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

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

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

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.

Kelly

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.

Kelly

Crockpot Applesauce!

I have quite a good collection of cookbooks and cooking magazines. I look through old ones, often, to find new inspiration or to try something I may have missed before. Recently, I discovered Pinterest and now my recipe collection is growing exponentially via the virtual world. What can I say, I really love food!

One of my newest cookbooks is “The Vegan Slowcooker.” I got this as a gift, for my birthday, from my parents. (Thanks Dad and Mom!) I cannot say enough great things about this book! The author, Kathy, takes seemingly complex recipes, and makes it so simple by throwing all the items in the crockpot! This past weekend I tried her pumpkin puree, which was as easy as [pumpkin] pie. I have also made a split pea and lentil soup, from the book, that my kids couldn’t get enough of. She also runs a website, Healthy Slow Cooking.

After trying the pumpkin puree, and realizing the absolute power my slow cooker has, I looked around my kitchen for something else I could slow cook…..applesauce! This was so easy, I have no idea why I hadn’t done it before.

Homemade Applesauce

Ingredients:

  • 5-8 large apples (I used honey crisp)
  • Cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks (optional)
  • 1/2 cup water or juice

Directions:

Wash and peel the apples. Cut the apples into large chunks and place them in a crockpot. Add 1/2 cup water or juice (I used white grape) and pour it over the apples. Add cinnamon and season to taste (about 1-2 tsp), or add 2 cinnamon sticks. Turn crockpot on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours. When the apples are done, use a potato masher to mash up the apples. I prefer chunkier applesauce, but you can mash until it’s to your liking. 🙂 Enjoy warm or let it cool and keep it refrigerated. If you have leftovers, freeze it.

Yup, it’s that simple! I have a second batch cooking right now…..because the first batch seems to have disappeared. Huh, funny how that happens!

Enjoy!

Kelly

Pie pumpkin in a pot…yum, yum, yum!

My family loves pumpkin. Anything pumpkin…pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pancakes….you get it?
I had heard that making your own pumpkin puree was difficult. I really don’t know much more of why it was or what the deal was. Also, every recipe I looked at, said to use the dreaded kitchen tool I don’t have, the food processor.

While glancing through one of my new recipe books: “The Vegan Slowcooker,” I noticed a recipe for “pumpkin puree.” It really looked so simple so I decided to give it a try.

Basic recipe for Puree Pumpkin

(Taken from “The Vegan Slowcooker”)

“Wash the pumpkin, and poke holes in it for the steam to escape. Place it in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. When it’s ready, a fork should easily slide through the skin and the flesh.

Let the pumpkin cool until you can touch it without burning yourself. Move it to a cutting board, and slice it in half. Remove the seeds and pumpkin guts. Scrape the flesh into a food processor (or use a hand mixer, potato masher, or blender) and puree until smooth.”

I found a cute little pie pumpkin at the grocery store and fell in love. They are small and very festive looking for the fall. I decided to adopt him and bring him home with me to cook. 🙂 Pie pumpkins are much smaller than the regular jack-o’-lanterns. If you see one at the store, you’ll realize why I called it “cute.”

After the pumpkin was cooked and cool to touch, I broke it open and scraped out the seeds and “good stuff.” At this point, the pumpkin was cooked so perfectly, I didn’t even have to run it through a hand mixer or dirty up any more kitchen utensils. (YAY!) A fork made a good “masher” and broke up a chunks of pumpkin that were left.

At this point, I could’ve put it in a ziplock or container for future use (a.k.a. “pumpkin puree”). I decided to go ahead with making some pumpkin butter.

There was several recipes I found online that called for 1-2 cups of white sugar. Some called for brown sugar. But either way, I was trying to find a less sugar option for my pumpkin butter.

I found this recipe and modified it slightly because I was working with a whole pie pumpkin and not just a can of pumpkin puree. I added in 1/4 cup of honey as well as the agave nectar the recipe calls for.

Verdict: It turned out super yummy! Not too sweet either, which will be a great topping to some pancakes or gluten-free bread! Shawn said it tasted just like pumpkin pie. I’d say that’s a win! 😉

Kelly

A Few New Garden Friends

We have added to our garden. One thing nice about the south is you can garden pretty much all year without the fear of freezing your plants out….usually.

I got this new little guy from a co-worker. It’s an aloe plant. Haven’t checked out exactly what to do with it, but we are keeping it around for an occasional burn. It’s pretty to look at too. (and yes, I know it’s weird that the pot is sitting on 2 bricks. I’m still figuring out this gardening thing.)

We have a tomato! Yes, one tomato. I’m sure there will be more, but for now, I had to turn on the “micro/macro function” on the camera to get a good picture. But check it out

Here is another new plant friend we picked up at a “Big Boxed (orange) Store” on Saturday. It is a Satsuma Tree, which produces….satsumas. (duh!) They are baby-type-orange-things. We picked this tree out because it is cold and heat tolerate, but also it came with two oranges already on the tree. I figured if I keep watering it, I can at least get two pieces of fruit from it. Right?

And I feel like such a proud little momma, our cucumber plant has several flowers on it….which I think means, a baby cucumber will grow in it’s place. (This is as much of a learning process for the kids as for me!) Anyways, keep watering and maybe we’ll get a small crop!

Kelly

Meet Mr. Acorn Squash and a Recipe!

(graphic from: http://www.graphicshunt.com)

Someone PLEASE tell me that I am not the only one confused by the millions of kinds of squash that line the grocery store wall!! Especially in the fall, when it’s squash time!

Maybe I would care more if squash was “my thing,” but sadly it’s not. I love 99% of all fruits and vegetables. I am a natural plant lover. But squash, not so much my thing. Particularly the ones that are orange. Eww, total baby food.

I really want to like squash. Actually, I really want to love squash!!

There are so many kinds spread out in the produce section during this time of year, I just want to take them home and bake them all. But then it comes down to the actual act of putting it in my mouth and swallowing it. *sigh* I’m trying here, people.

Last week, I met a new squash friend. His name was Mr. Acorn Squash. “Hello…”

(graphic from: nutritionmythbusters.com)

He’s cute and festive looking for fall, right?

My four kids AND my husband had no idea who this Mr. Acorn Squash was, and what I going to do with him. But all their mouths drool over any kind of squash, so they watched me with eager eyes.

Simple Acorn Squash

  • 1 Acorn Squash
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Cut squash in half and scrap out seed cavity. Place cut side down on a baking dish and fill dish with 1/4-inch of water. Bake for 35 minutes. Turn squash over. Mix maple syrup, applesauce, and cinnamon in a bowl and fill the squash halves. Bake another 15 minutes.

The conclusion by the five other people that live in my house: a loud, resounding “YUM!”

My family loved it so much they made a whole meal of it.

I watched my family scarf down Mr. Acorn Squash, with a warm little heart that I made something they all enjoyed so much. Over in my corner of the table, though, I was quietly eating my apples and peanut butter.

…of course that was after my “no, thank you” bite. 😉

Kelly

 

Freezer Peaches…With Step-by-Step Directions!

Peaches are kind of a “June-thing” here in Texas. The super hot summers kill the fruit pretty quickly. Around the first week in June, our family packed up the car and headed out to Fredricksberg and grabbed up several boxes of white flesh peaches. We filled our fridge with peaches…and surprisingly, we ate all those peaches too! I think I only had to throw out one or two.

Peaches are “on sale” right now at the grocery store. The are grown local, but you can tell, just by feeling them, that the summer was hot. They are rock hard. But, I’m missing the taste of fresh peaches, and we have 9 months until the fresh new crop is ready. I know too, that as September drives on and winter gets closer, fruit prices are going to go up!

Last time we went to the store, I decided to buy about 30 peaches, even though they weren’t the best. I paid $1.19/pound.  (Can you see that I’m desperately holding onto the summer fruit!?!?) When I bought them, they were all rock hard. I let them sit out on the counter for a few days and thankfully they softened up some.

I really wanted to try canning them, but for some reason, canning fruit and vegetables is completely terrifying to me. I know it’s not that scary, but when I get to the part about “put the jar in the water bath for 20 minutes….” I just throw in the towel.

So, canning these peaches was out, and I decided to try freezing the peaches! This was so easy and I was able to make 8 quart-sized bags of peaches in about an hour. (and I should mention that during that hour, I was interrupted about 20 times and had to clean up 3 accidents…)

Directions:

Step One: Select a child to peel the stickers off of all the fruit. Preferably a younger one who thinks the fruit stickers are still cool. If you don’t have a young child, have an older one do the job and “pay them” with extra Wii-time 😉 If you don’t have a child in the house to do the job….well then, you know what you have to do.

Step Two: Wash fruit off and slice an “X” in the bottom of the fruit. This will help peel the peel off of the fruit. Which leads us to…..Step three.

Step Three: Blanch the peaches. Or if your like me, and have absolutely no idea how to blanch something, here’s what you do: Have a pot of boiling water and a pot of ice cold water right next to it. Put 4-5 peaches in the boiling water for 45-60 seconds. Remove peaches with a slotted spoon and immediately put them in the ice water.

Step Four: After the peaches have been sitting in the ice water for 1-3 minutes (or longer, if your me and have to go rescue a child from the roof of his playhouse…) gently pull away the peel of the peach. I found out the more ripe peaches, the better the peels separate.

Step Five: Stand back and admire your hard work of peeling the peaches without totally destroying the fruit. 🙂 “Ah, my Mom would be so proud….”

Step Six: Cut up your beautiful peaches and shove them into Ziplock freezer bags. I have been reading about how fruit can get freezer burn easily, so to avoid this, I used white grape juice as the liquid in the bag. You can make a syrup out of sugar and water, but that kind of defeats the purpose of fruit, right?…anyways, Pour white grape juice in the bag until it seemed full enough to cover the peaches, and then I closed it and labeled the bag.

Simple, right! Totally…..Maybe some day I’ll buck up and try canning, but until then, I’m totally diggin’ the freezer stuff!

Kelly