Who is ready for some snow?! Although we moved to Canada, we won’t get the big blizzard bombs like last winter. We all watched the American news today and we amazed to see forecasts of two feet, or 61 centimeters. A few of the recipes on the meal plan this week will be sure to warm you up after a round of snow shoveling.

This week I took a look at two (new-to-me) cookbooks, Food 52 and Whole 30. Food 52 is well written and is organized by season. In the winter section, the Best New Year’s Resolution Dish called out to me. It seemed like an appropriate week to try the One-Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf. Let me tell you, it was a winner. Even my husband liked it, and he is not a kale and quinoa kind of guy. The recipe made a lot and it was even better the next day as a healthy lunch option. (Note- I couldn’t get the kids to try this one…maybe next time.) 

Healthy living cookbooks

In the Whole 30 cookbook, there is a lengthy explanation to teach you what to eat/what not to eat if you are following their program. We are not doing the Whole 30, although I do appreciate the idea behind it. In our season of feeding little kids, I just don’t want to create different meals for everyone in the house. I try to make sure we are all eating the same thing, quinoa aside.

What I did like in the cookbook is the recipe section. There are some great main dishes that I am trying out. A couple of the vegetarian dishes look promising, and how can I not test out some recipes from the “Fancypants Meals” section.

On to the menu plan…

Dinner Ideas

  • One-Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf (recipe)- I’m sure the exact recipe is perfect, but I swapped out pine nuts for walnuts and parmesan cheese for the goat cheese and it still turned out lovely.
  • Lentil and Sausage Soup for a Cold Winter’s Night (recipe, also in the cookbook)- this is on deck for us next week. I’m giving lentils one more try…if I can learn to love quinoa, maybe lentils will be next.
  • Breakfast Hash- this is essentially a sausage and peppers dish, jazzed up with sweet and yellow potatoes. It was a love for the grown-ups, the kids were not super impressed. It came from the new ebook from A Little Coconutty. I found her on instagram and have used her cute menu plan printable the past couple of months. I bought the ebook this week and enjoyed reading it and get some new recipe ideas. The ebook is here (I’m not an affiliate) and her IG account is here if you are in need of some healthy eating inspiration. (note- I used Whole Foods chicken sweet italian sausages and cooked it for 40 minutes and it was great.) This is also a Whole 30 recipe if you are following the program.
  •  Walnut Crusted Pork Tenderloin-this was the kid’s favorite this week. All 3 devoured their dinner and got seconds. It was super easy for a weeknight dinner meal. (grab the book from the library for the full recipe, otherwise find it here.)
  • Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup (recipe) – game day dinner as the Pats take on the Broncos.

Lunch List (pop over to my Lunch Pinterest board for more ideas)

  • Toast 12 ways, ideas from Traci at Dried apricot, blue cheese, walnut toast. Yes and yes. This is why I don’t do the Whole 30.
  • The quinoa kale pilaf should be in your lunch routine. I’m making it part of mine.
  • Kid’s lunch favorites this week were bagels with cream cheese, turkey & cheddar sandwiches and hard boiled eggs.

Vegetable prep for the Breakfast Hash recipe


Breakfast Time

Snack Bite

  • Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites (recipe)- from thefauxmartha (see above)

Healthy living recipes and meal plan

Well, those recipes should keep you busy this week. Or not too busy, as nothing is too complicated. Listen to that minimalist cooking podcast, or episode 48 from Radio Cherry Bombe for more healthy living inspiration. It’s from October but I still think about it, and feel validated about having a cocktail during the week. Cheers.


For more inspiration, see three years of past dinner plan heremy Pinterest board here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of weekly meal plans. Some affiliate links included. 

As everyone finishes their preparations for Christmas, here are some dinner ideas for your family. Easy peasy lemony squeezy my daughter would say. We are trying to do our best to use up what’s in the fridge and pantry in the coming weeks so we can start the New Year with a clean slate.

Monday: Shrimp and Feta (from the Dinner a Love Story cookbook)

Tuesday: Grilled steak tips, corn and Israeli couscous

Wednesday: Christmas Eve party at the neighbors

Thursday: Christmas ham, corn pudding, green salad and fresh bread.

Friday: Ham frittata and any other leftovers

Saturday: Eye of the Round Roast, potatoes and peas.


I encourage everyone to enjoy the next few days and try to avoid feeling like you need to “get” through the week. This is a time to slow down and enjoy the wonder of this holiday and see it through your children’s eyes. Merry Christmas and thank you to all my readers who motivate me to share my little thoughts here.

Monday meal plan to help organize family dinner

For more inspiration, see my past menus here, or the Pinterest board here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of meal plans.


We are getting into the Halloween spirit around here. After a tough September with Madison’s appendix surgery, we are all looking forward to the simple joy of enjoying fall and Halloween this month. One of the first signs of Halloween around here are the little faces I add to the fruit for the kids lunch box. It started with clementines, but often I’ll write on banana peels too.

Cute and spooky halloween pumpkins for lunch or snack time

For early readers, I love adding in simple words like Boo, Love, and Happy. It’s a nice way to engage the kids in some conversation about lunch time and if they liked their little surprise and find out who sat next to them and if they showed their friends. One mom got her daughter to start eating clementines after seeing a little Kitty clementine in Madison’s lunch box.

I often use a Sharpie for writing notes and spooky faces, all on skin that will be removed. Another option is to get a Food Writer Marker that is safe to use on more surfaces, like an apple peel. In the spirit of Halloween, I also just picked up some of these cute Candy Eyeballs that are sure to be a silly addition to the kids lunchbox or snack time.

Add fun words to the kids lunchbox

I hope your little one enjoys some pumpkin clementines this season!


This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of OneBar.

healthy snacks for a road trip

Are you getting ready for a road trip this summer? Anything that takes longer than one hour in the car for us is considered a “road trip” since we don’t do it often. We will be visiting Connecticut this weekend so I’m thinking about what snacks to pack to keep the whole family happy, and quiet, for the three hour drive.

The kids recently taste tested the OneBar and they gave it a big “yummy” when they tried out the apple, cherry and mango flavors. Kids can be very picky about eating fruit and the OneBar can help fill in the gaps. Each bar counts as a full serving of fruit, but is low calorie so the kids will still eat their next meal.

On car rides, one thing that drives me crazy is accidentally packing a snack that leads to very messy hands in the car. Since we drive a minivan, those kids are wayyyy in the back and I can’t just wipe hands off as we travel. Maybe your kids love cherries, but you won’t take the risk of packing cherries in the car. Could you imagine? Just pack a OneBar and they get a favorite treat and you don’t have to deal with the mess. Each bar is “dusted” with a superfruit called baobab. The dust keeps hands from getting sticky, but also delivers a healthy dose of antioxidants.

Onebar-what's inside?

For parents packing for kids with allergies or food sensitivities, the OneBar is made without gluten or wheat. Plus it’s made without added sugar, and no food dyes either. Sometimes life moves at a fast pace and it’s great to have a snack ready for a road trip or in between school and sports practice.

Packing a variety of snack items for the family on a road trip not only helps keep everyone’s energy level up, but it helps beat boredom. Try to pack a rainbow of colors and see if the kids can name every color they ate. Pack up snacks in individual bags so you can avoid sibling squabbles.

onebar flavors

Which flavor OneBar would your family like the most? Any new flavors you want to see in the mix?

All Random Recycling readers can enter to win a giveaway for three boxes (all three OneBar flavors, including Apple, Cherry and Mango). Don’t want to wait for the contest? Order now with the coupon code EasyFruit – good for 25% off their total order placed by August 31 at OneBar. Check out where everyone else is enjoying their OneBar by searching the hashtag #easyfruit.

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onebar healthy snack

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of OneBar. All opinions shared here are my own.
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The yummy new Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls! #girlswithpearls

Today we were delighted with a personal delivery of the new Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls. They are part dessert and part the coolest thing in food technology. And they were delicious! Just ask how quickly Madison was wishing for a second one.

The frozen yogurt is encased in an edible skin, kind of like a grape. Except these skins are different flavors…strawberry, coconut, and yummy banana. Wiki Foods, a Cambridge based company, developed the technology to work with Stonyfield’s yogurt bonbon treat. Consider the treat to be Wikilicious!

stonyfield frozen yogurt pearls boston

What’s even cooler is the packaging. It is going to be plastic free. The wrapper is actually made from a wood by-product. Ultimately, the marketing team would love to see them sold alongside the gelato at Whole Food dessert bars, totally package free. At only 20 calories a pop, it’s a sweet treat that won’t tip the scales.

As of March 21st, you can find the new Pearls in four Boston area Whole Foods. For more details there is a great Boston Globe article sharing some additional details.

All opinions shared about Stonyfield and the new Frozen Yogurt Pearls are my own, or my kids. 😉

Eat Seasonably Farmers Market

Our local farmers market opens in one week! I’m excited to start picking up some local produce and support our farmers and specialty food makers. The easiest way to get inspired at the market is to ask the farmer how they like to prepare what’s in season. Sometimes they have the tastiest, and easiest, recipes they can share with you. There are also lots of seasonal recipes on Pinterest, from salads to dessert options.  I also have accumulated a little collection of cookbooks that help me come up with new ways to use vegetables and eat seasonally.

Farmers Market Inspiration RandomRecycling

Vegetables Every Day~ this was a gift from my friend Christy. I love that it’s organized by vegetable so it’s a quick way to find new recipes. Have some swiss chard you don’t know what to do with? Just look it up for a bunch of new ways to prepare the leafy green. There’s also notes to see what other similar greens could work in the same recipe. I think it’s a great cookbook for getting inspired at the farmers market, or for those families participating in a CSA for the summer. The book is filled with beautiful illustrations of the produce included.

The Homesteader’s Kitchen~ this is a specialty cookbook that is beautiful to flip through and the recipes are a level above basic. There are some unique ingredients in some of the recipes which is a great way to spark up a conversation with your farmer.

Cooking from the farmer’s market~ this is a gorgeous collection of photos and recipes. It’s also organized by vegetables, but also includes fruit. There are recipes for all occasions, from breakfast to appetizers to Honeydew-Lime Ice Pops. The photographs are very detailed so if you are not sure if you brought home a green onion or a leek, you can verify it with this cookbook.

 Do you visit your local farmers market? Or participate in a CSA?

First image credit

Disclosure: some links are affiliate links.

Eat the Rainbow Fruit Skewers

Start the day with a rainbow of fruit on skewers.

Spring is finally in the air and we are spending lots more time outside. As my kids burn more energy now running and biking, making sure they are eating well is even more important. As a Mom, I talk about what my kids are eating, or not eating, with friends and family a lot. I am lucky to have two kids who are not very picky, they just tend to want to eat all the time. I think snack is JJ’s favorite word, right behind show. Feeding them real food is so important to me and I am happy to partner with New Balance and Chop Chop magazine to help support their campaign to “Eat the Rainbow, Run the Rainbow.”

As a blogger who focuses on kid friendly food recipes, I get to read a lot of cookbooks and nutrition books when they first get released. The recipes that always get the best response are those that are pretty. Pretty to my kids means there are lots of colors on the plate. Eat the Rainbow is such a simple message, but it really drives home what you should be feeding your kids. They may not eat it all, but there have been studies that show the more variety of color that is offered on a plate, the better the overall intake is of food. This is great for parents of picky eaters. Although they may throw it at you, at least you know you are offering them the best chance for a well-balanced meal. If you have young kids, I really like the book, Give Peas a Chance: The Foolproof Guide to Feeding Your Picky Toddler.

New Balance Rainbow Shoes

Now here is the fun part. You get two chances to win some great products from both New Balance and  Chop Chop magazine. Head over to their main contest page to enter to win monthly prizes. Then, enter here to win a pair of New Balance 890v3 Rainbow sneakers and a one year subscription to Chop Chop magazine! The shoes are just adorable. I know this since my daughter gets complimented on her special pair wherever we go. They come in both infant/preschool sizes with velcro and switch to laces at size 10 1/2 and up. It’s Madison’s very first pair of lace up shoes…not great timing for me at 32 weeks pregnant. I tie those shoes a lot!

Rainbow Giveaway

The giveaway is open to US residents until April 21, 2013. The winner will be announced on Earth Day, April 22! Good luck.

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Disclosure: I was provided a pair of New Balance Rainbow Shoes and subscription to Chop Chop magazine for which I am very excited about. All opinions expressed her are my own. 

Stonyfield Organic Blends Yogurt_RandomRecycling

Sometimes as a blogger you just get lucky. You meet the right people at the right time. One of those meetings was with the people from Stonyfield Yogurt. I love their company’s commitment to organic food and creating healthy products for kids. When we don’t make our own yogurt, we buy organic Stonyfield. My kids are huge fans of the YoKids yogurt tubes, which I can’t make myself. When my friends at Stonyfield said I could review the new Stonyfield Blends yogurt I was excited. Then they said I would also get a Blendtec blender. Oh, my.  I was giddy with excitement to test out the blender.

A happy Stonyfield customer

The yogurt arrived first. My kids think it’s normal to get yogurt delivered to their door. I still think it’s really cool! There was a big fuss as the kids picked out which Stonyfield Blends yogurt flavor to test out first. It’s fruity yogurt, without all clumpy “fruit on the bottom” flavoring of the past. No high fructose corn syrup or artificial food dyes either.  Each flavor was a success in our house, plus I used one of the French Vanilla cups to flavor our homemade yogurt. It was delicious.

Blendtec blender green smoothie

The smoothies we created with the Blends yogurt made us fall in love with the Blendtec. Our old blender was fine, but it doesn’t make smooth smoothies like the turbo powered Blendtec Wildside blender. No more ice chunks, no more leafy spinach in each cup. We have made some with and without yogurt, depending on the recipe. The pumpkin smoothie made with the French Vanilla Blends yogurt is my favorite so far. (Here is the recipe post!) The coolest thing is getting the kids to drink green smoothies. Green veggies are hit or miss at the dinner table so it feels great to see them drink up a spinach smoothie and ask for seconds.

Healthy Pumpkin Smoothie

Stonyfield wants to celebrate the launch of the new Blends yogurt line by giving one of my readers the opportunity to enjoy a case of the new yogurt AND a new Blendtec Blender, valued at $455!! 

Blendtec Blender and Stonyfield Yogurt Giveaway

The giveaway will be open until midnight Feb 18th. US residents only. Winner will be notified via email. Please enter using the form below.

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Disclosure: I was provided the blender and yogurt to help facilitate this review as part of my participation in the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club campaign, focused on providing healthy recipes for families. This in no way influenced mine, or my children’s, opinions shared here.  

Ninja Cooking System Giveaway Random RecyclingIf you are a regular reader of my meal plans, you know that I often use a slow cooker.  What you don’t see is how often I use it for non-dinner meals and for making homemade yogurt. About six months ago, I realized we need a second slow cooker.  Luckily, I got the opportunity to review the Ninja Cooking System.  It has all the features I wanted in a slow cooker, plus a few more.

Here were my requirements in my new slow cooker, which the Ninja is able to do.

  • Programable timer for either low or high heat
  • Ability to saute/braise right in the slow cooker insert (less dirty dishes to wash)
  • Hold a roast chicken that is five pounds
Only one and half hours to cook this chicken.

Only one and half hours to cook this chicken.

Here are the other cool features I like about the Ninja.

  • Oven function. You can set it like a normal oven temp, then set a cook timer.
  •  Stove top function. At low, medium or high, you can sauté and braise without having to clean a second pan.
  • Easy clean up.
  • Steam baking. Haven’t tried this yet but the recipes will get a second look from me in the new year.

Ninja Cooking Chili Random Recycling

When I made chili the first time and could brown the beef in the Ninja without having a second pan to clean was the biggest selling feature for me. I often try to make the chili before heading out to church on Sunday so it’s a crazy rush and not coming home to a greasy pan is just a nice treat. One note to those who love the ease of a slow cooker-when you use the oven or stove top function, it’s considered “active” cooking.  You should still be around when you have the Ninja on using one of these functions.

My baked pasta dish in the Ninja.

My baked pasta dish in the Ninja.

So how would you like to own a Ninja Cooking System for your kitchen?! I get to giveaway one to my lucky readers, it’s the Ninja MC701 3 in 1 Cooking System, a $200 value. Contest is open to US residents only. Ends at midnight on 12/27.

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Note: I couldn’t make my yogurt in the Ninja so far. I’ve tried twice. I think because it can heat faster than a traditional slow cooker, my temps are a bit off. The official chefs in the Ninja kitchen may test it out. If I revise my yogurt recipe for the Ninja, I’ll let you know!

Disclosure: I was provide a product sample to help facilitate this review. All opinions shared here are my own.

Writing my meal plan this weekend was a normal task. We enjoyed a wonderful weekend of holiday events with friends. That too, was normal. Yet, nothing feels that normal right now. My heart aches for those families that lost loved ones last week. I know how hard this is for families, having gone through a tragedy like this seven years ago. Time does help, but it’s really the support of family and friends that keeps people afloat.  Love everyone a little more this week.

On the menu this week….

Dec wk 3 Menu Plan

Dec wk 3 Menu Plan

Sunday~ Chicken Picatta, Lemon Spaghetti, Snow Peas. Recipes from the Giada DeLaurentis cookbook, Everyday Italian

Monday~ Chickpea Curry and Brown Rice  (Meatless Monday)

Tuesday~ Basque Fish Soup and Popovers

Wednesday~ Steak with Parsley Sauce, Steamed Broccoli and Oven Baked Polenta. (select recipes from the Everyday Food: Great Food Fast cookbook) Everyday Food: Great Food Fast Cookbook

Thursday~ Homemade Chicken Nuggets, Sweet Potato Fries, Brown Rice. Quick dinner before a Cookie Swap Party. (I’m making Mayan Chocolate Sparklers)

Friday~ Pizza night

Saturday~ light dinner before a holiday party. Need to bring a dessert.


***Ways to help those affected by the tragedy in Connecticut

The United Way of Western Connecticut  and The Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund 



For more menu planning ideas, visit the Monday Meal Plan at Org Junkie every week!