7 easy and healthy recipes

Fast and easy recipes are a must for dinner time after a long day at work. When you only have a half hour to get dinner ready you need to be creative and plan ahead.

Here is a list of 7 fast and easy dinner recipes. Be sure to check out my earlier blog about prepping ground turkey and salads and how to keep food fresh for a week.

    Scrambled eggs and bologna (or any other pre-cooked meat like ground turkey)
    Fish and grilled veggies
    Chilli (the easy way: mix beans with pre-cooked ground turkey and add spices)
    Zoodles and ground turkey (meat is pre-made)
    Shrimp and cauliflower rice
    Taco-less tacos (with pre-made ground turkey)
    Lentil soup and salad (lentil soup is prepped in the pressure cooker)

Do you have recipes that you rotate often? If so, please share in the comments below! Also, let me if you want me to share a recipe for any of the above dinners!

Lena Alaw

Mommy tactics: staying organized

I am all about lists. I find myself stressing less when I write a to-do list or plan a week’s dinners in advance.

Here’s what I usually do. I have shifted my grocery shopping outing to Thursdays. So before Thursday, I sit down and think about the dinner menu for the following week. I then build my shopping list according to the recipes. I love utilizing my dry-erase board for dinner meals. And for lists, I use the application Wunderlist.

I love using Wunderlist for my groceries. Whenever I take my daughter with me to the grocery store, I let her check things off the list on my phone. This keeps her entertained and looking forward to the next item so she can check it off the list. You can even share the list with your partner. This way I create the list on my phone, share it and the hubs can do the groceries. Isn’t technology wonderful?

Making a list came in handy when it was time to prep my hospital bag before delivery. I definitely didn’t forget my phone charger although am sure my wonderful husband would have got me one.

I have four lists for travel alone! One for me, one for the hubs and two for my kid. Her lists include one for items to bring on the plane and another for what goes into the checked luggage. I put everything important to me on the travel list. On my personal travel list, one item is to make sure the stove is off. I am telling you, lists are a lifesaver! I no longer sit in the cab to the airport panicking about whether I checked the stove or locked the house or disconnected all plugs.

I even use Wunderlist to compile my list of questions for the pediatrician. I realized earlier on that once in her office, I forget all my questions. Wunderlist is awesome because, for each item, you can add a note. So when the pediatrician recommends a certain over-the-counter ointment or a vitamin, I add the note in wunderlist. Being an electronic list that is easily accessible (you tend to always have your phone on you) you don’t run the risk of misplacing it, unlike a piece of paper.

Life can be hectic when you have a toddler. Lists help me stay organized.

how do you stay organized? Are there any apps you recommend?

Lena Alaw

Tully

If you are a parent, I highly recommend seeing the movie Tully. So many moments in that movie resonated with my husband and I. Charlize Theron does a fabulous job in portraying what motherhood sometimes feels and looks like.

There were times, especially when my daughter was first born and sleep was non-existent when I felt like the world was closing in on me. It was just so hard to deal with everything despite all the help family provided. A woman’s body undergoes a tremendous trauma (some call it a miracle and it is) but it doesn’t always feel like a miracle. I envy those women who look so relaxed and are walking around days after a delivery like nothing had happened. I was in pain for months!

I felt stressed, gross, tired, incompetent and alone. Let’s not even get into the feelings related to pain because I can talk about that for days. For all those reasons I could totally relate to the movie. It was so well done, it reminded me of things I had forgotten. That’s the best part! You do tend to forget because each phase of your baby’s life brings in new obstacles challenges and happiness. You then begin to forget the bad, the worry.. the sleepless nights? I don’t think am there with the sleepless nights. I might need a few more years before I forget those!

I love this movie so much! Even the photo cover is relatable for me. My daughter has recently started decorating me with stickers! Lol

All I have to say is I learned that the above is normal. You are entitled to feel exhausted and overwhelmed and don’t let anyone belittle that. I am no expert, of course, if others around you are recommending you seek professional help then maybe do that. Every woman is different. I am telling you about my personal experience.

Tell me about how you felt that first month you were home with your baby. Any advice for other Mama’s? Is it easier or harder for those who have more than one child?

Lena Alaw

Photo: Focus Features

Cauliflower for days…

One of my favorite vegetables to cook with these days is cauliflower. Make sure you check out my cauliflower pizza blog! That pizza is delicious.

Another recipe I have added to our dinner rotation is mashed cauliflower. I absolutely love mashed potatoes but we can’t eat that on a regular basis. Cauliflower however, is a different story. Here is how I cook it:

Ingredients:

  • Cauliflower
  • Roasted garlic
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Almond milk
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  • In the pressure cooker, place the cauliflower on the metal rack provided
  • Add 1 cup of water
  • Close the lid, set to high and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Do a quick release
  • Place the cauliflower in a bowl, add all other ingredients. Be sure to add almond milk as you mash the cauliflower, until you get the consistency you desire.
  • Serve with meat and other veggie

Enjoy!

Lena Alaw

Raising a child in the United States

Did you think this was going to be political? Ha! Not today, am afraid.

One of my favorite things about raising a kid in the United States is a program called Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

In case you aren’t familiar, this program was created by the famous country music singer Dolly Parton. The program was inspired by her father’s inability to read and write. Her goal was to get children to fall in love with reading. The program delivers books to families regardless of their social economic status.

We signed up my daughter the first week she was born. Basically, she has been and will continue to receive a book every month until her fifth birthday. The program is free, the books are age-appropriate and of great quality. The program currently sends out over a million books every single month.

My daughter is currently at the age where she gets so excited when a new book arrives. I absolutely love Dolly for this gift. Last week I realized my daughter was actually reciting lines from one of her favorite books. I was so excited when I realized what she was doing. It feels like reading to her from those books is paying off. I hope she continues to have interest in reading and thanks to Dolly’s Imagination Library, the gift of a book once a month will surely help us maintain and grow that interest. I certainly look forward to a new Dolly book every month.

Fun fact! Dolly’s Imagination Library exists outside the United States too! That’s right! The program was also launched in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Lena Alaw

Chicken salad goodness

So one of my favorite salads these days is a twist on a chicken salad recipe. After fasting for an entire month and literally cutting out all rice and bread, I made a drastic change to my diet.

For my lunches, I no longer pack chicken and potatoes. Oh did I mention that I eliminated potatoes too? Now keep in mind, I only do this five days a week. I will eat those fries if we decided to have a treat on the weekend.

Here’s how I make my salad. Maybe I am lame but I have eaten it 4-5 times a week for a couple of months now and I have not yet gotten bored or sick of it.

Pre-cooked chicken. Palm-sized chicken breast that I then shred.

1 tomato

2 tablespoons of pre-cooked quinoa

Peppers

Carrots

Half an avocado

Cucumbers

Diced fresh mint

2 handfuls of spinach

Salt

Pepper

Salad dressing

Cut up everything and mix well.

I usually either make my own salad dressing with lemon, vinegar, pomegranate molasses, and sumac or if I am lazy, I will use Tessmae’s lemon garlic dressing. I love this dressing and it doesn’t have any added sugar.

The salad leaves me full until snack time.

Sometimes I substitute the chicken with pre-cooked ground turkey and the dressing with guacamole and come up with taco-less tacos. This is also a great salad.

Any salad recipes you recommend?

Lena Alaw

Working out when you have a toddler

Working out has been super important to me for years. After having a baby, working out became even more of a necessity. I needed to lose the baby fat but who has the time or energy to workout?

I started off small, used much lighter weights than I had used prior to getting pregnant. And I am still slowly working my way back to the weights I used before. The hubs found a great online site with free workouts. I highly recommend checking out Fitness Blender, they have a variety of workouts which you can do from the comfort of your home. I used to workout while the baby napped (ofcourse that is if I was lucky enough to have caught up on sleep the night before). Fitness Blender’s workouts range from heavy HIIT, to easier cardio, to Pilates to weight lifting. They have so many great videos. The team consists of a husband and wife duo and their instructions are clear and you find yourself forgetting about time as you workout with them. They provide modifications if you have bad knees or neighbors downstairs (or a baby napping nearby 😋)

Another site I enjoy working out to is Xhit. Their workouts are shorter and some are just as intense as Fitness Blender’s. So if you are like me and get bored, try to mix it up. I am a frequent visitor to these two sites and I absolutely love them.

No excuses, whether you have an hour or only 10 minutes. There’s something for you on these sites.

Lena Alaw

That time I failed as a mom…

My worst day as a mom also fell on the date of our wedding anniversary. My husband and I arranged with family to keep the little one with them for a few hours as we went out to celebrate our five year anniversary. Dinner was at 7 and we had a lovely time. We went to pick her up at 9 pm. That was our biggest mistake, we should have let her spend the night. It honestly never even crossed our minds to do so. We hadn’t let her spend the night with family up to this point so we thought no big deal, we can go get her and put her to bed in her own room. She was about 9 months at the time.

As soon as we took her out of her car seat, the crying began. She cried and cried and there was nothing we could do to calm her down. We tried EVERYTHING. Once in her room, the crying turned into a panic attack of some kind. This was the first time she cried as loud and as intense. She then began to throw up. Here is where my failure as a mom came in, I picked her up and ran with her to the bathroom. I am not sure exactly what it was I was trying to accomplish by doing this. In any case, I slipped. Yep! I slipped while carrying her and I hit the sink vanity. She was somewhat squished in between me and the vanity. And you know how earlier I said her cry was new and very panicky? Well let me tell you, that was NOTHING in comparison to what came next. Her eyes turned red, and she began to wail.

Disclaimer both her and I were fine. Nothing was broken or anything. She was mainly startled and upset for having been woken up from possibly deep sleep. Anyway, she cried and cried and cried and we called an ambulance because, in my daze and panic, I couldn’t tell if it was just my arm that hit the vanity or her ribs. So the ambulance arrives and she is still crying. We are instructed to bring a blanket (something familiar to her) as well as a bottle to feed her. I go into the ambulance with her, crying my own eyes out and feeling all the guilt in the world on my shoulders. And she is still crying.

The paramedics can’t console her. The hubs has to follow us in the car, his phone battery is almost dead and he doesn’t really know where to go or where to park. We get to the hospital and she’s still crying. We are admitted and taken to a room and she is still crying. At this point am still not allowed to hold her because they aren’t sure if the crying is a result of a broken bone. I felt helpless. So we get x-rayed and the nurses are super sweet and do their best to make her and me feel comfortable. The hubs is still missing and the phone is dead. God, I felt guilty. Oh and she’s still crying. One of the nurses then decided to show her a cartoon on her own phone. THAT finally got her attention. The hubby arrived just in time to help me gain some strength, remind me to breathe and tell me words of reassurance. We were able to x-ray her and nothing was broken. Thank god! I still felt guilty.

A number of lessons were learned that night. Never run with a baby unless there’s a fire or you are running from a wild animal or something like that. Also, let her sleep! If you can help it, don’t wake her up. Especially if you have an extra special panicky baby. We didn’t go out to celebrate anything for a while after this incident. God, I felt guilty….Any tips or advice on your major fails would be greatly appreciated..

Lena Alaw

Mommy tactics: Squash soup disaster

I have been on a search for healthy meat and veggie recipes as I am trying to cut down the amount of bread and pasta we eat. This is only relevant to the hubs and I, when the baby demands pizza, she gets pizza. I know this isn’t great but if it’s either pizza or nothing, I let her have the pizza.

So last week I decided to make squash soup.

The ingredients:

  • 3-4 medium squash
  • 2 limes
  • 1 Onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of home-made or store-bought chicken broth
  • 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup of peas
  • 1/2 cup of corn

Directions:

  • Cut and sauté the onion and garlic until golden brown (I used coconut oil).

  • Cut the squash into small pieces and sauté with the onions and garlic mix.

  • Let it cool
  • Place the veggie mix in a blender and add the broth, mix well.
  • Pour the veggie mix into a pot and add all other ingredients.
  • Upon serving squeeze limes.

The recipe is so simple and the taste is spot on, where I failed was in the texture and presentation departments. The yogurt curdled and although the soup looked a little unappetizing, it was so tasty.

Do you guys have any tips on how to incorporate yogurt into soups without the added pleasure of curdling? Write me in the comments to let me know.

To be fair, this was my first ever attempt at making squash soup and first ever attempt at making soup using yogurt.

Lena Alaw

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