Breakfast Casserole with Freeze-dried Vegetables

Ohhhh, friends. Sometimes I’m bad at writing down recipes. Really bad. I just throw things together and pretend to make a mental list so I can tell other people how I made it.

That’s how it is with this breakfast casserole. However, I am going to be honest and say that “measurements may vary” with freeze-dried foods, and as long as you’re pretty close, it all works out.

At least, that’s been my experience.

I did at least take note of how much water I used, how many eggs, and all the different vegetables I threw in this time.

If you’re one of the those chefs who thinks “I can ONLY do this with exact measurements,” go ahead and e-mail me and I’ll sit down with myself and write down exact numbers next time, to update this post.

In the mean time, I have written down my approximate measurements with assembly instructions, which I will share shortly. I made this for a breakfast-for-lunch potluck this morning, and not a single person commented that the flavors or textures were off; that’s why I love Thrive Life! It’s real food! =).

Ok, stopping my rant. Here we go: Breakfast Casserole with Thrive Life freeze-dried vegetables.

 

 

Print Recipe
Breakfast Casserole with Freeze-dried Vegetables
Instructions
  1. Combine the potatoes, onion, bell peppers, chili peppers, and mushrooms in a bowl. Add the water and spices, and let them refresh for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, crack 9 eggs into a bowl, beat them together, and whisk in the milk.
  3. To assemble the casserole, spread the vegetable mixture in the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish. Pour the eggs on top. Spread the green onions, bacon, and cheese on top.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown. Serve warm, with salsa, ketchup, or other condiments of choice.
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Peanut Butter Pancakes

I can’t even say this is really a recipe, because I use the Thrive Life pancake mix and just add peanut flour and cinnamon. But I want to include it in my 3 ways to use peanut flour post, so here we go:

Mix up pancake batter according to the directions on the back of the can. Add anywhere from 2-4 Tbsp of peanut flour per 1 cup of dry pancake mix, and 1/2 tsp -1 tsp cinnamon. Add 1-2 Tbsp extra water, or thin them out to your desired consistency. Cook them up in a skillet, and enjoy!

Dehydrated vs Freeze-dried

Before I found Thrive Life foods, I can’t say I understood the difference between dehydrated foods and freeze-dried foods. I just considered them both “dried foods,” and thought they were mostly for snacking, storing, or throwing into a trail mix.

One of my favorite ways to explain the difference visually to people is to show them a raisin and a freeze-dried grape:

We all know that a raisin is a dehydrated grape; it shrivels, concentrates the flavors, and is a completely different texture from a grape. The Thrive Life freeze-dried grape, on the other hand, still looks like a grape, holds the shape of a grape (well, sliced grapes), and when refreshed, has a very similar texture to a “fresh” grape.

Here are some more examples:

On the left are some dehydrated apples from a stored #10 can. They are slightly gummy and yet somewhat crunchy; they taste fine, but definitely do not reconstitute to be like fresh apples. On the right are Thrive Life freeze-dried Fuji apples; they are crisp, sweet, and delicious, and could be tossed into an apple pie or cobbler and without anyone knowing.

And one last example. Recently, I bought a strawberry spinach salad kit from the store. Those dried berries are on the left, and Thrive Life freeze-dried strawberries are on the right:

If that doesn’t show you that there can be a real difference between dehydrated foods and freeze-dried foods, I don’t know what will.

Other than the visual and textural differences, the main difference between dehydration and freeze-drying is the amount of heat used in each process. To dehydrate a food, you lay it out in the sun or on a dehydrating tray, and expose it to a slow, steady heat. This does, indeed, help preserve the food, but also begins to break down nutrients and change the texture almost immediately.

With freeze-drying, the food is frozen and then exposed to a vacuum chamber, where the water is “zapped” out through a process called sublimation. It’s actually really cool science, where the water goes straight from liquid to gas without passing through a solid state.

In short, dehydrating and freeze-drying are both methods used to preserve foods. Freeze-drying has additional benefits of better preserving the texture and nutrition of foods, and well as offering longer shelf-life at room temperature.

I can not vouch for the quality of freeze-dried foods in general, but I can vouch for the high quality, non-GMO foods at Thrive Life, which make their freeze-dried foods fresher than fresh. These freeze-dried groceries are fun to cook with, last for up to 25 years unopened, and are preservative-free.

To learn more about freeze-dried groceries, check out my Thrive Life 101 page or shop on my consultant website today. Thanks, and Happy Thriving!

 

 

Chicken Noodle Soup in a Jar

I was looking in my pantry the other day, trying to come up with a quick and easy lunch, and decided to just throw together a meal in a jar. I got #10 cans of chicken, celery, and onions in my Q shipment this month, and I had been wanting to try a chicken noodle soup in a jar recipe, so I threw this together. I really liked the flavor, and so did my daughter. I loved how easy this was! Here’s the recipe for a pint size jar, as pictured above. You can easily double this for a quart sized jar.

Print Recipe
Chicken Noodle Soup in a Jar
Instructions
  1. Combine jar ingredients with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10-15 minutes, until noodles are tender.
Recipe Notes

*I used quinoa noodles to make this gluten free. The Thrive Life ingredients in this recipe are certified gluten free.

*To order Thrive Life freeze-dried groceries today, shop on my consultant website, or send me an e-mail with any questions. Thanks, and Happy Thriving!

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Thrive Life Foods in Every Day Cooking

I’ve been snapping pictures of different ways I’ve used Thrive Life foods in my cooking this week, and I just wanted to share them here quickly:

Berries in cereal: I love adding a handful of strawberries or raspberries to my bowl of cereal in the morning. Makes it much more tasty and filling.

Powdered veggies: I add some red peppers and celery to my sloppy joes, after whizzing them up in the small food processor. I will admit that the celery powder had a weird texture because it’s so stringy, but it was still nice to have the extra veggies in a 1-pot dish.

Last but not least, I added a bunch of awesomeness to my breakfast casserole! I saw some sausage in my fridge and decided on breakfast for dinner. I cooked up the sausage and some mushrooms and threw in some freeze-dried onions. Put that on the bottom layer, then added some refreshed potato dices and red peppers on top. I also tossed a few green chilies in there, just for a punch of flavor. Then I added 5-6 eggs, whisked, with some salt, Thrive Life peppercorn, and a splash of milk. I topped all that off with some green onions and cheddar cheese, and threw it all in the oven for about 20 minutes. Yum, yum, yum. And very little clean up.

I love using Thrive Life foods in my every day cooking! Leave a comment below to tell me how you used yours this week. Thanks, and Happy Thriving!

The Minimalist Diet Diaries, Day 23

Day 23: Reality sets in

My whole plan to spend a month on minimalism and my diet seems to come to a screeching halt. This is what happened last month when I did the Minimalist Games challenge; I got a few days behind, and then had to play catch up. But I had a calendar to mark and a pretty specific task to complete (find a certain number of items to de-own), so I just spent some time catching up, and then it was all good.

This month is different; I’m not really sure how to play catch up.

Since my car died and had to be replaced, I’ve been in a bit of a bad mood. My new car payment is now eating into my food budget. Admittedly, I had raised my food budget while living here and blamed that mostly on higher food tax and a husband with food allergies, but part of it was sheer laziness. It’s easier to keep my family fed it I don’t have to worry every single week about spending the least amount possible on food.

Plus, I work in food, and I keep telling myself I’m going to make enough money to cover larger and larger Q shipments, but in reality…that’s not happening consistently, so I need to just get over myself and lower my food budget again.

I WILL say that having to keep things cheap has also forced me to keep food more simple, which means I’m less overwhelmed by it all. I don’t have to spend much time in the kitchen, and because of my freeze-dried foods, I don’t have to do much prep work. So most of the time I can just throw something together and let it cook while I do dishes, and then it’s all done at once. Works wonderfully.

Ok. I’m going to take a deep breath and hit the reset button for this last week. It’s time to de-clutter my meal planning process and my pantry, and keep the contentment going.

The Minimalist Diet Diaries, Day 17: Contentment

Minimalist diet diaries, day 17:

Minimalism is about a lot more than getting rid of stuff.

It’s about opening up space in our lives for us to fill with what we really want to be there.

It’s about being more open and honest about what we need, what we want, and what we can let go of.

It’s about clearing out our thoughts, letting go of attitudes and habits that don’t serve us well. It’s about relying on The Lord (or whatever power you believe in) to fill our lives with goodness, and focusing on that goodness and strength instead of our weaknesses.

In just one word? It’s about contentment.

And one of the biggest reasons I’ve chosen to dedicate this month to minimalism in my diet is specifically because I want to be more content with the food I eat, the food I have in my home, and the food I feed my family.

You see, I’m content without many possessions. I’m content with a small income (most of the time). I’m feeling pretty content with how I spend my time. And without going into detail, the last few months have helped me become incredibly content with my family.

What I can’t seem to find contentment in is my diet. My thoughts when I go to meal plan seem to closely echo the thoughts I used to have when I was just trying to get through each day:

-Am I making good enough choices?

-I don’t have enough time/money/energy to do what I really want, so I’ll just have to settle

-I don’t know enough/don’t have the experience to provide well for my family

-Why can’t I be more like my friend who has this all figured out, and doesn’t stress so much about it?

-Am I just bring ridiculous to try and help other people when I can’t even get it right myself?

I know these thought processes aren’t serving me well, but I haven’t been able to let them go. Not really. Not fully. Not until today.

Today I took my foods out of my pantry and laid them out in a more open space to see what I had to work with for the coming week.

When I just look in the pantry, it doesn’t seem like there’s much there. I hate it, but I just think to myself “we have nothing to eat!”

But today, for my minimalism exercise, I decided to try and be more content with what I have.

And as I looked at all these foods and also did a quick survey of my refrigerator and freezer, I realized I have MUCH more than I thought.

Without trying too hard, spending hours scouring cookbooks and Pinterest, or just ignoring it and hoping for the best, I quickly started writing down ideas of what I can make with what I have.

And just like that, I had 14 lunches and dinners.

Since I don’t really plan breakfasts (it’s just cereal or eggs and a smoothie around here on most days, and waffles on Sundays), 14 meals is enough for the next week.

It is enough.

I can be content. Because what I have is enough.

Which is actually pretty amazing, because I just had to buy a new vehicle yesterday, and I really needed to be able to reduce my food budget, and this will really help.

It turns out, contentment in any area of our life leads to a positive ripple effect.

So I am thankful for minimalism today, and for trusting that what I have is enough.

The Minimalist Diet Diaries, Days 14-16

Minimalist diet diaries, day 14:
I spent 15 minutes clearing out my “tested and approved recipes” board on Pinterest. It felt really good to let go of nearly 50 recipes, especially since I went through the physical ones a few days ago, so I know which ones I already have written down. I also had to let go of a few new dairy recipes that I just won’t be making since M’s had to go dairy free, at least not often enough to keep around. I feel like I can always search on Pinterest again of there’s something I want to try, but I want to glance at a recipe first.

Also, I’m starting to wonder if my oldest son is having dairy issues. I don’t discuss digestive health online, but I’ll keep monitoring and see what helps and what doesn’t.

I’m still pretty gung-ho about real feed, regular meal times, and trying new things. And I feel like things are easier with fewer recipes floating around. I’m glad I get to start a new task soon though; 1 week is long enough to spend on any one of these little projects.

Days 15 & 16: We literally “ran our car into the ground” (it started making a horrible noise, then completely died and stopped working), and it needed a whole new engine, which would have cost more than twice what the car was worth. So we spent these days researching, looking at, and purchasing a new (to us) vehicle so we could have some reliable transportation for our family. The minimalist diet diaries was set on the back-burner.

Rogan Josh Curry and Brown Rice

I feel a little silly even calling this a recipe, since it’s more of a formula than a recipe. Since my husband is lactose intolerant and works a lot of nights and weekends, I’m always looking for quick and easy meals that I can make and pack for him. Before he cut out dairy, he loved the Bird’s Eye Voila! meals, but sadly, even most of their Asian meals have dairy on their ingredient lists, so I’ve taken to making my own. Here’s what you’ll need: some Thrive Life freeze-dried chicken, Thrive Life brown rice, a simmer sauce of your choice (make sure to check ingredients if you’re worried about allergies), and a bag of your favorite frozen stir-fry vegetable blend.

And here’s how quick and easy this is. I often walk away once I get this started, because it’s a throw and go kind of meal.

First, start your rice cooking, according to package directions. The Thrive Life brown rice only takes 8 minutes to boil, and I really like the taste and texture:

Next, heat up a small sauce pan to medium-high heat and add a touch of oil (optional). When it’s heated, add the bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables, and steam, covered, for about 8 minutes:

 

Once those veggies are in the pan, refresh your freeze-dried chicken. I used chopped chicken here (literally 1 ingredient: chicken), and I just refreshed 1 cup, with 1/2 cup water. You can use more or less, to taste:

When the vegetables are done and the rice has been pulled off the stove, add the chicken and simmer sauce into the pan:

Give it all a good stir and let it simmer for another 3-5 minutes.

Serve immediately, or divide into 2-4 lunch containers (my husband eats big meals; some of my friends don’t eat much. You decide your portions).

*To learn more about Thrive Life foods, check out my Thrive Life 101 page, or shop on my consultant website. Thanks, and Happy Thriving!

 

 

Mason Jar Thai Peanut Sauce

I asked my Facebook friends for easy, family-friendly, dairy-free recipes, since I was getting tired of brainstorming my own. One friend suggested this chicken in peanut sauce from Budget Bytes, which is already one of my favorite food blogs. I just knew I had to try it soon when I saw it. As usual, I made the recipe my own by adjusting a few of the measurements and using Thrive Life ingredients. Watch the video below to see how easy it is to make this mason jar Thai peanut sauce! Scroll down to see instructions for the chicken.

To use this Thai peanut dressing as a marinade, simply cut up your chicken, pour over the marinade, and let rest (covered) for at least 30 minutes, but up to all night. You can grill the chicken, or use the broiler (which is what I did). I had small chicken breast chunks that cooked on a high broil for about 15 minutes. Please look up appropriate cooking times and temperatures for your cooking method and cut of chicken.