Archive for the ‘Lunch’ Category

I continue to refer to my toddler as a picky eater, but in reality I can honestly say I think most toddlers are picky.  As babies they happily ate up most anything you put in front of them.  As babies, everything is new, some new exciting texture, taste, and smell.  As toddlers, they realize they have their own personalities, their own likes and dislikes.  Anyone with a toddler will tell you they are hardheaded, strong willed.  My toddler would personally live off graham crackers and milk all day every day if I gave him the ability to choose. 

 

I find myself often times frustrated at his lack of desire to try different things.  Toddlers like routine, and change is a hard concept.  For some it’s harder than others.  “They” say that toddlers take up to 3-4 times of seeing something new on their plate to try it.  Who is “they” anyways?  And “they” clearly haven’t tried feeding my picky eater.  So, being the creative mama I am I watched my sons eating habits, focused on things he liked and didn’t like.  He prefers to drink his food; he loves “shakey’s” also known as milk with some sort of protein powder.  He loves his milk, and prefers to drink his food rather than eat.  Who can really blame him, drinking takes less time than sitting down to eat, and his little busy mind has things to do and places to see!

I was worried he wasn’t in taking enough healthy calories because of his inability to try new things.  Some days it seemed like he would only eat a bite of bread and maybe 4 goldfish and call it a day.  I talked to his pediatrician who said he was thriving, and growing so to try not to worry, and continue to offer him healthy meals.  Out of desperation and frustration I started making him smoothies and shakes.  The options are really endless, with different fruits, juices, milk, almond milk, you name it.  He also is at the age where he loves to help.  Mixing and pouring can keep him busy for hours, so I put him to work helping to pour different fruits, milk, and juices into the blender.

I purchase a sugar free vanilla, or chocolate protein powder to add some healthy calories into his smoothies and shakes.  There are so many different options but I’d like to share a few of our favorite recipes below. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 scoop chocolate protein powder (or sugar-free carnation instant breakfast)

1 tbsp peanut butter (if your child is allergic you of course would want to skip this)

½ banana

Mix all ingredients, and enjoy!

 

Another staple smoothie in our house is:

Berry Smoothie

1 cup milk

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (or vanilla carnation instant breakfast)

½ cup mixed berries

¼ fresh spinach

Mix all ingredients, and enjoy!

 

Like I mentioned above, options are really endless.  You can use mango, strawberries, add a teaspoon of cinnamon.  Experiment, and let your children experiment with you as well.  And most importantly enjoy these special moments with your children, they go much to fast!

As moms we are known as multi-taskers, the ones who can do it all.  The other day I was trying to juggle my children as I paid for 10 items that I somehow crammed into my kid free hand.  Mumbling to myself I said, “Not sure why I didn’t grab a cart,” the young boy bagging up my items smiled at me and said “moms can do it all, right?”  Well as much as moms would like to be able to do it all, we can’t.  We are only human. 

One important aspect of being a mom is providing your children with healthy meals, and the nutrition they need to grow.  Let’s check back into reality for a moment, feeding your kids healthy food isn’t only expensive, but it can be time consuming, and then there are those children (my son included) who would rather feast on chocolate and graham crackers all day.  Too many healthy articles on line to choose from and the fact that it’s much easier to stick to a routine recipe than it is trying to juggle the demands of your children all the while attempting to create the newest, healthiest dinner masterpiece make it seem easier to just stick to quick microwaveable food.  Not only that, but sometimes there is that recipe that just fails; plain and simple.  Or it may be exceptionally tasty, but your kids dry heave at the sight. 

Chicken tenders, pizza, carbs, carbs, carbs seem to be a favorite in my house.  I however, realize living off carbs isn’t probably the healthiest meal plan for my children.  So instead I secretly sneak things into their muffins, their breads, you name it I’ve hidden it.  Usually it goes completely unnoticed. 

I would like to share an absolute favorite in my house.  First of all, what child doesn’t like pizza?  Secondly, what child doesn’t like to help make pizza with their mama’s?  Kid’s like to help in the kitchen, so I put mine to work!  It can be fun to have them help choose the toppings of their choice (within reason of course, chocolate chips are not an option in this case).  Rather than use regular pizza dough I’m going to share a family favorite using Naan bread for a healthier alternative to pizza.

 

My children absolutely love this, and it is so simple and easy to make.  There are endless options with toppings of your choosing.  You can choose different cheeses, make your own pizza sauce, or take the busy mom’s route, and purchase sugar free pizza sauce.  Your choice!  I personally use either Trader Joes brand, or Ragu light no sugar added.  The less sugar the better in my household.

What you will need:

Naan Bread

Sugar Free Pizza Sauce

Low-Fat Mozzarella cheese

Pureed spinach

And lastly, toppings of your choice.

Not only are these exceptionally simple to make, but very affordable.  In our household we usually make two pizzas.  I puree about a cup of fresh spinach.  Frozen is okay too.  I mix that into about a cup of the pizza sauce.  Like I said earlier, hiding veggies is the key to getting your picky toddler to eat their greens without fuss.  I spread the sauce with the spinach puree over the Naan bread.  My family isn’t too big on sauce so we spread a thin layer.  We then sprinkle with cheese.  Add some olives and pineapples to the top and put it in the oven on 425 for 10-15 minutes. 

Another favorite in our household is using turkey pepperoni found in most deli sections of the grocery store.  This recipe is not only quick, and simple but exceptionally affordable for families looking for healthier meal options within a budget.

 

 

Healthy Alternative to Deep Fried Chicken Fingers

You Will Need:

1lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced diagonally into strips
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk, or (1/2 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice added and let curdle for 1 minute) 
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup crushed corn flakes, or crushed Ramen Noodles
1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 tsp powdered garlic
1/2 tsp dry oregano
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp canola oil

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, drizzle canola oil over bottom of a shallow baking pan. Pour buttermilk (or milk/lemon juice) and egg mixture into gallon sized Ziploc bag, and add the sliced chicken breast. Seal bag, removing as much air as possible, and refrigerate it for 15-20 minute, while you mix the dry ingredients.

Combine corn flakes or crushed Ramen, breadcrumbs, garlic, oregano, and pepper in another Ziploc bag. After chilled, remove the chicken strips from the wet mixture bag and drop them into the dry bag, shaking and turning the bag over to coat the strips completely, “shake n bake style”.

Arrange the strips, evenly spaced, on the oil-drizzled pan, and bake on center rack for 5 minutes, then flip and bake for another 5 minutes. For crispier fingers, bake for slightly longer, or increase oven temp slightly.

Serve the fingers with a light ranch dressing, or ketchup, for a healthier alternative to their deep fried counterparts.The chicken offers almost 50% of your daily protein needs in just one serving, according to a similar recipe from Food.com, and the Omega-3 fatty acids in cholesterol- free canola oil, just a tablespoon a day,has been shown to reduce the risk of America’s deadliest cancer, colon cancer, in men and women.

This recipe contains almost all of my family’s favorite meal items into one dish, and was super easy to make, and can also be easily adapted to suit certain tastes and levels of pickiness. (I like the Hunt’s with Basil, Garlic and Oregano, but accidentally opened the plain kind for this recipe, it’s good either way)

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast

**************************************************
You Will Need:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, lightly tenderized
1 large handful of baby spinach leaves, makes 1-1/4 cups chopped
1 cup of finely grated cheddar cheese (1/4 of it set aside)
1 can diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Pam cooking spray
8X8 Glass baking dish
Cutting board
Sharp knife

Preheat your oven to 375*F and spray the bottom of your baking dish with a very light coat of Pam, (it helps to remove the baked on bits of cheese when you wash later!) Rinse the baby spinach under fresh clean water and I like to remove the stems, but you don’t have to. Arrange your spinach leaves into a small pile and chop them until they are in uniform thumb-nail size pieces. In a large mixing bowl add your can of diced tomatoes, the chopped spinach, 3/4 of your cheese, and a half teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Stir until everything is throughly mixed, then cover with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge until your chicken is prepared.

To prepare your chicken, wash your hands with warm soapy water, get a clean dry cutting board, and lightly tenderize both chicken breasts with a meat mallet or your fist. Slice gently into the longest side of the breast, making a neat cut right into the center of the meat, but not too close to the top or the bottom , essentially making a pocket out of the center of the chicken. After handling the raw meat, wash your hands again.

With clean dry hands, scoop spoonfuls of the tomato cheese and chopped spinach mixture into the chicken pocket, and press down gently on the top of the chicken to squeeze out any air bubbles. Place the chicken in your glass baking dish and then top it with any extra mixture you have and finally sprinkle the last 1/4 cup of grated Cheddar on top. Finish the prep with a dash of salt and pepper on top, then put the whole thing in the oven, uncovered, for 35 minutes. I served it with some leftover fried rice from another meal, but it’s pretty filling and delicious just by itself, or perhaps with some garlic bread or a small Caesar salad. If the taste of fresh chopped spinach is too much for your sensitive tastebuds, feel free to steam the handful of leaves for 10-15 seconds until slightly wilted, but I love the texture that the freshly chopped stuff gives the meal, compared to the slightly squishy tomatoes and the juicy chicken breast.

In my research for this post, I signed up to receive a newsletter from Hunts Tomato Products, it’s chock full of special offers, tips, promotions, the occasional coupon, and recipes, all related to your local area, and you also can receive a great Mama-friendly meal idea guide called ReadySetEat, which can help you with those last minute dinner decisions. For more information you can click here. Don’t worry, in the week since I signed up, I have not received a single bit of evil Stuff Posing As Mail.

Happy Cooking!

Nothing quite like the summer, and moving meals out of the house. After a long hard day of work, or play, it’s nice to enjoy the cooler hours of the day with a family meal out on the patio, or porch, and Cajun Fried Chicken evokes all those memories, with just a few simple ingredients and almost no time at all.

Cajun Fried Chicken

What You’ll Need:
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, thawed
i cup of Unseasoned Bread Crumbs
1 Tbsp of Kosher Salt
I Tbsp Cajun Blackened Seasoning
1 cup Canola Oil
2 Eggs
Paper Towels

Trim any excess fat off of the chicken breasts and set them aside. Mix the bread crumbs, the kosher salt, and the blackened seasoning in a shallow dish, and set that aside. Heat the oil in a frying pan on med-high, so that when you drop a splash of water in the pan it sizzles for just a second and then evaporates.

Crack the two eggs into another shallow dish, and scramble them together, making sure the consistency is even, you don’t want to much egg white, it should all be one color. When your frying pan is hot, dip a chicken breast into the egg, coat it well, then quickly drop it into the bread crumbs, piling more on top. Flip the breast over in the bread crumbs than quickly transfer it to the pan, and be aware that the oil is going to jump around a little bit on you when that chicken hits it. Sizzling oil hurts, so I wouldn’t let kids help with this part.

Let your four pieces of chicken cook on the one side for between 5-8 minutes, until a golden reddish brown, then flip and cook on the other side. When the chicken is cooked through, remove the breast pieces from the pan and set them on some paper towels to drain the excess oil off and get nice and crispy.

Serve the Cajun Fried Chicken with some okra, green beans, or mashed potatoes. It’s sure to be a classic for your family in no time, and it’s pretty comparable to Popeye’s Chicken, without the hassle of going to the fast food place to get it.

Happy Cooking!

Looking for a quick and healthy dinner option?

My kids and my husband absolutely LOVE when I make this meal!

Cut chicken into small pieces (You can use left over cooked chicken if you have any. If you are using left overs, you do not need to cook it first.)

Add to pan and cook on stove top. Remove from pan and remove excess grease.

Butter 1 wrap/tortilla (I use whole wheat)

Add buttered wrap to pan over medium heat

Add chicken, pinto beans and cheese (I use cheddar) Sometimes I add cut up avacado. *Only put filling on one half of the tortilla.

Fold wrap in half. Continue to cook until wrap is brown and cheese is melted. Flip.

You can give your kids salsa or sour cream to dip their quesadilla in. I typically cut up tomatoes as well because my kids will just eat the pieces.

This recipe is easy, fun and filling. It is a healthier alternative when you are pressed for time, or when you are looking for something new and different. Aren’t you always looking for something to do with your left over grilled chicken? Enjoy~

Beef is a source of many nutrients, especially iron and “immune boosting” vitamins and minerals. The rich red color and the flavor doesn’t hurt beef’s case as one of my favorite foods. I attempted a meat-free lifestyle during my more “impressionable” teenage years, and lasted about three weeks. My family was wary but respectful of my vow to never eat a cow, chicken, or pig again, and the jokes were kept to a minimum as I opted for steamed broccoli and bean sprouts instead of the usual steak and chicken wings. Needless to say I lost a little bit of my baby fat, but  my love for meat, instead of being erased by my veggie-friendly phase, was only intensified. A random trip to Burger King with a boyfriend stopped my meatless vow in its tracks, simply because of the reason that we sat in the drive thru, smelling all of the Whoppery-goodness that is emitted from Burger King around the lunch rush. I was only going to order a milkshake and fries, but instead I ordered not one but two Whoppers Jrs, ate every wonderful bite, and never looked back.
That story, however, does not mean that my family only eats Whoppers. 🙂 As I’ve grown and matured and tried new recipes and new ideas for meals with my own family I realized that there is a reason that a cold cut sandwich rather than a Big Mac a day helped Jared from Subway lose all that weight, and endless nights of spaghetti and meatballs only looks good on the larger than life characters from Italian mafia movies.

I’ve substituted ground turkey for almost every application where ground beef is used, and it has never let me down. Sure, it looks different, and the taste isn’t exactly the same, but its when you compare nutrition levels in ground turkey to ground beef a few serious differences can be established.

  • A pound of ground turkey has up to 98% less fat than a pound of ground beef.
  • The same pound of turkey, depending on the brand, has around 70 milligrams of sodium per serving, while the beef could have three four or even ten times that amount.
  • If you’ve never browned ground turkey in a pan before, check out a YouTube video or a Food Network show where they do just that, and look at the incredible difference in the amount of fat that comes oozing out of ground beef, even the leanest ground beef, as compared to turkey.

Flavor is the only level of comparison, in my eyes that turkey suffers. Some might say that turkey cooks up dry, but that depends on the level of heat that you hit it with and for how long. Flavor on the other hand is where turkey is a lot like tofu. It’s easily flavored, but does not tend to lend it’s own flavor to cooked dishes , unless it is the main focus of a dish, like a giant roast turkey.

[Roasting a Turkey Will Be a Post Next Month!]

Beef has more flavor because of the fat, something to keep in mind for the rest of your meal choices.

This post was more of an experiment, rather than a meal choice, but it turned out really well and I think the pictures really define my point in this post, so here we go!

I swapped turkey for ground beef, and used the turkey with a box of “Hamburger Helper ‘Beef Pasta’”, to see if a major difference could be noticed by the members of my family, who were not notified of the switch. I didn’t change anything in the recipe on the back of the box, except for the swap of the main ingredient.

I’m going to take a moment to say that I know that Hamburger Helper offers plenty of more “turkey friendly” options, but the use of the Hamburger Helper, particularly a beef complimenting one, was for scientific purposes.

If you‘d like to follow along, YOU WILL NEED:
A Box of Hamburger Helper, any flavor
1 pound of ground turkey (
I like Jennie-O ground turkey, it’s breast meat, all natural, turkeys are raised humanely and cage free, and the product doesn’t contain any artificial flavorings or ingredients. Usually available near the poultry items at your local grocery store!)
1 tablespoon minced onion
2 cups of very hot water
1 cup of 1% or 2% milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of oil
Large frying pan or skillet with a lid

Something worth mentioning here is that I never freeze any ground turkey that I buy. If I buy it I use it within the next three days, because I think that turkey that has been previously frozen tends to cook up drier than turkey that I don’t have to defrost.

Heat the oil and minced onion over medium heat in your pan,  and break up the ground turkey, adding it to the pan when hot. This is the first major difference, other than appearance, that you will notice about ground turkey compared to beef. It falls apart,  with very few “sticky” fat and tendon bonds to keep it together, so be careful when adding it to the pan or it might end up on the floor.

Turkey does not “brown” like beef either. It turns a ghostly white, which was one of the reasons I used a slightly darker colored “Helper” to disguise it. Continue to cook the ground turkey until it is just about almost cooked through, and a little bit of the original pink color still shows. If you cook it till it’s completely white, it will be dry.

Add the hot water, milk, noodles and the seasoning packet, stir to combine all the ingredients, and turn the heat down to medium low.

Let the noodles and turkey simmer, covered,  for 10 minutes or so, until the noodles are cooked through.  Serve with a microwaveable veggie for a quick, easy, nutritious and complete meal that goes from the box to the table in less than fifteen minutes.

The Result? No major noticeable difference. Sure, the texture is a little off, but the flavor is just about the same. Kid’s don’t notice it, and adults usually don’t care enough to differentiate the meat substance in Hamburger Helper. Makes the meal with 90%-ish  less fat! Use fat free milk and you’ve cut the fat to almost 5% of the original ground beef version. Final meal might not be as creamy though, with fat free milk, so fair warning.

Another note about the nutrition of this meal: A lot of Mom’s say that the large amounts of sodium in prepared Hamburger Helper prevents them from making it often, but remember that a lot of the sodium comes from the ground beef, and that  when you make it with turkey you can use only half of the seasonings packet and still get the great taste your family likes.

Other meals that I can say I’ve tried (and succeeded) with ground turkey:

Tacos: YUMMY
Burgers: Yummy, but need an egg mixed in with the meat, to keep them together
Spaghetti: YUMMY, and great texture
Sheperd’s Pie: Yummy
Meatloaf: YUMMY, (especially using my Mom’s meatloaf recipe, which will be another post next month!)

Happy Cooking!

Easy to make and kid friendly, potato salad doesn’t have to be regulated to the picnic table anymore. With a little bit of preparation this summer classic can be an elegant and flavorful dinner side, or even the main centerpiece of a buffet table. with just a little bit of preparation and a lot of kid friendly ingredients, you can make your a kiddo-friendly dish that will appeal to adults as well. I’ve included a family recipe for the Greek Potato Salad, and after I’ve compiled a list of potato salad recipes that are a bit more advanced then just potatoes, dill weed and mayo.

Greek Potato Salad

1-½ pounds of Potatoes, peeled or unpeeled
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
1 small sweet onion, sliced thin
½ cup black olives,  sliced
2 tablespoons capers
¼ tsp cred pepper flakes
½ Tbsp dried oregano
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
1-½ cup crumbled Feta cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place sliced potatoes in a large pot, and bring to a boil, then add salt to taste. Boil the potatoes on medium heat until just barely tender, but not too soft, you don’t want mashed potato salad. Drain the potatoes and allow them to cool enough that you can touch them, then slice them into ½” cubes.

Put the cubed potatoes into a large bowl, and add every ingredient except the oil and the oregano. Mix the ingredients thoroughly. Then drizzle the oil over the top of the mixture and sprinkle the oregano as well. Toss the entire mix until everything is well coated, and then serve. This recipe is a great source of protein, with 9 grams of it.

If you would like a creamier potato salad, instead of the slightly dry Greek recipe, add a ½ cup of sour cream or mayonnaise to the bowl and mix it in well.


Mix up your menu with these tasty and different recipes.

Roasted New Potato Salad With Olives

Tex-Mex Potato Salad

Prosciutto Potato Salad

Wine Marinated Potato Salad

Red Chile Gorgonzola Potato Salad

Its been proven by just about every kid out there, chicken nuggets are a huge favorite to anyone who has teeth. Even the pickiest eater usually has an affinity for the breaded, baked or fried snack. They go with anything, from corn on the cob to mashed potatoes, and the high levels of protein and good amounts of nutrition that come in the neat and easily edible package make them a quick and easy meal choice that moms everywhere can benefit from. From Tyson to McDonalds, nearly every major food preparation service makes some kind of chicken nugget. Lets take a look at where the chicken nugget came from, and then some recipes on how to make your own!

The History of the Chicken Nugget:

The chicken nugget was created at Cornell University, by Robert C. Baker, in the 1950’s. He oringinally published the creation as a medical journal entry, and his processes for the creation of the nugget allowed the chicken nugget to be made in any shape possible. McDonalds started selling their version of the chicken nugget in 1980, a Tyson chicken product that came in a 5 nugget package. Info culled from Wikipedia.

How are They Made?

Chicken nuggets can be created in a variety of ways, but the most common way is to blend different cuts of chicken, mince it into a paste, then press it into nugget form, and bread the nuggets with a variety of ingredient, usually containing flour, spices, and sometimes even corn meal. The product is then flash frozen and sealed into bags with other nuggets, shipped to sellers, than purchased by moms like us or restaurants, and are either deep fried or baked til golden and crunchy.

For a slightly derogatory video featuring Jamie Oliver and how chicken nuggets are made you can click HERE.

Who makes the best nuggets?

McDonald’s had a shaky history with nugget quality, but a lawsuit by a bunch of overweight kids in 2003 inspired them to revamp their recipe. Now their tasty little $1 menu delights are made of 100% white meat. Lets take a look at some of the store bought nuggets with a quick rundown of brands, quality ratings, nutrition content, and availability.

Tyson:
100% White meat chicken, can be a bit dry and lacks some of the flavor that dark/white combo chicken nuggets have, not too greasy, generally appealing to picky kids. Contains fewer preservative, stabilizers and chemicals than the average chicken nugget, but costs more obviously, per nugget.

Banquet: Made by the classic frozen dinner manufacturer, these nuggets contain both white and dark meat, and are greasier and less “pretty” than the Tyson nuggets. They do have slightly better nutritional value, but when you balance that with additives contained in the Banquet brand it comes out pretty even.

Perdue Farms: Made for such brands such as Great Value, from Walmart, Perdue nuggets are comparable to Tyson, though not as high quality. Flavor is about the same, and they do not claim to contain 100% white meat.

Chicken Nugget Alternatives?

Morningstar Farms and Boca Burger both make chicken nugget-like alternatives made from primarily soybeans and vegetable matter. I’ve never tried them personally, but based on reports from a variety of sources the flavor and texture just can’t be compared to the real thing. McDonalds even tried to offer a GardenNugget in their menu as an alternative to the chicken nuggets, but it wasnt considered popular and the product was pulled.

Variations of the Nugget?

Chicken strips are not to be confused with chicken nuggets. Chicken strips are usually white meat, pure and unadulterated portions of breast meat that are breaded and deep fried and do not require “mechanical separation” like regular processed nuggets.

Chicken fingers can be interchanged with strips, but sometimes can be made of ground up white meat, with no skin or bones included.

Boneless wings are not the same as nuggets. Usually made up of smaller chunks of white meat and sometimes marinated before breading.

Recipes for Home Made Chicken NuggetsChicken Nuggets
Baked Chicken Nuggets
Tofu Nuggets
Paula Deen’s Chicken Nuggets
Easy Shake N Bake Nuggets

Experiment at home with your kids, let them discover the joy of seasoning and prepping their favorite food. 🙂

Happy Cooking!

It’s October, which in some parts of the world means “freezing”, but here in Florida, it is my favorite time of year. It’s a beautiful 78 degrees pretty much all day, the wind is light and refreshing, and its dry enough to spend all day out on a blanket in your backyard, which is where I am currently writing this post from. Thankfully, instead of the usual chips, pretzels, cookies and snacks that I usually binge on during a picnic, I thought of the idea to create a real picnic lunch for my little boy and I , while we enjoy the nice day outside. While dreaming up these recipes I was excited about sharing them with you, especially since many of you will be having your last bit of real outside fun that doesn’t require snowsuits during this month with your pumpkin patch picking, apple picking, and maybe a last minute hike up a mountain. These snacks and meal ideas are all very healthy and don’t require much work, they are also very portable and don’t require much in the way of heating when you have reached your picnic destination.

Todays picnic meal was made up in three parts, the main meal, a yummy roasted chicken that I got from our neighborhood Publix that I prepared a little bit for easier traveling, the sides, a tasty coleslaw that is not made with mayonnaise so it doesnt spoil quite as fast (got the recipe from Cooks.com), and a family pasta salad recipe that is so easy to make even you’re kids can do it. And actually… make them do it! Get the kids involved in every bit of this meal.

We’re gonna start with the coleslaw, since that will take the most time.

PICNIC COLESLAW

YOU WILL NEED:
1-1/2 cups sugar, you can use Splenda for this recipe to cut out the calories… same taste and texture since you are boiling it down.
3/4 cup oil
1large cabbage, shredded, use a cheese grater for uniform size
2 carrots, shredded
3/4 cup of vinegar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar, oil, and salt over medium high heat. While your sauce is heating, prepare and combine your veggies in a large bowl. After the sauce has boiled for a minute or two and the sugar is completely dissolved, pour the warm mixture over the veggies and toss lightly until everything is well coated. Cover the bowl with seran wrap and chill the slaw in the fridge for at least two hours before you serve it, your veggies will be nice and crisp and the flavors will have soaked into the cabbage and carrots. Since there is no mayo in this dressing you don’t have to worry about keeping it absolutely cold while you are headed out to your picnic spot, just placing it in the cooler along with your cold drinks and a bit of ice will keep it from spoiling.

*****************************************************************************************

My family has always been big fans of Publix’s rotisserie chickens. The ease of popping in after a long day at work, grabbing a hot chicken from the deli case and smelling it the whole way home made dinner a whole lot easier for my mom, and now for me too. With several delicious flavors to choose from, BBQ, lemon pepper, or (my favorite) mojo, you can easily choose a chicken that your family will love, and since it’s already cooked, you don’t have to worry about preheating, roasting, basting, or any of the other tasks that go along with cooking a chicken. If you don’t have a Publix in your area,  try Boston Market, or usually any neighborhood grocer, since alot of supermarkets have picked up on this popular trend.

EASY CHICKEN SALAD SAMMIES

YOU WILL NEED:
1 rotisserie chicken, in the flavor of your choice
1 large french baguette, or 6 kaiser rolls
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1  medium red onion, chopped fine
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
Salt and Pepper to taste
12 large lettuce leaves

Remove as much meat as you can from the chicken, you should get roughly 3 and a half cups. Chop it into smal chunks and put aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, mustard, and fennel seed. Chop your veggies and place them in a large bowl, then drizzle the dressing over the veggies. Mix in your chicken and add salt and pepper to taste. Cut your baguette or rolls in half and place a lettuce leaf over each half. Spread salad over the lettuce leaves, wrap your sammies in plastic wrap or foil, and stack in your cooler, ready to go. The lettuce keeps the bread from getting soggy and mushy while you are traveling to your destination. The dressing for the chicken salad is just light enough to complement any flavor of chicken, and again, no mayo. ^_^It is better to have a slightly wet salad than a dry one, as the chicken will absorb the dressing while you travel.

*********************************************************************************************

THE WORLD’S EASIEST ITALIAN PASTA SALAD

YOU WILL NEED:
A box of pasta of your choice. I like the multicolored rotini, or the farfalle (bowties) for smaller bites, and I always recommend whole wheat pasta. You can use pretty much any kind of bite size pasta you like.
1 cup low fat Italian dressing
1 can italian stewed tomatoes
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced (or a teaspoon of garlic powder)
1 small can sliced black or green olives

Boil your pasta according to box directions, drain and pour it into a large Tupperware type container. Drain and mix in the cans of  stewed tomatoes and olives. Add your lemon juice to the italian dressing, as well as the garlic, then pour over everything. Cover the plastic container, make sure it is sealed completely, then hand to your closest child to shake until everything is completely mixed. Open the container, top the pasta salad with the Parmesan cheese. Put the lid back on, put it in the cooler and you are ready to go! You don’t need to chill the pasta salad unless you make it way in advance of the picnic.

   
 

If you do feel the need for a dessert, grab a couple of apples or oranges, a box of light cookies, or some yummy vanilla wafers and fat free pudding cups, or add to the fun and stop for some low fat frozen yogurt on the way home.

Bring a frisbee or a soccer ball, or even just a bottle of bubbles. Make it fun for everyone, spend a Saturday afternoon together. Grab your cooler, your red-checked blanket, pile the kids in the car and hit the road. Head out to a favorite park, or find a field somewhere, (preferably a public spot) and enjoy some of the last few days of the fall season. The holidays are right around the corner and most of us will be too busy planning, cooking, decorating, and visiting to spend quality time outdoors again until the Spring! Please remember to pack out what you bring in, and that using your silverware is just as easy and more eco-friendly as plastic forks and spoons.