Easy Weeknight Salmon & Asparagus Sheet Pan Dinner #EatCleanwithBarleans #Giveaway

It’s 5:00 pm on a school night and you have no idea what to cook for dinner. Enter this easy weeknight salmon and asparagus sheet pan dinner recipe! With practically zero prep and a quick cook time, you can have a delicious and nutritious, Whole 30 approved meal on the table in about 20 minutes!

salmon asparagus sheet pan dinner on the table in 20 minutes. Whole 30 Approved

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Family selfie at the Eiffel Tower

Family selfie at the Eiffel Tower. European Springbreak 2017.

We just returned from our family springbreak vacation in Europe and I realized a couple things while we were gone. First, my body feels better than it has in a long time. I drank very little red wine while we were gone (something I did almost every night without fail before we left). I had been having quite a few headaches before we went to Germany and suspected it may be the wine.

While we were gone, I only drank wine on three separate evenings, and each morning afterwords, the headaches were back. Hmmm. Second, my joint pain (my hips and shoulders have hurt me for years!) was a lot better while we were gone which I attribute to an overall cleaner European food system. They don’t allow a lot of the additives we find in our American food. Hmmm.

That information has been swirling in my head and I’ve also been watching friends participate in lots of clean eating challenges, like the Whole 30 program. Now I’m not quite ready to jump on board with the Whole 30 thing just yet (I REALLY love yogurt and cheese), but I have been cleaning up our food which seems to have deteriorated recently.

salmon asparagus sheet pan dinner featured

When I feel better, life is just better! Is is the same for you? And that’s why I recommend that you try this recipe. With heart-healthy salmon, fresh spring vegetables, and heart-healthy flax, you will enjoy eating healthy and your body will thank you. Maybe, just maybe, it can be the push you need to start eating cleaner every day!

forti flax barlean's blogger challenge

I’m excited to partner with Barlean’s to bring you a Clean Eating Challenge and Forti-Flax & Flax Oil Giveaway. All opinions are my own.

As a Barlean’s Blogger, I was sent the following products to help with this post:

I’ve been baking with flax seeds for a long time. It’s an ingredient in my 12-grain bread, my favorite bread recipe of all times! Flax seeds are full of omega-3s, plant lignans, and fibers. They are a source of essential fats that we need to stay healthy and anti-oxidants as well. According to healthyflax.org “The Institute for Medicine recommends that men consume 1.6 grams, women 1.1 grams  and children depending on age consumer between 0.5 and 1.2 grams per day.  Two Tbsp (30 mL) of ground flaxseed provides 3.5 g of omega 3, more then twice the daily recommendation.”

Flax seed oil is delicious in homemade salad dressings, and ground flax seed is also a great addition to smoothies and yogurt bowls as well. Read to the end of the post for a giveaway and you can enter to win Forti-Flax and Flax Oil from Barlean’s! Now let’s get busy cooking this delicious meal. It won’t take long, promise!

salmon asparagus sheet pan dinner

Salmon & Asparagus Sheet Pan Dinner

To make this quick and easy meal, simply preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Blanch a pound of asparagus for four minutes, then arrange all ingredients on a sheet pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes and enjoy!

salmon asparagus sheet pan dinner

Serves 4-6 servings

Easy Weeknight Salmon & Asparagus Sheet Pan Dinner #EatCleanwithBarleans #Giveaway

5 minPrep Time

15 minCook Time

20 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

  • 4, 6-8 ounce salmon fillets, preferably wild-caught Alaskan Sockeye Salmon
  • 1 lb fresh asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
  • 1 lemon, half juiced, half sliced
  • 3 TBS avocado oil
  • 1 TBS Barlean's Forti-Flax ground flaxseed
  • REAL salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450. Blanch asparagus for 4 minutes in boiling water.
  2. Arrange salmon and veggies on a sheet pan (lined with unbleached parchment paper if you want super easy clean-up. Skip this step if you're cheap like me.)
  3. Drizzle avocado oil and lemon juice over fish and veggies.
  4. Top with ground flaxseed, salt, pepper, and lemon slices.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until salmon is cooked to your heart's desire.
  6. Enjoy!

Notes

This recipe feeds my family of 6, but two of my kids aren't huge salmon fans.

7.5
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http://www.simplifylivelove.com/salmon-asparagus-sheet-pan-dinner/

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Easy Weeknight Salmon & Asparagus Sheet Pan Dinner on your table in 20 minutes! Plus, an #EatCleanwithBarleans #Giveaway!

15 Things You Must Know to Save Money on Organic Food

This practical list of tips will help you save money on organic food to reduce your exposure to pesticides, protect pollinators, and avoid GMOs. Switching to organic food doesn’t have to break your bank, if you follow these simple tips.

guide to organic food

*Many thanks to Nature’s Path for sponsoring this post. All opinions are mine. #AlwaysOrganic.*

15 Things you Must Know to Save Money on Organic Food

Despite what the naysayers say about certified organic food being being an unnecessary rip-off, there are many valid reasons to switch to organic food. If you’d like to lessen your impact on the earth, reduce dependence on fossil fuels,  ingest fewer toxic chemicals and more nutrient-rich foods, and help save the bees, the monarch butterflies, and other pollinators, you might consider switching to organic foods.

You might think going organic is too expensive and not practical for you, yet there are many things you can do to help keep the cost of organic food down. Today I’m sharing 15 cost saving tips with you to help you add more organic foods to your diet.

Know Where to Buy Organic Food

The first thing to do if you want to keep the cost of organic food as low as possible, is know where to shop. More and more stores are selling organic foods these days – did you know even ALDI has an organic line? It’s true. I buy a lot of organics at ALDI and I’m very happy with them. See if your favorite store carries an organic line and compare costs – sometimes organics cost about the same as their conventionally grown counterparts.

Buy in bulk

There are two ways to buy in bulk and both ways can add up to significant savings on organic food. The first way is to shop for beans, spices, nuts, and flour from bulk bins in many grocery stores. You’ve seen the bulk bins right? They often offer significant savings over smaller packages (and produce less waste too). The second way to buy in bulk is to buy in large quantities. I buy lots of dried good like wheat berries, rice, dried beans in large quantities (25-50 lb bags) for a reduction in price.

Buy online

Don’t forget that you can buy on line! Amazon, Thrive Market, direct from companies, and organic coops like Azure Standard are great places to find organic foods for less money. Shop around, make a price-point list, and order organic food from the comfort of your own home. Having it show up directly to your door is a pretty amazing way to grocery shop too.

Buy directly from the farmer or from CSAs

Another way to save money on organic food is to buy it directly from farmers or from a CSA. I’ve never participated in a CSA myself, but I buy a lot of organic items directly from farmers in my area. It’s a great way to support your local economy, reduce fossil fuel use (less transportation), and really get to know what you’re buying and feeding your family.

Proper Storage Techniques for Organic Food

Minimize produce food waste

Learn proper storage techniques to keep your produce fresh longer. Do you know which fresh food should be stored in the fridge and which should be stored on the counter? My partner for this post, Nature’s Path, recently published a free ebook called Your Guide to Organic Food. This beautiful ebook has lots of practical tips for switching to organic food, making produce last, and yummy recipes too! It’s also free so go here to grab Your Guide to Organic Food and check out their helpful tips for properly storing produce.

Minimize food waste for shelf-stable foods 

Just like there are tips for making produce last longer, there are also tips for making shelf-stable food last longer too. For instance, store your spices away from the heat of your stove. Make sure your dried goods are in air-tight containers to prevent spoilage and bug infestation. And store oils in cool, dark areas away from heat and light.

Waste Not / Want Not

My dad’s mantra when I was growing up was Waste Not Want Not. To make your organic grocery dollars last longer, make sure you eat up those leftovers. I know a lot of people don’t like leftovers, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. Leftovers are amazing! As often as I can, I try to have leftovers to reduce the amount of time I have to spend in the kitchen. If you don’t like leftovers, maybe you can think of creative ways to turn them into a new meal.  Whatever you do, don’t let those leftovers go to waste if you want to save money on organic food.

How to Prioritize your Organic Dollars

Buy in-season 

Have you ever noticed that in-season produce is cheaper than out-of-season produce? Yesterday I was in the grocery store and a little old lady was griping about the strawberries. “They’re just so expensive,” she said. “And they look terrible.” She was really muttering to herself, but I couldn’t help myself and replied, “Yes, it’s just not quite strawberry season yet, is it?” There’s a reason in-season produce fruits and veg are cheaper – they are in big supply and don’t have to be trucked in from another hemisphere.

Eating organic strawberries is great in the spring and early summer, but in the winter, citrus is where it’s at. Oranges, grapefruit, tangerines. These are the organic fruits we should be buying right now to maximize our organic spending dollars.

Freeze & Can 

Another way to stretch your organic dollars is to freeze and/or can organic produce when it is in season. Buy in bulk and then add to your freezer! I love having frozen blueberries in my freezer in the winter. I’ve also frozen pomegranate seeds and smashed avocado in the winter when these produce items are in season and cheap. Then I can pull out the frozen foods and enjoy them even when the price and quality at the grocery store is outrageous.

Dirty 12 / Clean 15

As much as I would like to buy everything I can organic, the cost is sometimes prohibitive. That’s when I turn to the Dirty 12 / Clean 15 list. There are certain produce items I always buy organic: apples, grapes, and berries, because they have the highest levels of pesticides and are very high on the Dirty 12 list. But avocados, pineapples, and kiwi are on the Clean 15 list and have a lower level of pesticides, so I don’t feel as bad if I have to buy conventional versions of fruits and produce on the Clean 15.

Use Coupons

I love the memes I see that claim you can’t use coupons if you eat real food, because it’s just not true. I’ve found coupons on lots of organic food that I’m happy to use. Every dollar saved is a huge win in my book! Nature’s Path even has a coupon code to use in their Guide to Organic Food book! Hint hint. 🙂

stocked pantry helps save money

 

Get Organized to Save Money on Organic Food

Make a Price-Point list

A great way to save money on organic food is to make a price-point list. Prices fluctuate a lot at the grocery store so if you keep track of what you pay, it’s easy to stock up on essentials you know you will eat when they cost their lowest.

Make a weekly menu plan

It’s true that having a menu plan is a great way to keep you on track. Knowing what you’re going to eat makes sure that you actually eat the food you buy and helps you stay out of unhealthy restaurants. I’ve tried many types of menu planning from weekly, to bi-weekly, to a monthly plan to find what works best for me. It’s simple to write down meals you’d like to serve in your planner or on your calendar and is very helpful. If you don’t currently menu plan, give it a try!

Keep a stocked pantry

A stocked pantry is such a huge help when you’re trying to save money on groceries, especially if you keep track of prices and stock up when your favorite organic goodies are on sale. Always having a few items on hand for easy organic meals when you don’t feel like cooking or simply don’t have the ingredients for a more elaborate meal is a great way to stay out of stores and restaurants.

Grow Your Own Organic Food

Grow your own garden

Growing your own garden is such a great idea because it can save you money on groceries and it’s a great way to connect with the earth too. I have a big garden very year and love eating the produce I grow in it. I also involve my kids and think it helps them to love fresh fruits and veggies too. If you don’t have a spot for a garden, maybe you have room for a couple containers. It’s not hard to grow tomatoes on your porch or balcony! You might be surprised what all you can grow in a container garden.

Grow your own kitchen herbs

If you enjoy cooking with fresh herbs, a great way to save money is to grow them yourself. A basil plant costs as much as the cut basil my grocery store sells. A nice kitchen window is a great place to keep a few herb plants and looks as pretty as it is functional.

These tips help me feed my family of six an organic menu for less. We don’t eat 100% organic, but knowing how to prioritize my organic dollars and make the organics I do buy last as long as possible is very important to me. I hope you found something useful in this list too.

Many thanks to Nature’s Path for sponsoring this post. If you’d like to check out their amazing {and free} ebook, Your Guide to Organic Food, head over and grabt! It really is a beautiful book with yummy recipes and more tips. Do you have another tip that I didn’t mention?

15 practical tips to help you save big on organic groceries. #alwaysorganic #ad

5 Reasons New Orleans Must Be on Your Bucket List

There are so many amazing things to do in New Orleans and it has long been on my bucket list of places to visit because it’s full of rich history, delicious food, and so much more. If you haven’t been to New Orleans, you must go. And take the whole family because everyone will enjoy it!! 

5 Reasons New Orleans Must Be on Your Bucket List

*Many thanks to the New Orleans CVB for complimentary tickets and discount passes which allowed me to try many of the things in this post.* 

5 Reasons New Orleans Must Be on Your Bucket List

From above-ground cemeteries to streetcars to museums and zoos, there are so many family-friendly and educational things to do in New Orleans. Yes, New Orleans is infamous for Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras, but it’s also a great place for the whole family, kids included.

The French Quarter
The French Quarter New Orleans

Founded in 1718, the French Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans and the whole district has been designated a National Historic Landmark.  In addition to stunning and colorful buildings, history lessons abound here. For instance, prior to the Louisiana Purchase, all residents of New Orleans were required to be Catholic – religious freedom was not a right! Slaves were also allowed to buy their own freedom (something they were not permitted to do elsewhere) and the Creole culture is really fascinating. Ghost and voodoo stories are everywhere and so interesting!

Beautiful buildings in the French Quarter in New Orleans

The French Quarter is full of beautiful architecture, educational museums, unique shopping, and lots of delicious food. Make sure to stop in the French Quarter for a beignet and a crepe! More on them later, but no trip to New Orleans is complete without a walking tour of the French Quarter.

The Garden District

The Garden District was developed between 1832 and 1900 and is home to so much amazing architecture. We took the streetcar down St. Charles Avenue to get to the Garden District because we wanted to see the beautiful mansions and the above-ground cemeteries. The Garden District did not disappoint!

beautiful architecture in the Garden District

Also called Hollywood South, Nicolas Cage, Anne Rice, and Sandra Bullock all have homes in this beautiful neighborhood. The original cafe from the Eiffel Tower is also in the Garden District on St. Charles Avenue. It was a restaurant for three years in the 1980s, but didn’t make it financially, and today it houses event space.

lafayette cemetery

Lafayette Cemetery #1 is another must visit destination in the Garden District. There aren’t very many above-ground cemeteries in the world and they are fascinating to tour. If you can, go with a tour guide to learn more about the historic significance. The tour guides work for tips and are very fun and knowledgeable.

Street Car to the Garden District in New Orleans

So Many Family-Friendly Attractions in New Orleans

In addition to exploring the French Quarter and the Garden District, your family will find many more family friendly attractions! I love visiting history-rich locations and New Orleans does not disappoint. So many museums sneak in interesting history and science lessons, and I love that when I’m touring with my kids.

Things your kids will love:

Mardi Gras World – call for a free shuttle to pick up your family so you can explore Mardi Gras floats, costumes, and masks!

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium – kid friendly museum with thousands of butterfly and interactive insect exhibits.

Audubon Aquarium of the Americans – over 15,000 different types of sea life live in this famous aquarium! Both young and old folks will find plenty of fun things to marvel at here.

Louisiana Children’s Museum – 30,000 square feet full of interactive and hands-on-learning suitable for children from birth to 11 years of age. If you’ve ever been to a Children’s Museum as an adult however, my guess is even older guests will find fun things to do.

National WWII Museum New Orleans

National Wold War II Museum – Older kids might enjoy learning more about World War II at the World War II Museum. It’s another interactive museum where visitors follow the life of a real WWII soldier and see how he or she fared during the War. I really enjoyed this museum and would love to spend more time there on our next visit.

Transportation is Easy in the Big Easy

Ride a Street Car in New Orleans

I loved pretty much everything about New Orleans, but one thing that is especially nice is how easy it is to get around the downtown area without a car. Once we got from the airport to our hotel (via Uber) we walked, took the streetcar (a steal at $3 per person per day!),  and also enjoyed the Hop On Hop Off Bus

Hop On Hop Off Bus New Orleans

The Hop On Hop Off Bus was fun because it was more than just transportation. The knowledgeable tour guides shared personal stories and insights into the city, and funny stories as well. It costs a little more than the streetcars, but it’s also a great way to see the city, and tickets are valid for three days.

You really don’t need a car for visiting downtown New Orleans. That said, a car would have made visiting the plantations easier, something we didn’t get to do on this trip. That just means I have to go back, right?!

The food is delicious in New Orleans

Food is Delicious in New Orleans

Let’s not forget about the food, because the food in New Orleans is delicious and plentiful. Everywhere we went, there was something else to try and everything we ate was better than the last. From beignets, to beans and rice, to muffulettas, to crepes, everyone in your group will find something amazing to eat. Food you must try while you’re in New Orleans:

Beignets from Cafe du Monde in the French Market – because you can’t go to New Orleans without eating beignets…

Charbroiled Oysters from Drago’s Seafood Restaurant – they were really tasty, a great way to eat oysters if you don’t really care for them!

The Works Crepe  from the Crepe Cart at the Farmer’s Market in the French Quarter – this crepe was my absolute favorite lunch during our trip. I wanted to eat another one every single day. 

A Muffuletta at Central Grocery – followed closely by the muffuletta. I could have eaten this every day too.

Jazz Brunch at the Court of Two Sisters - one of the many fun things to do in New Orleans

Jazz Brunch at the Court of Two Sisters – such a fun experience. The food, service, and ambiance were all really neat.

And there you have it – five reasons you must put New Orleans on your family bucket list. I took this trip without my kids, but I know they would love the city as much as I did. And since I didn’t get to visit any of the plantations or many of the museums, I am excited to return, hopefully sometime soon, and with my family!

 If you haven’t yet made it to New Orleans, put it on your list! If you have been, I’d love to hear what you most enjoyed!

Find out all of the many things to do in New Orleans and add the city to your family bucket list.

5 Tips for Making Amazing Stop Motion Animation at Home

 Stop motion animation is a fun way to engage your children in creativity and learning.  My kids really enjoy making stop motion animation at home and are sharing their five best tips for creating fun videos with you today!

5 Tips for Making Amazing Stop Motion Animation at Home

The struggle to limit time on electronics is real. But sometimes, we can find great ways to incorporate electronics into learning and family fun. One way to do that is to create stop motion animation with your children. I don’t mind my kids using electronics as much if they are engaged in learning and so we’ve had a lot of fun this last week working on stop motion animation videos. Here are a few tips to help you make your own amazing stop motion animation videos at home too!

5 Tips for Amazing Stop Motion Animation

stop motion animation - simple backdrop

Gather props and make a backdrop

Stop motion animation usually uses small items. Little animals, figurines, doll house accessories, and other small props you may have around your house make great props. We made several different backdrops using string, construction paper, tissue paper, sticks, and yarn. Gather what works for you and make something pretty!

Stop Motion Animation made on iphone

Come up with a story line

This is where your imagination comes into play. We came up with a lot of different angles – Goldfish crackers making a snowman. Goldfish crackers being eating by a dinosaur. Goldfish crackers racing in toy cars. We finally settled on Goldfish crackers racing themselves around a track made out of yarn. Get creative and have fun!

Download helpful apps

There are many helpful apps that make the stop motion animation process pretty easy.  Goldfish Smiles lists several apps you can choose from as well as sources for free sound clips. We used Stop Motion Studio which is a free download. We did pay $4.99 to unlock the bonus features like sound clips, though. The kids had a great time playing with the sound and adding it to the video (I did too!).

One problem we had with the app was that we couldn’t tell what part of the video would be cut off in the final version. As we were making the videos and reviewing them on the app, everything looked fine. But when we created the final video and shared it, we realized that part of the video was cut off – the left side. We made our videos using an iphone and I think perhaps we would have seen more detail had we used a bigger screen, like an ipad.  This is just a practical tip we learned that may help you.

stop motion animation - stabilize the camera

Find a way to stabilize your camera and take lots of pictures

Stabilizing the camera is tricky but oh so important as the camera needs to stay in the same spot or the video ends up distorted. We used a bendy tripod to attach my iphone to the large tripod. But honestly, my big iphone is too heavy for the bendy tripod and we had a lot of trouble keeping it still. We took almost 200 pictures to make our video, so this part requires some persistence and patience…   {I’m in the market for a new table top tripod for my plus sized iphone if anyone has any recommendations. }

Another thing Anna did as she created this video was to make it in reverse. She wrote out the words GO! with Pepperidge Farm Goldfish and started the video at the end. Then, we filmed the Goldfish crackers racing around the track backwards. After that she made the words disappear by removing one row of crackers at a time. And finally, we reversed the order of the pictures so it looks like we filmed the words appearing first. For tips about how to make your props move fast or slow, head over to the Goldfish Smiles website. They have so many helpful videos with useful tips and tricks.

Have fun! 

This is where you need to step back, mom, and let the kids work together. AHHH – I struggle so much with this because I want to take control. In my experience, my kids do better and fight less when I step back and let them take charge. They always have fun making stop motion animation videos but they really enjoyed making these because they also got a little snack in the process. Pepperidge Farm Goldfish are baked without artificial flavors or preservatives, using colors sourced from plants.

Goldfish Tales Stop Motion Animation Contest

Enter your video to win $5000!

Once you have created your video, head over to Goldfish Tales Animation Experience and enter it to win! Twelve films will be nominated across four categories and the best in each category will win a $5000 grand prize. Judging begins on February 28 and the winners will be announced on April 21.

What are you waiting for? Head over to GoldfishSmiles and learn how to create your own stop motion animation movie with your kids!

Stop motion animation is a fun way to engage children in creativity and learning. Check out these 5 best tips for creating awesome videos with your kids!