Posts Tagged ‘snacks’

My Word for 2016: Intentional

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution person.  I hardly ever make resolutions because I know I won’t keep them. I’m not very disciplined, or maybe, I’m taking care of 4 children and have little time for setting goals, let alone keeping them.

But something was nagging me at the end of 2015. I felt like I was constantly reacting to the flurry of the day’s activities–the tyranny of the urgent– rather than planning to meet that  activity-flurry, spinning like a 200 mph tornado, head on.

One day, I remember saying to myself: I’m just not going to clean anymore. I can’t fit it in. Weeks later, I told Duane about my little plan, to which he replied: “Hmmm, that’s interesting.” So, I guess it’s not a good plan?

I also sensed a gentle conviction that planning ahead would actually not just make me feel more in control of the day, but it would be a kind and gracious act for the 5 other people in my house.

The word that kept swirling around in my head was I N T E N T I O N A L. How could I make changes in my home that would leave me feeling less like a flightless bird frantically flapping her wings?



Several areas came to mind as I thought about becoming more intentional in 2016.





(I’m covering F O O D today. Stay tuned for forthcoming posts on the other topics.)

First, food. I really wanted to change the way I approached food. I felt like the lack of  planning in this area resulted in a lot of carb-consuming. When the kids got home from school, I threw out a bowl of pretzels or graham crackers (with a side of fruit…thank you very much), which basically left them still hungry with a carb-coma to boot. I especially noticed it in my 13-year-old boy, who now eats twice as much as everyone else. He needed more.

So, in the last few days of 2015, we only had one child–3 had gone off to greener pastures to spend time with friends and family. It gave me a much-needed breather to actually think through the changes I wanted to make for 2016.

Pinterest became my best friend in the waning days of 2o15. I looked up a ton of recipes for protein-laden snacks, smoothies loaded with greens, and sweets minus the sugar (ahem, we’ll see how that one goes).

I got a NutriBullet for Christmas, which is honestly the best invention since Pinterest. I can make a smoothie in about 30-seconds flat and clean it up in even less time. I bought all the bells and whistles, too, that make smoothies stick to your stomach: protein powder, chia seeds, almond milk, spinach, Greek yogurt.

Y’all, it’s been fun. I look forward to them every day.

Here’s one I made this morning:

Pineapple Banana & Coconut Cream Smoothie (Vegan & GF) from AverieCooks. It was SOooo GOOood.


Source: AverieCooks


I also follow Simple Green Smoothies on Instagram for recipe inspiration.


This is @simplegreensmoothies Strawberry Daiquiri smoothie made with spinach, strawberries, grapefruit, and dates.

Follow @simplegreensmoothies HERE.


Onto after-school snacks.

I’ve already made THESE.


Peanut Butter Banana Smudgies

Source: PopSugar

You pop them in the freezer for an ice-cream sandwich effect, except with healthy stuff in the middle!

Today, I’m also making another freezer treat: Cherry Almond Coconut Protein Balls .


Source: PopSugar

Feel free to check out my Pinterest board, New Year New Food, for more healthy snack ideas.

Even before 2016 started, I started changing the way I make dinner. For the months of November and December, I entered the vast wide-open land that is freezer meal prep. All I can say now is, after  a few wobbly baby steps in this new territory, I’m a believer!

I used 2 different plans from the blog I Am That Lady. Each plan cost about $3 to download and are specifically tailored to shopping at ALDI, although she’s adapted some of her shopping lists for a regular grocery store if ALDI gives you the creeps.

I made approximately 15-20 meals over the course of 2-3 days (you’re supposed to be able to do it in a 5-hour block, but who has that kind of  free time?), and never thought about dinner again for the rest of the month. 

I know some people get together with their friends for prep, so that it’s not so overwhelming. That might be something I try in the New Year as well.

I’m taking a break from freezer meals in January to focus on overhauling all of the food we eat, but I’m kinda sad about it. I’m going to miss the sigh of relief when that moment of internal panic strikes around 5 o’ clock  that screams: You haven’t started dinner yet!

Only the Freezer Meal can quiet that voice.




I’m looking forward to planning some new things this year, things that have never been.

Later this week, I’ll share some more of my thoughts about becoming more intentional about relationships.

Let me know what you’re cooking up, too. I’d love to know.

Oh, and Happy New Year.






5 Best Party Snacks

Monday, August 11th, 2014

party, snack, Trader-Joe's,

Alright, I don’t want to say it, but it’s true. The end of summer is here.

I felt it keenly at Target today, as I squeezed through small spaces crowded by grocery carts and school supply bins and little kids, like ants, carrying twice their weight in looseleaf and glue sticks.

I had a little talk with myself as I wandered the aisles of endless three-ring binders and No. 2 pencils.

It went something like this: “Don’t lose it, Julie.” (repeat 20X)

That’s not my strong suit–remaining calm in a frantic environment. (Which is why I had 4 kids.) So, the next part of my talk went like this:

“Even if you don’t get everything you need, you can come back. By yourself.”

So, that’s what I did. I left without crossing off everything on the list. It was a battle between perfectionism and sanity, and sanity won…for once.

* * * * * * * * * *

Sheesh, all that to say that the end of summer means the end of the Summer with Trader Joe’s series. I’ve enjoyed it and I hope you have, too.

Today we’re talking party snacks and here is my list of the top 5 at Trader Joe’s.

party, snacks, Trader-Joes

1. Cheese: What’s a party without a good cheese plate? My favorites at Trader Joe’s are the Double Cream Gouda (left) and the English Cheddar with Carmelized Onions (right). So, so good.
If I only had one choice, it would be the English Cheddar. Hands down.

2. Crackers: If you’re going to serve good cheese, you have to serve good crackers. Trader Joe’s Classic Original Water Crackers are hard to beat. They’re good AND they’re cheap at just $1.39 a box. Yowza.

I also really like the Brioche Toasts. Think Melba toast, but better and thicker, though still airy, with a touch of sweetness. In the picture above, I served it with the English cheddar, a sliced grape tomato, and a basil leaf.

3.  Chocolate: Everyone has their favorite  Trader Joe’s chocolate candy. I bypass all the chocolate-covered fruits and nuts and go straight for the gold: Mini Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.  They should come with a warning: “So cute and little, you won’t actually believe you’re ingesting any calories or fat.” That’s why you should serve them at a party: to get rid of them as fast as you can.

4. Nuts: Any sort of nut mix is great to have around at a party. It’s easy to grab a handful and people usually crave something salty, especially if  the party includes cocktails. I fill small bowls with Trader Joe’s Sweet Salty and Nutty Trek Mix aka crack. It might just be my absolute favorite on the list. The mix includes natural and honey-roasted peanuts, almonds, cashews, AND chunks of peanut brittle. Divine.


trek-mix, trail-mix, trader-Joes, snack, party, nuts


5. I bet you thought I forgot. No way. Last, but certainly not least, is Trader Joe’s Mediterranean Hummus. You know how people like their eggs cooked a certain way–sunny side up, over easy, scrambled– I like my hummus creamy and really smooth. I don’t want pasty and certainly not chunky. This hummus has a perfect texture and with a shallow pool of oil and pile of pine nuts on the top, it wins best hummus at Trader Joe’s by far.

hummus, party, snacks, Trader-Joes


So, now it’s time to throw a party.

Go celebrate something…like escaping Target without losing it.

It doesn’t have to be big and it can be simple, especially if there’s a Trader Joe’s in your town.


**There’s no link up, but I’d love to know what your favorite Trader Joe’s go-to items are for a party. Share them with me in the comments section!**