Chicken Veggie Stir Fry

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Chicken Veggie Stir Fry Over Rice

Level of Difficulty: easy

Prep Time: 10 min.

Cook time: 25 minutes

This is hands down one of my favorite meals. I’m pretty sure my mom made this like every other week when I was a kid. I would watch in anticipation as she chopped each vegetable. Seriously. This dish may be the reason that I enjoy vegetables as an adult. And so, making this dish regularly is one of my plans to force gently teach my kids to love vegetables. It’s so good. Plus, It’s a super easy meal that takes very little time and requires ingredients you probably keep on hand. Can’t beat that!

You will need:

  • 4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4-5 Vegetables of your choice I usually use whatever I have on hand. Tonight I used 4 carrots, 2 parsnips, a small crown of broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini squash, and half of an onion. I also love to include bell peppers when I have them, especially a red one.
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 1/2 cup of cooked rice
  • Your favorite Teriyaki marinade. I like La Choy (Gluten Free)
  • salt and pepper

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Begin by cooking your chicken in a cast iron skillet. 

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Melt 1 tbsp. of butter in a large cast iron skillet. Salt and pepper chicken on both sides, sear for 3-4 minutes on each side or until cooked through. When finished, remove from skillet and let cool in a small container. This way, you can pour the juices from the chicken into your cooking veggies.

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While you’re waiting on your chicken to cook, wash thoroughly and chop your veggies to the thickness of your liking. Remember that the chunkier the bite, the longer it will take to cook.

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Once your chicken is removed from the skillet, melt 1 tbsp. of butter in the skillet and then add your vegetables that take longest to cook. I always add my hardest vegetables first, and the onion to make sure that raw onion taste cooks out. After 3-4 minutes, add the remaining veggies. 

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Steamy! And so pretty. The food that God created for us is so colorful.

While your vegetables are softening, take chicken from the container, place on your cutting board and chop into bite size pieces. This is a perfect time to add those juices I was talking about.

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I’m not really sure why there is still a piece of chicken in there for this picture. ? Silly me!

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chop that chicken! 

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Then add it to your vegetables.

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Drizzle a cup (or more if you’d like) of the teriyaki sauce on top.

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Mix well.

And of course, a taste testing opportunity will present itself here. You decide what you want to do with it. I, myself, never miss this kind of opportunity.

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Serve in a pretty bowl over a bed of rice.

Did that sound bossy? It doesn’t actually have to be served in a pretty bowl… it will taste better if you do. Just Sayin’.

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He’s taking the bait.

Hear my voice saying. “Wow, Shep! Look at those yummy vegetables. They are so good for you!”

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Oh yeah, He’s going for it.

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Call it smart. Call it sneaky. You could argue both.

What you can’t argue is how delicious this stir fry is. BECAUSE IT IS SO GOOD. Try it!

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Happy Thursday Before Christmas, Y’all!

Love,

Anna

Roasted Chicken TWO ways

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Recently I have been roasting a chicken for our Sunday lunch. I do love myself a good Sunday roast, but I wanted to change things up a little bit. Sometimes change is good. This is one of those times. I still needed to find a dish that I could put in the oven before church, take out of the oven when we walked in the door, and it would pretty immediately be ready to be consumed by hungry wolves or my family. Sometimes I’m confused with which is which on Sundays at high noon.

The roasted chicken has been so good that I have been trying a few new ways to cook a whole chicken. These are my two favorites so far. They are very similar recipes, just cooked differently to fit the different needs of our busy schedules.

Sunday Style Chicken

If Sunday mornings at your house are like mine, they involve lots to do and never enough time to do them. These things could include, but are not limited to: trying your best to make your hair look fabulous, dressing two kids up without any spills or spit ups before getting out the door, packing a sunday “quiet bag” for the kids, and cutting out the sunday school craft for the two year olds that you totally forgot about until just now. I need an easy dish that I can literally sling together, but that will be a really good tasting and healthy lunch to feed my family. This is it. You will need: A Dutch oven One whole Chicken Olive oil Salt and pepper One large sweet onion 6-8 carrots 1 small bag of potatoes (optional)

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Remove innards of chicken. (Harvest Land already has theirs in a plastic bag. Simply remove the bag.) Rinse chicken and pat dry with a paper towel. Rub olive oil or melted coconut oil generously all over the skin and underneath the skin of the chicken breasts. Place in a Dutch Oven. Wash carrots and potatoes. Chop off ends of carrots and cut in half, making two carrot sticks, or three, depending on the size of the carrot. Quarter potatoes and onion. Place vegetables around the chicken in the dutch oven. Stuff the inside of your chicken with a large piece of the onion and a carrot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Bake at 325* for 3-4 hours, depending on the size of your bird. The chicken is ready when your meat thermometer reads 160* when stuck in the innermost part of the thigh or when the juices run clear. That seems too easy and plain, doesn’t it? Oh my, it is so good! The chicken will literally fall apart and the vegetables will have slow cooked in all of the juices of the roasting chicken. It’s good stuff. And you can successfully complete the prepping of virtually your entire lunch in just a few minutes, maximizing your chances of being on time for Sunday school class with two kids and a successfully packed Sunday Morning style diaper bag. Does this scream, “WINNER!” to anyone else? Try it! This chicken was consumed so quickly that there was no time for picture taking. It was perfectly browned and crispy. Just trust me.

Weekday Chicken

(AKA Jamie Deen’s Sunday Chicken)

I just love cooking a whole chicken. Any day. Almost everyday of some weeks. Seriously. It’s a great economical choice and there are about 1,000 different things I can do with the leftovers for lunch the next day (or for soup for the next supper). I recently saw Jamie Deen roasting his in his Cast Iron skillet. Have I mentioned that I am obsessed with his latest cookbook? I found this recipe there and simplified it. Recently I find myself needing a little bit of “easy” in my life! Who’s with me?! Easy and good, so very good. It’s virtually the same recipe as above, but with a whole host of options for the veggies. He even suggests different vegetables for different seasons. I love it. On this Busy Monday I used: One whole chicken 1 Russet Potato 2 sweet potatoes 2 medium Parsnips 3 medium carrots olive oil salt and pepper

IMG_5390IMG_5295 Remove innards of chicken, wash, and pat dry.

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Scrub, and chop veggies into 1 to 1 ½ in. pieces.

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Toss vegetables in 3 tbsp of olive oil until they look glossy and place them in your large cast iron skillet. Generously rub olive oil all over your chicken, on top of and under the skin, then lay it on top of your vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Roast at 475* for 20 minutes or until chicken is nicely browned, then turn heat down to 400* and roast for another 60-75 minutes. *Tip: to make sure that the underside of your chicken is also crispy, you can place a roasting rack over your cast iron skillet and place the chicken on top of the rack.

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When finished, place the chicken on a cutting board and carve. Serve the chicken with the roasted veggies and the pan juices. This is just such a great way to end a long day. Now, save your bones in a ziplock container to make your homemade, flu-bustin’ bone broth. Mine is simmering as I type this. Blog on that coming soon! Hope you enjoy! Love, Anna

Christmas List for the Kitchen

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Merry Christmas from the Stephens Family!

Who doesn’t love Christmas? I love literally everything about it from the music, the traditions, the family time, remembering the birth of our Savior, and every other reason that you could possibly think up. I LOVE CHRISTMAS! And let’s be honest: the gift giving and gift receiving is super fun, too.. With Christmas right around the corner, I thought I would share some “Healthy Kitchen Tool Must Haves”, just in case any of you are deciding what to put on your Christmas list this year. I recently saw an ad that made fun of the fact that husbands/dads get their wives Christmas, Anniversary, and Mothers Day gifts that the women can use around the house. There was a day that I would have rather opened up a designer purse or an expensive piece of jewelry. But these days I’m honestly just as tickled to open up a new LeCreuset dutch oven or Dyson Ball Vaccum Cleaner. Seriously. Age is making me more practical, I suppose. I’m annoyed and a little sad that I just admitted that. But, who’s with me?! So, for all of you fellow practical ladies, here are some things to consider adding to that list, with some links to help your husband or whoever is doing the giving make the purchase.

1. Holland Grill

We use our gas grill almost daily. It is so easy to start, cooks our meats and vegetables evenly, and makes for hardly any clean up in the kitchen. (Holla!) There is a metal piece in between the flame and the grate, keeping the flame from directly hitting your meat and drying it out or charring it. This makes it so easy to grill fish and other delicate meats and vegetables. You can purchase these locally at Tyner Petrus or Golson’s on Cypress St. in West Monroe. There were only a few places online that have them in stock.

Maverick Holland Grill

Some of our friends bought the smaller version of this grill, intended for tailgating. It is the more affordable version and while it’s smaller, it cooks just the same!

2. Food Processor

Do I talk about this too much? I love the good old food processor and use it often. It surely makes life easier from everything from dicing, pureeing, grating,… the lost goes on and on. Get one!

7 cup Food Processor

11 cup Food Processor

3. Juicer

We love to juice!! And its so much easier than you think. We have always used this juicer, but there are so many to choose from. We use our juicer to juice fruits and vegetables as morning meal replacements, but also to make orange and apple juice for the kiddo. Also, we make homemade popsicles with juice from the juicer.

Jack Lalane Power Juicer

4. Dutch Oven

I use the dutch oven to roast a whole chicken, make a roast, soups, and more. The link I’ve provided is for cast iron dutch ovens that have a lifetime warranty.

Shop LeCreuset

5. Cookbooks.

Here are just a few of my favorites.

Jaime Deen’s Good Food

Weeknight Fresh and Fast

Cooking From the Farmers Market

Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple

6. Mini Chopper

AKA Slap Chop. Do y’all remember this commercial? So crazy! And I’m honestly not one for “As seen on TV” purchases, but I literally use the slap chop at least twice a week. Best way to mince garlic, in my opinion.

Mini Chopper

7. Fine Mesh Strainer

I really didn’t have one of these until recently. I use it to rinse quinoa and small amounts of fruits and veggies for snacks.

Fine Mesh Strainer

8. Dehydrator

Okay, this is actually on MY Christmas list this year. This is great for making fruit leathers for yourself or the kids, also for making your own jerkeys and dried fruit snacks.

Dehydrator

9. Cast Iron Skillet

There was a time when I didn’t have one of these. You can get these pretty much anywhere from Walmart to your local hardware store. (Go to Tyner Petrus, Y’all!)

10. Cutest Measuring Cups of all time

Because every girl needs some pretty measuring cups.

Anthro Measuring Cups

Anthro Measuring Spoons

***** Kitchen Pretties*****

These are just some of the prettiest kitchen tools around. I think that loving your kitchen tools makes cooking more fun. Here are some of my favorites:

Prettiest Butter Dish That you Ever did See

If your pot holders look anything like mine, click here.

Aprons make you feel pretty

I could literally add at least 15 items to this list. Like a great knife set, a silpat mat, a stand mixer, I could go on for days. Maybe I will sometime soon, when I’m not needing to start on supper. Hope this list can give you some great ideas to put on your list to GIVE or to RECEIVE!

Merry Christmas, Ya’ll!! Now, cue the Pandora Christmas tunes!! 

Love,

Anna

Broccoli Soup and Wild Caught Halibut at Honey’s House

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Just a sweet pic of us girls checking out what ideas Jamie Deen has for us to add to our Thanksgiving menu this week.  Oh my word. This is my favorite cookbook of all time, times 1,000! You can purchase a copy of it for yourself with the link below, and you should!

 Jamie Deen’s Good Food

These days my hard working husband has been working tons of overtime. And by tons I mean like every other day of our lives. Okay, not really. But it seems that way. And what is a girl to do to cope in a situation such as that? Spend crazy amounts of time at her parents’ house, of course! Luckily, my parents promise that they do in fact enjoy me and my two children being at their house like every second of many weekend days. Thank you, Honey and Papa! We love you both so much!

PLUS, I get to eat Honey’s cooking on these little visits. And this Sunday I was extra lucky. Mom made her broccoli soup. What a perfect meal for the dreary, rainy Sunday that it was.

Level of difficulty: SUPER EASY

Time needed: 25 minutes

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You will need:

Prep:

Melt butter in saucepan on medium heat.

Add finely minced onion and sauté to get rid of raw onion taste (2-3 minutes).

Add minced garlic, continue to sauté.

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Add chicken broth and soup.

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Chop broccoli in food processor, or by hand.

TIP: Mom likes to chop the first crown of broccoli very finely, add it to the saucepan, then chop the second crown more chunky before adding to mixture.

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Add grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste.

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Optional: add one cup of cooked organic brown rice to make more hearty. If you plan to do this, make sure to DOUBLE the amount of chicken broth in original recipe. Yet another option: Make soup, add cooked rice, place in baking dish, sprinkle cheese on top, bake at 350* for 20 minutes. And there you will have before you a delicious broccoli, rice, and cheese casserole to bring to a holiday dinner. 

How is that for a versatile dish?

Okay, so you’re probably wondering where the picture of the pretty bowl of soup is. Well, had I remembered to take one, you’d be looking at it right here!

Mom Also grilled Wild Caught Halibut to serve with her soup. 

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Olive oil, salt, pepper, and your favorite wild caught fish.

10-15 minutes on each side of your gas grill.

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Easy, Peasy ,Lemon Squeezy.

Speaking of lemon, mom often squeezes some fresh lemon juice over the top of the hot fish.

 Have yourself some super tasty, super healthy, fresh fish.

Plus hardly any dishes to wash run through the dishwasher.

Happy Monday, everybody!

Love,

Anna

Two Thanksgiving Favorites

These recipes are straight out of the red recipe book my mom hand wrote for me when I got married. What a treasure!

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, I thought I would share two of my favorite, fresh Thanksgiving Day classics. These are two dishes that my mom has made every year since I can remember and they are always gone by the time everyone leaves to go home. Disclaimer: These are not healthy, but are healthier (and much more FRESH, in my opinion) than other traditional thanksgiving dishes. 90/10, people. Keeping it REAL this Holiday season.

Cornbread Dressing.

Would it really be thanksgiving without this dish? I think not! I asked my mom where she got this recipe and she said that she used to watch my great grandmother make it and she just knows it from memory. Over the years she has tweaked some of the ingredients to make it her own. How impressive is that?! It kind of makes me all misty eyed. Is that weird? Probably.

You will need: (keep reading past the cornbread mixture for ingredients)

CORNBREAD MIXTURE:

  • 2 cups of stone ground corn meal
  • 2 cups of Sprouted Wheat Flour
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • ½ tsp of pepper
  • 2 TBSP baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of milk (buttermilk can be used)
  • 1 melted stick of butter

Add the following to your food processor, then to the cornbread mixture:

  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 large Green Bell Pepper
  • 4 ribs of celery

This mixture will fill two 10in. cast iron skillets. Bake at 400* for 25 minutes. When baked and cooled, crumble cornbread into large mixing bowl.

Add the following to the crumbled cornbread:

  • 6-7 slices of sandwich bread torn into small pieces or put in food processor to crumble.
  • 5 eggs
  • 2- 32 oz. cartons of chicken broth (enough to make complete mixture moist, similar to a cake batter but not runny)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Bake in large casserole dish at 350* for 30 minutes. Check for readiness by shaking the pan. (I’m serious. This is straight from my mother) If the casserole doesn’t move, it’s done. If it is still “jiggly”, cook another 10 minutes, check again. Make sure not to overcook, because it will be dry. TIP: the deeper the pan, the longer it takes to cook.

Serve hot with cranberry sauce. Your family will thank you. And you will feel so proud, as you should. And who knows, maybe one day your daughter(s) will blog about your greatness.

Second Dish

And now for my favorite of all time ever, forever, always and forever favorite. What? I don’t know. I am just trying to explain how much I love this dish.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Since I’m a wife and mom now, I am assigned a dish to bring each year to both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is what I choose to bring every time. Of course! Bringing it yourself is the only true way to MAKE SURE IT IS THERE ON THE TABLE.

Okay, can I just say that I literally remember my mom peeling and dicing and steaming all of those fresh sweet potatoes for this dish? And I loved her more for it. So I wake up early and wash and peel and dice, and steam (or you can bake and hull out the inside) sweet potatoes for this dish for my little family. It’s a beautiful thing!

For the Casserole:

  • 5 cups of sweet potatoes (10 extra large sweet potatoes)
  • 1 cup of sugar (we use Organic Turbinado Sugar)
  • 1 stick of butter (I know, I know…)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup of milk (evaporated is best)

for the topping:

  • 1/3 cup of melted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ Cup of flour (I honestly think that GF all purpose flour would actually work here)
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans

Preparing the Casserole:

  1. Wash, Peel, and Steam or Boil potatoes (drain excess water off of potatoes before adding to mixing bowl, if boiling)
  2. Once softened, mash with potato masher.
  3. Mix in sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and milk.
  4. Put mixture in large baking dish

Preparing the Topping:

  1. Melt butter and mix remaining ingredients in.
  2. Sprinkle on top of potato mixture.
  3. Bake at 350* for 30 minutes.

Everyone will say, “Oh my! This is so good! Who made this?!”. And you can smile proudly because YOU DID!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Y’all. We have much to be thankful for.

Love,

Anna

Planning is Everything.

Aside from your overall commitment, Planning is the key to success in cooking healthy. For some reason, I found it to be the most challenging part. I think I’m starting to get the hang of it these days! Here a few quick tips for planning.

First. Pick out a super cute planner. Here are some that I just LOVE: (click on the links below)

Cute Planner on Amazon

The Planner that I use

Free Printable Planners

I plan out each meal for the week on my meal planner. I use this list to make my grocery list. Below is an example of my list. And I get almost every single thing on this list from good ole Walmart. Save Money. Live Better. For Real though.

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Seriously though, these pictures were so much prettier on my camera. So, sorry about that! I picture Ree Drummond seeing these pictures on my blog and shaking her head and saying, “bless her heart”.

I try to use each ingredient in at least two meals. If I roast carrots for a side dish, I’ll use the rest of the bag of carrots in my chicken soup later in the week. I try to use whatever I have extra or leftover for lunches for the week. For example, if I buy a bag of sweet potatoes for a side dish, but I don’t need to use all of the sweet potatoes in the bag for that particular meal, I plan to use them for lunches throughout the week, or to make homemade sweet potato tots for the freezer. Or if I plan to roast a chicken, but know we won’t eat the whole thing, I plan to make chicken soup the following night. This allows us to save enough to be able to buy organic ingredients.

I shop weekly because organic fruits and vegetables don’t typically have a “shelf life” of longer than a week. Some people choose to shop biweekly and freeze their fruits and veggies. Also, there are frozen organic veggies in the freezer section!

I like to stick to this rule of thumb to make planning AND cooking easy during the week. If you don’t have a particular recipe in mind, you can do what  I do 80% of the time. I choose a meat and two or three vegetable sides to prepare for a meal. A favorite at our house is grilled chicken with broccoli, carrots, and a sweet potato. It’s just as easy, if not easier, than preparing a casserole or something like that. Plus, it’s the EASIEST way to keep your supper FRESH and HEALTHY (and delicious, of course). The possibilities are endless- more ideas to come on that for sure!

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Doesn’t that look delicious? It really is so good. And so fresh. And so pretty sitting on that plate. And honestly, quite inexpensive if you plan it just right. I’ll blog that soon.

I hope this helps! Happy planning, Y’all!

Love,

Anna

First Things First: Deciding What to Change

First Things First: YOU have to decide what changes YOU want to make for YOUR family.

Keep in mind these are just the things I have read about and have decided for our family. As you will be able to tell with my explanation of each topic, I am in no way a nutritionist or a health coach! And I have lots more to learn! I’m just a mom on a mission to make better choices for my family. I encourage you to read and make your own choices based on what YOU think is right for yours!

I started here:

Organic

Organic fruits and vegetables contain less or none of the pesticides that nonorganic fruits and vegetables contain. The Organic Momma (Follow her on FaceBook!) recently shared a fact about apples stating that non-organic apples contain up to 47 pesticides! 6 of which are linked to causing Cancer. Here are a few other food-pesticide facts:

tomatos   choose Organic!

Buying Organic is much more expensive. Because of that, I like to follow that Dirty Dozen/ Clean fifteen list. The dirty dozen are the twelve fruits and vegetables that are most affected by pesticides. The clean fifteen are the ones that are least affected. I also purchase a larger quantity of the fruits and veggies on the clean fifteen than I do of the dirty dozen to make eating organic more affordable.

dirty dzn

Refined Sugar

I know this is a doozey with kids. Do I think Shep will never have any refined sugar? No. I know he will want a piece of birthday cake (which will also contain gluten. Ugh) at a birthday party one day. My goal is and has been to limit this greatly compared to the normal amounts of sugar we are exposed to. If I do make a GF treat that calls for sugar (Which is extremely rare these days) I like to use turbinado sugar, or even more rarely organic unrefined sugar.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/253642-the-nutritional-facts-of-turbinado-sugar/

Dairy

I do see the argument that cows milk was created for cows and not for human consumption to make sense. I encourage you to read more on that as I need to myself! We don’t drink much milk as a family anyway, but do eat cheese and yogurt. We drink Grass Milk, which is milk produced from cows are fed grass. We eat organic cheese, and grass milk cheese (when we can afford it!). And we eat organic yogurt (Stonyfield Brand is Shep’s favorite!)

Juice

Occasionally Shep has an organic juice box, but we prefer for him to only have juice that we juice from our organic fruits and vegetables with our juicer. This is because all juices, even organic juices, contain lots of sugar. I read that kids that drink lots of juice are 4x more likely to have a weight problem as an adult.

Grains

Okay, so we don’t eat wheat (90/10: read below), but I do choose to feed our family organic brown rice and quinoa. If you haven’t tried quinoa, do! It’s our new favorite. I think ill blog it first! This is probably one of the least “studied” areas of my mission so far. More to come on that.

Meats

We eat organic, farm raised eggs from a local farmer often, but I always but organic eggs when purchasing at the store. (The taste is not comparable!!) We can rarely afford Grass Fed Beef, so we eat lots of venison (Okay, I feel silly even calling it that): Deer Meat!  We eat free-range chicken. Walmart has the most affordable free-range poultry. The Brand is Harvest Land. You’ll taste the difference!We only eat wild caught fish.

I may change my mind on some of these as I continue to research and learn how my family responds to these different choices. But this is where we are NOW.

This last big change, I don’t recommend for everyone. For me, this was a choice I made for the benefit of my husband and my kids. Jake has type-1 diabetes, which is an auto-immune disease. Our sweet babies are at a higher risk of developing this disease as it is considered genetic. If you have a history of auto-immune disease in your family, you may be interested to study up on that. I’ll post a couple of the articles I read below.

Gluten or No Gluten

I mentioned something about gluten-free to my sister in law and she said, “Anna. What is gluten? I mean, if none of us has a gluten allergy, what’s the issue?” My answer sounded something like the participants of Jimmy Kimmel pedestrian question “What is Gluten” interview. EMBARRASSING!

So i went home and read up:

Gluten is:

http://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/glutenfreediet/what-is-gluten/

And I found lots of artiles about the benefits of going “gluten-free”. . Here is just two articles that prompted my consideration of researching and cutting out gluten for our family. (PS, Jake takes a whopping 1/4th of the insulin that he took before we made this change. PICTURE A BIG SMILEY FACED EMOJICON HERE)

http://www.healing-diabetes.com/can-gluten-free-diet-cure-type-1-diabetes

http://celiact.com/blog/celiac-diabetes/

None of us have technically a gluten allergy or intolerance, so we follow a 90/10 gluten free principle. This means that we eat zero gluten at home, but if we go to a friend’s house or party, we will allow shep to have a small treat or whatever. I have another friend that does it this way for her family and I am so glad that she shared it with me.

Again, take what you want and leave the rest! Research and make the BEST choices for YOUR FAMILY!

How to Plan, NEXT!

Love,

Anna