I love making peanut butter bites in any flavor. I usually keep it simple for the kids, though I did want to try pumpkin with these. Because it is fall time in New England and #basicbitch. Maybe next time. These are great snacks filled with healthy fats to keep us all satisfied during the afternoon slump. Even just having one left me satisfied without feeling stuffed.
I’ve never put granola in my bites before but love the extra crunch they added! I will definitely be doing more of this in the future. You can really use any granola for these bites. I recently got Trader Joe’s new peanut butter protein granola and it definitely has a lot of crunch to them. The hemp seeds are super nutritious being rich in omega 3, omega 6, protein, vitamin e and many minerals. Besides putting them in these bites I also sprinkle them on yogurt, smoothies and oatmeal.
I don’t typically put all the ingredients in a blender but I decided to try it with these. I loved the texture I got from them by doing so. They were perfectly thick without being too sticky. I could barely keep my little Evan away from them!
Peanut Butter Granola Bites
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup granola
- 1 tbsp hemp seeds
- 1 tbsp cocoa nibs (or chocolate chips)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3 tbsp almond milk
- Mix all ingredients in blender. Scrape sides as needed to mix well.
- Form into balls with hands.
- Store in refrigerator.
My inspiration for this simple ground turkey recipe came after seeing Jessie James Decker post about cooking it for her family. I love watching celebrity moms cook for their families. Just shows some realness to them. She didn’t have a recipe and said she used a bunch of seasonings with her dish. I kept mine simple to 1-appeal to my family and 2-not mess it up. I think I did pretty good.
Normally my husband doesn’t like sweet potatoes, so I’m left catering to him by making white potatoes with the meal as well. I’ve been known to do this for shepherds pie. This time it wasn’t happening. And guess what? HE LIKED IT! This is a big victory for us in the Simpson house since the kids and I like sweet potatoes. Honestly, what’s not to like about them?
When I was sautéing the sweet potatoes and onion together I added a few splashes of chicken broth to help the pan stay moist and cook the potatoes. Not necessary but I think it helped cook them. Putting everything together in one pan makes everything SO much easier. Literally everything is mixed together (sorry to the picky kids out there: see below) which helps the flavors blend together. Using a lean ground turkey means you don’t have to worry about draining the fat.
Although I tried sneaking some spinach in because you really can’t taste it when it’s sautéed in a dish like this, my son was not being fooled. He of course picked out every shriveled up piece of “green stuff” and wouldn’t dare put in his mouth. He said his favorite colors were brown and orange today so, it is what it is.
1 Pan Turkey Sweet Potato Skillet
- 1 lb lean ground turkey
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 1/4 cup yellow onion
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 tbsp chicken broth
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/4 cup part skim mozzarella cheese
- Dice sweet potatoes into small cubes. You can leave skin on or peel it off. Sauté onions, oil and garlic over medium low heat. Add chicken broth as needed to keep potatoes from sticking. Cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes start to soften with fork
- Add ground turkey to pan and cook until brown.
- Add mozzarella cheese and blend until melted.
- Season with salt and pepper.
Pumpkin season is upon us! I’m creating a healthier version of pumpkin muffins that you don’t have to feel guilty about eating. I don’t follow a gluten free diet but like to experiment with different flours from time to time. I went with almond flour since I haven’t used it in quite awhile. Almond flour is lower in carbs and higher in fat than most flours and gives a moist texture to muffins. Which is exactly why I wanted to use it in my pumpkin muffins.
My mom makes the best pumpkin bread, but she admittedly uses a stick of butter and lots of sugar. What makes her bread so good is how moist the bread is. Seriously makes a big difference. So in trying to recreate her bread (but healthier) I made sure to have a good amount of pumpkin puree, natural sweeteners (honey, coconut sugar & applesauce) and the savory almond flour.
Recently I picked up some gluten free flour to experiment with by enjoy life. I’ve been adding it to my homemade pancakes and really enjoy it. This is a nice option to have if you’re looking for a gluten free flour.
If you have pumpkin spice on hand then feel free to use that in place of the spices I listed. I haven’t had a chance to pick some up yet and have been looking forward to making these pumpkin muffins. These aren’t overly sweet and could be amazing with some cream cheese frosting or simply with your morning coffee. Enjoy!
Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1/2 cup gluten free all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
- 2 eggs
- 2 tblsp honey
- 1/4 cup applesauce
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- Mix dry ingredients together in big bowl.
- Beat eggs in smaller bowl. Add pumpkin, vanilla, honey, applesauce and coconut sugar. Mix until blended.
- Combine wet ingredients into dry and slowly blend. Be careful not to over-work the mixture.
- Bake at 350 for 16 minutes or until toothpick inserted is clean.
- Makes 12 muffins.
This summer was so full of adventure and relaxing time with my boys before the beginning of kindergarten for my oldest son, Travis. We enjoyed our summer guilt free with busy days which meant little time to blog. My hope is to bring more inspiration into the fall and holidays sprinkled in with a little realness of motherhood.
Zucchini and sun dried tomatoes are the star of this meatball show. Zucchini is a late summer veggie bloomer so I was happy to use them in these meatballs. You’ll see that I love using veggies in my meatballs to add some extra vitamins for my boys. I like finely shredded zucchini because it’s less noticeable than something like chopped spinach.
I grate the zucchini over a paper towel to make it easier to squeeze out the liquid. Chopped carrots in my blender make it easy to add those to my meatballs as well. Sometimes my kids can be picky so I like adding hidden vegetables to meals when I can.
The sun dried tomatoes have been making their appearance in my meals lately and I have to say I’m digging it. I wish I had more than 1/4 cup to add to this recipe but next time I would add closer to 1/2 for the flavor.
I said we were adding some realness to motherhood here and surprise surprise my kids didn’t gobble these meatballs up like I thought they would. Usually they love meatballs no matter what I put in them but not tonight. My hubby and I approved whole heartedly on these balls so I’m convinced the boys were having an off night. I really don’t let it bother me that much if they don’t like my dinners because I still encourage (make) them to eat 3-5 bites so they try it and get a healthy meal. I let them know they don’t have to love everything I make but they do need to eat it to stay healthy. What ways have you taught your kids about eating healthy? Let me know some tips!
Turkey Zucchini Meatballs
- 1lb ground turkey
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1/4 cup oatmeal
- 1/2 zucchini grated & drained
- 2 medium carrots shredded
- 1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
- 1 tsp italian seasoning
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix all ingredients in big bowl with hands
- Form medium sized balls and put on greased baking sheet.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until meatballs are golden brown.
- Serve over noodles of choice with sauce.
These festive cheesecake cups were so easy and fun to put together (with a little patience and help from my big guy). There’s nothing better than having a pre-portioned, easy-to-eat, no bake, HEALTHY (ish) treat to satisfy your sweet tooth at a summer cookout. I’ve been to parties where the desserts are bountiful and it’s hard to resist them. Instead of pondering over what will be your best option, BRING the best option.
Every fourth of July we go to my dads cape house in Sandwich. It’s beautiful. We can see fireworks lit up all along the shore and sometimes straight across the ocean at P-town. My dad always brings fireworks so we have our own personal show, as well as our neighbors on the beach surrounding us. It’s usually a big party every year. I’m happy my kids are able to experience this event with our family.
Who doesn’t love a festive treat? Fresh blue and red berries with sprinkles are sure to please everyone. Now even though I’m not sponsored by Annie’s bunny grahams (but Heyyyy I’d love to be 🙂 ) I happen to have these treats littered around my pantry thanks to Amazon. You can use any graham crackers or vanilla wafer cookies go great too. The greek cream cheese is a new favorite of mine because it’s made with greek yogurt, so it’s half the fat with more protein versus regular cream cheese and tastes just as good.
After the burgers, hot dogs and pasta salads have been eaten, it’s nice to have something sweet before we relax with the sunset and wait for the fireworks. These festive cheesecake dessert cups are perfect for however you celebrate on the 4th of July. You can bring them already portioned out in cups so all you need is a spoon. My stepmom got me these adorable shot glasses that come with spoons, but if your husband happened to be at a bachelor party recently, you may have some plastic jello shot cups laying around. Those work just as well (and what I’ll be bringing to the beach). You can find them at most party stores (right babe?).
- 2 6oz plain greek yogurt cups
- 1/2 cup greek cream cheese
- 1/4 cup organic sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup crushed bunny grahams
- sliced strawberries & blueberries
- Using a mixer, beat cream cheese and greek yogurt until smooth.
- Add in vanilla and sugar, mix well.
- Put crushed bunny grahams on bottom of cup.
- Top with cheesecake filling.
- Add berries. Top berries with sprinkles if desired.
- Repeat until cup is full.
I love this idea for making taco pockets. Folded up cheesy deliciousness that’s easy for the kids to eat=WIN. Clearly my family and I enjoy taco flavored foods (see here) so I like to try to mix up how we eat it. Hand held grilled pockets sounded great to me! I see more of these variations in the future!
Us moms (& all wives) put too much pressure on ourselves when it comes to making dinner. Sometimes we’ve had a long day with the kids or at work and the last thing we want to do is come up with a plan for dinner. The husband, the kids, they’re all looking at YOU as the sole source of dinner (seriously what would they do without us?).
The easiest thing for me is to buy a few different meat/protein options that I know an easy recipe for. Like chicken for example. I know I can put it with BBQ sauce and grill it, or boil it and shred it for tacos (shocking I know) or put it on a salad. Ground beef/turkey I make meatballs, meatloaf or simply cooked with tomato sauce. These are my “home base” meals that I know I can turn to when I’m in a pinch and need something quick.
Since my day can get pretty busy on a whim, I do what I can when I can. For this meal, I was able to cook the meat in the afternoon with the spices since it only takes about 20 minutes. Then, when I was ready to make the taco pockets at night, I took the cooked beef out of the refrigerator and started assembling them. Frying them up on the griddle took about 10 minutes and we were ready for dinner. I think these would be great to freeze for a grab and go dinner option as well, though I haven’t tried. I used a jar of salsa instead of tomato sauce (which I usually use) because I had it and wanted to switch it up a bit. Both are great options!
Having some “home base” meals are good to have a few times a week. I like to get adventurous maybe 1-2 times a week depending on what ingredients I have on hand. This meal is not really one of those times, but I’m hoping it can give you inspirations for a new “home base” recipe for your family. I’d love to hear some of yours, let me know!
- 1lb ground beef/turkey
- 1 cup salsa/tomato sauce 8oz
- 1 can black beans
- 1 tblsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- 6 whole wheat tortilla wraps
- 1 package mixed mexican cheese
- Cook ground beef in a skillet over medium high heat in oil.
- Drain oil from beef.
- Add 1/2 jar of salsa or whole can of tomato sauce to beef.
- Add spices and combine.
- Add drained black beans and let simmer over low heat.
- Fill tortilla wrap with 1/4 cup mixture and 1/8 cup mixed cheese.
- Fold tortilla to make it into a pocket and it's the beef is completely enclosed.
- Place tortilla pocket fold side down on medium high skillet.
- Flip after 3-5 minutes or when pocket is heated thoroughly.
The summer is fast approaching and fresh zucchini and blueberry bushes are starting to bloom at the local farms. My garden isn’t really big enough for zucchini so I tend to get them from friends or farm stands. There are so many meals and baked goods to make with zucchini. I love that it’s mild in flavor with low calories and can be used as a substitute for pasta on occasion. Blueberries are another fruit that’s showing up at our farm stands as well and who can’t resist some fresh big blueberries? My little guy calls them “bluebears” and it’s simply adorable.
When I was younger my nana used to bring us blueberry picking every year. She made sure we got the biggest ones and our buckets were full to the brim. Then we’d go back to her cute house in the woods and eat a big bowl of blueberries, milk and sugar. Yup- it was the best. I thankfully got to bring my youngest son blueberry picking with her one summer. Now that she’s passed away, I still make it a point to bring the kids blueberry picking to remember her as well as show them where their food comes from.
Once the blueberry bushes are ready you can bet we’ll be out there picking and making these muffins again! I usually have all of the ingredients on hand so they’re easy to whip up when we’re needing some comfort foods. Maybe this year I’ll let them have her infamous blueberry, milk and sugar treat.
I made these muffins healthier by using a combination of whole wheat and all purpose flour. It takes some density out of the muffins and still makes them taste like they come from a bakery. I don’t like using white sugar so I use coconut sugar and maple syrup to sweeten them up. The banana and coconut oil is a substitute for oil in traditional muffin recipes. Zucchini adds a bit of vitamins and minerals to sneak in there as well. Next time you go blueberry picking, save some for this recipe!
Healthy Blueberry Zucchini Muffins
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup shredded zucchini (water removed)
- 1 medium banana
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup coconut oil melted
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- pinch of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Mix egg, coconut oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup and vanilla extract in small bowl.
- Grate zucchini and squeeze out liquid.
- Add mashed banana and zucchini to wet ingredients above.
- In separate bowl mix flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Gently fold wet ingredients into dry and mix.
- Add in blueberries and combine.
- Line muffin tin with liners or spray with coconut oil. Spoon mix into cups and bake for 15 minutes.
The weather in New England lately has been so blah that instead of making burgers like I should be, I’m making meatballs! That’s ok- it will turn soon! Sunshine is in our future, I know it. So since it’s not exactly burger weather, I figured I’d make meatballs with my ground turkey instead.
I like hiding extra veggies in meatballs because if you chop them small enough you usually can hide the complaints from the peanut gallery. I use my ninja blender to chop the carrots up small and simply chop the fresh spinach. Mixed with fresh garlic, a few spices, egg and breadcrumbs and we’re good.
Except I hate using breadcrumbs! Have you seen the ingredient list in breadcrumbs? Too much crap- including high fructose corn syrup. Since I’ve seen that ingredient in popular breadcrumbs at the grocery store, I do my best to avoid using them. Usually I’ll put oatmeal in my meatballs/meatloaf but I just made almond meal so I thought I’d use that.
I’ve been making almond milk a lot lately and with the extra pulp, I found out how to turn it into a flour/meal (bake in the oven on low heat for 3 hrs). I consider it more of an almond meal because I don’t have anything to grind it up finely like a flour. This worked perfectly for my meatballs to create the thickness needed to hold them together. You could substitute the almond meal for oatmeal which is what I typically do. I don’t grind them, just leave them whole (use gluten free oats).
Some people wonder how I cook or do anything with my kids. This is your answer. So much water play. Such. A. Mess. But it’s ok and it gives me some time to whip dinner together while they get some play time in. For those interested- first we made “cloud dough” which was simply flour mixed with some baby oil. Then we tried adding some food coloring to it. Next we were making “an ocean” and the food coloring ended up in the sink when I wasn’t looking. OH WELL.
Turkey Meatballs with Spinach [Gluten Free]
- 1lb ground turkey
- 1/2 cup chopped spinach
- 2 medium carrots chopped
- 1 egg
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp basil
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- Preheat oven to 375.
- After chopping spinach, carrots, and garlic, combine in a big bowl with ground turkey.
- Add garlic, spices, egg, and almond meal and mix thoroughly.
- Form into balls on a greased baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Serve with favorite pasta sauce over desired noodles.
Crockpot salsa chicken is one of the easiest things I do when it comes to meal prepping. It’s literally 2 ingredients and can be used for the week (depending on how much chicken you use and your family size). Lucky for me- my family doesn’t LOVE to have leftovers all the time. But I have no problem thinking of new meals to eat the leftovers for lunch or a quick dinner. So I created this post to show you how I use the chicken in 3 different meals.
It kind of goes without saying but I feel I need to explain how I make the crockpot salsa chicken. So I make sure to defrost the chicken in the fridge or a few hours on the counter in the morning. I use 1.5-2.5lbs of chicken. Put it in the crockpot and pour a jar of salsa over it on low heat 4-6 hours. Yes .. that’s literally it. Moving on.
First up was over a salad. I chopped up some romaine lettuce, bell peppers, tomatoes and avocado for the salad. Top it with the chicken and add a little bolthouse farm salsa avocado yogurt and it’s done. Lots of flavor in this easy lunch.
Next was a taco for dinner. I bought these veggie wraps to switch it up and I like them so far. I have the chicken, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, and plain greek yogurt for the taco. Add some broccoli for a side and we’re good.
The last meal I made was quesadillas. I added some chopped peppers, mixed cheese and a sprinkle of chili powder to a whole wheat tortilla. Fold the tortilla in half and cook it on both sides until the cheese is melted. Quesadillas are a simple dinner meal and most kids enjoy them. I dip mine in plain greek yogurt with some chips, tomatoes and broccoli on the side for a balanced meal.
If you’re looking for an easy meal that doesn’t require much effort and can be used throughout the week, crockpot chicken is for you. You may not get as many meals out of it as I did due to feeding other people in your family, but if you add more chicken to the crockpot this will help. You can also use these ideas with your favorite BBQ or buffalo sauce. I hope you find this post helpful in prepping some healthy meals for the week!
I love using spaghetti squash in recipes instead of pasta to keep it light and I’ve recently found a new love for avocado with salmon. Seriously- it’s amazing. My kids and husband like salmon thankfully so since it’s one of the only seafoods we like, I try to make it once a week. Usually I bake or grill the salmon with just sea salt, but my stepmom always cooked it with pesto. I love how pesto tastes, but I don’t have time to make it. Insert a Trader Joes find of Dorot frozen pesto. My co-worker Sandra told me about this frozen wonder so I decided to give it a shot and I love it. (I think other grocery stores have it also.)
I’ve made mango avocado salsa for salmon before and loved that. I’ve also sauteed the frozen pesto with olive oil for a traditional pesto sauce and loved that. So I decided to try out mixing the pesto with avocado for the best of both worlds. IT WAS BOMB! Pesto avocado sauce for the win.
As my spaghetti squash was baking in the oven I put together the pesto avocado sauce. It was super easy with my ninja blender. Add all the ingredients, blend, done.
I popped the salmon in the oven for the last 8 minutes that the squash was cooking. Careful not to overcook the salmon because nobody likes overcooked fish (unless it’s sushi-duh). Once the salmon and squash were cooked, I forked out the squash into a big bowl and mixed in the delicious sauce.
My husband and kids wouldn’t come close to this pesto avocado sauce so they get plain (Whatever). The pesto gives it a little kick which I love but the kids don’t as much. I couldn’t reel them in with the whole “green sauce” thing. So they all got plain which was fine. Can’t win em all. Maybe I’ll use the leftovers with eggs tomorrow. MMMmm.
Spaghetti Squash Salmon with Pesto Avocado Sauce
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- 1 avocado
- 2 1/2 tblsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 5 cubes dorot frozen pesto
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 4 salmon portions
- Cut squash in half lengthwise and place face down on baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt.
- Bake spaghetti squash at 400 for 20-25 minutes depending on size of squash. Once you can easily pierce the squash with a fork it is done.
- While squash is baking, mix avocado, olive oil, garlic, pesto and sea salt in blender until smooth.
- Season salmon with salt and pepper and bake at 400 for 8 minutes or until easily flaked with a fork.
- Using a fork, scrap the spaghetti squash into a bowl.
- Mix avocado sauce with spaghetti squash.
- Top with salmon.