Faster than a…Nutribullet!

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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!

Kelly

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.

Kelly

Emergency Turkey Day Kitchen Substitutions

This handy chart came across my email from WearEver. I thought it was helpful and useful, and wanted to pass it along.

Enjoy!
Kelly

Cooking Emergency 411:

1 cup honey = 1 1/4 cups sugar + 1/4 cup liquid

1 cup whole milk = 1/2 cup evaporated milk + 1/2 cup water

1 tsp. lemon juice = 1/2 tsp. vinegar

1 cup butter = 1 cup margarine or 7/8 cup vegetable oil

1 cup yogurt = 1 cup buttermilk

1 Tbsp. flour (for thickening) = 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch or 2 tsps. quick-cooking tapioca

1 cup buttermilk = 1 or 2 Tbsps. lemon juice or or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup

1 Tbsp. fresh herbs = 1 tsp. dried herbs

1 square unsweetened chocolate = 3 Tbsp. cocoa plus 1 Tbsp. shortening

1 tsp. baking powder = 1/3 tsp. baking soda plus 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 cup all-purpose flour = 1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup brown sugar = 1 cup white sugar plus 2 Tbsp. molasses

1 egg = 1 heaping Tbsp. soy flour plus 1 Tbsp. water

1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tablespoon of dried minced onion = 1/4 cup raw minced onion

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!
Kelly

Recipe: Roasted Maple Cranberry Sauce

One week until the BIG day (Thanksgiving) and I have yet to actually sit down and plan a menu. I like to wait until the last minute, and I have no idea why I put that kind of stress on myself. But such is!

Honestly, I think I’m still in denial of the calendar and just how early Thanksgiving is this year. Usually my husbands birthday is thrown into the mix of things, but this year even that is a week later in the season than usual.

I thought I would recipe share today: Roasted Maple Cranberry Sauce. This is the sauce I made last year, and it turned out pretty good. It also does not include the typical ‘2 cups of sugar’ normal cranberry sauce calls for….YIKES!

This recipe comes from the book “The Best of Clean Eating” from the editors of Clean Eating Magazine. This will be on my Thanksgiving table this year. Well, I guess I have on thing planned!

Roasted Maple Cranberry Sauce

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp real maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 lime
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Place cranberries on a pie plate and drizzle with quarter cup maple syrup and water. Using a zester, peel strips of lime; stir into mixture.

Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350 degree F oven, stirring occasionally, until cranberries break and sauce is bubbly, about one hour. Remove from oven. Squeeze in juice from lime and stir in remaining two tablespoons syrup, along with shallot, tarragon, and salt.

Time-Saving Tip: The sauce will keep well, covered and refrigerated, for up to two weeks–the flavor will blend and improve the longer it sits. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Enjoy!
Kelly

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 takepart.com, 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.ย 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 takepart.com)

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, Maryโ€™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.”
Kelly

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

Menu:

  • 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

Menu:

  • 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?

Kelly

 

Recipe: Granola Bars

Today, I decided to catch up on some baking. The kids were happily eating lunch, so it was my quick 5 minute “window of opportunity.” (If your a mom of young kids, you know exactly what I’m talking about!)

I had checked out from the library “Happy Herbivore” by Lindsay Nixon. I found several recipes in the book that were easy to whip up and were quite tasty. However, sadly, the book had to be returned after 3 weeks.

A few months later, Amazon came up with a suggestion for me to buy (isn’t that convenient for them?) “Everyday Happy Herbivore: On the table in 30 minutes or less!” by Lindsay Nixon. Well, Amazon won that day, and I purchased the book.

I’ve tried several things from her book so far. Tonight I’m making the Veggie Lo Mein. But by far, my most favorite thing from her book has been the granola bars. I cannot say enough of how EASY these were to put together, stay together, healthy, tasty, yummy, fast…..should I go on? I would really have to challenge these bars against Chewy brand on taste. (They are similar in texture and taste to the brand.)

Today, I made three different flavors in about 15 minutes (plus, baking time). I’m not about spending all day on recipes unless it’s in a crock pot. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The recipe calls for “instant oats.” If you don’t have instant oats or want to use rolled-oats, the chefs notes on the page say “you can send rolled oats through your food processor [or blender] to grind them down into instant-oat consistency.”

Another item I used in my granola bars was the Enjoy Life chocolate chips. They are soy, nut and dairy free. (If you go to their website you can download a coupon for $0.55 off one of their products.) I like using the chocolate chips for a number of reasons, but one is that they don’t melt as much when baking as regular chocolate chips. The taste pretty much the same, but I think because they are lacking dairy, they don’t melt like regular ones. Anyways, they hold up really well in the granola bars so they don’t make a gooey mess.

Anyways, long intro, but here is the recipe! Enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚

Granola Bars (taken from “Everyday Happy Herbivore” by Lindsay Nixon p. 23)

  • 1 c. instant oats
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 2 Tbsp chocolate chips
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp raw sugar (optional: I didn’t use it…it was plenty sweet enough)

1. Stir all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. They will appear too dry at first, by they’re not—keep stroking

2. Once combined, let the batter rest while the oven preheats to 325F

3. Grease a bread pan [or use parchment paper] and pack mixture down firmly and tightly

4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden, firm, and light brown around the edges

5. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before cutting

Variations:

1. Peanut Butter Granola Bars: substitute 1 tablespoon of peanut butter for 1 tablespoon of applesauce. Combine peanut butter with applesauce and heat in microwave for 10 seconds so peanut butter softens. Whisk together and use as directed.

2. Use dried fruit instead of chocolate chips. Today I used dried cranberries.

Makes 5

Recipe: Vegan Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins (or Bread!)

Last week, a good friend of mine challenged me to find or come up with a recipe using cranberries. I have to admit, in the past, cranberries have never been my favorite. I have always passed over the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving feast. Even laced with huge amounts of sugar, they still tasted too tart for me.

Well, all that has changed, and I have actually learned to love cranberries! Last Thanksgiving, I did without the sugary cranberry sauce and made a pretty awesome Roasted Maple Syrup Cranberry sauce. Anyway, that’s for another time…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, my challenge: recipe using cranberries!

A friend of my friend (follow me here….) sent a recipe to me for Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins. It really looked great and very tasty. But alas, it called for “2 cups of sugar, white flour, oil, and eggs.” The title of the recipe really drew me in….cranberries and pumpkin….ahh! it just sums up this whole fall season! I knew I had to make it so my family could eat it.

I decided to use spelt flour. Spelt is an ancient wheat and is closely related to wheat. It also is equally measured in recipes to wheat. Our family has mostly avoided spelt because of it’s close ties to wheat and it does contain gluten. But, I decided to use this recipe as an experiment of tolerance. (I plan on remaking this recipe, in the future, using a true gluten-free wheat-free flour alternative.)

Vegan Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins (or Bread!)

  • 3 cups spelt flour
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 1 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. cloves
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 cup stevia/cane sugar mix
  • 15 oz. canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 4 T. chia seed gel
  • 1/2 c. orange juice
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

1. Chop up the fresh cranberries and soak them in the 1/2 cup orange juice for 20-30 minutes. This will help lessen that tartness of the cranberries.

2. Mix together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together canned pumpkin, applesauce, oil, and chia seed gel.

4. Blend together wet ingredients and dry ingredients. Using a hand mixer or mixer, blend for 2 minutes on medium.

5. Gently stir into muffin batter, cranberries and orange juice mixture. Stir until blended.

6. Pour mixture into muffin cups, makes about 30 muffins

OR

Pour mixture into 2- 8×4 inch loaf pans to make bread.

7. Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes for muffins, or 45-50 minutes for bread. Insert a toothpick to check to see if it’s done.

This recipe does make a lot. With a family of six, left overs is never a problem! But, if you do have left overs and can’t eat this much, freeze them! ๐Ÿ™‚ Bake and then store them in a freezer ziplock bags. Defrost them when your ready to eat them.

 

soaking the cranberries in orange juice

 

Waiting for the muffins to be finished

Enjoy,
Kelly