The Low Carb Grocery

This post brought to you by The Low Carb Grocery. All opinions are 100% mine.

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The holidays are such a fun and festive time, and can also be very busy. It's not hard to understand how so many people veer away from their normal eating habits, and sometimes splurge a little too much during this season. As January approaches, many of us start pondering resolutions and making plans for healthier eating habits in the new year. For my Canadian Readers, The Low Carb Grocery Store offers Canada's Best Selection for Low Carb and Sugar-Free Products. 

One way that we start the day here, is with a Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake. You use PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter and Chocolate Protein Powder with a frozen banana and a cup of milk in the blender for a healthy start to the day. Powdered Peanut Butter is an all natural, preservative free product that contains no sweeteners. This makes it a sweet alternative for those seeking healthier snacks, such as dieters, moms needing snacks for kids, and those living an active lifestyle.

If you are looking to incorporate a healthier eating plan, I encourage you to visit the Low Carb Grocery website, and try some of the Low Carb Spreads for yourself. I'd love for you to share any healthier eating tips you might have in the comment section too! What is your best tip?

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Homemade Pumpkin Bread #Recipe

This post brought to you by Carton Smart. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Our town is very Eco-Friendly and Eco-Conscious. For example, our recycle bin is twice as large as the trash bin, and we are allowed to take extra recycleable materials to the town trash center once per month, but are only allowed three extra trips per year for trash and large materials. You must register annually and get three passes, that are no replacable if lost, so it's important that each citizen makes a concerted effort to minimize all non-recycleable waste.

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I was thrilled this season when Tetrak Pak offered to send me a started kit of their products from Pacific Foods that are eco-friendly. Each Tetra Pack carton uses one third of the packaging compared to cans (and even eggs!), and is made of 70% paper. This is a renewable source, from their selectively harvested re-grown trees, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The cartons save space, and were easy for me to open, even with my RA! This unique packaging process preserves the flavor and nutrients of food without preservatives. The cartons are re-closable so you can save remaining amounts for later use.

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I received Pacific Foods Organic Pumpkin Puree, Pacific Foods Organic Jellied Cranberry Sauce, and Pacific Foods Organic Chicken Simply Stock in my starter kit. In the recipe I'm sharing today, I used the Pumpkin Puree.

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****I WILL INSERT THE RECIPE HERE WHEN THE POST IS LIVE, I USE A WIDGET TO INSERT THEM****

I hope that you too will opt to Become Carton Smart and Follow #CartonSmart on Pinterest, then Tweet @CartonSmart!

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LEGO Minifigure Family

This post brought to you by LEGO. All opinions are 100% mine.

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My kids are huge LEGO fans, and when they discovered that they could create a LEGO Minifigure Family postcard, they were ecstatic. They have had so much fun playing around with this program changing the characters colors (there are a few skin tones to choose from, or you can stick with LEGO yellow), facial features, clothing, and the pets. 

We visited http://minifigurefamily.com to create ours, and it's free if you'd like to visit the site and let your kids create a fun card for your family too! There are dozens of customization options, and 12 background choices to choose from. I chose this nice scene of us in front of a warm fire in the fireplace, with the Christmas Tree in the background, but perhaps your family would like to be in an igloo, on a beach, in outerspace, or several other locations!

Once you've settled on a "family favorite", it's really easy to share the link or download the picture to your PC. Once you download it and save it, you can upload it in an email or share it on your favorite social media platform. 

Once you visit the site and create a card, I welcome you to come back here and leave the link in the comments. My boys would get a kick out of seeing the cards that other families make :)

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Arby’s KING’S HAWAIIAN Sandwiches are BACK!!!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Arby’s for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I thought I'd play things smart this year, and do all of my holiday shopping online, while my turkey roasted in the oven Thanksgiving Day. Probably the only downside to that is that it means I am missing out on my annual mall shopping adventures, and an opportunity to eat lunch at Arby's while I'm there. I did find that I needed to get one winter snow gear item for one of the kids (not a Christmas gift, an actual necessity), and was able to plan the trip around lunchtime, so I was able to get my Arby's sandwich after all. 

I really, truly love a good Arby's Roast Beef Sandwich, and had plans to have one for lunch, since the sandwiches I'd enjoyed on Limited Time Specials were no longer available. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Arby's KING'S HAWAIIAN Sandwiches are BACK, albeit for a limited time again. If you recall from my previous post on the Arby's Hawaiian Roast Beef Sandwich in May of this year, this sandwich comes with an extra helping of roast beef and is served on a King's Hawaiian Bun. It tastes SO good! There is also a version with Swiss Cheese, Cruncy Pickles, and a creamy dijon spread.

Looking for a location near you? Find an Arby's here. Our Arby's isn't too far away, it is two towns from where we live though. It's not an area that I frequent, although there is a mall there (with the Arby's in it) and some of my specialists are located at the hospital in that town. So, if I happen to be up that way for a shopping trip or doctor visit, I try to arrange it to have a special lunch treat at Arby's while I'm there :)

Be sure to follow @Arby's on Twitter too!

Do you share my adoration for Arby's? Let me know what your favorite menu item is, and if you've tried the delightful KING'S HAWAIIAN Sandwich yet!

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Sunday Spaghetti Sauce #Recipe paired with @BarillaUS PLUS Angel Hair Pasta #PMedia #PastaNight

Disclosure: This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Barilla, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #pastanight  http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO.
Sunday Spaghetti Sauce RecipeI have mentioned before that Nick is Italian, and that’s a huge reason why we eat so many Italian themed meals with pasta in our house. Having a few family members that need special elements in each meal can sometimes be challenging, but I have found unique ways to meet their nutritional needs with some family favorite meals. I make a “Secret Recipe” Sunday Sauce (Spaghetti Sauce) that I use as the base for several meals. Some people just call this spaghetti sauce or marinara, but when Nick’s dad lived with us many years ago, he said his family always called it Sunday Sauce (because they prepared it every Sunday for the big family meal).

This recipe makes a huge sauce pot, so there is extra that I can freeze. Some of you know me well, and know how far out I have my menu plan on my Google Calendar, and it makes it easy to work recipes using this sauce into rotation about once a week. Today, I am going to finally reveal the “Secret Recipe” as I pair it with some Barilla PLUS Angel Hair Pasta for Sunday Spaghetti Sauce.

Barilla Plus Angel Hair PastaI start by making a trip to Stop & Shop Grocery Store to stock up on ingredients. I like using the PLUS (yellow box) Barilla Pastas whenever possible, because it adds needed protein, ALA Omega 3, and extra fiber. For this recipe, I’m featuring the PLUS Angel Hair Pasta.

When I’m ready to prepare the meal, I start by browning 1 pound of lean ground beef with 1 pound of Maple Flavored Breakfast Sausage in a skillet. I chop up an onion, and add it to the meat mixture. Cook it until the meat is completely done and the onions are clear. Then, add it to your sauce pot.

Meat Mix w Onions

 

Now, pour in 2  large cans of Tomato Sauce, 2 small cans of Tomato Paste (I prefer the kind with Basil, Oregano, and Garlic already in it), and minced garlic. If you want a larger batch, just add additional cans of tomato sauce and paste, or feel free to add a jar of Barilla Marinara Sauce to bulk it up. Next, I add my spices. This part is a little tricky, because I don’t measure them out, I just pour until it “looks” right. I’ll add more later, if needed. Since I was planning to share the recipe, I measured today, and it’s about 1 tablespoon of each. Some needed more added later on and I forgot to measure. Honestly though, it’s personal preference. This simmers for hours on low, so you can taste a spoonful and decide if it’s just right for you, or if one or more spices need some extra help. Just like with my meatloaf recipe, the maple flavored breakfast sausage gives it a unique and delicious flavor that will keep people guessing. You can see in the picture above that it’s difficult to tell the beef and sausage apart once it’s cooked together anyway.

Secret Sauce w Spices

 

Now, the final secret is how I sneak vegetables into the sauce. We have picky eaters, and a son on the Autism Spectrum with texture issues. There are certain vegetables he just won’t eat. So, when I make batches of “Sunday Sauce” I add some veggies, such as broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, etc into the blender and puree them. I add them to the sauce and no one but me knows they are in there. Everyone gets extra servings of vegetables and the stronger spices in the sauce disguise any “yucky” flavor kids think vegetables might have.

Finally, I store the leftover sauce in freezer safe containers. This makes it so easy to use again. The day before I plan to use it, I move the container from the freezer to the fridge to unthaw overnight. The next afternoon, I pour the sauce into a smaller sauce pot on low, and allow it to re-heat. When it’s dinnertime, I simply prepare a box of Barilla pasta, top it with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, a slice of garlic toast, and dinner is served!

Spaghetti with Barilla PLUS Angel Hair Pasta

Sunday Spaghetti Sauce #Recipe paired with @BarillaUS PLUS Angel Hair Pasta #PMedia #PastaNight
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb maple flavored breakfast sausage
  • 2 29 oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 2 6 oz cans of tomato paste ( I prefer the Basil, Garlic, and Oregano flavored)
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 tbsp cilantro
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • *may need to add more of each spice, depending on taste preference. Start taste testing at the 1 hr mark)
  • Can also add a jar of Barilla Marinara Sauce. If you want to make a larger batch of sauce, just add a can of tomato sauce and a can of tomato paste, then increase spices as preferred.
Instructions
  1. Brown meat and sausage, and add diced onions until meat is browned and onions are clear.
  2. Combine tomato sauce, tomato paste, and all seasonings/spices in a large saucepot on the stove.
  3. Start the heat on medium until it bubbles, and reduce heat to low/medium low. Keep covered, except when stirring.
  4. About every 30 minutes, I remove the lid and stir, to prevent burning/sticking to my sauce pot. I usually let it simmer on low for about 4 hours.
  5. When the sauce is ready, I start boiling my water to make the PLUS Angel Hair Pasta.
  6. While waiting for the water to boil, I butter some Italian Bread, and sprinkle garlic salt on top. I bake it in the oven while the pasta is boiling, so they’re ready to serve at the same time.
  7. When I plate the spaghetti, I add some freshly grated Parmesan Cheese on top, then serve!

 

Since Barilla Pasta has so generously sponsored this post, and I’ve used their products for years anyway, I thought I’d take a moment to mention the different varieties of pasta they offer. They do have the traditional line (Classic Blue Box) of pastas in an assortment of shapes and sizes, but they also offer Whole Grain, PLUS, Veggie, White Fiber, Tortellini & Tortelloni, Gluten Free Pastas, and Sauce (also Gluten Free). Additionally, they also have some delicious pasta recipes on their website, if you’re looking for some to add to your menu rotation.

Be sure to “LIKE” the Barilla US Facebook Page!