Hidden Vegetable Tacos

Did you know that you can hide vegetables in tacos? Me neither. That is until I decided to get creative one night.

Tacos

For quite some time I’ve added riced cauliflower to anything with ground meat.  This does a couple of things.  First off it it bulks up the recipe.  We buy our meat in bulk from a local farm, 1/2 a pig and 1/4 of a cow.  The ground meat comes in 1 lb. packages.  That’s not enough for us in most cases so bulking it up with the cauliflower cuts down on the meat consumption as well as cost.  Second, it adds more vegetables to our meals.  I buy the riced cauliflower from Costco.  It’s just too convenient and always have it in the freezer.

I do brown the meat first just in case there is grease to drain.  Most of the time there isn’t anything to drain but just in case there is a little I don’t want to drain any nutrients from the cauliflower.  I’m assuming that’s what would happen anyway, I’m not a chef or nutritional expert!  Once the meat is browned I add in the cauliflower and cook a few minutes longer until it’s tender.

taco1

For the liquid in the tacos I add a can of Organic Diced Tomato from Costco.  All of a sudden JP has decided that he doesn’t like ‘red things’ in his tacos.  As I got out my mason jar and immersion blender I decided to throw in some other vegetables and give it a shot.  I usually have mushrooms, peppers and spinach (or power greens) so I threw some in the mason jar.

taco sauce

I love my pink immersion blender.  I looked for one that has the bottom/blade portion that came off for easy cleaning.  The old one we had was 1 piece so it was hand wash and a pain.  I also love the pink…it’s the little things that make a person happy!  Here are a couple of places you can get it for a rather inexpensive price.

Disclosure:  Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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Once the vegetables are pureed add them to the pan and simmer.  You can customize here a little, the longer it simmers, the more the liquid goes away so if you don’t want it runny then just let it simmer for a little longer.

taco2

I typically don’t add the taco seasoning until it’s simmered for a little bit because JP doesn’t like it spicy.  I add a little then pull some out to the side and add more seasoning for us.  You can then top with whatever other toppings you like on tacos such as cheese or avocado.

Lisa's Hidden Vegetable Taco

  • Servings: 4-6 taco
  • Difficulty: easy
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A sneaky way to hide vegetables in a kid friendly meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground meat (venison, grass fed beef, turkey)
  • 1 cup frozen riced cauliflower (can also make your own from a fresh head)
  • 1 14.5 oz can organic diced tomato
  • 1 handful of greens (spinach, kale)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 chopped bell pepper
  • 3-5 chopped mushrooms
  • taco seasoning (I DIY my own with the linked recipe and made a large batch to keep in a glass container)
  • taco topping of choice, cheese, avocado, salsa
  • taco shell of choice or bed of greens for taco salad

Directions

  1. Brown ground meat.
  2. While meat is cooking add canned tomato and whatever veggies you are hiding into a mason jar or other tall and narrow bowl. Use the immersion blender to puree.
  3. Drain any grease from meat if there is any.
  4. Add the riced cauliflower to the meat and cook for a few minutes until cauliflower is heated through. I’ve never measured I just add until it looks right so go by your family’s tastes.
  5. Add tomato puree to meat.
  6. Add taco seasoning. With my DIY recipe I make a large batch to keep and don’t measure what I put in, start small and add to your liking.
  7. Simmer until consistency and taste is to your liking.
  8. Build your taco or taco salad as you like.

Enjoy your healthy meal!

Healthy(er) Pancakes

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I never thought I’d actually be writing about a recipe.  I do a majority of home cooked so cooking is nothing surprising but I need to follow a recipe.  I don’t just randomly think of ingredients to throw together and out comes a masterpiece.  I guess saying that, there are very few recipes that I follow to a T.

For starters we don’t eat onions in this house so I typically substitute with fresh garlic for flavor.  There are also a lot of times where I’ll say EH, don’t need to do that step.  For example, browning a roast before you put it in the crock pot  I’ve never done that.  For me the whole point of a crock pot is put it all in one pot and be done.  It’s always tasted fine without that step so I save the time and dishes!  Do any of you actually take the time to brown meat before it goes in the crock pot?

We love pancakes here and my main reason is the ease.  I love to make a big batch and freeze some and keep some in the fridge.  It’s so easy to pop a couple in the microwave in the morning.  I had met someone who shared her Healthy Hotcakes recipe with me and over time I’ve tweaked it even more depending on the type of food plan you follow as far as omitting gluten or dairy.

You may be thinking, well Lisa the freezer section at the grocery store has pancakes so why go through the trouble of making them.  Just like anything home cooked vs. mass prepared there’s no comparison in taste.  Home made always tastes better.  Most of you probably have memories of growing up where something your grandma or mom made was so good, right?  I know times are different and we have a lot of conveniences that maybe they didn’t but in my opinion most of the time that’s not a good thing when it comes to food.  Home cooked doesn’t mean you slave in the kitchen all day.

The original recipe shared with me is as follows:

Kipper’s Healthy Hot Cakes

  • 3/4 cup organic whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 tsp. Pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 1/4+ cup organic milk or almond milk
  • 1 fresh egg
  • 1 Tbsp. organic vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp. organic butter (melted)

1.  Pre-heat the griddle

2.  Combine all the dry ingredients and mix well with a whisk.  Using a spoon, make a little valley with the dry ingredients.

3.  In the valley, add the wet ingredients and mix well.  It may have some little lumps, which are ok, but if the batter is still a little thick, add a little more milk (sometimes this happens with different brands of whole wheat flour).
As I started using the recipe I added frozen/thawed bananas and blueberries.  I did about 1 banana per batch.  I typically triple the batch.  It was a nice way to hide/combine in fruits for a toddler getting picky.  When I started tweaking the recipe it was just 1 change at a time so I knew if it wasn’t great what the issue was.
I’ve tried a combination of different flours.  I find that 3/4 cup almond flour and 3/4 cup gluten free flour is our favorite combination.  I’ve done full almond and full gluten free and neither tasted bad, they had a different texture and did taste different but not bad.  The texture was more the concern.  With more almond flour they don’t hold together as well so stabbing a bite with a fork becomes frustrating for a toddler.

I actually have a hard time finding gluten free flour so Amazon is always a good option.

I also only use almond milk and I just use regular sea salt.  The salt isn’t for any reason, I just have a big salt bottle/grinder from Costco so use it instead of buying something else.  We’ve also switched to using Ghee instead of butter and that substitution is just fine as well.  Blueberries don’t hide well so we can’t have them in the pancakes anymore but the mashed bananas are still hidden.

Here is my version:

Lisa's Healthy(er) Pancakes

  • Servings: 10-12 pancakes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A healthier version of pancakes easy to freeze and warm up as needed.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup gluten free flour
  • 4 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1 1/4+  almond milk
  • 1 egg (we do use organic eggs)
  • 1 Tbsp. organic vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp. Ghee (melted)
  • 1 mashed ripe banana (if frozen thaw first)

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the griddle
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients and mix well with a whisk.  (notice I omitted a step, it’s ok!)
  3. Add the wet ingredients and mix well.  It may have some little lumps, which are ok, but if the batter is still a little thick, add a little more milk. When using bananas that were frozen there is water/juice when thawed so this helps add extra moisture too.
  4. **Ghee will re-solidify as it gets cold so add that last. Mix all other ingredients well and then stir in the melted Ghee. If you just add in all liquid ingredients without mixing the Ghee will re-harden into little chunks as it touches the milk and eggs.


 

I realized while taking the pictures for the post and editing them that my griddle is looking very loved.  As I got thinking it’s probably a good 18 years old.  It still works like a champ!  I hope it lasts for a long time because if it’s like most things these days they sure don’t make them like they used to!

Train 3rd Birthday

It’s no surprise around here that this year was a train birthday party.  JP loves any train, not just Thomas so I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a Thomas party but we aren’t really ‘vintage’ style people either so it actually took me a while to figure out how to make the theme work.  I was super excited with how it turned out.  As usual my husband thinks I’m nuts but also understands that I enjoy doing it.

I toyed around this year with making the cake because there were some cute things I found that were totally doable for a complete amateur but realize that I can’t go crazy with party decorations and do the cake too so I will opt for the decoration part!

This is our front porch.  I made the Rail Road Crossing signs myself because we are going to re-do his room one of these days and do a train theme.  I’m going to pick neutral bedding and decorate the walls etc. with train things so we can easily switch and he won’t outgrow bedding and the more expensive items.

I always seem to digress as I write!  Back to the Rail Road Crossing signs.  We purchased a 1×4 that was I think 8 ft. long.  I cut out the letters with my Sizzix Eclips and then laid them out on the board making sure to measure between the word Rail Road where it would cross to make sure the spacing was right.  From there we just cut per the longest side.

You can’t really see in the pictures but I first brushed a few strokes with very little paint on the brush of black on the board so it would pop through the white and look distressed/dirty.  I just didn’t want it bright shiny perfect white.  Next I painted the white. After it was dry I traced the letters with pencil and painted them.

For the sidewalk I laid down electrical tape for the tracks leading up to the front.  Just a warning it leaves residue.  It’s been over a month since the party and we still have the marks left on the sidewalk and will need to power wash.  Knowing that I’d still do it again!

I designed all of the party printables and they can be found at my Etsy shop.

In the favor bag I put train whistles, train temporary tattoos, a yellow crossing sign twisty straw and fruit snacks.  

Creative Cakes did the cake again and it was fantastic!!  I added the train cars once we got it home and made sure not to use Thomas pieces.

I found this cardboard train at Shindigz.com.  I swear you can find anything you want online!  You customize what goes on the 2 gold areas.

I found the train themed photo booth props at PaperBuiltShop on Etsy.

We had purchased a 2nd car seat (finally no more moving it) and this box kept making its way to the curb come garbage day.  I would bring it in and my husband would say why are we keeping that box so I would tell him and the next week it would be back at the curb.  I think he was ready to get rid of it!  I just wrapped the box with the roll of craft paper and painted on the words and frankly the small detail of finding something black that looked like coal was low on the list and I just didn’t want to do it when we have plenty of things already around that the kids could use.

This is a big FAIL!  In my head it was going to be super cute.  I tried to use the edible markers and it just wouldn’t work on the chocolate.  I had a heck of a time with the chocolate too, I am not a fan of the Wilton chips but I’m not sure what else you use since that’s pretty much what is in every store.  After ruining a few of them I stopped and just had plain yellow Oreo pops out on the table.
Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t attempt the cake!

Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss has a birthday in early March.  I’ve actually been learning a lot about him lately as we gear up for Relay for Life season.  He died of cancer and some of his phrases fit very well with cancer awareness/prevention.

Having his birthday to celebrate was a fun way to make a regular play date a little more unique.  I had a couple of small snacks, craft and photo booth.  It’s not easy getting the 2 and 3 year olds in a ‘proper’ photo booth picture.  I’m sure if you were watching us try and saw how many photos I deleted you’d be laughing.

For the snacks I made Green Eggs and Ham and then little Cat in the Hat treats on a stick.

The Cat in the Hat treats are just strawberries, bananas and marshmallows layered on the stick.  The Green Eggs and Ham I used my usual deviled egg recipe except I swapped out most of the mayo for avocado.  The recipe is my grandma’s and I’m surprised there weren’t onions in it because she said they belonged in everything.  Something happened to that gene in me because I can’t eat onions and everyone in my family loves them.  I seriously gag and get nauseous.

Grandma H’s Deviled Eggs:
-1 dozen eggs
-2 Tbsp. Miracle Whip
-1 tsp. brown mustard
-Lawry’s salt and Pepper to taste
-Paprika

Boil and peel eggs.  Cut in half and take out the yolks.  Mix the Miracle Whip and brown mustard with the salt and pepper.  Gradually add to the mashed egg yolks until the consistency is right.  Fill the egg whites with yolk mixture and sprinkle with paprika.

My substitution was a whole avocado and just a dollop of mayo.  I haven’t tried the DIY mayo yet but did find some in the store with not so many ‘bad’ ingredients so for now that’s what I use.  Just add mayo/Miracle Whip to get the right consistency with the avocado and yolks.  It didn’t turn out as green as I’d envisioned because an avocado ripe enough to mash isn’t very green, it’s more yellow but oh well, it was still good!  Sometimes things turn out much better in my mind 😉

Whenever I have a craft I do it before hand with JP just to make sure I have everything and that it will work ok.  As I got doing this with him I realized that kids with bigger hands than his would have to overlap their fish a little.  I barely got his hands on a standard 8.5 x 11 paper they are so big.  
Supplies for 1 Fish 2 Fish Red Fish Blue Fish hand print craft are:
-Paper (light blue, neutral, white would be best in my opinion)
-Paint (yellow, green, red, blue)
-Markers
-Paint brushes
-Paper plate/tray, something to put the paint on
-Wipes, towels for cleanup 😉

I started at the bottom with the blue fish and worked my way up from there with JP and thought it worked well.  Once the paint dries you can use the markers to add the eyes and lips and wording.  
I found a photo booth printable on etsy from ChoosaRoo.  It was perfect. For the backdrop I just used the craft paper in a roll that I have and some red string to give it some color.  
I can’t believe I didn’t notice the strap from my camera hanging down.  It’s a good thing I’m not paid for taking pictures! 

This was the best I could get with these two funny guys.  I guess it’s a lot to as at that age to stand still, look at the camera and hold props the proper direction all when there are other kids around.  Their mom was smart and dressed them to the theme.  There’s always something I forget!
Before everyone came I did manage to get a good one of JP. 

As they get older they understand how it’s supposed to work and model all of the props!