Vegan Crockpot Lasagna

I am trying out a new diet for Hunter in hopes to reduce his spastic and sometimes aggressive¬†behavior. No, he is not ADD or ADHD, he just gets really carried away sometimes and I have been doing a lot of research that diary allergies may manifest itself in behavior/hyperactivity issues. Hunter could not have dairy for a good chunk of the first part of his life and we thought maybe he would be over it but maybe not. Parker is allergic to dairy as was Isaac for a good chunk of his early years….I guess it is a Wildman thing ūüôā

I decided I wanted to give a try for vegan lasagna¬†since it’s usually a big hit in this house but with the temps reaching 100 degrees, having the oven on for 1 hour is less than ideal. Enter, crockpot.

Here’s what I did. I got regular old pasta sauce (yes, if I had more time in my life, I would make it myself but I don’t so I didn’t!), no bake lasagna¬†noodles, zucchini, cashews, herbs from the garden andme¬†tofu. You ask, where’s the cheese?? We do survive on Daiya vegan cheese which is awesome but I wanted to try something a little different.

For the vegan cashew ricotta I took a handful, maybe a cup, of raw cashew pieces, 1/2 block of extra firm tofu, herbs, sea salt, pepper and a bit of water in the Cuisinart and pureed it all up until it was the consistency or ricotta РVIOLA!

I put the pasta sauce¬†done¬†first and then the noodles (you will have to break them apart to fit), I layered the “ricotta” and veggies and then more pasta, repeat until about 3/4 the way up. Add a little bit of water and if you choose, put some Daiya cheese on the top or a little nutritional yeast. We can’t do the yeast here because it gives us some digestive issues but it is really yummy and adds some of that nutty flavor most people miss when not eating cheese.

I put it on high for 4 hours or low for 8, just make sure it’s not drying out!

Enjoy!

If you have a variation that you tried, let me know!

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Washing produce

Since the effects of pesticides are unknown to children and even adults, I make sure I wash all my produce Рeven my organic produce.  We have found a really great product called biokleen.

http://biokleenhome.com/products/household/kitchen

 

Just thought I’d share because we love this product!

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Cleaning out the Pantry and Freezer – $75 food challenge

Yes, we are on a budget but who isn’t these days? With two kiddos and me doing a part time unpaid internship, I’m always looking for ways to stretch our money especially with 3 very hungry boys in my house.¬† I decided I was going to clean out our freezers (yes, we have two fridges to accomodate the mass amount of milk that gets consumed by only 2 members of this family and the meat we so kindly receive from my dad and his hunting buddies).¬†¬† I also went through our pantry and took a note of all the items we have that have been lurking in the back of the pantry.¬† I want to see if I can clean these two places out and only spend $75 at the grocery store and eat for two weeks – I will keep you posted on how this comes along but I wanted to share what we have and how I’m going to do this.

Here is a list of what we have on hand:

FREEZER ITEMS

Two boxes Earth’s Best Chicken nuggets

10 homemade sweet potato pancakes

2 homemade veggie patties

10 homemade Quinoa patties

2 homemade turkey burgers

8 Dr. Praegers fish patties

2 frozen tilapia patties

1.5 bags Sweet potato fries

two bags organic frozen peas

1 bag french cut green beans

2 bags organic frozen corn

PANTRY ITEMS

Boxed falafel and tabouleh

6 cans assorted beans

2 bags ready rice

1 large quart dried brown rice

2 lbs split peas

Stuffing

Grits

Multiple cans of tuna

3 boxes spaghetti

3 boxes assorted pasta

1 box Annie’s Mac and Cheese

So, here’s what I plan to get at the grocery store to make our two week menu: **I cannot wait until our garden comes in so we can drastically reduce the amount of $$ we spend on organic produce!**

6 lbs Ground Beef ($15.00)

2 lbs Pork Chops ($2.99/lb)

Bag frozen Chicken Breasts ($6.99)

Chicken Nuggets

Tortillas

2lbs tomatoes ($1.99/lb)

1 watermelon ($2.99)

1 bunch organic broccoli ($2.99)

1 lb Organic zucchini ($2.99)

1lb peaches ($2.99)

2 packages bratworst and italian sausage ($6)

1 bag organic mini peeled carrots ($2.99)

1 bunch organic romaine hearts ($2.99)

Bread for Parker and I ($3.99)

Lunchmeat ($3.99)

Bagels ($2.99)

2 packages Premium Beef Hot Dogs **yes, Hunter loves hot dogs!** ($6.00)
This is his favorite way to eat hot dogs and how fun!!

As it stands, the total of this shopping trip should be: $72.00. I will update!

 

Here’s what I’m thinking for a menu – with Parker’s dietary needs, I have to do 3 different menus – Parker, Hunter and Isaac and I

For Parker and Hunter’s breakfasts, I usually do a large batch of dairy free waffles and pancakes and freeze them.¬† I usually alternate between waffles and fruit, bagels and fruit, eggs and fruit and toast and fruit – see a pattern? Fruits that are staples in this house include:

apples – strawberries (Hunter only)-watermelon (Parker) – peaches – mandarin oranges (Hunter) – and pineapple.

For lunches I try to stick with regulars making life a lot easier. Hunter will be changing to M-W-F at school so he will only be home for two days for lunches.

For Hunter:

grilled cheese – Pasta Salad (I usually do a big batch that lasts 3 meals for both the boys) – cheese, crackers and veggies with ranch – lunchmeat and crackers.¬† He’s pretty basic and most days he will only nibble lunches depending on the breakfast he had.

For Parker:

Crackers and lunchmeat (we do nature’s own crackers and nitrate/casein free lunchmeat) – pasta salad – grilled “Cheese” (we use Daiyo brand dairy, lactose free cheese, it’s awesome!) – “cheese” quesadillas. Avocado’s are a staple for him along with most meals andright now they are so cheap so I’m stocking up!

Dinner time for the boys can be tricky, I work late Monday’s and Tuesday’s so they are usually with the sitter for the start of dinner which makes things a little difficult when trying to get Hunter to eat.

For Hunter:

If we are eating meat, I usually get him to try it but he’s at that stage. Mac and Cheese Annies brand is a staple for us and Annie’s Pizza Bites although, I’m trying to figure out a way that he will like my homemade one’s again (refrigerated pizza dough!) – chicken bites (pizza dough wrapped around a chicken breast) – hot dogs – meatballs – quesadillas – beans and rice – nuggets. He always has a veggie with his dinner and it mostly consists of broccoli, raw carrots, peas or corn.

For Parker:

As you saw on the list above, he’s pretty set in the dinner department with what’s in the freezer. He’s a lover of all things sweet potatoes andman can this kid eat. At 10.5 months, he will down most of a full sized homemade turkey burger with peas in it, 1 avocado and some watermelon!

NOW for the good stuff; here’s a list of what I plan on making with the food we have on hand and the meat I will plan on getting at the grocery.

M – falafel and tabouleh

T- Pasta with black beans, spinach, chicken and tomatoes

W – Split Pea soup in the crockpot

Th – Spaghetti with sundried tomatoes (have a huge jar in the fridge) and chicken (boys eat too)

F – Pork chops and grits with green beans

S – Leftovers

Su – Tuna noodle casserole

M – Spaghetti with meatballs (boys eat too) ** will cook enough spaghetti to last two meals today and Wed)

T – Stuffing casserole with chicken

W РSpaghetti with zucchini and herbs from the garden

Th – Split Pea Dahl

F – leftovers

S – Beans and Rice with Chicken and herbs from the garden

 

So there you have it!¬† I will keep you posted on the actual totals at the grocery and what was a hit and what wasn’t with the kiddos.

**UPDATE – Yes, I am THAT GOOD. My bill at the grocery store $75.05!!

Do you menu plan? Do you have any suggestions? I’d love to hear it.

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Custom Wetbags now available on my ETSY shop!!

Check it out:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/100482299/custom-wetbag

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The Playroom

 

And yet another project that is constantly ongoing. Still working on an alphabet wall…

Enjoy!!

 

 

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The Boys Room

I am finally uploading pictures of the new and improvedboys room….or should I say, Parker’s room with Hunter’s bed in it? I envision myself finally getting to the point of going in the room and telling the boys to be quiet and go to bed….a mom can dream right?!

Enjoy. I would be glad to provide any info on any of the projects. Here is a list of the projects I did:

Hunter’s bedding

Embroidery Hoops

Poms above both boys beds

Reupholstered Hunter’s side table

Parker’s Bumper

 

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Chard Pesto

Last night I made a tasty, protein packed sauce for my pasta. I always eyeball portions when doing my stuff and since I am dairy free, I did not add cheese, I subbed nutritional yeast for the parmesan. I adapted this recipe by using raw pumpkin seeds because that is what I had on hand and added a little lemon juice because I love lemon

Ingredients: Serves 1 hungry person or 2 not so hungry.
1.5-2 cups farfalle, cooked al-dente with salt ( or any pasta of choice. Use gf pasta for a gf meal)
5 big Swiss chard leaves and ribs
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil or organic canola oil
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes or black pepper
1/2 cup packed basil ( or use 2 Tablespoons basil pesto)
1/4 cup raw cashews
1-2 Tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
1/4+ cup water (coz my blender needs some water to blend well. and hence made about 1 cup of pesto) ***I subbed some lemon juice for a tartness that I love.

Directions:
Heat olive oil/canola in a pan on low-medium heat, add garlic and chopped Swiss chard. Cook covered on low for 4-6 minutes or until the chard just about starts to wilt.
Blend with basil, pepper, EVOO, cashews and a little water if needed. The pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, without any change in color.
Cook pasta, and serve topped with the pesto.
Garnish with some powdered Raw cashew mixed with nutritional yeast and pepper flakes.

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Vegan Cheese Sauce

I have really been craving some good old-fashioned mac and cheese lately, maybe because I haven’t had a lick of dairy in 7 months. I found a great recipe for cauliflower mac and cheese and decided to see what I could do.¬† I was recently introduced to nutritional yeast as a great alternative to cheese, giving things that nutty cheese sauce.¬† I found this recipe and did my own version.

Vegan Cheese Sauce

2 TBS whole wheat flour
2 TBS coconut oil
1.5-2 cups coconut milk (you can use almond, rice or soy)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup pine nuts

1. Make a roux with the flour and coconut oil. Melt oil in the pan and sprinkle in the flour, this happens very fast so make sure you are stirring quickly and have the milk on hand. It should make a nice paste.

2. Slowly add milk while whisking to remove lumps. Don’t pour all the milk in at once, our slowly until you have reached the desired consistency, should be liquid but not thick because you still have to add the yeast and pine nuts.

3. Simmer on low and add the nutritional yeast while whisking.

4. While it is simmering, make a paste of the pine nuts in either a blender or mini-food processor. Add a bit of water to the pine nuts. (**if you don’t like pine nuts, I suggest cashews or even macadamia nuts. I’m not a huge fan of pine nuts but they were on hand and they add a great flavor to the sauce).

5. Add the paste into the sauce and add a dash of salt. This is where you can add more milk to gain your desired consistency.

**I roasted some cauliflower and put this sauce on it for the last few minutes. Had I had them on hand, I would have added some bread crumbs to the top.

Here are a few add in’s that I suggest to the sauce:

Smoked Paprika
Cumin or Coriander
Garlic Powder
Dried Basil

 

What would you do differently? What would you suggest as an add-in?

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We have a scooter!

I am so excited that my little man is growing up. While I love my cuddles and my baby I am so happy he is growing up and hitting those developmental milestones.

I just love this video of my boys. ENJOY!

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Chocolate Avocado Mousse

I am back on my vegetarian diet and have been dairy free for almost 7 months now because of my little one. I’m always craving sweets and the dairy free cookies I love are just too fattening so I’ve been on the quest for a great dessert. I have been diligantly exploring the raw food diet and while I could never suffice on strictly raw and breastfeed, work, go to school and deal with a toddler, I do love the feeling I get from eating clean raw foods. Here is a great recipe for a raw dairy free treat!

Chocolate Avocado Mousse
Adapted from My Edible Advice

1 large avocado
6 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
¬ľ cup raw cacao powder
¬Ĺ cup almond milk
1/3 cup water
¬Ĺ tsp vanilla
1 tsp lucuma powder (optional, adds some caramel-ish undertones)

Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Add more liquid as needed. Devour.

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