sunflower

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! 

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Kale, quinoa and tempeh Caesar salad.

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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.

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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.  🙁

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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.

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

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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).

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

Granola-ish Bars [allergen free]

Does granola necessarily mean oats?  Or grains?

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I read that buckwheat is a fruit the other day.  Hmmmm…I know it’s not related to wheat and I know it’s not a grass…eh, whatever [too lazy to google].

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Ok so I made these bars and I’m not really sure if they count as granola or not, but if you feel like the ingredients list suits you, then go ahead and give them a shot.  And then send me a new recipe name suggestion.  🙂

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The recipe is allergy friendly, and has no nuts, eggs, dairy, soy, wheat, or sesame.  It’s no KIND bar, but it’s good in it’s own right.  I mean, hello, they have squash in them!  That’s cool right?

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Cranberry Orange Squash Granola Bars [vegan, gluten free, dairy free, soy free, nut free]

Ingredients:

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine chia seeds and water and stir.  After it’s had enough time to gel, mix chia together with the rest of the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Add in dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Press into 8×8 greased baking pan (or lined with parchment paper/tin foil).

Bake for 30 minutes.  Wait for them to cool fully before removing and slicing (it will be hard but seriously, don’t sneak any until they have chilled).  I recommend putting them in fridge so the coconut oil solidifies and they’re easier to cut.

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

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You can buy NuNaturals’ products online (discount code BLG0614 will get you 15% off your entire order, also orders over $35 get free shipping in the US).

Tagatose subs just like cane sugar, so it’s a really easy conversion and makes it a super simple ingredient to bake with.

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Disclaimer  I’m not an allergy expert!  Consult with a medical professional before trying new foods for the first time. 

Allergy friendly snack bites

More substantial than fruit and veggies, I need (quick) snack ideas that have both nutritional and caloric oomph.  Preferably ones with protein and fat (since carbs are easy to come by in my experience).

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Balls for the win.

These look so hideous it’s almost embarrassing to post.  It’s not a wonky camera mode, they are really that green color.  It’s because there’s green stuff in them.

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Frozen Green Chai Vanilla Bites [vegan, gluten free, soy free, dairy free, nut free]

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp protein powder of choice (I used Amazing Grass chai vanilla infusion)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds + 4 tbsp water
  • [optional] 1 tbsp liquid sweetener (maple syrup, honey, agave)
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

Add everything to a food processor and pulse until it all comes together and forms a large ball.

Roll into smaller bites sized balls and store in the fridge or freezer. 

Notes: the amount of sweetener is up to you and will vary based on what protein powder you use (i.e. if it is sweetened or not).

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The pairing of chai and vanilla and coconut in these is awesome.  I totally recommend Amazing Grass’ vanilla chai infusion.  It’s got that characteristic "green" taste (and color), but has a delicious unique chai flavor.  I love love love chai.

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Chia gel on the left, ready to roll on the right.

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Depending on the size, you should get ~12 balls. 

These are nutrient dense like whoa.  Thanks to the Amazing Grass powder, they have (rice and hemp) protein, plus the sunflower seeds, chia, and coconut offer fat (and a million other fantastic nutrients) as well.

More allergy friendly snack ideas:

  • dried coconut / dried fruit
  • banana chips
  • glutino pretzels with sunbutter
  • home-made bean dip
  • tortilla chips with salsa/guacamole
  • avocado on wheat free crackers*
  • pepitas / sunflower seeds
  • hard boiled eggs

As you’ll notice, several of these require you to make them yourself.  In the safety of your own kitchen, you have 100% control over what goes into your food.  Time consuming, for sure; but at least you’ll be less stressed because you will be sure of the exact ingredients. 

Other ideas??  Feel free to chime in! 

*If you are eating something pre-packaged, be sure to check ingredients lists carefully.  If it’s a gluten free product, it may still have some other source of allergen (case in point Mary’s Gone crackers, which are wheat/gluten free but do have sesame seeds).  Unless something is made in a certified peanut/tree nut-free facility, there’s always a risk of contamination.  I’ve called a few companies and so far everyone has been really helpful in making sure their customers are informed.  Be a responsible consumer – don’t be afraid to get in touch with customer service and ask questions!

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.

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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. 

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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.

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Eeeek!  SO close to overflowing.  Helloooooo antioxidants.

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Check out those baby blues. 

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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Playing ball with Auntie.

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Rainy day fun with bubbles.

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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.

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Balance.

Perfect Fall weekend

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Trrrrrrrrouble.

[Don’t be deceived by this photo, he’s not crawling.  At. All.  He rolls to get everywhere.  He’s surprisingly mobile for only using rolling as a means of travel.  I’m sure I’ll be swallowing my words later but it would be nice if he showed some signs of crawling.  Like maybe contact with the ground.  On the other hand, he’s basically ready to walk since he holds himself up using the coffee table or wall as support…hmmm…tummy time to standing?  Kids are confusing.]

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On Thursday my parents came to Davis to visit for a few hours.

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It was fun to have them in town on a day that didn’t involve them babysitting while I slept.  I was alert and able to interact without dozing off mid sentence!  Yay!

They treated us to lunch at Bistro 33, a place I’ve been wanting to try for a while.  It’ sin downtown Davis and has outdoor seating which is perfect on days like Thursday.  It was barely crisp and Fall-like, so sitting in the sun felt awesome.

Kyle even managed to ditch work for a couple of hours (a perk of being self employed) and join us.

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We “started” with baked goat cheese with sundried tomatoes and parmesan crostini.  I got some without parmesan for me.  And FYI, the reason started is in quotations is because the service is pretty mediocre, so our appetizer only beat out the arrival of our entrees by 30 seconds.  Not amazing timing.  At least it was good.

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For my main dish I got the banh-mi style Vietnamese sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries.

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The sandwich had grilled portobello mushrooms, asian slaw, and lime chili vinagirette aioli on a fluffy sweet roll.

The aioli was the best part – I would have liked a bit more oomf in the form of tofu or more mushrooms – but it was still a pretty good vegetarian option.

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The sweet potato fries were awesome, and it’s a good thing I shared them with the whole table or I would have demolished them all.

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Mr. No-Naps (going on day 4) finally fell asleep during the meal so we actually lucked out.

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After lunch we strolled through downtown and then onto campus.  We stopped to feed P some banana, because he wasn’t super happy that he missed out on lunch. 

I feed him solid food twice a day (more or less) but I still nurse him the same amount.  It’s a lot to fit into 10 hours (yes, he sleeps for 14 hours…for now). 

In the afternoon my parents headed home and Kyle went back to work so I played with P and made myself a smoothie.  No photo, but it was large and green, with banana, spinach, almond milk, and peanut butter.

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For dinner I had this again but topped it with a fried egg.  Delish.

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And for dessert I had a few slices of pumpkin gingerbread and maple coated almonds.  The almonds are from the co-op bulk bins and are way too addictive to buy on the reg.  I try to limit myself to one fancy nut per month.  Yes, I could easily make my own, but let’s be real, I’m spread pretty thin these days.  Buying food is what’s happening and I’m making no apologies for it.

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Friday’s breakfast was steel cut oats with almond butter stirred in, topped with cinnamon, desiccated coconut, and roasted sunflower seeds.  An oddly amazing combo.

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Afterwards I fed P, then we got to playing with a new toy.

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Pre-and post-destruction. 

As strong as he is, I’m thinking it’s the poorly made toy that is the issue because it lasted about 2 seconds in the table position before he tore the legs off it and broke the thing down to parts. 

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Lunch!  You all have to know what this is by now since I have shown the same meal on repeat for the past two months.

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Kyle and I went different routes for dinner.  He went Mexican with a new awesome ingredient.

I didn’t feel like much, so I landed on tomato soup.  With crackers and chips aplenty.

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I had both Amy’s chunky tomato and Wolfgang Puck’s tomato basil.  Both were perfectly salty, complemented with tortilla chips (until they ran out) and then Van’s multigrain GF crackers.

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I felt all sloshy and didn’t even have room for dessert. 

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Kyle’s said the Fresh ‘n Nova hot garlic fluff took his burrito to the next level.  Talk about a perfect Mexican food add in!  Kyle loves garlic so this is basically a spread created for him.

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Saturday started way earlier than we wanted thanks to P’s teething issues.  He has been waking in the early morning and no matter what we do or don’t do, he won’t go back to sleep. 

He loves cuddling and it feels so sweet having him on my chest while he sucks his thumb.  I feel his hot breath on my neck and occasional eyelash flutter.  It makes me melt so as tiring as it is, I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world.

Oh and PS I made GF pancakes with peanut butter sauce (above) for breakfast after doing level 3 of Jillian’s shred. 

I ate lunch in the car, so no pics, but it wasn’t anything special.  We were en route to Chico for a baby shower.  Doesn’t P look excited to meet his new friend?

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He was certainly bonding with the other little girlies at the event.

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Until Kev showed up and there was another boy in the running…no worries for my ladies man.

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Chillin’

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We spent the night at our friends’ house in Chico and got take-out from The RawBar for dinner.  It’s pretty nice having kids the same age because they totally get the whole house-bound-after-8-pm-because-my-kid-is-sleeping thing.

I had a bomb seaweed salad and inari.  And some vino as a night cap while we watched the first two episodes of Top Chef. 

Predictions??

P woke up when we went to bed so that sucked.  It was a two hour battle to get him back to sleep as he wailed on and off.  Yikes. Fortunately he didn’t wake up Kevin, who was asleep in his parents’ room. 

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The next morning we went to Tin Roof Bakery and Cafe for breakfast.

I got a decaf with almond milk (free refills for the win) and a massive cinnamon roll.

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I only got through half before I felt the sugar crazies coming on so I stopped.

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This is Kyle’s pretty almond milk mocha.

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We stopped at the park on the way home.  The boys and their boys….awww.

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Don’t mind the fact that P’s still rockin’ his pjs.  It was a lazy Sunday.  Who gives?

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We made it back in time for the beginning of the first round of football games.  And hung out in Chico ‘til we got to a good break in the games. 

Thanks to the crappy am radio in the middle of nowhere we only had the Raiders game to listen to on the way home.  Whatever.

I worked hard to get pacman to nap on the way home and after he finally dozed off I did the same.  We were a sleepy pair in the back seat leaving poor Kyle to entertain himself.  Luckily the 49ers game came on. 

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We got home around 2 pm and I’m not sure who was the most hungry of the three of us.  Patty-cakes of course got priority.  But as soon as he was done nursing I made myself a quick egg/avo scramble (above) which I bulked up even more with a cheesy sauce of nooch and plain almond milk.  Neon colored pee! 

The rest of Sunday was mellow as we got things squared away for the work week ahead.  I had zero interest in cooking so we got a few different deli salads from Nugget Market on the way home from an evening walk through the neighb.

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And that’s the weekend!