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Meatless March

We’re big into themes here.* I like to do Meatless March** every year because it’s a good way to remind myself that I don’t need meat to make a meal delicious. I love meat, especially bacon, but I also really like meatless meals. I was a vegetarian about 10 years ago for almost 3 years and it was a good exercise for me. So I like to Meatless March to add new stuff to my recipe box and to remind myself how delicious food can still be without meat.

Here’s what we ate this month***:

March 3: Vegetarian Black Bean Fajitas with brown rice
These are good! But I tweak the vegetables and add extra spice.

March 4: Quinoa Burgers with sweet potato fries

VERY good. Excellent, I’d wager. Even you anti-quinoa folks might like them. I gave up making the perfect sweet potato fry a long time ago and just buy the frozen ones from Trader Joe’s.

March 5: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

I love this sandwich, although I’ve taken to making it with jalapenos instead of green chiles. And this tomato soup is one of my favorites! I don’t have an immersion blender, so I just put it in the food processor in batches.

March 7: Naan Pizza and Buffalo Tofu

Eriana started asking for pizza every night, so I added pizza night to our weekly menu. Then, of course, she stopped eating pizza. But Jim and I have been having pizza night with buffalo chicken thighs every week anyway. With Meatless March the chicken thighs have been sorely missed. Buffalo tofu was good! But Jim doesn’t really like tofu. We make pizzas on small naans and use a jarred pizza sauce.

March 10: TJ’s Deeleeshoos Noodles

Very good. I opted out of the fish sauce because I couldn’t find any, but I substituted Trader Joe’s gyoza sauce and it was really good.

March 11: Veggie Balls with Spicy Noodles

The veggie balls were made with lentils, and I was surprised at how much I liked them. The recipe made a lot, though, so I froze half. No word yet on how well they defrost. The spicy noodles were just plain linguine with spicy oil on top.

March 12: Garden Nachos with Avocado Sauce

I made nachos loosely based on the recipe linked-to above, and then used the avocado sauce as dipping/topping. Highly recommend.

March 14: Naan Pizza with Buffalo Cauliflower

Apparently the only picture I took of our dinners this month. Buffalo Cauliflower, garlic naan, and naan pizza (with red onions, jalapenos, and cilantro).

Since the tofu wasn’t a big hit, I tried cauliflower. It… tasted like hot sauce. Cauliflower doesn’t really have a taste of its own. The batter made everything all soggy. I should have pan-fried instead of baking.

March 16: Veggie Taquitos

I make these taquitos a lot. This time I just substituted extra veggies for the meat.

March 17: Frito Chili Pie

We had chili leftover in the freezer, so I just bought Fritos and toppings and this was an easy peasy meal. I love Frito Chili Pie almost as much as I love Sloppy Joes.

March 18: Pioneer Woman’s Asian Noodle Salad

Meh. I was really hopeful about this salad, because it’s SO! MANY! Delicious things mixed together. But. It was too many tastes and not enough flavor. I used extra jalapenos in the dressing and it still wasn’t spicy enough because everything else just sort of drowned it out.

March 19: Zucchini Parmesan

I like this meal. Cheese! Vegetables! I usually use Newman’s Own Sockarooni sauce, to add extra veggies and because it’s affordable and delicious for a store-bought sauce.

March 21: Naan Pizza with Buffalo Seitan

Third time’s a charm on the buffalo-flavored non-meat? Nope. This was the best, by far, but seitan is a little too chewy for my liking, and the oil on the seitan plus the butter in the sauce (I used butter instead of margarine and it was TOO much butter in the recommended recipe) made it super greasy. I think we’ll skip pizza night next week.

March 23: Japanese Curry Rice

Mmmm. That is all. (There would be more but I forgot what veggies I put in this time. Lots of green stuff, but beyond zucchini I don’t remember what.)

March 24: Stuffed Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas

Very good! Topped with salsa and plain greek yogurt. I added jalapenos and cilantro because, well, it’s what I do.

March 25: Korean “Beef” Bowls

I used faux beef crumbles and this dish was as delicious as it is when not meatless.

March 26: Dragon Noodles

Meh. This was not even the tiniest bit spicy. And the attempt to make it so was a little… weird. We still ate an entire doubled recipe. I probably wouldn’t make this again, even though it was fine.

March 28: Jalapeno Grilled Cheese with Sweet Potato Fries

This sandwich is delicious. Plus we had cream cheese in the fridge that needed to be used up before it goes bad. Again with the Trader Joe’s sweet potato fries.

March 30: Garden Nachos

This dish again. Delicious. This time without Michelle’s avocado sauce because the only avocado I had was already brown and I don’t eat brown avocados.

March 31: Um. So I forgot about the remaining day of Meatless March when I planned this week’s meals and then I worked 12 hours and so Jim made Chicken Lettuce Wraps which aren’t meatless, but are very good.

*By we I mean me. Jim really has no opinion on the matter.

**Meatless in this house is a vegetarian diet, including eggs and animal products but excluding fish. Jim does not wholly abide by Meatless March because, well, see above. I only cheated once. Until today, when I ate chicken because that’s what was for dinner.

***I realize there are gaps here. We usually go out to eat one dinner a week, and/or have a leftovers night each week. And neither Jim nor I really eat lunch, but when we do it’s leftovers or whatever our company buys for us. Eriana pretty much lives on saltines, cheese, and turkey pepperonis with a solid insertion of Trader Joe’s cereal bars or poptarts, Annie’s instant macaroni and cheese, rainbow goldfish, and Market Pantry fruit snacks, so she was not included in Meatless March.

Grocery Budgeting

M asked on Twitter yesterday:

“What is a “normal” weekly grocery budget (and for how many people)?”

 We have gone back and forth on our budget for weekly and regular expenses. It took a (very) long while to formulate a good plan and budget. But I’m pretty set these days, and I thought I’d share it here. I’m sure you’ll skip this post if you aren’t interested.

Our weekly grocery/household items budget is ~$150, which is $600 per month. This includes:

  • food for six meals (that will include leftovers for lunch)
  • snacks for adults
  • toddler snacks
  • alcohol for the week
  • dog food, cat food, cat litter
  • toiletries, makeup
  • cleaning supplies

We have a separate budget for eating out, which we do minimally, but regularly.

To some of you this budget may seem high, and to some of you it may seem low. It’s what works for us. We spend a significant amount on food, but we eat good food. We eat healthy, I make most things myself (rarely frozen or canned), and I cook at least six nights per week. We eat leftovers, we rarely throw out food. Once we have a larger apartment we will have room for our deep freeze, and I’m super looking forward to being able to double or triple meals for freezing. I know I will be able to cut back a bit by buying some in bulk.

An example of a regular meal:

Cheeseburger Salad! (The brown stuff on top is a homemade dressing.) Recipe derived from Home Sweet Sarah‘s Instagram account, a.k.a. where I get many new meal ideas.

Example of a weekly menu:

I plan meals every Sunday afternoon, and plan our grocery list against ingredients needed for meals, plus extra stuff we need or like to keep on hand (example: snacks for Eriana, cheese snacks to keep at work for if Jim and I get hungry so we don’t buy lots of food, coffee, etc.).

After I have a plan I go grocery shopping. Usually I go to Target first, because sometimes the meats I need have random $1 or $3 off coupons on weekends, then I go to Trader Joe’s. Anything I can’t get at those two places I head to Fred Meyer (a super store not unlike a Super Walmart or Super Target in that you can buy anything there) later in the week.

I post my meals on a special Google calendar to share with friends and glean ideas. I usually cook one new meal a week, two if I’m feeling adventurous. I get my new meal ideas from my friends’ calendars, Pinterest, and Instagram. Lucky for me a lot of my friends also love food, so they post pictures of meals a lot.

That’s… about it. Sorry I suck at being brief.

How do you plan your meals? Do you have a strict budget, or are you pretty lenient?

Family Photos (NaBloPoMo 3)

We had family pictures taken Saturday, and I will be super excited to see the results, hopefully next week! I met our photographer, Julie, in a local Facebook group and she was lovely. Eriana was in a Mood, and very standoffish of the nice lady with the big camera. She didn’t want me to hold her, she got very grumpy about smiling, and was all around not very cooperative (so basically she acted like a two-year old). But Julie was very gracious and played along, and got both Eriana and Jim to smile for pictures. We spent about half an hour walking around at the Hoyt Arboretum, and I hope to go back soon just for family walks. So beautiful out there! I’ll share our photos here once we get the edited files! Can’t wait!

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After pictures we headed to the Pearl for an early dinner at Laughing Planet, and then we walked around a bit before it got too chilly. We went to Powell’s, one of my favorite places in the city of course. Their second building is geek heaven, and we went by there to see if there was anything relevant to Jim’s interests that he couldn’t live without. While there Eriana picked out a copy of some anime calculus book and camped out to read. Jim was proud.

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All-in-all it was a lovely family day.

BBTW 23

I’m participating in Ginger‘s Bring Back the Words (BBTW) link-up!

Prompt 1:

Make us all hungry–what are your top 10 favorite foods (individual foods, or full meals, your choice)?

Ooh, food! A topic I can REALLY get into.

My Top 10 Favorite Foods*:

10. Salami

9. Cheeseburgers

8. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

7. Whipped Cream

6. Frito Chili Pie

5. Sour Cream

4. Sloppy Joes

3. Real Japanese Ramen and Gyoza

2. Bacon

1. Chicken Enchiladas

Sloppy Joes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pioneer Woman’s Sloppy Joes served with wild rice and Sweet Potato Home Fries from the Scrumptious Pumpkin.

*Honorable mention, in no particular order: Coco’s Curry-Rice, Indian Curry, Brownies (middles, please), Fettuccine Alfredo, Croissants, Waffles, Meatballs, Nachos, Taquitos, Cilantro (I LOVE cilantro, but I pile it high on so  many of my favorite foods that I didn’t include it on my top 10 list).

Back on the (Paleo) Wagon

Y’all. Someone (I had just met) at church on Sunday asked me if I was pregnant. Um. No. I’m never wearing that shirt again, but other than that, I just said, “Nope!” with a smile and smoothed down my shirt. Even though I’ve been eating my feelings and not working out for a good two weeks, my pants still fit fine. I don’t FEEL fine, but I expected that. I was feeling crappy (both physically and emotionally) anyway, so I wasn’t really expecting eating like crap to help or hurt that. But after this woman’s comment, I feel like it’s time to get back on the Paleo wagon. So I start again tomorrow. Three cheat meals a week. Alcohol in moderation, and a healthy eating lifestyle.

Here are some things I’m planning to eat this week:

-Paleo Meatballs and Zucchini Noodles with Vodka Sauce

-Taco Salad

-Chicken and Pepperoni-Marinara Sauce and Caprese Salad

-Ginger and Cilantro Baked Tilapia with Sauteed Squash

-Cobb Salad (made with romaine lettuce, chicken, bacon, hard-boiled egg, avocado, tomato, bleu cheese, and chives with red wine vinegar and olive oil)

-Skillet Pork Loin (made with parsnips instead of carrots (because we don’t like cooked carrots), and sweet potatoes)

 

And AWAY we go!

Oh, here’s a picture of Eriana, since I KNOW that’s why you actually visit my blog!

 

Girly loves to swing! (MULLET IN THE WIND!)

Quick Takes

Thank you all for your kind comments on my last post. I really appreciate your thoughts, prayers, and insight.

Some quick takes for your Friday evening:

-I read a lot of books in February and March, but I haven’t updated my books list. I should do that, huh? (Apropos of nothing, I’m reading Kris Jenner’s autobiography right now, and even if you dislike the Kardashians as an empire, she has a lot to say about the O.J. Simpson trial since Nicole Brown Simpson was her best friend. Interesting stuff!)

-Eriana had her 15-month well check today and she is a healthy, growing girl. She weighed 22 lbs, 3 oz (35th percentile), measured 31.25 inches (75th percentile), and her head was in the 50th percentile. Her doctor did mention that her weight is low, but not alarmingly so, and her percentages are (apparently) better than last time. She had two shots, and she did great, with minimal hysterics, but she was super sore and whiny this evening.

-Our vacuum died a horrible death yesterday (officially; she’s been sick for awhile), and I had to buy a new one today. We’re partial to the Dyson brand, so we got another. But we’re on a more limited budget than last time we bought one, so I opted for the space-saver one, for a savings of $200. It seems to work just fine, I’ll just have to empty the canister more often.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(The handle pulls up for regular use, but Eriana will be able to use it with the handle down in no time!)

-I bought Eriana some clothes at a garage sale today, and all that was left for shorts/skirts for summer were size 2T. I’m hoping her cloth diaper will take up the extra space in her pants area and she’ll be able to wear them this summer. (I really should have thought ahead before the consignment sale a few weeks ago!)

-Yesterday we had dinner at the home of some friends, and they don’t have any pets. Their house was really clean; our house is really dirty in comparison. I guess that’s the price you pay for having a zoo?

-In one week we will be in Mexico.

-I might get to go to Africa with my church this summer.

-I like this. A LOT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(via Pinterest, via amandatolleson)

-I bought new glasses, and they should be in next week. I’m excited. (It’s possible they’re in already, but when the optometrist’s office called today my phone died and they probably think I hung up on them. And Eriana was in the bath then I forgot to call them back.)

-I wish my hair looked like Marina’s from Fresh Beat Band (the old Marina… we only have one season on Netflix).

-Here’s what I’m making for dinner(s) this week: TexMex CrockPot Carnitas, Italian Meatballs, Deconstructed Gyro Salad, Cottage-Flower Pie, and Chicken Salad a la Queen.

What’s going on with you?

 

Roadtrip Recap

My family and I took our first long roadtrip since Eriana’s birth. It was her first time out of Oklahoma, and her first time in the car for a continuous amount of time longer than about an hour-hour-and-a-half. We went to visit the W family in Little Rock, about a six-hour drive from the OKC area. Matt was one of Jim’s best friends in high school, he and his wife, Stacyi, came to see us a couple of months ago when they were in town for a concert, and we got to meet their son, Triston, for the first time. He’s 5 and super spunky. We also got to see the L family, some friends we met when we were stationed at Yokota who are now living in Little Rock. Their daughter, A, was born in May of last year, and it was so fun to see them and meet little A.

Eriana did fantastically, all things considered. She slept the first half of both car rides, and cried for the last 45 minutes or so of each car ride (well, on the way there she cried for about 45 minutes and then fell asleep 20 minutes out from our destination). But, you know, she’s a baby. (At the time of writing, we have been home for about an hour and she has been in the best mood ever.) We slept in Triston’s room on an air mattress, and brought the pack-n-play for Eriana. She slept in our bed the first night and in the pack-n-play until about 5am on the second night. She’s been having some sleep regression issues anyway, so I didn’t really blame her or expect her to be a good sleeper all of a sudden in a new place and in her pack-n-play in the same room as us. Also, her pack-n-play is usually in our bathroom so she can play while I shower, so it’s not really a place she associates with sleep.

We had a great, great time. Man, will it be nice to sleep in our bed tonight, but it was really nice to get away. The W family was awesome. Totally accommodating and great. So accepting of Eriana’s craziness, so great with allowing her to make a mess of their home. They took us to a fancy restaurant and introduced us to the most amazing brownie ever on the Earth, they made us delicious fajitas and a wonderful breakfast (well, Stacyi gets all the credit for both meals), Jim acted like a teenager again and stayed up until 4am talking and giggling with Matt like they were girls. It was awesome to see him with someone who has known him since they were freshmen in high school and who truly knows him. I love that. Plus, Triston and Eriana are equals when it comes to energy levels and ridiculous busyness. So, that was fun.

The L family was amazing, too. They cooked us a super delicious brunch, Eriana got to play with A (and, apparently, show her how much fun crawling is, because A nailed that skill later on in the day) (totally not Eriana’s doing, I know, but it’s fun that it happened that day), and we got to catch up after about 2 years of lots of stuff going on.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend, and we’re really glad to have gotten to go see all of them, spend a weekend away, and get to have some fun outside of the confines of the Oklahoma City metro area.

Here are some pictures from our trip. All were taken/filtered in InstaGram on my phone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intense “Yo Gabba Gabba” watching in the car.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eyelashes. She was super, super grumpy and then finally fell asleep again with 20 minutes till we reached Little Rock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eriana and A playing together. So, so cute. About the same size, even though Eriana has 5 months on A. I adored A’s personality. And her big blue eyes are almost hypnotic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I discovered that sweet potato tater tots exist (at Sonic), and Eriana passed out mid-bite (tot remains on her belly) after we left the Discovery Museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eriana and Triston in a rare, quiet and calm moment when we were getting ready to leave. These two together, man, were so, so crazy. Love the spunky kids!

 

Oh, and a big shout-out to my baby sister, Kendal, for hanging out at our house with our pets all weekend! WOOHOO! (Here’s a picture someone took of her that I stole from Facebook that I ADORE. :))

9 things I’m looking forward to consuming once my Whole30 is over!*

Back to Listless Mondays. Because I can’t think of anything else to talk about today. You’re welcome.

9 things I’m looking forward to consuming once my Whole30 is over!

1. WINE,

2. Margaritas,

3. Diet Dr. Pepper,

4. Occasional chips and salsa/queso,

5. Something sweet in my coffee,

6. Occasional things with CHEESE,

7. Occasional desserts,

8. Occasional legumes,

9. Occasional sweet potato fries at restaurants (I could have the homemade kind now if I wanted).

Wednesday night I am GOING CRAZY and I am probably going to feel like crap on Thursday, and you know what? I don’t care. (I do a little, but not a lot.) Jim is taking me to Tarahumara’s, and I am going to eat chips and salsa and queso and tortillas with butter and chicken enchiladas with sour cream sauce and beans and drink Diet Dr. Pepper. I am going to Sonic for Happy Hour on Wednesday. I am going to the liquor store tomorrow for the first time in more than a month, just to prepare!

Photo is of the Enchiladas Verdes, not the chicken enchiladas I will be enjoying in a couple of days. But doesn’t it look delicious, nonetheless?

Photo from Oklahoma Food Mongers.

My Whole30 is over as of tomorrow night. I will post my results (body fat loss, weight loss, etc.) when I get it all. I think they will do the measuring Wednesday morning at CrossFit. But I’m not positive.

*I am NOT planning on going back to my previous diet. I love sour cream, cheese, sugar, carbs, etc., but I understand how they make my body carry weight and put on weight and make me feel badly. But despite not going back to the way I used to eat, there are things I am really, really looking forward to having, either in moderation, or anytime I want. So some things listed above are occasional, and some are going to be more regular!

 

Whole30 Week 3 Recap, Week 4 Planning

FIRST: Everyone look at my new blog theme! (No, seriously, if you’re reading in a reader, click through. Worth it.) Jen is awesome, isn’t she? I highly recommend her work. Plus, I’ve met her and she’s great.

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Now on to Whole30 talk. WOOHOO! 3 weeks down. Hooray!

Last week:
January 23-29 goals:
-CrossFit four times. YES! Barely. Lots of life conspiring against me this week. I awoke with a stomachache one morning, and then one morning my trainer slept through his alarm. BUT! I still was able to squeeze in 4 workouts: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday. And I’m still sore from Friday and Saturday.
-Do 60 sit-ups after each workout that isn’t sit-up centered. NO! I did on three workouts, but not on Saturday. I forgot, truthfully.
-Try to SLEEP at least 7 hours per night. HA! No. Eriana was sick, and, apparently, Zyrtec makes her stay awake and angry, instead of knocking her out. So that was a fun night. The rest of the week was fine, though.
-Participate in Whole30 eating.  YES! I did. And I survived another week.

Aaaannnddd this week to the end:
January 30-February 7 goals:
-CrossFit four times.
-Do 60 sit-ups after each workout that isn’t sit-up centered.
-Try to SLEEP at least 7 hours per night.
-Participate in Whole30 eating.

Menu:*
-Shepherd’s Pie (didn’t get to this last week)
-Meatza Pie (didn’t get to this last week)
-Maki Rolls
-Rogan Josh (not a person)
-Egg Foo Yong and vegetable stir fry (made with stir fry sauce)
-Machacado & Eggs with Avocado Relish
-Czech Meatballs with Cauliflower Rice Pilaf

For breakfasts I got fruit, eggs, bacon, and sausage.
For lunches I got tomatoes, mushrooms, artichokes, ground beef, Italian sausage, and onions to make hot plates.

 

You guys. I’m ALMOST DONE. 30 days. I feel good! My clothes fit better. I still haven’t gotten up the nerve to try on my pants that are 2 sizes down from where I started, but the ones one size down are loose. I’m on a new hole on Jim’s belt, and I might get to wear MY belts again soon! I started swimsuit shopping this week for our trip to Mexico in April, but I’m going to wait until late March to buy anything, because I feel like through Paleo and CrossFit, I have no idea what size I’ll wear in just 2 months. CRAZY.

So. That’s that! HOORAY, ALMOST DONE!

*All recipes from Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan. Links for recipes go to her blog.

Whole30 Week 2 Recap, Week 3 Planning

I’ve successfully finished 2 weeks of Whole30! HOORAY! Almost halfway there. (Actually, since I’m posting this late, I AM halfway there!)

Last week:
January 16-22 goals:
-CrossFit FOUR times. CHECK! Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday! Monday was really difficult, but I finished the WOD, and I did much better the rest of the week. And even though Monday was hard, I didn’t quit, and I didn’t cry.
-Do 60 sit-ups after each workout (that isn’t sit-up centered). CHECK!
-Try to be in bed for at least 8-9 hours a night. Um… I was in bed for at least 7 hours a night. I think that’s pretty good progress. I think I got at least 6.5 hours of sleep each night.
-Participate in Whole30 eating. CHECK!

My biggest test, since I started this challenge, was going to dinner last night with my family at my favorite Mexican restaurant. It was for my little brother’s birthday, and I just couldn’t say no. But I did REALLY WELL! I had NO chips, NO tortillas, NO queso, NO cheese, NO sour cream, etc. I didn’t even eat any salsa, because I didn’t want to have the temptation and want chips with it. I drank unsweetened tea and I ate the best ceviche in the world. I even tore tortillas apart and dipped them in queso for Eriana and didn’t sneak any. The worst part was when my older sister and her family ordered sopapillas after dinner. That was SUCKY to see and smell. Thankfully I was separated from them by a few people. Eep!

So, this week, here we go!
January 23-29 goals:
-CrossFit four times.
-Do 60 sit-ups after each workout that isn’t sit-up centered.
-Try to SLEEP at least 7 hours per night.
-Participate in Whole30 eating.

Menu:
-Chicken Fajitas
-Zucchini & Red Onion Frittata
-Tex-Mex Tuna Salad
-Cinnamon Beef Stew w/ mashed cauliflower
-Meatza Pie
-Scotch Eggs
-Shepherd’s Pie (the link goes to a Cottage-Flower Pie recipe by the same blogger, mostly the same recipe)
All recipes are from Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan.

For breakfasts I picked up some sausage, eggs, bacon, mangos, avocados, oranges, and a pineapple.

For lunches I picked up a few cans of tomatoes, artichokes, ground beef, Italian sausage, and some peppers so I can mix tomatoes, meat and veggies.

I also picked up some Larabars to eat before I workout and to keep in my purse for emergency eating.

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