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6475 Belding Rd. NE Rockford, MI 49341

8 Weeks to REAL FOOD Week 5: Preparation

~~8 Weeks to REAL Food Week 5- Lack of Preparation

First, let me start off by apologizing for the weeks of no new news. We have been working towards selling our home, and the last couple weeks has been the last rush to get it ready, staged for pictures, and show ready. Then had 3 crazy days of showings and now working through inspections and appraisal. So, now, until moving I have some breathing space and the mental capacity to finish the series.
Thank you fro being patient.

This week is about PREPARATION. It is something that still gets me. I have two little kids and there are days where we are on the road or at meets, schools, practices from 8:30 am till 3pm. I’m sure a lot of you can relate. PREPARATION is very important and it will be those instances where you have not thought ahead, that get you contemplating the drive-thru lane.

What Hurts our REAL Food Journey:
• Leaving the house without a snack
• Heading home late at night without a meal plan in mind
• Starting the week without  a couple backup meal plans in mind for last minute schedule changes

What can Help our REAL Food Journey:
• Prep snack bags/bowls at the beginning of the week: almonds, granola bars, grapes, bananas, cut up fruit bowls, ect.
• Meal planning for the week. Even prepping all raw ingredients at the beginning of the week, so prep time during the week is less.
o Check out:
 5dinners1hour.com
 Onceamonthmeals.com (freezer meals for most dinners for one month)
 Thefresh20.com  (uses 20 ingredients a week for dinners)
o Pre-make salads. This works awesomely and keeps a salad fresh for a week. Take a Quart jar, place dressing the bottom, next put in raw cut up veggies (carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, ect) seeds, or extras (I really like quinoa) and pack with lettuce/spinach last. Seal with lid and ring.
o Don’t forget breakfast. At the beginning of the week make Breakfast muffins (excellent frozen), quiche, breakfast burritos (excellent frozen), or other muffins to grab as you walk out the door. These items also make for good back up dinner meals.
• When you do cook, make larger batches and freeze. These frozen meals can be backups for those crazy nights or meals for tight budget weeks.

Steps that will help:
Double some of your meals so you can have quick easy meals that can go from freezer to oven to table in under an hour.
Re-think weeknight meals. Each night doesn’t need a 3 course dinner. You can have a very nutritious meal in a bowl of stew, chili, vegetable soup or a bowl of quinoa with mixed veggies, chicken and some raw cheese.

Homemade Pizzas:
frozen pizzas are very convenient and can be a great “fast food” alternative. This recipe makes 2 thin crust pizzas. Double or Triple to make more for the freezer.
¾ c of lukewarm water
1 tsp active yeast
2 c flour (I like to use 1.5 cup organic all purpose flour and then .5 c of spelt, or whole wheat)
1 ½ tsp salt

1. Dump water into mixer bowl, sprinkle yeast over the water. Stir after you have mixed the flour (gives yeast time to dissolve and activate)
2. Mix flour and salt in separate bowl
3. Dump flour mixture into water/yeast mixture
4. Mix until you have formed a shaggy dough
5. Keep in mixer until dough is smooth and elastic, or dump out onto counter and hand knead. If dough is sticking to countertop or hands, add in more flour one tb at a time
6. You can let the dough rest until you need it or doubled in bulk. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
7. Preheat oven and pizza stone to 500 degrees
8. Divide dough in half and place on two pieces of parchment paper.
9. Spread out using hands (or I like to use a rolling pin)
10. Add toppings and cook 5 min, rotate, 3-5 more minutes
11. If you want to freeze, cook dough 3-5 min till it is brown. Bring out of oven to cool. Flash freeze in freezer. Once partial frozen, wrap well with cling wrap and place in freezer.
12. Take out dough when you preheat oven and it should be thawed enough to cook at 500 degrees till cheese is melted.

Chewy Granola Bars
2 cups (160 g) oats
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cinnamon or other spices as desired (cardamom, nutmeg, etc.)
2½ cups additions: dried fruits, seeds, nuts, flax meal, bran cereal, puffed rice cereal, crushed pretzels, chocolate chips … the combinations are endless!
⅓ cup (60 g) peanut or other nut butter
6 Tbsp. (89 ml) olive oil – canola oil, other oils, and melted butter will work here as well
¼ cup (60 ml) honey, maple syrup, or Agave syrup
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) water
Preheat oven to 350F. Depending on desired thickness, line a square (8×8 or 9×9) or rectangular (9×13) baking dish with parchment paper, then lightly grease the paper with non-stick cooking spray, oil, or butter. Thicker bars are a little more decadent, if you’re planning on using this as a dessert.
Process ⅓ cup (27 g) of the oats in a blender or food processor until finely ground.
If necessary, chop up dried fruit and nuts. Raisin-size pieces are fine, but dried apricots, or apples, let’s say – should probably be chopped.
Stir together all dry ingredients (oats, ground oats, sugar, salt, cinnamon, fruits/nuts/seeds).
Whisk together wet ingredients – oil, honey, peanut butter, and water.
Mix together the wet and dry ingredients, then spread in the pan. Press firmly into the corners and edges so the top is even.
Bake for around 30 minutes, until the top starts to brown. Thicker bars will likely take longer, so you’ll need to watch them, depending on how much batter you’ve spread in what size pan. The edges will become deep golden and they may feel underdone in the center, but that’s okay. They’ll firm quite nicely as they cool.
Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for at least 20 minutes, then take them out of the pan using the parchment. Let cool completely before cutting.

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