Archive | Kitchen shortcuts RSS feed for this section

An Easy Way to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables


I have talked about my Vita-mix a lot on this blog.  And it’s truly because I use it a lot.

The most important thing the Vita-mix does for our family is helps us make delicious shakes full of plant-based foods!   The Vita-mix allows us to consume way more produce than we would otherwise.  My kids even ingested beets in this beet shake!

I’ve made super-fresh basil pesto, peanut butter and even a pumpkin bread with my Vita-mix.  It is not just a blender!

Here are five surprising things you can do with a vita-mix:

  1. You can make a smoothie with an apple with the peeling, a beet, and other fresh produce.  And it’s a smooth smoothie.  You can even throw whole flaxseeds in there and they will be ground in your smoothie (something you cannot do with a blender).
  2. You can make fresh, hot soup made with broth and whole vegetables.
  3. You can make cold ice cream!
  4. You can make your own nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter, etc) without adding any extra oils or ingredients.  Just nuts.
  5. You can make your own breads with the dry mix carafe and even grind your own flour.

It’s just wonderful for helping our family get more fruits and vegetables in our diet.  Especially our kids!

If you’re like most people, it’s just hard to get enough fruits and vegetables in your diet.  The Vita-Mix provides an easy way to eat more fruits and vegetables.  Even raw! 

The Vita-Mix can help you:

  • Lose weight
  • Get more fiber in your diet
  • Prevent disease
  • Eat more raw foods
  • Get way more fruits and vegetables in your diet than you typically do, and it can taste great!

If you’ve ever even entertained the thought of dumping a lost of money in a juicer, consider this fact: you will lose a lot of the fiber and other nutrients by not eating the whole fruit.  With the Vita-mix, you will be able to keep all of that important nutrition!

I know that they are not cheap, but they truly are a wonderful investment in your health.  Below you will find a  link to one similar to the one I use in all of my posts.  (Mine is a few years old so it’s slightly different)



Comments { 0 }

Growing Basil

basil in jars

As you may have figured out by now, I love basil.  Because I love pesto.

Not only have I begun making my own pesto, but I also freeze it so that I can enjoy the deliciousness of pesto later!

I’ve been wanting to grow my own basil for quite a while, but just kept putting it off.  Finally, one day, we ventured to the farmer’s market and I bought a beautiful large pesto plant.  I figured that if nothing else, I’d get my money’s worth just on the basil already on there!

basil plant Now let me be honest here.  I do not  have a green thumb.  I was taking quite a chance with this plant!

I read a few articles about how to prune the basil plant (and even watched some videos).  And then I got to pruning!

basil leaves pruning basil pruned basil basil pruning basil in mason jars


The Little Stinker loved playing in his pot too!

basil in kitchen basil in measuring cup I was able to get a good two batches of pesto out of this basil!  So right there, the plant paid for itself in pesto.

I bought the plant at the beginning of September, and the plant already has another batch of pesto ready to be made.

With the cooler weather lately, it hasn’t required much watering.  I know there won’t be much more growth before the cold weather gets here, but I am so excited about growing basil again next year!

{Linking up to Life Made Lovely!)




Comments { 1 }

30 Day Simple Meal Plan Challenge Week One: Use Pantry Staples

This week’s focus in the challenge is using what you’ve already got! (in your pantry, freezer, or anywhere you keep food in your house)

In trying to plan this weeks menu for the 30 Day Simple Meal Plan Challenge, I realized that I have so much food in my pantry and freezer that just sits there week after week.

First, I looked in my pantry (and freezer) and tried to just mentally process what is in there.

pantry staples Then I realized that this wasn’t going to work.  I’m one of those kinds of people who has to write it down!

pantry staples list Once I saw the list of everything we had right in our own kitchen, I got to planning!

This week’s menu:

Monday: Crock pot roast with carrots, potatoes (roast from freezer)

Tuesday: Baked spaghetti made with homemade spaghetti sauce and lean ground beef, salad (had all the ingredients on hand to make spaghetti sauce)

Wednesday: Crock pot cranberry chicken (will be posting recipe!), brussel sprouts, sweet potato (had all ingredients on hand except the boneless skinless chicken breasts)

Thursday: Easy Mexican Casserole, salad (using canned beans from pantry)

Friday: Homemade pizza  (have all ingredients to make homemade pizza dough on hand + olives and cheese)

(we never know what our weekends will hold, but we will stick to the plan of not eating out!)


What do you have in your pantry?

How to Use What is On Hand

  1. Write it down!  I know it sounds simple, but I spent a while this weekend going through all of my canned goods, dry goods and even freezer items and wrote it all down.
  2. Organize it.  As I was going through my pantry, I kept finding yet another can of tomato sauce that I didn’t realize I had because it was wedged between cans of beans!  If you have it organized, you can find what you need a lot easier.
  3. Plan some meals that use these items.  I know this seems like an obvious one, but if you just pick some meals that use these items you have, you will buy less groceries this week!

Having a plan will help us in this first week of the 30 Day Simple Meal Plan Challenge.  Remember, keeping it simple will enable you to stick to it and be successful!

What staples do you have on hand and what do you plan to do with them?

{Linking up to Life Made Lovely!}

Comments { 2 }

Simple Menu Planning

white chicken chili

Today is Labor Day, and we are going to celebrate with a not-so-typical meal.  But I cannot wait!

Simple menu planning is so key for busy families to be able to eat at home and spend time with each other across the kitchen table!  Eating healthy does not have to be complicated.

How to Simplify Your Meal Plan (without compromising nutrition)

1. Focus on fruits and vegetables.  They are full of fiber, nutrients, and color.  And don’t feel like you always have to buy fresh.  Frozen fruits and veggies are an easy and inexpensive way to get more of these superfoods in your diet!

2. Eat leftovers.  Leftovers are the only way I survive in the kitchen.  Thankfully, my husband likes leftovers and often takes them for lunch the next day.  Some meals are better the next day than others, but oftentimes I will make a big pot of chili and that’s what we’ll eat for lunch throughout the week.

3. Use the crock pot. That wonderful kitchen tool can save you so much time and can allow you to make one pot wonders that include meat and vegetables!

4. Make a nutrient-packed smoothie for breakfast. I actually will sometimes do this for lunch on the days I don’t work, but most people probably prefer it for breakfast.  My Vita-mix allows me to throw in all kinds of fruits, vegetables, and even whole flax seed for a vitamin-packed meal.

My Weekly Meal Plan


Lunch: Leftover White chicken Chili

Dinner: Spinach and Strawberry Salad (with grilled chicken)


Lunch: Turkey Sandwich on Alvarado Street Complete Protein Bread (flourless with sprouted grains) with light mayo and side of grapes

Dinner: Angel hair pasta with pesto, feta and tomatoes (made with homemade pesto)


Lunch: Leftover angel hair pasta with pesto

Dinner: Balsamic chicken with brussel sprouts and baked potato


Lunch: Turkey sandwich with baby carrots and low fat Ranch dressing

Dinner: Spaghetti (made with homemade spaghetti sauce from the freezer) with salad


Lunch: Leftover spaghetti

Dinner: PIZZA NIGHT!  Homemade pesto pizza!!

(Linking up at Menu Plan Monday!)

I’d love for you to share what your favorite simple meals and simple menu planning tips are!  Leave a comment below!




Comments { 0 }

Freezer Meals Menu Plan

This week, my Little Buddy is starting a half-day preschool (sniff, sniff).

I have been wanting to try some freezer meals for quite a while now, because I do believe it may take the guesswork out of dinner.  There’s nothing I hate more than getting near dinnertime and just not knowing what to cook on those busy days.

So, here’s my meal plan for a week filled with (mostly) freezer meals:

Monday: Cooking a whole chicken I got for free with an Earth Fare coupon!  Will cook it in the Crock-pot and have carrots and baked potatoes on the side.

Then, I will use part of it to prepare a frozen Mexican dinner from an e-book I purchased at

I will also prep for two more chicken meals using’s recipes (Balsamic Blackberry Chicken & Chicken Parmesan)

Tuesday: Chicken Tostados with refried beans (freezer meal)

Wednesday: Chicken Parmesan (freezer meal) with egg noodles and salad

Thursday: Balsamic Blackberry Chicken (freezer meal) with sweet potato and green beans

Friday: PIZZA NIGHT!! Homemade Pesto Pizza with artichoke hearts, tomato and feta (will defrost pesto that I had frozen)

Last week I posted my meatless menu plan, and it was nice to not have to fool with cooking meat last week!  This week is quite opposite, and very chicken-heavy, because we got some awesome deals on fresh chicken this weekend.

I’ll keep you posted on how the freezer meals turn out.  If it makes dinner prep easier, then I’m going to be so thrilled and sold on this form of prep and cooking!




Comments { 4 }

Meatless Menu Plan

Want to save money and time?  Who doesn’t?

We have slowly been cutting back on how much meat we eat, and it has been pretty painless.  There are so many delicious meals that require no meat.  Which means less prep time.  Less sanitizing the counters after cooking.  That’s always good.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 2 }

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Eating healthy on a budget can be done with some planning.

Have a seat and pour yourself some coffee.  Oh, and don’t forget your planner and a pen!

Healthy, budget-friendly meals do take a little time and effort to plan for, but it’s well worth it in the end.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 1 }

Freezing Pesto

Freezing pesto is super easy and will save time and money later!

If you grow your own basil and make large amounts of pesto at one time, freezing pesto will allow you to enjoy this flavorful sauce even in the winter months.

One of the easiest ways to freeze pesto is to use ice cube trays.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 1 }
  • Social Slider