Down-to-earth dietitian & Pampered Chef Kitchen Consultant. Author of The Mom's Guide to a Nourishing Garden. Kitchen addict. Calorie Control Council Advisor. Passion for faith,family & food. Creating the recipe to a nourishing life.
Comfort zones – defined as a place where you feel safe and at ease, without stress. When is the last time you did something that was outside your comfort zone? Applied for a job, tried a new style of dance, started a conversation with someone that’s a stranger, painted a Bob Ross style painting, helped someone that you didn’t have to, committed to a goal and finish it, tried a new adventure, or even something a simple as trying a new food.
I’ve tried a new food recently and wanted to tell you more about it. It’s called “Toss’ables” – delicious tofu that’s ready to eat in both garlic and herb, and balsamic vinaigrette flavors.
I was contacted to participate in a recipe contest with Toss’ables, and I was quick to reply with a “yes” because I am always game to try something new in the food department. (This post enters me into a recipe contest where I am eligible to win prizes. I did receive samples of Toss’ables too.)
Here’s what I was impressed with about Toss’ables:
Already seasoned, baked and ready to serve
They pair perfectly with other dishes like pasta, salad, even pizza
14 grams of plant-based protein per 3 ounce serving
Recipes that came with the sample packages included Panzanella Salad, Antipasto Platter, Greek Orzo Salad, Arugula Salad, Tri-Colored Quinoa Salad, and Cobb Salad – find all these recipes on the Nasoya.com website.
I decided to try it with one of my favorite salad styles – a Strawberry Poppyseed Salad. Instead of chicken, I added the Balsamic Toss’ables. And I must say, it was delicious!
Here’s how to make it:
Balsamic Strawberry Tofu Salad
6 cups spinach
2 cups fresh sliced strawberries
1/2 cup glazed almonds, or walnuts
1 package Toss’ables Balsamic Vinaigrette
4 tablespoons poppyseed dressing
In a large bowl, toss spinach, strawberries, nuts, and Toss’ables. Then dress with poppyseed dressing. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
If you are looking for more plant-based protein in your daily meals, I encourage you to try Toss’ables!
They are easy to use and may just break you out of your comfort zone in the kitchen.
Welcome to your Best Summer Ever! And what does every summer need? Healthy snacks to fuel your fun activities. Enter the brand new Snack Bar Maker!
How many of you have loved ones with a food allergy or know someone who does? How many of you spend too much time at the grocery store examining the ingredients of snack bars? Precious time wasted! Instead I have a solution for you!
Families that have food allergies won’t have to worry about what’s in their favorite snack bars anymore. With the Pampered Chef exclusive Snack Bar Maker, you can know exactly what ingredients are in the bars you feed your family.
Granola bars purchased from the store can be costly. And what are you getting for that price? Most of them aren’t allergy friendly. In fact, many of them include common allergens like, nuts, dairy, soy and gluten, or they’re made in factories that process them. When you make bars at home you get control over each and every ingredient, so you can feel good about the cost and the ingredients.
’m an independent consultant with Pampered Chef and I love sharing ideas to help you cook smarter, faster and easier! With your purchase, I do earn a commission, which helps me continue to bring more ideas to you!
I love the Rice Cooker Plus, and you will too! There was a time when I stopped cooking rice. I boiled it over in the microwave and I burned it on the stove top. I had decided I had enough. So I started purchasing rice that was pre-cooked and just needed to be warmed up in the microwave. Definitely costs more to do that! Then I discovered the Rice Cooker Plus as a consultant with Pampered Chef. And I honestly haven’t looked back. I now use it all the time and my rice comes out fluffy every single time too! Don’t worry, you can use the Rice Cooker Plus for more than just rice. You can use it to make macaroni and cheese, steamed vegetables, soups, pasta and mashed potatoes, pudding, oatmeal, cakes, just about anything without worrying about it boiling over the microwave and making a mess. You can also reheat soups, and leftovers, and even cook a pound of ground beef in about 6-8 minutes. And don’t forget your whole grains, like farro, bulgur, and quinoa too. Wild rice, brown rice, jasmine rice, all rice! And for college students, the Rice Cooker Plus makes a fast way to cook meals right in the dorm room or small apartment kitchen.
Combine mushrooms, onion and butter in Rice Cooker Plus. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH 4-5 minutes or until onions are translucent and mushrooms are tender.
Add chicken broth and rice to cooker. Cover and microwave according to package directions, carefully following recommended power levels and cooking times.
Remove cooker from microwave. Carefully remove lids, lifting away from you. Gently stir in peas and parsley; season to taste with salt and black pepper, if desired. Spoon rice into serving bowl; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
6 servings of 1 cup
Nutrients per serving:
Calories 200, Total Fat 5 g, Saturated Fat 2.5 g, Cholesterol 10 mg, Carbohydrate 33 g, Protein 8 g, Sodium 540 mg, Fiber 2 g
Quick Mashed Potatoes
1 ½ lbs potatoes, coarsely chopped
¼ cup milk
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Optional mix-ins such as butter, pressed garlic cloves, cream cheese, sour cream, or cheddar cheese
Place the potatoes and enough water to cover them into the Rice Cooker Plus. Cover and microwave on HIGH 10-12 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Carefully remove the inner lid and drain the water. Add milk to the potatoes; mash potatoes using the Mix ‘N Masher. Add salt, black pepper, and mix-ins, if desired; mix thoroughly.
Nutrients per serving:
Calories 140, Total Fat 0 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrate 31 g, Protein 4 g, Sodium 85 mg, Fiber 2 g
Prepare grill for direct cooking over medium coals. Combine blue cheese, butter and chives in Small Batter Bowl; mix until well blended. Cover; refrigerate until ready to serve.
Using Vegetable Peeler, peel one strip of skin from around the middle of each potato. Place potatoes and water in Rice Cooker Plus; cover. Microwave on HIGH 5-6 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork; drain and cool slightly. Thread potatoes onto four 12-inch skewers.
Combine garlic pressed with Garlic Press, oil, salt and black pepper. Brush half of the oil mixture over potatoes using Chef’s Silicone Basting Brush. Rub remaining oil mixture over both sides of steaks. Place steaks on center of grid of grill and surround with potato kebabs. Grill, uncovered, 8-12 minutes for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning occasionally using BBQ Tongs.
Remove steaks and potatoes from grill to serving platter. Top each steak with reserved blue cheese mixture; let stand 5 minutes. Remove potatoes from skewers and serve with steaks. Garnish with additional snipped chives, if desired.
Nutrients per serving:
Calories 670, Total Fat 42 g, Saturated Fat 18 g, Cholesterol 135 mg, Carbohydrate 39 g, Protein 40 g, Sodium 770 mg, Fiber 4 g
Creamy Rice Pudding
¾ cup uncooked long grain white rice
½ tsp cinnamon
2 ½ cups water
1 cup half and half
¼ tsp salt
½ cup raisins (optional)
1 pkg (3.4 oz) vanilla instant pudding
1 cup milk1. Combine rice, water and salt in Rice Cooker Plus. Cover and microwave for 15 minutes on medium and 10 minutes on high. Allow rice to stand for 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in Small Batter Bowl, combine milk, half and half, pudding mix and cinnamon; whisk until smooth and beginning to thicken using Stainless Steel Whisk.
3. Remove cooker from microwave. Carefully remove lids, lifting away from you. Add pudding mixture and raisins, if desired; mix well using Classic Scraper. Makes 8 servings.
Molten Chocolate Lava Cake
One box of chocolate cake mix
ingredients to make the chocolate cake (from the back of the box)
1/2 can of chocolate frosting
1. Empty cake mix and cake mix ingredients into Rice Cooker Plus and mix together.
2. Add 3-4 medium scoops of the canned frosting in the center of the cake, don’t put by edges of Rice Cooker. Do Not mix in, leave on top!
3. Microwave with lid off for about 8-10 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Microwave time may vary.
You can use any kind of cake mix and frosting, but chocolate is my favorite! Do not use whipped frosting or pourable frosting.
I’m an independent consultant with Pampered Chef and I love sharing ideas to help you cook smarter, faster and easier! With your purchase, I do earn a commission, which helps me continue to bring more ideas to you!
Recently, I was at a high school cafeteria that had bins for compost, trash and recycling. What a great way to teach students about the values of reducing trash! We can do this too while we live in our own homes – compost, recycle, and then trash. Home composting is an easy way to turn waste from your yard and kitchen into a rich material that you can use to improve your soil. Did you know yard trimmings and food scraps make up nearly 1/6th of our garbage? There’s no need to throw these items into the trash, instead, convert them into a dark, crumbly mixture that can be used to improve your soil and reduce your use of fertilizer and water.
What you need to do to make compost:
A compost bin to make or purchase.
Throw in your kitchen scraps and yard waste.
Mix it up with a shovel or pitchfork occasionally.
While those are the simple steps to composting, let me give you a few more details:
The easiest style of a compost bin is to use a chicken wire style fence, wrapped into a circular shape. It’s open to air and it’s easy to stir and get into. Bins can also be built from scrap lumber, old pallets, snow fence, or concrete blocks. You can also purchase several styles at a local hardware or lawn and garden store.
Like a simple recipe, compost also needs the right ingredients to produce the best results.
The key ingredients to compost are:
Nitrogen greens provide nitrogen and act as a source of protein for microbes (which breakdown the materials). Examples include: green leaves, coffee grounds, tea bags, plant trimmings, raw fruit, vegetable scraps, lawn clippings.
Carbon browns provide carbon and energy for the microbes. Examples include: straw, sawdust, twigs, dried grasses, brown leaves, and shredded newspaper or small amounts of cardboard.
Water and air are important because the microbes are alive in the compost pile. And like all living things, they too need air and water to live. Water allows the microbes to grow and travel around in the pile to decompose materials. Turning your pile each week provides air to speed up decomposition and control odors.
Don’t compost these items: diseased plants, meat, dairy, oils, pet feces, weeds that have gone to seed, and ash from charcoal or coal.
Now that you have the four important ingredients to the compost recipe, here are the instructions to making compost:
Choose a spot in your yard that is partially shaded and at least two feet from a structure. Other considerations include having it close by where you can easily add materials, having close access to water and good drainage. Also, check your local laws on where you can compost in your location.
Lay a 4-6 inch base of browns. Then add 4-6 inches of greens. Then 4-6 inches of browns. It’s essential to leave them in layers until you turn them a week later, and be sure to layer in these amounts for the best results. Water as you go, your compost pile should be moist, like a wrung-out sponge. Squeeze a handful and if small beads of water appear between your fingers, you have enough water. Your pile will get wet from rain, and if it gets too wet, just turn it more frequently to help it dry up or add more brown materials to soak up the excess moisture.
Turn it. Once you build the pile, the microbes get to work. As the materials decompose, the pile will get hot on the inside and you might even see steam. Every week, turn the pile using a pitchfork or shovel to mix up the brown layers and green layers and move materials towards the center of the pile. You can empty the bin and re-layer or just work new materials into the bin from the outside in. Continue to repeat until it looks dark and crumbly and fresh smelling, and no longer looks like what you originally put into your compost bin. In the summer, this can go fast, and in the winter, it can stop, but don’t worry, it starts back up on it’s own in the spring.
How do you use compost?
Once the compost is finished, mix it into your soil. With sandy soils, compost acts like a sponge, retaining water and nutrients where it can be reached by plant roots. In clay-heavy soils, compost makes the ground more porous, creating tiny holes and passageways that help soil drain more quickly. You can even spread compost on low spots in your lawn or use as a mulch for landscaping and garden plants to help protect the soil from erosion and drying effects from the wind and sun. You can also mix compost into pots for container plantings.
Here are the resources I used to round up this expert information:
The Manual Food Processor, aka “MFP,” is the perfect tool to quickly and efficiently cut, chop and blend foods and create simple recipes. You can save SO much time using this tool. You can combine fruits, vegetables, cream cheese, herbs and much more to create small servings of salsa, guacamole, tapenades, sauces, egg salad, chicken salad and dips all with the pump of a handle!
You have a lot to do each week, so let me help you with menu ideas! Menu planning doesn’t have to take a long time, it can be simple and easy if you have a good source of recipes to draw from and something to help keep you organized! All recipes are 30 minutes or less, and are family-friendly.
Here’s your weekly menu!
Monday: Spicy Tilapia Burritos
Tuesday: Ham and Cheese Brunch Squares
Wednesday: Garlic Parmesan Chicken with Cauliflower Mash
Thursday: Asian Beef Noodles
Friday: Spinach Carbonara Pizza
Save this post and share it with a friend! Was this helpful to you?
If you are interested in any tools used to prepare these meals, I would love to help you with your purchase. Simply go to my website to browse and shop, these tools really can help you save time in the kitchen!
As an independent consultant with Pampered Chef, I receive commissions from your purchases that allow me to continue to share great recipes for you and your family. Thank you!
Do you get home and wonder what’s for dinner? I have the solution for you: Power Cooking. When you power cook, you save time, save money, and save DINNER!
Power cooking is simply cooking multiple foods simultaneously so you can get more done in less time. I power cook so I know what is for dinner 10 times a month! And I can power cook in less than 40 minutes a month for these 10 meals!
Here are some tips to power cooking:
Organize yourself. Choose two proteins to power cook and then 10 recipes to go with those two proteins. I go with chicken breasts and ground beef.
Get the right containers. Because you are power cooking protein in bulk, you will need to freeze smaller amounts for your recipes in air-tight containers. Freezer bags, mason jars, leak-proof glass containers all work well.
Shop ahead. Don’t just shop for the proteins, shop for the pantry ingredients to your 10 recipes too. This insures that you have the ingredients on hand for your 10 meals.
Label. Make sure when you are done cooking your proteins, you label the container with what it is and the date it was frozen. You have up to 3 months to use your protein. And about every 1.5 cups of ground beef or chicken breast is about a pound.
Have the right tools available to power cook. You need cookware that can handle bulk cooking.
The Multipot With Collapsible Steamer is the ultimate one-pot meal maker! It’s perfect for pasta, soup, stew, and more. The innovative lid props in the handle so condensation runs back into the pot, instead of all over your stovetop. You can even use the lid as a built-in strainer. The top-of-the-line titanium-reinforced, four-layer nonstick coating is PFOA-free and provides even heat conduction and consistent results every time.
Grill on the stovetop any time of year with the heavy-duty Executive Nonstick Double Burner Grill & Grill Press Set. Create restaurant-quality, seared grill marks on up to four paninis, six steaks or eight burgers at once, or cook protein on one side and veggies on the other for quick meals with less cleanup. Includes the Executive Nonstick Double Burner Grill and two Grill Presses.
Take your cookware collection to the next level with the Rockcrok® 4-qt. (3.8-L) Slow Cooker Set! It’ll be your go-to combo for serving a crowd. You can easily transfer food from the oven or stovetop to the stand without changing pots or pans. The set includes the Rockcrok® Slow Cooker Stand and Dutch Oven.
7 pounds chicken breast + a small amount of canola oil brushed onto the surface for cooking and salt and pepper to taste
Want to hear more and see more about how this works?
Check out my Jen’s Joyful Kitchen Cooking Show:
Jen's Joyful Kitchen Episode #4 - Power Cooking - YouTube
Are these tips helpful? Subscribe to my blog!
I am an independent consultant with Pampered Chef, affiliate links are included in this post to products I use and love! If you would like any further information about these products, please contact me.
Self-care and salads go together, don’t they? When you are eating well, you tend to feel more energy. And that energy leads to pursuing more of your passions, spending more time on your priorities, and feeling better on a daily basis.
I want to help you with your goal of eating healthier at lunch. Whether you take that lunch on the go or you eat it at home. You could spend less than an hour a week prepping a lunchtime salad that will feed you for five days with these simple tips and tools.
Have your make and take containers ready:
As you prep your ingredients, they need somewhere to be stored. That’s why I like the Large Square Cool & Serve – I can keep all my ingredients for the week’s salads in one space in the frig. I can chop and prep into this portable “salad bar” and pull it out every morning for a fresh new salad.
To build your salads, go for leak-proof containers to eliminate extra clean up. The Make & Take Mason Jar Set is the perfect container for building your salad and for transport.
What to do about dressing:
I love that the lid of the Make & Take Mason Jar set is divided to store the dressing to eliminate soggy salads. If you don’t have this and you are using a glass mason jar (careful to not drop it) then simply put the dressing on the bottom of the jar.
For dressing, it’s easy to make homemade options with the Measure, Mix & Pour. Control the ingredients and flavors in your dressing, and even store the dressing in the same container. 4 recipes are featured on it – Italian, Ranch, Asian, and Caesar.
Gain the grain:
Get creative here with adding rice or quinoa to your salad, or try whole grain pasta. These grains can add some great texture to a delicious salad. I love using my Rice Cooker Plus to cook these up at the beginning at the week without any boil overs in the microwave – and the grains are fluffy!
Chop those veggies:
When you have the right tools, this chopping is not a chore. Instead you are done in just a couple of minutes. I like to get my tools out and my foods washed and ready on the counter, then prep away with the Quick Slice (cuts even slices in one simple rocking motion), Veggie Spiralizer (turn your veggies into noodles!), Close & Cut (quickly split grapes, cherry tomatoes and even butterfly chicken breasts for fast cooking), and the Simple Slicer (perfect even and thin slices of fruits and veggies in a fast way).
Go for the greens:
The darker, the better here. Romaine, kale, arugula, spinach, cabbage…you can mix these and chop them all together or just pick one that you like. Dark greens carry more vitamins, but if you like iceberg lettuce, that’s okay too. Just throw in some romaine with it. And always wash your greens – a Salad Spinner comes in handy here (I’ve had mine for 15 years). And to chop the greens up quick, try the Salad Chopper.
Pick your protein:
Grill up 5 chicken breasts or pork chops for the week using the Grill Pan, or cook them in the microwave in Rock Crok. Both of these tools make cooking faster! And remember, butterflying your chicken breasts or boneless pork chops with the Close & Cut will make them cook even faster!
Or maybe you would like eggs for your protein, simply steam a dozen eggs over boiling water in the MultiPot in 18 minutes. Or just throw some chickpeas or black beans into your salad!
Check out my latest episode of Jen’s Joyful Kitchen LIVE where I share tips, tools and a tasty recipe for your make ahead salads!
Meal prep ahead of time can really speed up your kitchen time. Imagine walking in from work and dinner is just a few minutes away thanks to the quick meal prep you did on Sunday where you sliced up bell peppers and onions for fast chicken fajitas. The kids are saying how hungry they are (you are a little as well) and you simply open the frig and pull out containers filled with pre-chopped or diced veggies to set out on the counter. You grab the dill dip seasoning to quickly mix up with Greek yogurt and a little mayo and ta-da! You’ve got snacks at the ready while you finish dinner for both you and them.
Does this sound like a meal prep dream?
It doesn’t have to be! That’s why one of my favorite kitchen tools is the Quick Slice. I can slice and dice my veggies in literally seconds while I am making homemade pizza for Sunday night dinner.
Would you cut the grass with a scissor? No, we mow with a lawn mower that makes things fast and efficient.
That’s what the Quick Slice can do too! I just love this tool and use it daily. Keep reading for more ideas on what it quickly cuts up and my recent episode of “Jen’s Joyful Kitchen” that aired today to show you how it all comes together.
Here’s to cooking with more joy and living with more balance.
Here’s what you can do with the Quick Slice from A to Z!
Apples (without the core)
Eggs (Hard Boiled)
Onion (first cut in half)
Meal prep does NOT have to be a chore. When you have the right tool for the joy, it becomes fun and joyful! If you would like to order the Quick Slice, I’ve provided a linkhere.
Can you believe all the Quick Slice can do to help you meal prep?
The right tools empower us to eat better and more nourishing meals like chopped salads each night, munching on veggies before the evening meal, and even having easy access fruits for packing a quick lunch.
To see it in action – check out my recent episode of Jen’s Joyful Kitchen.
Jen's Joyful Kitchen Live Show Episode 1 - YouTube
Find me every week LIVE on my Facebook Page for more help in the kitchen!
I am an independent kitchen consultant with Pampered Chef. Links provided in this post are affiliated with my personal website and I do earn commission on your purchase. Your purchase allows me to continue to do what I love! Thank you!
Do you ever want to reach for a healthy snack, but can’t seem to find one that will satisfy your taste buds or your stomach? That’s why I love popcorn – it can be either sweet or savory depending on what I am feeling like! Bonus, you get whole grains and fiber too that make you feel full! But, you can’t necessarily bring the popcorn maker to the office, right? WRONG!
A year ago, the Microwave Popcorn Maker from Pampered Chef was released and it is a family-favorite in our house! Having the right tools in the kitchen makes all the difference in how we cook and eat. Do you agree? (It’s like mowing the lawn – no one wants to cut the lawn with a scissor!)
It’s so easy (and more inexpensive) to purchase just popcorn kernels, and flavor them myself. I add just a touch of oil and some seasonings – if I am in the mood for sweet – French Toast Popcorn Seasoning is what I reach for. Savory? Ranch Popcorn Seasoning. Just oil and salt? Simple! A mixture of both? I make kettle corn, for that sweet and salty flavor. With 4 grams of fiber per 3 cups popped corn, popcorn is filling and delicious at the same time.
Want to know more about the Microwave Popcorn Maker (Did you know the Family size makes 12 cups popcorn, Regular size makes 5 cups)? Keep reading and check out the 45 second video.
Popcorn is a great way to start having a healthy snack more often – use the Microwave Popcorn Maker at work, use it at home, just use it! I love it for a late night snack, or afternoon snack for my kids after school. Pair it up with a smoothie and you have a real treat!
The Microwave Popcorn Maker | Pampered Chef - YouTube
Salt and Pepper Popcorn:Ingredients
Course Sea Salt & ground black pepper Oil for spritzing Salt & Pepper, to taste
As an independent consultant with Pampered Chef, I love to share ideas to help you in the kitchen. Contact me if you would like to host your own in-home cooking workshop or online virtual cooking party. You can earn your popcorn maker for free! Links included in this post are affiliate links.