[more] omni meals for the family

Leading up to our trip, I tried to make the most of what we had leftover in the kitchen and freezer.  The meals were mostly huge salads with grains – my effort to be cheap and use up every single perishable item in the house so nothing went to waste.  As you can imagine, these weren’t the most inventive or exciting meals (also they were insanely repetitive) so I didn’t bother taking pics.  I did, however, have photos of some of our dinners from the previous week that I never got around to sharing…so here they are (links to the source included).

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I made a (lot of) adjustments to this crock-pot sweet potato quinoa chili – some inadvertent because my brain wasn’t on.

First off, I didn’t use the slow cooker.  If I’m going to have to brown the meat before I add it to the crock pot, I don’t see the point of using it at all.  I’m lazy.

It was good, but I have a feeling it would have been better had I not totally effed things up by buying tomato SAUCE instead of diced tomatoes,  I seriously don’t know how I did that, but I realized it mid-pour and you certainly can’t un-pour tomato sauce from a big pot of chili.  I tried to compensate by tossing in halved cherry tomatoes that I had in the fridge and amping up the spices, but it didn’t taste as chili-like as the original recipe probably does.


It was still yummy – just not exactly what I set out to make.  I nixed the garlic and shallot and used an onion and garlic infused olive oil instead.  I also skipped the beans and added lactose free sour cream on top.  Without the sour cream, it was kinda just a tomato sweet potato quinoa dish.  The sour cream really made it great.


The photo of my meal looks not much like this cover photo, but I am not a food stylist so there you go.  I don’t think I mentioned this yet, but I’m aiming to cook every cover of BA this year.  I already did January, so here’s February‘s chicken and dumplings with mushrooms.

Holy labor intensive!  Bon Appetit needs a reality check with these recipes.  Who has this amount of time??  I read the recipe and decided it would have to be a weekend meal so Kyle could occupy P for a lot of the cooking time.  Good thing too, because I was sweating it out in the kitchen for 3+ hours, so I definitely wouldn’t have been able to work it into the meal plan on a week night.  I have small unreliable windows (read: nap times) to fit in meal prep/cooking now that this kid is all crazy active and mobile, so if it doesn’t fit in there, it’s not happening.  Hi crock pot, I love you.

The recipe was awesome for the record.


Nachos!  These are the kinds of meals that compensate for the ones with excessive effort (see previous recipe).  Lentils in the rice cooker make my hands-on work <5 minutes.

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Warm Chicken Salad


This was good, but needed more oomph in the dressing department.  I used pomegranate vinegar instead of red wine vinegar and I added mayo to the dressing too.  I just felt like the extra creamy, fatty flavor would help it out, and I was right.  I liked the fingerling potatoes a lot though, especially with chives.  Chives are a new fave.


I made the salad first and then added the warm shredded chicken right before serving.  I like warm lettuce because it makes it soggy-ish.  I’m a soggy salad person though.

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I intended to make kebabs with this meal, but ended up roasting the pineapples and red bell peppers separately.  I cooked the beef in a cast iron pan on the stove.  Then I served the whole thing over corn grits.  Baby boy had some too, but wasn’t a big fan.


Crustless quiche

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Kale, noodle, and sausage stew.

I used TJ’s GF brown rice noodles.  I used the same chicken sausage I used here.  Simple and hearty, but not heavy.


Big Ass Veggie Lasagna

I don’t have a recipe to link to because it’s just lasagna and I have a million lasagna recipes already on the site.  Let’s be real, layer noodles, marinara, cheese mix, spinach, and repeat.

I didn’t eat any since it had dairy and gluten, but Kyle was all about it.  I had no prob finding leftovers to grub on (mucho stuff stocked up in the freezer).

Other non-photographed meals included: mock Chipotle bowl with crock-pot salsa chicken, portobello fried rice, salmon burger salad, and pesto pasta.

Omni meal plans

I’ve been keeping up with weekly meal planning for almost a year now – with random weeks off due to travel/holidays/etc..  But for the most part, it’s been a very successful technique in keeping our food budget in check. 

I thought it would be way more expensive once we started including meat, but it hasn’t been too significant of a difference because the marginal increase in animal protein is balanced by the fact that we all eat the same thing (thus, a decrease in overall ingredients).  One meal as opposed to three.  At least for dinner.  I pack Kyle’s lunches and they do contain wheat and dairy and (until we run out entirely) nuts, since he’s not nursing and out of the house when he eats them, it’s no big deal.  Otherwise, we are a communal diet family. 

I slipped up a bit this week because I had some mad tempeh cravings, but otherwise here are the allergy friendly dinners we shared.

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Salmon burgers over a huge salad with TJ’s Caesar dressing.

I called and left a message with Trident Seafoods about their facilities and they called me back and were so helpful!  They are all peanut and tree nut free, and one of their two facilities is sesame and free and the other is not but they still clean it thoroughly between the use of sesame products.  The customer service rep showed me where to look up the ID number of the product (on the bottom of the package) to determine which facility it was made at.  We happened to get a package from the sesame free facility!  And since the package is already labeled as gluten free, we are in the clear.  Win! 


Kale, quinoa and tempeh Caesar salad.


I can’t get enough Caesar dressing lately.  TJ’s makes a non-dairy version that’s pretty great.  Unfortunately, it’s not vegan, but at least P was spared one allergen (the tempeh is soy, of course).  From now on I’ll probably nix the tempeh or use chicken instead, but since we are on a budget, I didn’t want to let the tempeh that’s been in our fridge for the past month go to waste.  I’ve been eyeing it for far too long and I finally caved.


It was so good, but not worth the poor eczema flare P had as a result.  I had thought eating it at dinner and waiting 12 hours overnight wouldn’t be too bad, but I think it takes longer to clear out of my system.  At least in that amount.  🙁


Home-made Chipotle bowl.

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For the rice, I mixed corn, cilantro, and lime juice into brown rice.  For the chicken, I cooked two breasts in the crock pot covered in salsa for 8 hours on low.  It shredded in 5 seconds and made for minimal hands on work.  Kyle demanded a repeat of this meal immediately, so I suspect it will be a regular.


It was seriously easy so that’s fine by me.  I served the chicken and rice with romaine and avocado.


I’ve made this broccoli salad previously (both times adding quinoa).  Just as good this time (I had two more huge servings and the leftovers for lunch the next day).


I actually made us two separate meals this night because we didn’t have very much GF pasta after P ate dinner (his appetite keeps surprising me!).  So Kyle had wheat pasta with this pesto (frozen from our summer produce) and I had the (above) mish mash.

Since you probably can’t tell, it’s TJ’s pasta with kale and roasted veggies topped in an avocado/nutritional yeast sauce.  Despite appearances, it was delicious.


Kyle’s dad was in town on Friday night (Valentine’s Day) so our romantic dinner was re-scheduled for Sunday.  I made a stew with veggies, kale, rice, and sausage.

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Saturday was P’s first birthday party, so we treated ourselves to sushi that night.  No pics because I devoured it superfast.  Avocado inari is my fave.

And here are a few more meals that I photographed from the previous week but never shared…


Pasta with marinara and home-made lentil “meatballs”.  I made extra pasta for Kyle’s lunch the next day, as well as extra GF pasta for me & P.

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He loves pasta with olive oil or chicken broth.  Frankly I can get him to eat anything with chicken broth.  It’s how I shoved brown rice and squash down his throat just yesterday.


This was a Sonoma “chickn” salad made from Beyond Meat chicken-free strips.  I love their products so much.  They are getting “beefy crumbles” soon which should be interesting.

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I basically tweaked the Whole Foods version of the Sonoma salad that first introduced me to Beyond Meat’s product – mayo, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, celery, salt & pepper.


Served atop a salad (or on a sandwich the next day).


In addition to Caesar I’m really into mayo these days.  It’s all about the condiments, baby.


Rosemary and lemon chicken and red potatoes with mixed veggies.  We all ate this one, no alterations needed.


Spoon Fork Bacon’s shaved brussel salad with quinoa instead of pretzel bread and bacon instead of pancetta.  So good we made it again for P’s birthday party.


Brown rice, broccoli, and organic chicken sausage.  I wasn’t too keen on the sausage, to be honest.  The flavor was fine, but the texture weirded me out. 

So there you have it – an assortment meals for our omni family.

My highlights: week 5

This week went by bleepin’ FAST.  [Side note: I have to get my swearing in check now that P understands everything I’m saying!!  Words are now real things with meaning.  Talk about a reality check.]

Last weekend was a snooze with that lame Super Bowl, although I did grab brunch at Cafe Bernardo with a former co-worker.


I brought P (with his eggs and such in a tupperware) and he was the perfect gentleman – minimal puffs and banana bits made their way to the floor (although I always clean that stuff up at the end of meals out because I don’t wanna ruin the generosity and hospitality of the baby friendly places). 

Anyway, I really like going to brunch with her because she makes me feel in the loop still with hospital stuff.  I realize I haven’t actually shared this news, but I am taking a break from nursing to be a mom right now.  For a while I was trying to work out an arrangement where I could do per diem or have an on call schedule, but my boss didn’t have that position available.  Night shifts were killing me since we don’t have child care during the day (leaving me to attempt to function 24 hours around the clock or more).  There were literally some stretches of time that I was awake with only 3 hours of “naps” total over the course of 96 hours.  Dangerous for my patients, sad for my son, miserable for my health. 

Fortunately, I’m extremely blessed to have a husband who supports me in my decision.  And even though finances are tight with one income per household, life is short, and this is way better for our family. 

So.  Brunches with my ex-colleague are my way of keeping tabs on the unit, and nursing in general.  Plus, she’s super awesome.  We hit it off immediately when I started working there, and as a result we decided we’d be friends outside of the hospital.

Tangent over.  Back to the week. 


On Monday I went to the East Bay to join my parents at a lecture at Cal.  It was part of this series

The class is for students, but a limited number of tickets are open to the public.  Unfortunately it is insanely popular and therefore hard to get reservations.  You have to register each week and we didn’t get in the first week, so I missed Michael Pollan’s intro.  This week’s lecture was by Raj Patel and my parents and I all agreed it wasn’t the best.  We felt so out of the loop because there was all this assigned reading (for the students) that we obviously hadn’t done.  I’m optimistic that the speakers for the rest of the course will be better though.  Any other Michael Pollan fans should check out his latest interview on the Inquiring Minds podcast.  It’s fantastic.


Eeeek!  SO close to overflowing.  Helloooooo antioxidants.


Check out those baby blues. 


I took pics of all my meals at my parents’ house.  The above breakfast is on Rudi’s GF bread. 


Lunch was a big salad with spinach, roasted Brussels, carrots, avocado, and sunflower seeds. 


With a side of GF pretzels.

I snacked on more carrots and pretzels throughout the day.

And for dinner we made a stewp with quinoa and veggies.


And can’t forget about deezer (that’s what we called dessert growing up). 


My mom found these in the bakery section at WF and brought them home thinking I couldn’t have them because they weren’t (specified) as gluten free.  Well, as it turns out, there isn’t even flour in them at all!  They had sugar, egg whites, and walnuts.  And lots of chocolate (obvs).  But no dairy and no wheat.  I’ll take the biggest one, thankyouverymuch.  For the record, they are like a hybrid of a cookie and a brownie.  Rich and soft on the inside with a brownie like outside.  Thumbs way up.


And while we are on the subject of chocolate. 

Practice round for my little guy’s (allergy friendly) birthday cake!  It’s so cliché to talk about the time flying by, but seriously, I can’t believe it’s already his birthday!


Playing ball with Auntie.

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Rainy day fun with bubbles.


I look away for 1.5 seconds and…this.  My parents’ house isn’t baby proofed and P is taking advantage.  At least it was only diapers.



My everyday life


This is a small snack.  The “before” photo is so clean.  Let me tell you, persimmons make one hell of an “after” photo.  Like a blood bath!


Naps are complicated.  When they happen, I’m on cloud 9.


Lunch in peace and quiet. 

That’s nearly a whole bag of TJ’s lacinato kale by the way.  Tossed with quinoa and coated in creamy broccoli soup.


We put up our tree and hung our stockings.  P loves all of it.  He says “de” and points to all the things.  He wants to communicate so badly.


I made three loaves of banana bread and have been eating it over and over and over for breakfast. 

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As you can see, it’s always topped with PB and paired with a fried egg.  The combo doesn’t get old.  Me in a rut…shocking.  [Sarcasm]


Teething sucks.


Kyle food.  Huge tupperware of brown rice, lentils, spinach, corn, and Fresh ‘N Nova’s thyme flavored hummus.

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Best way to season a dish.  I made it for his work lunches but it only lasted two servings. 

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Elise food.  Gotta repeat the faves.  Nachos on the left, stew on the right.


And my all time number one lover, creamy dijon tempeh spinach casserole.

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I served it over quinoa.  Win.


Dude, it makes it hard to assemble when you eat the instructions. 

My parents got a high chair for P and it took mega muscle strength to put this bad boy together.  Seriously, I love Graco’s intuitive designs but this was not as simple as some of their other items.




Went home for the weekend again.  Wait til you see the Santa pics.


I love Brussels.

Peace out!

Peanut + pumpkin pairing


I don’t think the idea of paring pumpkin and peanut would have occurred to me before seeing this recipe of Katie’s. 

But it sounded like an interesting combo, and I only had a bit of pumpkin left, sooo…yeah…I made a pumpkin peanut butter stew and the rest is history.


Pumpkin Peanut Butter Stew with Spinach & Tempeh [vegan, gluten free, FODMAPs friendly]


  • 1/2 cup pumpkin (either use canned pumpkin or mash/puree a baked squash)
  • 1/2 cup plain almond milk
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (omit with using sweetened PB)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 block tempeh, cubed
  • 3-4 cups spinach
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2-3 cups vegetable broth


In a large pot, combine pumpkin, almond milk, peanut butter, maple syrup and salt.  Once combined and warm add in tempeh and spinach.  Cover with a lid and cook until spinach has wilted.  Then add rice and vegetable broth. 

Adjust broth to desired thickness.  Serve once it’s hot.


I’ve made this a few times now and I love it so much I always try to make the leftovers last forever and ever by adding more spinach…so really you don’t even need the broth.  It’s just as good chilled although it’s so homey and yummy warm.

There are also a million ways to tweak this dish…like using almond butter instead of peanut butter.  Or kale instead of spinach.  Or tofu/chickpeas/lentils instead of tempeh.  Or quinoa instead of rice.  If you’re in the mood for a little heat, add in some crushed red pepper flakes.  Or take it in an Indian direction and try curry powder.

It’s a choose your own ending kind of recipe…