Pasta-less Ground Beef Stroganoff

My husband grew up on Beef Stroganoff and trained me in how to make his tried and true recipe. By no means is this recipe the healthiest of choices, but it certainly is delicious. Yet after the new year, my husband and I both made some health goals that would require eliminating wheat from our diet. There are a number of reasons that I really should blog about, but in a nutshell– he is allergic to it, I’m intolerant to it, and it would probably help us lose that extra butter roll around our middle sections. 🙂

beef stroganoff tastes amazing with cauliflower instead of pasta says the entrepreneurial wifeStill–we refuse to be unhappy with our cooking and we want to still maintain some of those “soul-food” recipes that we find comfort in. And as a working mom, I have come to appreciate making this meal for my family because it is fast and hearty. When I come home from a long day at work and have to make dinner, I’m not interested in spending more than 30 minutes or so in that kitchen.

So I started researching what the Paleo people out there are eating for some inspiration. I had heard about Cauliflower rice but have never tried it. So I started messing around with it and have now fallen absolutely in love! Best yet, my husband loves it as well because he can still eat his family favorite meal– Beef Stroganoff and not get completely congested, plus can feel good knowing he got a big serving of veggies to go along with it.

This meal is great for busy moms because you can make it ahead of time and freeze it. Freezer meals are life-savers for busy moms. Even if you don’t freeze it, it makes an easy and relatively healthy one pan meal. For those of you who are very anti-processed food, you will want to tweak this recipe so it doesn’t include the canned soup or dry soup mix. I myself try to stay away from processed food most of the time, but given this is my husband’s favorite recipe from growing up, I stick to it. We feel that if it not a daily element of the diet, then we don’t feel too guilty about it.

Ingredients Needed:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, chopped rice style or sliced into small florets
  • 2 lbs of ground beef
  • 2 cups of chopped mushrooms
  • half a yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 packet of onion soup mix (otherwise make your own with beef broth base, salt, and onion powder)
  • 1 family-sized can of cream of mushroom soup (or make your own with  chicken broth, mushrooms, milk, flour, and some garlic salt)
  • 2 tablespoons of real butter, olive oil, or avocado oil.

Directions:

  1. I chop up my cauliflower first in my blender on low while I’m browning the ground beef and onions in a large frying pan or wok.
  2. Then I cook the cauliflower in a big pan either butter or oil like olive or avocado along with the mushrooms. I cook it until the cauliflower is soft but not mushy (takes about 5-10 minutes depending on the size of the pan. The mushrooms turn out great this way as well–nice and soft.
  3. I then pour in the onion soup mix and the cream of mushroom soup into the ground beef and onions and stir until the soup mix is blended evenly into the meat and creamed soup.
  4. Transfer the cauliflower and mushrooms into the wok with the beef and sauce.

Mix and serve nice and hot. (Better yet–serve with a nice green salad).

I also make a great Chicken Alfredo with cauliflower instead of pasta. What are some of your tweaks on pasta dishes so that they are pasta-free? Any great and easy casserole recipes you could share with me to help my 5 o’clock scramble? Please share in the comments below and share this post with some of your busy friends who could use a break without the pasta. 🙂

Like this recipe? Read more from Theresa at her new blog http://mamaguts.com

 

Morning Shake for the Busy or Working Parent

super greens, flax, and chia are great additions to a morning shake

super greens, flax, and chia are great additions to a morning shake.

A lot of people ask me how I can maintain a figure while being so busy. Between working a full-time job, running 2-4 writing jobs on the side, raising 4 kids, and being a wife– one can wonder how I’m able to still eat healthy. We all know how much easier it is to run by a fast-food restaurant or to microwave a Cup o’ Noodles when we have only so much time for ourselves. And I know plenty of busy parents who just don’t eat breakfast– a hot cup of coffee is all they want or have time for.

I myself have been there. Coffee for breakfast. Cup O’ Noodles for lunch. Yep.

But it’s not healthy. We all know it. But how do we add more minutes to our day? I certainly don’t have time to sit down for a morning bowl of oatmeal, let alone an omelette.

And then I decided to try the morning shake. Now this works! The issue has been finding the right type of food to put in my shake so that I get the nutrition I need and remain full enough to only need a snack around 10 until my lunch at noon. But also is simple enough so that I don’t spend longer than a couple of minutes to make it before I run out the door and drink it on my way to work.

Some mom’s I have talked to just put fruit and veggies in their morning shake. I cannot do that I don’t recommend it for most people. That will just shoot up your glucose levels and send them crashing down within 2 hours. You will feel weak, disoriented, and tired.

You need protein. And believe it or not, you need fat for satiety and energy. Do not skip these in your morning shake.

Here some staple ingredients I put in my morning shakes: 

2-3 Handfuls of Super Greens (kale, spinach, chard)

Don’t worry, you won’t even taste these in your morning shake if you add the protein powder or meal replacement later. I get mine from Costco because it’s a huge bag and is triple washed. To make sure it lasts through the couple of weeks it takes me to go through it, I stick it right in the freezer. Then I grab the bag in the morning and pull out 2-3 handfuls of the frozen leaves and throw it in my blender. Added bonus– less ice needed, if any. 🙂 If you choose not to use protein powder or meal replacement, I recommend adding Stevia, Monk Fruit, or Agave to sweeten the shake up a bit and cover the earthy flavor this will provide if your palate does not care for green beverages.

A Half a Cup of Fruit

My favorites include frozen blueberries or strawberries or banana. I also really like butternut squash! (Add some cinnamon!) While fruit certainly adds vitamins and other nutrition to the shake, my big reason for adding it is for the flavor variety it offers. Try not to put too much in though, because fruit does have a lot fructose in it (Blueberries and butternut squash offer the least); however, if you do not use protein powder or meal replacement (which usually is sweetened) then add more fruit to balance the green superfood and make it more palatable.  Whatever the fruit option is for the week or two that I have it, I make sure that it is in a bag, frozen in the freezer. I buy the berries already frozen from Costco. Bananas take just a few minutes to peel and chop on a Sunday afternoon. Then I throw them all in a freezer bag and I’m set up for the week.

A Tablespoon of Chia Seeds

Again, I buy a big bag of it at Costco and I store it in my fridge to make sure it lasts. One bag lasts me a couple of months. Chia seeds are packed with protein and omega 3’s to punch up the healthy benefits of my morning shake. Note– don’t let your shake sit for too long.Drink it down because Chia gels after a while and will turn your shake into pudding (which is not bad if you want a healthy pudding option!) but not so easy to drink if that was your original intention. 🙂

A Tablespoon of Flax Seeds

I put mine in whole, but I have a Vitamix blender which can blend it. If you don’t, I recommend buying them already ground. I buy mine at my local natural foods store from the dry bins. Its cheaper that way and fresh. 🙂 These are packed with protein, more omega 3 fatty acids, and add added fiber to your diet. This is great for cleansing and detoxing!

A Tablespoon of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a medium-chain saturated fat. Don’t get scared about the saturated fat part. If it is medium-chained, it goes straight to the liver for instant energy–and is not stored in your body. It will help you stay full longer, give you added energy, and as a great bonus– coconut oil is a natural anti-viral, so it will help keep your immune system strong. The coconut flavor is a nice addition to the morning shake as well. 🙂 Don’t forget– fat is essential for hormone balance, ladies! And it takes fat like this to burn fat. Don’t skip on the fat! You need it! 30% of your daily calories should actually be from healthy fats. Now it doesn’t take much of it to make up 30% of your calories so don’t go overboard. But don’t buy into the lie that you need to go fat free to get slim. It just ain’t true. 🙂 Costco (Do you see a pattern here? ) sells a great quality Coconut oil that is organic, virgin, unrefined, and cold-pressed– all important for the health benefits of coconut oil.

15-30 Grams of a Protein 

I get this from a variety of options: Whey powder, Greek-Yogurt, Peanut Butter, and/or Raw Egg.

Whey Powder–This is my favorite. You can get a whopping 25-30 grams of protein which is ideal for your breakfast launch into the day. They come in great flavors like chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry. I prefer vanilla because its more versatile. And its the quickest way to get the protein in your shake and you out the door. But if you don’t like that option–there are some whole food options I also enjoy–they just add a few more time. I’m not advocating any particular brand. There are many good ones out there. And you don’t need whey if you don’t like. There is pea powder, soy powder, creatine…so much variety out there. I prefer whey because it is affordable, tasty, and doesn’t hurt my belly like casein, and doesn’t add estrogen like soy will.

Greek Yogurt is also a great option. In one cup of Greek yogurt, there is 20 grams of protein. Most come non-fat, but you can find some with low-fat or full fat. If you get the full fat or low-fat, you may not need the coconut oil (although it won’t hurt).  I usually find this much yogurt too much for my shakes, so I usually cut it to half a cup and then add peanut butter to cover the flavor a bit.

Peanut Butter--There is 4 grams of protein in every tablespoon of peanut butter. So supplementing the yogurt with 2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter work too. This takes more time than the whey powder, which in one scoop is done– no tablespoons or measuring cups needed.

Raw Egg is another great option. Don’t be afraid of all those “raw eggs are bad for you” crap. Did you know that you don’t even need to refrigerate raw eggs when in the shell? Yes–we are still listening to wives tales. Do the research. Or trust me– raw eggs in your shake are just fine. Just drink it in a timely fashion. Don’t let it sit all morning and then drink it. There are 6 grams of protein in a large egg. So again–this works as a great supplement to the yogurt or peanut butter.

A Good Meal Replacement Powder (Optional if you do all of the above) 

While the above is certainly enough for a good morning shake, my husband finds that by adding the meal replacement powder, it gives him added satiety and more nutrition from the additions it brings in. There are a lot of good brands out there that work– Shakeology is the most expensive, but whole-food based and very delicious. Juice Plus is also non-GMO, whole-food based, and delicious. Herbal Life I finds keeps me fullest the longest and has a lot of really delicious flavors–although it is not whole-food based so you will get synthetic vitamins added in and GMO based nutrition.

All in all– it takes me about 3-4 minutes to make my shake, so I’m out the door real quick. If you can’t take the 3-4 minutes then wake up 3-4 minutes early. It is worth your health!! No excuses. ) 

  1. I grab the bag of frozen super greens, throw in 2-3 handfuls.
  2. Then I grab the bag of frozen fruit and grab a handful of that.
  3. Next I grab the two bags of seeds out of the refrigerator and open the bags and grab about a tablespoon out of each using my fingers as a scooper.
  4. Next I grab my protein powder and scoop out a serving using the scoop the brand provides and do the same for the meal replacement.
  5. I finally add some non-fat, sugar-free rice milk or almond milk (1-1.5 cups if I’m making it just for myself, and 2.5-3 cups if I’m making it for my hubby too). I blend on high until it’s all blended and the seeds disappear. I quickly poor it into a 16-20 oz cup, rinse out the blender real quick in the faucet and then head out the door. I drink on my way to work.

What are some of your favorite quick morning shakes for breakfast? Check out these great morning smoothie recipe books for other options!

How to Make a Spirulina Drink That Actually Tastes Good

spirulina powder, mint-flavored chlorophyll, a 20-oz cup of water with a straw, and a stevia sweetener.

spirulina powder, mint-flavored chlorophyll, a 20-oz cup of water with a straw, and a stevia sweetener.

I’m always researching information related to health and wellness and trying to incorporate my newest findings into my repertoire of diet and supplementing. On one such quest, I discovered the super food, Spirulina. An algae turned into powder and bottled up in the vitamin section of your nearby health food store, this super food is packed with vitamins and trace minerals, with testimonials claiming that it boosts immunity, fights free radicals, helps digestion, and supports cardiovascular health. I decided to try it out, especially after hearing about its high amount of iron and calcium. By little boys don’t really care for milk or any milk-alternative and don’t really care for meat—so I’m always looking for ways to increase their iron and calcium.

Well, when I bought the powder and brought it home, I excitedly scooped out a teaspoon of powder and dumped it into my cup then poured my water into it and stirred. When I took the first sip, I gagged. This was disgusting. It truly tasted like pond scum, no way around it. I began to drink quickly, fighting off my reflex to gag. When I finally finished the last muddy sip, I recovered by the sink, dry heaving, and praying I could keep it all down. Thankfully after a few deep breaths and some fresh water to take the taste from my mouth, I was able to regain my composure and jump onto the internet to find some recipes that would help the taste. I could NOT do that again!

The recipes, I found, however, just didn’t meet my needs. Almost all of them either required a juicer or a blender and involved incorporating fruit and other veggies to mask the flavor.

I don’t have time for this.

I want a quick drink that I can chug down and be done with. I don’t want to cut up or wash fruit and I certainly don’t want to pull out my juicer or Vitamix blender. Those are great. But I don’t have time to make this a daily routine, and I do want spirulina to be a daily supplement.

Tonight, I figured out a way to make a quick spirulina drink that actually didn’t make me gag. It actually tasted good! I’m so excited about it that I had to share it with those out there also looking.

I first put the powder into my cup, then added the water, then topped that off with the mint-flavored chlorophyll and the stevia sweetener. Then I mixed it thoroughly with the straw until all was blended and ready do drink.

It tasted great! It was mildly sweet and earthy with a touch of mint.

Like more recipes and articles like this? Check out more from Theresa at her new blog, http://mamaguts.com

 

Store Brand Formula or Name Brand Formula?

Before I go on my tangent, here is some back ground information: Ever since Kanan stopped nursing as well 2 months ago, I have had to really do my research on formulas. Kanan seemed sensitive to the dairy in my diet, so I was going dairy free and noticed a big difference. Needless to say, when he started eating less due to his distractibility at 4 months, I knew I needed to supplement with a bottle because he ate better that way. Of course I pumped, but my milk supply was dwindling as well and the only way I could get him to sleep through the night was to give him an 8 oz bottle of formula before I went to bed. But how was I to do that with a dairy sensitivity?  I tried Soy. It worked. But then I did my research. Soy is TERRIBLE for people! Soy formula shouldn’t even be allowed to be an infant formula! Do the research and you will see. It is packed full of estrogen and manganese, both at levels way to high for an infant and inevitably linked to a ridiculous amount of problems. I tried partially hydrolized. Kanan hated it and so did my wallet. I tried Neocate, which I bought on Ebay because I didn’t want to pay 50 bucks a can. Kanan didn’t like that either. Well thank goodness around this time, I started cheating a bit on my dairy diet and noticed Kanan wasn’t reacting as negatively to it as he used to. So I tried Enfamil Lipil and low and behold, aside from spitting up a bit more, he was fine.

And now to the point of the journal: MY GOODNESS THOSE NAME BRAND FORMULAS ARE EXPENSIVE! So when I was at Walmart, I noticed they had a storebrand they call “Parent’s Choice.” I read the back and compared the labels and it wasn’t much different if not almost exactly the same as Enfamil and Similac. And it was HALF the price. So I decided to buy it even though the brainwashed consumer side of me somehow feared that he would grow horns because of my need to save money. When I gave him his first bottle of the store brand formula, I studied his reaction, waiting for him to spit it out and throw the bottle at me or something. He didn’t. During the hours after he drank the formula, I studied him closely again. Waiting for a rash or fussiness or gas or something that would tell me I made the wrong decision. Again, nothing. He was his normal, happy self.

Then I was talking with my dental hygienist a week later as she was cleaning my teeth and she told me she used the same product because it has received good reviews. So I thought that Parent’s Choice alone was the good store brand to buy. But Walmart is somewhat of a drive away from me. And today I was at RiteAid picking up my son’s prescription when I noticed Rite Aid had a store brand too. Again, the same fear, guilt, and sceptism arose in me as I picked up the can. But I read the back and again, from memory, it didn’t seem different from my Parent’s Choice Brand. I decided to buy it and return it unopened if I came home and noticed it was significantly different. Low and behold when I compared the back, EVERY SINGLE ingredient, and vitamin, and mineral was the SAME. I thought that was super strange and decided to read some of the smaller details of the label. Sure enough I noticed that both formulas were produced by the same manufacturing company. They must sell their formula to many different stores who then use their own label. I decided to go the website: http://www.pbmproducts.com/content.aspx?ID=54&page=PBM_Nutritionals and sure enough, this respected, FDA approved company mass produces formula for numbers of different stores across the world. And, little did I know, store brand formula have to follow the same guidelines that name brand formula’s do. So even though there are minute differences between name brands on the type of protein used or how much manganese is in a serving, when we are buying Enfamil and Similac and Nestle Good Start, we are still paying and extra 10-20 dollars for a label!

So that is it. I’m a storebrand formula mama from here on out. Why not? My baby is healthy and I’m saving money so I can spend more on him in other ways I’m sure he’d appreciate: toys, a home, clothes, and maybe even college. And whether or not I’m at Target, Walmart, or Riteaid, I know I can buy the store brand and actually be buying the same exact store-brand formula as I would if I were at one of the other three stores.  I still pump and give Kanan breastmilk and I still breastfeed him in the morning and now I’m adding formula but because its store brand and he is still getting the homemade stuff, I am saving soooooo much money. So I recommend that you formula feeding Mama’s out there ignore the brainwashed consumer in you and read the back of those labels.  It is the best Mama decision I have made thus far!