Sunday, April 26, 2009

Meal Planning

I've been reading a lot about meal planning from some fantastic blogging moms out there. Now, we do not yet have any kids, but being that we both work full time, meal times can get a little hectic. So, I decided to go ahead and give this a try.

Working an office job means that during the week when many of these moms are doing their grocery shopping, I am at work. So instead of posting a "meal plan monday" blog, I'll be planning my meals on Sunday (for Monday through Sunday) and doing our shopping then.

I'm already getting excited about trying some new recipes to throw into the mix. I've already planned the meals for this next week, so now I just need to figure out my plan as far as what prep work I need to be doing when.

Here are this week's dinners:

Monday: Baked Chicken with Apples and Barley - I've been wanting to cook a meal with Barley for some time, so I googled this recipe tonight, and it looks soooo good. I seriously cannot wait to try it! There are some other recipes on this same site that also look pretty incredible!

Tuesday: Chicken with Pasta and Spinach and Mushroom Pasta Sauce (Tomato)

Wednesday: Quinoa and Black Beans with Cilantro Lime Chicken - I've been waiting to try out Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) on my own for a while (several of my housemates in Boston used to cook with it), but I have looked all over town and I definitely cannot find it. I managed to find it in bulk at this website, and with the shipping it comes out to about $4.50/lb, which is much cheaper than anywhere else I've seen it online. Being a South American grain (Quinoa is Incan for "Mother Grain"), I thought it best to give it a try with Black beans :) yum!

Thursday: Lasagna with Carrorts, Spinach, and Ground Turkey.

Friday: Stirfry

Saturday: Kielbasa & Cabbage - I'll be out of town Fri-Sun for a tradeshow in Atlanta with work, and this is a husband fav. that I'm not a huge fan of; so when Jeff and I sat down to plan out the week, this was his top request.

Sunday: Lasagna Leftovers - Again, since I'll be out of town, this is one less meal Jeff will have to cook. Of course, he does cook, but I'd likehim to enjoy his first day off after a long work week.

I'm already getting ideas for next week. I know at some point I'll want to do Pizza, then also Turkey Kielbasa soup (I may not be a fan of Kielbasa, but I can sacrifice for the husby and try something new.), and this new Moroccan Spiced Lentil Soup.

I spent some time in the kitchen today getting it all cleaned up, then getting a few things ready for the week. I set some Kefir to culture, and also set some oatmeal to soak for tomorrow's breakfast, and then soaked some flour so I can make bread tomorrow.

Today was Jeff's day off, so it was a good day for me to get housework done, in general. So, in addition to all the kitchen stuff, I did several loads of laundry. I also got started making some tea lite candles for Bee Beautiful. I need to order new wicking (zinc core) in order to make the jar candles, but it looks like the tea lites will work out well! The best part about it is that right now my kitchen does not look like I did any of that.

Then of course when Jeff got off of work I met him at Sonic. They have wheat buns now, so I had to try them out. Of course they are nothing like our made from scratch, freshly ground wheat breads, but it's nice to have an option that is even slightly healthier when we feel like grabbing a bite out.

All in all, I had a very full day!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Delicious Breakfast!

Happy Easter, Everyone!

Lately I'd been reading a lot about the benefits of soaking grains before using them. I first read about it at the blog I linked just there, and I started doing some research. Wheat (and many other grains) contain something called phytic acid. When phytic acid binds with iron (and other minerals found in grains and in our daily diet) in your intestines, and that process actually prevents the absorption of several key vitamins and minerals in the grain.

It seemed like it might be a lot of work, but at the same time I began to think. Jeff and I do a lot of things to improve the health of our foods, one of them grinding wheat. Well, if we're putting all this effort into grinding our own wheat and it is only half the picture, then why put even that effort into it at all.

Well, I thought I had better at least give it a try, so I decided to try it first on the doughnut recipe I use. My thought was, even though they are doughnuts (for crying out loud), if I'm going to bother making them with wheat, I should definitely squeeze every ounce of nutrition out of them that I can. I had really been wanting to make some doughnuts up for us in time for Easter, so yesterday I set to work. Wheat needs to soak for 12-24 hours. Since I use the soft white (summer) wheat for more pastry-like things (and quickbreads and such), and it is not as coarse as the Hard Red (winter) wheat, I decided on 12 hours. I added a Tablespoon of plain (live-culture) yogurt to the flour, milk, and oil all mixed together. Sealed it with plastic, and set about the rest of my day!

I got a lot done for Bee Beautiful, making up some soap, the hand protector, and the new body lotion. Imagine my excitement this morning to find them both on the front page of etsy search results for "Body Lotion," just this morning! I'll be posting the new product update from the Bee Beautiful Blog shortly. I also got an Easter basked put together for the husby and I.

12 hours later I was unsealed my dough and got to it. mixed in the rest of the ingredients, and refrigerated the dough as per instructions. I pulled out the refrigerated dough this morning, and rolled and cut out the doughnuts while I was waiting for the wok to heat up. I also mixed together some confectionner's sugar (I know...I put turbinado in the doughnuts, but I really don't know any way to make icing but with confectionner's sugar), cocoa, a dash of cinnamon and a splash of milk to make a chocolate icing with just a hint of cinnamon flavor. Dipped the finished doughnuts in icing, and then devoured them. Well, ok, we ate them with a couple hard-boiled eggs (but not dyed...turns out there is not quite as much time in one day as I thought!).

They tasted incredible, and if I've just increased their nutrition by soaking them, then fantastic. :) I can eat a few more than normal (haha).

Seriously, though, it made for a very pleasant Easter morning with my husband, who was quite pleased with breakfast :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Finding New Friends

Jeff and I are now looking at a house with a few acres, hoping to finally get our start to a small homestead. We won't know if we can actually buy it for a week or two, but it's got me hoping. It's beautiful, ready to move into. 2 bedrooms, full bath, dining room, living room, kitchen (as opposed to our "galley") with a pantry, garage, laundry room. The upstairs is semi-finished to be 3 bedrooms (or a large room and a small room), and a full master bath suite. Semi-finished does mean just that, but Jeff really wanted a house we could work on (invest something into, you know?).

It sits on three acres, enough room for some fruit trees / gardens, and a handful of chickens and goats (although we are also contemplating sharing a cow with someone, instead of goats. I love fresh goats milk, but I'm not as big of a fan of its taste post-heating, which we would need to do to make cheese).

I know that all of that is a process, having grown up on a small farm myself (gotta love the Adirondacks!). But the idea of finally getting that process started is so exhilarating :) I cannot wait to stop feeling like our apartment is too small for the way we want to live!

In Other News:

I've been searching all over the blogosphere tonight, looking for bloggers with similar interests, people who are blogging about some of the same lifestyle choices (healthy eating, Godly living, frugal purchasing, etc.) I think I've found some very helpful resources, and I've added them (either to blogs I follow, or to my links). Here's to new friendships!

I added a new product to the Bee Beautiful line, before even adding some of the already listed items to the website. I have a friend who has troubled skin, even more so in her recent (though not her first) pregnancy, and wanted me to make her a facial toner. For those who don't know, a toner is a step in face care between cleansing and moisturizing. Toning has three purposes: 1) to pick up traces of dirt or make up (or even cleanser, if you use a creamy cleanser) that your cleanser may have left behind. 2) to eliminate bacteria in blemishes / dry out blemishes (without drying out all of your skin). and finally 3) To prepare your skin to receive moisture. Most toners contain glycerin, which is a humectant. In simple terms, a humectant helps skin and hair hold and attract moisture.

This toner is based in witch hazel, as opposed to isopropyl alcohol (less drying to your skin). I've also included Aloe Vera juice, to soothe, and Tea Tree Oil and Lavender to treat the blemishes. As a preservative, I've employed citric acid, which is not only natural, but also good for your skin. So, basically, My Gentle Tea Tree Facial Toner is completely paraben free, no harsh chemicals, and no petroleum derivatives.

This combination of moisturizing and anti-blemish ingredients is very specifically purposed. Many people have blemish prone skin that is also sensitive, and most acne products are not good for sensitive skin. The idea behind this product is to treat blemishes, but preserve the overall health of the skin as a whole, particularly for those whose skin is more sensitive.