Crock-pot White Bean Pumpkin Soup

It’s fall and nothing says it more so that some key ingredients that bring comfort into a meal.  The past few weeks I’ve been testing a lot of recipes with pumpkin as an ingredient… but most were desserts.  One night, I had 1 cup of pumpkin puree left over from a muffin recipe I had baked the day before.  On a whim, I decided to mix it into the white bean soup I was making.  The result, a delicious and comforting bowl of fall goodness.  This was so popular among my family that I packaged it the next day for lunch!

Ingredients: -makes 4-6 servings-

  • 1 Medium onion, chopped small
  • 1 TB Olive Oil
  • 2 Garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 Cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 15oz can white beans, drained and rinsed.
  • ¾ Cup diced carrots (4 medium carrots)
  • 4-6 Cups Vegetable stock (ok to sub. for chicken stock)
  • 1 tps oregano
  • ½ tps black pepper


  1. Chop onions and garlic.
  2. Turn on crock-pot to a medium/low setting.
  3. Add all ingredients into crock-pot.  Stir to combine.
  4. Cook on medium/low 4hrs.
  5. You can leave it “chunky” as pictured, or puree to a smooth texture.


Photo Courtesy of MOMables lunch menus.


Lunch Indulgence: Grilled Pear & Brie Sandwich

There are a few indulgences that even a pregnant woman can’t resist.  Chocolate and Brie are my downfall.  Seriously, how can one resist the sweet deliciousness of French Brie?  I love it on toast, with crackers, in omelet, sandwiches… and the list goes on.

The other day, I was left to my own devices to prepare lunch when a business lunch meeting was cancelled (I usually pre-make my lunches ahead of time and have them ready).  It was a Friday and the fridge was empty of our lunch items and leftovers were scarce.  Good thing there was Brie!! The outcome as a sweet delicious grilled sandwich that will soon be placed in one of our MOMables menus (my kids loved this sandwich too).


  • 2 Slices of bread
  • Sliced Brie
  • 1 pear, sliced thin
  • Butter/spray for grilling


  1. Slice pear and Brie.
  2. Place sliced pear and brie on bread and close.
  3. Spread or spray butter on bread.
  4. Grill



A “Lighter” Blue Cheese Dressing

The facts: I love blue cheese dressing.  I don’t like preservatives or weird ingredients in my food.  I just realized how easy it is to make a lighter version of this heavenly dressing with the help of Greek yogurt! It was easy, delicious, and quick to make!





  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • dash black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 c. mayonnaise
  • 1 c. Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 c. crumbled blue cheese


  1. In a bowl, mix dry spices then add the Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Add the milk then let it sit for a few minutes, to dissolve the spices.
  3. Add the vinegar to the milk mixture. It will start to curdle; this is normal.
  4. Add the mayonnaise and Greek yogurt and whisk together well. When blended, fold-in the Blue cheese crumbles.

The longer you let this refrigerate, the better the flavor will be. A must have for hot wings and salads!

You’ll never buy bottled dressing again once you taste this!

Makes 3 cups.


Fresh Lunch: Tuna Melt

If you think tuna melts are a calorie loaded sandwich… think again.  This re-vamped version is lighter on the mayo, has less bread but tastes a whole lot better!  Even when your fridge may be empty and you think you have nothing to make for lunch… a pantry staple to the rescue!  Bring out that high quality tuna and let’s freshen it up!  The sharp cheddar allows you to use considerably less cheese and the tomato slices give it the freshness it needs.

Open Tuna Melt

Serves 4. Prep 10min Total time about 15.


  • 12 ounces canned chunk light tuna, drained (see Note)
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 slices whole-wheat bread, toasted
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat broiler in your oven (or use small toaster oven).
  2. Combine tuna, shallot, mayonnaise, lemon juice, parsley, salt, hot sauce and pepper in a medium bowl. Spread 1/4 cup of the tuna mixture on each slice of toast; top with tomato slices and 2 tablespoons cheese. Place sandwiches on a baking sheet and broil until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Did you know… Chunk light tuna, which comes from the smaller skipjack or yellowfin, has less mercury than canned white albacore tuna. The FDA/EPA advises that women who are or might become pregnant, nursing mothers and young children consume no more than 6 ounces of albacore a week; up to 12 ounces of canned light tuna is considered safe. -So yes, I’m only having one of these a week right now :)


Photo Credit: Eating Well




Goat Cheese & Kalamata Olive Panini

When I was pregnant with my daughter 6 years ago, my husband and I took a week long trip to Rome.  This was food heaven for a pregnant woman!  The word “panino” in Italian means roll or biscuit.  However, they too grill the sandwiches and call them panini.  Originally, panini were filled with tomato, basil and mozzarella,  a mouth watering combination on its own.  That Christmas, my mother-in-law gifted me a panini press to have at home and my love for anything grilled only intensified.  Don’t believe it? Check out this recipe!


Goat Cheese & Kalamata Olive Panini

Serves 4. Prep time: 7 minutes Total time: 12 minutes


  • 14 pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 12-oz whole-grain Italian loaf bread, halved lengthwise
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 2 1/2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 large tomato (6 oz), sliced into 8 rounds
  • Olive oil cooking spray


  1. In a medium bowl, combine olives, onion, garlic, basil, pepper flakes and vinegar. Place bread halves on a cutting board, cut-side-up, and spoon olive mixture onto bottom half of bread. Top with spinach, cheese and tomato. Top with other half of bread and press down lightly to adhere. Using a serrated knife, cut bread into 4 equal pieces.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat skillet with cooking spray, then add sandwiches. Add weight to sandwiches by covering them with a sheet of aluminum foil, then topping them with a dinner plate and a few bread plates. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until lightly golden on bottom. Remove plates and foil and flip sandwiches over. Again, place foil and plates on top of sandwiches and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 2 more minutes or until browned on bottom. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 2 minutes. (NOTE: This will allow sandwiches to continue heating throughout without drying out and over-browning.) Enjoy!

Nutrients per sandwich: Calories: 301, Total Fat: 6 g, Sat. Fat: 0.5 g, Carbs: 50 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugars: 13 g, Protein: 9 g, Sodium: 537 mg, Cholesterol: 6.5 mg

**Original recipe from Clean Eating Magazine




A No-Fuss Way to Get Kids Out the Door in the Morning

Have you heard?? There is a new way to plan your lunches!  MOMables™ is a website created by a MOM dedicated to helping parents make their kids’ school lunch fresh!  Here is a brief interview with Laura Fuentes, Chief MOM at MOMables™ and one of our contributors here at AMKB.

AMKB: What is MOMables™?

MOMables™:  MOMables™ is a lunch menu subscription plan designed to help parents make fresh, wholesome, school lunches.  Our picky-eater, kid-tested recipes are made quickly — in ten minutes or less — with simple and fresh ingredients.  We streamline the lunch making process with a weekly menu and a shopping list.  We also provide you with a picture of the food so you know what the lunchbox will look like. Whether you have a small soccer team or one child, MOMables™ brings you fresh ideas so you can feel good about your child’s nutrition.

AMKB: What kind of ingredients are in a typical lunch?

MOMables™:  We believe feeding your kids wholesome food doesn’t have to be complicated.  All of our lunches have simple ingredients typically found inside your pantry and your current shopping list.  We plan the main sandwich, wrap, dish… and always picture it with a fruit and a vegetable to remind parents what a balanced lunch should look like.  You won’t find a packaged items in any of our lunches, only fresh food.

AMKB: What about a child with food allergies? Or, if my child doesn’t like one ingredient?

MOMables™:  Our lunch menus are not designed with specific dietary restrictions in mind.  However, nearly all ingredients are exchangeable for dairy free, wheat free, and vegan substitutes, for example.  Just like food allergies,  if your child doesn’t like one ingredient you can easily substitute it for another.

AMKB: I have kids of different ages.  How does your meal plan take this into consideration?

MOMables™:  Our lunch menus are a guide to portion sizes.  A parent preparing a lunch for a 4 year old child will make the food quantity slightly smaller than an 8 year old, for example.

AMKB: Can parents eat these lunches?

MOMables™:  Of course! Why not pack lunch for the entire family to save time and money!  My husband super-sizes his portions compared to my 5 year old and I love my sandwiches dressed with lots of lettuce and tomato (unlike my kids).  So naturally, there are some differences… but all the ingredients remain the same.  This saves me a lot of time.  We also pack most of the lunches on Sunday nights, so all I have to do is pull them from the refrigerator in the morning!

AMKB: How much does the subscription cost and how does it work?

MOMables™:  Our subscription pricing is $6 or less per month.  You receive a weekly email on Thursdays with some fresh tips from our kitchen as well as reminding you to log in to the website to retrieve your weekly menu and shopping list.  You print it, shop, and make fresh lunches!  It’s that easy.  You can sign up here. Or go to our main page and sign up for our FREE weekly news for more fresh food ideas.

Thank you Laura, we’re so excited to try MOMables™ and can’t wait to hear what others think! – Allison

Easy Brunch: Ham & Cheese Muffins

This week, I am at the beach with my kids in a condo with a full kitchen.  We are having lazy mornings where breakfast happens around 10:30-11am (right before we head down to the beach and eat a late lunch).  I brought some handy Biscuit mix with me because there are many quick and easy things I can make that are kid friendly and portable.  Yes, I am not a big fan of ‘mixes’ but we are on vacation!  I made these ham and cheese muffins for brunch yesterday and will be serving them with a salad for lunch today!  Can you say fast and deeeeeelicious!

Prep time: 10 min.  Total time: 30min   Servings: 12 muffins


  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups Bisquick mix
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 TB vegetable oil/melted butter
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup chopped fully cooked ham


  • Heat oven to 400°F. Spray bottoms and sides of 12 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray. (Spray will work better than greasing or using paper muffin liners.)
  • Beat eggs slightly in medium bowl with fork. Stir in Bisquick mix, milk and oil just until moistened. Stir in 3/4 cup of the cheese and the ham. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese evenly over tops of muffins.
  • Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Immediately remove from pan. Serve warm. Wrap and refrigerate any remaining muffins.




Summer Dessert: Watermelon Cupcakes

Living in the South, I’ve become a big fan of cool desserts in the summer.  After attending many summer barbecues and picnics, I’ve noticed that someone always brings the famous frozen watermelon to alleviate some of the heat.

Here is my spin on a classic summer dessert that will satisfy the entire family.  I urge you to make these ahead of time and place them in the freezer inside a cupcake tin for at least 2hrs.  Although not necessary, they will become that much more refreshing!



  • 8 Cupcake Liners
  • 8 Cupcake sized pieces of seedless watermelon (see below)
  • 2 Cups Cool Whip
  • Sprinkles for decoration


Place the liners in an 8-cup cupcake tin. Cut 3-inch thick slices of seedless watermelon. Cut round cupcake sized pieces from the slices. Put a watermelon ‘cupcake’ in each liner. Place a dollop of Cool Whip on each cupcake. Decorate as desired with sprinkles. Makes 8 cupcakes.

NOTE: freezing them makes them more portable and cooler for dessert, specially if they are being transported or going to be left outdoors for an extended period of time.



Make Your Own: Instant Oatmeal Packets

Photo credit: Life as MOM

There is something very convenient about grabbing a flavored oatmeal packet in the morning and calling it “breakfast.”  My husband takes two or three to work each morning.  You should know, however, that traditional flavored instant oatmeal packets are loaded with sugar and artificial flavorings… a big no-no in my book.  Anyhow, with a husband that takes 2-3 every morning, this convenience can get costly.  Back in March, Life as MOM wrote up a post on her frugal Fridays about how to make your own at home and I decided to give them a try. I’m so glad I did! Since then, I’ve gotten MUCH more creative and made homemade, healthy versions of store-bought flavorings!

Her great tip on using fun snack sized bags has turned a “blah” pouch into a breakfast made for little boys and princesses!

Photo Credit: Life as MOM. TIP: You may want to make an assembly line style layout on your kitchen counter. This makes the process very quick and easy!


Brown Sugar Cinnamon Recipe:

(as written in Life as MOM)

What you’ll need for each bag

  • 1/4 cup instant oats
  • 1 tsp instant dry milk powder
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

To serve:

Empty contents of one packet and add 1/2cup of hot water.  Stir and let it sit for 5minutes and ENJOY!


You can say that I LOVE the convenience and the options this gives us! Here are some variations of the typical store bought flavors I’ve developed:

Peaches & Cream: oats, 3tsp milk powder, 1 TB dried peaches, 1/2 tsp brown sugar

Banana Nut Muffin: oats, 2tsp milk powder, 1TB dehydrated banana slices (crushed up), 1/8tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp brown sugar, 1tsp crushed walnuts

Strawberries & Cream: oats, 3tsp milk powder, 1TB dehydrated strawberries (crushed), 1/2tsp brown sugar

Apples & Cinnamon: oats, 1tsp milk powder, 2tsp brown sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 2TB dehydrated apples (cut in small pieces)

Cinnamon Raisin: oats, 1tsp milk powder, 2tsp raisins, 1/4tsp cinnamon, 2tsp brown sugar

Blueberry muffin: oats, 2tsp milk powder, 1TB blueberries, 1/2tsp brown sugar, pinch lemon zest







How I lost 30 pounds (and plan to do it again!)

Summer is coming, and everyone is working to shed those extra few pounds put on during the winter “fluffing up” season.  I always seem to work harder when I know someone is watching, so I once again joined Weight Watchers and even paid for personal training sessions at the YMCA.  So far it’s been a rough start.  I’m not sure if it’s my age, or the newest Points Plus program at Weight Watchers.  I previously did Weight Watchers before my wedding back in 2001, and I lost 30 pounds with the program.  

After joining Weight Watchers in 2001

I then joined the staff at Weight Watchers for 2 1/2 years as a receptionist and a leader.  It was a great way to stay on track, and I truly loved working for them.  I ended up leaving the job after moving and having a child.  I didn’t lose all the weight from child number one, and then after child number two…….. (you can guess).  Now, I am back to needing to lose the 30 pounds again.  Of course we all know the magic to losing weight; tons of water, eating less and healthier, and getting some form of exercise.  It’s easier said than done (as many people can attest to).  Weight Watchers helps me, because I have someone to weigh me in and keep me honest.  I am definitely one who “cheats” on my diets or gives myself excuses for starting tomorrow.  The nice thing about the new Weight Watchers Points Plus program, is that it definitely focuses more now on eating healthy and lifestyle changes than just losing the weight quickly.  I’m sure this is the better way to go for more successful maintenance.  The only problem is I like quick fixes, so now I know I’m just going to have to wait to take off the weight.  In the long run it will be better for me, but in the meantime I’m not sure I will be very comfortable at the pool club this summer.  I guess that’s just something I’m going to have to get over.  I also know that at age 36 I will not be losing the weight as fast as I did at age 26.  Darn!  That’s what happens when you get older I guess.  My new goals for this stage in my life are going to be: get healthy (by eating better and exercising regularly), enjoy life, and be happy with who I am.  No more obsessing on the numbers; just gauge my success on how I feel.  Pool club, here I come (now to find a bathing suit to be as flattering as possible so I can be as comfortable as possible)!

Just starting Weight Watchers again in 2011


* No more “after” pictures, just hopefully liking myself more in pictures as time progresses.  Have you had any weight issues?  What do you find is the hardest thing about maintaining or losing weight?

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Kristin Wheeler