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.

Taco Stuffed Potatoes with Avocado Chipotle Ranch

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase using the links, it is of no extra cost to you, just a small pantry fund for me! 

tacopotato1.jpg

Taco ‘Bout a Rough Day

Do you ever have one of those days? One of those days filled with toddler tantrums and tears, time outs, a power outage during potty time, resulting in toddler pooping on the floor, then everyone just eats PB&Js on old bread for lunch, and you sweat (because of no power) and cry while rocking the little one to sleep, wondering if you can start the day over? Yeah…me neither, and those are absolutely not examples from my actual day today…

Just kidding. This has been my day today, combined with the stress of our upcoming move and transition out of the military, plus the mom guilt over not being gentler with Zemirah during these stressful times. Whew!

Praise the Lord we are all healthy and safe, but on these kinds of days, you just need a quick dinner to throw together. Giant stuffed potatoes are such an easy, filling, and cheap dinner that everyone loves, and these Taco Stuffed Potatoes have just the right amount of spice combined with all the comfort of a baked potato. Top them with Avocado Chipotle Ranch for extra creaminess with a kick! I love making homemade sauces when I can, but if you would like to buy some you can purchase some of my favorite Avocado Ranch here; which always comes in handy on those pinch of crazy days!

No matter what kind of day you’re having, these stuffed potatoes will put a smile on your face and warmth in your belly; I hope your family enjoys!

Taco Stuffed Potatoes with Avocado Chipotle Ranch

Serves 6.

Ingredients:

For the Avocado Chipotle Ranch:

For the Taco Stuffed Potatoes:

  • One potato per person eating (I used sweet for me and russet for my husband)
  • 1 lb ground turkey or beef
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • Cayenne to taste
  • Optional toppings:
    • salted pepitas
    • pickled jalapenos
    • chopped cilatro
    • chopped scallions
    • avocado

Directions:

For the Avocado Chipotle Ranch:

  • Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor
  • Blend until smooth
  • Keep leftovers, covered, in fridge for a week

For the Taco Stuffed Potatoes:

  • Preheat oven to 425 F
  • Poke holes all over potatoes (make sure you gave them a good scrubbing!) with a fork or knife
  • Place directly on rack
  • Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, until soft and skin is easily pierced with a fork
  • With 20 minutes left on the potatoes, start your taco meat
  • Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat
  • Cook onion and garlic for a few minutes, until onions are translucent
  • Add ground meat, stirring to break up meat (or use one of these)
  • Add seasonings, stirring to combine
  • When meat is cooked through, drain fat if using beef
  • Add tomato paste, stirring to combine
  • Let mixture simmer for 10 minutes
  • Cut open potatoes and fill with taco meat
  • Don’t forget a drizzle of Avocado Chipotle Ranch and extra toppings!
  • Store leftover meat, covered, in fridge for a week

Be sure to check out my Slow Cooker Potato and Kale SoupOne Pan Chicken and Shrimp FajitasSheet Pan Salmon, and Roasted Chicken with Carrots for other quick and healthy dinner ideas! Everyone has those crazy days, you are not alone. Don’t forget to count your blessings…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!

Classic Garlic Hummus

hummus

Generational Food

Hummus has gained popularity in the last few years as a healthy, good-for-you food, and it is! But at the risk of sounding like one of *those* people… “I was into hummus before it was popular”.  Actually, though, hummus and I do go way back.

My grandmother, Elizabeth Aijian Munroe, was a first generation American whose parents fled Armenia to escape the Turks. Because of their traumatic experiences in Armenia, they wanted to raise their children as Americans not Armenians. So they spoke English in their home and did not keep many Armenian traditions…except food. While my sisters and I wish that we knew the Armenian language or some of the customs and traditions, we are all thankful we grew up with the tradition of Armenian hospitality and food.

As a child, we lived about 6 hours north of my grandparents so it was always quite the ordeal driving down to Mimi and Papa’s. Whenever we would arrive, Mimi would always, without a doubt, have out an appetizer spread which always included hummus. To be honest, I hated it as a kid. I would much rather eat the pita bread, Armenian cheese, and kalamata olives she’d set out. Now, however, I love hummus!

My Mimi and Papa were married for 64 years, and just last year, they passed on into eternity a mere 12 days apart. So now, I see hummus in a whole new light: a love of culture, food, and hosting loved ones in your home…all in one little dip. In fact, when I was making this hummus, Zemirah helped me squeeze the lemon juice and I felt a rush of emotions (and maybe my eyes watered a bit) and gratitude as I thought about the history and love in this little bean dip. I imagined my great-grandmother making hummus with my grandmother, my grandmother making hummus with my mom, my mom making hummus with me, and now, here I was, continuing on in the tradition.

This recipe is based on the one found in the cookbook, Armenian Cooking Today, which was gifted to me by my sweet mom, who was wise and kind enough to have herself and Mimi write notes in the margins. Food has such history, can tell incredibly vast, beautiful stories, and brings us all together to enjoy eating with ones we love. I hope this simple, healthy dish can bring some history and love to your table, too.

Classic Garlic Hummus

Serves 10-12. Delicious as a veggie or chip dip, or as a spread.

Ingredients:

  • One 15 oz can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • Water as needed
  • Optional garnishes:
    • a drizzle of olive oil
    • chopped parsley
    • a sprinkle of paprika

Directions:

  • Combine chickpeas, tahini, and olive oil in blender
  • Blend until smooth
  • Add remaining ingredients
  • Blend until smooth
  • Adjust consistency with water if needed (I like mine thicker, but not too oily and heavy, which is why I use water)
  • Best if chilled overnight before serving
  • Garnish before serving, if desired

Thank you for letting me share a little about myself and my family. I hope you keep this easy hummus on hand for a quick snack or spread, but just be warned, you might want to pop a breath mint after eating it haha! Although, garlic is nature’s antibiotic, so eat up and stay healthy! Eat all the garlic…and enjoy your pinch of crazy!