Meal prep puts pep in my step. Most people see this as a tedious task, but it actually makes busy life that much easier. I will buy 2 dozen eggs, and I will boil a dozen of them that way I have a good healthy snack to take on the go. I will always use meals more than one way so that even though I am making a crap load of chicken or a crap load whatever, I can make it different ways. Like I can use the same chicken that I used to eat with peas and sweet potatoes, and make a different meal and cut the chicken, put it on some lettuce with onions, tomato, brown rice, corn, and sriracha and make a taco. I can also use the chicken again and make it with some rice and eggs and veggies for a stir fry. Or put it on some whole grain bread with mozzarella and mustard for a sandwich. The best part is that all these meals, made from one protein is placed in my fridge and ready to go. That makes it bunches easier for me when I need to run out and would love to eat healthier, because now I can grab and go instead of getting fast food. I also put things like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, sweet potato slices, or avocado in containers or zip lock bags so I can take those snacks on the go too, as well as my hard boiled egg. You could even do that with fruit. I love to have containers of fruit with cottage cheese or greek yogurt ready for me too. You can do so many great things for your body and health by planning in advance, that way you are not forced to hit the drive-thru.
So the other day I was really missing my Pa. Missing his smell, him calling me his Pumpkin, his stories and his cooking. So in honor of him, I decided to make some grape leaves (or cigars as he called him) to make that void feel a little smaller. Of all of the things my Poppy taught me, cooking was the best and the one that really stuck and I fell in love with. I love to cook! It makes me feel better, and hey I know what I am putting in my food, so I stay healthier that way too. It took him many years to pass down all of the Lebanese cooking recipes to me, but oh man am I glad he did…and it was worth the wait. Nobody can make Leb food like he could, but I would like to think I come close (and the time I cooked the recipes for him, he teared up so I will take that as a moment of proudness)! When my family (and close friends of mine that we pretty much adopted) would make the grape leaves, we would have a good assembly line going so it was more than cooking, it was a moment to form a stronger bond and spend time with one another. So heres to all of those times, and heres to the best man ever!
You will need:
- Grape Leaves
- Ground Meat (Lean beef, Turkey, Pork…I use Lamb)
- Can of Crushed Tomatoes
- Lemon Juice
Start by adding half of the can of tomatoes to the bottom of a deep pan.
Now mix your ground meat, dried ground mint, allspice, and garlic. I don’t measure I go by looking and my tastebuds. So I would say a tsp maybe of each, I love garlic so I always add more.
I like to set aside a huge plate to the side and put my leaves on there, opened and ready. Pinch the stem off and place the leaves vain side up. Put a small portion of the meat mix on the leaf.
I start by folding a small part of the leaf over, then by tucking in the top and bottom sides and then roll it up.
Now place any broken or leaves that were too small in the bottom of the pot on top of the tomatoes to cover, and then add the rolled up grape leaves.
Add some water so the leaves are all submerged, the rest of your tomatoes and some lemon juice. Then cover with an upside down plate (yes a plate) and then put the lid on and cook at a simmer about 3-4 heat for an hour or 2 until tender.
I love you Pops! Here is to you!
So what do you do when one of your children is literally the world’s pickiest eater (not over exaggerating here, I promise you I could win in any argument for picky eaters that my daughter is the pickiest of all)?!?!?! You literally try everything on the planet to get her to eat more protein and healthier foods. Not to mention that my 8 year old is a pretty Bad A athlete, she trains like crazy and I am amazed her body is not just like jello or that she doesn’t just pass out from the lack of protein she gets. So I constantly am putting protein powder in everything, but she was still lacking in the veggie department.
Well miraculously I found this awesome plant based protein that will help her get her vitamin fill and the protein her muscles need. The best part is that she actually likes it and I don’t even have to do anything fancy with it, just add milk. But of course sometimes I do, do fancy smancy stuff…like adding peanut butter and banana for a smoothie, or making homemade protein bars for her, or pancakes, or muffins, or even adding it to make healthy cookies. So this Mama over here is patting herself on the back for a job well done, and for helping my little mini become a better, more stronger, healthier, and energized version of her amazing self!
Here is the figure 8 braid I was talking about the other day. It is fairly simple, just make sure to keep the braid tight the whole way down. Separate the hair into two equal parts. From one side, grab a mall section, pull it over the section you are grabbing from and then put it under the other section of hair on the opposite side. Once you have put it under the section of hair, bring it back over that same section and then bring it under the opposite section. Creating a figure 8 movement. Once you start running out of hair pull from the side you are on to add more hair, and continue to do this the whole way down.
Braids can spice up any hairstyle and once you get the hang of them you can incorporate them into any do. I like to do my headband braids one of two ways, either a french braid so it will stay without the use of pins or a regular braid (like the one below) so I can move them where I want. If you are doing a regular braid, be sure to braid at the angle you are going to put it, that way it doesn’t bump up on your hair. For this style I did two braids on the side my head (leaving a little section of hair out next to each of my ears). Then I braided the two sections of hair next to my ears. I placed the two main braids across my head to make a headband and securely pinned them. I then took the two smaller braids by my ears and pinned them back crossing over the headband braid to add more detail, which I then put in a ponytail. I put my hair in a figure 8 braid (I will share that one later) and then twisted it into a knot and secured. The use of the ponytail and the knotted bun helps to hide the tail of the braided hair.
Hello to all of my amazing readers. I am so sorry to keep you, I have suffered a terrible loss and my body has just been emotionally exhausted. But my Pa would not want this, he was the biggest supporter of my blog, and I will continue my passion not only for myself but in honor of him.
It has been almost two weeks since you left me, I have been at such a loss. Trying to keep busy to keep my mind and heart from hurting. I know that this is not what you wanted, this is why you fought so hard for us, so that we would not be sad. So today I have decided I will do my best to celebrate you, celebrate the time I had with you, though it was cut way too short. God wanted you at his side and I know you are watching over us. So to start my celebration of your amazing life, I am sharing your story. Such a cute little boy you were. Your life was hard growing up, but you didn’t let that stop you from becoming the amazing man that you were.
Not only were you my hero, but you fought for this country by joining the special forces in the Army. I am so proud of you, always and forever. You were an amazing firefighter/emt, you were the best handy man around! Everyone called you Stan the man because there was nothing that you couldn’t fix. You were the best cook, there was nothing you made that didn’t get eaten, and it is because of you that I have a love for cooking. You had the biggest heart as well. You always welcomed people (stranger or not) into our home when they were in need, even at the times when you may have needed some help yourself. You are and will always be the best man on this planet!
Thank you for being everything and more to me. For giving me the best of the best and always believing in me. For showing me more skills than I could have ever imagined and because of that, I am very independent and can handle just about anything. I love you Poppy, always and forever! Never will I ever be healed, I will always feel an emptiness without you by my side, but because of you I will always be the strong woman that you raised, and there will never be a day that goes by that I will not think of you. You will forever and always be My Pops.