War on Average

encouraging each other not to be satisfied with mediocre


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Easy & Healthy Crock Pot Chicken Thighs

I am always looking for easy and healthy chicken crock-pot recipes. I don’t tend to use BBQ ones because of the sugar and my family doesn’t like any tomato based ones.

After finding a few things on-line, I put this together to be simple and delicious. It goes great with Coconut Cauliflower and Sautéed Bok Choy.

Ingredients:
1 onion sliced
2-4 tsp minced garlic
2 bay leaves
Peppercorns
¼ c Liquid Aminos or Soy Sauce
¼ c Apple Cider Vinegar
¼ c Coconut milk
7-8 pieces of chicken thigh

Plan:
Put in onions and garlic
Then chicken
Then bay leaves and peppercorns
Then liquids
Cook on low for five hours

Enjoy!


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Super Simple Pumpkin Muffins

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A couple weeks ago, my four-year-old decided she wanted to make some pumpkins muffins for her playdate which was that afternoon (this was at lunch). So during lunch we googled a bunch of recipes, took stock of what we had in the house and made something up. We made them again tonight and added a very small amount of chocolate chips for fun. Here’s our gluten free, paleo-friendly, easy-to-make-while-nine-months-pregnant-with-a-toddler-and-a-preschooler pumpkin muffins.

What you do:
Preheat oven to 350
Mix all ingredients together
Put in muffins tins (lined or greased)
Cook for 32-35 min

What you need:
2 c. almond meal/flour (we like Just Almonds from Trader Joes)
1 ripe banana
1 can pumpkin
2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c chopped walnuts and pecans
1/4 c chocolate chips (if you’re feeling like making these for dessert instead of breakfast)

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One bowl and all mixed together makes it easy to make with kiddos. Enjoy!


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Black Bean Burgers—Two Different Recipes

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I created both of these black bean burgers out of necessity—no groceries and no time. So, these can be flexible recipes with the ingredients that you have. You may also want to add things that you happen to have in the house—or maybe you like onion in things more than we do. Make them your own, but these will hopefully help as a base.
The Vita-Mix burgers are less attractive for adults but easier for small children to eat. The chunky burgers are more attractive and the texture is more delicious, so it all depends on what you are looking for.  Enjoy!

We also do not serve these on buns. We serve with homemade guacamole, salsa, homemade “ranch”, or, in desperation, ketchup.

I don’t get my black beans from a can (though you can), I make them myself to save money and reduce the toxins from cans. I use this recipe to make the beans in a crock pot. Then I freeze the beans in 1 ½ c. portions in glass jars.

 

Vita-Mix Black Bean Burgers
1 ½ c. black beans
1/3 c. almond meal
½-1 zucchini
1 egg white
1 heaping TB of red pepper hummus
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp basil
1 tsp garlic

Combine all ingredients in a Vita-Mix or food processor and blend fully.
Let sit for 20 min for flavor (if you have time for that on any given day J)
Preheat oven to 350
Make into patties on a greased baking sheet
Cook for 15-20 min

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Chunky Black Bean Burgers
1 ½ c black beans
½-1 zucchini minced
1 c. almond meal
1 egg
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic

Combine all ingredients in a bowl
Form into patties
Plot into a oiled skillet (makes 5-6 patties)
Cook on high for 5 min each side or until golden brown

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Flax Seed Cereal

I love cereal. LOVE it. But I don’t eat it. When I do splurge on a box of LIFE, it’s gone is 36 hours. I heard a health professional speak a few weeks ago and she suggested an alternative—a “cereal” made with flax seed. I was not so sure, because I do love cereal. But I made it, and it hit the spot! Aside from avoiding the wheat, gluten, sugar, processed stuff, etc, I got all the great benefits of ground flax seed. Here’s what I did: Take ½ cup of flax seeds (I purchase whole and grind myself because ground goes bad much more quickly) and grind in a coffee grinder. IMG_1864IMG_1865 Pour half in a bowl and save the other half in the fridge for tomorrow. Add some coconut flakes and a few pieces of dried fruit. Add your version of milk and presto! Surprisingly delicious cereal!

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Half Dozen Uses For A Half Ton of Carrots

Have you ever bought that HUGE bag of carrots from Cost-Co or Sam’s Club, arrived home and suddenly be come overwhelmed with what to actually DO with all those carrots? That sinking feeling of doubt sets in telling you that even though you got such an awesome deal on organic carrots it might not have been such a great deal because you probably won’t use them all before half the bag goes bad. Well, here are some great ideas that might overcome the notion that it would take a village to finish all those carrots! These are the six ideas I put to use with my most recent monster bag of carrots I purchased. I saved the best for last so if you make it to that final and delicious option I’d love to hear what you think!

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  1. Carrot sticks: Healthy snacks are so important. It is time consuming to chop carrot sticks for snacks if you cut them up separately each time you need them. When I do a bunch of them (skinned and tiny for my preschooler too) then they are done and ready for afternoon snacks and they keep for a long time when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. My preschooler likes to dip the raw carrots in sunflower butter and raisins.IMG_2096
  2. Baby carrot sticks: I also steam carrot sticks for my one-year-old because she loves to dip her carrots along with her sister, but carrots right out of the bag are a bit difficult for her to bite into. I skin and cut the carrot sticks, place them in my steamer and turn up the heat for twenty minutes. They end up being soft enough for her to bite but still crisp enough to dip in nut butter.IMG_2097
  3. Salad topping: I find salads are much easier to eat regularly when the “toppings” are already set to go. I shredded a whole bunch of carrots in the VitaMix and have it all set to top salads for the rest of the week.

 

  1. Morning Glory Muffins: I also use shredded carrots for two batches of one of our favorite muffin recipes.IMG_2104
  2. Soup stock: I save all the ends from the carrots that I would otherwise toss in the garbage for soup stock. It was one of Alysa’s great money-saving ideas she shared!
  3. Carrot Fries: With the last bunch of carrots I created a new side dish that went over well with the whole family. I skinned and chopped the carrots into small sticks, tossed them in olive oil, garlic powder, and a little sea salt. I cooked them at 350 for about 45 minutes. I served them with a great dinner of “breaded” zucchini, grilled chicken, and sautéed mushrooms (the last two prepared by my hubby).IMG_2101

 

 

Do you have any other great ideas for carrots?

 

Don’t forget to wash your carrots before you start cooking!

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Healthy Changes: Slow Cooked, Not Microwaved       

I had so much fun last night hosting a conference call with women all over the country on tips and tricks to eating healthy. It’s been rewarding to share what I have learned over the past twelve years of pursuing a healthier life for my family. What I may not have mentioned yet on this blog is that I have not always known how to live a healthy lifestyle. When I got married in 2001, I only knew how to make spaghetti and meatballs. Literally. Ask my husband. That’s pretty much all we ate. Oh and bruschetta. I had become so proficient with anything that included noodles and tomato or pesto sauce that I could have been nominated as the “least Italian, Italian cook.” After a few months of weight gain and feeling pretty crummy, we knew we had to make a change. (Well, honestly, Ryan knew we had to make a change and suggested I learn how to steam some broccoli).

From that time on, Ryan and I have ventured, more slowly at some times than others, into health. As we have learned more and more we’ve made changes to our diets, our fitness, our home, and our supplementation as we continue (even now) to learn more. At other times it has been a slower process as we have worked to overcome bad habits from a lifetime before or gone through periods of trial and error to determine what kind of nutrition, exercise or lifestyle changes fit our life and biology best.

The other thing I have not shared here is that I don’t love to cook. (There’s a reason my default cooking mode was boiling noodles and stirring a can of sauce on the stovetop) I shared with my guests on the call last night that I often laugh that I have a blog with recipes on it. It’s pretty hilarious. So even learning how to cook and how to have fun with it—it is a process.

I want this platform at WarOnAverage.com to be inspiring to my guests who read it, not discouraging. Some change can be instant and other change HAS to be gradual. So, as you continue to see me talk about nutrition, food prep, and how my family eats please remember these things:

  1. My cooking career started with a cardboard box of penne & a powder that turned into pesto sauce.
  2. It took trial and error and more burnt and crispy broccoli than anyone should consume to teach myself how to cook vegetables.
  3. I spent my teen years living off box pasta, Market Day chicken patties and fast food.
  4. We did not make all the changes cold turkey, it’s been a gradual process.
  5. I do not love to cook.
  6. I cook a few times a week and then serve a lot of leftovers because I don’t have a ton of time.
  7. We eat really healthy 90% of the time (we have weekend cheat meals, we go out to eat with friends, we let our kids have ice cream and cake at their birthday parties). We strive for balance.
  8. If we ever have a meal at your home we will enjoy whatever is prepared and never expect others to cook anything special for us. We just eat a certain way at home, most days, and don’t stress about the rest.

As you explore your own ways to change your diet and live a healthier life, I hope these realities encourage you, that this process is doable—for anyone.