Gluten-FreeRecipesSides

Cilantro Lime Rice for a Crowd

heartysmarty

We use this recipe for lime rice in a few different dishes including Fiesta Vegetable Bowls, Seasoned Beans and Rice, and (our favorite) Cafe Rio Salads for a Crowd (recipe coming soon!) There’s something about adding a hint of lime and chicken broth to plain white rice that makes it so delicious. Another fantastic benefit of of this dish is it is really inexpensive (about $5 to feed 16 people 2/3-cup serving) and naturally gluten-free. Enjoy!

Cilantro Lime Rice for a Crowd

Cafe Rio Copycat Cilantro Lime Rice for a crowd

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword cafe rio copycat, cilantro lime rice
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 16 people
Calories 140 kcal
Author heartysmarty

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoon Butter
  • 6 cups White Rice
  • 12 cups Chicken Broth vegetable broth for vegetarian option
  • 3 Limes zested and juiced
  • 1 Tablespoon Dehydrated Onions
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Add the rice and butter in a large stock pot over medium high heat.
  2. Brown the rice by cooking in butter about 5 minutes. Add broth, zest, juice dehydrated onions, and salt and cover with a lid.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until water is fully absorbed, and rice can be fluffed with a fork.
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About MeMom Life

Mom Life: Surprised by Survival Mode

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This last post in my “Mom-Life in May” series was supposed to be an opportunity for you to have a good laugh at my expense. I planned to relate all the details of how I did as a single parent in the month of May while my husband was traveling in China. I fully anticipated some major bloopers and moments of chaos that I could share. While there were plenty of bloopers and chaos as I held the fort down alone for 2.5 weeks during the busiest month of the year, my mind keeps coming back to how well we actually did in “survival mode.”

While Neil was away, I mowed and trimmed our half acre lawn three times. This isn’t anything unusual, because I mow all the time. This Spring, however, I have a nursing baby and four other busy kids, and mowing has become an extra challenge. But, it just wasn’t something I could let go of with all the rain we have been getting. I filled an entire garbage can and a half with grass clippings every time I mowed, because the lawn is growing so fast. The first time I mowed, my 10-year-old daughter opted to stay inside and care for the baby. When dinner time rolled around and I was still working, I gave her the recipe for dinner (using the Prepear app, BTW) and she made a delicious pot of corn chowder from start to finish without a lick help from me. She then fed all her siblings and cleaned up the kitchen. I couldn’t believe it! She’s never done that before, and it was amazing.

I actually updated the image for my corn chowder recipe with the soup my 10-year-old made because it was THAT good.

My next surprise came on Mother’s day. I set my expectations pretty low, assuming the kids wouldn’t remember the holiday let alone do anything for me without dad being here. I was wrong. When I woke up for the baby’s usual 5 AM feeding, I heard noise downstairs. My first thought was a bit of panic, thinking someone had broken into our house. When I tiptoed down stairs, my 10-year-old was crafting away, making cards and a trail of paper hearts or me. She put her finger to her lips so as to shush me, and sent me back to bed. Three hours later, I was awakened again–this time to the smell of breakfast. My 9-year-old son had made fried eggs for the first time ever. They may have been a bit over cooked, but they were the best eggs I had ever tasted. The two younger siblings drew pictures on construction paper for me and helped set the table. Everyone got dressed in their Sunday clothes by themselves, and my 9-year-old diapered and dressed the baby, so all I had to do was get myself ready for church.

School mornings were tricky to navigate. Usually Neil is here at least through morning scriptures before leaving for work. Without him, I assumed it would be near impossible to wake the kids and go through our regular morning routine. However, sticking to the routine is how we survived. It wasn’t pretty, and my girls went to school many times with messy hair and mismatched clothes, but we did it. One morning, my kindergartner recognized it was getting close to carpool time, and I was still upstairs putting the baby down for a nap. After dressing herself, she made her own lunch by slicing some vegetables and arranging them onto a tray with dip, just like she sees me do. Her ride came just as I ran down the stairs to hug her goodbye. She got her own shoes and backpack and was on her way without me helping her at all.

The last way I was surprised by how my kids stepped up while dad was away was at Church. I was anticipating a nightmare as I wrangled five kids alone in Sacrament meeting, but I was pleasantly surprised by how reverent they actually were. I was planning on a neighbor sitting with us to help me, but when the time came for the meeting to start, they didn’t show. That turned out to be another opportunity for the kids to step up. My 10-year-old insisted on holding the baby and feeding him a bottle while we sat in the meeting. After the sacrament was passed, it donned on me that I hadn’t had to discipline the kids once in the full 15 minutes since we had arrived. I looked down the row of chairs and realized they were all sitting up, reverently listening to the songs and prayers, and the baby was asleep in my daughter’s lap. What the?!? This was even better behavior than when my husband was there with me!

Now, I don’t want to paint an inaccurate picture through rose-colored lenses that I’m supermom and everything was smooth-sailing this month. I had plenty of moments of feeling totally overwhelmed. Four out of six of us got sick for a time. I lost my patience and yelled at my kids more than once. However, through my husband’s absence during the busiest month of the year, I have been amazed at how the kids stepped up. Maybe they just needed an opportunity to prove their capability in a situation where I was really counting on them to help. Or, maybe the Lord was answering my prayers that we would be able to get along without Dad for so long. Whatever the case, I was pleasantly surprised with how we survived and even thrived while I was “single-parenting” this May.

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Meal Plans

This Week’s Family Meal Plan

heartysmarty

Daddy’s Baaaaack! This week I am making lots of Neil’s favorites along with lots of make-ahead meals so we can have time in the evenings to play and work in the garden. Here’s what’s cooking this week:

Monday

Memorial Day Hot Dog Grill

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

CLICK HERE to download the FREE Prepear App and get the shopping list for this week’s meal plan!

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Mom Life

Mom-life: Throwback to a Particularly NUTS Friday

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When asked how I manage to mother 5 kids now, my reply is that some days I feel like supermom. But most days I feel like life is crazy and out of control.

One Friday last October was particularly nuts. I was late for EVERYTHING. It started with an orthodontist appointment where the doc realized my 8-year-old son needed more work than we actually came for. When I told the orthodontist he needed to be at school for a field trip in 20 minutes, he went to town pulling out brackets and a spacer and fitting him for a retainer. It was a fast and furious (and bloody) ordeal. When it was over, I whisked my son to school just in time to make the field trip bus. My next mission was to return home and get my oldest daughter off to school–very late. Now it was time for a few games of volleyball at the church which came to an abrupt end when we realized the kids snuck out the nursery room window and were running around outside.

Later that afternoon when I got a call from the school on my way to pick up my daughter for a doctor appointment, I assumed she was calling to tell me I was late. Instead, it was my son calling to tell me he got kneed in the eye while playing tag on his field trip. His eye was almost swollen shut. So I decided to take all 3 of my school kids to the doctor appointment with me– they all needed flu shots anyways.

While I was in the school office checking the kids out (3 minutes–max), my 4-year-old son waited for me with my sleeping baby. I had brought my makeup bag with me so I could throw some on before heading to the doctor appointment. When I finished checking the kids out, my son had drawn all over his face for the *second time* that day. We were a sight to be seen in the doctor’s office: one kid with a swollen eye, two kids with a cough, one with eyeliner all over his face. That’s when I realized I never fully rinsed all the conditioner out of my hair from my shower 20 minutes earlier. So we added a makeup-less mom with greasy hair to the mix. Luckily, our pediatrician thought it was hilarious and didn’t report me to Child Protection Services.

The afternoon continued with falls, spills, tears, and sore arms and thighs from flu shots and vaccines at the doctor. The good news is my daughter and her dad were able to have a fun time at a pinewood derby for girls. The poor girl carried on the (strong) Andersen family Legacy of coming in last place, because she put her car together in less than an hour without any guidance from her busy dad.

Good. Heavens. This was a Friday that just kept on giving! We had a hearty laugh as we re-traced the events of the day before bed that night. Thankfully, not every day as a mother of five is this eventful, but really do love this crazy life of mine.

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FeaturedMeal Plans

This Week’s Family Meal Plan

heartysmarty

This is our last week with no Daddy at home, and I will say that meal plans have been saving me during this busy time. Single-parenting is NO JOKE! The way I am surviving is keeping to as normal schedule as possible, and family meals have been a big part of that. It has been messy, but we have managed to eat homemade meals most nights, so I call that a win. My 10-year-old daughter even made one meal completely by herself last week while I was busy doing the yard work into the night. Talk about the best day ever when I walked inside, smelling like exhaust and covered in grass to a delicious bowl of corn chowder that I didn’t make. Meal plans–I’m telling you! They are magical! Meal plans and helpful daughters, that is.

OK, enough bragging. Here’s what we are cooking for dinners this week:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday–Dad comes home!!!

CLICK HERE to download the FREE Prepear App and get the shopping list for this week’s meal plan!

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BreakfastRecipesSaladsSides

Granny’s Raspberry and Yogurt Salad

heartysmarty

This is one of our favorite ways to eat Spring fruit. Granny Smith apples are one of the last apples that still have good flavor by Springtime when the harvest has been over for 8 or 9 months now. Blend those with a seasonal fruit like fresh raspberries and you’ve got a salad with peak flavor. Enjoy!

Granny’s Raspberry and Yogurt Salad

Seasonal Spring fruit with peak flavor

Course Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword seasonal spring fruit
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author heartysmarty

Ingredients

  • 2 medium Grannysmith apples chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Raspberries fresh
  • 1 cup Plain, Unsweetened Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tbsp Honey

Instructions

  1. Chop apples, wash and drain raspberries. Mix with greek yogurt and honey. Serve immediately.

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Baked GoodsRecipesTreats

Soft and Chewy Whole-grain Chocolate Chip Cookies

heartysmarty

This is our go-to recipe for Sunday night cookies. These chocolate chip cookies are the perfect blend of soft, chewy, nutty, and sweet. You will get the perfect amount of chocolate in each bite, because I use mini chocolate chips instead of the large chunks.

Much to my family’s dismay, I have served some real failures in the chocolate cookie department–bricks, crumbly as sand, bland–you name it, I have made it. These, my friends, are the result of years of recipe tweaking and they are soooooo delicious. Just like most of the recipes in my “treats” tab, they contain less sugar and more fiber than the original. This one stays true to that form, and no one protests. I hope your family enjoys these as much as we do!

Soft and Chewy Whole-Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies

Perfectly soft and chewy, nutty and chocolaty cookies that happen to be whole-grain.
Course Dessert, Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword Chocolate Chip Cookies, whole grain
Prep Time 24 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 40 cookies
Author heartysmarty

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar packed
  • 1/2 Cup White Sugar
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 1/2 Cups Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 6 ounces Mini Chocolate Chips
  • 1 1/2 Cups Walnuts chopped or Pecans

Instructions

  1. Cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until fluffy and smooth.
  2. Put oats in a blender and grind until it turns into a coarse flour.

  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, ground oats, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  4. Mix one cup of dry ingredients at a time into the creamed wet ingredients.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
  6. On an ungreased cookie sheet, spoon a tablespoon of dough for each cookie and place 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes, until tops are lightly golden. Let cool on the sheet for about 2 minutes before removing with a spatula.

Recipe Notes

As with any other baked good, this task is finished a lot faster with my Bosch Mixer. (Affiliate Link) Oh, how I love my Bosch!

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About MeMom Life

An Unexpected Ending to the “Perfect” Day and how we met Harry-the-camouflaged-friend

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It was Thursday of Spring Break. At the beginning of the week, I declared a TV ban during daylight hours and encouraged the kids to be creative with their time. Most of my kids’ friends were out of town for Spring Break, so they were forced to play with each other at home. We went on a jog together in the morning and the kids did an awesome job on a few chores in the house without complaining. They jumped happily on the trampoline together, put puzzles together, played card games together, helped me make dinner and even made a game out of pulling weeds out of the garden. I’m pretty sure there were doves with olive branches in their beaks, circling the children as they played so peacefully together.

I left my oldest daughter in charge while I drove to pick up my 9-year-old son from soccer. On the way home, we saw a random herd of 30 huge elk on the side of the highway. We took a quick detour to snap pictures of them for proof that this was the best day ever. Upon returning from home, I found my daughter had made homemade cookie dough so we could bake fresh cookies for our company who would arrive in the next couple hours. It really was the perfect day.

The only thing that would make this day more perfect was a shower and fresh clothes before our company came. I hopped in the shower and left the kids to hang out while dinner finished baking in the oven. Freshly showered, we sat down for a “perfect” meal. Over the dinner table, my oldest daughter says, “So you guys know about the hole [my 4-year-old son] dug in the carpet, right?”

Whaaaaaaa?

I left the table and ran up the stairs. Sure enough. Quarter-size hole in the carpet.

Pretty miffed, I stormed back downstairs and started questioning the culprit. “I didn’t do it, Mom! Ben did it!”

“Ben? “Ben (his neighbor friend) wasn’t here today, son! What did you use to dig that hole in the carpet?” I pressed.

“A pocket knife” says my oldest, very nonchalantly.

“Where did you find a pocket knife?”

“Harry gave it to me! He climbed up the shelves in the laundry room and gave it to me.”

“Harry?” I questioned

“Ya, Mom, Harry. He’s camouflaged so you can’t see him.” he replied very matter-of-factly, shrugging his shoulders.

I left the conversation at that. I’ve never had a child with an imaginary friend before, but his continued description of this friend with red hair and hazel eyes who climbs trees and eats fruit snacks was making me realize he was very real to my son, so I let the carpet incident go. –Until we started dinner clean up.– While my 4-year-old stood at the sink rinsing his plate, I couldn’t help but notice he had a patch of hair the same size as the hole in the carpet missing from the side of his head.

“SON! Did this Harry cut your hair, too?” I fumed.

He grabbed the side of his head as if he didn’t know there was a butchered patch there. “Ah, HARRY!” He replied, shaking his head. “You cut my hair while I was sleeping last night!”

I’m beginning to think this camouflaged friend is actually a little devil on my son’s shoulder, whispering naughty ideas into my son’s ear. I don’t like this Harry guy.

Sealing off the night as one of the most epoch unexpected endings to what could have been a perfect day, I’m pretty sure the Rumba sucked up my wedding ring. In my hurry to clean up for our company, I quickly dumped the filter in the trash before tying it up for the garbage collector to take in the morning.

To this day, I still have not found the carpet-digging pocket knife, the clump of missing blonde hair, or my wedding ring. But Harry-the-camouflaged-devil-child friend continues to make appearances, eating all the fruit snacks in the pantry while he plays in the sandbox with my son.

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Meal Plans

This Week’s Family Meal Plan

heartysmarty

Last week, our family made a quick trip to Phoenix and back, attended a wedding and all the festivities, put Daddy on a plane to China, played two soccer games and one volleyball game, performed in a piano recital, had a mother/daughter date, manicured the lawns, scrubbed three bathrooms, made/cleaned up 21 meals and did 11 loads of laundry. Mother’s day yesterday was the perfect way to recover from a busy, fun, yet exhausting week. Since we celebrated without our dad’s help, I wasn’t expecting anything grand, so you can imagine how my heart melted when I was wakened by the sound of my oldest daughter cutting out paper hearts for me at 5 AM. I went back to bed for three hours and was greeted with a plate of fried eggs cooked by my 9 year old son (his first time cooking them ever). My 6 and 4 year old made construction paper cards and helped set the table. They were all so proud of themselves.

Now we get back to a regular routine as much as we can without Dad this week. We will be keeping thing pretty simple in the kitchen. Here’s what’s cookin’:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

CLICK HERE to download the FREE Prepear App and get the shopping list for this week’s meal plan!

Since 2009, Megan has used her Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics from Brigham Young University to help people develop healthy food relationships. She combines evidence-based science, a dash of alternative medicine, and a large dose of practical food preparation to teach individuals how to feed themselves and their families nourishing meals with common ingredients. As a busy Mom of 5, she believes food should be simple, intentional, and HEARTY!

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Gluten-FreeRecipesSaladsSides

Tropical Summer Fruit Salad

heartysmarty

This Tropical Fruit Salad is a delicious blend of summer seasonal fruit, and it is a great side for grilling, barbecues or weeknight dinners. After visiting my in-laws in the Dominican Republic five years ago, I have been enamored with mangoes. Unfortunately, it’s a bit tricky to find good ones here in the states. The best ones I have found are the Ataulfo Mangos shipped from Mexicao and sold at Costco between March and September. They come in packs of 6. Just make sure you tip the carton over to ensure there are no bruises on the bottoms of the mangoes. I also find pretty good pineapple at Costco. I put my nose to the bottom of the fruit to make sure it has a fresh pineapple smell, so I know it is ripe. The most successful fruit salads are ones with fruit at peak ripeness.

Tropical Summer Fruit Salad

Seasonal summer fruit salad for a healthy side at barbecues or weeknight dinners

Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword healthy, summer fruit salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author heartysmarty

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 Cups Fresh Mangoes Ataulfo or Kent
  • 1 1/2 Cups Bananas
  • 2 Cups Fresh Pineapple
  • 2 Cups Fresh Strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon Lime Juice

Instructions

  1. Chop all fruit in large chunks and drizzle with lime juice. Stir to combine and serve immediately.

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