Pandamonium + Menu

Corona Who?

Last Friday I went grocery shopping like I always do. I had my list of meals laid out for the week, my blog was partially finished, wrote my grocery list, and went after work like always. This past Friday was different though. All the parents in our county knew we would not be back in school for at least 2 more weeks.

I was hoping they would not find out until after school and I could sneak in before it became a madhouse. Way more people shop on Friday afternoons than you think and I like to get in and out quickly to go get my kids at a decent time. Items are already sparse at times in our local grocery store and the word of school closing did not help.

People were buying things they do not typically buy. My healthy bread, gone. My healthy tortillas, gone. Toilet paper, ALL of it gone (not that it was on my list though). Lunchmeat was down to chicken, but the joke is on them because we eat the chicken. The kids’ milk, gone too. With all the craziness I was still insistent on meal prepping and keeping that routine. I was not going to order out every day and not have a plan.

I am a planner, but also a realist. I know that this week I am going to have to be smart about the meals that I plan, to ensure that I can (and you can) get all the ingredients required. I could just throw my hands in the air, buy all the bread, lunch meat, peanut butter, jelly, toilet paper, and pretend that the world is ending. I could hoard cases and cases of water in my house like my faucet is not working and stare at my glorious stack of toilet paper or I could keep living my life in a manner that does not affect others’ health.

I do feel as if this is a serious situation, but I also feel as though people are taking this a bit too far and are losing sight of what is important. If you trust in God, then you will be fine. If you focus on the positive and praise what is good, then your life will be less stressful. I am not asking you to ignore the things that need attention or need to be fixed, but fixating on the negative will only cause more negative. Throwing yourself and others around you into a panic because you are fixated on the hysteria will only do harm. Being thankful for the things you have been blessed with will create more blessings.

I was reading a book to Scarlett, for the one hundred and tenth time, and noticed for the first time a note from the author. The note had Matthew 6:14 written under their greeting. Seeing as I don’t have the Bible memorized, I looked it up the next morning. I found the whole chapter very fitting for the situation we are facing now and thought it was divine that I happened to see it for the first time as we are dealing with the uncertainty of this virus.

30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

No matter what you believe in, I would like to think we can all agree that if you are negative about a situation, then you will only receive negative things back in your life. This chapter was a dose of medicine for me and still is because honestly, I am still a little salty because I have been frustrated with how things have been handled and the uncertainty of when things will return to normal is enough to make me mad.

I have been frustrated with how everything is put on hold, going stir-crazy sitting at home with children who are equally crazy having to stay at home, annoyed that the last bit of normalcy I had closed, uncertain with what we will eat, etc. For some laying around the house sounds great, but I am not that type of person. I can handle the laziness for a day or two, but a month is a bit too long, this first week has been too long. This is not a vacation. Going for playdates, taking the kids to the pool, walking to the park, visiting restaurants and stores…all of it is supposed to be off-limits. If we go somewhere, chances are we are going to be spending more money than necessary and with the uncertainty of things, thoughtlessly spending money is not what we need to be doing.

I am happy to say that even though there is frustration, there is also gratefulness and happiness. Every morning for the past month or so, Anderson has woken up and asked me to cuddle with him. Most mornings I am super rushed just getting back from the gym, needing to jump in the shower and get ready for work when he wakes up. Our cuddle time would be brief if at all. He would often ask me to play with him in the mornings before work and my reply would always be right after I get ready, which would never happen. I had such mom-guilt always giving him that false hope that I would have time to play after I got ready.

With this quarantine has come the opportunity to slow down, cuddle, and play. I get to soak in the last moments as a family of four before the next one arrives. I am just in the early stages of my 2nd trimester, but I know with two kids to occupy my time, these months will fly by quickly. We will soon be a busy family of five and hopefully, be back to our normal routine well before the baby arrives. We all have so much to be grateful for if we just take the time to breathe and look for the positive. Sometimes it is right in front of us and other times it takes some digging to find the silver lining.


M E N U

Hamburgers + Sweet Potato Fries

Spaghetti

Steak Fajita Bowl

Black Bean Tacos + Avocado Cilantro-Lime Sauce

Simplest Basil Zucchini Parmesan Pasta


Hamburgers + Sweet Potato Fries

I know we just had burgers last week, but after going to the grocery store and there still being a shortage of meat and lots of other essentials, we needed something that only required a few ingredients. I am a big fan of hamburgers and so are the kids, so we don’t mind the repeat over here.

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.

We don’t normally eat sweet potatoes with our burgers, because it adds a good deal of carbs and I would rather eat my bun than a lettuce wrap. The kids love sweet potatoes if you can find any good ones at the store right now, grab some and throw them in the oven for a healthy alternative to french fries.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients
Hamburgers: 
80/20 meat 
Brioche buns 
Heirloom tomatoes 
Lettuce 
Onion 
Yellow mustard 
Ketchup 
Pickles 

Fries: 
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 

Spaghetti

With the shortage of healthy meats at the store, we are digging into our freezer and using our ground deer meat. Spaghetti is an easy option for ground meat and makes a ton of food.

The spaghetti sauce I use is adapted from a bolognese lasagna sauce. It is a thicker sauce, with lots of meat and vegetables.

To make the sauce, dice the onion and bell pepper, and saute’ with the minced garlic until soft. Add the mushrooms to the pan (mushrooms are not in the lasagna). Once the mushrooms have cooked down, drain any excess water. Add the vegetables to a large pot, along with the canned tomatoes. Once the meat has cooked thoroughly, drain and add to the tomatoes and vegetables.

Stir in the milk and wine, if you are going to put those in. Let the spaghetti simmer on low. Add the tomato paste to thicken the sauce if needed. The amount of tomato paste you add depends on how thick you want your sauce to be. I use to add the whole milk and wine but have recently opted out of putting it in. It is delicious with or without the wine and milk.

I like to add dried oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, parsley, and any other Italian herbs I have on hand. I don’t use noodles anymore with my spaghetti. If you still want noodles, Carba-nada is a great low-carbohydrate noodle option!

Once I tried spaghetti squash I never went back. It really is not that difficult to make. I cut my squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, spray with olive oil and bake in the oven on 425 degrees until I can stick a skewer all the way through the squash to the outside (not through the outside). I allow the squash to cool and then use a fork to scrape noddle-like strands out of the squash. 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash is 42 calories, 10 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.5 grams of fat.

Ingredients:  
4 cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes 
1 can Tomato Paste (about 1 cup)
3 cloves Garlic
1 Yellow Bell Pepper (diced)
1 Onion (diced)
8 ounces Mushrooms (diced) 
2-4 pounds 80/20 cooked and drained (depending on amount of people serving, I use 3.5 pounds typically and always have leftovers for the kids)
8 ounces Whole Milk (optional)
4 ounces Red Wine (optional)
Italian Herbs 
3-4 spaghetti squash or noodles of your choice

Steak Fajita Bowl

I loved this marinade when I made steak skewers. With all the extra time people have on their hands lately, you can make this into a bowl or keep it as steak skewers. The last time I made this I turned it into a bowl and it was perfect. It was the right amount of spicy and sweet! I made sure to let the steak sit overnight in the marinade after cutting the sirloin into strips. I choose to eat sirloin steak because it is the leanest cut and cheapest (bonus).

I plan to let the steak sit in the marinade overnight and cook it on the stove in my cast-iron pan. I will sear the vegetables with olive oil spray, salt, and pepper. I don’t want the vegetables to get super soft since they will be reheated to eat later, so I will give them a good char and take them up.

Make sure you check to see the changes I am making to the marinade and to the amounts used of other ingredients!

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:  
about 8 metal skewers (or wooden skewers, soaked in water for 10 minutes)
*omit skewers and cook pieces in a cast iron skillet 
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
*omit oil 
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
*4 tablespoons
1 to 2 tablespoons honey
*1 ounce
*smoked paprika, cayene, lemon zest, lime zest, salt, pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
about 1.5 pounds boneless top sirloin steak center cut, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 red bell pepper, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 red onion, diced into bite-sized pieces
*2 green bell peppers, 1 red or yellow bell pepper 
1 large zucchini, diced into bite-sized pieces
*1 zucchini, 1 yellow squash
about 1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple, diced into bite-sized pieces
*1/2 cup per bowl, optional  
salt and pepper, for seasoning to taste, if desired
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, cilantro, or basil for garnishing; optional
*cilantro  
*rice, 1/3 to 1/2 cup cooked per bowl

Black Bean Tacos + Avocado Cilantro-Lime Sauce

We made these a few months ago. They used to be a staple in our house before Anderson was born and I used tilapia then instead of chicken. I had to scroll to the very bottom of my Pinterest board to find these, but I am so glad that I started making these again. With the shortage of food, these are easy to make, don’t take many ingredients, are quick to throw together.

To add protein to this dish we are going to use shrimp instead of fish. Fish is a great add-in, but we have been on a shrimp kick lately. I am going to use the same spices as I did on the zesty shrimp salad with the shrimp. It is the easiest little spice mix and tastes amazing.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
Two 15 oz. cans black beans
*1 can 
1 cup salsa
*2-4 tablespoons Fresh salsa in the produce section 
1 tsp. cumin
Corn tortillas
*high fiber/low carb tortilla 

Optional Toppings:
Lettuce, tomato, onion, roasted red peppers, corn, avocado, cilantro, dairy-free cheese, etc.
*cilantro, lime

FOR THE CREAMY AVOCADO SAUCE
1/2 ripe avocado
*3 ounces 
3/4 cup cilantro (stems removed)
Juice from 1 lime
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp. olive oil (omit for oil-free)
*omit 
1 tsp. agave (or other sweetener)
*1/2 ounce honey 
1/8 tsp. salt 

2 pounds shrimp or chicken breast
Zest of one lime and one lemon 
1/2 ounce honey 
*zero calorie olive oil spray
2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder 
1 teaspoon smoked paprika 

Simplest Basil Zucchini Parmesan Pasta

This pasta was everything I expected and so much more. I had planned to add chicken to the dish the first time I made it, but left it as a side and ate a steak with it instead. If you are a vegetarian then PLEASE give this a try! And if you aren’t vegetarian, try it too! I was a little skeptical of this dish with so few ingredients, but it was delicious and more flavorful than I was expecting! The great thing about this pasta dish is there is no cream used. The cream comes from the mashed zucchini, butter, and cheese. Healthy-ish.

I am going to add chicken to the dish this time. Due to the lack of chicken breast in stores, I am going to be using chicken tender cuts. The same thing, just already cut into strips for me, which means it will cook quickly. If you happen to find chicken breast use that if not check in the freezer section or grab those tenders and roll with it.

I discovered carba-nada this pasta a while back and I can’t tell you just how happy I am to find a substitute for pasta that isn’t a vegetable. It has 15 grams of protein, 24 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.5 grams of fat per servings. It really is so good! I don’t mind spaghetti squash with my spaghetti, because it is chunky and loaded with other vegetables. For just a regular pasta dish, like the creamy shrimp pasta I made last week, I don’t want mushy noodles. I want some consistency with my noodles. Carba-nada was the answer to this solution. I will definitely be buying it again! Sadly, our grocery store around here stopped carrying it, so I order off Amazon now. I get 6 bags at a time, so I don’t run out for at least a month if I space my meals outright.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
1 pound pasta, use your favorite cut
*carba-nada pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*omit oil
3-4 medium zucchini and or yellow summer squash, chopped
*6-7 depending on size
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
kosher salt and black pepper 
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup grated parmesan or manchego cheese
* 3/4 reduced fat Parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
lemon juice, for serving (optional)
*meat of choice on the side or mixed in with the pasta

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