“Easy Dinner Series For Large Families”- Easy Street Tacos with Refried Beans/ (Cooking with Fibromyalgia)

As I sit in bed this morning, I can feel the effects of Saturday’s work seeping down into my muscles. It’s as if I just picked myself up after being beat with a baseball bat. My head is foggy, each arm and leg feels like it weighs 10 times it’s normal weight. My muscles are aching and tender. My feet are tingling and burning, and the big joints in my feet and legs (and now my fingers) feel like they are full of peanut butter.

adult alone anxious black and white

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

One of the big lessons I’ve learned through this trial living with chronic illnesses, is that we all just need to SLOW.DOWN. Maybe you are like I used to be: 100 miles an hour, all day, every day.

Taking kids here and there, always in a rush.

“What’s for dinner?”

“Did I remember to send that paper in for the rehearsal?”

“Oh shoot! I knew I would forget Bambi’s bag next to the front door! Ugggggh. It’s been sitting there all week for me to bring today!”

I know I can’t be the only one out there that was running myself ragged just trying to be a mythological hero named ‘SuperMom’.

No one is worse than ourselves when it comes to criticism. Sometimes I have to tell myself to shut up!

Living with autoimmune and fibromyalgia has taught me a valuable lesson in resting and not being so hard on myself . And believe me, it’s not a pretty sight to get dragged, kicking and screaming, down that path by the Good Lord! Learning how to rest has been the hardest test of my life.

Rest is so important….. so why do I feel like I don’t need it?

I think deep down it’s about pride and trust.

Do I trust that it’s ok for me to take a break?

Can my family handle things without me?

Can my husband take care of the kids without me micromanaging?

I got to the point that I relied too much in my own strength. An empty cup can’t pour out for others something that it doesn’t have. We have to get ourselves filled up.

So, today, I urge you fellow SAHMs, Moms of multiple, and all of you struggling with perfectionism-find some rest today. Get somewhere quiet and private for a little while. Do some things to take care of yourself: take a bath, read some uplifting articles, spend time in prayer… whatever you feel like you should do to rest your mind and body, today.

In going along with taking it easy, here is another meal in my “Easy Dinner Series For Large Families”.

Easy Street-Tacos and Refried Beans

img_0434

 

In preparing for the health repercussions of the painting party, I wanted to be real with you all so that you can see into how I think and deal with fibromyalgia from day-to-day.

Living with chronic illness can be tricky that’s for sure, but it doesn’t have to derail your life.

It just takes a little pre-planning! The day of the painting party I slow cooked a big batch of pinto beans in the crock pot. That night I stored the beans in the refrigerator. I knew from past experiences that anytime I have a large physical output (or deal with a stressful situation) that the next couple of days after will be the roughest on me. In preparation I try to make a few easy meal plans ahead of time. This is one of our favorites! It’s easy, cheap, and delicious!

You Will Need

A large family pack of boneless skinless chicken breasts (6-7 breasts)

Olive oil

Cumin seeds and cumin powder

Chili powder

1 lb of dry pinto beans *(precooked, see explanation below)*

hot sauce

cilantro

radishes

Avocado (3-4)

salt and pepper

tortilla shells (bought or homemade work well- here’s a link to the recipe I use for homemade flour tortilla shells. This will make the recipe more labor intensive, so either make ahead or skip it and pick up a pack at the grocery)

 

 

What To Do

First I get the pan heated well on medium-high, then add the oil. While the pan is heating up I cut the chicken breasts into long thin slices.

I used a large family pack of boneless skinless breasts for this, but you could also use a bag or two of the Tyson fajita chicken that is precooked and just skip the chicken parts of this recipe (I like to use fresh instead of precooked as much as possible to avoid all the extra preservatives and fillers)

* BEAN NOTE: Once the chicken is going I got my beans from the fridge that I had cooked the day before. I froze half of the portion for another quick meal later and used half for this recipe. (making more than necessary and freezing half for later is a big secret I use for cooking for a big family)*

Add the beans into a pot, coating the bottom well with olive oil, and set the heat to medium.

Next, I added the seasonings cumin seeds, cumin powder, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste to the chicken.

Cumin powder and chili powder, plus salt and pepper to taste in the beans.

Keep stirring both dishes until everything is well combined, stirring frequently during the cooking process, until the beans are well heated and mushy and the chicken has cooked out most of the liquid..

While everything is cooking, I prepare the toppings. Wash cilantro and radishes well. Chop up the cilantro and slice the radishes. I usually serve this meal with sliced avocado as well, but didn’t have any this time…..so add avocado to yours 🙂

img_0417-1

At this point I tasted everything and decided to add more cumin and chili powder to both dishes, and I stirred in hot sauce to the beans.

img_0428

And that’s it!

A 30 minute meal, made from fresh whole ingredients for a large family.

img_0434

Easy Dinner Series For Large Families: #1 Lemon-Garlic Pasta with Spinach

I make this dish on a regular basis. It’s a great recipe for those busy nights when you want a quick meal, but still want it to be on the healthy side. We are total foodies, so one thing that I don’t like to skimp on is a homemade fresh meal. In reality, that doesn’t always happen (pb&j night anybody?). Having fibromyalgia has greatly changed the way I have to deal with dinner. Cooking has always been a huge hobby for me, but I have had to make some adjustments. I am most definitely not “Betty Crocker”, but planning ahead of time can make a dinner a success instead of a burden.

I like to have a list of cheap, easy meals that I can make that everyone enjoys but doesn’t take a lot of effort. That’s a tall order for a family of 6 on busy nights or if you struggle with chronic illness.

I would like to share some of those quick, healthy, cheap, and easy dinners with you in a series called “Easy Dinners For Large Families”. If you enjoy this, please make sure that you subscribe so that you will get notified each time I post something new..And keep your eye out for #2 coming next week!

Lemon Garlic Pasta with Spinach

74500803-e3d5-47bb-8e6b-9aa66dd9bc56-1

What You Need:

2 lemons (juice and zest)

5 tsp Italian Seasoning

2 lbs of pasta (spaghetti noodles)

8 TBSP Salted Butter

2 TBSP Olive oil

1 tsp pepper

2-3 heaping TBSP of minced garlic

2 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup water (held back from noodles after draining)

4 pinches of crushed red pepper  (2 if you don’t like a little kick)

24 oz Spinach (1.5 bags)

Start your water on high for the pasta and add some salt. While you wait for the water to boil go ahead and prepare your lemons- wash and then juice each lemon and collect the lemon zest

f7befa08-00ea-4480-8bbc-f2b4b72edf28-2

f63cbd7a-e887-4feb-b938-8d87781bac40-2

Once your water is boiling add the pasta and the oil (2 TBSP). Turn the heat down to medium and make sure to stir the noodles occasionally as they cook.

Now to start the base- Get a big skillet or pan, on medium heat and add your butter. Once the butter is about halfway melted add the garlic and the lemon zest. Cook this for a couple of minutes while moving around the butter and garlic/zest in the pan. Next add the red pepper flakes, Italian seasonings, lemon pepper, salt, and pepper.

 

Drain the pasta once finished, adding 1/4 cup of the water into the seasoning pan, along with half of the spinach and lemon juice.      (Note: I always have spinach frozen in our freezer, whether from our garden or from the grocery. The easiest way to store kale and spinach is to freeze it. I just pull it out to defrost when I begin preparing for the recipe)

Stir the spinach until wilted and add the pasta. Cover, stirring every 5 minutes and adding the remaining spinach by the handful, until everything is well combined and the spinach is wilted.

Serve immediately with olive oil and Parmesan cheese on the side, as desired.

I usually serve this with a side salad (Italian) and buttered/garlic bread or broccoli and grapes. Either of those go quite nicely.

74500803-e3d5-47bb-8e6b-9aa66dd9bc56-1

This serves about 10 people with leftovers.

 

A Slow Day with Fibromyalgia

Well I knew this day would come when Kris told me to pull the kids out of public school for good.

This morning I woke up around 7 am and I could feel the heaviness in my body and the fogginess in my mind.

adult alone anxious black and white

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

If you don’t have fibromyalgia then it’s hard to explain, but if you do it’s a feeling we know all to well. The best way to describe it is how you feel that first day you wake up with a legitimate case of the flu. Not a bad cold, the REAL flu. Your body feels like it weighs a thousand pounds, every movement takes all the effort you can muster, and your mind feels like it has been drugged. It’s almost like you can’t see clearly or think clearly. EVERYTHING is a huge effort, even just getting out of bed.

So this morning that’s how I woke up feeling. Most times when a fibro-sufferer wakes up in a flare (that’s what we call these episodes) we just go back to sleep. This morning Trayce came in my room, checking on me since it was already 2 hours past when we’ve been starting our school day. My entire bed was wet, along with my hair and clothes, from the sweats I get with the flares. I knew today was one of those days that I struggle just to exist.

Thank God that I gave the kids instructions ahead of time for how to function when mommy has bad days. Daelynn and Trayce went ahead and made breakfast for themselves and for Elijah. They cleaned up a little and did their morning chores. Trayce let me know that he went ahead and did some of his math and some of his grammar that he didn’t need help on.

Planning ahead of time for the bad days has been one of those things that I’m so grateful that I did BEFORE it happens.

Another thing I do to prepare is how I lay out my meal plans each week.

flat lay photography of vegetable salad on plate

Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

I plan each week to cook dinner for two days in a row. On the third day we have “leftover night” or “find your own food” night. I have a large family and so I make large amounts of food. We usually always have left over food from dinner. So on every third day we pull out everything in the fridge from the last two nights and warm it all up for dinner. In the case that dinner was a hit and there’s not much left over it becomes a “find your own food night “. On those nights pretty much anything is up for grabs that isn’t needed for dinner on other nights. Think sandwiches, cereal, oatmeal, etc.

food biscuits snack sliced

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This system has been such a blessing to me because I don’t wear myself out cooking huge meals every single day, as well as how it helps me whenever I’m not feeling well. Any of the bigger kids can handle warming up food or making sandwiches. Even Elijah can pour himself a bowl of cereal or make himself a sandwich.

red strawberry and raspberry on white ceramic bowl

Photo by Life Of Pix on Pexels.com

I feel like teaching our kids how to do simple things for themselves as well as having conversations beforehand to prepare them for what is expected of them even if mom isn’t supervising, is a major step in teaching them self-sufficiency and maturity.

Isn’t it our whole goal to teach them how to be great adults, loving the Lord and serving others unselfishly?

As I sit here in my bed at 1pm I can rest peacefully knowing that I’ve prepared my family well.

If you have fibromyalgia how do you prepare for those bad days? Let’s share some ideas in the comments to help each other out!

Much Love,

Brandy

How I Get My Kids To Eat What I make

I don’t know about you but one of the biggest problems we have in our house is getting our little ones to eat food they think is weird or gross. I have found a few tips along the way that have helped us to broaden their horizons in what they will put in their mouths.

One of the hindrances I find when introducing something new is if someone else in the family says “I don’t like that”, or “Eeewww! I hate spinach”…..immediately the smaller kids will follow suit, even if they liked it before. They will do and say what you do and say. They will especially follow big brother or sister.

salad pomegranate chicken spinach

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

This brings me to our #1 Rule: No one is allowed to say they don’t like something.

 This is not a hard-nosed rule that we get crazy about. I just took my older kids aside and explained to them that every time they make a big scene, Elijah will just assume its gross and refuse to eat it, even if he’s never tasted it before and even if he liked it last time. Bigger siblings have a big impact on the younger kids.

Talk to them about being a good example!


#2: The “No Thank You” Rule

Not every meal is going to be a big hit. Some kids will eat salad with no problem, while others will fight tooth and nail. Maybe you are being adventurous and decided to make an Extravagant Indian Cuisine that your family has never tried before. A life saver at our house is the “No Thank You” Rule. Here’s how it works:

Everyone 

                   must 

                                  TRY 

                                                 everything 

We all know how it goes when a child says they don’t like something that they’ve never tasted. Try this: From now on have your child take 1 bite before they are allowed to down-right refuse. Then they can say “No Thank” if they decide they don’t like it. We do this for everything, even if we just had that food item a few days before. As an adult you may have noticed that you hated celery as a child but love it now! Or that you don’t like baked potatoes, but love mashed potatoes…..the same things apply to kids. We can’t just assume because you didn’t like something last week that you won’t like it this week, or that just because you don’t like an food prepared one way that you won’t like it prepared another way…….I apply this logic to the “No Thank You” bite.

We used this great Daniel Tiger episode to help us with this! Check it out!

“Try New Foods Because It Might Taste Good”

Anytime Elijah says he doesn’t like something I sing that little song and remind him what Daniel Tiger says. I then tell him he has to take one bite to see if he likes it and then he can decide to continue eating it or say “No Thank You”.