Power Lunch for a Dollar

Short on time, money, and energy? Here’s a lunch with a punch of nutritious flavor that is quicker than fast food, won’t break the bank, and give you a mid day boost that you desperately need.

Power Lunch for a Dollar

1 can (5 oz) Tuna in water (not oil, ick!)
1/2 super ripe Avocado
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
dash pepper

Mix together in a bowl with a fork and then enjoy!

To be honest I didn’t actual measure the ingredients, but I’m guessing this is a very close estimate. I just sorta pour and mix and see how it looks and tastes to me, and wow was this tasty! I originally was going to put this wonderful tuna mixture in a whole grain wrap, but I was so hungry I just devoured it as soon as it was all a nice moist combination.

It literally took me five minutes to prepare AND eat.

By using avocado, I think this is a great alternative to what I used to do to make tuna by using a TON of mayo. Yes, the avocado still has a lot of fat, but it is healthy fat and contains MANY other great benefits.

Also, this little meal really does cost only a dollar to make (maybe a little more if the tuna and/or avocado aren’t on sale). Regardless, it is still a great deal and full of nutritious energy!

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The Best Banana Bread Fresh Out of the Oven

Cool Autumn days are the perfect baking days. Today was just that kind of day, and I had two ripe bananas just begging me to use them for banana bread.

I usually let my bananas get a little blacker than this, but I just couldn’t wait any longer! The banana bread still comes out delicious with this amount of ripeness.

So, I made myself a cup of coffee and whipped up this delicious, healthy-ish treat!

The recipe comes from my mom, but she actually got it from my great-great Aunt Helen. (so this is a treasured old family recipe!) I modified it just a tad. Part of the modification was on purpose and part of it was not 🙂 Usually, I make these into muffins, but I didn’t feel like cleaning the muffin pan when I was done so I used a 9 x 9 pan and it turned out beautifully!

The Best Banana Bread

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup Brown Sugar (original recipe called for 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil. If you want to make these low-fat use unsweetened applesauce)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Mashed Ripe Bananas (approx. 2 medium bananas)
  • 1 1/2 Cups White Whole Wheat King Arthur Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder (I used my new Argo aluminum free kind! love it!)
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon (I adore cinnamon so I add it to almost everything!)
  • 1/4 cup milk….apparently optional, because I forgot to add it! I don’t feel like my bread suffered a bit from not using it though 🙂

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350. Although since I used a glass pan I lowered it to 325
  • In large bowl thoroughly mix together sugar, oil, eggs, and bananas. (I use my hand mixer to ensure the bananas are well mashed up with everything)
  • In medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon
  • Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and combine well.
  • If you actually do use milk you would stir it in at this point.
  • For muffins lightly grease pan with olive oil. Just the bottom. If you do the sides they won’t rise well. Bake for 25-30 mins.
  • For a 9 x 9 pan lightly grease pan bottom with olive oil. I use a paper towel to spread around a couple of tsps. Bake for 35-45 mins.
  • The muffins/bread is done when a tooth pick comes out clean.

The Best Banana Bread fresh out of the oven!

And this is how it looks when it comes out of the oven. I promptly cut a piece and devoured it as soon as it was cool enough to pop in my mouth. Sometimes when I am feeling in need of an especially divine treat I will add 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips to the batter…

Enjoy and try to share!

To-Die-For, Amazingly Rich, Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Frosting. And it’s Healthy!?

To die for chocolate cake!

Yes, you read the title right. A healthy chocolate cake? That is to die for and richly delicious? It is true my friends!

Now, by healthy, I don’t mean it can replace your veggies or you should go and eat the whole thing, but as far as chocolate cakes go this recipe…takes the cake 🙂

One serving, about a 2.5 by 3 in slice, of cake minus frosting is ONLY 136 calories, just a hair over 2 g of fat, 15.4 g of sugar, and has 4 g of fiber and 4 g protein! Here’s the nutrition info thanks to sparkpeople’s recipe calculator.

I tweaked the chocolate banana cake recipe from the joyofbaking.com

The original recipe had a lot more sugar, all-purpose flour, canola oil, and a little less banana and cocoa powder.

Here is what I did, and it was soooo rich and moist and beyond delicious!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon King Arthur’s Whole Wheat White Flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 medium-sized super ripe mashed bananas
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon (optional, but I sure love to add cinnamon to everything I can!)
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax-seed (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. (but since I used a glass pan I set it to 325 F!)
  • Butter a 9 x 13 inch pan.
  • Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and flax-seed. Set aside.
  • The dry ingredients all mixed together

  • In another large bowl, beat together the eggs, mashed bananas, water, milk, applesauce, and vanilla extract.
  • Love to use my mixer to make sure the wet ingredients (especially those bananas!) are beat up really good!

  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir, until combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • batter in the pan, ready to go into the oven!

  • Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
  • When completely cooled, use this frosting recipe!

Of course the frosting adds a bit more calories (just over 100) with some extra fat (9 g) and a tiny bit more sugar (5 g), but I think this is an improvement over the traditional frosting made with butter and tons of confectioners sugar. Depending on what recipe is used you can easily get just as many grams of fat (if not more), and exponentially more sugar (between 20-40 g!)

I made this as a birthday cake for my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and they, along with everyone else at the party LOVED it and I just had to share this wonderful find with all of you too!

Meal Planning…The Quest Continues!

The truth is this: I’m starting to get discouraged with my meal planning efforts, which in reality are barely on paper; just wishes, hopes, and dreams in my mind.

After reading this wonderful the post Mastering Meal Planning from The Nourishing Home I realized what the number one thing that is holding me back. Her first step is “create a “Master List of Meals” that your family enjoys.” Really, really good advice I thought! And then quickly I realized we are a family of very few meals. I rarely use recipes. Rather, I just sorta bake a meat and a veggie or two (not anything fancy from a recipe mind you, just the plain ole peas steamed with maybe a dab of butter), and throw in a fruit for dessert.

We just eat very simply.

This is good and bad. I grew up with my mom always having lots of variety and trying out new recipes. My dad would eat anything, and if us kids didn’t like something we still tried it and politely expressed we preferred a different meal better.

The reason I don’t really use recipes is because I can’t make casseroles, soups, rice dishes/stir frys, I can’t make things that are too saucy, too spicy, too vegetably, too…DIFFERENT! The reason I can’t is because I would be the only one eating said exciting, flavorful, variety packed dishes, and that just isn’t very economical! Though Sweet C is not a picky eater, she does like to have her food prepared rather simply and separate. I have not trained her to do this, but she automatically separates her meat, pasta, veggies, whatever from each other. It’s okay if they touch, she just doesn’t like stuff mixed together…Know what I mean? And my beloved hubby, well, he is just sort of a meat and potato man. Although he does eat fruit and the occasional veggie on the side.

So, what’s a wise woman to do? I need to manage my home, be prepared, economical, organized, and feed my family in a healthy way. I also need to be respectful of my husband. And then it dawned on me…I mean, really, there must have been a little light bulb that flashed above my head!

Simple is GOOD!

Not the simple of “let’s just eat mac and cheese” and the easy, non-healthy processed food and fast food diet. (Which we have done in the past and are now choosing to leave those ickies behind!) The simple I am referring to is: don’t stress out and do what is good for your family. What is good for my family is not lamenting over recipe after recipe I can’t make and everybody else is making (or at least pinning over on Pintrest). I am choosing to no longer stress out over “if onlys”.

What I am going to do is be who we are as a family. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up on leading a healthy lifestyle. There are still tons of ways we can improve, but it doesn’t have to be through all the other recipes people are posting. As long as we are getting the nutrients that our bodies need and we like the taste of what we eat and I’m not breaking the bank…then I am going to CELEBRATE!

So, I will make a master list of meals (or just plain old whole foods, sort of like fruit and veggie list). And if it only has ten meals on it, then so be it!

After I get a little routine going, then I have decided to have my fun, and experiment, and add variety through simple side dishes. I will aim to always have two side dishes. A guaranteed side hubby will love (ie mashed potatoes) and a side me and Sweet C can enjoy, and if dear hubby wants to take a taste he will be more than welcome to it!

Off the top of my head here is the beginning of my meal list:

Spaghetti with Prego Sauce and Ground Beef
Hamburgers
Baked Chicken
Beef Pot Roast
Pizza with pepperoni (and bacon if possible)
Eggs and Toast

Simple Sides I already make and no recipe required:

Mashed potatoes
Steamed corn
Steamed peas
Baked sweet potato
Steamed brocoli (but haven’t made in a while due to breastfeeding…)
Baked Carrots
Steamed green beans
Diced tomato (mainly for Sweet C, one of her absolute faves!)
and whatever fruit we have on hand, just plain and raw, but delicious!

Here’s to the simple life, learning to be content with things you can not change (perhaps this is also flexibility peppered with grace?), and also making the changes starting in your own life that need improved.

What do you think of simple is good?

Easiest and Tastiest White Cupcakes

Cupcakes from my Sweet C’s first birthday party. These were a hit and sooo easy to make!

 

I originally got this Simple White (Cup)cake recipe from here.

But when I made the recipe into cupcakes for my Sweet C’s first birthday party in the spring I made a couple changes. This is what I did and they were DELICIOUS! (And super easy!)

SIMPLE WHITE CUPCAKES

Ingredients

  •  1 cup white sugar (I would love to experiment without using white sugar in this recipe!)
  •  1/2 cup butter
  •  2 eggs
  •  2 teaspoons Pure vanilla extract
  •   1 1/2 cups King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat Flour
  •   2 teaspoons baking powder
  •   1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  •   1/2 cup milk

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
  • Cream together the sugar and butter.
  • Beat in the eggs, then stir in the vanilla.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, and cinnamon and add to the creamed mixture and mix well.
  • Stir in the milk until batter is smooth.
  • Spoon batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

There, that was easy, wasn’t it? Enjoy these delicious cupcakes with or without frosting. Or even better, add a scoop (or two) of your favorite all natural ice cream like Turkey Hill’s All Natural Chocolate!

 

Today I feel especially blessed by witnessing the love celebrated in the marriage of a close family friend. Congrats Mr. and Mrs. Wright!

 

End of Summer

Even though we have 20 more days of summer, the end of the month of August has always seemed like the end of summer to me. I remember always being so sad to say goodbye to summertime; mostly because school started. Now, I have been done with school for a good six years, and as I grow older I more freely welcome the change of seasons. (Except from fall to winter I am still not terribly fond of that!)

So, hello, September! Welcome, Autumn. Time to take down my summer front door decoration.

And get prepared by digging out the box of fall decor. And start looking up fall time recipes…pumpkin pie, apple dumplings, hearty stews…

The aromas and colors of fall are wonderful!

Fall colours

Fall colours (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do you most like about the changing of the season? Is there a favorite smell, sight, taste? If you have a fabulous seasonal recipe, please DO share!

The Best Chocolate Muffin You’ll Ever Eat!

I snagged this Chocolate Muffin Recipe over from blogger, Healthy is Always Better. I changed out her suggestion of an artificial sweetener (1 cup of it) for 1/2 cup of delicious honey. Other than that I followed her recipe to a T.

And here are pictures of my muffins.

I was a little piggy and ate my first one with a scoop of natural vanilla ice cream.

And a few hours later I ate one just plain, because they are just amazing. But now I am using self-control and won’t touch another one until tomorrow when my best friend comes to visit. I actually made these in honor of her visit so she would have a delicious chocolatey snack 🙂

Oh, one other thing, I most definitely recommend using liners because I lost a little muffin bottoms on the pan…

ENJOY!