Category: Recipes

Meal Plan Monday: Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Earlier this week, I shared on my personal social media pages the grilled sweet potatoes that my very picky eaters enjoyed (and gave a rave review by the way!). It felt like a total win when my whole family ate them without a single complaint.

I started eating a vegan diet at the beginning of the year for my own personal health reasons. The goal was to eat a vegan diet for 30 days. Well, after 120 days, I’m still going strong. I don’t expect my entire family to make the switch, it is something I am doing for myself. But, that does mean I need to spend a little time coming up with one meal that can fit three different pallets at once. I am thrilled that this easy sweet potato side dish is something we all agree on! And it is so easy to make on a weeknight, or for a family barbecue.

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Of course I can’t let on how over joyed I am that my kids ate a healthy serving of a fiber, nutrient rich VEGETABLE! Otherwise, they will never eat it again. So, I silently turn cartwheels inside my heart and commit the recipe to memory, promising to only make it now and then. I have to make sure to no over use it. Moms with picky eaters know about this quiet victory dance, and how we have to steel our emotions against believing this is the breakthrough vegetable.

For myself, I served this alongside some marinated baby portabella mushroom skewers and grilled romaine, topped with shredded vegan parmesan.

For my family, I served alongside Spiedies Marinaded chicken. If you haven’t had a chicken Spiedies sandwich before, well you are missing out! It is an upstate New York favorite. Hmmm… I feel a new recipe post coming on.

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Just to keep things simple, I made these potato slices in foil packets so I wouldn’t have to spend time flipping each individual potato slice. The steam created during the grill time also helps soften the potatoes quicker.

I’ve also made this recipe with regular potatoes to create a completely different flavor.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite vegetable to toss on the grill? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

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Cooking Basics for Kids with a Fun Recipe Round-up!

Is your kid ready to learn some basic kitchen skills? Cooking with kids can be a little stressful because most often we see the mess we have to clean up. The key here is it will all clean up. Let your kids learn from their messy mistakes and learn how to clean up after their cooking adventures. Afterall, cleaning up after themselves is also a valuable life skill, right?

So here are the basics when cooking with kids:

Chose the right recipe. Select recipes that require skills your kids already have. For example, you might have your 2-year-old help bake cookies, or pretzels because rolling out the dough is easy and fun. But you wouldn’t have them help you make a 4-course dinner with a million steps.

Keep it simple. If your kids are just starting out in the kitchen start out with recipes that require fewer steps to complete. Your kid will stay motivated to learn more. Start with easy snacks to nail down the basics like cutting and planning, then work up to meals that requires bigger skills.

Use the right tools. If you are worried about your kids using knives or any of your kitchen tools, get them a kid version that they can use with easy. I always have plenty of towels and a broom and dustpan on hand to clean up any messes.

Chose the right time. Don’t try to teach your kid some cooking skills while they are hungry and impatient, or during the dinner time rush. You want to select a recipe that will fit into the time you have to get through the recipe without pressure to get it done quickly.

Here are some simple recipes you can help your child make:

Toddlers:

Banana sushi

Soft pretzels

Garlic bread pizza

Older kids (ages 6-10):

Egg salad wraps

Pancakes

Meatballs and sauce.

Tweens: (Age 10+)

Grilled cheese

Homemade mac and cheese

Scrambled egg burritos

What are you cooking with the kids this week? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!

Roxanne is a twin mom and freelance writer. She owns this little piece of the blogosphere where parents are encouraged to let go and embrace the messier parts of parenting, without judgement.

Recipe Round-up: Sheet pan meals!

As much as I love cooking, I don’t love spending hours in the kitchen. I will often prep my meals ahead of time if I can, and pull them out as I need them through the week. But when I am pressed for time, I absolutely love tossing everything on one baking sheet to cook together in the oven. One sheet pan meals make dinner time easier because there is only one pan to clean!

Here are my favorite sheet pan meals to try this week!

Sheet pan fajitas

Mini meatloaf sheet pan meal

Sheet pan BBQ Tofu

Easy sheet pan sausage and veggies

Vegan herbed veggies sheet pan meal

And when I am feeling lazy, I mean “pressed for time” I simply put some frozen veggie burgers and sweet potato fries on one sheet pan and toss in the oven. In less than 30 minutes I have a full dinner made complete with veggies my family will eat.

Do you have a favorite sheet pan meal recipe you love? Please share in the comments below! I’d love to give it a try!

Roxanne is a twin mom and freelance writer. She owns this little piece of the blogosphere where parents are encouraged to let go and embrace the messier parts of parenting, without judgement.

Recipe Round-up: Gluten Free Crock-pot Meals!

As a busy mom, I rely on my crock-pot to get me through at least one or two dinners each week. When my kids were toddlers and I was cooking two different meals, it was easier to let the crock-pot do the heavy lifting of cooking the main meals. This gave me a little extra time to make the toddler favorites or dress up a side dish we could all eat. Freezer to crock-pot meals became my jam. I love prepping 5 meals at once and tossing into the freezer. I pull one out each night to dump in the crock pot the next day.

I love that there is less clean up and less thinking about what to make each night. 

Finding gluten free meals to enjoy can be a little stressful and time consuming.

Here are five gluten free meals I found to try this week: 

Slow cooker gluten free cocktail meatballs my kids go crazy for these along with maple roasted carrots.

Low carb crock-pot chili

Creamy salsa chicken

Vegetarian portobello crock-pot roast

Slow cookier coconut quinoa curry

That’s five nights of a crock-pot meals done! Which one will you try first?

Roxanne is a twin mom and freelance writer. She owns this little piece of the blogosphere where parents are encouraged to let go and embrace the messier parts of parenting, without judgement.

Vegan Recipe Round Up

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Shop my favorites: Coconut wraps | Vegan mayo | Veggie Burger| Biena crunchy chickpeas | Omega 3 cranberries | Curry | Popcorn kernels | Nut butter | Pumpkin seeds | Quinoa |Quorn Chik’n Nuggets | Seaweed snacks | Vega Protein Powder | Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast (Nooch)| Oreos

It’s your meal plan Monday!

This month I took on the Veganuary challenge and committed to eating vegan for 30 days. Many of you are probably asking WHY!?! Well, I am always on the hunt for healthy options and after cooking nearly every meal for a year straight, I am kind of in a food rut. I enjoy trying new things, I thought this might be an interesting way to explore. I was also curious to see if it impacts any changes in my health.

Thankfully, I truly love my veggies. After two weeks into eating all vegan, I felt great! My energy levels increased and my chronic pain issues decreased. I found some new foods to enjoy and new nutrition combinations. So, this week I am sharing some of the vegan recipes I’ve tried so far and enjoyed.

Breakfast:

Vegan donuts are a new family favorite. This recipe calls for bananas and nut butter and maple syrup instead of processed sugar. A new family favorite!

Quinoa bowls not everyone in my family is a fan of quinoa. But, I love that I can make so many different types of dishes with it. I make up a big batch and leave in the fridge and mix into my veggie bowls or salads.

Smoothie my hands down favorite is a chocolate avocado smoothie. It is filling and chocolatey! I love this recipe but I omit the bananas because my smoothie mixer can’t handle how thick the avocado makes this drink!

Lunch:

Un-chicken salad on a wrap warning, this does not taste anything like chicken. But it is delicious as it’s own recipe. I highly recommend if you are not used to vegan mayo, start off by using your favorite brand. Easy to make ahead for a few lunches through the week.

Hummus wrap hummus is my new favorite go-to condiment for almost everything. I slather it on my wraps, add a dollop on my salad or quinoa bowl and I even top my baked potato with it. Adding it to a veggie wrap adds flavor and protein to your midday meal.

Dinner:

Portobello or veggie burger with sweet potato fries: I’m not going lie, I buy all of these premade from the freezer section to make it an easy night off from cooking. My family will eat this with me, so it’s nice when we are all eating the same meal at once.

Lentil Bolognese over pasta this one was a hit at home. No one noticed the extra veggies. I will say that I’ve also cheated by just warming up meatless crumbles into our favorite sauce and tossing it over pasta to save time.

Chickpea curry over rice this one is loaded with veggies and glorious nutrition. It is also a little more time consuming, so I make it on the weekends when I have more time to devote to cooking.

Snacks:

Popcorn with crunchy chickpeas and pumpkin seeds, cranberries. I just mix all of these together in a bowl and munch on them while I am working.

Apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled with nut butter. This is also a new kid favorite. They don’t even complain that it’s healthy.

Orange slices with chocolate hummus is a new go-to sweet snack.

Oreos with almond milk. Yes, it’s true, Oreos are VEGAN!

Tips:

If you are interested in going vegan be sure to research it well to be sure it is a diet you can follow and check with your doctor first.

Plan your meals and snacks ahead because you will be definitely be hungry more often as veggies tend to be less calorie dense.

Try to include healthy fats so your body can feel fuller longer.

Drink a lot of water and herbal teas between meals to keep all that extra fiber moving.

Don’t make it all or nothing to start. You can try one meal or new product a week, then add another and another until you are fully vegan or at a place where you feel comfortable including more plant based meals into your diet.

Also, don’t hate me. But there is no good vegan cheese substitute. There. I said it! I do add nutritional yeast in place of grated cheese for a mild cheese flavor. But, I have yet to find anything that has the same taste or texture equivalent. If you’ve found one you love, tell me in the comments below!

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and freelance writer. The Whatever Mom blog is here to help other moms accept the messier parts of parenting and find solutions.

Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipe Round Up

This recipe round up is just in time for our meal planning Monday!

We all know leftovers are the best part of our Thanksgiving dinner! Nothing compares to the ultimate turkey sandwich the very next day, or even as a midnight snack (no judgement). But, with a little creativity you can fix up something delicious and new!

I polled the moms in my Circle of Moms for their favorite leftover recipes and then I scoured Pinterest for easy recipes that do not require more than what you might already have on hand. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Egg Rolls | Thanksgiving Crescent Ring | Easy Turkey Salad Wrap| Thanksgiving Pizza | Turkey Stuffing Dumpling Soup | Cranberry Turkey Quesadilla | Turkey Cranberry Sliders | Stuffin Muffins

Click the pin below to go directly to my Thanksgiving Leftovers board on Pinterest.

Which one are you making first? Classic sandwich, or the egg rolls?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, freelance writer and owner of The Whatever Mom blog. She shares her solutions to letting go of perfection and embracing the messier parts of parenting so other moms don’t feel alone.

Picky Eater Solutions: How to Minimize the Fight

Many of you know by now, I have two very picky eaters. There was a day I could feed them anything without a problem. Suddenly, they decided food wasn’t exciting anymore. They began limiting themselves to the familiar favorites of macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets.

Before kids, I was not a meal planner nor spent hours prepping ahead. I love the joy of cooking and spontaneously creating a meal from ingredients I’ve tossed together. I love sampling the food combos I’ve dreamed up. Unless it is made entirely of cheese, my kids could care less about my craftiness in the kitchen. So, over the years I’ve learned to push passed my frustration with their picky habits. I’ve realized the main focus is getting food into the belly. Not just any food, but nutritious food. So, how do I get nutritious food into such picky eaters? Here are some lessons I’ve learned over the years.

1. PICK YOUR BATTLES: If you are tired of missing out on meals because your entire time is spent fighting a kid to eat, let it go. If that means prepping a smaller side dish that your kid will eat, then do it if it works for you. To me that is easier than missing my own meal to focus on a battle I am not going to win. I let my kids eat boxed mac and cheese and stir in a couple spoonful’s of squash or cauliflower puree. It makes them happy to eat what they love and it makes me happy they are getting extra nutrition.

I like this hidden veggie mac and cheese recipe from My Fussy Eater.

2. FOCUS ON NUTRITION: Often as parents we get caught up in subscribing to the clean plate club. But this doesn’t help kids understand their hunger cues. Portion sizes vary widely for kids, some enjoy larger portions than others. I try to make sure what I am serving is so packed with nutrition that even if they take two bites, it counts for something. I have become the queen of concealing veggies in my kids’ favorite foods.

My picky eaters don’t even notice the spinach in these Secret Ingredient Pistachio Muffins from Making Thyme for Health.

3. GET THEM INVOVLED WITH FOOD: My kids may turn their noses up to sitting at a table with a full meal before them, but they will nibble all day long on familiar favorites. I encourage them to make their own foods by putting out a sandwich bar or a “picky” tray filled with proteins and nourishment like cold cuts, devilled eggs, hummus and veggies, fruit and dip, etc. It makes things easier for me and we all win when our bellies are full.

Related post: Moms to Kids Everywhere, Make Your Own Damned Sandwiches

4. CHANGE THE WAY YOU CELEBRATE WITH FOOD: Before kids, the only meal planning I did was around the holidays. I created a menu combining my and my husbands favorites from childhood. All I had to do was pull out the recipes and go shopping. But my kids really aren’t into stuffing and Ambrosia Salad. If your kid isn’t into your favorite holiday meals, move your celebration to the meal they love the most. Make a special breakfast, or lunch and enjoy a less stressful experience. You can still enjoy the traditional foods you love at dinner and let them eat smaller portions or something they will stay at the table for. Memories of being at the table together without a war will mean more to them in the future than whether or not they finished the dreaded peas.

We make this Dublin Coddle for St. Patrick’s Day from Fit Slow Cooker Queen. My kids just pick out the parts they will eat.

5. USE COMPASSION: Some kids have anxiety around food, or sensory disorders, they will stick to the foods they know are familiar. Ultimately, it was this discovery in my own kids that made it easier to accept there are times I need to make two different dinners. The old school technique of forcing kids to eat, DOES NOT work for kids with anxiety, or sensory issues. It only forces them to become more rigid with their choices. It can really do more harm than good.

Learn More at Anxious Toddler.

Do you have a picky eater? How do you plan for meals?

The Coffee Cleanse I’d Rather Forget

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Let me tell you about that time I tried to replace my morning coffee with a hot lemon water cleanse. Not only did it make me dizzy and exhausted, but I literally forgot I have children. (Disclaimer: No children were harmed during this cleansing process).

Several weeks ago, I was feeling tired and run down and I thought my coffee addiction might be the culprit of my insomnia. I read article after article with cures and tinctures when I landed on an article written by an “expert,” that suggested coffee was messing with my blood sugar and cortisol levels (that’s a stress hormone). This expert also suggested removing coffee and replacing it with hot lemon water every morning for “increased energy and vitality.”  

It was all lies.

The first day I was tired, but I made it through my day convinced this little coffee detox might just work.

The second day, I was so tired I fell asleep around 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon. I woke up two hours later completely unaware that I had dozed off.

The third day, I was yawning so much, tears were streaming down my face. It looked like I was crying for help and I could barely keep my head up. I finally took a nap.

The fourth day, I was driving along minding my own business and enjoying some tunes when I heard my kid from the backseat yell out how much she LOVES this song! I freaked out! I completely forgot I had a child in the car with me. I forgot I was the parent on duty! That’s how foggy my brain had become after just 4 days without coffee!

The fifth day, I gave up. I brewed a pot of coffee first thing in the morning and drank it fat. My energy returned and the brain fog lifted. I could remember words and I knew where my kids were the whole day.

Click photo to be redirected to Reverie Coffee

I had no idea how much my brain function depends on caffeine.  My morning coffee is literally the fluid holding my mind and body connection together. A mom who runs on coffee. Shocking right? I was supposed to replace my morning coffee with hot lemon water for 14 days. I bailed on day 5 and I jumped back on the coffee wagon.

Right when I jumped back on that wagon, I discovered a small coffee roasting company and sampled some of their flavored coffees. I tried three flavors, Dark Chocolate Cherry, French Toast and Maple Bacon. MAPLE. BACON. (Do I even need to tell you how good this is?). You could say, this is the coffee that saved me.

Maple Bacon colab w/ Soukup Farms

I have tried A LOT of fancy syrups and creamers in my coffee, but I am always disappointed because I end up with a chemical after taste, or a bad reaction to the amount of sugar or additives. All three of these delicious flavors are gluten and dairy free, vegan and no sugar added, yet very flavorful. Even my 9-year-old was sipping off my morning brew and telling me how good it is.

After poking around the website, I find that Reverie Coffee is a woman owned business, the coffee is roasted in small batches and they partner with local charities each moth to give back. It is 100% arabica beans that are sustainably grown. It checks off the boxes that make me feel better about a product. And did I mention it tastes really good?

In fact, I love it so much I asked for a reader discount for all of you to give it a try! Go to Take Me to Reverie fill your cart and use code WHATEVERMOM for 20% off your order! If you love the coffee you ordered, there is a subscription service available. That means the magic beans just show up at your door without you having to remember to order them!

If you love (and depend on) coffee as much as I do, you are going to LOVE Reverie coffee!

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, freelance writer and certified coffee addict. She will stop at nothing to find the perfect soothing cup of coffee to start her morning.

Creating a Healthy Home Fragrance for Fall

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Before kids I had a major candle addiction that typically peaked as the Fall season began. I love all the scents of autumn and anything with a warm cinnamon or a hearty clove smell had to be in my collection. Those famous little spices warm my home and soul as the temperature begins to drop. Once I had babies, I learned how unhealthy burning candles can be for indoor air quality, not to mention how anxious I felt leaving an open flame for tiny exploring hands to find. Since then, I’ve discovered healthier ways to bring those seasonal scents into my home without all the toxins and worry.

Here are my favorite ways to bring the smell off fall safely into my home:

Oil diffuse

ESSENTIAL OIL DIFFUSER

You can use an electric oil diffuser without any worry of heat, flame or burning. Simply fill the with water and add in a few drops of your favorite essential oil. One of my favorites to diffuse during the fall and winter months is Germ Away Organic Essential Oil Blend by Three Sister’s Herbals. The antiviral properties of thieves oil help purify the air and won’t leave behind toxic chemicals. Plus, it is made with clove and cinnamon, two traditional fall scents. I also love to use it in my ceramic wax warmer. I add one TBSP of coconut oil ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon and 5-10 drops of Germ Away Oil. The light of the tealight candle adds ambiance and warmth as it diffuses the protective elements of thieves oil into the air. You can use this same recipe in an electric wax warmer to avoid the open flame around little ones. Be sure to keep it far enough out of reach the kiddos can’t pull it down.

I also use the Germ Away Hand and Surface Essential Oil spray to wipe down high touch surfaces like light switches, doorknobs, faucet handles and countertops. It safely adds a scent of fall to my home while keeping germs at bay. And because it safe to use around babies and animals, I can hand this job off to one of the kiddos without any worries.

LIGHT A FIRE

Nothing feels warmer or more soothing in the fall than a crackling fire. Unfortunately, I do not have a fireplace in my home, but I have found a way to recreate the scent and feel of a warm fire, without an actual fire. A friend of mine gifted me Palo Santo sticks to burn like incense in my home. The scent made by this tiny stick of wood is as comforting as any fire. Simply light it, let it burn for 30 seconds before blowing it out and leaving to sit in a fire safe dish (I use a ceramic saucer). This burns cleaner than store bought incense which can be full of chemicals and respiratory irritants, plus there is no open flame to worry about. You can use other wood sticks like cedar, hickory, and pine to fill your home with that feeling and scent of a warm fire.

DRINK TEA

I find that a simple cup of chai tea (which uses cinnamon and cardamom) elicits a feeling of warmth and coziness. Other flavors I love are cinnamon apple, pumpkin spice, citrus and cinnamon spice, and cranberry. The health benefits of drinking tea are well documented but stopping long enough to enjoy a cup of tea is a great way to relax. Simply allowing your tea to steep a few minutes before drinking will surround you with a familiar fall fragrance.

How do you fill your home with the smells of the season?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, coffee addict and freelance writer. She will write about almost anything you want her to for a small fee. Just check out her about me section to find out how to hire her.

Prep These Easy French Toast Rolls for the Week Ahead!

My kids have fought me on eating any kind of veggies since their toddlerhood. Now, they are almost ten. These picky eaters dominate our meal time choices, but they aren’t always winning the war. I sneak veggies inside of their favorite foods undetected all the time. For breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have no clue.

I typically meal prep our breakfast for the week ahead on Sunday. I like stuff I can freeze for a quick reheat in the morning. Now that my kids are older, this method makes it easier for them to make their own breakfast. This is a huge time saver for us all!

So… this weekend I made sausage stuffed French toast with some hidden sweet potato in there. I tried to make it two ways, the traditional frying method vs. baking in the oven. Even though making one big batch in the oven at once is convenient, frying the rolls individually made for a better texture. And it hid the miniscule pieces of orange potato better.

Here is what you need:

12 of your favorite sausage links

12 slices of your favorite bread

3 eggs

2 TBSP of sweet potato puree

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp maple syrup

Dash of cinnamon

2-4TBSP coconut oil

Rolling pin

* If you do not have sweet potato puree on hand, you’ll need to start by peeling and dicing a sweet potato and boiling until soft enough to mash before adding to the egg mixture. I made the sweet potato puree while I pre-cooked the sausage links in the oven. You can also use summer squash puree which you can find in the freezer section of your grocery store.*

Once you have your puree and cooked sausage you are ready to begin!

EGG MIXTURE

Crack open 3 eggs and dump into a shallow dish. Add sweet potato, vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon. Whisk together until well mixed and no large clumps.

ASSEMBLING ROLL UPS

Use the rolling pin to roll flat each slice of bread (I did four at a time because it’s an easier amount to work with and it is faster than just one at a time). Place a fully cooked sausage on one edge of the flattened bread and roll together. Next, dip the stuffed bread roll into the egg mixture and lay seam side down on a plate.

COOKING

I fried in batches of four to make assembling easier and to leave enough room in the pan. Heat 2 TBSP coconut oil in frying pan. Place each roll up seam side down into the pan. Let cook 2-3 minutes before turning. Be sure to cook all sides.

I stored the rolls in a flat layer in a freezer bag for the family to grab what they need and make for their breakfast. This made one dozen rolls which my family gladly enjoyed with a favorite fruit and glass of milk.

What do you think? Would you hide veggies in your kids favorite foods?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and freelance writer, also known as The Whatever Mom. She is on a mission to connect struggling moms with little ones with her community to laugh, grow and embrace the messy parts of parenting so that they feel empowered and confident in their mom choices.

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