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The weekly menu

It’s kinda silly categorizing this post “the weekly menu” considering the week was only, like, a second long and I already blogged about the first half of it, but it is what it is.

To recap, Monday we did melon, avo, and butter lettuce salad with poppyseed dressing.  Legit.

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Tuesday we had crock pot stuffed bell peppers.

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They were based off this recipe but then I made them completely different to meet all of our families allergy requirements and preferences.

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Wednesday we skipped market (again) and cooked in.  The weather was forecasting 108 again but it was only mid 90s in the end.  “Only” – ha!  Still too hot for a picnic.

Enter this shrimp and avo pasta salad.  By another Elise blogger.  :)

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SO GOOD.  I used GF noodles and green bell peppers (from the farm).

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Kyle was going ga ga over this and demanded it’s addition to the rotation.  So if you want a delicious summer salad, this is it.

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Lime and cilantro are basically all I want in the summer anyway.  I added some red onions to his portion only.  My gut has been doing really well lately and I’m kinda excited about it.  I think it has to do with all the coconut oil I’ve been eating lately.  Between my home-made crackers and home-made bark I get a significant portion every day.  I’ve also upped the amount of carbs I’m eating during the day and committed to really planning out my lunches and making sure they are vegetable and grain packed (and meatless).  Pretty excited about it.

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I made tomato rice seasoned with green onions, cumin, paprika, garlic and salt for our weekly pool party/get together on Thursday.

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It was Mexican food themed (potluck), which is awesome because it’s a very allergy friendly cuisine.  My girlfriend texted me the label of the seasoning before adding it the ground beef and I gave her the go ahead.  Little dude loves him some beef.

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These tomatoes!  Gah!!  The photo doesn’t even do the color justice.  Needless to say, the rice was good.

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I’ll stop here because I’m probably going to do a separate post of the whole 4th weekend.

Slow cooker stuffed bell peppers

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Whatcha gonna do with a bunch of bell peppers and tomatoes?

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Stuff em.  With each other.

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Set and forget is all you want on a 108 degree day anyway.  I prepped this while feeding little man breakfast.  He ate the tops of the bell peppers (diced) and then tried to swoop on a tomato in the process.

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Slow cooker beef and tomato stuffed bell peppers [gluten free, soy free, peanut/tree nut free, dairy free, sesame free]

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 bell peppers
  • 1 lb ground meat (I used beef)
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • handful chopped basil (to garnish)

Directions:

Grease crock pot with cooking spray.

Slice tops off of bell peppers and remove inner ribs and seeds.  Place in slow cooker (if they don’t all fit just wait and put the others in after you have stuffed the first layer).

Mix together the rest of the ingredients (ground meat through pepper) and scoop into bell peppers.  Pack it down so you can get as much in as possible (because the recipe yields a little bit extra).

If your crock pot doesn’t have room for all 6, just layer them after you’ve stuffed the bottom layer.

Cook on low for 6 hours.

Garnish with chopped basil before serving.

Notes:

You could place a slice of cheese on top of each pepper for the last 30 minutes, if you tolerate dairy.

Feel free to sub lentils for ground meat to make it vegetarian/vegan.

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This amount feeds two adults and one toddler.  Enjoy!

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Monkey bowl for my monkey.

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Fake three day weekend

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Sweet baby child this Saturday’s breakfast was nooooo joke.

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How much did I spill on her head?

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Only one bite actually but it happened to be the very center piece with the most ooey gooey sticky sugar section.  I still ate it of course.  And then cleaned her head with a wipe (not my tongue).

Since Pattycakes now has gymnastics classes on Saturday mornings it’s easy to just walk across the street after and hit up market for breakfast.  And entertainment in the form of music and parks…while Kyle and I treat ourselves to yummy pastries.

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After we’d gotten enough sun, we retreated to the air conditioning where naps went down not as easily as you’d think (how do all the morning activities not tire him out more?).  Still he slept for a long time once he finally did fall asleep and I enjoyed a relaxing kale salad lunch with the last of my home-made crackers (crumbs) on top.  Time to make a new batch!

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These days, if my lunch doesn’t include kale, it better have broccoli.  I’m so head over heels for those brassica foods at the moment.  This one had kale AND broccoli slaw.  Even better!

I prepped dinner during nap time and since I already shared that meal in the weekly menu post, here are other food photo highlights of the rest of Saturday…

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Prepping carrots from the farm (which is just the garden at Kyle’s work, but we call it “the farm”).  It’s where we the fresh produce that I frequently show off here on the blog.

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The most recent haul nearly killed me (dramatic much?) because as I was cleaning it all, a spider the size of my face appeared and we had a mega showdown.  He almost won too!  But shoes aren’t just made for walking.

Now that I have my own garden, and we get extra crops from the farm, I have a(n even more) massive appreciation for the time and energy that goes into gardening – especially organic gardening.  I see and experience the labor involved first hand – even on this small and local scale – and it is truly something else.  No wonder quality food costs $$$$$.  It’s hard work!

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Once I trimmed and organized them, I set out to meal plan for the coming week so I could use them.

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WF had a weekend sale (25% off all protein powders) that I had set in my calendar long ago.  So I finally re-stocked my protein powder supply.  And for such a good deal, I splurged and bought both vanilla and chocolate flavors.

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I tried the WF brand (just bought one sample packet) to see if it would be similar enough (they basically copycat-ed Vega in the recipe), but it didn’t hold up in my opinion.  Too bad because it’s significantly cheaper.  It’s still good but Vega One is the best.

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And about that Prop 65 warning?  I emailed the company last week and haven’t heard back yet, but the employee who works in the supplements aisle at the Davis WF (who I think is super awesome and knowledgeable) told me she guessed it was due to the brown rice protein (and that whole arsenic mumbo jumbo).  Meh.  I just went with what I know and love, even though it’s a little more expensive.  Vega for the win.

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Look!!  Our purple bell peppers are almost ready!  We also have red ones and lots of tomatoes.  And then there’s the tomatoes, zucchini, and green beans in the raised beds.  I also planted a second round of green beans because both Kyle and P love them and they were all being eaten straight from the garden!

After P went to bed I baked another batch of crackers.  I’m still not ready to share a recipe because it’s not quite right yet.  I keep tweaking this (really yummy) BA recipe to include seeds and quinoa and while it tastes super good, it crumbles and falls apart more than a real cracker.  I don’t mind, but it’s not exactly blogworthy.

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Here’s the final product in the light of day.

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Sunday morning was luxurious because we had nothing to do.  Nothing!  So nice.  All four of us played outside together before the yard was flooded with sun.  My breakfast was shockingly NOT a smoothie, despite having all that recently purchased protein powder burning a hole in my pantry.

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You see, I just discovered a new love.  It’s called “banola”.  The recipe is from The 21 Day Sugar Detox cookbook, which I let my friend borrow a while ago and just recently got back.  I’m not doing the program (I can’t cut carbs from my diet and the idea of a night without chocolate is not remotely tolerable), but I still like the recipes in it.

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I baked this one a few nights ago and it’s been in the breakfast rotation since smoothies were on hold without my protein powder.  It’s basically a nut based granola, without grains, and using bananas as the sweetener.  I used super ripe bananas, even though the recipe calls for green tipped ones because (again) I’m not doing the actual detox thing.

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I’ve been pairing it with different greek yogurts – usually mixing a noosa flavored one with plain 2% fage.  I am in a real plain yogurt phase right now, so sometimes I skip the sweetened flavored ones and just do plain.  Fage makes the best one although I haven’t tried too many.  We shop primarily at TJs for the staples, so my options for comparison aren’t plentiful.  I’ve tried the TJs 2% but it’s not as good.  And I don’t want nonfat yogurts because, uh, I want the fat (weird to say it that way, but I don’t know how else to put it).

My lunch was leftover cauli salad from the night before, which I bulked up with avocado and spinach.

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Salads for lunch, all day every day.  Loving the combo of sweet and crunchy with apples, sunflower seeds, and veggies.

Kyle’s parents arrived in the afternoon and from there we basically hung out for the rest of the day.

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I made this salad (using quinoa instead of brown rice) and marinated a TON of chicken with this rub and then my role in dinner was done.

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Appetizers and wine while the man of the house did his thing on the grill.

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Valley girl smiles all day long.

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Dinner is served!  I cut into mine before realizing I never took a photo. Oops.

After both of the littles were down we enjoyed some of TJs finest in the backyard while the sun set.  There was finally a decent breeze and it wasn’t 100 degrees, so that was reason enough to soak up the time outdoors.

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Once we came in, I set to work on a strata for the next day’s breakfast.

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Tomatoes, bell peppers, green onions and basil from our garden and the farm.

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I also used TJs new gluten free bread for the first time.  They stopped carrying Udi’s and I’m guessing this is basically their copycat version of the item.  Like Udi’s the slices are so small, but it seems a little softer and less crumbly.  It’s not very thick though, so as far as strata recipes go, it’s not like the adsorbent sourdough that I’d typically use.

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But this one is allergy friendly, and so Pacman was able to have some for breakfast the next day too.

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He didn’t really like it, but took down a few bites to appease me.  He doesn’t like tomatoes, so it’s not surprising that he wasn’t into this.  The tomatoes are absolutely outstanding and their flavor cannot be masked.  I hardly added anything besides fresh herbs to the strata because the veggies sing on their own.

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Kyle’s mom wanted some produce to take home with her so we stopped by the farm after everyone had finished breakfast to do some picking.

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Gorgeous colors.

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P loved it so much and ate a carrot right there on the spot (dirt covered and all).

IMG_8341I’m looking forward to the melons…

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Kyle’s mom can have all the cayenne and tabasco peppers to herself.  :)

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After we had more food than we could carry, we drove down the street to a park to play until nap time.

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Swinging with my dude.

We hit up Nugget market for lunch, where I got smoked salmon and two tubs of broccoli slaw salad.  I guess I forgot to take a photo, but it was all super delicious.  Broccoli man.  I’m telling you…

Kyle’s parents left after lunch and I went to the grocery store while Kyle stayed home with the napping babes.  He took the day off work since his parents were in town so the weekend really felt like it was still going!  And lemme tell you – shopping without kids?!?!?  OMG.  SO.  AMAZING.

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Dinner was my favorite melon and poppyseed salad with the leftover chicken from the night before.

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P had everything but the dressing (haven’t tested poppy seeds on him yet).

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I just love this salad so so much.

I polished off the TJs chocolate later that night as well as some more home-made bark.

And just like that it was already Tuesday!  So now with Friday off as a holiday it’s basically a 3 day work week!  Holler!

Bark?

Question mark in the title because I’m not sure this is bark like the kind you get from the store or the kind you see at every holiday party between December and January.  But it’s chocolate that you break off in whatever shape you want, so maybe that’s qualification enough.

I’ve made this a few times and decided to share the “recipe” although it’s something I tweak with each go.  The permutations with coconut oil and cocoa powder are endless, so I’ll offer suggestions at the end too.

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Coconut Chocolate Bark [vegan, gluten free, soy free, dairy free, nut free]

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp NuNatural’s stevia simple syrup
  • 3/4 cup rice chex
  • 1/4 cup sunflower / pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • flaked sea salt on top (be generous)

Directions:

Mix everything together and pour onto a baking sheet or dish lined with parchment paper.  Chill in the fridge and break apart when you want to enjoy.

Notes:

I’ve done it with and without the parchment paper and it’s definitely easier to remove with the paper.  Either way will work, so it just depends what size and shape you want.  A smaller pan will produce a thicker more uniform bark, whereas a baking sheet will allow it to spread to a much thinner form.

It will melt quickly so store in the fridge unless it’s go time.

More add-in options (swap for the seeds and/or cereal in the recipe):

  • uncooked quinoa (one of my favorites – the crunch is awesome)
  • shredded/flaked unsweetened coconut
  • chopped nuts or seeds (slivered almonds and hemp are faves)
  • nut butter (you can actually just add this into the recipe without subbing for anything else – if you keep the amount to 2-3 tbsp it won’t affect the balance of solids/liquids)
  • other cereals (rice crispies for example)
  • pretzels
  • crushed potato chips (go big and make it all kinds of trashy)
  • chili pepper flakes
  • chopped candied ginger

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It’s super fast to make so if you are without dessert in the house (the horror!), it’s a quick remedy.

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Whatever you do, don’t skip the sea salt.  It’s a deal maker.

The weekly menu

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I promised to make Kyle whatever he wanted on Father’s Day, and of course he requested this chopped BLT salad (a staple in our rotation).  But then we were feeling a little blah about our meat consumption after the weekend at the vineyard (ribs for dinner and bacon for breakfast) so we pushed it to Monday night’s dinner instead of Sunday.

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Still ate outside and made a relaxing night of it, even though it was a work day.  P had a deconstructed version of the meal (minus the cheese) and demolished the bacon first.  OF. COURSE.

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Tuesday was soccer but my sister came so I had two extra hands which meant I could make dinner rather easily once we got home, as opposed to having it ready to go as soon as we walk in the door like I usually do.  I still chose a quick option that was mostly already done.  I also made sure to pick a vegetarian meal because Monday wasn’t meatless.

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I dipped into the freezer stash of (walnut based) pesto.  Thanks to our booming basil plant and standing freezer we have a never ending supply of pesto.  I made this batch with walnuts and hemp seeds and all I had to do was toss it in steaming hot quinoa.  Easy as that.

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We picked the first round of green beans from the garden!!  Never mind the handfuls P has been eating while playing in the yard.

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I seared cherry tomatoes in EVOO on the stove until they had black marks on one side, then added the green beans, a splash of water, and put the lid on.  Once the green beans had cooked I poured the whole thing in with the quinoa (tomato-y  oil water and all).

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Stirred, salted and served.  [I’m yours!]

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Summery delish!

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Wednesday was so blah.  It was hottttttt outside and after a draining afternoon in the yard I didn’t have the energy to go to farmer’s market.  Or cook.

Leftovers!

I had the rest of my ribs and fries from the weekend atop a bed of kale with an entire avocado.

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Kyle had lasagna that I made earlier in the week for his work lunches.  And P had odds and ends that were in the fridge.

Definitely a hodge podge kind of meal.  But hey!  Cleaning out the fridge is always fun!

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On Thursday we went to a friend’s for a pool party.  It’s turning into a weekly tradition.

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Beer and pool time sure made it feel like a weekend.  And Kyle was even able to get off work early(ish) to join. :)

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I brought a pasta salad (with home-grown bell peppers, tomatoes, and herbs plus carrots, broccoli slaw, and a balsamic dressing).  It was a total “what’s-in-the-fridge-that-I-can-make-into-a-meal” creation process.  We had swimming (for both kids!!) that morning so I wasn’t in the mood to do something fancy pants.  I’m happy to say, this last minute dish was a big hit.  Score.

She made my curry chicken salad and corn.

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And dairy and gluten free brownies for dessert!  My girlfriend is the best, no?

Which brings us to Friday…

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100+ degree heat means crockpot action.

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These chicken thighs were coated in cumin, paprika, chili powder, salt, pepper and lime juice.  Then cooked on low for 5 hours.  I steamed corn on the side.  P ate 2 of the 3 thighs on my plate (above).  I continue to underestimate the meat consumption of our family!  Sheesh!

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On Saturday Kyle grilled pork chops which we had with this loaded cauli salad.  I’d been eyeing this salad for weeks and it finally made it into the menu rotation.  So good!  The dressing is simple but fantastic (I’m all over lime juice in dressings and marinades right now).

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I swapped sunflower seeds for almonds so P could have it too.

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We ate outside as a family again because it’s too gorgeous not to.  Also, P ate an entire pork chop.  So there’s that.

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I’ll sign off now before I get a mega case of the Sundays.  Kyle’s parents are coming in a little bit to spend the last of the weekend with us.