Julie Green and Keen
I typically try to do my grocery shopping on Mondays to prepare for the week ahead and today while I was making my list, I realized my “pantry staples” had run out...*gasp*  If you have a pantry you know what I mean by “pantry staples.”  Those go to meal bases that never fail to help come up with an easy meal fast.



Having the basics for a meal at all times is always necessary when you have kids and never know how many mouths you will be feeding that evening for dinner.  Having a few ingredients on hand really helps when you have to put together an unexpected meal quick.  I swear by my staples and made sure to stock back up at the store today.


My number one pantry staple is whole wheat pasta; it is one of the most versatile ingredients that can make a meal in minutes.  Right next to the pasta I always have some pasta sauces, typically a few red and whites.  Whenever pasta sauce is on sale I usually stock up because my kids are never going to say no to pasta and sauce.

Lentils are my favorite legume so it is only right that I keep them stocked up as well.  They cook quick and easy for a meal in a flash.  In a bind I usually pair the lentils with some pasta sauce for a yummy chili.  Right next to the lentils, there will always be brown rice, you can’t go wrong with it. Brown rice makes a great base if there you have some veggies in the refrigerator and the rice has plenty of vitamins and minerals making it a healthy option too.

Onions and potatoes always have a place in my pantry.  There is no doubt that some sautéed or caramelized onions can make a tasty meal.  Potatoes are good for sides and can strengthen pasta sauce or soup.  Building on soup, bouillon cubes can always be found in my pantry as well.  It is an easy way to make your own broth and create a delicious soup using potatoes, miso paste, cubed tofu, spinach or whatever else you have on hand.

After shopping and filling my pantry back up with my necessities I am ready for unexpected meals and unpredictable amounts of mouths to feed.  I think having a few dinner starters on hand at all times is a great way to always be prepared if you have kids.

What are your favorite pantry staples?


Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie


Pantry Necessities

by on 2/27/2017
I typically try to do my grocery shopping on Mondays to prepare for the week ahead and today while I was making my list, I realized my “pan...
Happy Super Bowl Sunday all you football fans out there!  :) Although I am not a football fan, my husband is quite the enthusiast and wanted to have “the guys” over for a Super Bowl party this evening.  Of course I am always up for cooking and having a little get together at our house.  My husband asked me to secretly make only vegetarian snacks for the guys then at the end of the night tell them.  I had to laugh a little bit, he wants to see if they notice and then surprise them.  Of course I am not going to say no to making yummy vegetarian “game day man snacks.”

Little do our unsuspecting victims know, the day associated with eating copious amounts of stereotypical “meaty” and “manly” food is going to be very different at our house.

At first you might think creating meatless Super Bowl Sunday snack menu would be difficult, but don’t fear, I have cracked the code.  Why not try surprising your guests and have vegetarian snacks?  Here is what we have made-

Oven-Roasted Spicy Potato Wedges

Ingredients-
•    6 russet potatoes, cut into wedges
•    ½ cup olive oil
•    1 tsp. paprika
•    ½ tsp. garlic powder
•    ¼ - ½ tsp. cayenne pepper, depending on your spicy taste
•    Salt and ground pepper
Instructions-
•    Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. 
•    On a foil lined baking sheet toss the potatoes with the oil, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.  Spread evenly on the sheet and roast for about 25-30 minutes turning once until they are golden brown.  Enjoy!

Not so Pigs in a Blanket

Ingredients-
•    Cheddar Cheese
•    Vegetarian “hot dogs,” your preference, I chose Field Roast
•    Crescent rolls, your preference again
Instructions-
•    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil
•    Roll out the crescents and begin wrapping your pigs in the blankets.  I sliced the hot dogs into quarters, topped with the cheese and rolled them in triangle crescents.
•    Bake for about 15 minutes until lightly browned and enjoy!

Mini Nacho Pizzas

Ingredients-
•    4 English muffins, halved
•    ½ cup pepper jack cheese, or cheddar
•    ½ cup roasted tomato salsa
•    ½ cup refried beans
•    2 small jalapenos, thinly sliced
•    ½ cup onion, thinly sliced
•    4 tbsp. tomato, diced
•    Additional toppings if desired, I used olives
Instructions-
•    Preheat oven to about 350 degrees F.
•    Top the English muffin halves with salsa, then refried beans, and cheese.  Add the rest of the toppings and sprinkle some extra cheese on top.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Let cool and add extra toppings if desired and enjoy!

What Super Bowl party would be complete without Taco Dip?

Ingredients-
•    1, 8 oz. package of softened cream cheese
•    1, 16 oz. container of nonfat sour cream
•    1 package taco seasoning mix
•    ¼ head iceberg lettuce, shredded
•    1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
•    3 chopped tomatoes
•    1 green bell pepper, chopped
•    1 small can of black olives drained
Instructions-
•    Combine the cream cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning in a medium sized mixing bowl.  When thoroughly mixed and smooth, spread on about a 9-inch serving dish.  Top with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, pepper and olives.  Enjoy!

Jalapeño Poppers

Ingredients-
•    12 jalapeño peppers
•    8 oz. softened cream cheese
•    ½ tsp. kosher salt
•    Pepper to taste
Instructions-
•    Heat oven to broil and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil
•    Slice the jalapeños in a “T” shaped and open the flaps and scrape the inside to remove the seeds and ribs.
•    In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese and salt, add pepper to taste and mix until smooth and combined.  Spoon the mixture into the jalapeño’s.  Place them on the baking sheet and broil for about 5 minutes, rotate the pan and broil until they begin to char.  Remove and let cool.  Enjoy!

I can’t wait for the guys to be shocked that we have delicious snacks for the game but it is all vegetarian!
Have a happy Super Bowl,

Julie

Super Bowl Snack Time

by on 2/05/2017
Happy Super Bowl Sunday all you football fans out there!  :) Although I am not a football fan, my husband is quite the enthusiast and wante...
Occasionally I suffer from migraines when I’m stressed or don’t get enough sleep; today has been one of those unfortunate days.  I am not one to immediately turn to pills to cure something that might have a more natural from.  I was searching the internet and found several people talking about how magnesium can help with migraines.  Although it is not a definite cure, I was up for it.

I read the many people who suffer from migraines have low levels of magnesium which is an essential nutrient for many of our body’s functions.  By no means am I a nutritionist or doctor, but I read with a specific ratio of magnesium and calcium there is a way to reduce the frequency of migraines.  Instead of trying to concoct a formula I turned to foods that are naturally high in magnesium like:  almonds, cashews, dates, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, dark chocolate…and the list goes on.


Although that list of foods high in magnesium sounds great, I thought I could one up just eating the nuts or seeds plain.  I modified one of my recipes to incorporate magnesium rich ingredients into yummy no-bake bites.  Here is what I came up with:


Ingredients-
1 cup of seeds, nuts, or bran…what have you prefer or have at home
¼ cup of dates
2 tbsp. tahini
2 tbsp. molasses
2 tbsp. cocoa powder

Instructions-
Put the 1 cup of preferred seed, nut and/or bran into a food processor and process until it is the texture of sand.  Put the processed mixture into a bowl and set aside.
Place the dates into the processor and pulse until chopped.  Add tahini, molasses, and seed or nut mixture and process until well mixed.  (It should have a consistency to make a ball out of the blend, if not add more molasses or tahini)
Make little bite sized balls with your hands and roll in cocoa powder.  Enjoy your magnesium packed power bite sized ball.

I think they actually taste really good and have migraine fighting foods that hopefully will help my migraines from coming again.

Do you have a natural remedy to fight migraines? I would love to find out!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie

Magnesium for Migraines?

by on 12/23/2016
Occasionally I suffer from migraines when I’m stressed or don’t get enough sleep; today has been one of those unfortunate days.  I am not ...
Yesterday I had the greatest birthday surprise from my husband and kids.  They have a tradition of bringing me breakfast in bed but today they went all out and we all ate breakfast together in our bed.  Following breakfast we had a day full of fun birthday activities.  As I get older it seem like the years keep passing faster and faster.  I am lucky to have such a wonderful husband and two beautiful children that keep me young.



After breakfast they told me they had a surprise for me outside.  They had bought me an apple tree for my birthday.  It almost brought me to tears, it was one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever gotten.  Planting an apple tree as a family was a tradition in my family when I was growing up.  Each year we planted one somewhere new, and would visit it throughout the year and water it and fertilize it.  My husband must have remembered me talking about it a while ago and it made the best birthday gift ever.

The kids were so excited to plant the tree.  It was already a small plant which made it easier to plant this time of year.  My husband had already thought of places to plant it and the kids help me make the executive decision to plant it in the corner of our backyard.  It took lots of “elbow grease” to dig the hole but once we got the plant in and took a step back to look at it, everything was worth it. 

After we planted the tree my husband and kids took me to the spa to get a pedicure and foot massage.  It was so wonderful.  When I got home after my little spa afternoon, I came home to find the kids and my husband making me dinner.  It is so funny watching them cook together without my help.  They like to take advantage of their dad and make a mess.  It was fun being a spectator and watching the dinner play out.  :)





They made eggplant lasagna and cheesy garlic bread sticks.  Even though it wasn’t the pretest looking lasagna I have ever seen, it sure tasted wonderful.  The kids were very chatty at the dinner table, I think it was because they were laughing all afternoon cooking.  The dinner was hilarious and so delicious.

It didn’t take more than two hours after dinner and the kids were ready for bed.  Such an exciting day for them really tired them out.  It was such a great birthday!  Each year my birthdays keep getting better and better.  I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful family that cares so much to make my day wonderful!

Happy birthday to me! <3
Julie
There are just so many things to be recognized in October, but one of my favorite is today, NATIONAL PASTA DAY! :D  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love pasta.  It is such a versatile food that can be made to be spicy, sweet, savory, rich…and the list goes on.


Happy National Pasta Day!
Did you know that pasta has been made and consumed as early at 3,000 B.C. by the Chinese?  It only was brought to America in 1789 by Thomas Jefferson after being in France.  I don’t know how people survived without it. 

Pasta has become a staple in much of American popular culinary works.  So why not find out a little bit more about our favorite pasta?  Here are some fun facts about pasta…I mean who doesn’t want to know more?


•    Italians consume more pasta than anyone else in the world.
•    Pasta comes in many different colors depending on the sauce it is made with.
•    The word pasta originated from the Italian word paste.
•    The average American eats 20 lbs. of pasta annually.
•    There are 310 specific forms of pasta that are known by over 1300 different names.

I remember years ago in college, pasta was the base for nearly every meal.  Pasta can be enjoyed on any budget and can be prepared to make the low cost noodles seem like a high end dish.  I still always keep pasta on hand at home.  It is great for those days when cooking an entire meal seems daunting but you want to eat something good.  It is easy to make a delicious meal in just a few minutes with pasta.

When you hear the statement, “Happy National Pasta Day” I hope you get as excited as I do and imagine yourself indulging in delicious pasta delights.  I am sure you have a favorite kind or shape of pasta, but today I say, try a new one.  With 310 different options, why not dapple in a new meal shape.  Get cooking and make sure you have your fair share of pasta. :)

What is your favorite pasta and pasta dish?

Go green and stay keen,

Julie
Where has time gone, I can’t believe it is October 4th already!  I feel like it was just spring and now we are nearly into fall.  October is always such a fantastic month for our family.  It is my daughter Hannah’s birthday, Vegetarian Awareness Month, and it is Halloween.


October 1st was World Vegetarian day and the kick-off of Vegetarian Awareness Month!   October is one of my favorite months where I make sure that everyone knows I am vegetarian and why they should try it too.  World Vegetarian Day and Vegetarian Awareness Month can be celebrated by everyone, vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Plus, today is World Animals Day <3


My family is not vegetarian, but we do cook a lot of vegetarian meals.  During October we only eat vegetarian meals to celebrate this wonderful month.  It is always great to see my children and husband choosing vegetarian options over meat options.  During this month I really shine with my cooking, coming up with new recipes to surprise them that it is all vegetarian.

October is National Vegetarian Awareness Month

Fall offers the best selection, in my opinion, for fresh vegetables.  The squashes, zucchinis, pumpkins, and the delicious vegetable list goes on.  I believe that October brings the first feeling of the warm and coziness of fall and the future of winter.  There is just something about it that makes me such a happy person.

October is also Hannah’s birthday.  She always has something up her sleeve and hidden plans to organize everything for her party.  It is fun seeing her get so into the planning and set up for parties.  She is growing up so fast, I can’t wait to see what she has planned this year.

Over the winter and summer, I found some really great fall vegetarian recipes I can’t wait to try!  October brings so much joy and excitement in our house.  I am looking forward to having friends and family over for delicious vegetarian dinners this Vegetarian Awareness Month.

If you have any questions about becoming a vegetarian or some recipes that will trick your friends that there is not meat please feel free to ask and comment below!

Go Green and Stay Keen,

Julie
You would have to be oblivious to the world if you weren’t aware that October is breast cancer awareness month.  Every year October brings societies focus to this disease that affects so many people. Although most people are aware about breast cancer, many bypass the steps to detect the disease and how to help prevent it.

Many people know someone or have in some way been effected by this cancer.  I wanted to share a couple statistics from breastcancer.org:

•    About 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
•    For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
•    The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older).

Breast cancer is a scary disease but with knowledge and being proactive we can better understand it and do things to stop it in its tracks.  Here are some helpful ways to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer:

•    Eat healthy and exercise regularly
•    Avoid too much alcohol
•    Know your family history to better predict and manage
•    Get regular breast exams
•    Relax

Breast cancer and those who are forced to fight it have a special place in my heart, one of my best friends fought this terrible cancer 4 years ago.  Luckily, she caught it early and took the right steps until she finally beat it.  Watching the stages of cancer and treatment from a front row seat was so difficult and eye opening. 

Cancer is one of those things you never want to believe will affect you but chances are you know someone who has had it or is currently fighting it.  I believe with knowledge and strength in numbers we can come closer to a cure.  Every type of cancer is debilitating and we must take the time to donate and help find a cure.

This October please take the time to educate yourself on breast cancer or another cancer that has effect you.  Let’s become an informed society ready to knock cancer out!

Go green and stay keen,

Julie