Sugarless Whole Wheat Banana Bread with Flax Seed

A huge part of being organized through the week is preparation.  Putting clothes out for a week (or even just the night before), meal planning, food prep and packing lunches the night before.  You have to plan, plan, plan. 

Sunday nights are my food prep night.  Cut up celery and carrots and put them in baggies.  Wash fruit so it’s easy to grab as a quick snack.  If the next night is a Crock Pot meal, put all the ingredients together in a plastic bowl and place in fridge so you can just toss in the Crock Pot in the morning and go.  Cook up breakfast for the week (hard boiled eggs, mini quiches, pancakes, etc). 

During food prep I noticed I had three over ripe bananas in my fruit basket.  Banana bread sounded fabulous for breakfasts!  I looked up the recipe and thought to myself, I can do this healthier.  So here is the recipe for a Sugarless Whole Wheat Banana Bread with Flax Seed. 


1.  Take 3 over ripe bananas and peel them.  Mash them up in a mixing bowl. 


2. Add in two cups of Whole Wheat Flour.


3.  Add two eggs.


4. Add one cup of olive oil.  (Or you could use coconut oil if desired- just NO vegetable oil)


5.  Add 3/4 cup of honey.  Local honey is most beneficial- health and economy wise!  Did you know you can substitute honey for sugar in any recipe?  3/4 cup of honey for every cup of sugar! 


6.  Add in one teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Did you know that baking soda attracts and traps foul odors?  If your box has been open for more than 30 days, toss it and open a new box!


7.  Add in 1/4 cup of flaxseed (ground or whole). 


8.  Mix until all ingredients are well combined into a moist batter.  Pour into a greased loaf pan. 


9.  Place pan in oven pre-heated at 350 degrees.  Bake until butter knife stuck in the middle of the loaf comes out clean (approx 30-35 minutes).  Serve with a pat of butter (no margarine!) or slices of fresh strawberries on top!  YUM!


Ingredient List:

  • 3 over ripe bananas
  • 2 cups of Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of honey
  • 1 cup of olive or coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup of flaxseed (ground or whole)

Family Fun Weekend Events: 3/15/13–3/17/13

What a great weekend for FREE family fun! I am going to start posting Family Fun Events on Thursday with the increase of Friday events to give people time to plan! 

  • Omega-Man & Friends Anti-Bullying presentation: Friday March 15th, 6:30 pm at the South Jefferson Mannsville-Manor Elementary school in Mannsville, NY.  FREE pizza dinner starts at 5:30 in the cafeteria.  World class athletes will send a positive message to kids about being a Dream-Maker, not a Dream-Breaker.  All FREE!!

  • 2013 Irish Festival: Friday March 15th – Sunday March 17th at the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown.  A parade, Irish step-dancing, Celtic Kids Zone with an Irish story teller and more!  For a full schedule of events or more info click here.  $ 6.00 admission Friday & Saturday (12 & under FREE), Sunday is $ 6.00 per family or $ 2.00 per individual. 

  • NYS Maple Weekend: Saturday March 16th & Sunday March 17th 10am – 4pm; Experience first-hand how maple products go from tree to table for FREE!!  Click here for a list of maple producers who are participating in this event. 

Maple Weekend


Family Fun at Home Idea: Try a fun science project that also “plants” a foundation for interest in self-sustaining and gardening in your children.  Click here for a list of foods that can be grown with kitchen scraps.  Pick something you have at home and with your children, follow the instructions on how to prepare it for regrowth! 

Weekly Meal Plan

After posting on my personal Facebook page about what I was having for dinner, I was surprised at the amount of comments left by friends.  It seems that one of the hardest things is coming up with new recipes to try out.  I know most of you are like me- tired, not gourmet chefs but wanting yummy & healthy dinners that don’t take hours to prep & cook.  I am anti-measurement so I rarely will have specific measurements in my recipes.  So here is this week’s meal plan:

  • Orange Shrimp with Asparagus & Brown Rice: Coat bottom of deep pan with olive oil.  Add fresh asparagus to pan and cover.  Cook on low, occasionally stirring until asparagus is soft and cooked thru.  Remove asparagus from pan, add cleaned shrimp with tails removed to pan and sauté in the remaining olive oil.  Once shrimp is thoroughly cooked, add sections of seedless oranges, the asparagus and orange stir fry sauce.  Cover and cook until stir fry sauce is completely warmed.  Serve over brown rice. 
  • Chicken Fajitas:  Slice up boneless chicken breasts and cook thoroughly with olive oil in pan.  Slice up a green pepper, red pepper and onion.  Sauté in olive oil in separate pan while chicken cooks.  Combine once completely cooked and add fajita seasoning if desired.  Serve over brown or flavored rice with shred cheese, sour cream, salsa and tortilla wraps. 
  • Chicken Parmesan: Place defrosted boneless chicken in Crock Pot in morning.  Cover with spaghetti sauce, cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Serve with a side of whole wheat spaghetti.  Add a slice of mozzarella cheese and spoon sauce over to melt.  Sprinkle with oregano and grated cheese. 
  • Calzones: I buy pizza dough when it is Buy One, Get Two free and then freeze it.  Thaw out dough, roll out into oval shape.  Use whatever toppings you wish- veggie delight, buffalo chicken or pepperoni lovers.  Add a small amount of sauce, ricotta or mozzarella cheese.  Fold dough over to create the calzone pocket.  Pinch the edges together and bake at 375 degrees until the crust is golden brown.  Serve with warmed sauce on the side for dipping.
  • Cauliflower Shepherd’s Pie:  Watching carbs?  Try using mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes in your shepherd’s pie.  Boil then mash the cauliflower, spread at the bottom of a glass casserole dish.  Cook up hamburg (we use ground venison) and then layer that on top of the mashed cauliflower.  Layer frozen corn on top of the meat.  Next layer is beef or au jus gravy.  Place in preheated oven at 375 for 25 minutes.  Take over, sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top and bake for another five minutes. 
  • Chicken Stuffing Casserole: Prepare stuffing (homemade or Stove Top- whichever you prefer).  Cube up boneless chicken.  Take chicken, 1 can of cream of chicken soup (or make your own- way healthier), 1/3 cup of Sour Cream & one bag of frozen mixed veggies and mix.  Place in glass casserole dish, top with stuffing.  Back 30 minutes at 400 degrees or until chicken is cooked through. 
  • Pork Chops and Mac n Cheese: Prepare pork chops as preferred.  I like mine in the Crock Pot all day long with BBQ sauce.  Take two cups UNCOOKED macaroni, a block of cubed sharp cheese, 8oz cottage cheese, 2 cups of water & mix together in a glass casserole dish.  Sprinkle salt & pepper to taste, add a few slabs of butter to the top of the mac n cheese, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.  Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes. 

Did you know 25% of Americans eat fast food every day?  Billions of dollars are spent on fast food every year.  Keep that money in your pocket and meal plan for dinners at home!  If you plan ahead you are much more likely to avoid eating out!

Family Fun Weekend Events: 3/8/13 – 3/10/13


Tickets: $10 – $15

(All seats reserved)
($3 per ticket student discount)

Garry Krinsky is a zany, multi-talented New Vaudevillian who just happens to love science. Toying with Science is a fast-paced, varied and dynamic program combining circus skills, daring feats of balance, mime, original music, and audience involvement to explore gravity, leverage, fulcrums and simple machines.  His science toys come to life with motion, music, humor and insight, while he turns audience members into stars.

WHAT: The Belleville Henderson Music Department presents “The Wizard of Oz.”
WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Belleville Henderson Central School auditorium, 8372 County Route 75, Belleville.
COST: $6 for adults and $3 for students.

(There are several school plays performing this weekend.  Click here for a listing of events.)


Visitors will participate in a guided hike through the woods looking for signs that winter is coming to an end. Following the hike there will be a seed planting activity at the museum.

Phone: (315) 482-2479

  • Family Fun at Home Idea:  Create your own Easter Baskets! 

With materials at home, have some craft time with the kids and make their Easter Baskets to leave out for the Easter Bunny to fill at the end of this month!  Here are some links to give you ideas- but get creative!

Easter Basket Ideas Link # 1

Milk jug Easter bunny basket

Easter Basket Ideas Link # 2

Colorful Button Easter Basket

Easter Basket Ideas Link # 3

My Tops Experience!

Any Penny Pincher who closely follows the page knows that I LOVE Price Chopper!  I am a fan of the great sales they have and the coupons they offer for produce and meat departments. 

However, any successful Penny Pincher also knows they have to follow the sales of all stores in order to score the best deals.  I have been hearing a lot of great things about Tops Supermarkets that got my curiosity hungry! 

Sunday’s paper secured the deal with the Tops ad.   Buy a big package of boneless chicken and get NINE items for FREE!  Click here for that deal’s details. 

So off to Pulaski I went.  I posted on Facebook how giddy I was to be branching out and trying out new things.  A friend commented that she thought Tops was expensive.  My opinion on that?  Groceries are expensive across the board.  Especially when you try to integrate as much fresh produce as possible into your diet and eliminate processed foods.  That is why you must sale shop and the most successful couponers/ penny pinchers store hop and don’t do one-stop-shopping. 

My overall opinion of Tops was favorable.  I was quite impressed that they give you FOUR coupon doublers when they offer them and that the in-store ad’s have the doublers included (Price Chopper’s do not).  The store was clean and had a smooth flow to the set up.  The produce had a good selection of ripe fruit.  Far too often at Price Chopper and Big M both have I found fruit with mold on it.  I did not have that problem at Tops.  For those who avoid Gluten there was a decent selection of Gluten Free foods available. 

I was in a hurry and very unprepared for this week’s shopping trip.  I went in armed with only 8 coupons (4 doublers) and ended up still saving over $ 80 on my grocery bill.  I will be returning to Tops in Pulaski and eagerly await the opening in Adams.  Make sure you sign up for your Tops store card to score the best deals!  It is similar to the AdvantEdge card at Price Chopper. 

(P.S. Did you know that Price Chopper will honor the Tops coupon doublers?  Click here to print off your doublers!)

Q&A: Melanie Cumoletti, Rock Star Coach

1. Introduce yourself and what it is you do:  I’m Melanie Cumoletti, encourager, motivator, health coach, wife and mommy doing what I LOVE and enjoying every minute of it!

2. Why did you decide to go in this path in life?  My God given calling in life is to light a fire in people to push them on to their full potential. I have the opportunity every day to encourage women to go after their dreams to see them come true and let me tell you, it’s so much fun.

3. What do you think most people need to be successful in their weight loss goals?  A solid reason for getting started, a solid program to follow and somebody by their side to help them through their rough days. Let’s face it, everybody has rough days!

4. Why do people fail so often at weight loss attempts?  There is so much conflicting information that really weighs in on people when they are trying to get healthy. I mean, seriously, Dr. Oz has even posted conflicting stuff that really just makes people give up! When I first tried to lose weight, I worked out for 3 weeks and didn’t drop an ounce. It felt so terrible to work so hard for something and not to think that anything was coming from it. I didn’t see ANY change. People get bogged down with so much information that they have no idea where to start, or what will work vs. what is a gimmick and so often, they just don’t have any kind of support system that works for them when they are at a low point – to help them get through it and on to their success. So many people give up when they ONLY look at the scale and don’t understand why the number won’t go down. Most people don’t have a coach or a support system set up to help them succeed. I love what I do, because it works! I talk people through their bad days. I explain what their body is doing and why and I get them onto their success!

5. From a personal point of view, what has been the best part of your own health journey?  I’m not going to lie, the 49lbs lost was really great. But, I think the very best moment I’ve had in this is that very first time that I was able to play ‘chase’ with my kiddos and they laughed so hard they could have peed their pants, but that awesome part was that I was able to wear them out! That had NEVER happened in my life. I welled up with tears…I knew that I was in this for life after that. Their smiles and happiness with that simple little thing with me made this whole thing worth it.

Ok, ok, one more GREAT part – the day my husband picked me up and threw me over his shoulder. Seriously, if he would have attempted that before I lost weight, he wouldn’t be here today, lol!

6. Where can people go to learn more about what services you offer?  I’m on Facebook daily and always posting free tips for weight loss and healthy living at or they can go to my web page at

7. Now some fun questions. What is your favorite food?  Sushi, hands down

8. How do you spend your “Me” time?  What’s that? Just kidding 😉 My me time is first thing in the am when I work out. And when I’m winding down, I research and study everything. Right now, my ‘me’ time is training to be a Master Gardner…I know, I know. But I love learning new things and meeting new people and embracing life.

9. Who is your hero?  JC. That’s right, I said it, Jesus Christ. My life is renewed daily because of Him and I’m able to give so much to others because He fills my cup- I really can’t compare anybody else.

10. What is the one material item you cannot live without?  Haha – Hair straightener (my hair is CRAZY without it) and I’m totally adding another one here – my Mac! I love it!

Sample Recipe that Melanie provides on her blog/Facebook page:

Mini Candy Bars that WON’T break your diet! You can find the full write up on my blog at


Feel free to SHARE the video!!!!!!!!


Happy March!  Looking for plans for the weekend?  Check out the Penny Pinching Parents’ Family Fun Weekend Events for 3/1/13- 3/3/13:

  • Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!  Celebrate the birthday of this brilliant author of classic beloved childrens’ books such as Cat in the Hat and Hop on Pop by joining the Adams Free Library on Saturday March 2nd, 2013 from 10:00 until 11:00 am for activities and a snack!  Pre-register (so they have enough supplies on hand) by calling (315) 232-2265.

  • Harlem Superstars versus the Watertown “Dream Team” Basketball Game!  Saturday March 2nd at 7pm at the Watertown Case Middle School to benefit the WHS Girls Lacrosse Team.  Tickets are $8.00 at the door. 

  • Ceramic Egg Painting Classes Hosted by North Country Arts Council, taught by Ursula Mickel, 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 2, for ages 5 to 12, and 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 8, for teens to adult, both at Arts on the Square, Franklin Building, 52 Public Square. Class fee, includes ceramic egg, materials, kiln firing: $25; members, $20. Registration deadline: Saturday, Feb. 23, 661-6361 or

  • Fun at Home Idea:  Make a new recipe together as a family!  Whether it be baked goods or dinner, pick something that everyone thinks looks great and put emphasis on teamwork to make the recipe come together!  There are so many yummy ideas on Pinterest!  Post a picture of what you make if you decide to do this!

R.E.A.L (Read, Eat and Love- Free Kindle eBooks): Bonus! Cheap music!

**Please keep in mind that any items on Kindle are subject to change at any time. Please be sure the button says FREE before hitting buy now.**

Children’s Book:  Horatio’s One Wish: A Tale of One Heroic Hedgehog, Two Loyal Hamsters, and a Missing River Otter by Joshua Kriesberg (Author), James Bernardin (Illustrator)

Horatio's One Wish: A Tale of One Heroic Hedgehog, Two Loyal Hamsters, and a Missing River Otter.

Cookbook/Recipe: 30 Lowfat Recipe II by Tony Pine

30 Low Fat Recipes II

Non-fiction/Lifestyle: Being Gorgeous!  50 of the Best Home-Made Beauty Treatments to Save You Money by Lorraine M. Harding

Being Gorgeous!! 50 of the Best Home-Made Beauty Treatments to Save You Money. (Health Series)

Romance Book: Always by Deb Stover


Fiction: Family Man by Sarah Noel

Family Man

Amazon has great hits for only 50 cents per song right now!  Download to the Cloud and you can upload to any music device or burn to a CD!

Thrift Store (Explicit) by Macklemore

Lonely Boy by The Black Keys

Locked Out of Heaven by Bruno Mars

We Are Young by Fun

Ho Hey by The Lumineers

And many more!

Family Fun Events: 2/22/13 thru 2/24/13

Last weekend of February!  Spring here we come!  Soon we will be planning trips to the park and splashing in Lake Ontario!  Some people just can’t wait to splash in the water- the contestants for the 23rd Annual Polar Bear Dip to benefit the River Hospital!  Saturday February 23rd, 2013, dipping starts at 1:00pm at Bonnie Castle Resort in Alex Bay!  Click here for more details!


I also want to highlight several area benefits this weekend:

  • First Annual Maddie’s Mark Carnival, Sunday 2/24/13 11am-4pm at the Northside Improvement League in Watertown.  Face painting, a clown, a magician, games, food, raffles- oh my!  $ 2.00 per person or $10.00 per family admission.  If you are going to do anything this weekend, I strongly suggest this carnival.  To learn more about the event and Maddie’s story, click here
  • Nicholas Larmie Fundraiser, Saturday 2/23/13 4pm-8pm at the American Legion in Adams.  Food, raffles, DJ, bake sale, auction and much more!  To learn more about the event and Nicholas’ story, click here
  • Zumba for Robert Piper, Saturday 2/23/13 1pm-3pm at the South Jefferson High School in Adams.  $ 8.00 per person to Zumba, $ 5.00 per middle/high school student.  Raffles and bake sale as well!  To learn more about the event and Robert’s story click here

**New this week:  Fun idea at home!  Starting this week I will also feature a fun idea or craft to do at home!  Nothing says thrifty like staying at home and having fun!  Like I said, spring is coming!  Bundle up and get outside and enjoy the snow before it’s gone!  Build a snowman, have a snowball fight, make snow angels! 

Hop Aboard the Easter Bunny Express!!

Take your good little bunnies down the trail to the Adirondack Scenic Railroad to take a ride on the Easter Bunny Train!  One day only!  March 30th at 10:00 am, 12:00  pm and 2:00pm departing from the Utica Train Station.  Tickets are $ 12.00 adults and $ 10.00 for youth (ages 2-12).  Meet the Easter Bunny, hunt for eggs and experience an unforgettable train ride!  For more info or to buy tickets click here.