Easy Summer Salad Meal or Side Dish

easy summer saladEasy summer salad meals for busy homemakers and caregivers. Below are great helps to save time, money, and add nutrition and variety to summer meals. Be prepared for potlucks, family picnics and company dropping in. Unless you are prepared in advance, this could create more stress on your time and energy.

Consider a pasta salad as the main dish.

Fresh vegetables are readily available right now; however, unless you prepare ahead, many of them will go to waste before they are used up. For the recipe below and for many casserole dishes, finely chop your older veggies, spread out on a cookie sheet, freeze, then put in a container for later use in stews, casseroles, and even the salad below.

summer salad mealUse your imagination to create a show-stopper!

This simple recipe that will easily adjust for any hungry bunch. The options are endless — side dish? main dish? hot salad? cold? tart and tangy? sweet and chewy?

Be sure to read the suggestions below and adjust to your personal taste. You will add many ingredients to your list as you begin to think outside the box.

BASIC SUMMER SALAD RECIPE

Cook and drain 16oz package pasta. (regular or gluten-free pasta)

Add 2 – 3 cups fresh, finely chopped vegetables.

Stir in small bottle prepared dressing.

1. Pasta is more than macaroni or spaghetti-ho, hum!  Try bowtie, shells or other shaped macaroni for variety or choose fettuccini or whole wheat pastas.

2. Think outside the box on vegetables; go beyond lettuce, celery, sweet onions, tomatoes and peppers. Purchase whatever is fresh at the market and chop finely. Larger vegetables like sugar peas, broccoli, or cauliflower can be slightly steamed and cooled before chopping. A few sliced olives will add flavor and color.

3. Make it a meal in itself. Add chopped, grilled chicken or cubed ham for a hearty dish. Summer sausage, cocktail wieners, bacon pieces, boiled eggs, cheese cubes or shredded cheese will provide variety and color. Consider small shrimp and a light cocktail dressing. If you are watching calories and fat content, blend in non-fat yogurt.

4.Choose a dressing to complement your foods. Zesty Italian is a good, colorful dressing enhancing most flavors. For a bolder change, try a little raspberry vinaigrette or poppy seed dressing. Don’t forget squirts of lemon or orange juice to tantalize the taste the taste buds.

5. Add dried fruits and nuts. Raisins, cranberries, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds all add texture and flavor to your salad.

5. Get creative with your families’ tastes. My husband does not like broccoli, cauliflower, etc. He will eat most any salad that has tomatoes in it; especially with fried or grilled chicken pieces on top. If I toss in small chunks of broccoli, cauliflower and other of his less favorite vegetables and smother them with tomatoes and chopped chicken, I have one happy camper!

Looking forward to hearing your variations.

Hugs,

 

 

 

5 Ways to Find Time for Self When Overscheduled

DSCF1104Each of us can be overscheduled and sincerely desire to find time for things  need or want to do.

Truth is, we will not find time or make more of it. We are each given only 24 hours a day.

We can determine how we spend the time we have; even when we are now overscheduled and stressed to the limit.

Not taking time for self harms our health, emotions, and can steal our joy.

Some of my wonderful readers are caregivers, some caring elderly and children in their homes. Many also have to work a full time job to keep things going.Scheduling time for yourself seems selfish and is too often put on the back burner.

Here are five ways you can “find time” no matter how busy your schedule.

After you have made a list of things you would do if you could find time, follow these same steps I did. It will take a little work in the beginning but well worth it. It can be absolutely life-changing, yet so simple.

#1 SET A SPECIFIC PERIOD OF TIME TO GIVE THIS A TRY. This is NOT time you leave your responsibilities. It will allow time during the week for you to do projects, rest, or meet your greatest need. I suggest you look at at least a week’s schedule to begin.

I chose a three-week period which gave me a good overall view of my life. (I called it my vacation.) Of course, many days I only had 30 minutes, but they were mine to spend as I chose.

#2 WHICH OF YOUR REGULAR DUTIES COULD BE POSTPONED? Do you have  appointments or obligations you could move from your week (or longer) to a later date or eliminated completely? Could some of those calendar dates be grouped together?

Weigh your choices carefully. It’s interesting the things I had on my calendar sapping my time were more habits or my perceived duty than necessities. I chose to delete all that did not fall into my current plans.

#3 WHAT PROJECTS COULD BE DELEGATED TO SOMEONE ELSE?

This was probably the most difficult for me. I appreciate those who offer help, but I felt I was failing in my duties if I accepted it. Do you feel that way? We deny others of the blessings of helping when we insist on doing it all ourselves. Learn to accept from others. (Be sure that you honor any personal commitments you have made to others).

#4 PLAN DOABLE MENUS FOR THE WEEK. Remember, you will be vacationing in a sense—making needed time for yourself. Allow for a few more carry-in meals or meals out. Can’t afford meals out? Get creative. Use fast food coupons for hot sandwiches or pizza, add a salad or fruit and ice cream. Picnic in the yard! Keep it simple.

Prepare ahead for meals in: spend a day stocking the refrigerator and freezer with foods you can prepare in a short amount of time.

#5 DETERMINE YOUR TIME ROBBERS. In the last two days, how did you really spend your time? Planning and shuffling papers, reading Facebook posts for long periods of time, chatting on the phone or at the store endlessly?

When I evaluated my days, no wonder I was stressed with nothing done! I moved from project to project, trying to fulfill everyone’s requests, then go back to a project and have to figure out where I left off. I spent more time than I realized on social media throughout the day. Even many good things were depriving me of the best things.

So, when is your time for self? Did you find an hour a day, an entire morning, even perhaps a day just for you? And what did you do?

This simple plan will work! And it will have long-lasting consequences.

Hugs,

Can’t wait to hear from you as you give it a try! Even ONE day, just one day will help you. Honest!