Taco Tuesday has become one of our favorite traditions at our house! I love it because I don’t have to decide what to cook on Tuesdays, and the kids look forward to it because they love tacos and they are able to customize it to their own tastes. Finally, something the whole family enjoys!
When I took the October Unprocessed challenge this year, I discovered a taco seasoning recipe that my whole family loves. I love it because it costs less than buying the seasoning packets, it is very quick and easy to make, and I know the exact ingredients that are going into it. If you’re trying to avoid bread, this is just as delicious served on top of rice.
I am in the middle of taking the October Unprocessed Challenge (a challenge to eat only REAL foods for the entire month of October.) I have been drinking lots of smoothies this month, and I have discovered a new one that I love! This smoothie tastes great, and it’s made with ingredients I usually always have on hand. So, when I have plans to make a different smoothie and discover that I’m out of yogurt or berries, this is usually what I’ve been going to. It tastes a lot like chocolate milk to me, only without the added white sugar!
Serves: 16 ounces
- 8 ounces Milk, any type (Cow's milk, Almond, Soy, Coconut...use what you prefer)
- 1 Tablespoon Honey, preferably raw and local
- 2 Bananas, ripened and frozen
- 1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder
- Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth. Enjoy! 🙂
We are almost halfway through the October Unprocessed Challenge (eating only REAL food for the entire month of October)! This is my 4th year taking the challenge, and I am still learning so much every day!
My greatest accomplishment so far this year was finding a recipe for taco seasoning that my whole family loves!! Taco Tuesday is so much better now, and I feel great knowing exactly what is in the seasoning! If I get nothing else out of this challenge, I will be happy about my new taco night discovery! 🙂
This year has seemed the easiest so far of all the years I’ve attempted the challenge (last year I only lasted a few days, and then I gave up!). This blog is what is keeping me accountable this year, and knowing that I’m going to post everything I eat is one of the main reasons I haven’t given up. Although it seems easier than previous years, this challenge is still a LOT of work and takes a lot of planning and prep, since I often have to make 2 meals for dinner since my kids will not eat some of these new foods (although I do make them try everything.)
Below is a list of EVERYTHING I have eaten for the first 8 days, along with links to many of the recipes. It’s not 100% unprocessed (chocolate chips are my weakness), but I am happy with my progress so far. I am surprised that I have not really had any cravings for sweets, and I have not felt hungry at all.
For more real-food recipe ideas each day, check out the Journey To Complete Wellness Facebook page.
If you have any favorite real-food recipes, please feel free to share them in the comments on this post or on the Journey to Complete Wellness Facebook page! I’ll take all the help I can get! 🙂
October Unprocessed 2016
Saturday, October 1
|Breakfast: Omelet with Peppers, Onions, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
|Snack: Grapes ,cashews, raisins|
|Lunch: Salad (Romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, raisins) w/balsamic
|Dinner: Honey Balsamic Sheet Pan Chicken
This is delicious! I will be making this again (maybe a few more times this month)! 🙂
Sunday, October 2
|Breakfast: Gluten-Free Banana Pancakes
I love these, and my 12-year old daughter does, too!
|Snack: Celery Stick, Raisins, Grapes, Cashews|
|Lunch: Leftovers from Dinner and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
The soup is so tasty! My 13-year-old daughter loves it as well!
|Dinner: Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili
This was good, but my family was not crazy about it. I had a lot of leftovers that I froze in individual portions to use later in the month.
Monday, October 3
|Breakfast: Chocolate Avocado Smoothie
|Snack: Plain Greek Yogurt w/1 T honey & 1T chocolate chips, Popcorn|
|Lunch: Leftover Chili|
|Dinner: Mozzarella-Stuffed Slow Cooker Meatballs
This is a favorite in our house!
Tuesday, October 4
|Breakfast: Leftover Banana Pancakes/Kiwi/Slice of Boar’s Head Deli Turkey|
|Snack: Fuji Apple, 5.3oz Greek Yogurt, ½ T Honey & 1T chocolate chips|
|Lunch: Leftover Chili|
|Dinner: Taco Meat w/Jasmine Rice, Lettuce, Tomato. Taco Seasoning
Wednesday, October 5
|Breakfast: Leftover Banana Pancakes with Grapes|
|Snack: Grapes, Chocolate Chips|
|Lunch: Raspberry Peanut Butter Green Smoothie (I used grape juice)|
|Dinner: Slow Cooker Chicken Tortellini Soup (w/brown rice noodles)|
Thursday, October 6
|Breakfast: Scrambled Egg w/Diced Tomatoes;grapes|
|Snack: Peanut Butter Cookies, cashews
|Lunch: Leftover Chicken Soup|
|Dinner: Pate Chinois|
Friday, October 7
|Breakfast: Leftover banana pancake, PB cookie|
|Snack: Yogurt w/honey & cc; apple; cucumbers,celery,dip,chips,salsa|
|Lunch: Leftover Tomato Soup|
|Dinner: Leftover Pate Chinois|
Saturday, October 8
|Breakfast: Leftover chicken soup|
|Snack: Kettle corn; Roasted Pumpkin Seeds|
|Lunch: Strawberry/banana/yogurt/milk smoothie|
|Dinner: Baked Haddock,rice pilaf, and Roasted Broccoli
I love this smoothie! To be honest, I did not expect to like this the first time I tried it. I had an avocado that I wanted to use up, so I searched the web for a recipe, and I found this Avocado recipe from Allrecipes.com. To my surprise, it was creamy, cool, and delicious! Since then, I have made a few modifications to suit my taste and preferences, and it has become one of my favorite smoothies. This smoothie is a nice change from my usual smoothies that contain banana. My other recipes usually use at least one frozen ingredient, so ice is not necessary, but I think this one is perfect as is with the ice. Even if you’re not a huge fan of avocado, I think you may be surprised. Give it a try and let me know what you think! 🙂
- 1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 6 oz. strawberry yogurt (or flavor of your choice)
- 2 Tbsp raw honey
- 8 ice cubes
Add all ingredients to blender. Blend until smooth. Enjoy! 🙂
Serves: 8 pancakes
If you love pancakes and bananas, but you're trying to cut down on white flour and white sugar, I think you are going to love this recipe. These pancakes are healthy and delicious! I love that they are very quick and easy to make and the ingredients are all real food ingredients. I put all of the ingredients in the blender, and the batter is ready to pour within minutes! Enjoy! 🙂
- 1 cup milk
- 1 Tablespoon vinegar
- 2 eggs
- 1 ripe banana
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 2-3 Tablespoons Coconut oil or butter for coating pan
- Maple syrup (for topping)
- Berries (for topping, optional)
- Combine milk and vinegar in a cup or small bowl. Set aside for a few minutes to sour.
- Combine baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and oats in a food processor. Grind until smooth. (A NutriBullet works well for this.)
- Add milk mixture, eggs, banana, and dry ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
- Heat coconut oil or butter in nonstick skillet over medium-low heat (or use a griddle pan at 300 degrees). Pour ⅓ cup batter onto the skillet for each pancake. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until bubbles form around the edges of the pancake. Flip and cook for an additional 90 seconds. Continue with the remaining batter.
- Top with maple syrup and/or berries (if desired)
Do you want to get more sweet potatoes into your diet?
Sweet potatoes are a delicious and nutritious Superfood. They are high in vitamin B6, they are a good source of Vitamin C and magnesium, and they also contain Vitamin D, Iron, and Potassium. Packed with nutrients, I have been trying to incorporate more sweet potatoes into our diets, but it has not been easy since they are not a favorite food in my family.
I was so excited when I discovered this recipe originally intended for russet potatoes. My family loved it with regular potatoes, so I decided to try it with sweet potatoes as well, and it was a hit!! I usually prepare this using a combination of sweet potatoes and russet potatoes. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does! Enjoy!
- 3 Russet Potatoes (or 2 Russets and 1 Sweet Potato), quartered
- 4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) olive oil
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Quarter potatoes. Place into a large mixing bowl.
- Coat potatoes evenly with olive oil and parmesan cheese.
- In a separate small bowl, mix together salt, Italian seasoning, Garlic powder, and paprika
- Cover potatoes evenly with spice mixture.
- Lay potatoes in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.
- Bake at 400° for 40 minutes.
October in New England means running through corn mazes, picking apples, gathering up fallen leaves & jumping in them, and of course, carving pumpkins. Pumpkin carving is one of our favorite autumn traditions. One of the things my daughters love most about carving pumpkins is roasting the seeds afterwards for a tasty autumn treat!
Pumpkin seeds are not only delicious, they are packed with nutrients and provide many health benefits as well:
- They are a good source of essential minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium.
- They are also a great source of Fiber, Protein, and Vitamin E.
- They help to reduce levels of LDL Cholesterol
- They help to reduce inflammation
- and many more…
Here is the recipe we use in our family for roasted pumpkin seeds. You may experiment with different spices and season to your liking.
- Seeds from one or more pumpkins
- Olive oil
- Salt or other seasonings (to taste)
- Remove the seeds from the pumpkin.
- Rinse seeds and separate from flesh. Lay seeds in a single layer on a paper towel and pat dry.
- Spread seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Drizzle 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil over seeds
- Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt evenly over seeds
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Season as desired.
If eating healthier is one of your goals but you don’t know where to begin, I will share some tips that have helped me along in my journey to eating more REAL foods and minimizing the amount of processed foods in my diet.
What IS a REAL Food?
Any food that comes from nature and can be purchased without a label is a REAL food (fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, seeds, etc.) REAL foods will help to fuel your body with the nutrients it needs. Ideally, you want to strive to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. Foods that have been packaged usually have been processed in some way, so you want to choose REAL foods without packaging whenever possible. Many REAL foods are also labeled as SUPERFOODS. I have discovered this excellent resource that lists 50 Superfoods and their benefits. It also suggests healthy recipes to help you integrate these SUPERFOODS into your everyday diet. I always find it helpful to focus on the foods I should be eating rather than those I should not be eating, so I highly recommend checking out that list from skinnyms.com and printing it for future reference. Once you know which foods are ideal to eat, here are some tips to help you incorporate those foods and to minimize the amount of highly processed foods in your diet.
1. Learn to Read Ingredient Labels. If you’re striving to eat healthier, this is the first step I would recommend. If you prefer more variety in your diet than just foods without a label, it is very important to learn to read the ingredient labels on your foods. The nutritional information label can sometimes be helpful, but I think it is much more important to look at the ingredients. If there is anything on a label that you cannot pronounce or you don’t know what it is or where it comes from, you most likely do not want this food to be a part of your regular diet. The same thing goes for foods with a long list of ingredients. When comparing processed foods, you generally want to choose the product with the fewest number of ingredients. A few ingredients you particularly want to avoid include corn syrups, artificial colors and flavors, and hydrogenated oils. Also, be weary of any foods that make health claims on their packaging. For example, I always choose the full fat versions of foods rather than those with the “Fat Free” label. “Fat Free” foods are often a poor choice because additional ingredients generally need to be added to the product to make the food taste good once the fat is removed. Here is an excellent video from 100 Days of Real Food to help you learn to read ingredient labels.
2. Clean out your kitchen/pantry. If your goal is to eat healthier, it would be a good idea to remove all the unhealthy foods from your home. Otherwise, you will be tempted each time you open the pantry. Take everything off your shelves. Discard anything that is expired. Donate anything that you don’t plan to use before the expiration date, and donate all highly processed foods (those with a long list of ingredients or a lot of unpronounceable ingredients.) Oftentimes, we eat food just because it is there. If a food is not in your house, it will be that much more difficult for you to eat it. If you get a strong craving for something, you will have to go out of your way to get it.
3. Don’t buy processed foods. It all starts in the supermarket. Don’t buy the junk foods. Again, if you don’t bring it into your house, you can’t eat it. You may have heard these food shopping tips before, but they are worth repeating: don’t shop when you are hungry, go prepared with a shopping list and DO NOT stray from the list, and stay on the outer perimeter of the supermarket. The inside aisles mostly contain the processed foods. If at all possible, go shopping without the kids. Mine certainly have a way of getting me to buy unnecessary (and often unhealthy) items that are not on my list. Also, keep in mind that when you buy a food item, you are voting with your dollar. Vote to support REAL, healthy foods!
4. Find Healthy Replacements. Find healthier replacements for foods you commonly eat. For example, use REAL butter instead of margarine, use coconut oil instead of canola oil, make your own popcorn instead of buying bagged microwave popcorn, make your own salad dressing instead of the store-bought dressings loaded with high fructose corn syrups, or even start by making your own cookies instead of buying store-bought cookies loaded with trans-fats.
5. Become accountable. Find a buddy who is also interested in eating healthier, or join a support group on social media for people who share a common goal with you. Share recipes and support each other, For example, the 100 Days of Real Food Mini Pledge Program group on Facebook will help you cut out processed foods in 14 weeks. Members share recipes and tips, and they encourage and support each other with their struggles throughout the challenge. I am also a member of the October Unprocessed community, which is also wonderful and supportive. October Unprocessed is a challenge I participated in for the past two years, and the goal is to go through the entire month of October without eating any processed foods. The challenge was a very inspiring, eye-opening, and educational experience for me. In fact, that is what inspired me to begin this blog! 🙂 I would encourage everyone to participate in October Unprocessed 2015, but don’t wait until then to begin eating healthy. You can start taking small steps today!
6. Track your progress with a blog or journal, or track your nutrition through an app such as MyFitnessPal. For more ideas on how to track your progress, check out my previous post 5 Tools to Track your health and Fitness Goals.
7. Get into the habit of making a smoothie for breakfast every day. A smoothie (or green smoothie if you’re a little more adventurous) is a nutritious way to start the day and to help you get more fruits and vegetables into your diet, and it will keep you full until lunch. Not sure how? Here’s one of my favorite recipes. Adapt it to your liking with your favorite fruits and vegetables. There are so many different combinations you can try! Visit Simple Green Smoothies for more smoothie recipes and tips.
My daily smoothie is something I look forward to, and I am so happy I have implemented it into my daily routine and made it a habit. Give it a try, and you may even find that it is an easy way to get more fruits and vegetables into your kid’s diets!
8. Don’t completely deprive yourself of the foods you love. Start slow. Try to find healthier replacements to satisfy your cravings. If you love chocolate, maybe you could opt for a handful of Ghirardelli chocolate chips instead of a full candy bar. Just be careful. It is still sugar, and sugar is HIGHLY addictive. Once you start eating it, you will want more.
9. Become educated. Learn WHAT you are eating and WHERE it is coming from. There are some excellent books and food documentaries on this topic. Click the links for my reviews on the food documentaries Food, Inc, What’s on Your Plate?, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, and Fed Up. If you’re interested in learning about the source of your food, some excellent books I have found on this topic include The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Animal Vegetable Miracle also contains some wonderful recipes, and it will teach you how to eat seasonally and how to preserve your food so you can eat from your garden or local farm stand year-round. I have found all of these books and movies to be inspirational, and some of them were even life-changing for me!
Please keep in mind that this journey to a lifestyle of eating REAL foods is a process. Everyone does it at their own pace. I feel like I’ve learned so much and I’ve come a long way from the way I used to eat, but I have still have SO far to go. I still eat plenty of junk food (as you might see from some of my favorite recipes on my blog Stacy Loves), but when I do, I try my best to choose the healthiest options and make it myself when I can. As with everything in life, I believe balance in all areas is the key to optimal health. Good luck! 🙂
Before I became a mom, I used to be a huge fan of football. Since my daughters were born, football has slid way down on my priority list, but this past Sunday I finally got excited about it again because both the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots (my two favorite teams) were playing in in the NFC and AFC Championship games. I was hoping they would both win and play each other in the Superbowl, but that didn’t work out this year. Maybe next year! 🙂 To prepare for watching the big games, I wanted to create some fun, HEALTHY, football-themed snacks to serve my family. The image above shows what I came up with, with a little bit (ok, a lot) of inspiration from Pinterest. 🙂
Watermelon Football Helmet
My favorite snack item was the Watermelon Football Helmet filled with fresh fruit. I had a lot of fun making this. I found a tutorial on You-Tube, and it was super easy to make. I used a mini watermelon because that is all I could find at the stores since watermelons are not in season right now here in New England. It turned out to be the perfect size for my family of 5. If you are preparing this for a large gathering, you may want to use the larger size watermelon if you can find one. I used a large platter that we use for Thanksgiving to display it, and I arranged fruit around the helmet to improve the appearance. Since my two favorite teams were playing, I printed out a logo for each one, and I taped one to each side of the helmet. You can customize it to your liking by printing out and attaching the logo of your favorite team. The You-Tube Tutorial is below. If you cannot see it, click here:
Healthier Buffalo Chicken Dip
My Healthier Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe is made with all REAL-food ingredients. I like to serve it with celery, carrots, and organic corn chips. You can find the recipe on my blog here.
Football Cheese and Cracker Platter
This snack is not 100% real food and is probably the least healthy of the 3, but I’m including it because my daughters had a blast assembling the Football Cheese and Cracker Platter shown above. While browsing Pinterest, I came upon this image which inspired the cheese and cracker platter. I printed out the picture and gave it to my daughters along with a box of Town House Crackers, a block of yellow Sharp Cheddar Cheese, a block of White Sharp Cheddar Cheese, a knife, and some pepperoni. They had so much fun making it, and they were so proud of their creation! That’s really what this is all about…having fun and making memories! 🙂
What are YOUR favorite Healthy Game-Day snacks? Share them in the comments below! 🙂