Get your FREE copy of my new eBook: 5-Star Freezer Meals!

5-Star Freezer Meals Spiral bound Book Cover.jpgYou guys! I’m so excited to announce that I’ve finally finished my 5-Star Freezer Meals eBook and you can get it for free here on my website. Most of these recipes came out of my first ever “Jen’s Test Kitchen” offering, when I was making meals for some wonderful mamas. These dear ladies offered super helpful feedback (from surveys) on the recipes I tried each week. I took the best, highly-rated meals and tweaked the recipes to turn them into freezer meals. They’ve been tried and tested multiple times and are guaranteed to be easy, practical, healthy and delicious!

I use Esther’s Seasonings in much of my cooking, but have written these recipes in such a way that you can substitute general spices/seasonings if you don’t have access to Esther’s. However, if you do want to give Esther’s Seasonings a try (highly recommended) give her a shout out. She ships!

Esther's seasonings

The recipes are written in an easy-to-follow format and include a sheet with day-of preparation instructions for you to print out and include if you are making the meal(s) for someone else (a new mom, sick friend, someone going through a tough time etc.). In addition to being highly rated by other mamas, these freezer meals are some of my own family’s all-time favorite quick, easy and nutritious eats. I hope you will enjoy them as much as we do! Below is a sample from the eBook.

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OK, enough with the details. How do you get it? Simply click here to sign up for my mailing list (you will receive a monthly email with an inspiring collection of recipes, ideas for cooking with kids and health/wellness tips). It’s that simple! I always keep your information private and you can unsubscribe at any time. Enjoy!

A Well-Nourished Life from the Perspective of a Reading Teacher

What does a well-nourished life look like for you as a wife, mom, grandma and reading teacher?

I love to teach – and I love to teach children how to read. But leading a well-nourished life required more balance than running a classroom full-time allowed me. So teaching reading through Word Bird Reading was a major step in that direction.

From your perspective, what is one thing busy moms can do to increase a sense of health and happiness?

Maximize positive interactions with your child(ren) and minimize the stressful, crazy-making interactions. I found that reading books that both my baby/toddler/preschooler and I enjoyed was a very enjoyable, relaxing experience. The key, though, was finding material that we both enjoyed. (So I eventually stopped reading certain books – Bernstein Bears or Little House on the Prairie books, for example – which for whatever reason I didn’t particularly care for.)

I also found a weekly story time at a local library which I enjoyed, along with my child. Every children’s librarian is different; I recommend finding one whose story time routine you enjoy too!

Do you have a favorite recipe you would be willing to share?

Tofu Cutlets

Press tofu, slice in 1/2″ slices, bread, and fry in sesame oil.

Serve with sweet chili sauce.

Breading: 5 T sesame seeds 4 T cornstarch 4 T flour 1/2 t. salt 1/2 t. sugar

Half-@ssed New Year’s Resolutions (+ Reviews of Trim Healthy Mama & Plan to Eat)

This is me, being kind to myself – ignoring the clothes that need to be folded and enjoying coffee/computer time while my husband and son are out:

New Year 2018 Take 2

Happy 2018! The New Year kind of snuck up on me this time around. Somewhere between nursing my new baby and surfing FB, I realized I haven’t taken time to make any New Year’s resolutions. I started to feel bad about that, but awoke this morning and realized I’m kind of done with resolutions. I appreciate the fresh start that January 1 offers and all, but I’m so over being disappointed with myself half way through February when I haven’t been as consistent as I had hoped.

​I was talking with my dear friend and Life Coach, Whitney Post, on the phone the other day, recounting the all the moments I was NOT the gentle parent I aspire to be with my son. Adjusting to two kids has been wonderful and incredibly hard, all at the same time. Whit, in her typical profound question-asking fashion, suggested, “How about being gentle to mama (referring to me)?” Ummmm…yeah. What does that look like?

Well, for starters, it means this year I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions except for half-@ssed ones that don’t really count. Yup, that’s right. I’m not expecting anything more of myself.  I do, however,  have a few goals I am going to be intentional about pursuing. They may or may not commence January 1, and that’s ok. Also, I may or may not implement them with 100% fidelity, and that’s ok too. ​​

In the realm of physical nourishment, I will share two goals publicly in hopes that it will offer some form of accountability. I find that speaking (or writing) things out helps me, so here goes:

1. Use Plan to Eat on a more regular basis

plan to eat
I’ve shared about this meal planning program before. Basically, Plan to Eat is a customizable meal planning website that helps you keep track of your recipes, meal plans, and shopping list — all in one place. I have been using it on and off over the past three years. With the ability to drag-and-drop recipes into calendar, a shopping list created based on recipes chosen, and simple input of new recipes it is easy to use and customize to one’s dietary needs. Also, I find several benefits when I use this program on a regular basis:

  • Reduced grocery bill due to the fact that I buy only what we need based on the meal plan I’ve made for the week.
  • Healthier eating for the whole family because I have a plan in place and we are not subject to the whims of taste buds and convenience.
  • I feel less stressed and more on my game

If you want to give Plan to Eat a try, sign up for their 30 day free trial here. Also, I’d love to share all of my recipes with you, so be sure to let me know if you do sign up!

2. Give the Trim Healthy Mama plan a try

Trim Healthy Mama
I often see January as a time to “re-set” my body, especially after all of the allowances I give myself around Thanksgiving and Christmas, when processed sugar is REALLY hard to avoid. In year’s past I have used this season as a time to do the Whole 30GAPSEat to Live and other healthy re-boots. This year, I’m nursing and want to be sure I don’t compromise my milk supply, so it’s going to look a little different. My friend, Emily, introduced me to this plan and some of the recipes – super delicious! In short, it’s basically a carb-cycling dietary plan. More info here if you’re interested in learning more.

So what about you? What kind of New Year’s Resolutions are you coming up with for this year? I’d especially love to hear what is working for you in the realm of food and physical nourishment.

 

3 Easy-to-Implement Ways for Mamas to Simplify

3 ways for mamas to simplify.png

I might be a little neurotic.
Or maybe the “nesting hormones” have kicked in full swing while I await the birth of my baby girl.
Add to that the fact that my back has been aching and I’m tired of doing load after load of laundry.
And then there’s the feeling that the dishes will never end…
Whatever the reason, I decided it was time to kick things up a notch in our home and help my dear husband (who is AMAZING, but was a bachelor for 36 years) and son to prepare for our new addition as well. The fact is, this mama is not going to be as available to keep the house together and things running somewhat smoothly once our little girl arrives and I needed a plan. So, here’s what I’ve started implementing in our home:

1. Weekly towels, assigned by color​

towels
No more of this use-a-towel-once-and-toss-it-in-the-laundry crap! Everyone has 2 towels that are the same color. You use your towel for a week, then toss it in the laundry. I got a pretty good deal at Bed, Bath and Beyond using my 20% off coupons on towels that were on sale, but prior to finding that bargain, was considering purchasing these towel sets from Amazon. I hid all of the other towels that we were previously blowing through. These will be for guests. So if you come to our house to stay and get a brown towel set, consider yourself lucky. 😉

2. Dishes (each person responsible for his/her own), assigned by color

dishes
Towel colors match dish colors. I “invested” (my husband hates it when I use that word so casually, but I think it’s totally applicable here) in dishwasher safe melamine mugs and this melamine dinner set. My ultimate goal is that each person in our family will clear his/her own dish(es) after each meal and either wash them or load them into the dishwasher. We’re not quite there yet. Right now I’m settling for each person clearing his/her own dish. Baby steps. I put all of our former glasses/mugs/dishes/bowls etc. in our built in hutch. We have them for emergencies and guests, but that’s it.

3. Capsule wardrobes for each season 

pants
My inspiration came from this article by Simple Families on creating a kids’ capsule wardrobe. Any bottoms will match any top, thereby taking me out of the equation. ​Yay. It works for my (formerly) bachelorific husband, too!

How do you simplify?

Cooking with Kids: Apple “Donuts”

Apple Donuts
When I initially started Nourishing Foundations, I had these great aspirations of cooking with kids: birthday parties, small group cooking classes at play spaces, friends coming over to cook with us, preschool fundraisers, family parties… I thought it would be great! And then I dove in and started experimenting with these ideas and quickly realized it takes A LOT of patience to cook with kids. I also found that, for me, it’s truly a labor of love to lay my Type A proclivities aside and allow kids to enter fully into the cooking process. It’s fun, but it’s definitely a discipline for me to let go of my ideas of how things should go (especially around areas such as mess, germs, attention spans etc.) and truly enjoy the experience. Welcome to parenthood, Jen!
Making “apple donuts” is one project that lends itself to incorporating kids into the cooking process in a way that is fun, healthy, allows their creativity to thrive and feels relatively manageable. I had seen a version of this idea on Pinterest a while back, but was a little disheartened by the idea of using frosting as a topping (I’ll pass on the sugar and hydrogenated oil, thanks). Even homemade frosting felt a little too laden with sugar for my idea of a healthy snack. (That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for sweets in our diets!) So I did a little tweaking and here’s what I came up with….

Wholesome Apple “Donuts”
Kid tested, mom approved

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned about cooking with kids, it’s that preparation REALLY helps the process run smoother. For this project, I had my son (who is almost 4) help me wash the apples: I plugged the sink and filled it with water/apples and about a 1/2 cup of white vinegar (to strip any pesticides as the apples we were using weren’t organic). I gave him aclean new pop-up sponge (which is fun in and of itself) and let him go to town. Once the apples were cleaned, I sliced them horizontally and used a small circular cookie cutter to cut out the seeds in the center (you can also do this with a knife), making our  apple “donuts”. If there will be a length of time between making the “donuts” and decorating them, consider putting apples in a ziplock bag with a little bit of orange juice or lemon juice so they won’t oxidize and look brown.

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The next step involves making your healthy “frosting”. I’d recommend having this ready BEFORE you start the project with your kids. You can store the frosting(s) in glass containers and reheat easily in the microwave at the time of the project.
If you are going nut free, use Sun Butter. If nuts aren’t a concern, any nut butter will do. If you don’t mind a little sugar, I’d recommend also making a dark chocolate topping. Here’s the easiest way to do this that I’ve found:
1. Make a double boiler by placing a glass jar (I used a small mason jar) in a pot of water.
2. In the glass jar place approx. 1/2 c. nut butter, sun butter or chocolate chips, 1/4 c. coconut oil and 2 TBSP maple syrup.
3. Heat over medium heat and mix until smooth.Finally, assemble your toppings. If you are going nut free, some suggestions are:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Mini choc chips
  • Raisins/Dried berries
  •  ​Unsweetened Coconut flakes
  • Hemp hearts/seeds
  • Cocoa nibs

If you are ok with nuts, consider adding almond slices and other chopped nuts.


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Now let the fun begin! For moms that are a little neurotic like me, a few thoughts:
1. Do it outside if the weather is nice! This makes clean up a lot easer.
2. Use parchment paper on a cookie sheet for apple “donuts” and “frosting”.
3. Give each kid his/her own plate on which to decorate the donut.
4. Depending on you kids’ age/ability, consider spooning the “frosting” on the apple donut for them and let them spread it with a knife.
5. If doing this project with multiple kids, let each child choose the toppings s/he wants to use and pour them directly on his/her plate. This will prevent spreading the germs that inevitably will come from licking hands, taste-testing toppings and then going back for more.

Let the fun begin! Kids will love mixing and matching toppings for their donuts. There will probably be a lot of simultaneous creating and taste testing. Let them enjoy and have fun!

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And once the donuts have been created, the mess continues… It’s all part of the process.

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If you give this a try, please post a comment and let me know how it goes! I’d especially love to hear about any other topping ideas that worked well for you.

Add to Plan to Eat

Wholesome Apple “Donuts”

A kid friendly, mama approved snack!

Source: nourishingfoundations.weebly.com

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 4-6 apples washed, sliced horizontally, centers cut out
  • 12 cup nut butter of choice or sun butter if nut free
  • 12 cup dark chocolate chips optional
  • 4 TBSP Pure maple syrup
  • 1412 cup coconut oil you will need 1/2 cup if making chocolate “frosting” in addition to nut butter frosting
  • 14 cup hulled hemp seeds
  • 14 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 14 cup raisins or other dried berries
  • 14 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 14 cup sunflower seeds
  • 14 cup raw almond slices omit if nut free
  • 14 cup chopped nuts of chioce omit if nut free

Directions

  1. Wash apples, slice horizontally and cut out centers to make apple “donuts”. If there will be a length of time between making the “donuts” and decorating them, consider putting apples in a ziplock bag with a little bit of orange juice or lemon juice so they won’t oxidize and look brown.
  2. Make a double boiler by placing a glass jar (in my case I used a small mason jar) in a pot of water. In the glass jar place approx. 1/2 c. nut butter, sun butter or chocolate chips, 1/4 c. coconut oil and 2 TBSP maple syrup. Heat over medium heat and mix until smooth.
  3. Assemble your toppings on a plate or in individual bowls/jars.
  4. To make:
  5. Spoon the “frosting” on the apple “donut” and spread.
  6. Decorate with toppings of choice.

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