Not Hamburger Helper

In an effort to get back to our normal healthy eating I’ve  declared our house a virtually grain free  zone (aside from oatmeal) and let me tell you it has been a bit more difficult than in the past! Good for us food is a bit more expensive & juggling cooking time with an almost 5 month old is quite the experience, but I am determined to make it happen. Recently, we were driving back from a trip and we began talking about food we ate growing up vs. food I currently keep in the house. Cory said, “we don’t really have much pre-packaged stuff like hamburger helper or chips, I grew up eating that.” I said, “so did I, but it’s not best for us to eat that stuff if possible and it’s cheaper for me to make stuff from scratch without preservatives.” Cory responded, “it doesn’t get much cheaper than hamburger helper!” Touché’, my love. FYI: I thoroughly enjoyed Hamburger Helper beef stew, it doesn’t really taste like stew, but it’s my favorite of the helpers. Often prepackaged stuff is cheap and easy. Why is that? Can we do something about that? I promise if we put effort into making whole foods more affordable, the price of health care would go down! (This would be my platform if I was running for government!) Now, before you think I’m hating on our Moms here for feeding us hamburger helper, let me just say NO WAY! Our moms did the best they could with what they had by way of time, energy and cooking chops. We both have hardworking moms that had full-time jobs, raised babies & served in the church. I’m not sure how they made it all happen. I am very thankful we always had food to eat. Now, as an adult I have found that I feel best & am healthiest when I eat less processed meals and less carbs. (OH HOW WE LOVE OUR CARBS! I’M A CUPCAKE BAKER!) So, I try to come up with meals that my husband finds yummy & are good for us but taste like they aren’t. Here is our latest dish that satisfies:

sweet-potato-brulee_11-18-12_6_caHawaiian Sweet Potato Casserole:


4 medium or 6 small sweet potatoes roasted in the oven until just tender then mashed (I leave the skins on, but you can take them off if you desire)

Choose EITHER 3 TBS of butter or 4 oz of softened cream cheese. (I guess you could put both if you really want to, I use whichever I have on hand)

Salt & Pepper to taste

1/2 tsp nutmeg (don’t skip this, unless you hate nutmeg)

1 lb of ham cooked & diced (I found a really good deal on a ham .69 a lb)

1 cup fresh pineapple grilled & diced (don’t skip the grilling, you can even just brown in a skillet, so much flavor!)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions: Pre-heat oven to 350. Mix 1st 4 ingredients in a bowl and mix well, then mix in ham & pineapple. Spoon into a 9×13 or 8×8 baking dish (the 8×8 is filled to the brim), top with chopped pecans and bake until heated through & pecans are roasted.

Suggestions: You can either eat this as a whole meal or as a side with a steak or chicken. You can also replace the ham with bacon if you prefer. If you don’t like pineapple throw in dried cranberries or fresh diced apples. Really the possibilities are endless!


Nesting and baking

The last few days especially we’ve been in go mode nesting/getting everything ready for baby girl’s arrival. Along with this, my desire to bake has been through the roof. I’ve got bananas lined up to make banana bread to take with us to the hospital to give to the nurses and guests. At least, that’s the plan anyway. I could just see me making all the bread, sticking it in the freezer and then completely forgetting to take it with us. If that happens, I will be happy to eat banana bread when we come home!

Enough about bananas, I want to talk about cherries. My husband loves cherry anything, so I try to surprise him once in awhile with cherry goodies and this morning I decided to make some Cherry Baked Oatmeal instead of our usual egg dish. (Sidebar: I use to eat oatmeal every morning, loved it, and then I got pregnant and couldn’t stand the texture, but I keep trying because oatmeal is good for me.) I just remembered a week ago that I like baked oatmeal and it has a different texture than my regular oatmeal, woohoo! Let me tell you, this Cherry Baked Oatmeal was so delicious I’m already looking forward to breakfast tomorrow. 20130830-222006.jpg You can make this healthier than I did this morning if you use fresh or dried cherries instead of pie filling or make your own pie filling with stevia or honey. I do that quite a bit, but today I went for convenience.

Cherry Baked Oatmeal: Makes 6-8 large servings

2 cups milk or water (you can use almond or soy milk also)

4 eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar or honey

2 tsp Vanilla

2/3 cup coconut oil, melted butter or any other oil you have on hand, you could also substitute applesauce for the oil to make it healthier.

4 cups rolled or quick oats

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 can cherry pie filling


Preheat oven to 350. In a medium mixing bowl combine first five ingredients and mix well making sure to get the eggs beaten. Stir in oats, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Lightly grease a 9X13 pan and pour batter into pan spreading out even. Spoon cherry pie filling over the top evenly. Bake for 30 minutes. If you have leftovers like I purposely plan for, you can just reheat a portion in the microwave or eat it cold.

I will be making this again and in many variations, it was that good! Enjoy!