As a lot of you already know, lately I’ve been struggling with my 2 year old’s nutrition. The other day I posted a snarky Facebook update at 2 am in an exhausted frustration after denying my child an alternate dinner in a (desperate) attempt to get him to be less picky. The result of my firm line of parenting is that he was wide awake screeching he was hungry! We had a banana snack around 2:30 am and although he went back to bed, I lay awake until after 5 am pondering what to do.
I’ve been kind of at a loss- since we are gluten and mostly dairy free, we don’t have a lot of go-to convenience foods. I don’t have a lot of money for over-priced gluten free pre-made meals from the natural food store and since I really feel eating healthy and all natural is important, I’ve just embraced this time in my life. My sweet, healthy boys are worth the frustration, time and experimenting.
After watching several documentaries on the meat industry, eating healthy, all natural meats is so important to me that I’d rather just not eat meat at all than eat some of the overly processed meats we find in most super markets. I’m not perfect and we do occasionally eat meats I’d rather not (OK, I love summer sausage!), but 95% of the time I only purchase grass-fed beef and smart chicken. I’m fortunate enough to get free venison from my in-laws and I’ve incorporated that into a lot of our meals as well. Sometimes Ben looks at me like I’m crazy about how picky I am about meats. This is an area I really don’t compromise a lot on, I feel like eating Smart Chicken is a much safer choice than other chicken because the chicken is raised without antibiotics, is all natural and grain fed. I’m not sure I understand what the “air-chilled” difference is, but the fact that they don’t plump up their chicken with added water or broth is also huge to me. Overall, I feel that the Smart Chicken just has a better taste and texture than other chicken and I feel at peace serving it to my family.
In order to compromise some of what I love (lean meats and lots of fresh produce) with some of what Bug loves, (chicken and tomatoes- which to ME is a fruit- as well as noodles) I came across a recipe I wanted to try- and basically modified the whole thing. But what is cooking without inspiration? So, thank you to Smart Chicken’s surprisingly amazing recipe page!
I went to my local Harps to do my shopping and was impressed as I usually am with their great healthy foods section. Their bulk section has gotten bigger and their prices are competitive with the natural health food store I’ve shopped at in the past. I was able to find all the ingredients I needed for this recipe easily and was excited that their selection of all natural and organic produce. The fact that it’s employee owned is just another reason I like it. Check out the rest of my shopping trip with my crazy boys making it memorable here.
As modified my me. *Original recipe by Kevin Shinn, Chef , Bread & Cup, Lincoln, Nebraska
*1 to 2 pounds Smart Chicken legs or thighs (I got boneless for simplicity’s sake)
*6 teaspoons coconut oil (I love coconut oil!)
*1 small purple onion, diced
*5 cloves garlic, minced
*28 ounces canned, crushed tomatoes with basil (I really wanted a basil flavor, regular tomatoes work too)
*14 ounce fire roasted canned tomatoes
*3/4 cup minced broccoli
*3/4 cup minced carrots
*3 stalks celery, minced
*1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
*1 teaspoon black pepper and salt
*1 tsp. garlic and celery salt
Preheat oven to 350°F
Heat 6 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet or sauté pan. Season the chicken with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and place skin-side down in hot oil until lightly brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, mince the veggies. I used my favorite Pampered Chef veggie chopper and this only took about 2 minutes. Turn each piece of chicken over and brown for another 3 to 4 minutes then put in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
After the chicken is done browning, prepare the tomato sauce. In the same skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and the rest of the veggies (I learned from my sneaky chef cookbook that tomato sauce hides a lot of different flavors so I added as many as I thought I could get away with…) and cook in the remaining oil for about 3 minutes until the veggies are soft. Add tomatoes and basil and cook until simmering. I admit here I added a bit of garlic and celery salt but then used salt and pepper mainly because I really wanted to bring out the basil flavors.
Carefully ladle hot tomato sauce over chicken. Bake uncovered for 35-45 minutes or until chicken pulls apart easily. (The internal temperature of the chicken should register 165°F. Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes.)
I made my favorite Bob’s Red Mill Quinoa. I cooked it in a vegan chicken broth for a savory, delicious grain side and perfect to serve the above meal with! In order to compromise here, I was going to make some noodles to serve this over just in case Bug didn’t feel like eating the quinoa. I also planned on adding a bit of cheese on top of that to make it a little more visually appealing.
He loved it and I loved that he ate something actually good for him. He was really interested in the quinoa and actually asked to try this while I was photographing it! He didn’t love the quinoa but did love the chicken and tomatoes. Noodles for the next meal! Have a lovely weekend!
I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® #CBias #SocialFabric” As always, I blog with integrity and all of these thoughts and opinions are my own.
Getting back into shape is hard, especially with it being colder outside and my body naturally requesting a second bowl of cheesy chili with Fritos… or Halloween Candy… and I could go on and on here. I love to eat and honestly feel like I’m hungry more often when it’s colder. As I learn to eat less as I’m exercising regularly, a little help occasionally is a great thing and that’s why I was excited to try Full Core again.
I first heard about Full Core a few months ago and was actually able to try it out- it’s a great alternative to soda which is my biggest weakness! It meets that “bubbly” craving I have but without the high fructose corn syrup and without terrible for you artificial sweeteners. Also, it has over 40% of your daily needs for fiber… so it FILLS YOU UP. One thing I checked out before trying it was what retailers carried it, because you can tell a lot about a product by what stores carry it. A lot of the stores were all-natural grocery stores or supplement stores so that reassured me that it was a quality product and not an unhealthy, “gimicky” product that promises a ton of awesome results but actually supplies no real health benefit.
The time I tried a Full Core I had it during my weakest time unintentionally … around 2-3pm when I want Dr. Pepper and chips or something crunchy and then just don’t stop. I was shocked at how full and alert I felt the whole afternoon and into the evening without drinking any caffeine. In fact, I felt so full that I wasn’t even hungry and had to make myself eat a light dinner. It seemed a little too good to be true so I decided to keep a journal of how I felt this time around and how the product affected me, if at all.
Shopping for it was super easy- I liked how the online store was laid out, it was very clear and easy to find what I wanted. Check out the Full Core page here and check out my whole shoppping trip here. I clicked on the amount I wanted, put it in my shopping cart and then quickly purchased it. I felt reassured because there was a phone number that I could call if I had questions. I am NOT a regular online shopper unless it’s Amazon or takes Paypal because I am a cautious person- seeing the phone number where I could talk to a HUMAN helped me take that last step to purchase! The package was shipped the same day I ordered it and I received it within 2 days.
Day 1: Tasted good and the Full Core did actually meet that “fizzy drink” craving I have every afternoon. I had already had a Dr. Pepper earlier (Ruh-Roh) and I think that it was a bad idea that I started this on Friday because I was going out to dinner later after a Girl’s Night at the NWA Boutique Show. I wasn’t hungry, as expected, but I ate automatically when I fed the kids around 5. My portion, however, was a little smaller than usual at that time, but later that night when I had some chips and salsa (and a margarita) I probably still ate a lot of calories because it just tasted so good.
Day 3: Wow. I had no idea how much I ate even when I wasn’t hungry!!! I’ve started to notice that especially while I’m cooking. I season to taste usually so I am constantly snacking but then get myself a pretty large portion in addition for dinner. Anytime the kids wanted a snack, I’d have a bite of whatever they were eating even though I wasn’t hungry. This was kind of a surprise and I realized that for me, I really needed focus on my constant eating habits- on trying to recognize my actual hunger cues and not just boredom snack.
Also, I can’t believe how awake I have felt, even as I was writing this entry. It’s almost 10pm and I feel alert- and I have been drinking a lot LESS caffeine! It’s a true awake feeling, nothing chemical or fake, I feel pretty great! Even Ben noticed a big difference in my energy levels and said he wanted to try a Full Core drink. I’m not sure that I want to share…
Day 5: I was told that my cat might not make it yesterday and that pretty much devastated me. He has shown signs of being sick so we took him to the vet and he said there is a very small chance that he might make it. He is on a medication and we are just waiting. This might sound a bit trite here, but honestly I drank a Full Core around noon because my tendency is to nervously eat when I’m stressed and I didn’t want to do that. Unfortunately, all of this happened on Ben’s birthday so in between crying over my cat, I made a huge pot of made-from-scratch soup and made-from-scratch cupcakes for his birthday- partly to distract myself- but also I didn’t want his birthday ruined, even over a very much loved cat. I ended up emotionally eating some cake batter (sugar cookie cupcake batter… who can blame me?!) … but the awareness that I was emotionally eating was crazy. I feel like I’ve made a lot of insights into who I am as a person and how I cope with stress this week. Full Core came at a weird time but a good one. I feel for the first time in control of what I’m eating, rather than just thinking of a next snack or meal.
Day 7: I’m at the end of my first week with Full Core and I liked it! It has a taste like Sprite or 7-up, but it’s more subtle and less sugary. I’m pretty excited that I have enough to drink it for 2 more weeks before re-ordering. I started to have a Dr. Pepper craving so I grabbed the last day’s Full Core. I really want to try to stay off sodas as much as possible- they are so unhealthy and are seriously my biggest weakness. My cat is stable and started eating again so I’m encouraged both in body and in mind.
So, what did I think overall?
I was surprised and pleased with Full Core. At first I felt that this was a nice thing to try but it probably wouldn’t be a part of my regular diet because the cans are between $2-3 each and on my small food budget that is a big chunk! But, as the week went on I realized how much less I was eating overall. I wasn’t constantly snacking on food, I ate less at mealtimes and the food went a lot further! I enjoyed having hunger control and during this week I stopped drinking all caffeine except a morning cup which is HUGE for me. Like, HUGE HUGE. I knew that I wanted to make a change health wise but honestly felt I couldn’t. Not feeling hungry helped me think and plan what I was going to eat instead of just grabbing whatever was quick and easy. I actually lost 6lbs (!!!) during this time which is helping me on my goal to losing 25 lbs! I can’t say that this product will work for everyone, because it may not, I think that there is a diet for everyone that works for them but I think that I was ready for a change and Full Core helped me on my way.
“I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Full Core. #StopSnacking #CBias #SocialFabric. If you know ME, however, you know that all my opinions are 110% my own!”