Faster than a…Nutribullet!

I am proud to say, that I am a new owner of a Nutribullet!

My parents surprised me with one for Christmas, and in the two months since, it has been very loved and used!

The approach of the Nutribullet is to take regular fruits, vegetable, nuts, and seeds, put them in the container and BLEND them to make a quick and easy smoothie to consume on the go. It blends the ingredients so small that it is very easy to drink.

Nutribullet suggests making a smoothie with 50% greens (such as spinach or kale), and the other 50% fruit. Finally sprinkle fats, such as nuts, over the top. Since we have been blending for quite some time now, I can tolerate the flavors of “green smoothies.” But if the idea of having a green smoothie isn’t your favorite, and you want the benefits of greens in your diet, Nutribullet suggests starting off with smoothies as low at 25% greens and work your way up as you get used to the flavor (or mindset!!!).

The great thing about mixing greens in with fruit…and I’ve said this time and time again on this blog!….you CANNOT taste the greens, especially a mild one like spinach, when you mix it with fruits. But you get the awesome benefits of the greens!

My favorite morning blend:

  • 1 hand full of spinach
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • a few chunks of pineapple
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of pumpkin (because I HATE orange/squash veggies…and know I need to get them somehow!)
  • 1 banana

Talk about your hardy breakfast!!! If I run that morning and need a few more carbs to keep me going for the morning, I might mix in 1/4 cup of oats.

Happy blending!



Dear Little Brother…

The daily writing prompt of today was:

“Picture the one person in the world you really wish were reading your blog. Write her or him a letter.”

I don’t really follow writing prompts, but decided to take today to do something a little out of the ordinary. This letter is to my “Little Brother.” I’ll keep his name a secret in case he IS actually reading my blog and would be totally embarrassed to see his name here. “Little Brother” and his wife just recently visited for Thanksgiving, and I meant to ask if he had glanced at my blog, since it began 6 months ago. Anyways, guess a letter to him would be good.

Alrighty! Okay, well, here it goes (take in mind that I come from a very, extremely sarcastic family….):

Dear Little Brother,

I really wish you were reading my blog. Why? Because I am your way-cool older sister.

Although you may have ZERO interest my blog subject, I do occasionally post pictures of your awesome nieces and nephews. I also have a Facebook page where I post pictures of your nieces and nephews and also blab about food. And on a side note, I do KNOW that you love food. I just witnessed you feasting, at my house, on my food at Thanksgiving. Well, guess what?! I talk about food, A LOT, on my blog! So, stop on by a take a read sometime. 😉

So, in summary: you like me so-so…READ MY BLOG. You love your nieces and nephews….READ MY BLOG. You like food and enjoy eating….READ MY BLOG.

With lots of love and sarcasm too,

Your Big Sister

MORE Basil!

Another bountiful harvest from our garden:

TONS of basil, some cherry/grape tomatoes, and a green pepper.

I only planted one….ONE…basil plant and we have had so much basil that I’m thinking of opening a corner store to sell it! That is one happy little plant and has given us the most return for our investment.

I’ve got enough dried basil to last me forever, that I started handing it out to people. I’ve run out of people to give it away too, so I started fresh freezing it to try something different. Basically, I chop it up super small, mix a tad bit of oil, put it in an ice cube tray, and freeze it. Simple, but it’ll give me something different to work with when my basil plant is done.

(Ummm, yes, that is a picture of the inside of my freezer…don’t judge me!)

Anyways, a time to be thankful, even if I have more basil than I know what to do with it.


Turkey Pickin’

Lots of confusing terms being thrown around the grocery store: “Free Range,” “Organic,” “Cage Free.” It’s hard to understand what it all means, what your actually buying, AND if it’s worth the price.

I ran across a great article in my cookbook “The Best of Clean Eating” that explains the differences in turkeys and what all the labels mean.

Heritage Turkey: “All heritage turkeys must be breed naturally and grow slowly over five to seven years for hens and three to five years for toms.” These birds are hard to find in grocery stores, but they are slowly making a come back due to the growing concern of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, Slow Food USA, and concerned farmers.

Free-Range Turkey: “According to the USDA ‘free range’ means that birds have ‘access’ to the outdoors. Above and beyond that, it’s up to the farmer to determine how often and how far the turkeys can actually roam.” Unfortunately the label makes it sound like they are happy little birds running around a farm. But that is far from the truth….usually. Most of the time they aren’t raised much different than the ‘normal’ turkeys. With a higher price tag, it’s hard to know exactly what your paying for. Best thing, do research on the farm before buying.

Organic Turkey: Most organic turkeys are the “luckiest of the bunch.” They are free from pesticides, chemicals, and antibiotics. Most are also free-range.

Fresh Turkey: The name says it all: fresh. They have never been “chilled below 26 degrees F —and that’s good because some experts argue that frozen turkeys are drier.”

Kosher Turkey: “Similar to organic turkeys, these birds are fed antibiotic-free grains and are allowed to roam freely. They’re processed under rabbinical supervision and soaked with a salt-brine that adds moisture and helps retain that moisture during cooking.”

Good luck picking out a turkey!

Gobble Gobble

Our family is mostly plant-based. We eat eggs a few times a week and maybe eat chicken or turkey twice a month. The rest of the time, all our food is fresh produce, a few grains, and beans. It’s a quite fulfilling diet and I never find monotony or lack of flavor or finding new things to try.

I came across this article today, on, that talks about turkeys and the “behind the scenes” story on where your main course will come from for your Thanksgiving meal. This just makes me sad and mad all at the same time:

No Room to Roam

  • Americans will consume 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving
  • Space is tight on the farm, so each turkey has about 3.5 square feet of space
  • “In 1970, the average turkey raised for meat weighed 17 pounds. Today, thanks to copious amounts of high-calorie feed, turkeys weigh up to 28 pounds and have such large breasts that they are unable to naturally reproduce. According to United Poultry Concerns, modern turkeys grow so quickly that if a seven-pound human baby grew at the same rate, the infant would weigh 1,500 pounds at just 18 weeks of age.”
  • “Millions of turkeys mean millions of pounds of waste. In Ohio, one turkey farm alone produces four million pounds of manure per year.”

(Quotes taken from

So the solution for the turkey eaters? Buy a humanly raise turkey.

The article suggests: “Free-range, organic, and heritage turkeys are available online and in local farms. Local Harvest has a comprehensive list of organic, pastured, and heritage turkey sellers in every city. If you prefer your turkeys to stay in the family, Mary’s Turkey raises their heritage and organic turkeys in a stress-free environment that is four times the size of the average commercial ranch. One of the largest vendors of heritage turkeys, Heritage Foods USA, works with farms all over the country to process about 7,500 Heritage turkeys each November.”

Happy Thanksgiving….2009!?!

Two weeks from today is Thanksgiving. The holiday is meant to be a time of Thanksgiving—meaning giving THANKS for the blessings God has provided for us.

Thanksgiving also means a time a feasting (a.k.a. over eating), watching football, time with family and friends, and parades (my hubby hates watching parades, so I had to throw this one in because I love watching them!).

Whether your Thanksgiving is just you or 20 family members and friends. Or if you celebrate with a “tofu-turkey,” regular ol’ turkey, fried turkey, tur-ducken, or whatever….chances are we all will bond on that day with the same old feeling after indulging in a large meal: naptime!

I have been host of our family’s Thanksgiving for several years now. It’s a wonderful time to have all my side of the family stayin’ cozy in our house and eatin’ lots of good food. Our Thanksgivings have changed over the past few years. I am a geek and have actually kept my menu planning notes from all the Thanksgivings I’ve hosted. (Please don’t make fun of me…) I decided to share a few:

Happy Thanksgiving 2009


  • Turkey with stuffing (oven baked with skin on and stuffed with Pepperidge Farm Stuffing.)
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Green bean casserole
  • Rolls
  • Carrots (probably soaking in butter…)
  • Sweet potato pie (the ones with the marshmallows)
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake
  • Schwans Pecan Pie (*gringe!*)
  • Pumpkin cookies

The menu probably wasn’t much different than most Americans.

Well, in 2011, I decided to change it up a bit. Our menu looked a little different because Shawn and I had made some diet changes. It really would’ve been a great blogging opportunity…”How to Celebrate Thanksgiving without Several Traditional Items on the Menu.” I checked first with the family to make sure it was okay to change it up. They all said they were okay with it, so I pushed forward:

Happy Thanksgiving 2011


  • Turkey (oven roasted without stuffing)
  • Mashed potatoes with gravy (using arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch)
  • Sauteed green beans with onions
  • Butternut squash
  • Mashed sweet potatoes (minus the sugar and the marshmallows!)
  • Cranberry sauce (using maple syrup for the sweetener)
  • Cranberry bread (using coconut flour)
  • Pumpkin pie (using a grain-free crust)

The point wasn’t to buck-traditional items and make them taste funny, it was to see if I could do it. It was my personal challenge: could I really make a healthier Thanksgiving dinner that tasted awesome.

My personal feelings on Thanksgiving and eating off the normal diet has not changed. I believe it is okay to have one day, or meal, of indulgence. It is the continuous indulgences that make the scale go up…not just the one special Thursday meal.

I have two weeks to plan the big day, and I plan on continuing my personal challenge, to make a healthier Thanksgiving dinner.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving?



Holy Basil, Batman!

Another small….er, rather LARGE….crop from my container garden. (YIPPY!)

Because of the recent rain that we’ve been getting, our little garden has completely taken off. The basil plant is about triple the size it was month ago when I planted it. It has now paid for itself. I have had several harvests similar to the one pictured above. I thought about making some pesto sauce, but I needed some dried basil anyways, so I dried it and have used it in soup. I also have had plenty to share with friends and my parents.

On the left side of this picture is lettuce. Whoo-hoo, we have enough for two bites! 😉 It has been a little slower in growth, but the tender growth makes for a nice mild salad. I’ll take it! This is our first year with a garden and so it’s all a learning process.


Chick-fila Sides: Uncovered

Chick-fila. Gotta love them! 😉 Healthy eating? Or is it…?

My investigation into their sides came from a comment my Dad made to me about choosing to eat the Cole Slaw over the fries because it’s a healthier option. I really wasn’t too sure about that. Salads can be full of hidden unhealthy stuff, all wrapped up into a cut little package called “salad.” Salad does not equal healthy!

But I had to check out the sides at Chick-fila to find out if Cole Slaw was really a healthier option to fries.

Here’s the breakdown:

File:ChickFilA-Fries.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaMedium Waffle Fries

Ingredient list: Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, palm oil), disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate (to promote color retention), dextrose, canola oil (canola oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness and dimethylpolysiloxane, an anti-foaming agent added)

  • 390 calories
  • 20 g fat
  • 3 g saturated fat
  • 0 g trans fat
  • 3 g fiber
  • 0 g sugar
  • 4 g protein
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 150 mg sodium

Medium Cole Slaw

Ingredient List: Cabbage, coleslaw dressing (soybean oil, sugar, water, distilled vinegar, egg yolk, salt, cider vinegar, lemon juice concentrate, spices [including mustard seed], dehydrated garlic, calcium disodium EDTA added to protect flavor, natural flavor), carrots.

  • 360 calories
  • 31 g fat
  • 5 g saturated fat
  • 0 g trans fat
  • 3 g fiber
  • 16 g sugar
  • 20 mg cholesterol
  • 280 g sodium

(Information taken from Chick-fila)

I am NOT promoting eating Chick-fila, but I feel like my find was worth a blog post. Fries are bad for you (duh!), but actually the Cole Slaw just might be worse for you than fries! The reason why the Cole Slaw is a “diet killer” is found in the dressing. Sliced cabbage would be a great addition to a chicken sandwich but unfortunately the cabbage is swimming in dressing and takes something healthy and makes it unhealthy.

So, what to eat for a side at Chick-fila? (…if you have to eat there….)

A side salad or fruit salad.

The carrot raisin salad would be a third option, but I have a really hard time promoting something that has mayo and high fructose corn syrup in it!

Happy Eating!



How to Prepare a Gluten-free Thanksgiving

Yes, it’s early….


YES, it’s possible!

This will be the second year of holidays with eating gluten-free and other “weird” free stuff. Our biggest challenge last year was gravy. Making homemade gravy with no corn starch or flour just about sent my Mom and I to the crazy-house. 😉 It was a challenge by my family was on board with supporting….and they were eating at my house, so I’m sure they were just happy not to have to cook for 10 people.

This press-release just came across my email and it got me thinking about the upcoming holidays:

Thanksgiving is one particular holiday where there is always plenty of food on the table. However, hosts may find themselves stumped when preparing a “gluten-free” Thanksgiving dinner. What should be avoided? How can families create a meal that everyone will be able to enjoy? Dr. Kristen Bobik, founder of Balance Chiropractic and Wellness Practitioners, has the following tips on identifying small changes that can be made to ensure Thanksgiving staples remain delicious and most importantly, safe. Recipes are also included at the end of the article.

·         THE TURKEY– Turkeys don’t have any bread or pasta in them but not all turkeys are created equal. Some turkeys are injected with flavorings/preservatives containing gluten so make sure to read the label or contact the company in advance.

·         THE GRAVY– Make the gravy from turkey drippings using corn starch or gluten-free flour as the thickener.

·         THE STUFFING– The core ingredient in stuffing is dried bread, so this will need some gluten free modifications. Purchase a gluten-free mix from a local gluten free bakery such as Apple Gluten Free Kitchen.  Check for gluten in the stuffing’s sausage and get gluten-free turkey stock: Kitchen Basic Gluten Free Turkey Stock is available at Jewel stores.

·         THE CRANBERRY SAUCE– Instead of using a sugar-filled, preservative-full fruit sauce that comes from a can, make homemade raw cranberry sauce to ensure no contaminants!

·         THE SIDES– The more fresh, colorful veggies the better! A green bean casserole contains soup (not gluten-free) and onion toppings. To make gluten-free, substitute crumbled “funions” for the onion topping, and purchase a gluten-free soup from a local food store. In the Chicagoland area, Fruitful Yield stores will have a complete green bean casserole mix! If serving bread/rolls, gluten-free options are available at practically any store.

·         THE PUMPKIN PIE– Pie crust is not gluten-free, so modifications are necessary. Use crumbled gluten-free graham crackers (or gluten-free gingerbread cookies) as a substitute in a pie crust recipe. Or, pre-made gluten-free pie crusts are available at Whole Foods.


Homemade Raw Cranberry Sauce-In a food processor, add 1 orange (remove peel and seeds), 1 lemon (remove peel and seeds), 4 dates (pitted and chopped). Slowly add 2 cups fresh cranberries and process until coarsely chopped.  To make less tart, add more dates! 

Butternut Squash- Ingredients: 1 butternut squash, 1 tbsp. coconut oil, 2 tbsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. raw honey. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Place one half face down in a small glass baking dish with 1 inch of water. Microwave on high for about 6 minutes, to slightly soften the squash. Remove and cool. Remove outer skin of squash, and cut into 1 inch cubes. Add coconut oil to a pan, heat on medium. Add squash, cinnamon, honey. Cook until mostly soft and serve. 

Thanksgiving Green Beans- Steam 1 lb. fresh green beans for about 8 minutes (about half-done). Meanwhile, prepare ingredients for your skillet: 1 tbsp. coconut oil, 1/2 tsp. sea salt, 1/4 cup hazelnuts (finely chopped), zest of one lemon, 2 tbsp. chopped rosemary. Add those ingredients to the skillet, on medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add green beans, coat, and cook for about 5 more minutes. Serve and enjoy! 

Gluten Free Kale and CranberriesIngredients: 2 large bunches of kale, 1/4 c. pine nuts, 1/4 c. dried cranberries, 3 tbsp. olive oil. Steam kale until bright green. Meanwhile, toast pine nuts until golden brown. Allow both to cool, then mix together in a large serving bowl. Add cranberries and olive oil, serve. 

Pumpkin Pie- Filling Ingredients: 1 can pumpkin puree (or 1  3/4  c. fresh home made pumpkin puree), 2 eggs, 1/2 c. raw honey, 1/2 c. coconut milk, 2 tbsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves, 1/4 tsp. fresh grated ginger. Crust Ingredients: 1 c. pecans, 1/2 c. hazelnuts, 4 tbsp. coconut oil, pinch of sea salt. Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 F. Process nuts in food processor until flour like consistency. In a bowl, mix nuts, salt, and coconut oil – then spread the crust mixture into a pie pan and bake for 10 minutes. Mix all filling ingredients in a bowl. Fill evenly into the baked crust and bake additional 45 minutes.


Wellness Party

Yesterday, I hosted a Healthy Eating Open House at my house. It was a small party, and it was a time to just meet some new friends, talk about food (who doesn’t love food?!?!), and try some good food.

I had gotten this idea of a Open House from Holly at My Plant Based Family, who started a Healthy Cravings Group with some ladies from her church. It was so inspiring to read how she made good food for people, that was of course good for the body too, and used that as a tool to help others regain their health.

Grandma and Hannah making some goodies

Our Open House was simple and thankfully I had the help from parents, who were in town.

The menu for the evening was:

Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing(the cilantro was FRESH from my garden!)

White Bean Chili with Jalapeno and Lime (from the “Forks over Knives” cookbook)

Gluten-free Pumpkin Bread 

Sweet Potato Hummus with cut vegetable and Lentil Chips

Chocolate Earth Balls

Chocolate Chip Cookies from “Babycakes”

My friend, Angela, came and helped host the party. She is very passionate about health and wellness. This is the second party that we’ve done together. The first one was this past summer. She is HUGE into eating all our fruits and veggies everyday. A big part of her eating healthy passion led her to Juice Plus. She is a distributor for their vitamins and vegetable based protein powder, but honestly just loves talking about living a healthy and happy lifestyle.

One conversation that kept coming up was how we all enjoyed eating good food. Unfortunately, good food is often associated with high calories, fat, and sugar. It doesn’t have to be that way. I, like millions of people, LOVE to eat. I love to eat GOOD food too! I am very passionate, as well, as spreading the word that good tasting food can be good for you food too.

Angela had made and brought over some of her “Juice Plus Protein Powder Bars” which could pretty much pass for fudge….NOT KIDDING, they are really that awesome! It’s hard to believe that in each homemade bar you are getting a serving of protein, vegetables, some good carbs (oats), as well as a little healthy fat (natural peanut butter).

The best quote of the evening came from my Dad, after he had tried one of the bars: “WOW! It tastes like something I probably shouldn’t be eating!” (Love it, Dad, thanks for giving me some good lines for my blog 😉 )

My girls were such super helpers too. It’s cute to see them apply the things that Shawn and I have taught them about food. They made some signs for all my goodies and for promotion of my party.