Archive for Costco

Matcha Smoothie

Think Green!!!

I LOVE Matcha Green Tea.  I am an addict!  My previous post on Matcha lists all the great reasons to drink it, Matcha? You Betcha!

I find around 3:30 to 4pm I need a little pick me up and this has been my go-to snack as of late. 

Matcha Smoothie

1 cup ice

1 cup Almond Milk

2 teaspoons Matcha Green Tea powder

(I mix it up with a little hot water from the microwave before dumping in the blender)

Blend and serve!   

If you don’t like the taste of Matcha…add 4 to 5 drops of agave nectar or stevia to the mixture while it is blending.  I grab a handful of pistachios (about 1/4 a cup) and I am golden!

This afternoon pick me up weighs in at 200 calories, 17 g of fat (heart-healthy fats from nuts, remember these fats do not make you fat), 7g of protein, 4g Fiber, along with Vit A, Vit C, Calcium, Iron, Vit D, Vit E, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Thiamin, Copper, & Vit B6-hard to beat this combo! (Just the smoothie is 40 calories).

And takes less than 5 minutes to make!  Easy!

The kids?  No, I don’t have them on Matcha tea…YET!  But they join me with the pistachios and sliced up pear…still green…still easy…and so GOOD for them!

We love to shell pistachios in our house, but you can also buy them shelled.  Costco sells “Wonderful Pistachios“, just make sure you measure out the 1/4 of a cup…1/2 a cup becomes closer to a meal, than a snack.

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Preparedness refers to the state of being prepared for specific or unpredictable events or situations. Preparedness is an important quality in achieving goals and in avoiding and mitigating negative outcomes.

This my friends is the key to it all.  If you want to live a healthy lifestyle, make healthy choices, and take control of your eating the only route there is is “preparedness”…no way around it. 

We spent a good portion of our day today in our jammies, watching football.  So around 3 we made a run to the park.  It gets dark and cold here early and when we piled in the car to head home my Husband noted it was already 5…and suggested we eat out.  I was all for it as I had planned nothing for dinner.  As we tossed possible dining destinations back and forth it occurred to me how silly it was when I have a freezer, pantry and fridge overflowing with easy, healthy choices.


Dinner was 4 things:  frozen fish, quinoa, bruschetta sauce, and edamame

1st I microwaved the edamame and in 5 minutes the kids were eating a hot veggie.  Costco sells Madame Edamame and the little bags go right into the microwave.  Fast.  Hot.  Healthy.   Sprinkled with a little garlic salt and everyone is a fan. (these are also good cold in a bag on the run)

2. Fish.  I know, not everyone likes fish.  But I would encourage you to find one you can tolerate as it is an awesome lean protein, and easy to make.  If you choose non-fishy ones they are basically plain, like chicken, and will taste like whatever you put on them.  We eat a lot of Tilapia, which Costco also sells frozen, and we also enjoy Barramundi which has no fishiness at all!  Remember to check the Monterey Aquarium Seafood Watch site for best choices!  I put frozen fish in cold water (still in the packaging) for about 5 min, then it is ready to go.  Most of these frozen white fish choices are good broiled on each side for 5 min.  I added a little pepper and some Galeos Miso for flavor.

3.  Quinoa.  6 minutes in the microwave.  The main reason I like to make quinoa is it is fast and light.  You don’t feel all weighed down like you do after eating rice.  Trader Joe’s Organic Quinoa is cheap, and can you beat a 4- 6 minute microwave option?


4.  Bruschetta.  I always have bruschetta sauce in the house.  It is easy to dip things into, and dump onto dishes to spice them up!  Actually right now I have the Costco option (Hannah’s) and the Trader Joe’s kind. Tonight I added it to the quinoa and it was so YUMMY!  I actually just made more to have for lunch tomorrow.  Quinoa has a lot of protein so it makes a perfect mini-meal on the run, and tastes great cold!

So 30 minutes after walking into the house we had a dinner that was pretty healthy, easy to make, and relatively cheap…all things I am sure we would not have accomplished if we had gone out. Not one thing I made took over 6 minutes…hard to argue with that!

Preparedness=Good Stuff!

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Snack 101

A friend of mine was in desperate search of new snack ideas for her kid’s lunches!  She put the call out to her friends on Facebook and I loved seeing all the replies.  We can always learn new tricks and new ideas…not to mention it gets you thinking!

Some of these are mine, so you have seen them before, but lots of new ones and all in one place!

Thanks Tracy!  Keeping us healthy and accountable, I LOVE it!  Plus such a great way to end the year…keeping it FRESH!!!


Snack 101

Hummus & Pita

Hummus & Veggies

(Costco sells hummus snack packs)

Ants on a log

(celery & cream cheese or peanut butter topped with raisins)

What about ladybugs on a log?  Cream cheese & celery topped with craisins or dried cherries


Rice cakes or mini rice cakes topped with cream cheese, almond butter or peanut butter


cucumber slices with lemon pepper

trail mix (suck up a few M&M’s and get lots of healthy protein in them)


Late July brand crackers/snacks

Stretch Island Fruit Leather counts as 1/2 serving of fruit

Trader Joe’s Organic  fruit wrap

grapes & cashews

grapes & pumpkin seeds

Justin’s peanut butter squeeze packs

 (kids get to knead & squeeze, still a processed food, but lots of fun and a great source of protein)

Trader Joe’s “Just A Handful of Almonds”

small oranges peeled, and separated for them

Cliff Kid Organic Twist Fruit (1 serving of fruit)

Asian Pear Crisps

(Costco, dried fruit with no added sugar/preservatives)

Food Should Taste Good brand Cheddar chips 

(healthy version of a Doritos, 9 chips has 3g fiber & 3g protein)

SomerSaults Chocolate Flavor

(Whole Foods, PCC, Met Market)

Strawberries, blackberries,  blueberries or raspberries

(Use Pottery Barn snack containers and nothing gets mushy or crushed plus designed to fit in your lunchbox)

FAGE Greek Yogurt

(flavor comes on the side for kids to add and has 1/4 to 1/2 the sugar most flavored yogurts have)

Lettuce wraps

(anything you would put on bread wrapped in Trader Joe’s “Just Leaves”)

Dried Fruits from Whole Foods (again watch for added sugar)

Cold Pasta Salad add diced turkey and a bit of Italian dressing

Protein on a stick: cubed turkey/ham/cheese/grapes/cherry tomatoes

Fruit on a stick with some yogurt for dipping

Organic Z Bar by Cliff Kid

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Yummy Peanut Butter,Yucky Peanut Butter!


 Organic Creamy Peanut Butter

2 Tbsp

(Costco Kirkland Brand)

  Regular Creamy Peanut Butter2 Tbsp

(Jif Brand)

Calories 200 Calories 200
Protein 9 grams Protein 7 grams
Total Fat 16 grams Total Fat 16 grams
Saturated Fat 3 grams Saturated Fat 3 grams
Trans Fat 0 grams Trans Fat 0 grams (umm, not really see below)
Cholesterol 0 mg Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 45 mg Sodium 150mg
Total Carbs 7 g Total Carbs 7g
Dietary Fiber 2 grams Dietary Fiber 2 grams
Sugars 2 grams Sugars 3 grams


Ounce for Ounce these 2 Peanut Butters look pretty similar?  Yep, that is the kicker.  The only glaring difference is that Jif has 3 times more salt!  But this is America, land of the loopholes.  The 2% or less (per serving, not jar) allows companies to post 0 trans fats as long as there is less than half a gram in a serving.  A serving is two tablespoons. Two percent would be 9 grams of trans fat per 454 gram jar.

Does peanut butter REALLY need to be Organic?  Pesticides and the peanuts: Peanuts are one of the most highly sprayed crops out there.  You decide.  My kids eat so much of the stuff it is a no-brainer for me.

If your peanut butter is SOLID when you put the knife in it has trans fat, that is why an oil that should not be solid is!  Period. 

Tips for dealing with the oil:

The oil in peanuts is monounsaturated, and diets high in this type of fat have been shown to lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol while preserving levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Peanut oil also contains beta-sitosterol, a plant sterol that studies show can inhibit cancer growth.

Sure, you could dump the oil, but I say keep it! So here is how to have less mess

  • Store the PB upside down before opening it!  The oil will rise to the bottom of the jar and then you can sir it back in with less mess.
  • If you just want to dump it, try dumping half
  • Dump all the oil out mix PB by adding it back in a bit at a time

*I would also like to note my girlfriend told me she didn’t buy organic peanut butter because she has no room in her fridge!  I thought “Oh crud, I have never put it in the fridge!”  I promptly came home and checked and Costco’s Organic PB does not need to be refrigerated!


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Q and A for Tracy!

My friend Tracy watched Food Inc. a few days ago and I am so impressed!  Instead of burying her head in the sand she is being PROACTIVE!  Go GIRL!

She emailed me some Q & A, so here is my 411!

Do you buy all organic?  

I do not buy all organic.  If I am not sure whether or not something needs to be organic I google it and do some reasearch.  I try to buy organic when it is something my kids consume a lot of.  I also go by the rule of buying organic when the “skin is thin”. 

Go organic: apples, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, grapes, pears, nectarines, peppers, celery, potatoes, and carrots

Save your cash: avocados, eggplants, pineapples, bananas, corn, kiwi, mangoes, papaya, sweet peas, oranges, grapefruit, and squash

Go organic: all lettuces and greens such as kale, collards, mustard, swiss chard, and spinach

Save your cash: broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, cauliflower, eggplant, melons, and sweet potatoes 

Go organic: milk, yogurt, and cheese (milk and yogurt I am firm on.  String cheese I also buy organic because my kids eat a lot of it.  I buy regular cheese for sprinkling on chili or a quesadilla because we eat soooo little of it.)

You can also buy a lot of organic berries frozen, and I use those in shakes every day!

Eating organic seems really expensive?

I thought so too at first, but if you pay attention it really isn’t that much more.  Given that eating cleaner also led us to eating at home more, we have saved tons of money (and calories)!  Also when you are conscious of what you are eating you buy foods you know you will eat, verses a lot of stuff I just tossed out in the past.

The one thing you realize very quickly is if you eat IN SEASON you will save money.  I bought two spaghetti squashes at Trader Joe’s the other day for $1.75 each.  They keep forever in a cold, dark place and allow me to feed 4 of us, plus leftovers for about $5 (when I add the pasta sauce and a salad). 

Winter has forced me to explore new foods (squash, leeks, carrots, and lentils) that I use to stay away from.  I love summer.  The farmer markets around here make eating organic, and clean, so EASY! 

We don’t eat a lot of meat and that is what gets pricey if you are buying grass-fed (the GMO Corn is as concerning to me as the hormones and antibiotics (we were not raised with these things) being put into our bodies in the amounts our kids are exposed to.  We feed this to the cattle, but it is also in almost all of our processed foods).

We eat lots of seafood.  Frozen tilapia, and wild Alaskan salmon are pretty inexpensive at Costco.

Join the PCC (or any local co-op).  You are supporting local growers, and your local economy, and you know you are getting good stuff!  It was a $65 fee to join, and I get a coupon for 10% off every month and you also get 5% off every 15th and 16th of the month and a newsletter with great recipes for eating in season.

Also, I view it as an investment.  I would rather spend a bit more up front and keep us all as healthy as possible, than pay downstream in medical bills.

I went to Trader Joe’s today and did pretty good-just paying more attention to labels.

They say to watch the first 3 ingredients, I try to watch the 1st five.  Watch for sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn-syrup.  A clean, clear label with words you can pronounce is a GOOD THING!  I think the best book you could read to learn about all of this is Michael Pollan’s, In Defense of Food.  He also has a great explanation (cliff notes if you will) in Food Rules, for why and how to eat healthier.

Good rules to follow (when you can)

No sugar.  

No high fructose corn syrup.  

No trans fats.  (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated)

No saturated fats.

Nothing enriched.  

Words you don’t know or cannot pronounce. (Mono- dyglicerides for example)

And extra words, like “added”!

Do you cook every night?  If you do, what kind of meals do you make? 

I do.  If we eat out or do take out as a family it is sushi, subway, taco time or Indian food.  Or occasionally we order Zeeks and I get half- no cheese loaded with veggies and sauce (you would be surprised)!  It is just easier for me to know what I am putting in my mouth, and to know where it came from and what has been done to it.

We eat lots of lentils (a million ways to cook these and Trader Joe’s has them pre-cooked so you can just add them to a recipe), chili (vegetarian, or turkey-homemade or bought), salmon, tilapia, shrimp, tofu (don’t knock it til you have tried it), soups, salads (oil and vinegar, or a variation….no more ranch or other sugar and fat dressings), and whole grains. Whole grain pastas, wild rice, brown rice, quinoa, and tabouleh (this one takes 30 minutes and just hot water).  And I do cook chicken, and red meat, just not often, and I do buy it from the PCC or Whole Foods.

The kids love chili night, my tortilla soup, and we make pizzas all the time-their FAV!  It is amazing what kids will put on their pizza if they help put it in the topping bowls, and then we just throw them on the BBQ.  (Whole foods and TJ both sell pizza dough for under $3.00). 

We bought some crab for Valentine’s Day, so tonight was crab cakes, shrimp and a salad – YUMMERS!

What do you send with your kids for lunch?

What is tough about lunches is being creative, and making it fun enough that they don’t harp on wanting all the crud the kid next to them has!  The first day of school this year James came home asking when he could have a gogurt?  So we had a chat about food, verses fun food, verses sugar, chemicals and food coloring masquerading as yogurt.  It is impossible to ask your kids to eat healthy if you do not.  I have found my kids are pretty cool about it because they want to be like Mom and Dad.  Some day that will change, and then I will focus on how those “fun foods” make us feel (tired, lethargic, thristy…so on).

There is no peanut butter allowed at his school so it is turkey cheese, sunbutter, cream cheese and jelly.  The key is the bread, this is where I try to make it as nutritious as possible.  We also do wraps and he likes hummus, turkey,cream cheese, cucumbers.  I do send a juice every other day, but you can find them without HFCS and lots of the other junk…  I wish he would drink water everyday but I want to keep it fun too.  We then send a fruit-seasonal, so right now it is small tangerines, apple slices, or pear slices.  We also send hummus and chips. He loves cucumber slices with lemon pepper on them (so do I)).

The junk food/treat is either stretch island fruit leather, kids cliff bar (Costco), dried mango slices (Costco), or a cookie (they might be organic, or vegan, he doesn’t know nor care).  I look for things that maybe aren’t perfect, but better than the alternative.  Last week the kid next to him got 8 OREOS, a chocolate milk, and some Cheeze-Its for lunch.  I sware, people have lost their minds!

I will post my Costco and Trader Joe’s Grocery lists, the staples that I always pick up.  I still hit Safeway for basics, and their organic brand is pretty good.  I have not been down any of the middle aisles at Safeway in ages.

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Sometimes the BEST things are so simple.

Sometimes the best things are so simple we tend to forget about them.  A few weeks ago we were graciously invited to a Halloween party!  Michael had been gone all week on the East Coast and come Halloween day I was BEAT STREET!  All done.  Now normally, (especially given my incestuous love for this Haunted Holiday) I would have come up with a fabulous, Halloween-oriented appetizer…but again, I was tired and over it! (God Bless you single Moms! Really.)As I sat pondering what I could throw together easily I came up with two great app’s that are slam-dunks every time, and honestly I think because they are so darn easy I just forget how good they are.  Nothing inventive here people, but wow…easy, somewhat healthy (for a party app) and always gobbled up!  A trip to the store and about 20 minutes to put together.  DONE. (I would also like to add both the shrimp and the meatballs were gone within about 15 minutes of our arrival).

Appetizer #1.    Jumbo Prawns and Cocktail Sauce

Ingredients:  Jumbo Prawns & Cocktail Sauce

Now remember you are looking for frozen, cooked with the tail ON that have been farmed in the U.S.A (see All the Fish are Swimming post for guidelines)

Take a large round serving dish, fill with ice, place dipping bowl of Cocktail Sauce in the center, then place prawns and slices of lemon in whatever presentation makes you the happiest

                          Assemble when you arrive.  Bring ice in a ziplock.  Shrimp in a ziplock.  Lemon slices.  Cocktail sauce.  Your serving bowl.  Cocktail Sauce bowl.



Appetizer #2:  Chicken Meatballs with Sweet ‘n Sour Sauce & Pineapple chunks

Ingredients:  Chicken meatballs, Sweet ‘n Sour Sauce, Pineapple Chunks

Obviously you can use any kind of meatball you wish!  Beef/pork and/or turkey will work too.  But if you are eating leaner, healthier…why not contribute this way of life to the event you are attending?  The Chicken Meatball’s I love are from Costco (Aidells Meatballs), and even with nothing on them they are a home run.  My friend Kelley just heats them and sets out some toothpicks. (BTW this is how my kids get them and they INHALE them).

For a party I prefer to take it just one easy step further and add the Sweet ‘n Sour Sauce, and pineapple chunks.

  1. Dump meatballs into baking dish
  2. Dump sauce over the top
  3. Dump pineapple chunks (juice drained out)
  4. Mix together

Now the meatballs have been cooked, but to heat they need about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  I like to arrive at parties and be able to simply put the dish out (not bothering the hostess with needing things…especially his/her oven) so I put these in the oven about 30 minutes before we will be leaving.  Right before we go I dump them into a stove-top pan and place the lid on.  This makes them easy for transport and keeps them warm. 

Upon arriving I place them into the serving dish and place some toothpicks next to it!



The Sauce:  Prior to eating a cleaner, healthier way of life I SWORE by World Harbors Maui Mountain Sweet ‘n Sour Sauce.  It really is wonderful!  But this time when I went to Safeway I decided to check the organic section for options and I found Acadia,Roasted Red Pepper Sweet ‘n Sour Sauce & Marinade.  I was intrigued because the bottle was the exact same shape and size as the Maui Mountain/World Harbors brand.  When I compared the two I couldn’t help but smile because sure enough they were/are the same parent company.  The price was pretty close to the same too.  The main difference is the Acadia brand has no High Fructose Corn Syrup, and no Preservatives.  So this is my new Sweet ‘n Sour Sauce of choice!  But, like the meatballs, I would venture any Sweet & Sour will be a sure-fire hit.


So this post is just a reminder friends that you don’t have to break your back to contribute a yummy, healthy(ish) party dish!  Fruit trays, veggies, smoked salmon and apples…think about the things you like and just take them up a notch as far as presentation!  Have fun with it!

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Protein Power for those snack attacks

My friend Stacie has never been a big meat-eater, but she loves her dairy.  In trying to come up with some snacks that are not dairy, but had some protein, Stacie asked me what I snack on during the day. 

I totally get what she is struggling with.  You can’t run all day on cucumbers and carrot sticks, you need something with some protein to fill you up and keep you from thinking about food!   I think most of us can agree we tend to screw-up our eating when we are not prepared, and find ourselves STARVING!  So I love Stacie’s question and today is her Birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY STACIE) and in honor of that I am going to throw out some easy, on-the-go protein options!

OK, I have TWO “go-to” protein snacks, I love;

1)  Grande Soy Latte is my ON THE GO protein snack that I can grab just about anywhere.  Now this is not an everyday snack, but it does the job when I had to bolt out of the house without my snacks!  170 calories/9g protein/1g Fiber…40% calcium, 15% Vit A and 8% Iron

I try to have these items with me in my car to make for a quick, easy snack ;

2) Amplify Chocolate Mint or Vanilla Protein shake and a few almonds (1/2 0z or about 10 almonds).  220 calories/27g protein/5g fiber


Amplify Chocolate Mint or Vanilla Protein Shake and 1 Tbl of peanut butter (a spoonful). 220 calories/28g protein/3g fiber


Amplify Chocolate Mint or Vanilla Protein Shake and a handful of pumpkin seeds.  260 calories/27g protein/2g fiber

MY 411 on Protein Shakes

  • Google it, but there are a ton of reasons WHEY is better than Soy when it comes to protein shakes
  • There are some GROSS flavors out there!  GNC sells Amplify and the two flavors mentioned are the best!  If you can not find these then ask for a recommendation and ask about returns or exchanges should you really dislike the one you get.
  • BUY a BlenderBottle.  Nothing is worse than a clumpy, runny, protein shake.  The BlenderBottle ROCKS, you can throw your protein powder in the container and just add water when ready.  $5  (I have two of these so I always have one clean and with me)

Peanut Butter, I use Costco’s Kirkland Organic Brand.  Cheap, and good for you, no extra junk in it (like High Fructose Corn Syrup)!

Almonds.  Trader Joe’s sells Almonds already packaged in 10z servings, called “Just a Handful of Almonds”, can’t overeat this way, can ya?

Pumpkin seeds.  Davids.  You can buy them in most gas stations, convenience stores, or your local grocery store.  The small bags are 2 servings, so eat half a bag!

Snack list (all great sources of protein, all items I enjoy)

  • Safeway Select Enlighten Black Bean soup (comes in a cup, add hot water kind of thing)- it has 10 g of protein per cup, and an amazing 14 g of fiber, and only 1 g of fat.
  • LUNA Bars: These come in a variety of flavors. They are all vegan, and have 10 grams of protein in each bar. My favorites are Chocolate Pecan Pie and Lemon Zest. (processed food, so treat not staple)
  • Nuts and Chocolate/dried cranberries: Very simple. Take a plastic baggie and fill it with nuts and Ghiradelli Semi-sweet chips. I like to use brazil nuts or cashews. (This would be the kind of thing I would take to the movies so I don’t sit there pissed I don’t have milk duds!)
  • Peanut Butter and Apple
  • Crackers and humus
  • Lara Bars (watch the saturated fat in some flavors)
  • Soy Crisps
  • Trail Mix

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