Leanne’s Favorite Food Swaps

Leanne’s Favorite Food Swaps

In life, it’s the little things that count. Not the great big momentous occasions, but the daily moments that all strung together, make up your own personal circle of life. We cannot measure the quality of our lives by the big events like birthday celebrations, weddings, baptisms and graduations. It’s the day-to-day stuff that makes up your life.

This is also true with eating. It’s not just the big meal occasions—dinner out, Thanksgiving, birthday cake and such. Becoming a healthy eater has everything to do with daily decision making over what will go in your mouth, rather than worrying about a special occasion (I say, splurge and enjoy it! The next day, do penance and throw in a little extra exercise and pare a few calories off your daily intake for the next few days.)

But it’s those daily decisions that count; to choose not to drive thru and wait an extra 15 minutes to get home to real food. It’s choosing fruit over donuts; water over soda and not to have that bowl of ice cream watching TV. Those are the little decisions that matter much more so than eating an extra piece of pie at Thanksgiving. Yeah, overindulging is hard on your body and we talk about being “Thanksgiving full” as the ultimate test of fullness, but the daily awareness of what you put in your body is what the definitive cause and effect of how your body looks, feels and operates.

Sometimes it’s easy (like the above example of fruit over donuts). Other times, it’s harder to know what to do. Here are some easy swaps to help you to save calories, your health and your sanity, too, so you know that what you’re doing will make a difference!

Instead of a blueberry muffin (which, let’s be honest, is really a cupcake with blueberries in it!) have a cup of Greek yogurt with 1/2 a cup of blueberries stirred in. Save yourself 249 calories (and some considerable carbs!).

Instead of a 2 slices of whole wheat bread, have 1 Orowheat Sandwich Round (whole wheat also), saving yourself 140 calories!

Instead of 1 cup of white rice, have 1/2 cup of brown rice mixed with chopped steamed broccoli. You’ve just saved yourself nearly 100 calories (and ratcheted up the fiber count, too!).

Instead of a pork chop, go for an equal serving of pork tenderloin and save yourself 50 calories (plus a lot of fat grams!).

It’s not that difficult to make a big difference a little bit at a time. Awareness counts as much as calories do. Keep that in mind as you hit the grocery store this week!

Our Dinner Answers menu planner allows you to completely personalize your grocery list and do your grocery shopping from your PHONE! Check it out!

The “I Don’t Like Cooking” Fix

The “I Don’t Like Cooking” Fix

Over the years, I’ve received a lot of emails from various people in all walks of life who plain and simple just do not like cooking.

Cooking for them is on the same par as toilet cleaning–they’ve said as much.

So they opt to go out to dinner or do take out–healthy and otherwise.

So why write me to tell me this if what they are doing is working for them?

The deal isn’t that it isn’t working for them; it’s just not working WELL for them. They are concerned about the cost and the nutrition aspects of doing this on a regular basis.

The cost is astronomical, both financially and health wise. Most families do not have the financial means to eat out every night, period—whether it is healthy or not.

A recent study revealed that for every dollar spent on food eaten out, only 27 cents worth of food was actually served.

What does that tell you about the economics of eating out? Is going out to dinner every night a worthy investment of your family’s dollars?

Lest you think I’m dumping on restaurants, let me assure you I am not. I love going out to dinner! I’m always on the prowl for a new restaurant and new dining experience.

But the day to day of feeding a family is expensive. Very few can afford to feed everyone well (as in healthy, fresh food) if they go out all the time.

And while I do love to cook for the most part, there are days when it frankly is a chore–I’m only human. I have other things I’d rather be doing and a bunch of people (my family, friends, employees, etc.) who want or need my attention.

But I have great news for those who panic at the idea of cooking a big family meal. Most of it can be done on the grill (and these days, outdoor grills with their propane tanks make it seasonless!) then all you really have to add is a big salad and presto, you’ve got dinner! Here is a recent grilled meal I recently made and it took me all of fifteen minutes to prepare. 🙂

Marinated Grilled Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

Brown Rice (if you’re paleo or low carb, make cauli-rice)

Grilled Zucchini and Yellow Squash

Big Green Salad

Take a big gallon-sized zipper topped plastic bag and fill it with raw chicken (I like to add extra so I can get some leftovers for lunch the next day). Next, add half a bottle of coconut aminos (or soy sauce) and about 1/2 a cup olive oil or avocado oil. Squeeze a whole lemon in there, add 1 teaspoon each garlic powder, thyme and oregano. Now add 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Mush the bag around so chicken is coated. You’ll want that to marinate for a few hours or overnight even. Cook your brown rice now—it will take the longest to cook or make some cauli-rice (or both if you’ve got different eating styles at your house).

Prepare your zucchini by slicing into rounds; same with the yellow squash. Throw these cut squashes into a big bowl and toss with a little olive oil (you don’t want it dripping in oil), salt and pepper and some fresh garlic pressed right into the squash (I use 2 cloves, but I love garlic and it keeps the vampires away). You can either sauté this in a pan on the stovetop or sauté it on the grill if you have a pan with holes in it. It’s awesome cooked this way and grilling  pans with holes in them can be found anywhere—even the drugstore.

Fire up the barbecue and after it is preheated (make sure it’s clean, too!), add the chicken and watch it as you cook it, adjusting the heat as need be. If you’re cooking your veggies on the grill too, you will want to start them at the same time. Otherwise, cook them on the stovetop after your chicken is cooked (keep the chicken warm by wrapping the platter in foil and keeping it in a cold oven just long enough till the squash is cooked).

Set your table, get your salad together (I use already prepared salad bags from the grocery store, add some pine nuts, chopped whatever veggies I have on hand and my own vinaigrette, tossed altogether, yum!).

That’s it! You can serve your chicken on individual plates or serve everything family style—big platters in the middle of the table.

Then pass the food around, join hands and say a prayer of thanksgiving for all this wonderful food (and your family sitting ‘round the table) and above all else, relish this time.

One day they will be grown and gone and you’ll remember these days with fondness.

Getting dinner on the table doesn’t have to be stressful, and Dinner Answers can be the key to your success. Learn more here.

Never Let Your Kids Do These 3 Things in the Kitchen

Never Let Your Kids Do These 3 Things in the Kitchen

One of my favorite pastimes is cooking with my children. Do you have kids? If you do, I want to heavily recommend that you teach them the joys of the kitchen while they’re still young and look up at you like a superhero that has all the answers. Teaching your children how to cook is more than a rite of passage; it’s just plain fun. To me, the kitchen is like a magical land that can create a special type of community and intimacy with the simple act of making a meal.

There are some little things you should look out for when you start to integrate your children into the cooking world: the basic do’s and don’ts.

DO assign simple tasks. When starting out, show them how to wash veggies, how to stir sauces to not let the sides burn, how to scramble eggs, etc.

DON’T let your child use a knife and cutting board without supervision and being taught proper technique.

DO give them a bit more responsibility as they show they understand. Show them basic vegetable cutting, but once you pass that knife from your hand to theirs, watch them like a hawk. (younger ones can use pumpkin carving knives safely, so save yours!)

DON’T let your child remove anything from the oven. But explain how it’s done as you do it; this way, when it’s time, they’ll be ready.

DO explain how when you’re using a pot or pan that you need to turn the handle to the side so it’s not sticking out so no one can run into it or accidentally knock it over.

DON’T allow them to handle meat until they’ve had a couple seasoned years under your training, but explain the safety issues and demonstrate thorough hand washing after you touch it.

ALWAYS let them sneak tastes of their labor in the kitchen. One of my favorite things about cooking is that I get to taste along the way, and I can guarantee that it’ll be a favorite among your children as well.

Well folks, there you have it! Show your children what a kitchen is and how to use it. My daughter is a college graduate now and she tells me all the time how surprised she is that hardly anyone her age knows how to cook. Regardless, your children are going to love learning this new skill! For them, it’s like finally getting to know the secret behind a magic trick. Have FUN!!

Favorite Things Friday: Instant Pot

Favorite Things Friday: Instant Pot

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I broke up with my crock pot (sad story)

How can I express how much I love my Instant Pot?

There are no words flowery enough, there are no sentiments mushy enough and well, I hate to tell you this crock pot, but after all these years, we’re through!

You see, the Instant Pot has stolen my heart–with it’s ability to saute, pressure cook AND slow cook all in the same pot? Well, it’s a dream come true.

It’s everything I want in an appliance!

But you, crock pot? You’re a one trick pony–you do ONE thing.

Your big heavy clumsy crock doesn’t saute like Instant Pot’s does. Nor can you go both ways–slow AND fast.

I’ve replaced your royal counter top position with the Instant Pot–you’ve been banished to the pantry, I’m sorry, but you just can’t compete with that!

And don’t tell the counter top Instant Pot, but I’ve got more than one! Let’s just say I’m into a poly-appliance relationship!  😉

Here’s a great Instant Pot recipe from our One Pot Recipe Collection:

Print Recipe
Garlic and Green Chile Carnitas
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Instant Pot, Paleo
Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 50 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Instant Pot, Paleo
Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 50 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in Instant Pot over “browning” setting. Season shoulder roast with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides, then remove and set aside. Saute garlic and onion in Instant Pot for 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Rub remaining seasonings all over roast (cumin through onion powder). Place back in Instant Pot, and add all remaining ingredients (broth through bay leaf).
  3. Cover and cook using the pressure cooker setting, put it on high pressure and set the meat button to 50 minutes. After 50 minutes, release pressure and slowly remove lid. Shred with two forks and make sure it’s all saturated in its cooking juices. Remove bay leaf before serving.

 

Garlic and Green Chile Carnitas

Print Recipe
Garlic and Green Chile Carnitas
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Instant Pot, Paleo
Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 50 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Instant Pot, Paleo
Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 50 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in Instant Pot over “browning” setting. Season shoulder roast with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides, then remove and set aside. Saute garlic and onion in Instant Pot for 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Rub remaining seasonings all over roast (cumin through onion powder). Place back in Instant Pot, and add all remaining ingredients (broth through bay leaf).
  3. Cover and cook using the pressure cooker setting, put it on high pressure and set the meat button to 50 minutes. After 50 minutes, release pressure and slowly remove lid. Shred with two forks and make sure it’s all saturated in its cooking juices. Remove bay leaf before serving.
Crock Cooker vs Instant Pot

Crock Cooker vs Instant Pot

True confession: I’ve been caught cheating on my crockpot and now I have to come clean. Bear with me, will you?

Oh Crockpot–how long have we been together? 30 years? Longer?

Do you remember the early years when your crock stubbornly wouldn’t budge out of your heating element?

Or those colors–avocado green and that strange gold color.

I remember you sitting on my mother’s countertop in the kitchen–and then mine as I left home and became my own cook.

You were given a place of honor in my house–sitting proudly on the countertop unlike any other appliance in my house; except the coffeemaker of course, there’s always the coffeemaker…

At first we created an awful lot of split pea soup, you and me together.

Then I graduated to beef stew and other thick, warming foods. I tried all your recipes in that little booklet you gave me.

There were things that worked and things that didn’t work, but I never once blamed you for any of it. I took full responsibility and promised that I would never leave you.

Until that one day when the Instant Pot people sent me one and it made it’s way to my house.

Oh sure, I thought, I’ve tried pressure cookers before–the Fagor people sent me one back in 2001. I apologized to those nice people and said it was great, but it would NEVER replace my crockpot!

So the Instant Pot didn’t make me want to open it–meh, another pressure cooker.

Till one day, 3 months after receiving it, I opened the box and actually used it.

I sautéed in it at first–then I added meat and vegetables and had stew in mere minutes.

I thought about my 3 day cooking fest to make bone broth–could it be I could do my beneficial bone broth in the Instant Pot in way less time as well?

Oh yes I could!

Not only that, but it came out better than 3 days it takes you to make it, crockpot! TRUE CONFESSION!!

<GASP>

I don’t know what happened next, but my head was spinning…

What was happening?

Where was my loyalty?

How is it that now my crockpot is in the cupboard and I have thoughts of…breaking up and sending my loyal slow cooker to the thrift store?

Well, that’s how it ended my friends.

Not a pretty ending to such a long relationship, but that’s what happens when a young, sexy appliance worms it’s way into your heart with such features as sautéing RIGHT in the insert pan itself, being able to go fast OR slow and never burning or sticking, easy clean up and so much more…

It’s over between me and the old crock.

Done. Finished. Kaput.

My new, highly favored appliance, the Instant Pot?

Well it can only be described as TRUE LOVE.

And that my friends, is my story. The truth is out…finally.

I feel better–thanks for listening. 😉

Love,

Leanne

PS–At Saving Dinner, we love cooking in ALL of our one pot appliances–have you seen our One Pot Recipe Collection? It’s amazing!

If you can’t control cravings…

If you can’t control cravings…

One of the biggest issues facing anyone who is trying to get their weight under control, is dealing with those endless cravings.

Most of the time, it’s sugar–yes, sugar. EVEN if it’s not a craving for something sweet.

You see, carb cravings and sugar cravings go hand in hand. They are BFFs and are out to destroy any willpower you may have.

And you and I both know, that if you can’t get those cravings handled, well…what’s the point of even trying? It’s brutal!

That’s why it’s so important to understand the underlying hormonal issue–specifically leptin.

Leptin is often called the “obesity hormone” and sometimes, the “starvation hormone.”

Known as the master hormone for regulating body weight, it is produced by the body’s fat cells.

Leptin resistance can occur when your body has too much adipose tissue—a nice way for saying if you’re overweight, there’s a good chance that your leptin levels are out of whack.

And the more overweight you are, the greater the chance. That means your body becomes unresponsive to leptin’s hormonal message of satiety and lessened appetite.

Weight loss becomes nearly impossible with these two factors in play.

Research shows that leptin levels diminish by about 50% when beginning a healthy diet. In some individuals, it can continue to dwindle.

The answer to this is simple: you have to reset your leptin!

To do this, the smart money is on supplementing with Lepti-Fix and CraveCrusher, this combination is a lethal weapon against the war on cravings.

CraveCrusher 2.0 contains key amino acids to support the brain’s biosynthesis of the neurotransmitters involved in appetite control and carbohydrate cravings. As a bonus, it boosts mood as well.

The secret sauce is in that combo: 5-HTP, DL-Phenylalanine, L-Tyrosine, L-Glutamine and Chromium.

When you add in the Lepti-Fix, you’ve got a powerful duo working together synergistically to help regulate blood glucose levels that are responsible for carb cravings.

Together, these two supplements help to bring appetites under control and stimulate satiety; super important.

Don’t Be Intimidated!

Don’t Be Intimidated!

There is a true intimidation factor in cooking for some people—I get the emails from them so I know this is true. For me, having grown up in a home with parents who cooked, rarely eating out, I learned how to navigate my way in a kitchen early on.

It was (being honest here) a bit of surprise when I first started my website back in 2001 to learn that not everyone knew how to chop an onion. The cooking terms that I learned before I got my first Girl Scout badge (The Cooking badge naturally—I’ve got it taped to my bookcase, LOL!), have fallen by the wayside. Terms like dice, mince and julienne have turned into much simpler terms like chop, chop fine and chop into matchstick-sized pieces. But who cares, right? The deal is to get the cooking DONE, not worry about semantics.

Check out this testimonial we received from Heather:

Dear Leanne,

Okay, I finally decided to try your system.

Well, first I get the menu – looks good, but I’m worried, because spaghetti and sauce is about the most I do. Then I see the grocery list – there are things on there that I’ve never ever bought before!

I go to the grocery store with your list in hand. For a family of 6 my average grocery bill was always over $120/week. With Leanne’s list – I spent $67.52.

Now, I decide to prepare the meal. First thing that I discover, a fancy sounding name doesn’t mean hours of cooking. Second thing, it really only takes about 1/2 hour to cook the whole thing! Finally, I find out that my kids eat things that don’t include mounds of sugar.

Thank you for helping me save money and my family’s health!!

Heather

Me again—the trick is, as Heather wrote, was not to be intimidated! She took a tool (the menu) and dove in and did the work. She discovered that doing so saved her a ton of money, her sanity, and made her feel like a hero in her own home! Isn’t that what we all want?

Don’t be intimidated by cooking! I’ve said in a million times, this is not brain surgery and it is something everyone can do, I promise! If you need help, I’ve got it for you in every way imaginable from free daily newsletters, to recipes and tips, grocery lists, freezer cooking, you name it. Don’t lose hope and think you can’t do this thing called cooking. YES, you can!!

Ready to try Dinner Answers like Heather did?  We’ve got it right here for you.

How Clean is Your Fridge?

How Clean is Your Fridge?

Why is it the last thing to get cleaned in a kitchen is the inside of the refrigerator? I know that’s true for a lot of people; it certainly was for me!

The fridge was the last frontier for me in the kitchen. I could keep the kitchen clean, unload the dishwasher regularly, keep the floors up, the pantry reasonably organized. But the fridge? I would let it go. And then it would be a bear to deal with. I had a perfectionist attitude with my fridge—it was an all or nothing proposition. I would spend an hour or more cleaning every last nook and cranny. Tossing stuff left, right and center, cleaning the rubber gasket with a toothbrush, pulling everything out, disinfecting it and making the whole thing gleam. Honest, I could see that thing shine from my bedroom!

One day it dawned on me that I did not have to clean my fridge like that. I could do it one shelf at a time! I could keep things rotated and wiped down in as little as 2 minutes at a time. But the secret for making that happen was what I like to call Refrigerator Awareness. Cleaning the fridge does NOT need to be a project!

All that means is adding Refrigerator Awareness to your radar screen and don’t let that big, old appliance turn into that nasty, dreaded cleaning project! It truly does NOT have to be that way!

Oh and lest I forget. There is a TREMENDOUS bonus that comes from picking up the RA skill (Refrigerator Awareness). You save money. Gobs of it. Your food gets eaten, not shuttled to the back to develop into a science experiment. Your produce doesn’t develop slime, wilt or become fossilized. And, you may just find something in there you didn’t know you had that needs to be used up! Isn’t that just the coolest thing ever? (pardon the obvious pun!)

To recap: 2 minutes a day. That’s all. Let’s put an end to Project Refrigerator Clean-ups. I don’t know about you, but I’ve HAD it with those big jobs!

The same awareness goes for the freezer! Is yours cleaned up enough to handle some handy freezer meals?

Anti-Inflammatory Magical Midas Milk Recipe

Anti-Inflammatory Magical Midas Milk Recipe


Print Recipe
Anti-Inflammatory Magical Midas Milk Recipe
Our take on the infamous elixir "golden milk" - warm, hearty, spiced, delicious, and great for you!
Cuisine Paleo
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Cuisine Paleo
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat almond milk in a heavy bottom medium pot over medium heat. Add next 6 ingredients (turmeric through stevia). Whisk together well and keep over heat until hot, be careful NOT to boil.
  2. In a blender, add coconut oil, coconut butter, a little pepper, and pour milk mixture over the top. Blend until smooth and frothy. Serve and enjoy!