Healthy Turkey Enchiladas

Craving Mexican? In the restaurant it can often be disguised with many unwanted calories. These turkey enchiladas are homemade so you control the ingredients and what you top them with. They are also very versatile and can easily be made with pork or chicken if turkey is not your thing and still be healthy.

enchiladas, healthy, mexicanI use corn tortillas  and Frontera sauce which is a household favorite. It is all natural and they have many varieties. We use a red enchilada sauce but they also have a green version which is just as good. With a few steps you have a festive and warm dinner the whole family will be sure to enjoy.

 

Typically it is the sour cream, ton of cheese and beans that bring Mexican food out of the healthy zone. I topped these with a moderate portion of cheese and sliced avocado.

 

Healthy Turkey Enchiladas

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 10-12 corn tortillas
  • Frontera Enchilada Sauce
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 cups of Monterey Jack cheese
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Salt and pepper for taste
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp chili powder

healthy, mexican, enchiladas

Saute turkey in a pan and mix in chili powder and cumin. Cook until brown. Grease a baking pan with coconut oil lightly. Take out the tortillas and fill each with 3-4 tablespoons of turkey. Add a pinch of the grated cheese and roll up, put seam side down in pan. Continue until all the tortillas are used up. You may have some turkey left over. Top with remaining cheese and sliced avocado. Pour enchilada sauce packet over enchiladas.

IMG_20160821_171509057-01Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy!

Prepping Parents for Back to School Routines

Going back to school is always something we try to prepare our kids for. What about us parents?

back to school, parents, routine, schoolI do not know about you, but the luxury of having an easy morning dropping off to camp or the grandparents and not having to worry about homework is just as nice as a break for the parents as it is for the kids. Personally I love waking up and not feeling the school time rush. It is hard enough to get myself ready than to have to think about my child. And I only have one!

Back to school time is a great time to get yourself as a parent ready for the school season. With a little organization, a little preparation you can change the morning school routine to be much more pleasant minus all the rushing.

Prepping Your Parental Back to School Routine

  • Give your kids more responsibility. They are a grader older now. Perhaps what you did every morning, they can now participate in helping to take off extra preparation for you.
  • Prep the night before for lunches and laying out clothes. Again, your child likely can help at least with the clothes piece.
  • Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier. Give yourself a restful morning wake up. Take time to linger over your coffee and give your child a few extra minutes to adjust to getting up a bit earlier.
  •  Have the knapsack organized and packed the night before. This is an excellent opportunity to go over with your child what is needed each day and how to prepare the night before. Another job your child can help with fostering independence.back to school, parents, school, routine
  • Buy lunch essentials for your child making lunch preparation easy. Small snack bags of their favorite snacks, cut up or whole pieces of fruit, water bottles and juice boxes. Discuss in advance what they will want each week so you can prepare to have it in the house in advance.
  • Have a bedtime routine. No, for you! Not your child. Of course we hope you have one for your child already. But having one for yourself is important as well. Take the last 30-60 minutes of the evening to reconnect with your loved ones, read, prepare your own clothes and lunch for the next day or watch your favorite TV show. Essentially, start to unwind. No one sleeps well-being stressed out.
  • Make sure your know your child’s bus route and start and end time to school. This will take out the guess-work of where to pick up the bus and when school lets out.
  • Have after school care set up in advance. As parents, this can alleviate back to school stress knowing your child or children will be cared for. Plenty of schools offer after care programs such as the YMCA or Boys and Girls Club. If your child is able to come home and be left alone, be sure they have emergency numbers and work numbers accessible and go over home policies with your child in advance. Especially if it is their first time getting themselves off the bus. They should have a home key or know where to access it.
  • Access the school calendar in advance. I put down all the days off and early dismissals on my calendar in advance so I can plan for a babysitter or taking the day off in advance. I notice the school calendar changes year to year so I do this in August and plan ahead.

What are your tips for prepping yourself for back to school routines?

Veggie Quinoa

Sometimes salad just gets boring. Veggie Quinoa to the rescue! This recipe is full of delicious vegetables, nuts, fresh lemon and toasted nuts. There is no meat in this recipe which is also a nice change, especially in the summer when you are looking to eat a but lighter.

I first tried quinoa a few years ago but was disappointed.  It was quite bland. The trick I found out to savory quinoa is to replace the boiling water with vegetable stock! I roasted veggies, toasted nuts and added avocado and spinach to make this super healthy. It can also be served cold which is a plus if you are on the road all day like me. This also is gluten-free for those that have a sensitivity. I actually doubled the recipe to have all week long since this recipe does have some prep work involved. This is a nice change for any vegetarian or meat eater.

Veggie Quinoa

veggie, quinoa, healthy, foodie, gluten free

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 butternut squash cubed small
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds and walnuts
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 dates chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • half of an avocado chopped
  • 1/2 cup white beans

Cook quinoa as instructed on box. Replace water with vegetable stock. Once cooked fluff with a fork and put aside.

Peel squash and chop in small cubes and drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes on 350 degrees. On the stove top, toast nuts for 3 minutes until toasted. Next, saute spinach in a pan until wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Once squash is done, add quinoa, nuts, avocado, spinach, beans, cinnamon and the rest of the olive oil.  Chop and add the dates. Squeeze lemon over the quinoa and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and serve.  veggie, gluten free, quinoa, healthy, foodie

Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

Life throws curveballs. It’s not comfortable. Mine have been slanted, crooked and somewhat sideways. Nothing compared to what some people have endured in their life. I have my health, my family, a good career and a few close friends. I have nothing to complain about. I am gracious.

comfort zone, uncomfortable, motivation, inspiration, goals, comfortableDuring challenging times, you have a few options. Lay down and get trampled on, let your challenge defeat you or rise up to step outside your comfort zone to improve your situation. Sounds easier than it is. My experience is that it takes practice of stepping outside your comfort zone again and again in order for it to feel more natural.

It takes creativity to solve your own problems. It takes courage to step outside your comfort zone when you feel a pit in your stomach. When you do not know what the outcome will be. When you consistently have doubts and have no guarantee your efforts will come to fruition.

But doing nothing at all to change your curve ball or the uncomfortable feeling you feel because you are doing something new, something unknown or foreign to your real self, will never get your any results. Aren’t we always encouraging our children to try new things? To work hard and not give up? We have to remember that we are our children’s best example. Do we expect them to coast through life on autopilot or crumble at the first feeling of defeat or challenge? Hell no!

Be the best example. The worst thing that came happen is that you fail. And failure is a learning process. Also imperative for children’s growth. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It is temporary. And so is life.

Wuji Comes to Greenwich!

My first experience with Wuji was when I attended the Westchester Magazine Wine and Food Expo. So I was thrilled to be invited to a tasting of their brand new location in Greenwich!

Wuji Greenwich, Greenwich, CT, Organic

Wuji, CT, Chinese food, organic, Greenwich

Upon entering the parking lot my first impression was “Whoa” very unassuming. I was wrong. The inside of this place is decked out in decor comparable to a Shanghai Supper Club. The decor was glamorous and decadent and full of texture and sheen. I felt like I was in an authentic Chinese restaurant in Hong Cong. I fell for the beautiful lighting and impeccable service by our server Walt and Manager Patrick.

 

Wuji is a term from Taoism, extension of Taiji in the universe:  Unlimited, unsurpassable, sublime. Sublime is right! Everything is certified organic, MSG free and local. They can also make many dishes gluten-free if patrons have allergy concerns.

Wuji’s award-winning Culinary Director is Peter How who has won countless competitions including the Culinary Olympics in Taiwan.

Wuji Greenwich, Chinese food, organic, CT

Sweet White Shrimp

Now let’s talk about the food. Wuji takes authentic Chinese ingredients and recipes and gives them a renewed approach by taking out all the unhealthy and adding in organic free range chicken, organic vegetables, wild caught fish and free range eggs while still keeping to the traditional Chinese cuisine cooking. A rare concept in America for Chinese food.

Wuji Greenwich, Chinese Food, organic, CT

Classic Peking Duck

Wuji Greenwich, organic, Chinese Food, CT

Chilled Peanut Sesame Noodles

I opted for the Sesame Peanut Noodles as an appetizer. I tasted these before at the food and wine expo and wanted to have the full experience now. They did not disappoint! Who can say they have had homemade noodles at a Chinese restaurant in America? I didn’t think so. Besides the noodles, we tried the Sweet White Shrimp which comes with lettuce wraps and they were divine! This was a good gluten-free option for those who have allergies.

Wuji Greenwich, CT, organic, Chinese food

Ginger Pear Ice Tea

I only have tried duck once and it was about 15 years ago. I decided to have this classic Chinese meat once again and see how it is prepared. It was crispy on the outside and very tender inside. It came with a Hoisin sauce for dipping and Chinese pancakes for scooping it up with. Everything in a wrap is better don’t you agree? Of course drinks to accompany our meal was a must have. I tried the Cucumber Martini and the Ginger Pear Iced Tea which was non-alcoholic and came with it’s own caraffe for pouring. Both fresh and light and very satisfying.

 

And then their was dessert. I loved that the dessert menu had no cake, no pie and no over the top cheesecake. It was all light, simple and fresh. I opted for the fruit platter which came with an amazing homemade chocolate sauce for dipping. Seriously good and not overly sweet. Then I tried the Banana Spring Roll which is exactly what it sounds like. Warm banana filling wrapped in a shell and chocolate ice cream made locally. Excellent!

Don’t look for the fortune cookies at the end of your meal at Wuji. If you are not getting dessert, you will still be treated to a heaping serving of cotton candy which tops off every meal when you come. This was making most of the kids screech in amazement when it came out to their table, and a few adults. 🙂 Wuji Greenwich, organic, chinese food, CT

Wuji Greenwich, organic, Chinese food, CT

Fresh Fruit Platter

Wuji Greenwich, CT, organic, Chinese food

Banana Spring Roll

Overall Wuji has got it right. It is no wonder they won the Best of Westchester’s Best New Chinese Restaurant this year!  The place was packed at 6pm on a Sunday evening not to mention a ton of families with kids. I look forward to coming back and bringing friends and maybe checking out their Rye or Scarsdale location.

Check out each location at Wuji Restaurant

Special thanks to Jody, Patrick and Walt for a delicious culinary experience.
(Sponsored: I was invited to Wuji for a tasting in exchange for social media posts and a blog contribution)

Homemade Wholesome Granola Bars

Kids are home for the summer and many are in camps. Hard to sometimes find healthy snacks to pack in the lunch that are easy and healthy. Many of the granola bars you find at the stores have a variety of ingredients to corn syrup, artificial flavoring and preservatives not to mention a bunch of ingredients I cannot even spell.

granola bars, homemade, wholesome, snacks

The ingredients

With a few simply ingredients you can make a bunch of granola bars that are no bake and can be frozen for future enjoyment. You can substitute the cherries for raisins or even cranberries if you prefer.  The coconut adds another layer of sweetness and almonds a healthy crunch. If you do not want to add the chocolate inside the bars you can also melt and once chilled, dip half of the bars into chocolate or stream melted chocolate across them for a different look then chill again. You can also take the chocolate out all together if it is not something you like. Really?? 🙁  Seriously, totally versatile.

granola bars, homemade, wholesome, snacks

Homemade Wholesome Granola Bars

1 1/2 cup Quick Oats

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/8  cup coconut flakes

1/4 honey

1/4 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup medjool dates

1/4 cup dried cherries

1 cup dried almonds chopped

In a food processor, chop dates. The consistency will be dough-like and likely roll into a ball while chopping. In a bowl, mix oats,  almonds, cherries, dates chocolate chips and coconut flakes and put aside. In a pan on low heat, warm honey and peanut butter. Once melted pour over the oat mixture stirring well to incorporate dates and the honey mixture.

homemade, granola bars, kids, snacks, wholesomeLine a rectangular pan with parchment paper and pour in mixture. Using another sheet of parchment on top press firmly with your hands so that the mixture spreads evenly and packed into the pan. Chill for 15-20 until firm. Cut into bars. Freeze additional bars for future consumption!

What kinds of things do you pack into your kids lunch for camp during the summer?

Sip, Indulge, Discover and Explore in Connecticut: Summer Vacation Packages Offer Travelers Deals on Lodging and Entertainment

Sip, Indulge, Discover and Explore in Connecticut: Summer Vacation Packages Offer Travelers Deals on Lodging and Entertainment

HARTFORD, Conn., (July 18, 2016) (Sponsored)– Connecticut invites residents and visitors to redefine their vacations this summer by experiencing something new just a short drive away, like one of the many curated travel packages available for families, friends and couples across the state at award-winning accommodations and attractions. Whether searching for an overnight adventure or weekend retreat, there’s a package to fit every traveler’s needs – and budget.

To help make planning easier, the Connecticut Office of Tourism is serving up a list of some of the hottest packages available right now through September and beyond. Package details and additional deals can be found at the all-newwww.CTvisit.com.

Make new memories with the kids by treating the entire family to an action-packed day and sleepover. Packages that cater to the whole family include:

  • Mystic Aquarium Vacation Package: Watch the whales and have fun among the fishes with a package featuring two adult and two child tickets to Mystic Aquarium, a welcome gift and accommodations for four at the Howard Johnson Inn-Mystic.
  • Science Center Discovery Package: Explore more than 150 hands-on exhibits with four tickets to the Connecticut Science Center and overnight accommodations at the Marriott Hartford Downtown.
  • Maritime Aquarium Package: Voted a top 25 U.S. aquarium, the Maritime Aquarium package includes two tickets to the aquarium and IMAX theater, overnight accommodations at Hampton Inn Shelton and breakfast.
  • Lake Compounce Four Ticket Package: Hop on dozens of thrilling rides, including Phobia Phear Coaster, the first triple launch coaster to hit the northeast. The package includes four adult tickets to Lake Compounce, overnight accommodations at the Residence Inn by Marriott-Southington and full hot breakfast.

Couples and friends looking to indulge in a spa experience, sip wine or just explore Connecticut can escape the heat with one of these packages:

  • Bike “Inn” by the Sea, Beach Cruiser Getaway Package: Unwind with a two-night stay at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina, breakfast both days, use of two bikes with itineraries, $25 gift certificate to Café Sol and more.
  • Spa-Cation Package: Escape for some R&R with accommodations for two at the Delamar Greenwich Harbor, a 60-minute Delamar Massage for each guest, champagne toast and $40 credit to l’escale for breakfast.

    Gouveia Vineyard, ctvisit, summer

    Gouveia Vineyard

  • Gouveia Vineyard Package: Taste award-winning vintages while perched high atop 140 sun-kissed acres. The package includes deluxe accommodations at the Courtyard by Marriott-Wallingford, tasting for two at Gouveia Vineyard and round-trip transportation to/from the vineyard.
  • Weekday Bliss Spa Package: Take a “weekday away” with this package for two including a $220 spa credit for services at Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door Spa, overnight accommodations in an upgraded Whirlpool king at the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa and breakfast buffet at Octagon.

“Summer is one of the best times of year to get out and explore all the state has to offer,” said Randy Fiveash, director of the Connecticut Office of Tourism. “Travelers in and to our state have a distinct advantage because of its size and the variety of easily accessible activities – they can spend less time traveling between attractions, and more time actually enjoying new experiences. The package deals are the perfect way to do just that.”

Delamar Greenwich, ctvisit, summer

Delamar Greenwich

Travelers looking for more summer vacation ideas and activities can find inspiration and suggested itineraries at www.CTvisit.com and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

How to Beat the Heat at Work

This heat has me melting! What is it about New England weather?! One day seasonal, the next unbearable.

beat the heat, summer heat, staying coolI suppose we have it better than those living in the south when it comes to heat. It is expected that we get a few days of humidity and 90 degree weather in the summer. It has been too warm to even dry my hair in the morning and I am sweating in my clothes before I even leave for work in the morning. Yes, with the air conditioner on. If I could go to work in a tank top and Capris, I would be all over it. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

If only I were a teacher! I’d be beaching it everyday and wearing my hair in a pony and living in flip-flops. Well… they deserve it for molding our children all year! 🙂 Ok, reality check. Most of us have to work full-time Monday through Friday.  So here are some things you can do to beat the heat while getting ready for work and while at work.

,

How to Beat the Heat at Work

beat the heat, summer heat, staying cool

  • Skip the dryer. This might be impossible for some who rely on using their dryer for straightening their hair each day but for the average gal with poker straight hair, try to skip it. Using the hair dryer will just warm you up starting with your head and que the sweat to start dripping. Invest in some hair clips or some styles that allow you to wear it up and look presentable at work.
  • Choose loose clothing. Fitted shirts and tight tops are not ideal for staying cool. Choosing lighter blouses and short sleeve tops will keep you cooler. If allowed go for cropped pants. Skirts are always an easy way to stay cool as well or a dress. If you work outdoors, be sure a hat is in your wardrobe.
  • Drink water. Staying hydrated is important if you have to work during the summer or not. It will help keep you cool and makes sure you do not overheat while at work. I keep water beat the heat, staying cool, summer heatbottles in the fridge to take on my way to work and utilize the water cooler while at my office.
  • Pack a makeup bag. If you wear makeup, you likely will see that it won’t last as long  in the  heat. I keep loose powder, eye liner and lip balm and leave the rest at home. I can easily touch up my face if needed. A small travel size hairspray is also key to keeping your hair staying put and travel deodorant if you need a little more protection during the day.
  • Use a sun shade. These are the aluminum looking windshield shades that might see in people’s front windshield. They work surprisingly well! I put it up whenever I am out of my car to block out additional sun rays. I also crack the windows 2 inches on at least 2 of the windows.
  • Keep activity low. If you are running all over the office frantic or in and out of the car outside, you will by all means start sweating. Try if possible to limit activity on humid and hot days. If you are able to move your schedule around to have an office day where it will be cool and comfortable, do it. If you have to be out driving or work outside, take frequent breaks.
  • Eat cool. You heard the expression “cool as a cucumber”? It’s a literal fact. Eating foods that are cooling will cool your body. Choose melons, fresh veggies, salads and other foods that hold in water.

Work hard, stay cool!

 

How To Keep Long Distance Nearby

Living far apart from family or those you love can be difficult. You miss out on everyday happenings, first time events of your family members, the conveyeance of having that person near by to grab a hug, wipe your tears or share in your joy!

I am lucky to have most of my family very close by. My brother and his wife however live in North Carolina so I do not get to see them as often. We just got back from a visit and it was so nice to have my son finally meet his 2 year old cousin. Besides that we were able to share meals together, sight see and help out in the home. I have had to make efforts to keep them “near by” if the best I can. There are several things you can do to stay connected to those you love and keep them near.

 

How To Keep Those You Care About Nearby

  • Call often. This seems like the most obvious but it can be easy to get caught up in your own life and forget to check in on those we care about. Phone calls are by far the cheapest way to stay connected.near, distance, taking, long distance
  • Video. With the world of Skype and video chat, you can even see the ones you care about while talking! This is great for showcasing a new member of the family or getting input on your latest choice of paint color in the living room. Whatever the reason, sometimes seeing a person face to face is just what is needed.
  • Send stuff. I love sending packages to those who are far away. It does not have to be expense or even for a particular reason. Think about a cute notebook you saw on sale or a book you know your loved one would appreciate. Sending along a thoughtful item is a great gesture.
  • Cards. They have them for just about every holiday and then there are also ones that are blank of are “just because”. These are great because you can buy them in advance and send out a few pictures of your family or recent trip seeing them. plane, near, distance, long distance
  • Visit! This would be the 2nd obvious but really it is hard to put the time aside as well as sometimes the money to book flights and rental cars etc. Plan your visits well and just enough time apart that you have a nice block of time off from work to go and money put away to make it happen.
  • Start a new tradition. Maybe you never spent holidays together but perhaps starting a tradition to see each other for a holiday would allow the time spent to be scheduled and more likely to happen. It does not have to be a major holiday, think Mother’s Day weekend you visit and Halloween they visit. A way to be sure you are spending time together that can be planned in advance.
  • Take advantage of travel deals. If you fly a lot you might already have miles earned that you could use for an extra flight each year or can pass along to your loved one to visit you.

Have any other ideas? Let’s here them!

Just Peachy!

Summer is here and that means you get to take advantage of all that seasonal fruit like peaches!

My favorite is watermelon but a quick second place is PEACHES! Sweet, juicy and full of flavor. Easy to take in your lunch or cut up for a snack at the beach. They only contain 35-50 calories so it is the perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth and not blow your entire diet that day. In addition there are several health benefits to peaches. They contain vitamins such as A and C which is ideal for healthy skin and nails. They also can help relieve an upset stomach and have a calming effect. Peaches are known for their cleansing properties as well benefiting the kidneys.

They are also very diverse! Not only good for pie, peaches are delicious grilled on the grill and drizzled with honey. Add them on top of ice cream or on top off pork as a salsa. Use to make peach turnovers, cobbler, peach jam or jelly.  Add them to your smoothie or green juice for added natural sweetness.

I add them to salad. Salad is the one thing that I have to keep changing up or it gets well…. pretty boring and bland. So I often add nuts, fruit or even a vegetable I have never eaten before. Peaches add a nice sweetness. For the salad shown below, I also added a home-made dressing made with olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon, peachy, peaches, seasonly fruitsalt and pepper. Mix and drizzle. Whatever your favorite summer seasonly fruit, be sure to take advantage. The summer is so short and so is the bounty of fruit we get to have fresh and in season each year.

Here is another peach recipe I love that incorporating this summer favorite courtesy of www.delish.com! What are your favorite ways to use peaches?

Spiced Pork Tacos with Peach Salsa