Pumpkin Butternut Chicken Noodle Soup

We all know that when it comes to accomplishing certain tasks, if you throw a few children in the mix things can tend to get...tricky. For example, walking out the door. What should be a simple thing which requires little to no brain activity can turn into one of the biggest trials of November. One lost shoe, 15 minutes late, someone has a dirty diaper, you just noticed you aren't wearing a bra...and then FUDGE! Where are your keys?

Every parent says FUDGE when they want to swear but can't. Unless your me, then you say shit. Then your baby says shit. That your 6 your old says, "Mom! The baby said shit!"

FUDGE.

Pumpkin Butternut Chicken Noodle Soup via The Diva Dish
Pumpkin Butternut Chicken Noodle Soup via The Diva Dish

Let me talk about this morning for example. We've all been so lucky to get that extra hour of sleep this weekend, unless you have children. Because now they wake up at 5:45 instead of 6:45, and you went to bed at 10:45...(technically 11:45, but you figured you would get that extra hour in the morning.) Think.Again.

We just happened to have an extra hour this morning before we had to leave for school! An extra hour never happens, and then your mind starts to wonder about all of the marvelous things you could accomplish if you had time like this EVERY DAY!

You could shower, curl your hair, wear matching clothes, find your kids shoes in time...

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cute baby messy kitchen
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I decided to do a yoga video. I'm trying to embrace Yoga as of lately because of stress. I'm hoping it will calm me, as well as get me toned in all the areas that seem to have just given up.

So I popped in a TWENTY minute yoga video. To some, this seems so insignificant, but to a busy mom, twenty minutes is basically like asking for Milo Ventimiglia from 'This Is Us' to show up at your door unannounced with chocolate. (P.S. why do I want to say his last name all the time?)

5 minutes in, things got dark. The baby was SCREAMING. I have no idea, but I'm pretty sure it was for no reason at all. She climbed all over me yelling in my ear as I tried my best to twist side to side and feel that deep stretch. In between screams I could hear, "Ahhhh. Just breath..."

And then, just like that, with FOUR minutes to spare I hear a cry up stairs, "MMOOOOM! COME WIPE ME!" For real.

"Honey, I can't! I'm "exercising!" Give me 4 minutes!"

"But it's DIARRHEA!!"

Baby screaming. Lady breathing. Kid yelling.

FUDGE.

Pumpkin Butternut Chicken Noodle Soup
Pumpkin Butternut Chicken Noodle Soup

This is why I make soup. Why, you ask? Because soup is something I love, something that comes together SO quickly. I can make a big pot with whatever vegetables I want and can store it in the fridge for a few days of lunch. Then I can store the other half in the freezer for my lunches next week.

Because sometimes as a mom, you don't have time to think about yourself. Sometimes, it's nice to have a meal ready for you in the fridge when you need it. So, hence this soup. It's warm, comforting, and has vegetables in it! Just make sure everyone is wiped and the baby is napping before you sit down to eat...because we all know what happens when moms try to sit down...

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Pumpkin Butternut Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 c. chopped carrots
  • 3 c. diced butternut squash
  • 1/2 c. milk of choice
  • 1 c. pumpkin puree
  • 12 cups water
  • 6 boullion cubes
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 7-14 oz pasta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of pumpkin pie spice

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil.
  2. Add onions and garlic. Cook until translucent.
  3. Add carrots and butternut. Continue to toss and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add in milk, pumpkin puree, water, and boullion cubes.
  5. Stir and come to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and let cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Next add in pasta and chicken, along with spices. Cook until pasta is slightly undercooked/al dente. (The pasta will continue to retain water as it sits.)
  6. Serve hot and enjoy!
  7. (The pasta I used was rather large and took about a lot of the soup, that's why I say 7 oz-14 oz, depending on pasta size and shape.)

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The pasta I used was this CUTE pasta I purchased from Trader Joes! Those little pumpkins were the perfect match for this soup. But If you do use this pasta, be careful because it get's rather large. I think next time I might only use 3/4 of the bag. To find the pasta, you can purchase it here: (affiliate link)

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So tell me busy moms/dads/persons, what do you do to find time for YOU? I specifically struggling when it comes to exercise, so let me know when and how you fit it in! Have a great week!!

Reality vs. Expectation

The other day I was walking with one of my mom friends and we were discussing some of the 'crazy-ness' that goes on in our every day life. Whether it be motherhood, wifehood, cleaning the house-hood...We talked about it all. After the conversation I had this constant thought in the back of my mind that I couldn't shake. I feel like I've always known this thought to be true. But convincing myself of it's reality some days can be hard.

Just like me, this friend has a messy house. Just like me, this friend has crazy kids. Just like me, this friend has struggles and trials. Just like me, this friend eats ice cream. Just like me, this friend doesn't have 6 pack abs.

Why do we have this 'expectation' that others have it/are doing it better?

Why do we believe what we see? Why do we believe what we read? And honestly, why have we become SO focused on things that are of little importance.

On a daily basis we SEE not only how the Jones' next door are living, but we also see how the Smith's in Idaho are living, as well as the Millers in California too. It's no longer keeping up with the dang Jones' next door, but now we've got to keep up with the neighboring states as well?! FU-REAK!

Trust me. We think 'so-and so's' house is always clean. And that person never has to worry about money. Or her kids are dressed so cute, and so is she! Love the dress, hate her right? And I bet that mom is a fun mom, all my kids ever do is watch movies and play iPad. Oh look! Another romantic getaway for her and her husband! And COME ON, do those kids really like asparagus and eggplants?! Like seriously?

You guys. It's not really that real.

It's a filter of reality. It's a filter of pretty things. And trust me, our eyes are just drawn to pretty, shiny, clean things! (Like clean kitchens! OMG! So hot.)

Part of living a healthy lifestyle, in my eyes at least, is not being drawn to the shiny, grass is greener on the other side aspect. It's all about finding happiness in today, finding gratitude in what we have now, and realizing that although someone might look like they have it all, they don't. No one does, and that my friends is ok. What fun is having a perfect life anyways?

I mean, isn't it more fun to spend 45 minutes a night just trying to get 3 kids to bed?! Now that's an adventure!

I won't lie though. I love pictures of white kitchens and cute outfits. I'm a sucker for a dessert covered in sprinkles, kale salads, and running workouts. I find joy in these things, but we have to remember one thing...

It's okay to find joy in these things, but it's not the main source of joy. These things bring instant gratification but not everlasting happiness. Except I'm pretty sure dessert brings everlasting happiness...

Now, here is where it's going to get real...Here is a peak as to what filters I could have used just this week:

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I recently finished decorating the babies room and it's SUPER cute. I wanted to take a picture of the crib against the 'THIS IS MY FAVORITE COLOR TURQUOISE" wall, and put it on instagram. The picture would have been cute, but I was having a hard time positioning it to where you couldn't see my dirty laundry...Literally.

Bam, brick to face. Nothing wrong with pretty pictures of beautiful rooms, trust me. But what might look like a pretty clean room, is really hiding a week (or more) of laundry just begging to be taken care of. (I know you guys, laundry is of the devil. We've had this conversation before I feel like...)

But still. That wall color though...

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This one is pretty hard for me to post, being a 'healthy eater' and all. I was seriously about to post a picture of my lunch on instagram, but I had to move the Burger King Kids meals bags and milkshakes out of the way. Um...HYPOCRITE much?! "So you feed your kids shiz, and you eat healthy?!"

Yes.

In that moment, yes. I make 3 meals a day for my family (expect my husband is only 2), and I rarely take them to fast food. BUT, we've done it. Do I hate it? Totally. But my kids love it, and it's a treat to them. This particular day, my oldest had started her 2nd week of Kindergarten and needed a little pick me up/treat. We had construction guys in our kitchen and I didn't want to go down and make 3 lunches, so I told them I would get them hamburgers and milkshakes. It was a fun outing for them! I had some of their milkshake and came home and made myself this lunch.

Of course you would have never have known the back story had I just 'shoved' the BK bags to the side...

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I think I'll end on this because well...

Love you friends!!

 

Boxtera Snack Giveaway

Ever since moving to Las Vegas, I've had this 'Ba-Humbug' attitude about what there is to do here that's 'family friendly fun'. Coming from San Diego where we had beaches and zoo's and amusement parks...Hold on, I'm crying. IMG_6733IMG_6741

I've tried to have a better attitude about Las Vegas, even though I'm convinced all these rocks and dry dirt backyards is what Hell might look like...It's not all that bad. There are some places that have grass.

Recently we've discovered the Springs Preserve Museum, and the girls love it. It's a partly out doors dessert gardens, park, and discovery area! I have to admit I've fallen in love with it because there is a ton of walking, and I get a great workout in while the kids have a blast! Sadly, when summer hits and it's 125 degrees we will have to say goodbye! So for now we are getting a lot out of the museum as possible!

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Usually I'll pack a picnic lunch for us, but this time we were lucky enough to have our Boxtera Snacks with us! Remember last month when we had a giveaway from them? Guess what, It's happening again!

The snacks worked great because I didn't have to lug a cooler around to keep them from going bad, and there was something for each of our taste buds! Some had protein, some were salty, one was sweet! It was perfect!

After a few hours of running around exploring, out family was definitely hungry!  And more importantly everything is natural and healthy! Win Win! Except for the fighting over the Fruit Filled Bars...Someone didn't win there.

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Would one of you like another chance to win a Box of Boxtera Snacks?!

Here is how you Enter:

 

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After my tired little babies filled their bellies, they went perfectly down for a nice loooong...

30 minute nap.

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Thank you Boxtera for sending me a sample of their snack box. I was not paid to write this post, all opinions are my own.

Dessert Bullet Giveaway

I've always been a Magic Bullet fan from the beginning. In fact I've had mine for almost SIX years now, and I just recently used it yesterday! It was the first machine that I ever made  a green smoothie from (and this green muffin!) 4

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Well a few months back I was contacted by my wonderful friends over at Dessert Bullet, (same company as the Magic Bullet!), and they asked if I'd be interested in trying out their product! I obviously went all fan girl crazy and said yes, and couldn't wait to try out the machine!

The Dessert Bullet is a machine that can make fresh & healthy sweet treats! For example, if you love Banana Ice Cream (Frozen Banana blended up), then you will LOVE this machine!

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Since then, I've been contributing 4 recipes per month for the Dessert Bullet Blog, and I have to tell you...I'm having such a fun time playing and creating recipes that satisfy my sweet taste buds! My girls love when mommy is playing the kitchen with her 'ice cream toy', they go crazy!

I've made chocolate covered popsicles, fruit fizzy drinks, coladas, almond milk slushies, cheese cake ice cream with strawberry sauce, lime pie ice cream, and a purple velvet ice cream!

(And this coming month I've got even more fun recipes including cake & cookies! All Healthy, Light, and Natural!)

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Okay, are you ready for this!

My friends at Dessert Bullet and I will be giving away TWO Dessert Bullet Machines to my lovely readers and friends here at The Diva Dish!

I'd love for you guys to win one, so here is how you enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Good Luck!

Virtual Family Christmas Card to all of You!

One thing I look forward to every year is receiving Christmas Card mail. I love to see the growth of families and loved ones who are spread all over... Family Pictures from The Diva Dish

I wish I could send each of you a Christmas Card, and share with all of you how thankful I am for such wonderful readers! Then I'd wish you a Merry Christmas and attach the card along with a box of milk and homemade (healthy) cookies!

Wouldn't that be lovely :).

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Family Pictures from The Diva Dish

But since I don't have all of your addresses, (That'd be creepster), I figured I could virtually share with you our Christmas Cards!

I've narrowed it down to two from Minted.com's Christmas Card section, that way you could help me decide which Christmas Card you love the most. Honestly though, I had a hard time making decisions! The site is full of different options & styles! And...There are way too many cute ones...

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I would love to see your virtual Christmas Cards, and get to 'meet' all those lovely faces! If you can, post them on my Facebook page or even Twitter!!

P.S.

Please tell me my babies will stay little forever...

 

 

Stove Top Potato & Kale Dish

Ok...I know potatoes aren't necessarily the type of food that makes you excited and eager to make ASAP...But i'm on a mission in my household, and in a few weeks I'll disclose all the details of what I've been working on. But to get you somewhat excited, you should know that it's all about healthy grocery shopping each week on a LOW budget. It's about stretching food, using the ingredients you have on hand, and not over spending each week at the grocery store!

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Normally during the week I visit the grocery store 2-3 times. Eeeeeee!! Partly because my girls eat a flat of berries a day, and partly because I'm a food blogger. Sadly, I buy A LOT of food to go along with my long lists of ideas that I have planned for this 3rd child of mine (the blog), but I usually don't get to most of them.

HENCE I buy more than I need which equals...I spend more.

It's really a simple fix, but I've never been a simple person. Ever. Ask my husband. And my parents. I'm fantastic.

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Near the end of the week I start to notice that the few things I have left in my kitchen are no where near what I want to eat, so at that point I head to the grocery store and buy what we would rather have...

But I'm changing.

So what happens when I open my fridge and see some rotting potatoes, a handful of kale, and a lemon?  As my good friend Tim Gunn once said..."Make it work."

So I saved the lemon for the baby, and made a potato dish that was flavorful, comforting, and surprisingly didn't taste anything like 'the end of the week.'

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*I love this dish because it contains a great variety of vegetables, which is always a plus! Feel free to jazz these up as a breakfast side dish, or top them like you would a baked potato!*

Stove Top Potato & Kale Dish

Ingredients

  • 3 TB. coconut oil
  • 2 TB. chopped garlic
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 4-5 golden potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 bunch curly kale, stems removed, leaves chopped
  • opt: a little veggie broth to add while the potatoes are cooking, about 1/4 cup
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • preferred seasonings (We like a sprinkle of paprika, garlic, hot sauce, and cumin)

Instructions

  1. Heat your coconut oil in a pan on low/medium heat.
  2. Cook your onions and garlic until onions become translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Next add in your carrots and bell pepper. Toss and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add in your potatoes, toss, and cover the pan with foil. Add a little broth if you want the potatoes softer more than crispy. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Once the potatoes are cooked to your liking, add your seasonings to taste.
  6. Fold in the kale, cook for a minutes to warm kale.
  7. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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These would be perfect with tons of toppings as if you were loading a baked potato, such as:

Eggs, cheese, greek yogurt, salsa, beans, hot sauce, etc...

But out of the above toppings, only one thing was in my fridge...Salsa. :)

Are You Too Giving of Leftovers?!?

On Sunday as I was sitting in church with Boo, trying my best to keep her somewhat content and distract her from breaking into one of her favorite songs at the top of her lungs, (and lord knows Justin Bieber isn't church song material...) A woman giving a talk on the stand, began to read a story that her friend had written some time back.

It impacted me so much, that I thought I would share it with my readers:

"I realized something when I opened my fridge this afternoon.

I am not much of a cook. 

When I do bother, I typically make things that require little or no technical effort.

We eat a lot of fresh stuff that requires no actual cooking.

Salads, veggie trays, fruit plates, etc.

And I usually, purposely, make huge amounts so that we can share

or even just eat it for several days in a row ourselves.

So today's revelation came as a bit of a surprise.

As I rummaged the shelves for something to throw together, it hit me...

Profoundly.

As it turns out,

I do not like Leftovers.

In fact, I think I might even hate them.

Aside from being a pain to store,

nothing ever tastes quite as good as when it is freshly prepared.

It's always a little too soggy.

A little wilted or a tad brown around the edges.

A bit crusty on top.

Or just a little thicker than it should be.

You know how they are.

Leftovers...

Not quite the same, but good enough, we say.

And so much easier!

Convenient.

I serve them to my family all the time!

In fact, sadly, maybe more often than not.

And I don't mean just for dinner, either!

Which brings me to my point...

How often in life am I giving those that matter most, my Leftovers?

These boys, who are my heart and soul,

often get whatever is '"Left-over" of me

whenever I think I am done with the rest of my commitments.

They get the little blob of energy that's left of me, after running around all day.

A cold slab of minimal effort, because I just want to be done already.

The crumbs that are left of my patience.

And if they are really lucky,

I might even top it off with the tiny little dollup of fun that I might actually have left.

But more often than they deserve,

they get the frantic, task-oriented Drill-Sargent Mom who is running short on time.

Or the exhausted, Do-It-Yourself Mom who is ready to collapse.

Even, occasionally, the grumpy, short-tempered, ornery Mom who is at my wits' end.

They get a signature on their homework slip for reading a story to me

while I made a mental grocery shopping list.

They get a "Woo-hoo" from me in the kitchen, amid the dinner preparations

when they play perfectly through their piano piece, all the way over in the Music Room.

They get a smile and an "Mmm, hmmm" when they show me their latest cool Wii maneuver,

Or tell me about the awesome play they ran in the football game at recess that day.

Neither of which, if quizzed, I could describe 30 seconds later.

They get a half-hearted high-five when they tell me their chores are done.

A two minute back tickle at bedtime, so I can rush to a set of photos that need editing.

Or a quick kiss goodnight as I run out the door for a Ladies' Night Out.

How often am I half-listening?

Looking past them?

Talking at them?

Or even in the same room, but far, far away in my thoughts?

All Leftovers...

I am serving them Leftovers.

Spending the majority of myself elsewhere

and then giving the little bit that's left, to them, as if it is enough.

I'm there, always, but am I really there?

I'm going through motherhood's motions, making mental lists.

Always the lists.

Planning ahead to the next thing.

The To Do's that can never be all the way done.

You know them...

The cyclical (sick-li-cul) routines that fill our days.

As I think now I realize that this is the time.

The time for me, as well, to be done with lesser things.

The time to focus on what is most important.

Most lasting. Most eternal.

More than ever before.

Not the good things.

Or even the better things.

But the best things.

The very best things.

As you approach the center of a bullseye,

the margin for possible error becomes more and more narrow.

The degree of accuracy necessary becomes more and more pointed.

We are approaching that bullseye.

At an ever-increasing rate.

I, for one, am consciously re-committing to be done with lesser things.

To stop serving the Leftovers of myself to my family.

But instead to be fresh, ready and more present in the present.

Ready for them with a Feast."

I'm unsure who wrote this, or where it came from, but I am truly grateful for it.

Thank you.

Here's to saying goodbye to Leftovers and serving others with a Feast.

Peanut Butter Banana Waffles

Sometimes people get the notion that my family is weird.

Be what it may, I think when your child is sleeping, playing, panting, and barking in a dog bed, that only means she's purely a genius.

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And even when her proportions are a little off, there is nothing wrong with wanting to cool down in a bowl full of water..

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It's the same concept as a pool right?

Like I said..Genius.

But what I think is genius, might come off to others strange.

Like the way my family eats.

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It might be strange that we drink green drinks...

It's probably strange that I have a fridge full of kale, swiss chard, coconut and soy milk, non dairy cheese, flax seeds, chai seeds, and 75 tubs of hummus.

It's different that my cupboard is stocked with whole grain pastas, nutritional yeast, beans, legumes, nuts, and abnormal amount of dark chocolate.

And it's definitely odd that you won't find tons of packages, boxes of cookies, bags of chips, cans of soda, or frozen steaks buried beneath bites of pizza bagels, chimichangas, and something that rhymes with feggo my beggos.

Some people ask me why I am so concerned with the way my family eats, and if it's really worth it to go through all the trouble of meal planning, prepping, cooking, and sometimes spending more money.

It's worth every second.

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When I first decided I was going to really change the way I ate, it wasn't easy. Hubby could down a full 5 dollar pizza in a matter of minutes, and I didn't mind him ordering one, because that meant that I was going to be able to eat some. That was, if I could pry a slice from the wide open mouth of my starving beastly hubby. And of coarse, the pizza was smoothered in ranch, along with a side of my favorite beverage..Root Beer.

It was cheap. It was fast. And it was damn good.

So why would I change a 'good thing?'

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Bottom line, I love my family.

I had to face the fact that if I wanted my husband, kids, and myself around for a long time, I had to do whatever it took to keep it that way.

If I wanted my husband alert and ready for numerous hours of studying, internships, all the while being the best dad, and hubby..His body needed the nourishment.

If I wanted my daughter walk, run, laugh, play, and learn new things every day...Her body needed the right nourishment.

 If I wanted to cook, clean(still working on that), run errands, live off of 5 hours a sleep, play with my little monkey, and love my family unconditional...My body needed the proper nourishment.

And if I wanted to respect these beautiful temples, our bodies, which God created for us...Then we definitely needed to nourish them properly.

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But I think the biggest problem is making the initial change.

Switching from Cheetos to veggies and hummus.

Saying goodbye to fast food, and hello to home cookin'.

It can be overwhelming. It can be really really really hard.

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But it can be do-able.

So where do you begin?

Do you like smoothies?

Throw in a cucumber for sweetness, some spinach for veggies. Trust me..You cannot taste the spinach. Especially when you add a banana. Get crazy with flavors. Apple pie, carrot cake, chocolate strawberry..Give them to your kiddos, hubbies, or wives. You can add nut butters, protein powders, healthy fats, veggies, and fruits. Perfect way to start out your morning.

Need some inspiration? Click HERE. and HERE

What about snacks? How do you go from packaged foods to whole foods?

Start simple. Cutting it cold turkey ain't gonna make anyone happy. If you kid loves crackers, switch to whole grain. Make yummy wholesome dips to go along with them. Slowly introduce veggies, and let your children,even your hubby(lol), pick out the ones they want to try. Get the family involved as much as possible.

Where ever possible, add in veggies, whole grains, legums etc..

If you family loves hamburgers, switch half the meat for black beans, lentils, etc. You can do the same with taco meat and meat balls. Puree or finely chop veggies and throw them into salads, burgers, enchiladas, soups, sand whiches, spreads..etc..You get the idea.

Need some more inspiration? Click HERE., and HERE and HERE

And especially, don't forget to add flavor! Steamed broccoli isn't flavorful on it's own. Add seasoning, vinegars, spices, etc..You don't always want to be hiding the veggies in your kids/families meals..so make them taste good! :)

And most importantly...:)

Eat everyday, normal foods that your family knows and loves!

Like waffles :)

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Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Banana Waffles

Vegan, Kid-Baby Friendly, Hubby Approved, Protein and Fiber Full, Delicious!

Ingredients:

2 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (could use GF flour, spelt, maybe oat?)

2 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 TB. Cinnamon

1/2 tsp. Nutmeg

3 TB. Honey,Agave, Maple Syurp

1 TB. Ground Flax seeds mixed with 2 TB. Water=Flax egg

2 1/2 Cups. Non dairy milk, or organic milk

1/3 C. Canola oil or vegan butter, or organic butter

3/4 C. Organic Natural Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Cashew Butter, or Sunflower Butter

1-2 Bananas(depending on how ripe the banana is. If banana is SUPER ripe, add 2)

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl whisk together dry ingredients and set aside.

2. In a separate bowl mix together wet ingredients until combined. Add wet to dry and mix until combined. If the batter seems to thick, add more milk.

3. Spray a waffle iron with non stick spray, and cook waffle according to desired time. If you like crispy, cook longer. We like about 4-5 minutes, but our waffle iron is new, so it heats/cooks fast. :)

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I loooove topping waffles, pancakes, and FRENCH TOAST with fruit! So does Baby Boo, since they get coated with Maple Syrup! Makes them extra sweet!

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Don't ever let anyone tell you that living a healthy lifestyle means depriving yourself of yummy food!

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If anything, they are the ones missing out!

Especially if you eat things like homemade graham crackers that turned into yummy S'mores!

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But we will save that for another day :)

**P.S. If you entered to win Mama Pea's NEW cookbook Peas and Thank You, I have announced the Winner! Just click on HERE, and find out! Thanks to all that participated!!**