“Fold in Cool Whip. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight before serving.”
I think these are the last words of each and every Jell-O salad recipe in the history of Jell-O salads. When I was a child, salad wasn’t green unless there was lime Jell-O in it. The good women in my small, Midwestern farm town took these salads seriously. My mother was famous for her Green Salad which was made with lime Jell-O, cottage cheese, Cool Whip, sugar, and a can of crushed pineapple. Another staple was Carrot Salad. It was made with orange Jell-O, shredded carrots, a can of crushed pineapple, and a layer of Miracle Whip on top. These recipes are an integral part of my childhood memories of my mother, both grandmothers, and the amazing farm women from Macon, IL who all had a hand in my upbringing. Family reunions meant a rainbow of Jell-O salads to choose from…each one a specialty from that particular family. Green Salad, Carrot Salad, Pistachio Pudding Salad, Cherry Salad, Orange Tapioca Salad. You get the idea. While these staples from my childhood are not a part of our family’s diet, I do like the concept of adding fruits and vegetables to foods for added health benefits. When Tatum was just beginning to eat solid foods, I had to make most of her foods from scratch because of her allergies. I looked for easy ways to hide vegetables in every main dish for added health benefits. I still do this today but now it benefits the entire family.
I am a proud product of my parents’ belief that nothing should be wasted. That’s farm life. “Cut off the brown spots. Eat around them.” Most fruits and veggies can be saved and used later if you chop them in your food processor and freeze them. At any given time, you might find the following frozen fruits and vegetables in my freezer:
Zucchini Yellow Squash Spinach Strawberries
Broccoli Apples Blueberries Bananas
Carrots Grapes Blackberries
When you know the fruits and veggies in your fridge will be heading south soon and you have a full plate of life going on, (or a 4-day swim meet WITH the mile on Thursday)…freeze them. I’ve saved many a blueberry, broccoli, or zucchini before they reach full squishiness by doing this. Here are some later uses for them.
Taco meat = spinach, zucchini, broccoli, carrots, OR yellow squash
Pancakes = apples, pumpkin, beets
Smoothies = any fruit or spinach
Spaghetti Sauce = zucchini or yellow squash
Muffins = pumpkin, zucchini, yellow squash, spinach, any fruits
Meat Loaf = zucchini or yellow squash
Soups = any vegetable
Side note on broccoli…a little goes a long way. Don’t overpower your meat with too much. I did that once and the family gave that particular Taco Tuesday two thumbs down.
I am not kidding when I say, “Everyone ages 4 and up would feel better if they drank a Rehydrate every single day.”
Problem-solving, attention, coordination, and reaction time begin to decline with as little as 1% loss of your mass due to dehydration. This is why we always have AdvoCare’s Rehydrate on hand.
For my Spark Notes kind of people out there…here are the benefits of Rehydrate:
For my detail-oriented kind of people out there…here are the benefits of Rehydrate:
For all of my people who like a lot of choices and variety, Rehydrate is available in seven flavors and a handy gel pack option:
Key Lime Cherry Orange Berry Lemon Ice
Lemon Lime Fruit Punch Mango Pineapple
Red Raspberry Lemon Gel Packs
Here are some ways to incorporate Rehydrate into your daily life:
“When you eat a lot of spicy food, you can lose your taste. When I was in India last summer, I was listening to a lot of Michael Bolton.” - Jimmy Carr, comedian
I want my food to be flavorful. I have a wide variety of spices in my pantry and refrigerator dedicated to that very statement. My friend, Aimee, shares this philosophy but in a more gifted way. When we lived in Columbia and visitors would ask me where I liked to go out to eat, my first thought was, “Aimee’s house.” She reads cookbooks like I read books, (and I read A LOT of books). She sends pictures of items I always need to have on hand in my pantry and refrigerator. She is NEVER wrong. Here are some examples:
“Be prepared” is the Boy Scout motto. I am an Assistant Scout Master for Riley’s troop and this motto comes up regularly in conversations with the Scouts. Baden-Powell made the phrase famous, but it applies to all avenues of life. Be prepared for your day, week, month. Be prepared for that presentation. Be prepared for finals. Be prepared for the upcoming Age Group State Meet. Be prepared to squeeze in a workout while they’re at swim practice. Be prepared with healthy food options in your fridge. I once heard a statistic that stated, “From the time they are born until they move out of your home, you will spend approximately 20% of your income on food for the family.” For those of us feeding swimmers…I figure that looks like 25% or more. Swimmers take their eating seriously and do it often. They love carbs. They need carbs for all the calories they’re burning. I want some of those carbs to be fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. So, I am prepared. Here is the strategy that works beautifully in our home:
Step #3 is imperative. “Be Prepared.” I have found if it’s already cleaned and in the main compartment of the fridge they are more likely to grab it. Teenagers, (and especially swimmers) will eat most anything but it has to be quick and easy. Otherwise, they go for crackers, chips, cookies, etc. With these containers in my fridge at all times, it’s easy to throw them on the table for snacking or at mealtimes. If your swimmer needs additional calories, pair them with hummus, cheese, or your favorite nut butter. It’s a win-win for everybody.
From my fridge to your fridge:
“I don’t have to tell you I love you. I fed you pancakes”
Who doesn’t love pancakes? Okay…I’m sure there are a few people out there who don’t LOVE pancakes, but I can’t trust those people. In our home, we always have a batch in the freezer…ready to heat-and-eat at any moment. There are hundreds of different pancake recipes out there. For ease and convenience, (because we’re feeding swimmers who can put away 5-6 pancakes per sitting without even blinking) we stick with the recipe on the back of the Bisquick box and add AdvoCare Muscle Gain.This gives our pancakes some “punch” by adding 48 grams of easily digestible protein.
Why is AdvoCare’s Muscle Gain better than your average protein powder?
• It’s delicious. I’ve choked down some gritty, not-so-yummy protein powders all in the name of good health. Not this protein powder.
• It’s versatile. Use it in pancakes, muffins, smoothies, cookies, waffles, iced coffee, cereal, baked sweet potatoes, or simply mix itwith water.
• It contains three types of protein (whey protein concentrate, calcium caseinate, and milk protein concentrate) which digest at different rates. Why does this matter? It means your muscles are getting fed over a longer period of time.
• Did I mention it’s delicious? And it comes in Vanilla and Chocolate.
Muscle Gain Pancakes
Make a double batch, because why would you want to clean all that up again two days later?
3½ cups Bisquick
2 cups milk
4 scoops vanilla Muscle Gain
• Cinnamon and vanilla
• ½ cup of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
• Flax seed
• Chopped bacon
• 3 tablespoons oil
• Mini chocolate chips
• Butter and syrup
• Peanut, Almond, or Sunbutter
• Real whipped cream
• Plain…as is. Hot off the griddle.
Go to our Advocare site at Advocare.com/10076259 to get some Muscle Gain.
The best pancake topping is more pancakes.
“I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry.”
For everyone out there feeding athletes and teenagers…I bring you Crock Pot Chicken.
For everyone who Ubers kids to and from practice, relearns algebra to help with homework, says no to that glass of wine so you can do a 10pm pick up on a Saturday night, or have made last minute runs to Michaels or Walgreens for the project DUE TOMORROW! Let’s make answering the eternal question of “What’s for dinner?” a little easier on ourselves. Enter….Crock Pot Chicken. Here’s the recipe(s):
Crock Pot Chicken
1 crock pot
3 lbs. chicken (breasts or thighs)
¼ cup oil
3/4 cup water
Seasoning of your choice
Cook until chicken shreds easily
You’re probably thinking, wait…what? This is not magic, Pam. This is chicken with marinade. Yes, you are correct. The magic is not the ingredients but the fact this gets made almost every Sunday at our house. THAT is the magic. What does Crock Pot Chicken mean? There’s always an answer to “What’s for dinner?” Even when I’ve worked all day. Even when my swimmers are on dinner #2 for the night.
Here’s our house-favorite combinations:
How do you get toddlers to eat green muffins? Call them Monster Muffins, of course. It also helps to make monster faces, growl like Frankenstein, and serve them on a Halloween plate.
With Tatum’s food allergies, I was always looking for ways to hide vegetables in everything I made for her. Monster Muffins is simply an adapted version of Better Homes and Gardens Zucchini Bread. It has spinach, zucchini, AdvoCare Muscle Gain, and reduced sugar. As teenagers, our kids still love them. I make a double batch and freeze them, (if they last that long). It’s a great grab & go snack after school or after practice. Add your favorite nut or sunbutter and you have a high calorie, delicious snack for hungry swimmers or teenagers.
Recipe for a double batch
2 ½ cups flour
3 scoops vanilla AdvoCare Muscle Gain
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp nutmeg
4 beaten eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup cooking oil
6 oz. bag of pureed spinach
1 ½ cups finely shredded unpeeled zucchini OR 2 cups finely shredded apples
Use mini loaf, cupcake, or mini cupcake pans. This recipe does not work well in large loaf pans due to the added water in the spinach. Spray mini loaf pans with PAM. Use cupcake liners for the muffins.
Combine dry ingredients (except for the sugar). Make a well in the center and set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients and sugar. Add this to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened, (batter may be lumpy).
Bake at 350 degrees until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack. This is important or condensation will build up. Yuck! Store in refrigerator.
Approximate cook times:
(I’m more of an “insert toothpick in the center” kinda girl. I took a guess at the times.)
Mini loaves: 25-30 minutes
Muffin pan: 18-22 minutes
Mini muffins: 10-13 minutes
Hints and tips when cooking w/ Muscle Gain: Things brown faster because of the added protein. About halfway through the cook time, I cover the muffins loosely with tin foil so the top doesn’t overbrown.
To order Muscle Gain go to Advocare.com/10076259 and go to Shop.
n. A pleasant or hearty greeting
v. To receive gladly and hospitably
ie. To make welcome
Welcome one and all to Teacher Pam’s corner of Hoff Force. When Brian asked me to be a part of this Hoff Force journey, I immediately thought of food. Because I love to eat. Because eating healthy doesn’t have to be a chore or take all your time. Because I have a daughter with food allergies. Because I love a plate full of colors. Because I have been feeding swimmers for 21 years. But mostly because I’m from a tiny, farm town in the Midwest and “Welcome” from where I come from means…you’re going to get a hug when you walk in the door and I’m going to feed you something.
So, welcome! My hope is you will find these tips, stories, and recipes helpful, because parenting takes a village and I could not do life without the amazing people I have met along the way. Welcome to our Hoff Force Village.
May all who enter as guests, leave as friends.
Check out our Advocare Page at