Here’s my version of a vegetarian tostada

I’m not a vegetarian, and I’m not completely familiar with vegetarians “rules,” but I think this tostada complies.

Here’s a tostada that I had for lunch this weekend, and it tasted as good as it looked!.

You can make a tostada out of a variety of items. Here’s a step-by-step look at what I did (layer by layer):

1st layer – corn tortilla coated in green chili oil, then baked in 400 degree over for 6 minutes.

2nd layer — homemade refried beans (reheated after thawing. I make them often and freeze them in 1-2 cup portions)

3rd layer — homemade guacamole made with avocado, garlic, chopped onions and salt

4th layer — chopped tomatoes

This is a recipe that you can have fun with — add other veggies that you have, sprinkle on some shredded cheese (although definitely not necessary) or whatever sounds good to you!



“What’s In That?” Wednesday — Hormel® Natural Choice Cracked Black Pepper Deli Turkey

We’ve been following the Fast Metabolism Diet off and on, and one of things we learned from this book is about finding meats that are nitrate free. This is like a grocery store scavenger hunt and sometimes feels impossible.

Hormel recently came out with a new line of deli meats and this Sunday’s newspaper even included a coupon, so I checked out the Hormel Natural Choice Cracked Black Pepper Deli Turkey. So, is it “real food“?

Turns out, this deli meat is nitrate free, which is awesome, but no surprise really, it’s still not real food. Here’s the ingredient list: Turkey Breast Meat, Water, Salt, Potato Starch, Turbinado Sugar, Rice Starch, Carrageenan (from seaweed), Baking Soda, Celery Juice Powder, Lactic Acid Starter Culture.

As you can see, it has more than five ingredients, including sugar, and a couple ingredients that are both hard to pronounce and not likely something my grandmother cooked with.

Since I had the coupon, I still did purchase this deli meat. I decided that the small amount of sugar was better than another version that did contain nitrates. We will eat this is small portions and likely not purchase too often. Back to sandwiches and snacks made with our own meat that we’ve sliced.

Do you know what’s buried in your freezer?

So here was my problem — I have a chest freezer in my garage that was starting to become the place where good food went to die. I didn’t have a good grasp on what was in it, and items went in, got buried and never came out.

It seemed like there must be a good way to manage my freezer. A friend suggested a method to track what was in it, and it came to me – it was really so simple. A white board hung next to the freezer, and a small bit of discipline to track what went in and what came out.

TM hung the board for me, and then I went through the process of cataloging what was in the freezer. It was easiest to just remove everything, sort it by “type” and put it back into the freezer.

I did this in January and it’s been quite easy to keep it up.  I erase what we use, and quickly note what gets added to the freezer when I come back from the grocery store (or mostly Costco, really).

It’s been a really easy to use organizational tool for us, and we hope it also helps you out.

Grocery shopping with a plan

When I shop for groceries, I tend to over do it — probably not in the way that you’re expecting, since I don’t stock up on processed foods like some folks might.

I find that instead, when I don’t have a plan for my meals, I tend to buy an over abundance of produce — enough fruits and vegetables for me, plus my neighbors to the east and west.  It doesn’t help that I really like nearly all vegetables, or that when I make a salad, I like it to have a LOT of variety.

So lately, I’ve been solving my grocery shopping problem in a somewhat unusual way. I’ve been trying out preplanned menus that I’ve found on the internet. Mainly, I’ve been using PrepDish, but I’ve tried a few others. And, it seems to be working.

Here’s what I got on today’s shopping trip for the week:

  • Almost milk (two flavors including a new one that contains coconut milk
  • Brown rice Rice Krispies (unusual purchase for me, especially since these are sweetened but PrepDish had a recipe that I really wanted to try and this was my only brown rice cereal option at the grocery store I went to in Fargo. Also, these don’t meet my personal “real food” criteria. )
  • Cabbage
  • Almond Butter (from Costco)
  • White beans
  • Round steak
  • Nitrate Free turkey deli meat (finding nitrate and sugar free deli meat in Fargo is nearly impossible, IMO)
  • Frozen shrimp
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Fresh ginger
  • Red and Yellow Peppers
  • Avocado
  • Pears

With a few other items that I already had on hand, here are the PrepDish menu items that we’ll be having this week:

  • Meal 1: Shrimp, Avocado & Grapefruit Salad
  • Meal 2: Macadamia Crusted Chicken w/ Napa Cabbage Slaw
  • Meal 3: Beef Fajitas w/ Not Fried Beans & Guacamole
  • Meal 4: Turkey Minestrone
  • Salad: Arugula w/ Pears, Dried Cherries & Pecans
  • Breakfast: Hard Boiled Eggs & Apples
  • Snack: Carrots & Guacamole
  • Dessert: Almond Butter Rice Crispies

I’ve found that the meal options offered by PrepDish of four meals, a salad, breakfast, snack and dessert seem to work well for us.  This week, I don’t plan to make the minestrone, but I still got most of the items since I’ll want a few extra vegetables for other meals or lunches. I also find that there are often leftovers that I can take for lunch, or pop into the my freezer for a future meal. (The PrepDish shopping list also makes it easy to exclude a meal since all the grocery items are labeled so you can easily leave out the items for a meal you don’t plan to make.)

I believe I’m also spending less on groceries by following a plan. This week, my total was $42. I think not buying unnecessary items means both a cost savings as well as not buying items that end up spoiling and going to waste.

The PrepDish meal plans also are gluten-free, and while we aren’t gluten intolerant, the meals do tend to be centered around vegetables and lean proteins, which is how we like to eat.

(PrepDish has not paid me for this blog post)



So, a funny story about my trip to Mexico…

TM and I went to Puerta Vallarta last week and it was a trip that contained both “real food” and “not so” real food.  We did start off the right foot with this:

Yeah, they’re just mangos, and not all that funny, I agree.

But, the good part is where we got them.

On the trip from the airport to our resort in Puerta Vallarta, there were guys selling mangos right on the street. And by “on the street,” I don’t mean on the sidewalk near the street. I mean that they guys were standing between lanes of traffic.

TM told the taxi driver that we wanted some, so he rolled down the passenger window and orchestrated the transaction.  It was $2 for a bag of about 10 mangoes. TM ate one right in the taxi immediately.  A few were shared with the taxi driver and a few went with us to our hotel room for future consumption. We also learned that you can’t tell the freshness of a mango by the skin color. It’s all about how they feel.

I had some on the hotel room balcony. They were delicious, and much fresher tasting than any mango I’ve had in North Dakota (big surprise!).  I have frozen mango on my steel cut oatmeal often in the morning and it’s good, but this mango was great.

Asian chicken and broccoli inspiration

I love Asian foods, but I find that I don’t think to make them too often. In the last few weeks, I’ve been trying dishes from PrepDish so it’s thank to her that I have this picture of Chicken and Broccoli to share with you today. The original recipe called for beef, not chicken, but since I already had chicken in the freezer, I decided to use it instead.

You’ll need to check out PrepDish on our own to get the exact recipe, but I feel comfortable telling you more aobut her recipe and what adaptions I made. Honestly, it’s straightforward enough that you probably can use it for inspiration, even without the exact recipe.   Originally, it’s beef and broccoli with a sauce made from freshly grated ginger, sesame oil, tamari and garlic. As I noted, I used chicken instead. Plus, I added in some thinly sliced onions and a few slices of red, yellow and green peppers, as well, when I stir fried the broccoli.

It’s a great recipe that can easily be prepped and cooked on any weeknight in less than an hour. This was served over quinoa that I made on Sunday and reheated.

Dark Chocolate Brownies for Dessert today

I needed to make a dessert last night so I went to my first stop for “real food” recipes — the 100 Days of Real Food blog site.

Here, I found a recipe for Dark Chocolate Whole Wheat Brownies and I was happy that I had all the ingredients on hand to make them. I used maple syrup as the sweetener and I made them with dark chocolate cocoa powder, as Lisa recommended. They are very good, a little on the dry side. I’m not sure what could be added to make them a bit moister, or if I baked them too long? Anyway, they are tasty, none-the-less and something I would definitely make again. (I did sprinkle them with a little powdered sugar, which is not real food, BTW.)

An easy one ingredient snack — Parmesan Crisps

 I was recently looking for a quick, easy snack and I recalled seeing someone making parmesan crisps. I thought they did it in a frying pan, but some internet sleuthing showed that it could also be done in the oven.

Just shred some parmesan cheese (avoid pre-shredded if you want a 1-ingredient snack) and put in small “piles” on a cookie sheet. I lined mine with parchment paper to make it easy to clean up. Each pile should be a couple tablespoons of cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for about 6 minutes, until melted and starting to harden a little.

I sprinkled different spices on each of mine, such as freshly ground black pepper, a dash of cayenne pepper and some thyme. I know this means it’s no longer 1-ingredient but it was fun to see how they affected the flavor. All three were good.

Enjoy these as a snack alone or with a side of crackers or veggies.

This is Sunday!

Here’s how I made my Sunday somewhat productive — you can see I had three pots simmering on the stove and one additional dish waiting to go in the oven, all at the same time.  So, what’s cookin’?

Quinoa – a huge batch in the large pot on the left. I cooked it to use in some side dishes later in the week

Baked apples – in the white casserole, they’re just waiting to pop into the oven once it’s preheated. The apples were topped with a mixture of dates, almonds, dried berries and coconut oil, all sprinkled with some cinnamon. (I tried a new variety of apples that were on sale this week — Cameo.  They are great for eating)

Steel cut oats – in the smaller pot in back on the right.  I like to make up a medium size batch on Sunday, then reheat a serving each morning, with some frozen fruit mixed in. It’s my new “easy” breakfast since I am trying to limit myself on bananas (my former “go to” breakfast)

Homemade spaghetti sauce — in the big soup pot on the right — a mixture of Italian venison sausage, onions, peppers, garlic, crushed tomatoes (home canned) and Italian seasoning. (We had this Sunday evening over whole wheat spaghetti and it was very good)

Have you tried zuchhini pasta?

Here’s what was for dinner tonight — shrimp, garlic and white beans mixed with a few red pepper flakes and a few chunks of goat cheese served over zucchini pasta.  It’s really just shaved zucchini but it makes a nice way to add a veggie to your meal with minimal effort.

I learned at from this video at PrepDish.

Zucchini Pasta

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