Ji Dan Bing: The Chinese Breakfast of Champions – The Woks of Life

When it comes to Chinese breakfast choices–there’s the all-star team: your dumplings, your buns, your you tiao. Keep Reading!

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How To Make The Best Granola Ever

You’ll never have to buy granola again. Are you ready to begin Granola 101!? Keep Reading!

Take Polenta To The Next Level With Two New Recipes

I just had one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments! Why not polenta? It’s such a versatile grain that can be eaten at breakfast, lunch or dinner! Commonly known as a boiled porridge made from cornmeal you would be surprised at the many things you can do with a pot of hot, creamy, cheesy, corn-studded polenta.

Keep Reading!

5 Tips For Meal Planning Success

So, you want to eat healthy and meal plan like a pro?

Don’t fail before you even begin! Spending time each week searching for recipes, making list after list of ingredients and groceries, getting to the store and prepping for the week ahead is about as exhausting as writing this run-on sentence… BUT it’s worth it.

Here is why: Anything you begin, a new job, a new family, a fitness goal etc. does not come easy, you struggle every day with hitting sales goals, waking up in the middle of the night with a hungry baby, working out once a day, saying no to office donuts… You get the picture, life is tough but, once you get your groove and understand how to NOT overcomplicate the process, all of that hard work begins to pay off. Soon you’ll find yourself meal planning and eating clean without even thinking about it.
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Consistency is key, give anything about 21 days (this is the magic number that science has come up with) and you’ll form a habit. This means doing that one thing EVERY DAY for 21 days, no cheats, no skips and no tomorrows. Meal plan every day for 21 days and you’ll become a pro!

Follow these tips for meal planning success:
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1. Get Inspired, Gather Recipes: Browse blogs and websites for ANYTHING that looks delicious and sticks to your clean eating goals. Store these recipes and don’t waste time or complicate things. I use Pinterest to store my faves because it’s visual and fast. Another option is Evernote For Food a quick way to grab recipes from the web on any device and create a cookbook, grocery list and meal plan. I’m also known for marking up cookbooks with sticky notes. Hey! whatever works.
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2.
 Keep a Food Diary: Overwhelmed with the task of creating delicious, healthy and easy-to-execute meals for your household every day? You may want to start keeping a food diary. This habit can take away the headache of meal planning at the last minute. By recording meals that were definitely keepers you will have a go-to reference of stand-by meals that will make grocery shopping and meal planning much easier.
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3. Start a Calendar: You’ve got to write it down. Choose a method that works for you, whether that be a chalkboard on the fridge, a journal, a Google Calendar or an Excel spreadsheet (like mine in the photo above.) Start filling in daily menus for the week with your clipped recipes or fave stand-by’s from your food diary.
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4. Choose a Shopping Day and Create a List: You have your menus organized in your calendar now it’s time to really get organized. The goal of a grocery list is to ensure that you buy only what you need and it gets you in and out of the store quickly. Have your recipes nearby, take inventory of what you have in the cupboard and fridge and maintain a master list of things you buy each week (yogurt, eggs, milk…) then add to your master list the items you need from your recipes. Next, organize your list by grocery store department to save time like this:

  • Bread, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Milk, Yogurt and Cheese
  • Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts
  • Fats, Oils and Sweets
  • Staples, Condiments and Miscellaneous Foods (spices, baking powder, etc.)
  • Health and Beauty Products
  • Household Items (laundry soap, light bulbs, etc.)

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5. Food Prep:
Think of this as an extension of grocery shopping. As soon as you return from the grocery store and begin unloading your bags, food prep begins. Wash and dry lettuce. Chop onions. Roast vegetables. Soak beans for tacos. Shred zucchini for zoodles. Stack up glass containers of prepped ingredients in the refrigerator and bask in your own awesome preparedness.

There you have it. Now go, get organized and become the meal planning warrior that you were meant to be!

Crisp Leaves, Blustery Winds and Apple Cider Pancakes!

What cries out fall more than a chilled, windy day, stirring up colorful leaves in your path? Well, coming home to a piping, hot stack of Apple Cider Pancakes of course!

Stick a Fork in ’em!

I was enjoying a toasted almond, espresso bean, tea at the local coffee shop, the other night and my stomach started rumbling.  Obviously, I turned my attention to google, searching dinner prospects.  As children, my sister and I coined the term, “breakfast for dinner” as a main, gastronomical highlight for our young palates.  Breakfast for dinner caused uproarious appreciation in my household {meaning, my sister and I making a train and chanting breakfast for dinner yay yay yay throughout the house, remember we were 5 years old!} I don’t know if it was because breakfast at dinner time was devious from the norm or it was such a comfort food, it had to make us happy, perhaps a little of both.

I set off with my rumbling stomach to the grocery store {breaking one of my cardinal rules,  grocery shopping while hungry, this is never good for me as I either buy something I don’t need, Oreos or I enjoy a Bolthouse/Odwalla right there in the store, classy I know!} Typically, pancakes are cheap to make as most ingredients are household staples, however these special, fall-time pancakes called for apple cider.  Apple cider is a seasonal enjoyment that comes around once a year and it just so happened that this year, in Michigan, the apple crop was basically nil due to unseasonable weather = expensive apples and expensive apple cider, like $7.99 per gallon– woof.  But, because it’s a seasonal treat that only comes but once a year I deem it okay to make expensive fall pancakes, just once.

Piping Hot Stack of Apple Cider Pancakes

The recipe includes a mother batch or large batch for storage, as well as the batch that you will eat.  It’s convenient to make a mother batch for a few reasons:
1. You already have all the ingredients and you are already making a mess in the kitchen
2. The next time you want breakfast for dinner it will be on the table faster
3. It’s cheaper, you know what’s in it and it’s better for you than boxed Bisquick

The Mother Pancake Mix:

3 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups white flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt

Place ingredients into a large mixing bowl, mix together well and transfer to an airtight container to store until future use.

Now you can move on to making the pancakes which you will eat!
The amount below makes roughly 6-8 pancakes:

1 cup of dry pancake mix {yes, this is from the mother mix above!}

1 egg, separated {both the white and the yolk will be used, see directions}
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup apple cider
Unsalted Butter {for cooking and serving}
Real Maple Syrup

Directions:

Place the 1 cup of dry mix in a large bowl and add the cinnamon.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg white, buttermilk, greek yogurt, honey and apple cider.
In another small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and olive oil.
Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry mix and stir until just combined.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium pan. When melted add about 1/4 cup of batter or so for each pancake into the pan. When you start to see small bubbles on the top of the pancakes and the edges are beginning to cook, flip the pancake to cook through on the other side.

While the pancakes are still warm, top with a dollop of butter so it melts over the top of the pancakes. Serve with real maple syrup!

Coconut Milk + Oatmeal = ♥

A delightfully relaxing Sunday morning involves coffee while seated at my tulip table listening to NPR….this was my morning!

I had some extra time and wanted to make a no-mess, quick breakfast before joining the Striders Triathlon Club on a ride today!  Turning to oatmeal because it sticks with you and is generally healthy but mostly because it has a proven, no-fail formula for preparing: 1 cup liquid to 1/2 cup oats SIMPLE!

Personally, I like to jazz things up a bit whether it be a sparkly necklace, funky shoes or in this case substituting coconut milk for the basic water or milk.  Not too wild but just enough to create some flavorful bliss.
Go ahead and play around with the accoutrements and spices…I don’t think you can go wrong!

Coconut Milk, Oats, Cinnamon, Raisins and Jaggery
Photo by Michelle

Coconut Milk + Oatmeal
1 serving

1/2 cup Quaker Oats
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup water
Tablespoon of Jaggery or Brown Sugar
Palmful of Raisins (I bet cherries and slivered almonds would be good too!)
Dusting a Cinnamon

Boil the liquids (or Microwave), whichever you prefer.  Add the oatmeal and stir it up.  Garnish with any fruits, nuts or spices you desire!