Napa Valley Guide Part 1: Dining

We had so much fun in Napa celebrating T’s 35th and our 10th Anniversary.  It was just what the doctor ordered, and we returned refreshed, with oodles of wine, and with a bit more wine knowledge.

I thought it would be best to break up our travels in to two posts — (1) dining and (2) drinking.  Read on for a rundown of where we ate in Napa (and a few great places in Sausalito/San Francisco too).

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Whole Wheat Cinnamon Banana Nut Muffins

My go-to breakfast options are whole wheat toast topped with some nut butter (peanut, pecan, almond or cashew) and sliced bananas, oatmeal, Greek yogurt with fruit, and smoothies.  However, some times it is nice to have a baked good.   So, I’ve tried out quite a few muffin recipes and have been combining what I (and my family) liked about each to come up with my own perfect little muffin.  As you will see, it is all real food.  The only sweetener is the banana and the maple syrup, the flour is whole wheat, and there are no yucky oils.

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Breakfast and Lunch Game Changer

Image via Daily Harvest

As I write this, I am dreaming of the carrot coconut soup I had yesterday for lunch and wish I was having again today.  It had organic spiralized carrots, organic coconut, organic tomato, organic spinach, cauliflower, organic bell pepper, ginger, garlic, madras curry, ginseng and a few other ingredients.

Oh, and did I mention I made it in two minutes flat?  All I did was remove the cup of soup from my freezer, fill it to the top with coconut milk (from a can that I had in my pantry), and dump it all in to a saucepan until combined and hot.  If you are taking this to work, there are microwave instructions for easy heating too.  So where did I find this magical concoction you ask?  Read on for my source . .

*This post isn’t sponsored.  I just really love the service. 

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Rising and Shining

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.  But, at least in our home, it was often the most hurried and overlooked.  Lately, however, I’ve been pretty proud of the choices we’ve been making for breakfast.

Read on for three real food* weekday breakfasts that have been in heavy rotation here at the Wolf Den over the past two months.  And if you are feeling a little more ambitious, check out the real food weekend breakfast ideas at the end of the post.

*Real food is food that is in its natural state or is minimally processed, has no added sugar, and has a very small list of ingredients.

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Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

I’ve always thought of slow cooker meals as being unhealthy.  It didn’t help that the only slow cooker cookbook I had seemed to think that nothing can come out of the contraption without first being slathered in cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup.  You’d seriously think Campbell’s was a secret sponsor of all slow cookers.  Moreover, the first recipes that come up on Pinterest when you type in slow cooker or crock pot are of the cream-of-whatever-variety.   So you can imagine my surprise when my 100 Days of Real Food: Fast and Fabulous cookbook had quite a few slow cooker recipes.

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Herb Garden Scheming

Image via Southern Living’s Blog — The Daily South

I am already scheming for an herb garden this Spring.  In an ideal world, I’d also have a vegetable garden (and some chickens) going on in our backyard too, but I think I will save that for another year.

As I am writing this, I feel super old.  I never thought I would be this excited about planting an herb garden, but I now choose to look at it as being super hip (wink wink).

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A Week of Menu Planning from 100 Days of Real Food

We’ve been loving our 100 Days of Real Food cookbooks here at the Wolf Den.  I’ve made countless recipes from them, but the week of 1/30 is the first week I am setting out to cook almost every single meal from them.

The plan below contemplates two grocery trips — one on Saturday morning and one on Wednesday morning.

When I am able to make it to the grocery store definitely dictates the order of my dishes.  For example, I am doing fish tacos on Wednesday night because I know my fish will be fresh (or as fresh as it can be when I am getting it from the grocery store) from that day’s trip to Whole Foods after B’s ballet class.  I wouldn’t try fish tacos on Tuesday, because my fish would be four days old at that point.  Yuck.  As I get further away from my most recent shopping trip, my dishes become more and more vegetarian.

Other things that influence what I’ve picked for a given day is what day it is.  I always like to limit what I have to cook on Fridays, and I try to make a bigger more exciting breakfast on either Saturday or Sunday.  We also do freshly squeezed OJ or grapefruit juice on whatever day we have our bigger breakfast.

Also, when I can, I try to budget in some meal prep on the weekends when T is around to help with the girls.  Anything that needs to be done during the week I either try to do it when B is at school and C is napping or when both girls are taking their afternoon naps.  If all else fails, I just cook when its time and don’t do anything ahead of time since none of these recipes require too much prep anyway.

Read on for a more detailed look at one week of menu planning.

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Cocktail Shaker Iced Coffee

Cocktails for breakfast!  Just kidding.  As I write this and after I’ve made one of these yummy iced coffees, there are two men installing a TV in my bedroom who probably heard my cocktail shaker going at 9:00 am, so I am pretty sure they think I am a little intense . . .

But seriously y’all, this recipe I dreamed up after being inspired by the iced latte at Kale Me Krazy elevates your hum drum iced coffee without any added refined sugars and with a boost of good-for-you ceylon cinnamon.

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The Last Breakfast of 2016: Whole Wheat Waffles

Happy almost 2017 everyone!  Thank you to all of my readers who’ve supported me since I started this blog back in April.  It truly makes me giddy to hear that y’all tried some of my recipes or ordered something off of my gift guide.  It has been so much fun working on this blog during nap time, and I am so excited for where I am going to take this blog in the new year.  Stay tuned for updates.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, my goal for 2017 is to eliminate (as much as possible) processed foods from my family’s diet.  It didn’t occur to me that this meant saying good bye to my husband’s delicious waffles that he grew up eating until he offered to make them this morning to bid a proper goodbye to 2016 breakfasts.

Bless his heart, he set out to make them with whole wheat flour, and it worked!  Y’all – they might even be better than they were with the enriched flour.   I’m not kidding.   Oh, and I almost forgot to mention good bacon and maple syrup and butter are not processed (wink wink).  Throw in some mixed berries and freshly squeezed OJ and coffee, and you have a winner of a breakfast for the whole family.

Credit for the original recipe goes to my father-in-law.  I should also mention this needs to stand at least three hours (but we always mix up a batch before we go to bed).

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