Simple Dinner Recipes

Are you always in a pinch at dinner time? Do you constantly find yourself grabbing convenience foods out of the freezer? Is a take-out menu more familiar than your own pantry? If you said yes to any of the above, then maybe it is time for you to find some simple dinner ideas to make meal time easier and less stressful.

We all know it is more expensive to eat out all the time! But, do you realize how pricey it is to purchase convenience foods? Those frozen, ready-made meals that are found at the grocery store are busting many grocery budgets too! Dinner can be simple even without those freezer meals. Of course, I have nights when I order take-out, or grab from my freezer. However, a while back I made a choice. Each week I strive to make more home cooked meals than convenience foods or take-out food. For my family this is not an easy feat! As the mother of three children, it can be very hard to put together a meal that every one wants to eat. To be honest, that alone could drive any cook mad! All the cookbooks in the world can’t help with that problem! I have found that experimenting on my own with ingredients that I know my family enjoys can turn into something wonderfully delicious!

Here are a few ideas from my kitchen. These are all quick meals, and tips for ways to grab from the freezer and still have home cooked food! These of course are just a few of my families favorites.

Tacos are one of the easiest meals to make. You can use whatever meat your family prefers: ground beef, chicken, or turkey. It is so simple to brown the meat, season it and throw the toppings out for everyone to dig in! Did I also mention it is delicious? Well, it is! another bonus for tacos, it is the perfect meal for each person to make just how they want. If you have a picky eater around they can make their own choices as to what goes on their taco. Hard shell, soft shell, cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa, sauce, sour cream, beans, so many choices you just can’t go wrong! I even found a simpler way to make tacos. “Is that even possible?” you say. Yes it is! You don’t even have to stand at the stove cooking this! It is a crock pot version that is absolutely delicious! Just throw thawed meat, a can of refried beans, a cup of salsa or a can of tomatoes and diced chiles, one packet of taco seasoning, and about half a cup of water all into a crock pot. Let it cook all day long. Once you are about ready to eat fill your taco shells with this meat mixture. It will knock your socks off with the flavor! You can even use this meat mixture in any of your favorite Mexican food casseroles. Plus I have a family of five, and we always have taco meat leftover. I throw the leftovers into a freezer safe container and then I toss it into my freezer. What a great home cooked meal in my freezer that is ready whenever I need it!

Next time you think about stopping at your local sandwich shop, keep right on driving and make sandwiches at home instead. We always have lunch meat and bread at our house so this is a really easy one for me. We love throwing together our favorite sandwiches and making a salad or our favorite canned soup. For variety you can grill the sandwiches, toast the bread, or heat the lunch meat. BLTs are one of our favorite sandwich night choices, You could even make sloppy Joe’s instead of flat meat sandwiches. Plus if you aren’t in the mood for typical white bread, just grab some specialty breads at the store when they go on sale, throw them in the freezer so they are there fresh and ready whenever you have sandwich night! I love grabbing deli loafs and burger buns and even white and wheat breads when they are one sale. I have a steady supply in my freezer of breads for just about any occasion. This makes sandwich night a great simple meal and you didn’t even have to stand in line at the sandwich shop and watch someone else make your food.

Casseroles are another wonderful way to make dinner simple. Most casseroles can be thrown together the night before hand. Then you leave them in the fridge until you are ready to cook them. Once you get home from your busy day, put your dinner into the oven and let it cook while you wind down. You don’t have to worry about chopping any ingredients, or cooking anything. Just put it into the oven and wait. Not to mention, many casseroles can be frozen. So why not double up your recipe the next time you make a casserole. Then your family can eat one right then for dinner, and have an extra to put into the freezer for dinner on another night! We eat lots of casseroles at my house. It is an easy way to slip vegetables in on my picky eater and also a comforting food for the adults too.

Meatloaf seems to strike fear in the heart of many cooks and eaters. It is an easy meal to make, but it is also easy to not make properly. My husband is a big fan of meatloaf, I was not. When I was first cooking for my family I did not want to make meatloaf. Finally one day I started searching for different types of meatloaf recipes. I found tons of recipes that are not your typical meatloaf. Lots of these recipes are crock pot meatloaves, Italian meatloaves, Mexican meatloaves, turkey loaf, chicken loaf, you name the style there is probably a meatloaf out there to fit! I was floored. I always thought meatloaf was boring, but not anymore. My family happens to love the Mexican version that I found. Experiment and find one that your family enjoys. Once you know which one the family likes, make a few and throw them in the freezer. It is so easy to pull one out and throw it into the oven. While the already cooked meatloaf is re-heating in the oven you can open up some canned vegetables or whatever side you like best get it good and ready. This is one meal I do not think I have seen in a family size portion at the local market, but man it tastes so good right out of my freezer! The crock pot versions we tried were good too, but I couldn’t seem to get mine to hold together as well when cooked in the crock pot. Just search in your favorite cook book or on your favorite recipe site and find the meatloaf that sounds the best to you and give it a whirl. I know that you will be pleasantly surprised, I know I was!

Seafood is becoming more and more popular these days. I love to grab a few bags of frozen seafood whenever it goes onto sale at my grocery store. My favorites are frozen tilapia and frozen shrimp. When I buy the frozen shrimp I get the raw shrimp with about 31-40 shrimps in each bag. You simply take this out and cook with it. The shrimp simply gets thrown into a pot of boiling water, cook for 5-10 minutes and they are done. You can add them to a pasta dish with some sauce and it is an instant meal! The tilapia or any other fish can be quickly sauteed in your favorite seasoning and paired with some rice or steamed vegetables and you have a quick and simple meal that is also healthy and fairly figure friendly too!

These are only a few of my tips, but I hope you find them helpful in making your evenings more simple. I know it is such a great feeling being able to sit down and enjoy a meal together with my family. Whether I slaved all day, or only 10 minutes on the meal. Sitting down with my family talking about our days and enjoying dinner is one of my favorite pastimes. Hopefully these hints will help it be one of your favorites times too!

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Bear Creek Soup Mix

Soup is such a wonderful meal. It is warm and it always hits the spot! I find that it is the perfect quick meal. Even though there are tons of delicious canned soups on the market these days, lots of times I am not in the mood for a canned soup. I want to feel like I have made something on my own, but who has the time to slave in the kitchen all day long to make a delicious soup?

Recently while perusing the aisles at my local grocery store, I found myself browsing the soup shelves. I scanned each shelf looking for some soup that I had not tried yet. Then something caught my eye, a pouch. What type of soup comes in a pouch? A soup mix comes in a pouch! I picked up the pouch and read the instructions. It seemed simple enough and since it only cost $4.19 I figured it was worth the risk. I only purchased one variety at first, Cheddar Broccoli. A few weeks went by and I never made the soup, then the night came. I was not in the mood to cook, but I didn’t want take out either. I stood in the pantry staring at all of the food wondering what to throw together. Then I saw the pouch again. I knew it was time to try out the soup. I grabbed the pouch and headed back to my kitchen. The directions on the package said to bring 8 cups of water to a boil. That was easy enough! I filled my pot with water and waited for it to boil. Once the water came to a boil, I whisked in the soup mix just as the directions say. I reduced the heat and let the soup simmer for 10 minutes. It says on the package for variety you can add bacon, ham, broccoli or corn. I decided to be adventurous! I added some fresh broccoli that I had in the fridge. I cut it up into bite size pieces and threw it into the pot of simmering soup. Then I decided I wanted to add some meat to my soup. I had some ground chicken waiting to be cooked, so I browned it quickly in a skillet and added it to the soup as well. I let the soup continue to cook on low until we were all ready to eat.

The smell coming from my kitchen was phenomenal. My husband and I couldn’t wait to eat! We each got a bowl and filled it up with 2 big ladles full of soup. This was some of the best soup I have had in a long time. I was amazed! How could this powdered soup mix be so delicious? I still have no clue how it works, but it really is wonderful. I have since bought 2 more varieties of this soup mix. In our pantry right now I have three mixes, Cheddar Broccoli, Creamy Potato, and Minestrone. We have already made the minestrone once and it was also delicious. The only thing I added to it was a few handfuls of frozen mixed vegetables. I can’t wait to try these again and add other things to it, or maybe even not add anything and have it as an appetizer instead of my full meal.

Bear Creek soup has been around for a while, but I am so glad that I finally picked it up off the shelf and gave it a try. It makes a ton of soup for the family or even some for a couple with leftovers for days! Next time you are at the grocery store, you should definitely give Bear Creek Soup Mix a try!

Book Review: Rachael Ray’s 365 No Repeats Cookbook

Rachael Ray has become more than a cooking show host. She has become a talk show star. She has a day time talk show, plus several shows on the Food Network. She has never gotten away from what she does best though, 30 minute meals. She has many cook books on the market focusing on meals that can be made in 30 minutes or less. The 365: No Repeats cook book was my most recent addition to my library of cookbooks. I received it as a Christmas gift on Christmas 2005. I was so excited about this book. I spent the evening flipping through the book and trying to decide which recipes I would try first.

The book is laid out in a very different fashion than any of my other cook books. All of my other cookbooks are separated by recipe type. This book only has dinner recipes so it is not separated by type or even by ingredient. The recipes are all numbered one through three hundred sixty-five. The book says “start here or jump around.” This book is an entire year’s worth of brand new recipes for you to try out. There are check boxes on each recipe that say “Try this later” and “It’s a Keeper” this way you will know which ones you and your family love and which ones you want to come back to another day. Many of the recipes in this book have ingredients that you would normally have in your home, others have ingredients that may require a special trip to the store. However, all of the meals can be ready in 30 minutes or less. At least they are when Rachel Ray cooks them!

I personally have made several recipes out of this book. A few of my families favorites are the Honey Nut Chicken Sticks, Cider Vinegar Chicken & smashed Potatoes, BBQ Chicken Sloppy Pan Pizza, and Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf Patties with Pan Gravy. These 4 recipes are the favorites that we have tried so far, however this is only the beginning with this book. The variety of cuisines is so wonderfully refreshing. It is so easy to get bored with the same dinners every week, this book gives you new and different ideas and helps to broaden your mind when it comes to cooking meals for your family.

One of my favorite things about this book is how you can take one master recipe and change a few things to make it a completely different meal. There are several master recipes in this book that are followed by a totally different meal using many of the same ingredients. Here are a few examples. Chicken Francese can easily become Flounder Francese or Chicken Mamacello. A Warm Lemon Chicken Sandwich recipe is quickly transformed into a Grilled Flank Steak Sandwich recipe. Once again, this is only a few examples of the hundreds of recipes available to you in this book.

This book truly has something for everyone! Inside you will find vegetarian meals, seafood, red meat, white meat, salads, sides, and even soups. The cuisines vary from all over the world too. All in one week you can travel to Italy, France, Greece, Spain, Mexico, Thailand, and the good old United States never once leaving your own kitchen. This one cook book has certainly changed the way that my family eats dinner and opened our eyes to a whole new world of food, literally!

I definitely recommend this book to any one who enjoys cooking for their family. Even if you are new to cooking this would be a good book for you since many of the recipes are so easily put together. If you are even remotely thinking of getting a new cook book, race out to the store and pick this one up. You definitely won’t regret it!

Crock Pot Breakfast Wrap Up

I just want to say how much fun it was waking up to breakfast already made each morning. However, four nights in a row of cooking again after dinner really tired me out! I do plan to make crock pot breakfasts again, but I will limit it to once a week or possibly every other week, or once a month even. Depending on how my kids did on their standardized tests … I may do the whole week again on testing weeks. But I’m not certain on that just yet.

Here’s a wrap up of the menu from the week of crock pot breakfasts,

Tuesday – Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole
Wednesday – Crock Pot Cinnamon French Toast
Thursday – Crock Pot Breakfast Cobbler
Friday – Crock Pot Breakfast Potatoes

The only recipe that was not liked by my entire family was Tuesday morning’s breakfast casserole. However, with some tweaking I think I could fix it to make it liked by all of us. I have asked everyone in the family and the votes turned out to be almost unanimous.

Grace – Cinnamon French Toast
Cameron – Cinnamon French Toast
Melody – Cinnamon French Toast
Larry – Cinnamon French Toast
Me – Breakfast Cobbler

The Cinnamon French Toast came in a VERY close second for me though. Larry said he can’t make a good vote because he didn’t get any of the Breakfast Cobbler.

Another thing that I really enjoyed about this week, was having a theme to blog about for several days in a row. I am still contemplating on what my next theme will be. If you have any suggestions on topics that you may want to hear about, please comment and let me know your thoughts.

Crock Pot Breakfast: Day 4

The Crock Pot Cobbler was a BIG hit! It was super delicious and I wish I had more of it ready so I could eat it again tomorrow. Definitely try that recipe!!!!!

Tonight we made Crock Pot Breakfast Potatoes. Here is the recipe.

Crockpot Breakfast Potatoes Recipe

What You Need
• 4 potatoes, sliced
• 1 onion, thinly sliced
• 4 ounces American or cheddar cheese, grated
• 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
• 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

What To Do
1. Prepare inside of crockpot with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Layer potatoes, butter, onion, bacon, cheese in crockpot. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, ending with a layer of cheese.

3. Cover crockpot and cook on low, 8-10 hours.

My hubby is incredibly excited about this one. He loves bacon and he loves potatoes. I’m pretty sure that this one will be his favorite of the whole week. We shall see what the verdict is tomorrow though! Thanks to http://www.allcrockpotrecipes.com/breakfast/crockpot-breakfast-potatoes.shtml for this recipe.

tune in to tomorrow night’s post for everyone’s opinions of their favorite recipe for the week.

Crock Pot Breakfast: Day 3

Yesterday’s recipe for Crock Pot Cinnamon French Toast was a HUGE success! It was delicious and got rave reviews from my entire family. All 3 kids loved it, and the hubby and I loved it too! We will definitely be making this one again sometime soon.

Tonight I will be putting together a Crock Pot Breakfast Cobbler. We are pretty pumped about this one. The kids are thrilled because cobbler sounds like dessert to them and they think dessert for breakfast sounds like a wonderful idea. Ha ha! The flavors in this dish sound so comforting and delicious to me and it also has lots of healthy stay with you food in it and that makes me happy! After they eat this breakfast, I know their beautiful brains won’t starting wandering off during the big test thinking about food because they are hungry.

Here is the recipe:

Crock Pot Breakfast Cobbler

What You Need
• 4 medium apples, peeled and sliced
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 2 tablespoons butter, melted
• 2 cups Granola cereal

What To Do
1. Prepare inside of crockpot with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Add apples to crockpot.

3. Mix in remaining ingredients.

4. Cover; set crockpot to low and cook overnight, 7-9 hours. (Note: Cooks in 2-3 hours on high.)

Serving suggestion: Serve with milk.

Thanks to http://www.allcrockpotrecipes.com/breakfast/crockpot-breakfast-cobbler.shtml for this recipe. I will post a review of this recipe tomorrow night. Last night’s recipe was kid tested, mom approved, and dad approved too!

Crock Pot Breakfast Day 2

eatwell

In yesterday’s blog post on the Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole, I promised to let you all know my kids’ opinions on the casserole. All 5 of us ate the casserole for breakfast this morning. However, only 3 out of the 5 of us liked the casserole. My older 2 kids both said the casserole tasted good, however, they didn’t like the texture of it. I think that next time I will let the bread dry out a bit before I put the casserole together. Maybe that will help with the texture issue?

Tonight I am putting together Slow Cooker Cinnamon French Toast for tomorrow morning’s Brain Food Breakfast. Here’s the recipe:

Cinnamon French Toast Casserole

Ingredients:
2 16oz. loaves cinnamon swirl bread, sliced into 1/4’s and left to dry over night (or for a few hours)
1 dozen eggs
4 cups milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

Directions:
Spray the crock with non-stick spray! Place all the bread in the slow cooker.
Mix all of the remaining ingredients together and pour it over the bread.

Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. Admire the smell while it cooks! The last 1/2 hour or so, remove the lid to let the moisture absorb some. Dust with powdered sugar, a dollop of whipped cream and/or drizzle with syrup when serving!

Thanks to http://newbaltimore.patch.com/blog_posts/slow-cooker-cinnamon-french-toast-casserole for this recipe.

I plan to cut this recipe in half because I’m only serving the 5 of us. I can’t wait to taste it because it sounds delicious!

By the way, today was a wonderful day. The kids all feel like their first day of testing went very well. Work went well, and I had a nice break in the middle of the day. My hubby took me out for lunch! We just went to a fast food place so it wasn’t anything fancy. However, getting to spend even 30 minutes with him in the middle of the day makes a bad day better, and makes a good day great. I know, we are a mushy couple and that annoys a lot of people. We love it though. We feel so happy that we have a connection and relationship where we can show affection and enjoy each others company all of the time.

Yesterday’s tip was to enjoy the small things. Today, I am telling you not to be afraid to show love and affection to the one that you love.

Crockpot Breakfasts Day 1

brainfood
This week my kids have standardized tests. My hubby, Larry, and I wanted to make sure the kids had a good hearty breakfast before their big tests each day. However, I am not at all a morning person and my husband leaves long before we get up. That meant we had to find another way to get them that good brain food breakfast. I turned to my favorite appliance that I believe every busy mom should have, my crock pot!

crockpot

I searched on Bing for Crock pot Breakfast Recipes and found a multitude of ideas and suggestions. I let the kids pick which recipes they wanted us to try. We decided to start with a Crock pot Breakfast Casserole. Larry and I just finished putting the casserole together in the crock pot. I will tell you guys how it tasted in tomorrow’s blog with tomorrow’s recipe.

Here’s the recipe.

Crock pot Breakfast Casserole

What You Need
• 6 eggs, eggs
• 10 slices of bread
• 1 1/2 cups milk
• 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
• 1/2 pound sausage
• Salt and pepper
• Yellow mustard (optional)

What To Do
1. In a skillet, brown the sausage and crumble. Drain fat.

2. Spread mustard on one side of bread and cut bread in quarters (or just cut plain break into quarters if you’re skipping the mustard).

3. Beat eggs and milk together, along with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Spray nonstick cooking spray on inside of crock pot. Layer bread, cheese and sausage inside crock pot.

5. Pour milk/egg over top. Cover. Cook on low 8-12 hours.

Thanks to the web site http://www.allcrockpotrecipes.com/breakfast/crockpot-breakfast-casserole.shtml for this recipe. I can’t wait to hear what the kids think about this breakfast. I really feel like it’s the small things like this that leave an impression with my kids. Sure they remember the big stuff, but I love it when they come to me and say “Hey mom remember that time … ” and they are 80% of the time talking about one of the small moments that we have shared together as a family.

Take time for the small moments. You will cherish them forever.

How to Build Healthy Brown Bag Lunches for Your Kids

lunch

Many of you may already know that I am a mother to 3 school-aged children. I am constantly trying to find new creative ideas for meals for my kids. For a few years the most difficult meal for me to find ways to make more interesting and healthy was my kids’ school lunch.

I have never been a big fan of cafeteria lunches, not even when I was a child in school. So when I was getting ready to send my oldest child off to school, I knew that I would be making her lunch each day. At first, her lunch was simple; just a sandwich, some chips, a dessert, and a drink. Sometimes I would throw in some fruit along with it, but other than that, it was the same thing every day. Luckily my oldest child is a very good eater and not a big complainer. She ate it without a peep about it being boring. However, as a mom I knew that she was getting bored with it quickly.

I knew that I had to try some new things to keep her happy at lunch time. At first, I just tried making different types of sandwiches, and putting little notes in her lunch on a napkin. That worked for a while, but then I had to really begin to get creative. In my opinion every child’s lunch needs to have a few key ingredients to make it healthy. These ingredients are a main dish, at least two side items, and a drink. Most children would boycott without some sort of sweet treat to eat along with their lunch, so I always make sure to include a dessert as well.

In the remainder of this post, I will give you some ideas for each of the key parts of a child’s lunch. You can pick and choose from any of these ideas to make the perfect lunches for your child.

Main Dish

Sandwiches
Instead of just making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread, take your kid’s sandwiches to the next level. If you have a picky eater, this may be more difficult. I have one picky child in my crew, he would eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and nothing else and be perfectly happy with that. however, I know that his meals need more variety for him to have a well-rounded diet. There are tons of ways to make sandwiches more creatively. Sure you can make a different type of lunch meat, or crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy or even try wheat bread instead of white, that is a good first step, but I am the type of person who likes to take things even further.

What about trying something completely new to your kid? One of my kids has fallen in love with pita pockets and asks for them in her lunch quite often. I get the pita pocket and fill it with lettuce, some lunch meat, and ranch dressing. She just loves it! Another favorite for pita pocket filling is leftover salmon patties, lettuce, and a bit of thousand island dressing. Delicious, and really healthy too!

Another way to dazzle your kids with a sandwich at lunch is a wrap. Tortillas are still bread work a lot like bread for me. I just lay it out flat and spread whatever my kids favorite toppings on and then roll it up. Sometimes it is peanut butter and jelly, other times it is lunch meat, then again many times I will make an actual taco or quesadilla and wrap it in foil to keep it warm for them until lunch time.

My final sandwich examples are so much fun for my kids. It makes them feel like they are getting breakfast at lunch time, and for some reason that just makes my children ridiculously happy. Take a bagel or a few waffles, and use that as your bread, then make a sandwich as normal. Fill the bagel or the 2 waffles with your child’s choice of sandwich stuff and I promise it will make their day! When I do this, I like to do it the night before and put it in the fridge so the kids don’t see me making them in the morning. That way when they open up their lunch box in the cafeteria they are completely surprised by it and it seems to just make their day.

Here are just a few sandwich filling ideas, that may help to spark a creative streak in your brain when it comes to changing things up for your kid’s lunch. Instead of peanut butter and jelly try peanut butter and banana or apple slices. Instead of just deli meat and cheese, try adding lettuce, tomato, or maybe even avocado slices. My oldest loves a sandwich with fresh baby spinach, artichoke hearts, and sun-dried tomatoes, then we use a pesto and cream cheese mixture as a spread. Not all kids will like that, but she just loves it!

Hot Stuff
If you invest in a thermos, the choices of things to send for lunch with your kid increase dramatically. Soup, spaghetti, chili, you name it, you can put it in a thermos and have a nice hot lunch for your kid. Best of all, it is home-made! If you have leftovers from last night’s casserole dinner, you can warm them up and put them into a thermos and your kid gets that healthy casserole that they loved last night again today for lunch!

Cold Choices
If a thermos isn’t an option for you, adding an ice pack into your kid’s lunch box can give you more choices to keep something cool. Sometimes I will send a salad in my kid’s lunches. I feel like a salad needs to be kept cold or else the lettuce may wilt some. Salad isn’t nearly as good if it isn’t crisp!

Side Items

When choosing sides to go into your kids lunch try to remember that there are other things you can pick besides chips. Here is a list of some of the things that I like to use as side items for my kids’ lunches.

carrot sticks and dip
celery filled with peanut butter and raisins
a piece of fruit
fruit cups
fruit slices and dip
yogurt
dried fruit
cheese and crackers
popcorn
pretzels
granola bars

I try to pick more than one of these to put into my kids lunch each day. However, if I am only choosing one then I try to make sure it is a healthy choice.

Desserts

Sure Little Debbie desserts are yummy and pre-packaged so they are super easy to pack into lunches.I use those at times, but I much prefer to choose other desserts for my kids’ lunches. Pudding and jello are both some of our favorites to mix up our dessert choices. Also, many times I will make some healthy home-made sweets and use those as a dessert. Then at Halloween time, I will use the kid’s candy stash to pop a quick treat in to their lunch box. Desserts don’t have to be healthy all of the time, so I am much more laid back when it comes to our dessert choices. Most kid’s will eat their dessert first while at school. No mom or Dad around to tell them not to, so they feel like they can do it and get away with it. For this reason, I try to make sure whatever dessert I choose to put in to that lunch box is a smaller and not very filling option so they still have plenty of room for the rest of their lunch.

No matter what you do to change-up your child’s lunch, make sure you get your child’s input on the choices. That way they feel like they had a say in it and then they are more likely to at least try the new lunch and more than likely they will like it!

Rice Milk Smoothies

smoothies

I am currently dieting, and my breakfast of choice on most days is a home-made smoothie. It is quick, simple, light, and filling. I originally fell in love with smoothies when a smoothie shop franchise came to my home town about ten or twelve years ago. Now I make my own smoothies at home to help myself live a more healthy lifestyle!

One week when I was at the grocery store doing my weekly shopping, I found a bunch of rice milk on sale, so I decided to buy it and try using it in my smoothies instead of regular milk. I absolutely love the extra layer of flavor that the rice milk brings to my smoothies, and plus it makes the smoothies even better for my weight loss goals!

Here is the base for my smoothie recipe.

Ingredients:

1/4 – 1/2 cup of rice milk
1/2 – 2/3 cup of non fat vanilla yogurt.
3 to 4 large ice cubes or a handful of small ice cubes
your choice of fruits

I start with the above base recipe and then I add in whatever fruit I happen to be in the mood for on that day. Here are some ideas for fruit choices.

Fruit choices:

1 whole banana, peeled
4 to 5 strawberries, with the leaves cut off
1/3 – 1/2 cup of blueberries
1/3 – 1/2 cup of raspberries
2 mangoes
1 or 2 fresh peaches

With the base recipe and those 6 fruit choices the possibilities are almost endless as to how many different smoothies you can make. I like to use at least 2 types of fruit in my smoothie, however, there are some days when I will throw in 3 or 4 different types of fruit into my blender.

Some of my favorite fruit combinations are strawberry mango, banana blueberry, peach mango, and banana berry (banana and some of each of the above berries). Every combination I have tried has been delicious!

When I make my smoothie, I add the fruit first, then top with the yogurt, pour in the milk and put the ice in last. I blend for at least 2 minutes to make sure that everything is mixed in thoroughly. I pour my smoothie into a large glass and in 5 minutes I have breakfast! There is usually a little bit of smoothie leftover in the blender and I split that between my three kids or give it to my husband.

Another thing that I love about smoothies is they make great drinks to go along with your breakfast, or even a great snack at any point during the day!

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