Dairy-Free and Delicious: Curry in a Hurry

Dairy-Free and Delicious: Curry in a Hurry

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I have been cooking dairy-free meals for my husband for almost 2 years now. The entire first year was incredibly stressful and somewhat disastrous, but now I’m settling into it and finding meals he actually likes and doesn’t get sick of. This month I ordered a #10 can of Thrive Life chicken and I love having it on hand to make lunches quick and easy. So far, I’ve used the chicken in pot pie, chicken salad, and curry, and I’m excited to try a few new ideas soon.

Feel free to substitute a different curry simmering sauce, but check the labels because most of them contain milk. And use whatever bag of frozen vegetables you like; this is more of a formula than a recipe.

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Dairy-Free and Delicious: Curry in a Hurry
Instructions
  1. Steam the vegetables in microwave according to package directions. While the vegetables cook, refresh the chicken with the water and bouillon in a small bowl.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add garlic and ginger and stir until fragrant and beginning to "pop," about 30 seconds. Add in vegetables, chicken, and curry simmer sauce.
  3. Bring to a light boil and then turn down heat and simmer 5-10 minutes.
  4. Let the curry cool before dividing into 2 lunch containers; serve with brown rice.
Recipe Notes

For more information on Thrive Life foods, check out my Thrive Life 101 page, visit my consultant website, or contact me. Thanks, and Happy Thriving!

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Quick Quesadillas

Quick Quesadillas

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I have always had a hard time with lunches. By the time I get my husband off to work and my son off to school with their lunches, I’m out of creative lunch ideas. I usually throw some food at my other two children around noon, and eat the scraps at the lunch table. Well, this month I’m determined to do a little more than the bare minimum for lunches. So, instead of just throwing cheese on some tortillas, I threw together a quick quesadilla filling. This time I used Thrive Life chicken, red peppers, green onions, and corn. I refreshed the freeze-dried food before adding some spices and cheese. Quick, easy, and delicious quesadilla! Maybe I CAN do this lunch thing.

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Quick Quesadillas
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Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Measure out freeze-dried ingredients and refresh with 1/3 cup water. If the chicken slices are large, add a little more water, up to 1/2 cup. Stir well to distribute water among ingredients, and add spices. Let mixture sit for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add cheese to quesadillas filling. Distribute filling between 2 whole wheat tortillas.
  3. Cook quesadillas in olive oil on medium-high heat, or brush on olive oil and grill quesadillas on a sandwich press. Serve warm, with guacamole (if desired).
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Shopping at Thrive Life for My Real Food Kitchen

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I love Lisa Leake’s 100 Days of Real Food, and I have tried to stock my pantry with real food for the last several years. Thrive Life offers a ton of amazing products with simple ingredient lists, most of which are freeze-dried, which preserves their natural nutrition. Plus, I have my food shipped to me on my monthly Q, which means I don’t have to strap the kids in or go shopping when I’m starving.

The majority of Thrive Life foods are real foods by any standard definition, so I will spare you from listing everything that they offer. Today I just want to share my personal favorites. These are items that I order as often as my budget allows, and that I’m building my own home pantry with.

I’ve broken them down into 10 categories and put them in the same order that you’ll find them on my consultant site under “Shop.”

Fruits

  • Granny Smith Apples
  • Apricots
  • Red Seedless Grapes
  • Mangoes
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberry Slices

Vegetables

  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Mushroom Pieces
  • Onion Slices
  • Chopped Onions, dehydrated
  • Green Onions
  • Green Bell Peppers
  • Green Chili Peppers
  • Mixed Bell Peppers (dehydrated)
  • Red Bell Peppers
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Chopped Spinach
  • Tomato Powder

Cereals & Grains

  • Pearled Barley
  • Gluten Free Flour (for fun)
  • Whole Wheat Flour
  • Instant Brown Rice

Dairy

  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Sour Cream Powder
  • Vanilla Yogurt Bites

Meats & Proteins

  • Ground Beef (Hamburger)
  • Chopped Chicken
  • Seasoned Chicken Slices
  • Scrambled Egg Mix
  • Sausage Crumbles

Bakery

  • 10-grain pancake mix

Seasonings

  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Peppercorn
  • Vanilla Powder

Basics

  • Cane Sugar
  • Honey Crystals
  • Peanut Flour
  • Chicken Bouillon
  • Beef Bouillon

Express Meals

  • Chili Lime Chicken Rice
  • Creamy Beef and Noodles
  • Fettucine Alfredo
  • Vegetable Beef Stew
  • Wild Rice Pilaf

Snackies

  • Mangoes
  • Pomegranate Yogurt Bites
  • Red Grapes
  • Fuji Apples
  • Very Berry Parfait
  • Carrot Fruit Crisps
  • Coconut Bites

For more information on Thrive Life foods, check out my Thrive Life 101 page, visit my consultant website, or contact me. Thanks, and Happy Thriving!

 

 

 

 

I Can Feed My Family Real Food

I can’t be the only Michael Pollan lover out there. Not only is he a New York Times best-selling author, but he inspired my favorite food blog, 100 Days of Real Food, with 7-word food mantra. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Michael Pollan has a lot of great offerings, but today I want to focus on one quote that inspired my own 7-word food motto.

You see, I am a giant food nerd. I have researched the American food industry in depth, and I am always looking for practical ways to engage in the food revolution. I read, watch, and listen to a variety of media sources on the topic of real food. So, as you can imagine, I was ecstatic to see Michael Pollan pop up again on the recent film, Fed Up. And when he said this, it was like a light bulb went off for me:

cook-real-food“The most important thing you can do, and it’s challenging for many people, is to cook real food. You don’t have to worry about nutrients, you can forget about sugar. If you just cook real food, your family will be eating much better.”

THANK YOU, Michael Pollan. Once again, you have inspired a mom to fight for real food in her home.

Cooking real food IS challenging. It is stressful for anyone, but when you’re in charge of the entire family, everything is magnified. There is SO MUCH information out there on what we “should” and “shouldn’t” eat that it can just be plain overwhelming. And there are a lot of things I simply don’t want to worry about, like specific nutrient counts, calories, or sugar levels. I just want to do what is best for the people I love, and that includes learning to feed us all real food.

So, as simple as it may sound, I have found great power in my own mantra:

I can feed my family real food.

I can, and I will. In the past 5 years I have dramatically increased the amount of real food I eat, and my goal is feed my family at least 90% real food on a consistent basis. I might still have a long road ahead of me, but at least I know my destination!

If you are also dedicated to feeding your family real food, I would love to meet you! Please drop me a line so we can connect. I love meeting other real food enthusiasts. And I would love to help anyone who is struggling to have the confidence to say it with me. So go ahead. Say it out loud:

“I Can Feed My Family Real Food.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Do you guys read the food blog For the Love of Cooking? I adore it! I have been a huge fan of these approachable, real food recipes for years, and I’m happy to share my twist on a recipe I found here years ago: peanut butter banana chocolate chip muffins.

I happen to bake a lot of muffins around here, because it’s one of the few that we ALL like. They are also a big hit with any visitors at our house, or for picnics or day trips.

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Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Instructions
  1. Mash the banana, either in a stand mixer or by hand. Add the apple sauce, water, oil, and egg, and combine until smooth.
  2. Without stirring, add the rest of the dry ingredients on top of the wet mixture, except the chocolate chips. Stir until the mixture comes together, but do not overmix.
  3. Add chocolate chips. Bake at 375 for 17-22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
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Unconventional Fast Food

Let me just start by saying that I grew up eating fast food regularly, and I still have my favorites. In fact, I’m currently obsessed with the Chick-fil-a southwest salad with lime avocado ranch. SO GOOD.

So. This post will not be about the pros and cons of eating out. We are all adults here, and I trust you to make your own choices about where to eat.

Today, I simply want to introduce you to some Unconventional Fast Food options. Let’s start with some of my favorites, shall we? Snackies, Thrive Express meals, and Meals in a Jar.

Snackies

Thrive Life Snackies are great to have in your purse instead of (or in addition to) half-eaten granola bars and leftover dum-dums from the bank or library. There are a lot of single-ingredient options, like mangoes, seedless grapes, and pineapple. There are also things like yogurt bites, coconut bites, and freeze-dried fruit leathers.

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I just had a friend over the other day who tried some of my very berry parfait and said “hey, this would be great to have in the car instead of running through the drive-through!”

Right on, sister. You read my mind.

Thrive Express Meals

I have more than one personal story about Thrive Express meals saving my bacon when I normally would have run out for fast food. Like the time when we were out of groceries and I needed to eat lunch instead of shopping on an empty stomach. Or the time I visited my brother in Boston and we all came back from a long day of touring, almost too exhausted to cook. But instead of ordering pizza, I made some Chili Lime Chicken Rice and some Creamy Beef and Noodles. Sounds fancy, right? But all I did was boil water and wait for the Express meal to cook.

Thrive Express meals are just great to have on hand. This is a picture from when my friend Francesca was moving and just needed some real food for dinner, so she asked her husband to cook a Thrive Express meal:

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A Thrive Express meal is a great alternative to a fast food run because it’s REAL food. Plus, Thrive Express meals come fully equipped with proteins, vegetables, and starches. It’s not just pasta or rice, it’s a full meal. And they are delicious, nutritious, and convenient, which is what we’re all looking for in fast food. There are 8 great varieties to choose from.

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Meals in a Jar

Last but not least, meals in a jar are a fantastic alternative to a drive-through run. If you are unfamiliar with this concept, it’s basically a freeze-dried alternative to freeze cooking. You pre-mix all the ingredients you need for a meal, and then when you’re ready to eat, you just boil water, add the container, and voila! You’re ready to eat.

Personally, I really appreciate that I can control the ingredients here: my husband is sensitive to dairy, eggs, and dill, so he can’t have most of the Thrive Express meals. Also, meals in a jar open up a lot more menu choices than the 8 varieties of Express meals. The picture below shows a pint sized zuppa toscana and lasagna skillet.

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I haven’t written a separate post on meals in a jar yet, but there are recipes online and I will posting more on this topic in the future.

Ready to Try Some Unconventional Fast Food?

To order some of these options today and to learn more about Thrive Life foods, check out my Thrive Life 101 page, visit my consultant website, or contact me. Thanks, and Happy Thriving!

 

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Allergen-free Groceries Online

Oh, have I got a treat for you today!

If you have ever struggled with food allergies, either personally or on behalf of someone you love, you will know how discouraging it can be to read food labels and see your allergen everywhere.

For my family, I have to read all food labels looking for dairy ingredients. Sometimes I can cheat and cook with butter, but milk or cheese are not allowed if I want a happy, healthy husband.

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Well, one of the main reasons I LOVE Thrive Life foods is because they are SO friendly for anyone with food allergies. The freeze-drying process is chemical-free and Thrive Life has an unparalleled commitment to quality. What you see is what you get, like the beautiful picture that shows vegetables in their fresh and freeze-dried states.

I’ll always remember the time my friend Sarah read the sour cream label. She can’t have wheat, corn, or soy, which are hidden in most processed dairy products. Weird, right? But she read the ingredient list and said “Hey! I can actually eat this!” It’s so great when my family and friends read the food labels and can actually eat Thrive Life foods, even with serious allergies!

Thrive Life offers over 100 gluten-free certified foods and a ton of single-ingredient products. They do sell peanut flour, but it’s made in a completely separate facility to avoid cross-contamination for anyone with a peanut allergy. I have separate posts on Thrive Life’s simple ingredient lists and a tutorial on how to read the food labels from home. mango-ingredients

I also have a 5-page document that offers even more details than what you can find on the labels. So, if you’re worried about a particular allergen, please contact me and I am happy to look it up or send you the whole document.

I encourage you to shop Thrive Life today, and enjoy the benefits of allergen-free foods shipped straight to your door!

For more information on Thrive Life, check out my Thrive Life 101 page, visit my consultant website, or contact me. Thanks, and Happy Thriving!

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Secret Meal Prep Weapon

Is it just me, or does feeding a family take a LOT of hard work?? I used to spend so much time on meal prep that it was completely overwhelming. I needed a secret weapon to help me enjoy feeding my family.

Well, not to brag, but I FOUND MY SECRET WEAPON! It has truly made feeding my family easy, and I am happy to share it with you today.

My secret meal prep weapon? Thrive Life freeze-dried food.

That’s right! Now, it might sound crazy, but keeping  freeze-dried foods on hand makes meal prep SOOO much easier!

Let me show you some of the beautiful foods I buy from my Thrive Life store that are pre-cooked, pre-chopped, shelf stable, and easy to measure. Let’s start with corn, green onions, celery, tomato powder, cauliflower, spinach, zucchini, and red peppers:

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Do you see these beautiful vegetables, that are ALREADY PREPPED and ready to scoop, shake, or stir into my favorite recipes? Here are some of the ways I’ve used Thrive Life freeze-dried vegetables in everything from quiche to quesadillas.

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And it’s not just vegetables! Here’s a close-up of the freeze-dried chicken slices for my magic chicken salad. That’s right, there’s such a thing as freeze-dried meat!

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I’m telling you, friends. Thrive Life freeze-dried food is a secret weapon to make meal prep a breeze. When you don’t have to spend so much time washing, peeling, chopping, pitting, thawing, or browning your foods, feeding your family is SO much less stressful! Plus, with Thrive Life, you can trust the taste, quality, and nutrition of the foods that are shipped straight to your door.

So, if you’re looking for a secret meal prep weapon, look no farther than Thrive Life foods. Go ahead and browse their selection of freeze-dried meats, cheeses, vegetables, fruits, and spices, and see which ones would be most helpful to YOU.

Now I just have one question left for you: which task are you most excited to see go?

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For more information on Thrive Life foods, check out my Thrive Life 101 page, visit my consultant website, or contact me. Thanks, and Happy Thriving!

 

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My favorite 3-ingredient Smoothie

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This one’s pretty simple, although I can’t remember when I came up with it. I just know that this is definitely my favorite way to make it; I have tried other milks and regular peanut butter, but all I can say is that this combination is my favorite.

On a side note, there was this one time when I lived in Virginia and I met a lady who said “if you could just hook up some dark chocolate almond milk directly into my veins, I would be happy.” True story. And I just knew we were bound to be good friends from that point on.

If you’re looking for a simple, delicious, chocolate peanut butter smoothie, give this one a try!

 

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My favorite 3-ingredient Smoothie
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Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Pour milk in blender, then add peanut flour and banana chunks. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!
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Chocolate Chip Grandma

My sweet Grandma May Johnson passed away yesterday. She was surrounded by family and her death eased years of mental suffering. I feel very peaceful about her passing and I am thankful that she is having a sweet reunion with Grandpa Johnson and their daughter Maylanie.

I grew up in Texas while my Grandma lived in Idaho, and I’ve never been able to spend a lot of time with her. Still, I know enough to remember her bright, beautiful smile, her deep love for Jesus, and her chocolate chip cookies.

Grandma was always baking and sharing cookies. The day I arrived in Utah for college, my brother took me to see Grandma, who sent me to the dorms with a bag full of fresh-baked goodness. And I’m happy to say that the baking gene was passed down to me. In high school, I baked for a class or a friend or a function nearly every single week. In college I had regular cookie parties in the dorms. One of my longest lasting friendships began when I baked a cookie cake, wrote “Howdy, neighbor!” in icing, and delivered it to next door. In fact, I’m really not sure how to introduce myself without baked goods. When we moved to Alabama just a few weeks ago, I made sure we spent an evening baking as a family and meeting our neighbors, complete with a plate of Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies.

When I heard of Grandma’s death, I pulled out a little page about her to show my children and to help me feel closer to her. I will not be able to attend the funeral, and I feel a lot of grief at being so far from family. But I looked at that page and smiled when I read “My grandchildren call me ‘chocolate chip grandma’ because I always loved to bake cookies!” What a wonderful heritage she left behind, to her own 8 children, over 30 grandchildren, and a family that just keeps growing.

Well, this morning I was thinking about her again as I prayed and planned and tried to decide what I want this blog to be.

I have such a complicated relationship with food and with professional aspirations that I have NO CLUE how to present myself online authentically. So I’ve been posting recipes, taking classes, seeking mentors, and just kind of hoping that the next step would become clear to me.

And then I had a rather profound impression: I just need to be myself! People keep saying that in trainings, but I didn’t understand how to apply that advice. Now I know what it means!

I come from a family that loves to laugh. Deep, full-bellied, red-faced laughing is not uncommon at family gatherings. My family also loves music, food, being together, and service. I have inherited a crazy combination of these quirky, lovable traits, and I love who I am. Now that I know what it means to be myself, I don’t have to just put part of me online. I can put ALL of me online.

My head filled with blog post titles as I walked the grocery store aisles this morning. I must have looked crazy, stopping every few feet to scribble down another idea. From “Food label-palooza” to “Put That Treat Back Where it Came From or So Help Me!” The thoughts just kept rolling in, and all of these ideas made me smile and feel good and want to share.

So, in honor of Grandma Johnson and the rest of my amazing family, I am taking this opportunity to claim my role as the author and owner of I Crave Color. I am no longer trying to present the “right” information to attract the “right” audience. I am just going to be myself. I will share my journey, my struggles, and my insights, with a healthy does of humor, common sense, and song lyrics.

I still care deeply about my health and my family’s health. I still want to teach people about the impact Thrive Life can have on them. And I still want to grow this blog into something I can only see through God’s eyes right now: something miraculous that lifts and inspires others to enjoy a healthy, vibrant life. But in the end, I know the heritage I’m living up to. And it is more important than anything else I might achieve through blogging.

When I grow up, I want to be a Chocolate Chip Grandma.

Thank you for showing me the way, Grandma May.