Ep.3:Deirdre & Jen, Feeding the Fam and Loving your Season

https://anchor.fm/jenilee-samuel/embed/episodes/Ep-3–Deirdre–Jen–Feeding-your-Fam–Loving-your-Season-e2g1qt

Hi Friends!

I’m so excited to get to introduce you to my friend Deirdre for today’s episode!!  She is one of the most encouraging, intelligent, resourceful women I know, and a great mother while juggling a head-spinning number of things… I knew she would have some gold-nuggets to share with you as you may find yourself whirling from life’s demands too.  If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed or just plain bad at knowing how to keep your family fed well with all the other things you do, you’re going to love the secrets shared in today’s show, not to mention, at the end she drops some truth bombs about loving and appreciating the season you’re in to help reduce stress.  What qualifies her to speak on these things? I’m so glad you asked!  😀

She is a mother of two precious little ones ages 5 &3, works a full time job as an Accountant at one of the nation’s largest firms, as well as working a part time job as a Leadership Developer of the staff at Chick Fil A in Vicksburg.  She is also currently in school, finishing her advanced degree in Accounting and looks forward to being done at the end of this semester.  Aside from being a wife, mother, working woman, she is in Ministry leader with her husband and has a couple pets to chase and clean up after.  Even given all of this, she manages to keep a clean home and happy, well-fed children, all the while her exuberance for life and encouragement fuels you with excitement when she comes around!!  (Just wait for it, you’ll hear it in our squeals :D)   So, listen close as I pull on her insights and share some of my own so we can help YOU feel more equipped and capable at managing your home, specifically feeding your family well, and resting into the season you’re in.

We kicked this episode off with a Life-Hacks portion, filling the episode with links, apps and services that will save you time, money and trouble, and you can find them all listed below!  (This is not a paid advertisement, just excited to help. 🙂 )

LIFE HACKS with Jen & Deirdre! 

  • Make grocery shopping easy and save time: Walmart Grocery App. Order your groceries online to save time AND money.
  • Teach me to cook!  Pinterest!  I have some great recipe boards that can get you started:
    • Kid-loved foods!  (Some of these pins my kids added themselves, so if there are repeats, that’s why. :D)
    • Holiday treat: Peppermint Merengue Puff cookies!  This is one of my own blog posts that’s been repinned on Pinterest in a number of locations hundreds of times.  It’s a classic!  It’s a recipe I found and tweaked to make my own on Pinterest.
  • Easy RecipesAmerica’s Test Kitchen on Pinterest & App (the app is currently only available for iOS devices)
    • Here’s the Mac-n-cheese recipe Deidre loved if you sign up!  (Tip: you boil the noodles in water AND milk).
  • Meal planningMealime : Keeping meals healthier!  This App & website is the easiest way to specify types of recipes you want, and to have personalized options populate for you to choose from, pick the ones you want for the week, and compiled into a shopping list.  The easiest way I’ve found to healthfully meal plan so far!  You can pay a little to get access to a larger database of recipes if you really love the app, though I haven’t had to yet, still lots of great options.
  • Lunch planning, & gets kids involved!: LaLa Lunchbox –  The website also offers an App download, which I use, and my kids can use and has made life easier!!  I believe they have a breakfast app too, but we just do lunch.

I believe those were our cooking/meal planning/how to keep it healthy suggestions, but if we missed anything you heard in the podcast that you have a question about, feel free to email me: javawithjenpodcast@gmail.com !  Feel free to leave comments below of what you’re loving as well!

Other links mentioned.

We hope this podcast was a blessing to you, and stay tuned for more content from Deirdre in the future!!  If you enjoyed this, please share it with friends, on social media, and go on itunes to rate the podcast!  This causes more people to be able to find the podcast and be blessed by it as well!  Thanks so much and happy feeding-the-families!

-Jen

Holiday Cheer skinny Peppermint Merengue Puffs


I simply love these merengues!!  And, so does everyone I make them for.  In fact, just last night, my friend was asking me (or rather placing a polite demand) that I make them!  My kids are crazy about them too!!  Now normally that wouldn’t be a surprise, because after all, these ARE cookies.  But, I don’t actually mind my kids enjoying these delicious delights because they are made of just egg whites and sugar basically.  Here’s the magic in that!:  The protein pairs with the sugar and they bind together molecularly, causing your body to regulate and NOT spike your blood sugar, so you don’t store fat like you would if you ate sugar alone.  It also prevents the sugar crash later.  With four active boys, I love any treat that keeps my kids from getting wound up and crazy.

Another reason you will love making these,  they are extremely low calorie cookies!    If you pipe about 100 cookies from this recipe, they are each only 6.5 calories!!  Aside from their festive look, that alone is a great excuse to eat them!!! I originally found this recipe online at SkinnyTaste, and have enjoyed it for a few years now!

These little Merengues are an impressive bring-along for that office work party, your family gathering, or just for at home enjoyment.  For a little fun, throw one or two in your cup of cocoa and make Christmas just a little more playful!  Enjoy!!

Skinny Peppermint Striped Merengue Puffs

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-4 drops peppermint essential oil (or 1 tsp. extract flavoring)
  • For decorating: red gel food coloring, paint brush, piping bag

Directions:

Prep: Line a couple cookie sheets with wax paper  Set oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit

  1. Throw eggs  in a glass mixing bowl, and set it over a pot of boiling water so the steam can gradually warm your bowl and thus warm your eggs Without cooking them.
  2. Mix sugar and vanilla into eggs mixture and store continually until sugar is melted and dissolved (not gritty) and slightly foamy.
  3. Remove from heat (carefully) and turn on your beater or transfer to your kitchen aid mixer, and beat until mixture forms stiff white peaks. (Basically, they hold their shape when you lift and fold the mixture with a spoon)
  4. DONT FORGET TO ADD YOUR PEPPERMINT!!  I save this till the end so the oil of the peppermint doesn’t disturb the ability of the merengue to fluff up.  Oil of any kind will keep it heavy and flat.

Piping:

  1. With your brush, draw three evenly spaced GENEROUS stripes with the gel food coloring, starting deep inside near the icing tip, and draw upward to the top of the bag.  Make these lines distinct but generous because it has to last for the entire bagful.
  2. Fill the icing bag with merengue
  3. Pipe cookies about the size of a half dollar or slightly smaller in a beautiful twisted shape onto your lined pans.    Using a star shaped icing tip will help give this effect.

Bake:

  1. Bake in a preheated oven at 200f, for 1 hr. 15 min, to 1 hr 30 min.
  2. Take them out when they are crisp on the outside but slightly soft inside.
  3. OPTIONAL: Sprinkle with decorative sugar to add a wintery effect.
  4. LET THEM COOL COMPLETELY!!!  About 15-20 min.

Store in an airtight container.  Humidity will ruin these delights!

Enjoy all your hard work!!!


  
  

Blueberries, blueberries and more blueberries!!

We decided to finally go berry picking at a local Berry Farm!! Hurray!!  We had such a wonderful time!! (well, except for the rain downpour in the middle of our tasking, but then again, it was refreshing from the heat!)  For only $10 a gallon (equivalent of about 10 lbs of berries) we came home with an ABUNDANCE of berries!!  So, given that, I decided to use as many as possible since I found out AFTER rinsing them, that you can’t freeze them AFTER rinsing or they get freezer burned, you have to just rinse them before you use them… Agh.  go figure.  Soooo, I have a LOT of berries to use.  I’ve been giving some away, and otherwise will stuff them in my children’s faces and make as many blueberry things as possible!  Below are two yummy recipes I made.  One is Strawberry blueberry white chocolate oatmeal cookies, and the other is vitamin water with the berries and peppermint.  🙂  Enjoy the photos, and here’s the link to the recipe for the cookies.

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Storm is coming!!

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Levi preparing to pick a bucket full!!

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Shiloh picked a few, but mostly ate a lot!

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Benjamin did great, but tired out quickly.  He is three. 🙂

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Me and the boys very proud of our increasing supply of berries.

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Levi and my collection growing!!

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Judah and Benjamin, happy, but tired and ready to call it quits.  They didn’t last but fifteen minutes! Lol…

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Benjamin is just too cute not to put his little photo. 🙂

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Shiloh eating them up… forgive the repeat!!

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Washing my blueberries!  Very thrilled with my initiative taking, unfortunately, if you’re freezing yours, rinse them AFTER so you don’t lose the protective layer on their skin.  However, if you’re keepin them fresh, rinse them, and throw a capful of VINEGAR into the water with them to kill any mold spores so they don’t go bad so quickly!!  (at least I did SOMETHING right!)

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Letting the berries dry out on a towel before handling them!

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Making the cookies with chunks of white chocolate, blueberries, and strawberries!!  YAY!!

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Yummmm… cookie batter!!!!  It was so good, maybe better raw than cooked!!  I saved some dough just because… 🙂  Ooh!!  I remembered that just now and might go eat some!!  🙂

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Beautiful cookies!!!!

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Forgive the tiny picture, but this is what I threw into the bottom of a pitcher for vitamin water:

-Thinly sliced strawberries

-Blueberries, gently squeezed to release some juices.

-Peppermint from my garden, crushed to release the oils.

Add filtered water to top, let it refridgerate over night!! Ta-da!!  Vitamin water!!!

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Stawberry, Blueberry, peppermint vitamin water!!

No-bake energy bites!

So I found this recipe on pinterest and it has become my new favorite go-to snack when I am on the go!  I have adapted it a bit and that’s half the beauty of it, you can mix up the ingredients to your liking!  I can’t find the original recipe unfortunately, so you will just have to run with my adaptation.  🙂  its just as yummy, if not better, I promise. 🙂

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Protein Energy Bites
Ingredients:
1 cup oats
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (my fave part!)
1/3 cup coconut flakes (unsweetened if you can find them)
1/2 cup flaxseed (or I use flaxseed meal)
1/3 cup sliced almonds (or plain sunflower seeds, shelled)
1/2 cup peanut butter (or try almond butter!)
1/3 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, and set in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.  If the mixture is too dry, add a little more honey or peanut butter.  If too wet, add more oats! 

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After 30 minutes, take it out and roll (or squeeze in your palm) the mixture into bite size balls, and lay them out on a lined baking pan to freeze.  Set them in the freezer till they are hardened enough not to stick together (another 15 min or so) and then you can transfer them to your preferred sealed container to be stored in the fridge for up to a week; in the freezer they will last longer.

Now, after doing this a few times, I found that I like to keep mine stored in a ziploc in the freezer!  It makes the chocolate extra crunchy and they are just that much more refreshing when they are cold. 🙂  they are not too hard to bite thru and a couple friends of mine also commented on how much they liked them frozen.

**Extra ingredients to consider:
-use raisins and add cinnamon for a connamon raisin oatmeal cookie taste. 
-Try adding chia seeds to make them more filling! 
-In one batch I used shelled sunflower seeds and that was yummy too. 
-If you don’t prefer peanut butter, substitute almond butter
-also try: nutella (high in sugar though), craisins, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, chopped walnuts, other dried fruits, peruse your baking aisle and get creative!

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Enjoy!  Eat 3 or 4 for a quick healthy breakfast on the go, an easy snack in the afternoon or even a healthy after school snack for the kids.  These babies are loaded with all the good fats, protein, healthy carbs and antioxidants you need for a health-conscious pick-me-up.  Ok, now go make some.  You can thank me later. 🙂