Halloween Cookies

It is Halloween weekend, and you know what that means! Costumes and candy galore, of course! I want you to imagine the spooky holiday season from a different perspective for a minute…the candy’s perspective. Imagine being given to someone awash with excitement and wonder at the thought of you only to sit on a counter for months getting yuckier by the minute. Eventually you get thrown away and replaced by festive Christmas candy. What a sad life all our leftover candies live!

Well we can make these candies have a purpose again! After all the Halloween excitement has died down next week, these pumpkin cookies are a fantastic way to utilize leftover chocolate candies (I would not suggest mixing pumpkin spice with sour gummy worms…) and eliminate food waste. The cookies themselves are fantastic: thick and cakey with real pumpkin, the chewy texture of oat flour, all the fall spice flavors, and sweetened with maple syrup. Then you add some chocolate on top and wow! Halloween explosion in your mouth!

I tried three types of chocolate candies with these: plain dark chocolate, crushed up Heath bars, and Reese’s cups. I will say that the Reese’s ones did not look too attractive because the candy didn’t really hold its shape, but those were a family favorite based on taste alone. I kept thinking that Rolos would taste amazing with the caramel, peanut butter or plain M&Ms would be a fun pop of color, and probably almost any of the little snack-sized chocolates would go great on top. If you try these out with your kids’ leftover candy, please let me know which candies you used and how they turned out! If you’re like me, throwing out food makes you cringe, so I hope this recipe hits the spot while simultaneously creatively using leftovers. Happy Halloween!

Halloween Cookies

Ingredients

  • 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup of melted butter, ghee, or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup of maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 cups of oat flour (you can blend your own old-fashioned oats for this)
  • 2 tbsp of ground flaxseed
  • 3 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cloves
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 30 small chocolate candies/pieces of candies

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  3. Combine all wet ingredients (pumpkin through eggs) in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Add dry ingredients (except candy) and stir to combine.
  5. Using your hands or a cookie scoop (my favorite birthday gift from my husband!), place 1 tbsp balls of dough on baking sheet.
  6. Press candies on top, slightly flattening the cookies – they are so cakey they don’t spread much.
  7. Bake for 17-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
  8. Store leftovers covered at room temperature for three days; after that, store covered in the fridge.

If you can’t get enough pumpkin this season, be sure to check out my Pumpkin Bread with Crumb Topping or Pumpkin Spice Cake, and for fall-inspired breakfasts, check out my Pumpkin Pecan Muffins and Pumpkin and Oat Blender Waffles. I hope that whatever you eat this weekend warms your tummy and your heart. Be safe, have a fun Halloween, enjoy family…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Easy Instant Pot Carnitas

By now, y’all probably know that I just love bargain shopping! Saving money and eating healthier? That’s a literal win-win! If you read my weekly January meal plans this year, then you know I try and spend as little as possible at the store each week. Basically, I can’t pass up a good deal and/or coupon! There was recently a buy one, get one for a penny deal for pork shoulders at the store. So you already know I got two of those pork shoulders and we ate some delicious carnitas tacos/taco salads two weeks in a row!

After my first time making this succulent pork in the Instant Pot I knew I needed to write it down to share with you. It is flavorful (but not too spicy for kids), juicy, fall apart tender, and ready in less than an hour thanks to the pressure cooking powers of the Instant Pot! My suggestions for serving as a salad are to top with habanero ranch, crumbled plantain chips, guacamole, fresh cilantro, and a hefty squeeze of lime juice. My suggestions for serving as a taco are on a fresh, warm tortilla topped with salsa, cilantro, and, again, a hefty squeeze of lime juice. I hope you can enjoy this delicious, healthy pork recipe for a Taco Tuesday real soon!

Easy Instant Pot Carnitas

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pound pork shoulder
  • 3 tsp of chili powder
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp of onion powder
  • Cayenne to taste
  • 1 and 1/4 cup of chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup of salsa
  • Juice of half a lime

Directions

  1. Season pork shoulder with all seasonings chili powder through cayenne
  2. Turn Instant Pot to sauté feature (or sauté on the stove in a pot if yours does not have this feature)
  3. Cook for two minutes on each side, until brown. Your Instant Pot might give you the “hot” signal (mine did), but it is okay – it won’t burn!
  4. Remove pork shoulder and set aside.
  5. Add chicken stock, salsa, and lime juice, scraping up brown bits.
  6. Put pork shoulder back in with the liquids, close lid and set to “pressure cook” feature.
  7. Cook for 15 minutes per pound (add 5 minutes per pound extra if your shoulder is frozen) and allow for a 20 minute natural pressure release.
  8. Shred meat and serve with desired fixings!
  9. Store leftovers covered in fridge for up to a week.

The Instant Pot is a quick and easy way to get a flavorFULL meal on the table in no time! For more Instant Pot recipes check out my Instant Pot Black Beans and my Instant Pot Mushroom Pot Roast. It took me a long time to actually utilize my Instant Pot so if you would rather use a slow cooker check out some of my slow cooker recipes like Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos or Slow Cooker Potato and Kale Soup. I hope whatever you decide to cook that you love both the process and the outcome, have a family meal…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Strawberry Creamsicles

Summer is almost over; Labor Day is right around the corner, and hopefully cooler temperatures are soon to follow. That is not the case right now, though! It is late August in Texas and we are all about ready to sleep in our freezers. Every time I walk in from outside, I literally say a little prayer thanking God for air conditioner; I can’t imagine how miserable we would be without it!

Now, as hot as it is, summer brings lots of fun things like swimming, lake trips, beach trips, and of course delicious summer produce like berries! Selah, my youngest daughter could eat her weight in blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries, but Zemirah, my oldest, is a bit more picky when it comes to fruit. She doesn’t really like blackberries or raspberries because of the seeds, only likes the perfectly firm yet sweet blueberries (such a pain trying to find those illusive berries in the container), and loves strawberries…dipped in honey. In general Zemirah is less of a picky eater than Selah – not so when it comes to berries! But what is a mom to do in the summer when the store has wonderful sales on berries?! I have to get them! Oftentimes I use berries in smoothies, but when I got a giant bag of frozen strawberries (for a super steal!) I decided to do something a little different with them.

While we do love to eat nice cream or drink chocolate milkshakes for a summer treat, something portable is always a nice option. When Selah started refusing bottles at 10 months old, I started making her breastmilk popsicles to have while I was away at work. Because of that I had these popsicle molds and I thought blending up a creamy strawberry popsicle would be a hit for the girls. Check out these pictures to see just how much they enjoyed them! They were a perfect treat for us all (mom, too) after playing outside in the sprinkler one hot summer morning. These are so easy, full of only real ingredients, creamy, sweet, and I bet your kids will love them as much as mine did!

Strawberry Creamsicles

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of fresh strawberries (stems removed), or thawed from frozen
  • 1.25 cups of full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp of maple syrup
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor
  2. Blend until smooth
  3. Pour into popsicle mold or small freezer-safe cups
  4. Insert popsicle sticks or small spoons or straws if you’re using a cup
  5. Freeze until solid – at least 3 hours
  6. Run a little warm water over the molds to easily remove popsicles
  7. Store leftover popsicles in freezer for a month.

These little frozen treats are so deliciously strawberry flavored, sweet, and so creamy thanks to the coconut milk, and they are so refreshing to have on a hot day. If your kids are crazy about strawberries, they will love these! If popsicles aren’t your thing, but you’re not trying to sweat with the oven on, check out some of my other no-bake treats like Date Cake, Cookie Dough Bites, or my coconut milk based Cheesecake; all of these desserts will satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping you cool! It may be hot, but soak up these last few weeks of summer, get some sun…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Cookie Dough Bites

The kids are in bed, the kitchen is clean, there’s a new episode of your current dramedy on Hulu; you sit down and snuggle up on the couch and realize… you’re missing a sweet snack! If you don’t have anything readily available, baking may be your next best option, but who wants to do that when it’s already past 9, you’re exhausted, and you just want to relax? Not to mention it is summer time and the oven is only used in emergencies: AKA dinner for hungry children, not mama’s cravings.

This was the exact situation that drove me into the kitchen to whip up something quickly that I was hoping would resemble cookie dough bites. These little bites checked all the late night craving boxes: peanut buttery richness with bites of dark chocolate, enhanced by a touch of salt, and all sweetened with golden maple syrup. The cherry on top is that this took me about three minutes to make, and it was vegan and refined sugar free! With a swap of maple syrup for this monk fruit syrup, this recipe is also keto friendly, and swapping the peanut butter for unsweetened almond butter makes it paleo friendly, too. There is a simple dessert out there for everyone!

I loved these little cookie dough bites so much that I made another batch just a couple of days later, and knew that this simple recipe (if you could even call it that) was something to share here! If you’ve got a sweet tooth, but life is a Pinch of Crazy and you can’t find time to bake, I got your back! Read on for this dangerously simple recipe.

Cookie Dough Bites

  • Servings: 8 cookie dough bites
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp of unsweetened peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp of coconut flour
  • 2 tsp of maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • Dark chocolate chips to taste (“The limit does not exist!”)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl
  2. Roll dough into bite sized balls
  3. Eat as is or refrigerate for 20-30 minutes for a firmer texture
  4. Store any leftovers (pssh) covered in fridge.

And that’s all, folks! Your late night cravings cured without breaking a sweat, and it’s just the perfect amount to share with your special someone. For some other no bake treats check out my Date Cake, Peanut Butter Cups, Cheesecake, or Fudge. Treat yourself, stay cool…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Instant Pot Mushroom Pot Roast

It is getting seriously hot out here in Dallas, Texas! We blew up the little pool and hooked the splash pad up to the sprinkler this week for some outdoor summer fun, and nice cream and no bake treats are on repeat in the kitchen lately. But what about dinner? Turning on the oven just turns our little house into an oven! We can’t have chicken salad or sandwiches every night, right? This is when the Instant Pot saves the day! Well, this and when I forget to defrost the meat, of course.

Anyways, when it’s too hot to turn the oven on, the Instant Pot or the slow cooker is a great option! I have plenty of slow cooker recipes on the blog, but this is only my second Instant Pot recipe. Like most trends, I was late to the game (literally just set up my iPhone 7… only about five generations behind), but now that I’m on the Instant Pot bandwagon, I may never get off!

Now I am a fan of all pot roasts because I’m a big red meat lover, and anything that is flavorful and cut-with-a-fork tender is alright in my book. This pot roast, though, is extra special because it is covered in mushrooms and onions, which are beautifully caramelized by the end of the cook time, and is cooked in red wine which compliments the richness of the meat so perfectly. So if you want shreddably (pretty sure it’s a word) tender pot roast that took a wine bath then got dressed in meaty mushrooms and sweet onions, keep reading for the recipe!

Instant Pot Mushroom Pot Roast

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pound chuck roast
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • One yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of sliced white or baby Bella mushrooms
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 1 tsp of black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of dry red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon, but Merlot would be good, too)
  • 1/4 cup of water

Directions

  1. Turn the Instant Pot to “sauté”
  2. Add olive oil when the IP is hot
  3. Sauté onions and mushrooms for about 3 minutes, until tender, then add garlic, stirring for about 1 minute.
  4. Season the pot roast with salt, pepper, and thyme.
  5. With the IP still on “sauté” mode, push the mushroom mixture aside and sear the roast for about 2-3 minutes per side.
  6. Next pour in the wine, and allow it to cook (still on “sauté”) for about one minute.
  7. Turn off “sauté” mode, add the water, cover, and put the IP on “pressure cook” mode.
  8. Cook for 20 minutes per pound, and allow a 20 minute natural pressure release.
  9. Shred and serve covered with mushrooms and onions.

You can serve this fantastic pot roast as is, but it is delicious with mashed potatoes and carrots on the side. A classic! This recipe, although simple, really takes classic pot roast and intensifies the flavors, making it like a whole new dish; I hope you give it a try! Check out my other Instant Pot recipe here, and plenty of slow cooker recipes here, here, and here. Keep the oven off, beat the heat…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

DIY All Natural Kitchen Cleaner

Okay so I realize that spring is 2/3rds of the way over, but surely I can’t be the only one still needing to do spring cleaning? I think a really thorough deep clean would be good for my mental health; you know, the kind where you actually move the furniture to mop under it? Imagining sitting in a house that clean sounds heavenly; I would have the windows open, letting in the warm, spring-scented fresh air while relaxing with a cup of coffee and a good book.

Unfortunately the reality is the most cleaning I usually have time for is wiping down the counters and running the vacuum. All while listening to my four-year-old whine and watch my one-year-old throw her food and spill her milk on my freshly cleaned floors. *sigh/laugh combo* However, there is some good news: having a one-year-old that army crawls means that her shirt mops up all the hard to reach places for me. Joking…kinda. The truly good news is that many months ago, I started making my own all natural kitchen cleaner using vinegar, essential oils, and water. I seriously use it everywhere – even the dreaded high chair! It smells great, gets the job done well, and I don’t have to worry about if my girls accidentally drink some. They definitely wouldn’t be pleased with the flavor, but at least I don’t have to worry about it poisoning them! If you are looking for something that is great on tough messes (again…high chair), but is all natural, smells good, and is easy to make yourself, read on for the recipe!

DIY All Natural Kitchen Cleaner

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a glass spray bottle
  2. Use to clean everywhere! Cabinets, counters, appliances, table, high chair, etc.

That’s it! This is such an easy “recipe”, and like I said, I’ve been using this little cleaning concoction for months now! I even use it on wood furniture when dusting (you know, on the once a month occasion that I dust), and squirt a few sprays into my dishwasher’s pre-rinse section to help with water spots. It is really handy, cheap, and the best part is that it’s all natural. I hope this helps you feel like keeping a clean and green home is a bit easier! If you need a snack after all your cleaning, I got you covered there, too 😉 Maybe something crunchy or salty, or something for your sweet tooth. Check out some recipes while you’re here! However much you end up cleaning, or not, and whatever you snack on, I hope you have a wonderful week. Don’t sweat the small stuff, soak up the little moments with your people…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Instant Pot Black Beans

Well, it’s mid-March and the year is just running by, full speed ahead. After our wild snow storm in Texas last month, I’ve never been so relieved to see Spring. My second baby is about to turn one in a few weeks *cue the ugly crying*, spring break is here, the time change is looming, and our red bud tree in the backyard is starting to blossom. Even though I’m relieved that spring has sprung, and I’m enjoying seeing the “rebirth” of nature, I am sad that time is moving so quickly – it’s like each day slips through my fingers like sand. These days are filled with equally precious and hard moments of motherhood that I won’t get back.

Part of the reason time is moving so quickly is that we have been extra busy over here. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have seen that we have Selah (our baby) in physical therapy right now. She has both low and high muscle tone and is struggling with gross motor development. For the last three weeks or so we have had about 3-4 appointments a week between the chiropractor, PT, and other meetings with the therapists. However, after seeing improvement after just two PT sessions, I am encouraged that this busy season won’t last too long. But, wow! 3-4 appointments a week, on top of regular mom life, on top of two part time jobs, I just feel like I don’t have much extra time. Especially for cooking.

Enter: the Instant Pot. This little kitchen gadget has become all the rage in years past, and after receiving one for a Christmas present in 2019 I can see why! To be honest, I was a little terrified of it blowing up, and was hesitant to get started using it, but once I did, I started with beans, and I was sold! The first bean recipe I made in the Instant Pot was red beans, and even with the time it takes to get to pressure, then cook, then release (side note: I hate that Instant Pot recipes don’t account for that time – I learned quickly not to trust the “15 minutes” marking on a recipe), what would normally be an all day venture only took 90 minutes, and the beans came out the perfect creamy texture! Next I tackled black beans. We eat black beans and rice often for a cheap, plant-based meal; then I get to use the leftover black beans throughout the week to top fajitas, tacos, salads, and even scrambled eggs. So if you want to save time and money with this quick and easy dinner and/or side, keep reading for the recipe!

Instant Pot Black Beans

Ingredients

  • One medium bell pepper, chopped
  • One half of a yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 pound of
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of chili powder
  • Optional for serving: rice
  • Optional toppings: avocado, lime, cilantro, jalapenos, scallions/red onions

Directions

  1. Cover beans with water and soak for at least three hours, or up to overnight. This is optional, but I find that it helps with digestion and less “tootie booties” as we say in our house hehe!
  2. Once beans are done soaking, drain and toss remaining water.
  3. Turn on “sauté” feature and cook bell pepper and onion in olive oil until tender and beginning to brown.
  4. Turn off Instant Pot and add garlic, stirring to get the garlic warm but not toasty.
  5. Add broth and water, scraping the bottom of the pot to get up any browned bits.
  6. Add in beans and seasonings.
  7. Select “pressure cook” and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, allowing a 20 minute natural release at the end.
  8. Serve warm with rice and toppings, or as a side dish.
  9. Keep leftover beans in remaining liquid, cover and refrigerate for up to five days.

If you haven’t yet boarded the Instant Pot train, I hope you’ll check out my slow cooker recipes here, here, and here. Save some time in the kitchen…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Meal Plan Month: January Meal Plan 4

January is already coming to a close, which means two things:

  1. My first baby will be turning four in a few days. Four!
  2. It already looks like 2021 will be flying by. Time just doesn’t stop.

This week, I went back to work for the first time in over a month thanks to Ms. Rona hitting our home after the holidays, we also had our sweet baby in a splint after a fall, and we have not one, not two, but three birthday celebrations (to keep numbers down) coming up for Zemirah. So you could say it was…a week. With A Pinch of Crazy, as always! Enjoy some pictures of the birthday girl – four years has flown by!

Per usual, meals were kept simple and quick, and because I was buying stuff for the birthday parties, I really tried to keep costs down. Here is what I started with for the week:

Produce- spinach, mashed sweet potato, frozen broccoli, a few carrots and potatoes, apples, bananas, berries, cherry tomatoes, cucumber

Protein- frozen salmon filets, leftover black beans, nut butter, chia and flax seeds

Carbs- brown rice, oats

I was actually able to make two full dinners and prep two breakfasts with just what we already had! Doing kitchen inventory before planning meals can really save a lot of money! Here is what our meals were for the week:

Breakfasts:

Overnight Oats
  • Sweet potato muffins topped with peanut butter *This was a concoction I made up to use up those mashed sweet potatoes. I wrote it down and will test it out again to hopefully get the recipe posted here!*
  • Overnight oats with chia seeds, cinnamon, and almond butter, topped with bananas
  • Breakfast tacos with egg, cheese, salsa, and avocado

Lunches:

  • Leftovers
  • Sandwiches
  • For Z’s school lunch I packed: turkey/mayo roll ups (nitrate free), a green apple, seaweed snacks, broccoli, and a cookie. For her snack I packed: a fruit pouch and cheddar bunnies
  • While Z was at school, Selah and I enjoyed a quiet brunch of scrambled eggs with spinach and tomatoes and a side of avocado toast topped with everything bagel seasoning. It was nice to change it up from our usual microwaved leftovers!

Snacks:

  • Cliff bars for grownups/fruit bars for Z
  • Fruit leathers
  • Pouches
  • Apples/bananas with peanut butter
  • Strawberries with honey (Z’s favorite)
  • Chocolate chip lactation cookies (mostly for me, but these only lasted two days hehe)
  • Boiled eggs

Dinners:

Slow Cooker Pork Roast
  • Monday: Black bean burgers with spinach, avocado, and habanero ranch; fries and cucumber tomato salad on the side
  • Tuesday: Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Veggies (this was my day at work, I got home at 6 and dinner was ready for us) with a side of bread and butter
  • Wednesday: Salmon *I just cooked in the skillet* with broccoli and brown rice on the side
  • Thursday: This was date night! Woo! The girls ate dinner at my parents’ house, and David and I got sushi 🙂
  • Friday: Pork tacos with leftover roast and sautéed peppers, onions, and mushrooms; guacamole and plantain chips on the side
  • Saturday: Birthday party foods – we are having a rainbow charcuterie board
  • Sunday: This is Z’s real birthday so I haven’t planned anything. We are definitely going out for breakfast, and maybe dinner, too. Or we might eat leftovers, or I might just buy some frozen pizzas. It’s up to the birthday girl!

There you have it! Because I was able to plan two meals just with what we had, plus going out one night, this week’s grocery bill was only $60! Now after I added all the birthday party foods, the total doubled, but still not too bad for multiple birthday parties. That’s a plus side of social distancing – not many kiddos get three birthday parties! We are doing a food for every color of the rainbow (red pepperoni, orange crackers, yellow cheese, etc.) and I made pink unicorn sugar cookies, confetti cupcakes (from a box mix), and will do different colored frosting using natural food dye. She is going to have a blast!

If you want to look back on the last few weeks of meal plans click here, here, and here. Maybe these posts can give you some ideas while you’re planning food for next week. Have fun cooking and feeding your family…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small commission for me. Thank you for supporting A Pinch of Crazy!

Meal Plan Month: January Meal Plan 3

The first month of the new year is already almost coming to a close – how has 2021 just started yet is already flying by?! After the last two weeks of craziness, quarantine, and sickness, it was nice to get back to a little bit of normalcy this week. Thankfully the girls and I are all feeling well still, though I stayed home from work (I work one day a week out of the house teaching music lessons) just to ensure my students’ safety, and I taught my one Fit4Mom class virtually again this week. So we had another slow week kind of easing back into our normal schedule, but I still needed lots of quick meals because being stuck at home with two little ones can get a little Crazy!

As I have the past two weeks (read week 1 here and week 2 here) I will share any modifications necessary for the girls. One exciting thing from this week is that I have started introducing some dairy for Selah and me! This was exciting because she used to get terrible tummy pains, and, without too much detail, things were not normal with her diapers, when I would have dairy. Now, not only can I eat dairy, but she can too! I actually got a little too crazy with the grilled cheeses this week and found myself bloated and yucky feeling. Now that the initial excitement of being able to eat grilled cheese is over, I will work on scaling it back again hehe 🙂

Alright, on to the cheesy meal plan!

Doing my “kitchen inventory” this week I had:

  • Protein: Greek yogurt, almond/peanut butter, one pound of ground turkey, cheese (how am I still trying to finish up this block of cheese?!), leftover black beans, the last bit of hummus
  • Carbs: oats, rice, sweet potatoes, half a package of lasagna noodles, quinoa
  • Produce: spinach, berries, bananas, apples, leftover squash, leftover burrito veggies, frozen broccoli

Based on these few things here are the meals I planned:

Breakfasts:

Berries & Greens Smoothie
  • I made a “Tex-Mex” breakfast casserole using leftover beans and burrito veggies mixed with scrambled eggs and shredded cheese. I served it topped with avocado slices, hot sauce, and Greek yogurt.
  • Berries and Greens Smoothies *I added Collagen Peptides to these for protein*
  • Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal *I added almond butter and regular butter for some fat and protein here*

Snacks:

  • Cliff bars, Z bars
  • Fresh fruit with peanut butter
  • Cheddar bunnies
  • Seaweed snacks
  • Pouches
  • Crackers with cheese or hummus (finally finishing that up this week!)

Lunches:

  • Leftovers
  • Sandwiches (again, with uncured ham or nitrate free turkey lunch meat)
  • For Z’s school lunch I packed half a turkey sandwich, seaweed snacks, a pouch, cucumber slices, and dark chocolate candy. For her school snack I packed a Z Bar and a clementine.

Dinner:

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
  • Monday: Grilled cheese (my first real grilled cheese in like a year!) and tomato soup
  • Tuesday: Spinach, squash, and turkey lasagna *I simply cooked a spaghetti sauce similar to last week but with turkey meat, mixed some shredded mozzarella with an egg and Italian seasonings, then layered those sauces between noodles and raw spinach and squash. Baked for about 45 minutes, covered for the first 30.*
  • Wednesday: Salmon with tzatziki sauce and a quinoa salad with broccoli, tomatoes, avocado, and a hummus based dressing *you can see this dinner on my Instagram highlights*
  • Thursday: Sushi bowls *I will be using leftover salmon shredded and mixed with mayo and sriracha, put over cooked brown rice, and top with avocado, cucumber, seaweed snacks, sesame seeds, and coconut aminos*
  • Friday: Sweet and sour meatballs with red bell pepper and mushrooms over rice *I will be using this meatball recipe, but with Asian-inspired seasoning, cover in this sweet and sour sauce, then serve over cooked brown rice and with sautéed veggies*
  • Saturday and Sunday: last week’s highlights, and we may go out to eat once 🙂

There is our full week of food! I kind of overly stocked up on snacks this week, so hopefully next week that won’t be necessary, as I will also be buying some birthday party foods next week. However, even with stocking up a little more than usual, I did not go too far over budget (I try and keep it at or below $100/week); I spent $110 this week. That may seem like a lot, but for a family of four eating three meals and two snacks a day, seven days a week, that’s really not too bad! We are all big eaters, too, so that’s even better!

According to insider.com the average fast food burger (not the sides, just the burger) cost $2.64 in 2018. I calculated buying 5 burgers for my family (again, no sides) for two meals a day every day and that came out to $184.80 for one week. So even with the “cheaper” option of fast food I would end up spending more per week and we would actually be eating less. Of course this is not even accounting for the health factor of eating home cooked food, which is invaluable, and I feel grateful to be able to serve my family in this way!

I think that covers everything for this week. Next week I’ll finally be going back to work after winter break/quarantine so I will likely have a crock pot meal in the menu sometime. Our sweet Z is turning four next week so I will also be sharing her birthday party foods, so stay tuned for the last meal plan of the month. I hope you can draw some inspiration from these easy meal plans, get in the kitchen, make some good, healthy food…and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

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Meal Plan Month: January Meal Plan 2

Alright so we are halfway through the first month of the new year, and… wow. Things are already stressful, there is tension everywhere, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, get swept away with emotion, and drown in anxiety.

I have been going to counseling (for the third time in my life; no shame here) since March; I started going as a preventative measure before I had our second daughter, Selah, to help avoid postpartum depression/anxiety this time around. Then after the first two meetings with my new counselor, the world flipped upside down, and everything turned dark, a little scary, and a lot stressful. So on top of dealing with the stress of a new baby, I, like everyone, was dealing with the stress of current events, but my counselor advised me to really look at what I can control.

So what can I control to reduce my stress? Well, I can exercise because I know that when I move my body lovingly in a way that feels good to me (that is the key), those happy hormones will flood my brain and relieve some stress. I can make sure I don’t consume too much refined sugar, as I have found over the years that eating sugary treats will work against me by making my heart race and my stress rise. I can make sure that I feed myself and my family whole, healthy foods that will nourish us and make us feel happy and healthy (as always, with A Pinch of Crazy!), and this is really what got me through this week! Knowing that I am doing the best for my family to keep us all healthy, and make sure I’m doing what I can to reduce my stress.

On top of the upsetting news that is constantly swirling around us, this past week, my family got hit with that virus. I debated writing about this because I felt like I would get some backlash. However, at the start of the pandemic, with the professional advice from both my counselor and my midwife, we decided it would be unwise for me to self-isolate with a new baby. Due to my history with postpartum depression and anxiety, the best decision for me was to continue seeing my family, and I am so glad that I have! Both David and I have large families of origin (he has three siblings, I have four sisters, everyone’s married, and I can’t even add all the grandkids off the top of my head), so we figured eventually someone would catch the virus. It was David, my husband, but thankfully he is feeling fine now (though his smell is still slowly returning), and we finished up our quarantine yesterday.

So, yeah. All in all, a stressful start to 2021, but we had a fun snow day on Sunday, we are all healthy, and I feel thankful to control what I can. Please enjoy these happy snow day pictures to take your mind off your troubles! I hope this easy, yummy meal plan can give you some ideas for healing, healthy food for your family!

Here is what I had when taking my “kitchen inventory”:

  • Carbs- a little bit of brown rice, half a box of spaghetti noodles, a few packages of grits, oats
  • Protein- half a bag of frozen shrimp, ground beef, a little bit of Greek yogurt, nut butter, cheese, Cliff bars + Z bars, hummus
  • Produce- avocados, cucumber, apples, baby carrots, cilantro, frozen blueberries, bananas, lettuce

Starting with these few items, I made a menu for breakfasts, dinners, and snacks, then got my grocery order in. I ended up only planning for four dinners this week because my mom brought us a meal (which she just dropped on our porch while we said our masked hellos) on Tuesday since we had to miss out on my dad’s birthday dinner over the weekend.

Like I did last week (you can read last week’s plan here), I will share our meal plan with recipes and/or short directions, and any baby modifications necessary. We do baby led weaning, so while she typically eats what we do, sometimes there are modifications necessary, especially since Baby and I usually eat dairy free.

I am also trying to start implementing more of a schedule for meals and snacks with Z; otherwise she will want to eat snacks all day. I try and offer snacks that have protein and fat so that she feels fuller longer. I am always learning, and get excited to learn new things, about feeding these little ones!

Two resources that I have loved in regards to feeding my family healthy foods are Kids Eat in Color on Instagram, and the Doctor Moms Podcast (formerly known as “Whole Mamas Club”). Also from these wonderful health-minded moms, I have learned about some supplements, so while this is different from just a meal plan, I will also share the vitamins/supplements we were taking this week to get back to full health.

I hope you can find something that works for you and your family this week, take what works for you, leave what doesn’t. Enjoy!

Breakfasts:

  • Baked oatmeal again with blueberries, bananas, and almond butter
  • Greek yogurt with honey, cinnamon, granola, and berries
  • Breakfast burritos with eggs, cheese, avocado, and salsa (for our slower mornings… which were almost all of them due to quarantining)
Spicy Garlic Salsa for our breakfast burritos

Snacks:

  • Hummus again with pretzels, carrots, and cucumber slices (for Selah I spread her hummus on toast or meat)
  • Fruit pouches for Z and Selah
  • Apple or banana slices served with peanut butter
  • Hard boiled eggs (sometimes serve with mayo and/or mustard for flavor and extra fat)
  • Cliff bars or Larabars for the grownups, Z bars for Z

Lunches:

  • Leftovers
  • Sandwiches with nitrate free turkey lunch meat or uncured ham
  • For Z’s school lunch this week (thankfully was the day after our quarantine ended!) I packed healthier vanilla wafers and strawberries for her snack, and for lunch a half a turkey sandwich, baby carrots, pretzels, and bunny fruit snacks

Dinners:

  • Monday: shrimp and grits *with cheese for those that could have it* and broccoli
  • Tuesday: meal from my mom plus any leftovers from the night before or weekend
  • Wednesday: spaghetti *I used this sauce recipe* with sautéed squash on the side
The sauce used for my spaghetti – great on noodles or veggies
  • Thursday: black beans and brown rice with avocado and cilantro on top and guacamole with plantain chips *I wish I had this recipe posted, but I cook dry beans in the instant pot (after soaking) with broth and water, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and lots of spices*
  • Friday: burritos/burrito bowls using leftover beans, rice, guac, plus sautéed bell peppers and onions, and turkey taco meat *will cook this taco meat*
Guacamole for beans and rice/burritos
  • Saturday and Sunday: last week’s highlights 🙂 AKA leftovers

There you have it! Our meal plan for a family of four – three meals and two snacks a day – this week’s grocery store total came out to $97, which is really pretty good! I’ll see what I can get it down to next week.

As far as supplements and vitamins go, usually I like to rely on food as our medicine, but we have been taking these off and on for months now, but really consistently these last few weeks. I love the Garden of Life vitamins/supplements as they are made from only whole foods, so I will be linking those below:

For David and me:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D every three days
  • Echinacea
  • Zinc

For just me:

  • Prenatal vitamin (not pregnant!)
  • Omega-3 to help with getting fattier breastmilk

For just Z:

For just Selah:

  • Vitamin D (does not come through breastmilk)

For all of us:

  • Elderberry syrup made with maple syrup
  • Plenty of healthy food, limited dairy (increases mucous production) and refined sugar (lowers immune support), and outside time!!!

Thank you for following along with our meals and health journey this month. I am far from perfect and know I could always do things better, so I always enjoy learning more about health and food, but I love sharing with others some of the easy things we do in our home for our health. I truly hope this helps someone in some small way! Stay healthy, have fun cooking and caring for yourself and your family… and enjoy your Pinch of Crazy!

This post contains affiliate links; if you purchase using the links, it is of no cost to you, just a small commission for me.