Goodbye March Madness

Veggies on cutting board.

March Madness is over – congratulations Virginia. While it was a fun tournament (according to the husbands, the best one they can remember), we are not sad that it’s over. We’re Big 12 girls, so we’re a little upset that Texas Tech lost. But it marks the end of a month that we are just happy to see end. March was ROUGH! We’re not even sure what happened in the world at large because we were simply in survival mode. Snow day after snow day. Frigid cold (which means the toddlers couldn’t go outside). Strep. Flu. Colds. More strep. More flu. Some unknown virus. ER visits. Spring Break. Work travel. It was hard to come up for air, let alone cook for pleasure during the month of March. That leads us to our topic today – food and nutrition for survival. Not physical survival but just surviving the real life day to day.  

I thought I would take a minute to write just a short bit about just surviving. I am a meal planner. It’s one of the only aspects in my life where I do a good job planning! But it was virtually impossible during the month of March with everything that came up. The tools, skills and attitudes, however, that I utilize in meal planning still served me well, and I am thankful during these times to have those skills and tools. Here are the top three: 

  • Flexibility: It seemed like every day threw another curve ball, so we had to adjust on the fly to make sure everyone got fed. And at the end of the day, that is what it is about – making sure people are fed. It isn’t about a complicated recipe or social-media-worthy pic (you’ll notice those pics REALLY dropped of for us during the month of March). It is about getting food into everyone’s mouths. Period. 
  • My family’s go-to’s: This goes hand in hand with flexibility. Our pantry, refrigerator and freezer are always stocked with the essentials for whipping up quick and easy family favorites. When the day goes awry, the last thing I want to do is fret over what’s for dinner. Sure, the husband and the toddler had to have tacos three times in one week, but everyone was fed.  
  • Online grocery pick-up: this is a life-saver for me most weeks. But it was especially so as I was running from place to place, picking up kids, medicines, travel essentials, and whatever else (it’s a blur). What did I buy since I wasn’t able to truly meal plan? I just kept restocking those go-to ingredients and utilizing my favorites list of the items vitals we buy every week. 

Sometimes our best laid plans don’t pan out. And that’s ok. Put the go-to’s on repeat, have a lot of breakfast for dinner (eggs, fruit and frozen pancakes can be put out in minutes!), or just throw a protein and some veggies on a plate.  During chaotic times, don’t feel like you must stick to a plan and don’t feel guilty for making the same thing over and over. Feed whoever it is you feed every day, whether that is family or just yourself, and go to bed feeling accomplished.  

Now back to what is happening at Real Noshes – we did have a bit of fun creating a few new recipes in March, which we will be featuring over the next month. We also started sharing 30 days of tips for getting in your fruits and veggies. Then we paused as life got. more and more nutty. You can still download the whole calendar here, and we will finish out those features this month on Instagram and Pinterest 

So goodbye to March, hello to spring, and we are looking forward to getting back to sharing what’s happening in our kitchens and hearing about what you’re creating in yours!  

Because We DON’T Love the Flu

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Today is the day of love…and we’re so excited to spread it. We’re spreading our love to family and friends through food and fun today. But do you know what we DON’T love spreading this time of year? The flu. Is it just me, or does anyone else find it ironic that the kiss-iest, hug-iest, touchiest holiday of the year falls right in the middle of flu season? But I digress… 

This time of year, both of our kitchens are full of fruits and veggies being turned into soups, stews, bases, salads, snacks, and anything else you can think of because they are chocked full of immune boosting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A toddler coughs? Here’s an orange! The husbands sound a little congested? Butternut squash soup for dinner! We feel a little run down? Slice up some kiwi to nosh on at the laptop.   

We posted a while back on butternut squash soup – a hearty soup from a natural immune boosting food, perfect for cold and flu season. But did you know that red bell peppers are immunity superfoods too? They’re a stellar source of Vitamin C, packed full of Vitamin A, and a great source of Vitamin E. Plus a big giant dose of antioxidants. These nutrients all work together to kick your immune system into gear while you work to stave off the icky cold and flu! 

Red bell peppers are also super versatile. Put them in a salad, snack on strips, extend taco meat, add to burgers, meatballs and meatloaf, pat into salmon cakes, liven up spaghetti sauce, or roast them to add a deliciously rich flavor to any dish. We did just that a few nights ago, after lots of friends started falling victim to this dreaded season. We made a yummy roasted red pepper and tomato soup – with grilled cheese cooked in the waffle iron for some extra fun!  A cozy soup on a cold night that we like to think did its part to help keep the germy-wormies at bay! 

Here’s the recipe: 

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup 

Makes: 6-8 servings 

Prep time: 5 minutes 

Cook time: 50 minutes 

Ready in: 55 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 4 red bell peppers, halved and seeded 
  • 2 Tbs. Butter 
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 28 oz.  can crushed tomatoes 
  • 3 c. chicken stock 
  • 1 Tbs. Italian seasoning 
  • Salt and pepper 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 500°F.
  2. Roast bell pepper halves for 20 minutes or until skin is blistered and charred. Let cool slightly and roughly chop. 
  3. Melt butter in a stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent, about 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, stock, Italian seasoning. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Bring to boil over medium heat and simmer for 20 minutes. 
  6. Using an immersion blender or transferring small batches to a regular blender (be cautious transferring and blending hot liquids!), blend soup until almost smooth or smooth. We say almost because we like it a little chunky!

30 Days of More Fruits & Veggies!

It’s the month of love! And we want to spread some love…to our bodies. It’s that time when the dietitians tell you to eat more fruits and veggies. They’re good for your heart (fitting since it’s Heart Month), they’re good for your gut, they’re good for your brain – they’re good for pretty much every single system in our bodies. So go snag an apple!

But wait, what if you KNOW you should eat more fruits and veggies –  I mean, we all do, right? But you don’t always know WHAT to do with them. Different ways to cook them, different ways to get out of a rut, different ways to incorporate  them? Well, we have another calendar for you. Yay! Here are 30 days of easy ways to pack in the produce. Download it now, then grab some grapes and get to noshing!

30 Days of More Fruits & Veggies

Download 30 Baby Steps to More Fruits & Veggies

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6 Reasons We Love a Night In

Grapefruit & Avocado Salad

Last week was my birthday, and I was lucky enough to spend the whole week celebrating with my friends, family and lots of food. It all culminated over the weekend with a visit from Keri and her fam. We spent an entire afternoon and evening in the kitchen together, cooking for a night in with the husbands. Don’t get me wrong, we love a good date night out. But we also love a night in. Here’s why: 

  1. Informality…or formality…you choose! You can come to dinner in whatever attire you want. You want to prep and eat in your PJs like Keri did? Do it! Prefer stretchy yoga pants? Awesome. Want to go full on glam in cocktail attire? 80s prom? The roaring 20s? Beachwear? Go. For. It. You can be as formal or informal as you want, and you don’t have to worry about being under or overdressed because it’s your night in. (I went with jeans and a sweater this time, in case you were dying to know). 
  2. No reservations. Getting a sitter, getting ready, and getting out the door is just hard right now. We work, the husbands work, the toddlers get tired, and remembering to make a reservation is hard, let alone make it to one on time! A night in gives us the flexibility to be on our own timeline. We don’t have to be somewhere at a certain time, and we can take as long or as short of time to eat as we please. We opted to start our dinner in peace after the kids went to bed, and we spread it out over a couple of hours.
  3. More social. From the cooking to the actual eating, it’s just more intimate and social. We get to enjoy cooking together. We can chat, tell stories, joke around – it’s fun for us. If you’re doing a night in for several people, it allows way more interaction amongst the group than sitting at a long restaurant table. We all know what it’s like to wonder what on earth the people at the other end of the table are saying! Cook with your guests, taste tests (we love little tasting spoons so everyone can share the love), and generally just enjoy the moment. 
  4. Way cheaper. There isn’t a lot to say here. Just like during the week you know you spend less money cooking at home, the same principle applies here. We did four courses for four people and spent less than $75 on food. You can’t beat that!
  5. Experimenting. We love any opportunity to experiment in the kitchen and play with our food. We really, really do. And nights in are a fantastic way to do that. You can try new recipes you’ve saved, make up your own, learn a new cooking technique, bring in friends or significant others to cook with you – the sky is the limit. We tried a new recipe for one course, and we made the rest up! See below for what we cooked and how to make it.
  6. You’re in control. With a night in, you can make it exactly what you want. You can control the cost, the guest list, exactly what’s on the plate, the number of dishes. If you want to do a course pairing (we did wine), you can – beer, wine, cocktails, mocktails, infused water, whatever you want! You can use it as a learning experience and try out complex dishes. Or you can keep it completely simple. We’re big fans of the 80/20 rule, in a lot of ways. We did a cake that had several steps, but the rest of the meal we just kept simple. This goes for prep and what’s on the actual plate. With a night in, we can pack in the veggies, make the most of the dishes healthy-ish, and still indulge too. Enter that decadent cake we tried! 

 A four-course wine pairing with our husbands, in our PJs, on the cheap, with no rushing – any day! Try it, we promise you’ll love it. Don’t stress about it, even if you aren’t comfortable in the kitchen. Again, it’s a great chance to experiment, socialize, relax and laugh off any mishaps, like reading three cups of powdered sugar instead of three tablespoons. Let’s just say our first batch of frosting didn’t make it.  

What We Made 

  • Grapefruit & Avocado Salad 
    • Salad: grapefruit slices, avocado slices, arugula mix
    • Dressing: balsamic vinegar, olive oil, whole grain mustard, salt and pepper (simply mixed to taste!) 
  • Seared Apples & Sharp White Cheddar 
    • 2 fuji apples, peeled and sliced 
    • ½ Tbs. butter
    • Juice of half an orange 
    • ¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice 
    • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract 
    • Sliced sharp white cheddar cheese
    • Heat butter in skillet. Add apples, cooking for 10-15 minutes (we like ours extra crispy, so we seared a bit longer!). Add pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Let cool. Place an apple slice on top of a slice of sharp white cheddar – it’s delish! 
  • Sweetheart Chili Burgers 
    • Burger: 2# ground beef mixed with 4 oz. can diced green chilis (drained) and salt and pepper to taste. 
    • Sweetheart sauce: 8 oz. whipped cream cheese mixed with ½ cup of your favorite pepper jelly (we used raspberry jalapeno) 
    • Build it: grill the burgers (we did charcoal because it’s our first love!), spread the sweetheart sauce on a brioche bun, add the burger, and top with caramelized onions.  
  • Baker by Nature’s Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake. We don’t really need to say anything else here – the title pretty much says it all. It was indeed as divine as it sounds.  

Are you ready for a night in? Comment below with questions or to share your menu ideas! 

Sweetheart Burger
Seared Apples & Sharp Cheddar
Salted Carmel Chocolate Cake

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Mis-Adventures with My Slow Cooker

Pastrami

I LOVE my slow cooker. I know, I know – I’m not the only one! But it is such a big part of my weekly meal planning and meal prep, I just have to give it some props. What I love about my particular slow cooker is that it isn’t just a crock pot. It roasts (it even has a cute little rack!), it sautés (for those recipes that call for a quick sear before you throw the meat in with your other ingredients) and it’s BIG (because I like to cook in bulk and freeze individual portions for chaotic evenings).

Needless to say, my slow cooker and I are great friends. But, like any relationship, we’ve had some bumps in the road. Sometimes I get the temperature wrong and my dish cooks too fast or too slow. Sometimes I get busy and completely forget to even start it – which is what happened to me last Thursday! See our Easy Peasy Instagram story highlight for a quick recipe to throw in if you forget to do this.

Sometimes a recipe just doesn’t work out the way it should. Maybe it’s user error, maybe it’s the recipe, maybe it’s a combination of both. This happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I had a beautiful corned beef brisket that I was going to turn into pastrami. I saw the recipe on Today Food on a show about tailgating. My husband is a college football fanatic, and his team was playing in the National Championship play-off. What a perfect opportunity to try out this delicious recipe.

It was indeed delicious…eventually. The cook didn’t go quite according to plan. I did all the prep – soaked it, rubbed it down, wrapped it, and put it on the cute little roasting rack. I stuck my favorite wireless meat thermometer in because I knew it 1) would be a long cook and 2) had a goal temp for maximum quality. Then I went on about my business. Several hours later, the temperature stopped rising. It stayed the same. And stayed the same. And stayed the same. Ok, I thought, it’s hitting a stall like meat does during smoking. And stayed the same. The recipe said it would be about 9-10 hours in the slow cooker. 10 hours came and went. Finally, at 14 hours, the game almost over, and me ready to go to bed, I pulled it out of the slow cooker and threw it in the oven to finish. I tasted it before I put away, sad that my pastrami sandwiches for the game did not come to fruition. It WAS delicious! Mouth-watering delicious.

 

Kitchen mishaps happen to novice cooks and to seasoned cooks. And that’s ok. Sometimes we have to be flexible. Adjust on the fly if you can, and never be afraid to laugh at yourself. We didn’t get our sandwiches for the game, but we had absolutely yummy leftovers for lunch the next couple of days. Laugh it off and move on. Sometimes we learn as much from our mis-adventures as we do from our successes!

 

P.S. Happy National Hot Pastrami Day!

 

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Taking on 2019…One Baby Step at a Time

30 Day Calendar - Baby Steps

It’s a new year. You may be resolved to be a new you. Which is awesome. You rock. But may we offer a suggestion? Break down those goals. Break them wayyyy down. Into little, tiny baby steps. You want to make 2019 the year you get healthy? Perfect! Think about exactly what that means. Is it food? Physical activity? Mental health? Getting enough ZZZZs? (Side note, your personal health should include ALL of these things – food and physical activity aren’t the only pieces to the puzzle.)

 

Think about teeny, tiny behaviors that support your health and resolve to focus on one a day or one a week or one a month. Tiny goals do two things for us – they create actual habits, and they fuel success. On average, only about 8% of Americans keep their New Year’s resolutions. EIGHT PERCENT! Changing our behavior is hard. We know it, and we get it. When we tackle too much at once, we often set ourselves up for failure. Set small, achievable goals along the way to set yourself up for long-term success. A little success leads to more success, which eventually leads to achieving those really big goals.

 

Set a goal. Achieve it. Make it a habit. Move onto another goal. Here are a few ideas if your focus is your health this year:

 

  1. Drink zero sugary beverages for a week. Water is ah-mazing friends!
  2. Eat breakfast. You know it’s the most important meal of the day!
  3. Only eat out once a week. Save moolah and calories!
  4. Make a meal plan. We know how stressful that last minute, “What’s for dinner?!?” is.
  5. Try a new recipe. Play with your food, we promise it’s fun!
  6. Eat a green vegetable every day. Or red, or orange…just eat those fruits and veggies!
  7. Try a physical activity you’ve never tried. Find what YOU like!
  8. Call a friend and have a laugh. It truly is the best medicine (hello stress relief!)
  9. Try a new hobby. We have to find those outlets!
  10. Commit to 8 hours of sleep every night for the next week. Sleep, also ah-mazing!

And just for fun, check out the calendar at the bottom of this page for 30 days of tiny goals.

 

Real life from Jill: I’ve decided 2019 is all about my mental health. One of my BIG goals to reduce stress is to get organized and declutter my house. If I think about doing this to my whole house, it makes me want to curl up in a corner in the fetal position. It’s overwhelming. So how am I breaking it down? By cabinet. Not even by room! One little cabinet at a time. I know when I do one cabinet, I’ll feel successful. And the next day, I’ll do another. And another. Tiny, baby steps to achieve one of my biggies for 2019. I’ll keep you posted!

 

Cheers to making 2019 your best year yet!

 

 

Download the 2019 30 Baby Steps

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Hi!

Jill, Maudie and Keri after a Run

Hello Friends! Welcome to our blog. We are so grateful you have decided to visit our site. Our very first blog is dedicated to what you can expect from us.

 

First and foremost, you can expect brevity. Sure, we’ll add the funny and flare when we need to, but we know you’re busy and are likely visiting for the meat and potatoes, pun intended! We’ll keep our intros, stories, and antics short and sweet. We get that, most of the time, you’ll be scrolling right to the recipe (no judgement, we do it too!)

 

Second, we are big fans of the 80/20 rule – in our kitchens, in our lives and on our blog. Most of the time, our blog will focus on food, recipes, kitchen hacks, and generally cool things that happen in our kitchens. We’ll also be honest about the not-so-cool things (such as the slow cooker pastrami I was so excited about before New Year’s that would not cook – I’ll tell you that story at a later date). Back to the 80/20 rule. Our main focus will be food, but occasionally we’ll write about other random stuff too.

 

We would love for you to follow us on Instagram, like us on Facebook and sign up for our newsletter. We promise not to spam you ever day. You can expect a newsletter once a month with interesting content and tips for making food fun in your own kitchens. And stay tuned for some super exciting videos we will be putting out on YouTube this year!

 

I’ll close with a simple note about us. We are two dietitians, who also happen to be sisters, living crazy chaotic lives with toddlers, dogs and husbands. And we are grateful for every single second of it. Food is a central theme in both of our families. Sometimes we cook for pleasure and fun (we’re big fans of playing with your food), and sometimes we cook for survival. But we’re about helping you learn about and explore food in simple ways that make sense for YOUR life because we recognize that life is busy, chaotic and wonderful each and every day.

 

Cheers!

 

(This is us running in the rain with Jill’s nutty dog. Sometimes the only time you can get your run in is the rain, and sometimes those are the most beautiful moments.)