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Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

10 Easy Ways to Eat More Veggies (Eat Well, Spend Less)

Fresh veggies

Vegetables! We all know they're good for the body, and summer is the perfect time to make sure we're eating plenty of vegetables. Here are my tips and tricks for making sure my family gets their fill of veggies!


Veggie sticks and homemade hummus (from the freezer)

1. Prep ahead. This one is key: Make sure your fridge is stocked with ready-to-eat veggies. Whether this means cutting carrot sticks by the bag-full or buying baby carrots, do what it takes. Celery, carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, and sugar snap peas are some of our favorite fresh vegetables. Have your favorites ready so when you're hungry, you grab them.

Tip: My boys (8 and 6) love to help me peel carrots or make veggie sticks! And kids love eating food that they're helped grow or prepare, so that's an added motivation to get them in the kitchen and involved.

Plan Ahead for Healthy Snacks

5 Ways to Make Food Prep More Fun

Salads for the week: Making time for healthy eating

11 Tips for Kids in the Kitchen Without Losing Your Sanity

Guacamole ingredients
Ingredients for Creamy Guacamole

2. Give fewer options at meal times or snack times, and include veggies. If you serve a dinner of three different foods, you'll end up eating more of each item than if you serve five foods. Unless you're serving several vegetable dishes, limit the choices for everyday dinners and snacks and your children will surprise you by eating more -- because they're still hungry! :)

Tip: Only buy/offer healthy snacks and if they're hungry, that's what they'll eat.

Dill dip
Veggie sticks with Dill Dip

3. Have a 1-bite rule. If certain family members don't like vegetables, require at least 1 bite of the vegetable being served, especially if you're offering dessert. Our children don't get dessert unless they have eaten each of the "regular" foods.

Tip: For foods they like, such as carrot or celery sticks, we often use their age as a requirement for what they should eat. E.g. the 8-year-old needs to eat 8 pieces, the 4-year-old only 4. If they're not hungry enough to eat that, then they don't get dessert (if we're having dessert). Left to their own ways, they would surely be "too full" for the veggies and hungry for treats or snacks later! ;)

4. Serve main dish salads.

Tip: My family likes it when I make main dish salads but don't combine everything. Joshua then makes his own salad, adding some extra meat or protein. The kids often have their "salads" as piles of separate ingredients on their plates and prefer to eat it that way rather than mixed together. I make my salad more along the lines of the original recipe. In the end, we're all satisfied and had fun eating dinner together. :)

5. Make soup; sneak them in. I'm not about being sneaky in the kitchen (Joshua's nose and eyes are much too keen for that!) but I've found that it's easy for us to eat bowl after bowl of vegetable soup or another healthy soup filled with veggies.

Other recipes can handle having a few extra veggies thrown in as well, especially if it's something in season and you're bursting at the seams with extras! :)

6. Serve and eat the veggies first at meal times. We like to serve small portions of the main dish with a hearty helping of vegetables, and the plate needs to be completely cleared before second-helpings of the main dish are given. This should be done age-appropriately, of course; our children almost always clean their plates and have seconds of whatever they liked best.

7. Serve veggies at every meal and every dinner. Having pizza? Serve veggies or a salad on the side. Don't let one-dish meals with a few veggies buried beneath cheese sauce or gravy be the only vegetable you serve at dinner!

Tip: Cook some frozen veggies, make a salad, or pull out your already-prepped raw veggies for a fast, healthy side dish. You'll eat less pizza that way, too. ;)

Chicken Squash Bake recipe
Chicken Squash Bake: one of our seasonal favorites that's on our menu this week!

8. Eat what's in season for the best quality. Vegetables are best when they're at their freshest, so eat what's in season (often also on sale!) or ready in your garden. This helps get some natural variety in your vegetable intake, as well.

Tip: Buy frozen veggies and mix for variety; buy frozen stir-fry veggies for a pre-done mixture that's a cinch to cook and serve.

Stir-fry veggies
Costco's Stir-Fry Vegetable Blend: Preheat cast iron skillet over medium-high heat; add oil and frozen veggies. Sprinkle with salt and sesame seeds. Stir frequently and saute until crisp-tender. Serve with grilled or baked fish, chicken, or meat of your choice!

9. Get creative with how you're serving your veggies. Don't just boil or steam them. Boil, steam, grill outside, saute on the stove top, or roast in the oven for more variety and flavor!

Tabbouleh
Tabbouleh, one of my top favorite summer salads

10. Find veggie alternatives for a less-healthful ingredient. Instead of serving tacos in flour tortillas, serve them in iceberg lettuce leaves or artisan lettuce "cups". Instead of stuffing tuna salad into a pita, serve it over a green salad. Load up that omelet with diced tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers and cut back the cheese.

Tip: If your family's not on board with lettuce cup taco tortillas, remember: you can serve everything separately and they can pick and choose. Maybe they'll want to try one after they see you enjoying yours! :)

Eat Well, Spend Less series

This post is part of the Eat Well, Spend Less series! I'll be back with more from this series in a couple days! :)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tip for garden-fresh salad dressing

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

This week's kitchen tip is short and sweet. (I'll be honest, I've been busy enjoying summer and spending time on My Fitness Pal!)

Garden fresh lettuce

My brother gave us a bunch of fresh lettuce from their garden! I love it. My mom gave me this tip for serving garden lettuce:

When making homemade dressing for garden lettuce, reduce the amount of water in the recipe. Then when you wash your garden lettuce, you won't need to bother drying it and the water left on the leaves won't water down your dressing! :)

My mom's vinegar and oil dressing recipe is here; that's the one she always makes for big garden salads. :)

Moshe

July has brought warm summer sunshine to Seattle! Here's Moshe, asking me to put his shoes on so he can go outside. He looked so cute, I had to grab the camera before I put his shoes on him. :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Alternate uses for a punch bowl (Trial and Error Home Ec)
2. Tips for easily eating more veggies (Recipes Happen)
3. Thawing food without wasting time or energy (Living So Abundantly)
4. Easily cutting spaghetti for kids (Sunny Side Homestead)
5. Freezing green beans (Finding Joy in my Kitchen)
6. Summer meals without the oven (Feel Good About Dinner)
7. Spaghetti tips (Wholesome Homemaker)
8. Freezing zucchini (Simply Made Home)
9. Tips for "real" breakfast foods (Simply Made Home)
10. Clean your kitchen in 5 minutes video tip (iDreamofClean)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Hot weather kitchen tips

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

After weeks of 50's and 60's, we're finally getting some real summer weather here in WA! :) We're not joining the rest of the country in their insane heat wave though; 80 degrees is toasty enough for me! ;)

Here are a few summer weather kitchen tips, adapted from this post:

Don't bake in the morning, heating up your house as the day heats up outside! Bake after dinner instead. Run appliances in the evening, so your house can cool off overnight.

Cook outside on the grill (or safely use an appliance like a crock pot in your garage or enclosed porch). I like a hot dinner even in hot weather, and the grill is my favorite tool for that! :)

Experiment with main-dish salad recipes! I especially like salads that have a bit of protein while still being easy and refreshing.

Make lots of ice (water is free, after all!) and let the kids enjoy it often. :)

Hamburger salad (instead of sandwich)

For a lower-calorie meal, turn a burger into a salad instead of a sandwich. Pile a plate with the vegetable toppings you like (lettuce, pickles, sweet onions, tomatoes) and then add a burger, topped with a slice of cheese. Eat as a salad! :) I've been doing this lately as I still have some baby weight to lose. :)

Bonus pictures:

Shelling peas

My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew came over from eastern Washington last weekend and brought some peas from their garden. Early the next morning, my brother took the boys out to the deck and they shelled peas together.

Shelling peas

The peas drew quite a crowd! Soon everyone but Channah was out there helping (and eating). I made omelets for breakfast while they did the peas. :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Using inexpensive canned salmon (Wholesome Homemaker)
2. Saving money on real food (The Local Cook)
3. Supper salad bar (Feel Good About Dinner)
4. Freezing bananas (Living So Abundantly)
5. How to tell when beans are done cooking (One Little Word She Knew)
6. Using cheese but cutting calories (Finding Joy in my Kitchen)
7. Fried eggs tips (Recipes Happen)
8. Tips for from-the-pantry nachos (Western Warmth)
9. Quick kid-feeding tip (Sunny Side of Life)
10. Cooking chick peas faster (Trial and Error Home Ec)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tip for fresh fruit in the fridge

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

In a previous week's kitchen tip, I wrote about my soft resting place for fragile fruit that needs to ripen at room temperature.

When my fruit is ripe, I usually move it to the fridge for cold storage until we eat it. (Bananas are the exception.) Joshua prefers chilled fruit and I must admit, I'm starting to, too.

The fruit boxes at Costco come with soft trays for the fruit to nestle. I moved some juicy ripe peaches, tray and all, to my fridge drawer last week:

Fresh fruit storage in the fridge

As I'm using the peaches, I'm placing other fuit in the spots. Pears, oranges, apriums. The tray cushions the fruit as I open and close the drawer.

Fresh fruit tray

Strawberries are in season, along with peaches. I put this plate of fruit out for dinner last evening and had to snap a picture before we started eating; it was so pretty! :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Spices in a small kitchen (Recipes Happen)
2. 10 tips for hosting a summer grilling party (The Local Cook)
3. Using leftover potato peels (Feel Good About Dinner)
4. Double boiler tip (Living So Abundantly)
5. Cross-contamination in the kitchen (Sunnyside Homestead)
6. Using up bread crumbs (Purposely Frugal)
7. Tips for making faster dinner rolls (Western Warmth)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Space-savers for a small kitchen

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

We just got back from a lovely weekend at my brother's house in Moses Lake, Washington. The 3-hour drive from our place in Seattle takes us through the Cascades, out of our evergreen, cool, and cloudy territory to the hot dry rain shadow in the middle of the state. I love the diversity of Washington, and I really enjoyed seeing the sun all weekend. ;)

During "quiet time" one day when the little ones (and a couple "big people" too!) were all napping, I moseyed around my sister-in-law's kitchen. She has made good use of the space in their current home, which lacks counter space especially.

Here are a few things I noticed and liked:

Portable dishwasher draining into sink

Candy has a portable dishwasher that has counter on top. Sometimes it's in the middle of the kitchen as an island, sometimes it's pulled alongside the stove while she's cooking, and sometimes it's tucked around the corner into another room, out of the way.

One thing I noticed was that when the dishwasher was running, Candy would put pots and pans that needed soaked and/or washed by hand under the drain from the dishwasher into the sink. As the hot water drained, it soaked a lot off the pans and made them easier to wash. Looked like a good use for the water that was just going down the sink anyway! :)

My brother installed hooks on a beam between the kitchen/dining and living room where all the pots and pans could be hung. I thought it looked classy and filled the space better (and probably more affordably!) than a commercial pre-made pot rack would have.

The hanging utensil canister! I really, really liked this idea. Candy used this flat-sided hanging wooden bucket for some of her cooking utensils, keeping them within easy reach yet off the precious counter space.

Vitamin storage

Their vitamins and supplements are in this metal basket/bucket on top of the fridge. It's easy to pull the whole bucket down and rummage for what you need rather than losing things in the back of a dark cupboard.

Moshe enjoying the warm summer day

Before we headed home, we stopped at Tonnemaker Hill Farm, an organic farm in the area with wonderful produce. We got 10 pounds of sweet cherries that were being picked while we drove there! And do you want to know the price for those freshly-picked organic sweet cherries? $2 a pound! :) I'd love to live right down the road from Tonnemaker's... they are so friendly and always give the kids samples to munch on. :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. What to do with disposable cake domes (Trial and Error Home Ec)
2. Silicone baking mat tips (Feel Good About Dinner)
3. Stir fry is faster than drive thru (The Local Cook)
4. Pasta cooking tip (A Proverbs 31 Wife)
5. Fridge and garbage space savers (Living So Abundantly)
6. Silk-free sweet corn (Finding Joy in my Kitchen)
7. Crock pot tip (Purposely Frugal)
8. Gluten-free baking (One Little Word She Knew)

Tips for Summer Picnics (Eat Well, Spend Less)

I love picnics!

Yes, the frugal part of me is why I am constantly saying "Hey, guys, let's just do a picnic."

That sounds more fun than saying "Since it's expensive to eat out, I'm going to pack some food for us." ;)

Whatever you call it, I love take-along food. It's a whole lot cheaper than eating out, plus being yummy, healthy, and on-demand. Here are some picnic tips that work for us!

Porch picnic

Bring enough food, but not too much. This is especially important if you're carrying your picnic with you while you sight-see on foot or hike. I ask the older family members how much food they want (how many sandwiches, pieces of fruit, etc.) and try to take just what we'll eat. The eliminates needing to tote around leftovers or keep them cold.

Re-usable dinnerware

Use disposable wrappings/plates if you're carrying everything; use re-usable containers if weight isn't an issue. I freely admit that I use plastic wrap, sandwich baggies, and paper napkins for an on-foot picnic! If we're packing a big cooler and driving somewhere in the van, then I'll use my normal re-usable containers and some washable plates. (I have extra plastic plates purchased for large crowds, bbqs, and picnics!)

Summer picnic walk

Take finger foods so you don't even need dinnerware! Our favorite picnics are finger foods like:

Sandwiches
Veggie sticks
Pre-washed/cut fruit like grapes, apple slices, pear slices, or bananas
Cheese sticks or slices
Nuts
Chips

I like to pack serving-size baggies of the veggies, fruits, or nuts so no little dirty hands are reaching into one big bag. ;)

And speaking of dirty...

Don't forget a clean tablecloth (if picnicking at a table) and some wet wipes or washcloths for dirty hands! :)

We also like to have at-home picnics on the deck or in the yard. Eating out in the sunshine and fresh air makes the kids (and me!) happy while keeping the kitchen floor clean. The benefit of an at-home picnic is that I can serve most anything -- like leftovers, even -- with no extra effort. :)

Eat Well, Spend Less series

This week, the Eat Well, Spend Less bloggers are writing about summer fun! Check out:

Eat Well, Spend Less During a Staycation from Life As Mom

Grilled Salads from Simple Bites

Sprouted Lentil Salad Recipe and Dressings from Kitchen Stewardship

Easy and Tasty Summertime Snacks from Kingdom First Mom

Eat Well, Spend Less During Your Insane Summer Schedule from Food for my Family

...and more to come from Denver Bargains and Good Life Eats!

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Bottles of oil that don't oil your cupboard shelf

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

I've been searching for a good solution for oil bottles for a long time. I try to be diligent about wiping any drips after using oil, but somehow oil still ends up on my cupboard shelf.

Olive oils

One of my solutions: Place an old t-shirt or other rag on the shelf under the oil bottle to catch drips. This works pretty well unless you have messy cooks in your kitchen who let the rag get bunched up... or your oil is on a high shelf where you can't even see the rag when you're putting the bottle away... Then you end up with an oily rag in the back of your cupboard and an oily shelf too. ;)

A tip I just read in Taste of Home (August/Sept 2000 issue), which I plan to try:

Cut the toe off of a clean white athletic sock and slip it over your bottle of olive or vegetable oil. It catches drops of oil that may run down the side of the bottle and prevents the bottle from getting slippery.

I may need to use an old baby t-shirt for my Costco-size jugs of oil, though. ;) I have a huge bag of rags so I'll surely come up with something that fits! :)

And lastly, if you're the crafty sort (and don't mind the thought of lovely yarn getting all oily), here's a free pattern for a knitted Olive Oil Drip Catcher! :)

Do you have any good oil bottle tips? I'd love to hear! :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Hard boiled eggs tips (The Joyful Wife)
2. Saving money on special diets (Wole New Mom)
3. Cooking oil tip (Trial and Error Home Ec)
4. Reinventing the water pitcher (Simply Made Home)
5. Stubborn lids tip (Some Call It Natural)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Crispy skin on baked chicken drumsticks

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Here's a tip for chicken drumsticks! When I pull chicken drumsticks out of the package, the skin tends to be bunched up around the small end of the drumstick. If I just throw them into the baking dish, I end up with a lot of exposed meat and bunched-up skin.

This is not good because without the skin covering it, the meat will dry out during baking. And if the skin is bunched up, it won't get deliciously crisp.

Tip: Pull the skin back over the meat before placing the chicken drumsticks in the dish. The end result is perfectly moist meat and crispy seasoned skin!

Baked chicken drumsticks

Baked chicken drumsticks are a super easy meal. I do a variety of seasonings on them; sometimes I cover with barbecue sauce, salad dressings, or spray with oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

In the picture above, I had some Italian dressing to use up, and I added a garlic parmesan seasoning. I baked the 9x13 dish at 350 degrees for about 70 minutes (uncovered).

I made instant mashed potatoes and vegetables to go along with the chicken for dinner. The dish of chicken pictured was $5.21 at Costco, and we had 3 drumsticks leftover. Joshua loves drumsticks, and I love making a meal that takes 15 minutes to prep! :)

Bonus picture: One of the many Lego creations I've been asked to photograph. :)

Legos and kids
Yehoshua (8), Eliyahu (6) and Ruth (4)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Storing gluten-free flours (One Little Word She Knew)
2. Fitting real food into real life (The Local Cook)
3. Monthly meal planning (Simply Made Home)
4. Clearing drains naturally (A Proverbs 31 Wife)
5. Freezing foods with the "use by" date (Living So Abundantly)
6. 7 tips for shopping at farmer's markets (Modern Alternative Mama)
7. Fridge cleaning (Kolfinna's Korner)
8. Keep berries fresh longer; kill mold spores (iDreamofClean)
9. Save time and energy when boiling water (Nature's Nurture)
10. Scrambled eggs tip (Moms Frugal)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Sanitized pacifier shortcut

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Okay, this is one of those tips that sounded like a good idea when I originally decided to share it, but now I have my doubts. Oh, well, take it for what it's worth! :)

I use a pacifier sometimes with my babies*, and I wash it after it falls on the floor. Sometimes a pacifier goes missing for a few days or weeks or... I found one under the couch last week that hadn't been seen in months! I think Moshe used it last and that was months and months ago! Crazy.

And in that case, I not only wash the pacifier but I sanitize it in boiling water, too.

And I never feel like taking the time to specifically boil water and sanitize the pacifier.

So, when I'm boiling water for tea, I drop in the (clean, washed) pacifier for a few minutes to sanitize it.

Then I take out the (clean, sanitized) pacifier and use the water for my tea. This isn't yucky because I already washed the pacifier in my hot soapy dishwater before I sanitized it. ;)

*I feel compelled to note that I recommend the KellyMom information about pacifier use with breastfed babies. I always offer the breast first, but if it's rejected, I feel a pacifier is acceptable for a sanitary comfort-sucking solution. :)

Bonus picture: Channah, who has been using a pacifier lately. :)

Channah

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Freezing fresh fruit (Nature's Nurture)
2. Reviving, storing, and re-growing celery (Nature's Nurture)
3. Masking tape in the kitchen (Moms Frugal)
4. Recipe saving (Western Warmth)
5. Spaghetti (One Little Word She Knew)
6. Crockpot chicken broth (All Done Monkey)
7. Rhubarb syrup (The Local Cook)
8. Whole herbs vs. ground in crockpot + spaghetti sauce (Purposely Frugal)
9. Freezer foods (A Proverbs 31 Wife)
10. Watermelon rinds (Trial and Error Home Ec)
11. Getting kids to cook (Earthlings Handbook)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Quick thawing or quick cooling tip

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

When you want to thaw something more quickly without a microwave or warm water (warm water isn't recommended for meats), here is another way.

Place the frozen item on something that will absorb the cold. In my case, I use one of my heavy multi-clad stock pots -- which absorb the cold right down the sides of the pan, thawing the meat more quickly while keeping it cold.

Quickly cooling black bean brownies

Last weekend I had an "aha!" moment when I realized I could use this same technique to more quickly cool the black bean brownies that Yehoshua and I had made.

We were having guests, and black bean brownies are much better when they've been chilled. Even though we "started" the brownies the night before (by putting black beans in the crock pot to cook overnight!), they were still warm from the oven a couple hours before lunch.

My solution? I put the warm dishes of brownies on the over-turned stock pots, which quickly cooled them enough for me to pop into the fridge to finish chilling! :)

Channah and me

Bonus picture today: Channah (3 months) and me on our deck. We had eaten lunch out here and Eliyahu (6) took this picture of us. I know it looks like she's frowning, but it's really just her non-smiling face. She does smile -- just not for the camera! ;)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Freeing up counter space in a small kitchen (Lily of the Valley)
2. Cleaning pans with baking soda (Frugal in Florida)
3. Tips for cooking with coconut oil (Feel Good About Dinner)
4. Tips and recipes for cooking with kids (Balanced Platter)
5. Baking with toddler (All Done Monkey)
6. Meals disguised as snacks (Western Warmth)
7. Tips for saving money / bulk shopping (Simply Made Home)
8. Natural cleaning tips (The Joyful Wife)
9. "Put an egg on it" tip (The Local Cook)