Healthy Eating at Home

This post is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.

One of the big benefits of living in a warm place like Arizona is that the weather is beautiful! Even though the temperatures are slowly dropping, our winter weather is lovely and allows us to spend most of the fall and winter outside, usually without a coat.

Eating Healthy at Home starts with great ingredients.

Another benefit of this glorious weather is the longer growing season. Local farmers and gardeners don’t follow the same planting season as other areas of the country. Here, many crops are still going strong.

On a recent visit to a local farmers market I got to see this first hand. If you are struggling to eat healthy, a farmers market is just the inspiration you need.

Uptown Farmers Market Phoenix AZ

Family Trip to the Farmers Market

Farmers markets are a great place to bring your family. I think kids will have a new appreciation for fresh produce when they see it at a farmers market. Some vendors even have fruit for sampling. Who can resist that? They can also answer your questions about how the food was grown and new ways to prepare it.

The Uptown Market in Phoenix is a family-friendly place with an abundance of fresh veggies and fruit. You could easily do your weekly meal planning based on local finds.

Farmers Market Veggies

I filled my bag with potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, beans and much more. I bought the best sweet potatoes I’ve ever had! If I had planned better, I would have brought a hand cart so I could buy more!

We had family visiting us from out of state and I wanted to show them how great healthy food could taste. They were impressed with the vivid colors and flavors!

Fresh Heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market

Eating at Home

Instead of eating out several nights a week, start a new tradition of fixing healthy meals together using fresh ingredients. If you have a local farmers market, make that part of the tradition too!

In most cases, food you make at home will be healthier than food you purchase at a restaurant. Spend a little time shopping for fresh ingredients that you will enjoy all week. My farmers market veggies seemed to last longer than veggies I buy at the store. I’m sure there was less transport and storage time.

Fresh veggies from the farmers market

Even though it seems easier to go out to eat some nights, I feel like it actually takes longer. Between driving to a restaurant, waiting for our dinner and then eating, I could have cooked a meal, enjoyed it and cleaned up in the same amount of time.

Cultivating a Love of Healthy Eating

On days I let my kids help; it does take longer to prepare dinner. I’m not really a patient mom when it comes to cooking with my kids, but I know it’s important. The time I spend teaching my kids to prep, cook and enjoy healthy foods is an investment in their future. Cultivating this love is easier to do when your kids are small.

My eight year old takes pride in helping make dinner. A couple of times a month we have a baked potato night. He will wash the potatoes and put them in our electric pressure cooker. He is so proud that he can cook dinner for the family.

Fresh veggies from the farmers market

The next time I visit a farmers market, I plan to give each of my kids their own bag and a few dollars to make their own purchases. Everything I bought was surprisingly affordable, sometimes much cheaper than my grocery store.

When kids have a say in what they buy, they will be more likely to actually eat it. Go ahead and encourage your kids to choose their favorite veggies, have them pick one more new thing to try. Maybe they’ll discover they love zucchini or heirloom tomatoes.

Learn to eat healthier my choosing fresh veggies.

Sugar Swap

Make sure to take in all the farmers market has to offer. The Uptown Market recently had a really fun event sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona’s Nourishing Arizona initiative. People could bring in candy (it was right after Halloween) or other sugary treats and exchange them for five Homegrown Healthy Bucks at a Sugar Swap! The candy wrappers were used to create art and the Homegrown Healthy Bucks could be used to purchase fresh produce.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona at the Uptown Market in Phoenix.

Does your family visit farmers markets? How do you encourage eating healthy at home?

November 13, 2017 Plant-Based Meal Plan

It’s been a while since I shared a new plant-based meal plan but today’s will be worth the wait. It will be full of our plant-based favorites and easy recipes that are perfect for busy days.

I’ve been trying to find a balance between making some foods ahead and relying on super simple meals. I love using real, fresh ingredients but I always have a backup plan when the days get away from me. For us, that looks like frozen gluten-free waffles when I don’t have time to make oatmeal, a box of gluten-free pasta I can toss with frozen veggies or sauce when I don’t have time to prepare fresh veggies.

I always love using fresh veggies though. I recently updated an old recipe using all fresh farmers market veggies and it tasted so good! Even the leftovers were better!

Try this Plant-Based Meal Plan full of easy and delicious meals!

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Plant-Based Meal Plan

Monday

Instant Pot Apple Oatmeal

Bean Burritos

Chickpea Noodle Soup

Tuesday

Pumpkin Spice Granola with dried cranberries

Baked Sweet Potatoes

Instant Pot Minestrone Soup (see stove top version here)

Wednesday

Oatmeal or frozen waffles with fruit

Leftover soup

Shepherd’s Pie (new recipe coming soon)

Thursday

Baked Sweet Potatoes (I actually make these in the Instant Pot)

Leftover Shepherd’s Pie

Instant Pot Mexican Casserole (See non-IP here)

Friday

Vegan yogurt and Pumpkin Spice Granola

Mexican Casserole Burritos

Plant-Based Nachos


I like using my Instant Pot as much as possible. It allows me to walk away from the kitchen and come back to a fully cooked meal. If you’ve been wondering about getting an Instant Pot, feel free to reach out and I’ll try to answer all your questions! Until then, check out the 10 reasons I bought an Instant Pot!

If you have family asking what you want for Christmas or your birthday, tell them an Instant Pot!

Before we get to Christmas don’t forget Thanksgiving! My weekly Plant-Based Tips email went out last Saturday with tips for Thanksgiving! If you need more help, be sure to grab my Holiday Meal Plan and Cookbook from Amazon or as a PDF.

Eat Within Your Means Meal Plan

Eating healthy and on a budget takes effort; it won’t happen by accident. I try to stick to basic ingredients and use them in different ways to make our budget stretch further.

I met another blogger who shared my passion for creating budget-friendly recipes the whole family would enjoy. Beth from Eat Within Your Means also knows a thing or two about meal planning. When she unveiled her new Plant-Based Comfort Food Meal Plan, I asked if I could share it with you! She said YES!

Eat Within Your Means Meal Plan

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This meal plan is My Plant-Based Family APPROVED! 

The Plant-Based Comfort Food Meal Plan is perfect for this time of year! It features five comforting meals that your family will love! Yes, even the pickiest in your family!

What’s in the Meal Plan?

Your meal plan has:

  • Vegetable Bolognese with Protein-Packed Marinara Sauce
  • Easy Vegan Taquitos with Guacamole
  • Veggie Meatloaf Cups with Protein-Packed Mashed Potatoes
  • Vegan Mac & Cheese
  • Pizza Night with salad

Easy Ingredients and Instructions

Part of what makes this meal plan so easy is that the shopping list is organized for easy shopping. Or in our case, easy online ordering; we order a lot of our groceries online then go pick them up.

I love that Beth uses regular ingredients in this meal plan. She also lays out exactly what to do!

You get step-by-step instructions to prep and cook five dinners. The prep work takes place on a prep day so the meals come together quickly each night. If you can follow a recipe and follow directions you can do this! 

Beth went a step further and gives you two options for the meal plan. The first option gives you everything you need to follow this meal plan in a printer-friendly PDF and mobile-friendly format.

The second option also gives you video for a few dollars more! 

I don’t know about you but I’m most excited about the Taquitos!

A few last notes

This meal plan is designed for a family of four (two adults and two children). Beth estimates it will cost an average of $12 per meal but that will depend on what you already have and prices in your area.

You will need a food processor to make the meals in this meal plan. I’ve had this one for over 5 years and love it!

If you try Beth’s Plant-Based Comfort Food Meal Plan, let me know! I think it’s perfect for families who are new to plant-based eating or who just want a little more guidance while they try new recipes. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Get your Plant-Based Comfort Foods Meal Plan as a PDF and mobile-friendly format HERE!

Or get the PDF, mobile-friendly format and video HERE!

September 25, 2017 Plant-Based Meal Plan

Soups, coffee with banana bread, pumpkin granola…these are all signs of cooler days. This week’s plant-based meal plan is embracing the slightly cooler temperatures and my cravings for fresh baked goods!

Last week I shared my recipe for Pumpkin Granola and I’ve been snacking on it ever since. It’s fueled a new pecan addiction. I never really liked pecans until I made this granola. Too bad too because growing up, I always had access to pecan trees. I plan to add pecans to other favorites like my Banana Bread!

This Plant-Based Meal Plan is full of delicious comfort foods your family will love. Soups, casseroles and freshly baked goods whisper fall is here.

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Fall also has me thinking about Thanksgiving! It’s still a while away for me but my friends in Canada will be celebrating soon! If you are already looking ahead to holiday planning, take a look at my Plant-Based Holiday Meal Plan! It was designed with all my Thanksgiving favorites!

Plant-Based Meal Plan

This weeks meal plan is all about comfort foods! Don’t worry, comfort foods don’t have to be unhealthy! I think you’ll love this week’s collection of soups, casseroles and baked goods!

Monday

Breakfast Cookies with fresh fruit

leftover Taco Soup

Chickpea Noodle Soup and freshly baked bread (I use the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day method, there is a gluten-free version of the book too)

Tuesday

Pumpkin Granola topped oatmeal

Soup and salad with Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus

Tofu and Stir Fried Brown Rice

Wednesday

Instant Pot Oatmeal with diced apples or fresh blueberries

Baked Potatoes

Instant Pot Mexican Casserole

Thursday

Blueberry Muffins or Banana Bread with added pecans

leftover casserole

Potato Broccoli Soup

Friday

Oatmeal with dried cranberries (and pecans)

Soup and baked potato

Enchilada Casserole


Moment of truth! What are your favorite fall flavors? I’ve been thinking of sharing more pumpkin recipes but don’t want to miss other fall favorites!

Oil-Free Pumpkin Granola

Since September 1st is the beginning of pumpkin season I decided it was time to share my pumpkin granola recipe. This is no ordinary pumpkin granola! It has my favorite fall flavors in an easy to make oil-free granola.

This oil-free Pumpkin Granola recipe has the best fall flavors mixed in. Pumpkin spice, pecans and even cranberries!

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Most granola recipes are made with oil and it can be tricky to make it without. The payoff is worth it because you get a delicious chewy granola. (My husband loves chewy granola.) Don’t get me wrong. It still has plenty of crunch from raw pepitas and pecans. If you have a nut allergy, you can leave the pecans out but they are my favorite part!

This oil-free Pumpkin Granola recipe has the best fall flavors mixed in. Pumpkin spice, pecans and even cranberries!

I typically make my granola mild, I don’t want flavor too strong so it doesn’t overpower whatever it is served with. The funny thing is, I can’t stop snacking on this one by itself. I finally had to put it away because it’s way too tempting when left on the counter.

If you are looking for an easy and delicious granola recipe that has the best flavors of fall, try this recipe! You get the pumpkin, maple syrup, the classic pumpkin pie spices, raw pepitas, pecans and dried cranberries!

If you aren’t ready for fall after reading that list, nothing will help you! But don’t worry, if you aren’t a cranberry fan, you can leave them out. I made a batch of both but I’m partial to the cranberries!

This oil-free Pumpkin Granola recipe has the best fall flavors mixed in. Pumpkin spice, pecans and even cranberries!

One important note, if you need to be gluten-free because of an allergy or celiac disease, make sure you use gluten-free oats. I completely trust GF Harvest!

Oil-Free Pumpkin Granola

Enjoy this Pumpkin Granola on vegan yogurt, baked fruit, a smoothie bowl, pumpkin pudding, or like me, by the handful!

Oil-Free Pumpkin Granola
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 5 cups
Ingredients
  • 3 Cups rolled oats (choose certified gluten-free oats if needed)
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup plant milk (I used rice milk)
  • ¼ cup raw pepitas
  • ½ cup pecan halves
  • ½ cup dried cranberries (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add your rolled oats and set aside.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, add your pumpkin puree, maple syrup, spices, vanilla and plant milk. Stir well.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the oats a little at a time and stir well. Once all the wet ingredients are incorporated into the oats, add the raw pepitas and pecan halves and mix again. Don't add the dried cranberries yet!
  5. Scoop mixture onto the parchment covered baking sheet. Be careful not to get it too close to the edge. If there isn't enough room, use two baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes total but pull it out every 10 minutes to stir gently. Once done, allow to cool.
  7. After the granola is cool, mix in the dried cranberries and store in an airtight container.

You can skip the parchment if you have a Silpat! It’s a non-stick silicone baking mat (and it makes a great gift).

This oil-free Pumpkin Granola recipe has the best fall flavors mixed in. Pumpkin spice, pecans and even cranberries!Did I leave out any of your favorite fall flavors? 

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