Summer Sides: Faux-tato Salad

I’ve mentioned before that in the heat of Texas summers, I want to keep my kitchen cool, especially in the middle of the day.  That means that I’m constantly looking for summer-friendly recipes, that require no cooking, or only stove-top cooking, or cooking overnight in a crockpot.  Today I’m sharing with you my new favorite summer side: Faux-tato salad.

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My morning (or anytime) pick-me-up: The Java Chiller

So I’ve been Fuel Cycling on Trim Healthy Mama for the past week,and it’s been great! Comparing my weights for the 1st vs. 8th day, I’m down 3.8 pounds! That is huge for me, since I’m generally a turtle whose weight moves super-slow. I attribute part of my success to this luscious drink that I concocted to make it through the week. I call it The Java Chiller.

Wishlist Wednesday

Well, since summer’s here, it’s time to think about what I want to get done! Of course I have some research/school goals, but I want to talk about personal and family goals here. I’d really, in general, like to focus on strengthening our family relationships, making our home more liveable, and making sure that I don’t get lost in this whole crazy world of marriage and family. To that end, here are my Top 10 wishes for a great summer:

10. Clean out the garage and junk room.
Here’s what I’m starting with.
This could take the whole summer if I let it!

9. Organize and clean out Pooh’s toys.
Then maybe we’ll have room to put the Wall Tracks back in his room.

8. Begin – and maintain – a regular workout routine.
I used to be much more fit before marriage and family.
Look at the definition in those arms! I want that back!

7. Eat more chocolate.
Skinny chocolate, that is!
I’ve recently been following the Trim Healthy Mama plan, and loving it.
More on that later.

6. Find a class to take, just for me.
Sewing? Computer programming? I’m not sure what yet.
But just because I’ve graduated doesn’t mean I can’t still learn something new!

5. Plan one full family activity every week.
Here’s a recent outing to check out the bluebonnets.
I love getting us out of the house and doing something different

4. Spend more time with extended family.
After almost losing Dad this year, we want to really appreciate our time left with him!

3. Have regular swim dates with Pooh.
He loves the water, at least after he gets a bit used to it,
and this can be our special time together too.

2. Have a weekly date with P-Daddy.
Maybe we’ll find more beautiful food presentations like this one at a local sushi restaurant.
Even if not, we’ll build our relationship together.

1. Tell P-Daddy and Pooh every single day that I love them.

Planning for Summer Success

It’s been so so long since I blogged much of anything. Suffice it to say that this past year has been one wild and crazy ride! I’m so glad that summer is finally here, we’ve made it through my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, and I can actually breathe again! I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about food and recipes and what to eat and what NOT to eat, and what I realize is that if I want myself and my family to eat healthy, I simply have to plan more.

Now, I’m not a big fan of daily menus; P-Daddy won’t follow them, and I’m not much good at being consistent with following them either. That doesn’t mean I can’t plan, it just means I need to do things a little differently. What works for me is to simply know what I have on hand for different meals, so that I’m not left thinking there’s nothing to eat in my totally stuffed pantry and freezer! Since I love freezer cooking, I have lots of stuff in there that I’ve frozen at various points in this past semester. Right now, I’m challenging myself to eat from my pantry and clean out some of the stock that I have. This is just a SMALL sampling of what’s in there. Many of them are labeled. Some are surprises :-)

Here’s what I am thinking for this week:

oatmeal (X3)
eggs, bacon or ham, flatbread (X2)
THM pancakes
Whole wheat sourdough bread with SF jelly

Lean turkey, lettuce, and tomato on a flatbread (X2)
Cheeseburger pie and green beans
Tilapia tacos, carrots
Frittata (X2)
Bean burritos w/ peppers and onions,

Sauteed salmon, broccoli, carrots
Tilapia fillets, spinach, focaccia
Cheeseburger pie, green beans
Taco salad w/ cheese, sour cream, and a few refried beans
Turkey hot dogs, carrots, popcorn (movie and popcorn night with Pooh)
Fooled Ya Pizza with cauliflower crust

Skinny chocolate
Greek yogurt with berries
Cottage Berry Whip
Ricotta Creme
Strawberries with whipped cream

I’m checking out all the other great menu plans this week at and linking up over there. Come on over and take a look with me!

Life is Sweet!

As I mentioned on Monday, I’m really trying to focus more this year on my health, and I’m making several changes as a result. One of these is related to my use of artificial sweeteners. I’ve been a fan of Splenda for years, and it’s still my favorite sweetener when I’m out and about. I generally always have a few of those little yellow packets on my counter and in my bag, and when I travel internationally, it’s a must-have in my suitcase.

So you see, I love Splenda, but P-Daddy is not as thrilled with it. He prefers that I not use it for sweet desserts or other items that we’ll both eat. And even though I love it for myself, neither of us are convinced that we should be giving it to Pooh regularly. He’s a growing boy, and he loves desserts, and we don’t want to always have a separate dessert for me and the boys.

Over the years, I’ve tried Stevia a number of times. I like that it’s a plant extract and not a chemical concoction, but it has a bit of an aftertaste. I actually really liked the bit of licorice aftertaste for my coffee, but I wasn’t as thrilled with it in herbal teas and other desserts. But recently, I was told about this NuNaturals NuStevia extract, and I’m loving it! It’s super concentrated, so a little difficult to figure out amounts in single servings, but working great for cooking larger batches of all kinds of desserts (with just a tiny bit of stevia). I don’t find the aftertaste to be as strong as other types of stevia, and overall, this one is totally working for me.

I’ll note that this Stevia doesn’t come too cheaply – that 1 pound jar is listed at $60. However, it’s also way more Stevia than I think I could possibly use in a year! I am splitting the jar with my sisters and niece, transferring smaller portions into much smaller spice jars for daily use. Plus, I got a really great deal on that jar!

As I stated, that jar is listed at $60 on iherb. Plus, iherb offers 5% off for orders $60 and over, and I had a discount code that gave me free shipping plus $10 off of any order $50 or over. So I got that $60 jar delivered to my doorstep for only $47 total. Woot! And now, having told you about that great deal, I’m gonna let you get as close to it as you can, by giving you a similar discount code! Here it is: QMN811.

Note that I cannot guarantee that all of the pieces of that discount will still be in place at the time of your order, but this code will definitely give first-time customers $5 or $10 off their order (any order from iherb, not just the stevia!). Also note that this is a referral code, which means that I get a kickback too – so we both get a great deal if you use it :-)

Focusing for Health and Fitness

It’s been a hectic month. Okay, a hectic past year. A hectic past couple of years, actually:-( In many areas, things are great, but one thing that I’ve done is really let my health and fitness slide more than I want to. This year, I really want that to change. In order to aid that, there are several things that I’m doing:

1) Making small steps toward better exercise habits
2) Revamping my eating to match the life I live now
3) Finding ways to save money on better products for my health

In terms of exercise, I know that I can’t create a huge massive plan that sets me up for failure. So I’m working on a day-to-day basis, doing what I can, and keeping my mind on the bigger picture of keeping moving.

In terms of eating, I’ve long followed a low-fat diet, with an emphasis on healthy carbs and natural foods. I like this practice a lot, but I’ve noticed that (a) my husband just doesn’t eat this way. He’s not a big carb fan, so there has been a major part of the food that I fixed that he has largely ignored. I’d like us to find ways to eat that work well together, so we’ve been exploring different options with fewer carbs and higher fat. NOT, mind you, trying Atkins or other typical low-carb approaches, but instead focusing more on the Glycemic Index and how different foods are affecting our bodies.

Finally, as always, I’m looking for ways to save money, but specifically trying to find reasonable ways to save money on products that improve our overall health.

I’ll be exploring these themes more intensely and in different ways as we head into 2013. Feel free to join me for the journey!

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