Food

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyWayToVeg #CollectiveBias

It is no secret that I am lazy in the kitchen. If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, this is something I talk about regularly. I just don’t have the inclination to spend a lot of time in the kitchen creating new, fun recipes. I don’t have the time (or the desire) to make everything from scratch. So what do I do? I cook them same stuff over and over again. And I look for healthy convenience foods.

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MorningStar Farms is among the brands that I regularly buy when I want something quick, convenient and delicious. Even though we’re not vegetarian, we buy their grillers and other veggie cuisine all the time because they taste great and the whole family enjoys them. Plus, I can give them to the kids without feeling guilty that I’m sacrificing their health. So when I learned that they released a new line of veggie bowls in a variety of flavors, I couldn’t wait to try them.

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There are 5 different varieties of Chik’n Pot Pie, Chik’n Tikka Masala, Italian Sausage Bake, Japanese Soba Noodles and Moroccan Medley. To start, we bought the Japanese Soba Noodles and Moroccan Medley. All of the bowls are really easy to prepare. Simply follow the instructions on the packaging for the amount of time each item needs to be heated.

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Both options smelled amazing once they started heating. So good that my daughter came into the kitchen to see what I was cooking. They are fragrant and smell delicious. Plus, they’re ready in about 5 minutes.

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Preparing food in the microwave can be hit or miss. Sometimes, it comes out hard or rubbery. In this case, both recipes were perfectly heated and the meat substitutes were tender and flavorful. If I had any complaint, it is the serving size. The serving is relatively small, so it would work well as lunch, a small dinner or the perfect size for a child. I’m just thrilled that I can have a quick, flavorful, healthy meal in around 5 minutes with very little effort.

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Aside from the fact that they are vegan, MorningStar Farms veggie bowls are just like any other type of food we eat, and I know that we’re going to be looking for them at the grocery store from now on.

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BetterWithCraisins #CollectiveBias

.The weather in Georgia is finally starting to get cool enough to really call say fall has arrived — at least during the mornings and evenings. For me, this transition means a couple of things: I can pull out my warm sweaters and boots, I can turn off the air conditioning in the house for most of the day, and I can start enjoying fall flavors. Ocean Spray® Craisins® Dried Cranberries are among my families favorite ways to indulge in a taste that just feels like fall.

And this recipe created with Craisins® Dried Cranberries in mind, is a great, light way to enjoy that flavor.

Cranberry Apple Salad with a Crunch

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw spinach or other greens
  • 1/8 cup Grape Nuts
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup diced apples

Makes a single serving. Multiply as necessary to serve more than one person.

Instructions

I admit I am not a huge salad eater. I should put greens on my plate more often, but what can I say? I am particular about flavors, and not many salads really satisfy my palate. This one, however, is one of my all-time favorites.

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For the salad base, you’ll need two cups of raw spinach or your favorite greens. I try to buy my spinach organic whenever I can.

The star of this show is the cranberries. They provide the subtle zing that will make you want to eat this every day, and they’re a guilt-free way to enjoy a snack that feels decadent, but is really healthy. But my other favorite part of this salad is the subtle crunch provided by the Grape Nuts. Simply toss the dried cranberries and Grape Nuts together with the spinach.

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For the final flavor punch, add the diced apples. Top with the salad dressing of your choice, though I’d recommend something light, like vinaigrette or simple oil and vinegar.

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Take one bite of this salad with everything on your fork, and you’ll see why I love it so much. The combination of flavors and textures is amazing, and the memory of the cranberries will stay with you all day. Plus, there’s the fact that just 1/4 cup of Craisins® Dried Cranberries actually provides you with 1/2 cup of fruit, and that’s all the more reason to indulge.

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If you’re used to buying Craisins® Dried Cranberries at your local Sam’s Club, you may have noticed they’ve disappeared from the shelves. Not to worry. You can still find them at other stores. I found mine at Walmart on rollback for just $4.98 for a 24oz package!

Looking for more ideas for using dried cranberries? Click here for recipe ideas and to find a store near you.

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Disclosure: Balance Bar has provided me to with product to facilitate this review, along with compensation for my time and effort in creating this content. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Anyone who knows anything at all about me knows I have a sweet tooth. It’s my vice. Even a few years ago when I was on my weight loss journey and meticulously counting calories every day, I always left room for a sweet treat a couple days a week. That treat? Usually cookies or something else that would definitely qualify as not so healthy. Even though I was always careful not to overdo it, there was still a level of guilt about eating “bad” snacks instead of something healthier.

Today, I am focused a lot less on my weight, and a lot more on general healthy living and moderation. Which means that though I sometimes journal my meals, I’m not on a strict calorie count. I just watch what I eat and try to move my body. And my sweet tooth is just a strong as ever. So when Balance Bar reached out to me about trying their newest protein bars, meant specifically to curb those sweet cravings, I couldn’t wait try them.

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Because I’m going to be real with you — when I want a cookie, I have a cookie. I’ve never been great at depriving myself, because I don’t enjoy the idea of a “diet.” I just want to be mindful of what I put in my body and still be able to enjoy the treats I love once in a while. The challenge is that “once in a while” tends to turn into “every day” over time. And I knew I needed to dial back.

What Balance Bar has done is change the way I think about snacking. Now, when I want something sweet, I reach for one, and I can feel good about the fact that though they taste amazing, they are also providing my body with nutrition I’d never get from a cookie. They are formulated to have a balance of carbohydrates, protein and dietary fat that feels indulgent and filling, so I don’t feel the need to keep snacking.

This is helpful when I’m at home working or chasing my little one around because I don’t have to think about what I’ll eat to keep me fueled. (Plus, Juliza likes a little something sweet too. What can I say? She’s her mother’s child.) They’re also great to throw in my purse on my way out the door so I’m not tempted to stop at the drive thru for some french fries or anything else I’d be better off leaving alone. Balance Bar is a snack I can enjoy without thinking about it. It’s a snack I can crave freely.

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And with my oldest daughter home for the summer and wanting to snack all the time, they’ve become a go-to for her as well. They are the perfect snack for her to throw in her bag for quick refueling during gymnastics practice or to keep her satisfied between meals.

Now let’s talk about those flavors. Look. They are an amazing incentive to choose a healthier snack option. I tried Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat, Chocolate Peppermint Patty, Dark Chocolate Pecan Turtle and Dulce De Leche & Caramel. And when I tell you they are all scrumptious? I am so serious. I am picky about tastes and textures when it comes to new foods, so I went into this a little skeptical that I’d be able to make myself eat them all. I truly needn’t have been worried. They are all sweet and decadent and so delicious that I don’t even have time to think about the texture. My absolute favorite is Dark Chocolate Pecan Turtle.

And the awesome thing is that there are a bunch of other flavor options you can try if none of these tickles your fancy. Head to your local Walmart store or Amazon to try them for yourselves.

They’ve become the go-to snack for my family this summer, and I’m thankful that I have them without guilt.

Giveaway

Want to try Balance Bars for yourself? Win a box of Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat mini bars.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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My daughter loves Valentine’s Day. She loves decorating a “mailbox” to collect cards from her classmates, and she loves all the candy. What can I say? She’s a kid. Plus she has a mother with a notorious sweet tooth.

This year, Walmart challenged me to share Valentine’s Day party ideas, and I decided to surprise my girls with some homemade treats. Put these three easy DIY snacks together with affordable ingredients and Valentine’s decor from Walmart, and you’ve got an instant party.

Treat 1: Chocolate-Dipped Marshmallows

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Ingredients

  • Bag of strawberry marshmallows (though white would work too)
  • 4-8 oz. chocolate for melting
  • Sprinkles
  • Popsicle sticks

Directions

My daughter brought home a chocolate covered marshmallow that a friend gave her as a gift, and I wanted to try my hand at making them myself. Turns out it’s really easy.

Push a popsicle or lollipop stick through one end of each marshmallow. It doesn’t have to go all the way through, but I suggest trying to push it at least halfway so it doesn’t fall out.

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Melt your chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. You’ll need 4 to 8 ounces, depending on how many marshmallows you plan to make.

Dip half of each marshmallow in the melted chocolate, and let the excess chocolate drip off. Coat the chocolate with sprinkles.

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Place the marshmallows, stick side down, in a glass or mug to let the chocolate solidify. If you want to speed up the process, you can put them in the freezer for a few minutes or the fridge for 30-60 minutes.

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Once the chocolate has set, they’re good to go!

Treat 2: Pretzel Wands

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Ingredients

  • Pretzel sticks
  • 4-8 oz. white chocolate for melting
  • Sprinkles

Directions

If you have never had chocolate-covered pretzels, you need to make these right away! The combination of sweet and salty flavors together is magical. I had these at my niece’s birthday party last year, and I’ve been wanting to make them ever since.

Melt your chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler.

Dip each pretzel stick into the melted chocolate about 1/2 to 3/4 of the length, and let the excess chocolate drip off.

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You can then decorate the wands however you’d like. We used sprinkles, but you could use a different type of hard candy or something else entirely. Maybe you could drizzle dark chocolate in a pattern.

Anyway, once decorated, place them, chocolate side up, in a glass or mug to let the chocolate solidify. You can speed up the process by putting them in the freezer or fridge, like the marshmallows.

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These are SO good! And your kids will have too much fun spreading Valentine’s day magic with their wands.

Treat 3: Strawberry Roses

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Ingredients

  • Fresh, whole strawberries
  • Paring knife
  • Toothpicks or lollipop sticks
  • Optional: Whipped cream

Directions

After all that sugar, I wanted to give them something a bit healthier. This is the easiest of the three snacks, but the result is so pretty! I found this idea at Spend with Pennies and I had to try it!

Wash and dry your strawberries. Insert a toothpick or lollipop stick in the stem end of each strawberry.

Starting from the bottom (nearest the leaves), make small slices slightly angled towards the center of the strawberry, but be sure not to cut all the way through.

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This will create the rose “petals”. Use the knife to bend each piece out toward you slightly, which will create a layered effect. Turn and continue making slices. You’ll probably be able to do 5 or 6 on the bottom row.

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Move up the strawberry, continuing to cut. For each row of petals, cut between the petals you have already cut. The closer you get to the top, the thinner you’ll want to cut, so the petals will “curl”.

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That’s it! Serve right away for best results 🙂

These treats are a great start to a Valentine’s Day party, and you can find affordable themed plates, cups and other tableware at Walmart to complete the fun.

More Valentine’s Day Party Ideas

Check out these ideas from other Walmart Moms.

Simple decorating ideas from Renee at Cutie Booty Cakes

Gorgeous Valentine’s Day tablescape from Liz at Hoosier Homemade

Affordable decorating tips from Linsey at Lille Punkin

Tissue paper pom tutorial from Tara at Unsophisticook

Making the most of your party on a budget, from Heather at The Domestic Diva

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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If I’m honest, my husband is really the only football fan in the house. I’ll oblige him and watch games with him, but the only game I’ll really watch with any level of interest is the Super Bowl. One of the ways we enjoy the game is by having a bunch of finger foods on hand so we can snack to our heart’s content. So when Walmart asked me to share a recipe in honor the big game, sharing this one was a no-brainer.

I discovered this recipe a few years back, and trust me when I tell you it does not disappoint. These wings are crazy addictive — hence the name. And I added my own twist with just a little curry powder to boost the flavor factor.

I headed to Walmart to pick up all my ingredients at affordable prices. Assuming you don’t have any of the ingredients on hand at all, you’ll spend about $25 total. But since you probably have many of them in your pantry already, it will likely cost considerably less than that.

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Ingredients

  • 4 pounds chicken wing sections
  • 1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 3 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 cup butter

Directions

Pre-season the wing sections with 1 tablespoon of the curry powder and a light dusting of your favorite seasonings to taste. I am partial to Goya Adobo and Badia all purpose seasonings. You don’t need a lot, because the “breading” will be packed with flavor. This is just to make sure the chicken under the coating is still well-seasoned.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the Parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano, paprika, the remaining tablespoon of curry powder, salt and pepper in a bowl.

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Melt the butter in the microwave or a small pan. Line a shallow baking pan with foil. Trust me on this step. It will save you lots of scrubbing later.

Dip each wing section in butter, then roll it in the cheese and seasoning mixture. Arrange them in the foil-lined pan. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need more than 1 for this amount of chicken.

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Bake for 1 hour, and prepare to lick your fingers in delight!

It’s hard to take a photo that really does these wings justice. But when I tell you that these will go fast, I mean it. They are SO good!

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They’re the best non-fried wings you’ll probably ever have. So you’re welcome 🙂

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Over the past few years, I’ve become mildly obsessed with cranberries. Whole, jellied, juiced — all of it. The flavor just makes me happy, and I’ve managed to get the rest of my family on board. So when Walmart shared their Holiday Entertaining Guide with me, I was so happy to find a cranberry-based recipe to try. And this is now officially my favorite holiday drink.

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Seriously, head to Walmart right now for these ingredients. You won’t be disappointed. And if you want to add a little heat, there’s a cocktail recipe too, alcohol included.

Cranberry Fizz Mocktail

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Ingredients

3 ounces sparkling cider or ginger ale
3 ounces cranberry juice
1 lemon or lime
Sugar & Cinnamon Mix (blend completely):
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

Rub a lemon or lime around the rim of your glass and then dip into the sugar/cinnamon mix.

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Fill the glass with ice, and add the cranberry juice.

Add a splash of fresh juice of lemon or lime. Top off with sparkling cider or ginger ale.

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Bonus Tip

For a festive garnish, skewer some cranberries and freeze them overnight. Place a skewer in the drink for an extra splash of color and to help keep the drink cold.

Trust me when I say that the cinnamon/sugar mixture around the edge of the cup is where the magic happens. You can make it without ice, as I did, but don’t skip the cinnamon. The flavors together (and the look of the sugar around the rim) feel like you’re drinking something really sinful, even though it was safe to share with my oldest daughter.

Thank me later 🙂 And Merry Christmas!

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

When I was growing up, lent was always an interesting time at my house. Because honestly, meat was a huge part of our diet, and meals usually started with the meat and built from there. So lent presented a challenge. We usually wound up eating lots of starches and vegetables, with very little protein on the table.

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Thankfully, my husband is a lot better at making meatless meals than I am, as he grew up eating them. So when Walmart asked me to share a vegetarian recipe for lent, I asked him to lend me his skills in the kitchen and share this rich, filling chili recipe.

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Ingredients

  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 packages Morningstar Grillers Crumbles
  • 2 cans tomato sauce
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce to taste

Directions

Add all the ingredients to crock pot, starting with beans on the bottom, and mix well. Turn the crock pot on low, cover and cook for 8 hours.

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Alternatively, you can set the crock pot on high and cook for about 4 hours. But on the lower setting, this is the perfect meal to start in the morning before you leave for work, and it will be done to perfection when you get home. It is awesome even without the cayenne and hot sauce, but my hubby and daughter like it spicy. It’s also great when served with crackers or over rice.

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Serves 8.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Baby Juliza likes to eat. No. Really. She has a knack for sniffing out whenever someone is eating, and she loves to sample a little something from everyone’s plate. This is her “I’m about to eat” face, so excited that I couldn’t get her to keep still long enough for a photo.

For the most part, I’m content to let her eat table food — fruit, veggies, chicken, fish — even macaroni and cheese and whole wheat spaghetti. But there are moments when we’re eating something she really just shouldn’t eat — pizza, for example — or we’re in a hurry and I want to provide healthy options for her. I know I can head to my nearest Walmart and find an abundance of organic baby food options, including Plum Organics, Gerber organic, Earth’s Best Organics, Happy Baby, Ella’s Kitchen, Beech Nut and more.

My little stinker loves the Plum Organics fruit and vegetable super puffs, in large part because she can feed herself with her fingers. I prefer to give her real fruit and veggies when I can, but these are a good stand-in that I won’t feel terrible about giving to her. She’s also a fan of their Little Yums teething wafers, especially now that she’s cutting the second of her molars and her gums are very swollen.
 

As a general rule, I’m not a fan of the squeezable packs of fruit and veggies because I can’t see what’s in the container, but I’ll give them to her as snacks at home when I can squeeze the contents into a small bowl. This is a packaging quibble for me though. The quality of the food is great, and I like the Gerber organic options because they tend to be a bit more affordable than some of the strictly organic brands. Plus, I’m happy to see a traditional baby food maker wade into the organic pool. 

The selection really is great, and everything is reasonably priced so I can get a lot for my money. This isn’t always true when buying organic for the rest of the family, so I appreciate that we can do what’s best for Juliza without breaking the bank.

What about you? Do you buy organic baby food? What are your favorite brands?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.