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5 Easy Weeknight Meals: Your 7 Day Family Jump Start!

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Revolutionary Menu Planning and KOAB Live!

I love Kosher on a Budget, especially her adorable tag line: Living fruitfully without multiplying your budget.

I was already planning to share a recent blog post of hers with you, when I found out she was coming to speak in my community. The talk, “10 Commandments of Saving Money,” was full of useful information, good friends and lime Perrier! What more could you ask for?

For me, the aha moment actually came AFTER her talk, when others were lining up to ask her more questions. Someone was asking about the difficulty of saving money on organic products, including produce. What Mara, from KOAB, said was this: If you implement the strategies we discussed tonight to save money on your shelf stable and home products, you could open up $150 a month to devote to the higher-cost foods you’d like to purchase. Sounds good to me! Then I can buy the organic, non-GMO corn chips and tortillas, etc… that I know are usually more expensive.

I learned about 12 week sale cycles, coupon matching, and tons of smart phone apps. If she is speaking in your area, go! If you aren’t subscribed to her blog, start now! There are plenty of non-Kosher, non-Jewish people who subscribe to her blog too. It’s just efficient if you do keep kosher because she won’t bother telling you when Oscar Meyer hot dogs are on sale.

The recent blog post of hers that I wanted to discuss with you, my readers – and my family! – is about meal planning. Mara and her family recently moved to a different state and she’d found that meal planning  (a real time, sanity and money saver!) had gone out the window. So she decided that for the next month, Sunday – Thursday, they will have a set meal each night. Then…the same pattern/meals will repeat each week, for four weeks. Kids like routine and it’s easier and more efficient to buy groceries this way.

I have definitely thought about this. There are a couple of reasons I haven’t implemented it until now:

1. What if we can’t agree on five meals? If my kids had their choice of set meals, they would be mac and cheese, hot dogs, pizza, etc… I only want to serve one of those types of meals per week because even that amount of unhealthy food is so stressful for me.

2. It’s party of my job – part of my blog, my book (which will have TONS of recipes), etc… to experiment with new recipes from others and create my own on an ongoing basis. How could I even pick only 5 and then leave myself only two days (Shabbat, really) to experiment?

However, one of the upcoming programs/services I want to offer to my readers is to help them make their own family cookbook. That will take a lot of mystery and conflict out of the nightly meal and put all of your go-to recipes in one place. For me, right now that one place (for my own recipes, anyway), is the draft of my recipe chapter on my computer. I can’t wait to have that in book form for my own use – and yours!

I want the process of developing this cookbook to be an adventure. Let’s take the fight out of it with our kids and set things up so that it is an experiment, a journey to enjoy, where they get to give their opinions and votes. They are more likely to taste something if we want to know exactly why they do or don’t like it.

At the end of the day, I think Mara’s idea is brilliant. The five meals could change each month. There could be an experimental week in between. There are lots of possibilities. I like being intentional around food and this is definitely intentional and empowering, for everyone in the family.

So, what would my five meals be? I have more than five ideas of course! Here are some (feel free to request specific recipes…most are in the upcoming HFHY book):

1. Spaghetti made from beans (adzuki, black bean, soybean, mung bean), with homemade, raw tomato sauce.

2.  Kris Carr’s “Save the tuna” salad sandwiches with a side of sauteed Portobella mushrooms.

3. Cheeseless veggie pizza.

4. Homemade veggie burgers (or Dr. Praeger’s Kale burgers) with homemade sweet potato fries.

5. Spanish rice and fajitas.

6. My becoming famous vegan lasagna.

7. Tofu chicken parmesan with roasted green beans.

8. Tofu scramble or frittata with sprouted Ezekiel toast.

9. Mama soup.

10. Easy Chinese dinner.

I think I’m going to try this! Of course I have my own favorites and easy standby’s. The kids change their minds about what they like every day. The experts say that consistency helps them develop tastes for what you want them to… I have to admit that it’s always one big experiment around here and that causes me a lot more work. If I could really determine what my kids would eat without a fight – that I approve of – I’d be willing to be limited on what I make five days a week.

Do you have set meals already? If not, are you going to try? What are they?

 

A Community’s Heartbreak, My Article for xojane.com

xo jane logo

Well, it’s been quite a past couple weeks, huh? No recipes or menu plans this week.

I’m dealing with the events of the past 2 weeks through my writing. I’ve been honored to hear from others that they share my views and think that I articulated them in an accurate and compassionate way. I only wish my compassion for Rabbi Freundel’s family could comfort them at this time. I’m afraid they need a lot more than the comfort of our support. Nevertheless, we should never stop providing that support because they have given everything to the Kesher community and it’s the right thing to do.

In addition, I was grateful for the television news/phone break during the last days of Succos. I know Potomac isn’t called “Kesher North” like Kemp Mill, but we have our fair share of former Kesherites/current affiliate members. We walked around to each others houses and found the support we needed.

Communities of former Kesherites from Maryland to Israel have been able to support one another online, but face-to-face interaction, especially in those dazed and confused early days, was irreplaceable.

Click on the xojane logo above or the screen capture of the article below to read about my reaction to Rabbi Barry Freundel’s arrest for voyuerism.

p.s. In the second to last paragraph, the editor cut out part of my sentence, so my thoughts sound a lot harsher than they’re supposed to and the result is an incomplete thought. I’ve been waiting on the change, but wanted to share the article with you in the meantime. Basically, I’m NOT saying all men are jerks. The opposite!

IT HAPPENED TO ME- My Rabbi Was Arrested For Voyeurism - xoJane 2014-10-27 14-11-05

I look forward to hearing your thoughts. As always, I encourage you to participate in any discussions you’d like to on my twitter or facebook pages.

New Recipe! Best Ever Lasagna! Easy, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Healthy!

New Recipe – Sneak Peek Recipe from the upcoming Healthy Family Healthy You Book!

2014-10-19 21.31.28

Best Ever Lasagna! Vegan, Gluten-Free, Easy, Healthy. No Fake Cheese!

I made this dish last week for a Succos lunch. One of my guests, a friend’s daughter, is wheat-free and hates vegetables. I was sure this recipe would be my best bet. However, even I was surprised and thrilled when she and my other meat-loving guests couldn’t get enough of it (The vegetarians loved it too!). This lasagna was such a hit, I could have easily made two pans. My friend asked for the recipe so she could make it for her kids. I did teasingly say, “Buy the book.” Of course I was just kidding. I wouldn’t dream of making her – or you – wait!

I apologize for my lack of pictures. I was too crazed before yuntof to remember to take them!

Here’s the recipe!

Best Ever Lasagna

Ingredients

1 cup frozen,chopped onion

1 16 oz bag of chopped, frozen spinach

(12-14 oz) frozen butternut squash puree

1 package organic silken tofu (1 1b)

1 jar pasta sauce (32 oz) (Pick any flavor you like. I often use garlic or mushroom.)

A few shakes of garlic powder, dried thyme and Italian seasoning

1 package brown rice lasagna noodles (like Tinkyada, 10 oz)

1 jar (16 oz) roasted red peppers

1/8 cup panko bread crumbs (whole wheat or gluten-free)

1/8 cup nutritional yeast

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom of 13 x 9 lasagna pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Place frozen spinach, onion and squash into glass pie plate or bowl and defrost in the microwave (I used the “vegetable” setting).

Place tofu into pie plate with defrosted vegetables. Add thyme, garlic powder and Italian seasoning and mix thoroughly.

Place one layer of noodles in pan, followed by half of the vegetable and tofu mix. Cover with 1/3 of the bottle of marinara sauce.

Place another layer of noodles in the pan. Cover with the rest of the vegetable tofu mix and another third of the marinara sauce.

Place another layer of noodles in the pan. Cover with the rest of the marinara sauce and then the roasted red peppers (cut open and flatten if still whole).

Mix the Panko bread crumbs and nutritional yeast together in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the red peppers.

Cook for 1 hour, uncovered.

Serves 6-8

I look forward to your feedback!