic bananas because the skin is so thick on the fruit. This may change in the future, as I learn more about things. But, for now. non-organic is the way I am going with store-bought, thick-skinned produce.

Note that I do use a personal blender, not a full-size one. There is a fill line, so I don’t measure things out. I just fill until I hit that line.

Banana-Orange Smoothie

Ingredients

1 small banana, peeled

1 orange, peeled

1 tbsp pea protein powder

1 tsp honey

frozen spinach or kale, a few sprinklings of it chopped

almond milk (can also use soy, rice, cashew, or even dairy milk if your body can handle it)

Directions

  1. Add a little liquid to the blender cup.
  2. Break banana into small chunks and add to the blender cup.
  3. Add orange slices to the cup.
  4. Add pea protein and honey.
  5. Sprinkle frozen kale or spinach bits to the blender cup.
  6. Add milk choice to cup, up to the fill line – or however much you need.
  7. Blend a few seconds, then pulse until smooth.

Tips

  • Serve at lunch with a salad.
  • Serve with a hot breakfast for added nutrients.
  • Drink a smoothie at snack-time for extra nutrients.
  • Make a thicker smoothie by using less liquid. Pour into a bowl, and top with more fruit, nuts, seeds, and coconut.

You May Also Enjoy

 

Cheese Board for Sharing

Finally bought myself a cheese board! I’ve been wanting to for a while now. At some point I want to have my daughters over for some family time, and this will be a big hit. Who wouldn’t want to share the deliciousness with loved ones?

I love that this board has a place to keep crackers separate from the other foods on each side. I also love that you don’t necessarily need to have cheese on the board, though this arrangement has two goat cheese dips I’m sure you will love. (I’ll be sharing links to a few of these dips below.)

The combinations of foods to be placed on a cheese board seem endless, and I promise you I will be trying many. I might even share some more with you here on the blog. I can’t wait to use this at future get-togethers with family and friends.

Try to use organic foods when possible. Rinse and dry produce before use.

NOTE: I prefer goat cheese over that made from cow’s milk. I have an intolerance to cow’s milk, and am so happy to have an alternative cheese. Regardless, I don’t eat cheese all the time. It’s a real treat for me.

Fruit & Vegetables Cheese Board

1 cucumber, sliced

1 apple, sliced

1 pear, sliced

1 or 2 carrots, cut into sticks

1 or 2 celery stocks, cut into sticks

1 orange, sectioned

grapes

pineapple chunks or tidbits

Paleo crackers

1 or 2 goat cheese dips: Fig & Goat Cheese Dip, Almond & Goat Cheese Dip, Fig & Almond Goat Cheese Dip, Blueberry & Goat Cheese Dip.

All you’re doing is placing the food onto the cheese board in a pleasing manner. You can use my photograph as a guide, and experiment.

Tips

  • Use your favorite fruits and vegetables.
  • Try different types of dips and sauces.
  • Leave the peels on apples, pears, cucumbers, and the like, for added nutritional value.
  • On rare occasion, I order Chinese from a restaurant near work. It’s not the healthiest, but it is convenient. Every time I order, they send me at least four of the spoons that are used in the photo. I finally found a good use for them!
  • Make your own Paleo crackers. Use a recipe you find online. They will be healthier than traditional crackers.
  • If it will be a bit before you eat, dip apple & pear slices in lemon juice for about 30 seconds.
  • Growing grapes, celery, and carrots, or other fruits and vegetables, will save you a good deal of money.
  • Cheese boards would be great for any celebration.

Enjoy your cheese board!

~ Shannon

 

 

 

 

Blueberry & Goat-Cheese Dip

I can’t get enough of these goat cheese dips. I’ve shared three so far, and this will be the last. At least for now. To try making the others:

Almond & Goat Cheese Dip

Fig & Goat Cheese Dip

Fig & Almond Goat Cheese Dip

I bought some blueberries because, well, I love them. What more perfect food to add to one of these dips? And the color is simply beautiful.

The consistency of this dip will depend on how juicy the berries are and how much honey you use. Mine was pretty thick, but great for scooping.

Blueberry & Goat Cheese Dip

(I didn’t measure anything out. I just put some ingredients in a bowl, mixed it up, and called it good. Make this dip by trusting your taste buds!)

blueberries

honey

goat cheese

  1. Put it all in a bowl and mix with a fork, while also smashing it all together to break up the cheese and combine everything. Don’t worry about getting all the little chunks of cheese smoothed out. They add texture and taste great!
  2. Place in a small decorative bowl.
  3. Store leftovers in refrigerator, to have with crackers for a snack.

Easy-peasy!

Tips

  • Look for sales on the cheese to save money.
  • Couple coupons with a sale to save more.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with apple or pear slices.
  • Serve on a cheeseboard with fruits, vegetables, and Paleo friendly crackers.

Enjoy!

Shannon

 

Fig & Almond Goat-Cheese Dip

I’ve written about how I recently came to try goat cheese for the first time, and offered a couple of goat cheese dip recipes for you to enjoy:

fig & goat cheese dip

almond & goat cheese dip

This recipe is the third experiment, and is just a mash-up of what I’ve already done. I like the flavor combinations.

The consistency of this dip will depend on how much liquid you use.

Fig & Almond Goat Cheese Dip

(I didn’t measure anything out. I just put some ingredients in a bowl, mixed it up, and called it good. Make this dip by trusting your taste buds!)

almond butter, and a little of the oil from the top of the jar

2 or 3 figs, processed in the blender

honey

goat cheese

  1. Put it all in a bowl and mix with a fork, while also smashing it all together to break up the cheese and combine everything. Don’t worry about getting all the little chunks of cheese smoothed out. They add texture and taste great!
  2. Place in a small decorative bowl.
  3. Store leftovers in refrigerator, to have with crackers for a snack.

Easy-peasy!

Tips

  • Look for sales on the cheese to save money.
  • Couple coupons with a sale to save more.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with raw cauliflower.
  • Serve on a cheeseboard with fruits, vegetables, and Paleo friendly crackers.

Enjoy!

Shannon

 

Fig & Goat-Cheese Dip

While trying to stay away from regular milk products, I’ve been discovering other things to use instead. I was shopping with my daughter Skye one evening, trying to hurry and not really paying attention, when I came across goat cheese. I bought three:

plain

blueberry, lemon, and thyme

cranberry, orange, and cinnamon

Imagine my excitement. I’d been looking for a substitute for the cow’s milk cheeses and decided I would try these. When I got them home I looked more closely at the label.

The ingredients are simple, which is great. However, the flavored cheeses had sugar in them. 😦 Well, I had paid almost $5.00 each, so you know I ate them. And they were delicious! All three of the cheeses were. I don’t know why I never thought to try goat’s milk cheese before.

As much as I would like to take the easy way out and just buy the flavored ones, I decided to be good and do some experimenting. I’m trying not to eat sugar. I went out and bought blueberry’s, figs, nut butter, and honey and started whipping up some of my own flavored goat cheeses to pair with fruits and vegetables.

The results? Three great dips using plain goat cheese as the base.

Fig & Goat Cheese Dip

(I didn’t measure anything out. I just put some ingredients in a bowl, mixed it up, and called it good. Make this dip by trusting your taste buds!)

2 or 3 figs, processed in a blender

a little honey

goat cheese

  1. Put it all in a bowl and mix with a fork, while also smashing it all together to break up the cheese and combine everything. Don’t worry about getting all the little chunks of cheese smoothed out. They add tecture and taste great!
  2. Place in a small decorative bowl.
  3. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Easy-peasy!

Tips

  • Look for sales on the cheese to save money.
  • Coupling an in-store coupon with a sale will save you even more.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with carrot and celery sticks.
  • Serve on a cheeseboard with fruits, vegetables, and Paleo friendly crackers.

Enjoy!

Shannon

Busy Cooks Guide to Easy Meal Prep

I know what it’s like, being so busy you don’t have time to prepare healthy meals and snacks at home. Things get crazy-busy sometimes, and there does not seem like enough time to do all that we have to do.

But there are things that will help to make meal prep easy during the busier times life will throw at you, and I want to share with you what tactics I use to create quick, easy meals when life is too hectic.

Spend an afternoon preparing

If you have a few hours, it’s a good idea to prepare some things in advance. Here are a few things I do, depending on the time of year:

  • Make tortilla wraps and place them in the refrigerator between sheets of parchment paper. I find a recipe online for Paleo wraps, and use that.
  • Wash and cut up vegetables. Store in containers in the refrigerator. Use ends and greens when making stock.
  • Place fruit in bowls to grab when you want a snack or are in a hurry.
  • Prepare lunches for work or school so you can easily grab them before leaving.
  • Make a vegetable stock and store it in the refrigerator for use during the week. Any extra can go into the freezer. Use ends and greens, as well as any leftover vegetables that won’t get eaten fresh.
  • Roast a chicken, then cut it up into serving sizes and refrigerate. Freeze what you wont use in the next four days.
  • Make chocolate sauce and store in canning jars in the refrigerator. Use this with fresh fruit if you are wanting a dessert-type item.
  • Make energy balls and store three to a small container.

Buy frozen seafood

I like to check out the frozen seafood section to see what I might be able to use for meals during the week. Scallops and shrimp are easy to prepare, and can be used in many food combinations.

This week I found bags of raw, peeled, deveined, tail-on shrimp for $5.00, so I picked one up. I’ll keep it in the freezer, and take some out whenever I want to make a dish.

What will I use the shrimp for? Any number of things, including:

Make a soup

Soups are a wonderful way to add vegetables to your menu. Just throw the ingredients in a pot on the stove – or in a crock – and cook at the beginning of the week. This could be done on a prep day.

My best friend will cook up a huge pot all at once, and I just love my chicken and vegetable soup and my sausage and pineapple one.

I put servings of soup in small canning jars after they’ve cooled some, and place those in the refrigerator. They are easy to warm when you are short on time, and taste great.

Know what fruits can be stored near each other

A few medium size mixing or fruit bowls will hold a lot of fruit. Place citrus vegetables in one, apples and pears in another, and bananas and grapes in the third. One can be used as a centerpiece at the table, and the other two can be placed at either end of the counter.

School and work lunches

I usually put these together during a prep day, because I’m already doing related tasks. All I’m really doing is packing things up a little differently than in spend an afternoon preparing above.

I have a shelf specifically for work meal items, and organize the containers and other items in a way that makes things easy to grab. I work 5 shifts in four days, and will bring everything I put together on the first day.

While cutting up vegetables, I’ll have five containers reserved for work. Into each of those, I’ll put a few servings of vegetables, a few cut up berries or some grapes, and a serving of meat, unless the meat will be in soup form. In that case, the soups are already packaged as individual servings.

If I will be having wraps, I’ll also store the wraps separately.

Much of the time, to make things easy, I’ll have the same foods for all five meals, switching out different fruits or snacks. Having packets of dark chocolate covered blueberries and cherries helps with this, as does having some energy balls on hand.

Easy meal combo’s utilizing raw vegetables include:

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced strawberries, sugar snap peas in pods, broccoli, carrots, celery, and a small amount of nut butter
  • rice, seasoned ground beef, diced tomato, corn, grapes
  • turkey slices, roasted sweet potato, mashed squash, peas, cranberries
  • veggie wraps, shrimp scampi on the side (to be added to the wrap later), strawberry slices
  • sausage and pineapple soup, carrot sticks, celery with nut butter, cherries

Quick breakfast ideas

While a box of cereal is the ultimate in quickness during our busy mornings, those types of boxed, processed things are not exactly the healthiest of choices. I like to make my own cereal, and it takes less time than making pancakes. Here are a few of may favorites:

Another ideas is to make a batch of Paleo granola to use as cereal during busy mornings. Add half a cup to a bowl, top with fruit and organic, unsweetened coconut, and add nut milk.

Quick snack ideas

Parfaits are an easy snack, and can be refrigerated overnight. Make a couple up during prep day for a quick, easy snack later and the next day. A few options include:

Trail mixes are another great snack option, and can be made up in advance and used throughout the coming week or so. Stored little canning jars, they will be easy to grab.

Quick lunches and dinners

If you have the components from spend and afternoon preparing above, you probably already have the components for a few meals. Buy frozen seafood and make a soup offer other ideas. Here are some more that can be made ahead and warmed later, or made quickly the day you want them:

*****

With practice, meal prep days will go more quickly and you might choose to make more options on that day.

What do you do to keep it healthy during the busiest of times?

Shannon

 

 

 

Cucumber-Banana Smoothie

Cucumbers are a great addition to most smoothies. Their water content is high, so you might not need as much milk in this recipe as you do in others. Use what greens are in season. You’ll save money if you grow them yourself. Use organic ingredients whenever you can.

This recipes uses leftover ingredients from other recipes. Another great way to save money and create less waste.

Ingredients

vanilla almond milk

1 handful of greens – kale, chard, baby spinach

10 cucumber slices

1 egg

6 banana slices

5 watermelon chunks

  1. Place everything except the vanilla almond milk into a blender.
  2. Cover and blend until smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla almond milk a little at a time and blend, until the smoothie is at the desired consistency.
  4. Pour into a tall glass.
  5. Add a straw and enjoy!

Tips

  • Save money by using leftovers, and by purchasing produce in season.
  • Switch up ingredients for different flavors.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with breakfast or as a snack.

Enjoy!

Shannon