Real + Menu

I am just as guilty as the next person for only showing off my highlight reel on Instagram/Facebook. Every now and then, there is a picture of a mad or crying child, but at least one of the two looks great, so I post it anyway. We all scroll through looking at the best of the best that got chosen to be shared with the masses. Inevitably we compare our everyday life to these highlights. We wonder how we can capture a moment like that, why didn’t we think of that outfit, why didn’t we think to go there, why can’t we go there…etc. Like a child learning to crawl then walk, babble then talk life comes in stages or seasons. Some seasons are easy and others feel like they will never end.

The season of life that I find myself in feels hard. It could be the time of year or hormones…who knows. The holidays and hunting season are upon us and there is no time to escape and slow things down. All the activities are fun and a hassle at the same time. I want to do the cute treat bags and homemade cookies. I plan, I buy ahead, I start two days early. Then something happens. Something always seems to happen lately.

I decided to keep this past Sunday morning laid back in an effort to not add more stress to myself. I laid in the bed with Anderson until he could not stand to lay still anymore. He had climbed into the bed with me when Josh left to go hunting. He is an early riser, so there really is never any sleeping-in happening around here. If you want extra sleep in our house, you had better go to bed extra early.

I thought we could be lazy and eat breakfast together. Get in some good quality time, before I needed to start my meal prepping. Scarlett woke up and the three of us sat at the island, talking and eating a little breakfast. Anderson brought in some toys to the kitchen, which turned into nearly all the toys in the kitchen. Scarlett wanted no part of it. She decided she needed to be extra clingy. My grand idea to have quality time and not immediately start my meal prep resulted in one of the most stressful Sundays of cooking.

Meal prepping is not fancy, in fact it’s extra messy and stressful.
I tried everything to make it go smoothly, but my hip-loving child was not interested in anything other than being attached to me.

Lately, it feels as if there is always a catch, something that doesn’t quite play out like you want it to. Even Halloween. It was supposed to pour Halloween night, there wasn’t going to be the slightest chance to trick-or-treat, so we went the day before just in case. One child hated their costume and the other loves Halloween just as much as Christmas. Spoiler-alert, it didn’t rain.

All the planning and preparation was for nothing. I was still up late stuffing bags, rolling out cookies while the kids were in the tub, due to trick-or-treating coming a day early. No down-time. Eating my hard-as-ever meal prepped food at 9 o’clock. Josh made the comment that he hopes our children appreciate the little things I do to make their gifts special as they get older. Honestly, I doubt they do. They will likely appreciate it once it stops and they are much older and that is okay.

Honestly, it is my own fault. I put all of these extra things on myself. I created these loving children that love to be held by their mama and hold her hair, no matter the situation. I put the expectation of homemade cookies and cute treat bags on myself. No one asks me to meal prep or make things “extra”. I like to do those things, so I must deal with the consequences. Beyond that I am a planner and habitual list maker. I like for things to be organized and love a schedule. It is a great quality to have…someone has to be the ringmaster, but it can lead to a lot of frustration. Things do not always (really never) work out exactly as you envision and you either know how to roll with the punches or you don’t.

Laundry and a book, why not. Multitasking at its finest.

I don’t know about you, but I can only take so many mishaps until I need a break. I practice a lot of self-talk while I work out and try to do the same thing when I get upset. I don’t fly off the handle easily, I am not one of those overly emotional-hysterical kind of people. Usually, I am extra quiet when I am upset, trying to think things through and decide how I need to react or if I am just being ridiculous. For Josh this is frustrating. He would rather me flip-out and yell (then promptly get over it) than sit quietly. It is just how I am. I am a thinker, not a freak-outer.

I don’t like to talk things out when I can’t say exactly why I am upset and pinpoint the issue or when the issue is not fixable. Most men are fixers, they aren’t talkers. Josh is definitely a fixer. If I am going to talk to him about an issue, it should be something he can fix. Irrational emotions aren’t something that can just be fixed. What is the point of bringing up an issue that seems to have no resolution?

The point is, you aren’t carrying around the weight of your feelings alone. You aren’t harboring all these emotions on your own. I had been praying and thinking, trying my best to figure out what the heck was wrong with me and asking for that weight to be lifted. I prayed so hard, that I cried in church about it. I prayed at supper about it one night while Josh was hunting and my sweet child began to ask God to help his mommy in his own prayers (sweetest thing I had ever heard).

The days felt particularly hard and long, and I finally told Josh that I felt like I was in an emotional funk, which caught him off-guard. I couldn’t really explain how I felt, which made him worry (a lot) and want to fix the funk even more. Sometimes it is hard to explain how you feel, because how you feel doesn’t make sense and has no legitimate reasoning. It is just a funk. Things just pile up and don’t go as planned, repeatedly. Everyone needs a break and needs someone to lean on. You can’t just go about life alone, even if you are the ringmaster. Everyone needs a break from all the responsibility and tedious chores that must get done.

Once I got my feelings off my chest, nothing changed. Life kept on going, but I felt so much better just admitting that I was in this place. I felt so much better admitting that I wasn’t holding it all together and letting things just roll off my back like usual. I was letting it all pile on and weigh me down and it was effecting me mentally and emotionally. Having someone to vent to, no matter the outcome can make a world of difference. Holding things in does not make the situation easier for you, it only adds to the frustration of life. Talking about things might not make the issue go away, but it might just make you feel better and make others aware of your state of mind.

New Food Review

Cream of Mushroom Soup with Garlic Herbed Breadcrumbs

I absolutely loved this dish. I wasn’t able to get the same noodles that I had planned to. I think the grocery store has quit carrying them, so I am going to have to order them online now. I used a different egg noodle and it worked out fine, I just had a lot less pasta then I would have had. I did not particularly care for the extra mushrooms on top of the soup. I would rather have something crunchy like bacon, not mushy mushrooms. Josh loved the dish as well, so I will be making this again soon. The macros weren’t horrible, but there was definitely a lot of calories from the milk, butter, and cheese.

Make sure you take a look back at last week to see the changes I made to the dish to make it more macro friendly.


Hamburgers+ Sweet Potato Fries

Dan Dan Noodles

Pappardelle Bolognese + A Lot Of Veggies

Back Strap + Ginger Roasted Pumpkin + Quinoa Salad

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Casserole

Hamburgers + Sweet Potato Fries

Hamburgers will never go out of style and can be healthy if you don’t smother them in cheese, bacon, and mayonnaise. When I track my hamburger I weigh out my meat after it has cooked. This is controversial in the world of tracking food, but I think that it makes sense. The fat is going to cook out of the meat, so I don’t actually end up eating all of the fat that is cooked out.

I am going to add some sweet potato fries with the hamburgers. It is going to add a good bit of carbs so make sure you pick a low-carb bun or opt for a lettuce wrap. I usually don’t have a side to go with the hamburgers, but I love oven-roasted sweet potato fries and the kids will eat them too!

*Changes I make to meet my macros

80/20 meat 
Brioche buns 
Heirloom tomatoes 
Yellow mustard 

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
*spray olive oil 
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
fine sea salt, to taste 

Dan Dan Noodles

I have never made these noodles before but I feel confident that it will be good. I am concerned about the amount of fat that will be in this dish. It is likely to have a lot of calories with the oil, peanut butter/tahini, hoisin, etc. All of these things add so much flavor but are packed full of calories.

I am going to lower the amount of pretty much everything and see where that puts me with my macros. Usually, when I change the amounts it does not sacrifice the taste. Sometimes I worry that I will change the dish completely, but so far I have not hated the changes that I have made as far as taste is concerned. Make sure if you are counting macros that you weigh everything out. Play around with the amounts in your servings before you eat it!

I will do a review of this dish next week and let you know what I think.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons sesame oil
*1/4 cup
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or smashed
1-2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
*1/3 cup
1/4 cup hoisin sauce (make sure to use GF, if needed)
1 tablespoon honey
*1 ounce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
*4 tablespoons
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter or tahini
*1-2 tablespoons
8 ounces Chinese style egg noodles, or rice noodles
*carba-nada garlic fetticine noodles
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 pound ground chicken or pork
*chopped cooked chicken breast
2 cups mixed mushrooms, chopped
black pepper
1 medium shallot, chopped
4 green onions, chopped 
*add in matchstick carrots

Pappardelle Bolognese + A Lot Of Veggies

This sounds super fancy, can’t say whether I pronounce it correctly or not…but from looking at the ingredients it is similar to the spaghetti sauce that I make, but with more vegetables in it. I am going to use spaghetti squash instead of noodles to have a low-carb option for this week.

I am hoping it will be similar to the sauce I already make, but I am curious to see how it tastes with all the vegetables added in.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

4 tablespoons olive oil
*spray olive oil 
2 large carrots
*12-14 ounces 
2 large zucchini
2 stalks celery
1 onion
2 cloves garlic 
1 large handful parsley, chopped
1 cup red wine or use water
500 grams beef mince ,not super lean
*80/20 ground beef or leaner
700 ml tomato passata
*tomato puree 
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 large springs of thyme
2 strips lemon zest
pappardelle and parmesan to serve 
*reduced fat parmesan cheese
*Spaghetti Squash

Back Strap + Ginger Roasted Pumpkin + Quinoa Salad

I have not made this salad for a very long time. Usually, I make it with sweet potatoes or butternut squash if pumpkin is not in season. It is so, so, so good. Don’t question the roasted pumpkin, just make it! I know most people don’t roast pumpkin. They buy the canned pumpkin and throw it into a cheesecake. I can appreciate pumpkin cooked that way too, but this is one of my all-time favorite salads for the cooler months of the year.

In the past, I have been made this into a bowl, by just adding in chicken or pork loin chops. I am going to be eating it as a side this time.

I use a sugar-free syrup and honestly, you can’t tell the difference especially since it is in the dish and not the main ingredient. The last time I made this with butternut squash per serving (without chicken) it was 4 servings for 264 calories, 4.9 grams of protein, 35.7 grams of carbohydrates, and 7 grams of fat. This time I won’t use any olive oil, so it should lower the calories a little bit.

The amount of quinoa you use can be (should) be based on how many carbs you need for that day. Likewise, the amount of servings you make for this salad depends on how many carbohydrates you can afford to eat that day. 1 cup of quinoa prepared is about 40 grams of carbs. I would not use an entire cup of quinoa for this. If you want to ditch it altogether, I would recommend using arugula instead.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Back Strap or lean cut of steak 
Preffered Seasoning 

1kg piece pumpkin
*1 medium cooking pumpkin
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
*1 inch piece
2 green or red chillies, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
*Lemon juice
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
*1 tablespoon sugar-free syrup
a handful of finely chopped coriander (cilantro) roots and stems, optional
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (185g) quinoa
*1/2 cup prepared per salad 
1 1/2 cups (375ml) water 
The juice of two limes (or large lemon)
a good handful each of fresh mint and coriander (cilantro) leaves
toasted pumpkin (pepita) seeds
*omit seeds

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Casserole

The last time I made this, it was solely for my husband. I am NOT a casserole girl. I don’t like the idea of all the mayonnaise and cream of whatever people typically use in casseroles. This recipe has neither, so I am excited to give it a try. He is a true lover of casseroles with all mayonnaise and cream of whatever though. I put my own spin on this and it turned out to be so great and healthy! I was so surprised, I am probably looking forward to this meal the most.

This was not easy to track because it is all mixed together. There is no way that each piece cut will have the same amount of chicken or cheese. It will be precise on the macros but the slices themselves won’t be 100%.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
*spray olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
*10-20 ounces baby carrots sliced
1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons salted butter
*1 tablespoon
1 1/2 cups basmati or jasmine rice
*1 cup jasmin 
1/2 cup dry orzo pasta (use gluten free, if needed)
2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for topping
3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
*2 cups
3 cups broccoli florets, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less to taste
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup whole milk or canned coconut milk
*light coconut milk 
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese 

E N J O Y !

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