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Tips for freezing food!

Freezers are genius! I am so so glad we have access to this neat invention!!

My freezer

1. Keep a stash of frozen bananas in the freezer. These make for a fast smoothie. Also, if you have popsicle sticks, frozen banana popsicles are one of the quickest and healthiest ways to deal with a late afternoon meltdown of the little ones. If you have any kids. I have 3.

2. When berries are on sale in the summer, buy lots of extra and freeze them in 1 cup increments. I love it when our local grocery store sells organic raspberries and blueberries 2 for $4. I buy about 8 of each, and then we have berries for muffins, scones and cobbler in the winter.

3. When making muffins, freeze the leftovers. They reheat beautifully @ 350 degrees for 10 minutes. I often use the leftovers in the mornings for breakfast. I can pop them in the oven, set the timer and go fix my hair + put on makeup. So easy!

4. When making dinners, double the batch. Freeze half of what you make and you have a homemade “freezer dinner”. We do this with spaghetti, chili, hamburgers, white sloppy joes.

5. Do you make chicken broth? If yes, freeze some in 1 cup increments. I do this in zip sandwich baggies and freeze them flat on a cookie sheet. I usually get 8-10 cups of broth to freeze, plus enough for soup for dinner.  Then, each time I have a recipe that calls for chicken broth, I have it all ready to go!!

What are your freezer tips? What do you do to short-cut or make life a bit easier with your cooking?

~ Savvy Food Mama

 

Linking up to 5 favorites this week:

http://moxiewife.com/2014/02/five-favorites-vol-47/.html

*How* we eat….

What a funny title for a blog post!!!  Well, I promised y’all that I would share how we avoid the conundrum of an open-house refrigerator. So here it is!

We feed the family 3-4 times a day. Breakfast around 7-7:15am, lunch @ noon-ish, snack about 3:30-4pm and dinner is usually between 5 and 5:30. The adults in the house may or may not have a snack. We use the French word for that, “goûter” pronounced goo-tay.

I usually do not allow any eating between meals. There are occasional exceptions, like a party or a special playdate.  Tough mama? Nope. Think back to traditional cultures where their survival depended on them working very hard for every thing they used – clothes, food, shelter. They didn’t have time to be grazing constantly!!! Do you remember talking about the “satiety switch” that is triggered by the good fats? (https://savvyfoodmama.com/2013/08/13/the-story-of-flavor-part-1/) Eating enough good fats is the key here to being satisfied for several hours. Gradually, one begins to get hungry again. And then it is time to eat. It does take a consistent effort on my part to make sure we are including enough good fats at a meal. I frequently ask myself, “what else can I do to add good fats in?” In America, we actually eat very little good fats. For our good fats, we focus on coconut oil, pastured butter and cod liver oil. I notice my little people do really well on 1 tsp of good fats/meal. An adult needs more like 1 Tbs.

It is so interesting to see what my metabolism is up to right now. I am pregnant with my third baby, and thus far, I have always thought that I was just “one of those” pregnant mamas that needed to eat 6 times a day. You know – breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. This is the first pregnancy I am not experiencing those cravings. I can tell the difference when I am eating enough of the good fats. Most of the time, I stop eating with dinner. On the occasion where I have forgotten or skipped the good fats, sure enough I end up hungry sooner or more frequently than usual. 

You know, it is no secret that the U.S. is considered unhealthy. The latest I have heard is that 1/3 of the country’s population is obese and another 1/3 is overweight. I don’t know how accurate that is, but it makes me wonder about this predicament we are in. Do you ever wonder if maybe it is because of the way we’ve learned to eat? With all the vending machines available and the habits of eating between meals or on the run, it is just so easy to eat very frequently.  What do you think?

~ Savvy Food Mama

The Secret behind eating Real Food all the time…

No, I am not the perfect mama, and no, I don’t have all the time in the world. However, I do like to feed my family real food! And real families sometimes need dinner to ready in 10-15 minutes. So, what is my secret?

 

 

It is pretty simple really. (Almost) Every time I cook, I make double or extra. So, I am making burgers tonight. I am making enough for dinner, lunch tomorrow, and 1 more meal besides. That last meal’s worth, I freeze. Then when we have “one of those nights” where I need dinner ready lickety-split, I pull out those burgers from the freezer and heat them up for 10 minutes @350 in the oven. Bang! Our main dish all ready.

I do the DOUBLE-UP with lots of things – I always make 2 meatloafs, double chili, extra muffins. Any thing you can think of that would heat up just fine, make extra. I can’t tell you how many times this has saved me!! Sometimes we have leftover soup – it is a cinch to heat that up, pull some muffins out of the freezer, and pour glasses of milk.

So that’s my secret to real food, even when it needs to be fast. 🙂

~ Savvy Food Mama

Tip: most things heat up just right for 10 minutes @350, unless it is larger (as in meatloaf). To save on heating time, cut prior to heating.

Traveling with Food

It is very simple. It comes to this – plan the meat!!! (or main protein.)

It is easy to pack the snack-y stuff or even the fruit. I found that by freezing liquids, I could bring them with no problems around staying cold for an extended period of time.

I traveled half-way across the country, by plane, pregnant! Since I eat gluten-free and I didn’t want to deal with the difficulties of not having food available that I can eat, I decided to pack my own. My sweet husband took a Styrofoam container and made a handle out of tape. He then sealed it very thoroughly. It traveled so well – I checked it as one of my bags with no difficulties. As mentioned previously, I froze my liquid items.

What I packed: main dish = grass-fed meat balls for 3 meals, a couple of black bean burgers, enough pastured bacon for 2 meals, leftover homemade pizza for 2 meals, and pastured sausage and egg muffins for breakfast everyday. Dairy = 2 quarts milk (originally frozen – it still tasted great), 1/2 tub yogurt, pastured butter and Brie cheese. Fruit = homemade applesauce and pears. Other stuff = 8 muffins (4 pumpkin and 4 cranberry – I thought I might be sharing), homemade granola to mix into the yogurt, pecan butter, these chips. and some crackers ( I didn’t eat any of those).

http://www.amazon.com/Way-Better-Snacks-Simply-Tortilla/dp/B00DOPY3WE/ref=sr_1_15?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1382559391&sr=1-15&keywords=sprouted+chips

This worked so well!!!! It felt great, knowing that I was feeding my body the way I am used to eating versus travel food. I also took my cod liver oil, my probiotics, and my JuicePlus+ every day.

Then, I could just leave my styrofoam container and not worry about bringing it back – perfect!!

What are some of your traveling-with-food Tips? Do you pack it? Get it at your destination? I would love to hear in the comments!!

 ~ Savvy Food Mama

Lunchtime!

 

Lunch really comes down to 1 simple thing: if you plan a little bit, you will probably eat well most of the time. If you don’t plan ahead, you will probably not eat well most of the time. I have found this to be true for me over and over…

So, the key is to find a time (5 minutes is all you need) and a space to write. Here are 2 ways that have been successful for me. 1) Right before bed – I have a menu/grocery list taped to a spot in my kitchen. There is a pen attached. I take 5 minutes before bed, figure out dinner for the next day, breakfast for the next day, and then lunch tomorrow will be leftovers from that evening. (If I think of any groceries we are out of, I can write those down too.)  I pull the meat out of the freezer, or the dinner I made double of and froze – so that it can thaw.  2) Another way I plan is using a whiteboard (sometimes first thing when I wake up) and jotting down the plan for the day. Again, I plan breakfast and dinner, and lunch is leftovers from the night before.

What is lunch actually? I try to keep in mind that part of the trouble with the way we eat as Americans, is when most of our plate ends up being carbs. (*Fruits, veggies and grains are all processed as carbs. So are chips, candy, soda and other desserts.) This type of lunch gets digested more quickly than meats or good fats, and so we end up hungry again sooner.  Planning for lunch, I find it easiest to make double of dinner the night before. If we are having hamburgers (with grass-fed beef), I make enough for all of us to have one for lunch.  If we are having tacos in lettuce “shells”, I make double the ground beef or fish that I used for the dinner. I also try to incorporate some good fats into our lunch – coconut oil, grass-fed butter.

Lunch probably won’t be the exact same thing as dinner the night before. It does help though to base it around a main dish. I might add crackers and cheese. I love serving plain yogurt in individual bowls and putting a bowl of fruit on the table for each person to add a handful or two. Sometimes, I incorporate cut fresh veggies, or the leftover ones from the night before. It all depends on the day and how busy we are. We do try to sit down for all our meals. I keep a tiny table in my kitchen that the girls can eat at if I am in the middle of cooking or catching up on dishes.

How do you solve the lunchtime conundrum?

 ~ Savvy Food Mama

Grass-fed beef and Wild-Caught Salmon, among other things…

What are important markers to pay attention to in our meats?  How do we tell if we are getting the good stuff vs. the yucky stuff?  What do I look for when buying meats?

I think right now there is a lot going on in the food supply, some things good and some not good. So here is what I look for:

1.  Is the animal I am eating (beef, chicken, fish – whathaveyou) itself eating a Native Diet? So, for example, cows are designed to eat grass and hay. Their stomachs are not meant to handle grains. What do you think happens when the cows eat grain? Same thing that happens to us when we consume things like processed foods – it converts into fat.* Excess fat!

Interestingly, this is considered a good economically because it has led to beef that is more marbled. On the flip side, we are seeing the unprecedented rise in obesity and being told “watch your fat intake”.

Okay, so we are eating beef that has been grown with food that is not native to the diet, i.e. ultimately toxic to the animal (see below*). What do you think would happen if we ate beef that only consumed grass? Less fat content, yet the beef itself contains high nutrients converted from plants! This is what my family tries to eat – beef that has eaten only grass.

2. Is the animal living in their Native Habitat? This is not essential for everything, but it does make a difference  – pigs always indoors vs. getting to run around outside, lots of fish crammed in a fish farm vs. swimming free in the ocean, cows on pasture vs. always in a confined small space.

3.  Check the lingo! This is really important. Grass-fed beef means it ate mostly grass, but it may have eaten grain at the very end.  Whereas grass-finished means it ate grass all the way through. Amish chicken sounds great, but you will still want to check that it is free range and not given hormones. A less well-known thing to check with your chicken is that it is not fed soy – soy feed is a (now) typical feed for chickens and is often Genetically Modified. Wild-caught fish are better than farmed fish as they get to live in and eat from their natural habitat.

Hope these three tips help! Do you buy your meats local? Ever try buying 1/2 cow? What is your experience – I’d love to hear it in the comments!

~ Savvy Food Mama

*Awesome article on what happens in the cow digestive process: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat/interviews/pollan.html

Dinner Trick #1

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How to get a consistent, easy way to plan meals? Ready?

Plan your dinners based on the meats. We started with Beef, Pork, Chicken, Turkey. Repeat. This makes it easy. For example, Beef could mean anything: hamburgers or spaghetti or steak. Chicken can mean sauteed chicken breasts or roast chicken, chicken legs or chicken curry. Pork can mean pork burgers or breakfast for dinner (bacon and pancakes) or cooked into a Mexican dish. Are you getting the idea here? If you have your rotation mapped out, your week is planned, and then you can figure out based on what is in your cupboards what that will look like specifically for dinner.

Now, our 7 night plan is usually: Sunday – Beef, Monday – Pork, Tuesday – Chicken, Wednesday – Liver (hold that thought – I will explain why we do liver in another post:) ), Thursday – Turkey, Friday – Fish or Beans, Saturday – leftovers or soup. In the winter, I like to make a big pot of soup during the week, and then it is ready to go for Saturday.

I typically map out the meat plan once a week. Then I figure out the meals for the day either the night before or the morning of the new day. Our weekends tend to be full of family time. This can mean either busy or slow. Both ways, I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen away from the action or relaxation, so I like to use all our leftovers on the weekends.

Does this help? Did I mention a dinner dish you would like to get the recipe for? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!!!

~ Savvy Food Mama