Smoothies!

Smoothies are a mom’s best friend! I’ve always loved breakfast smoothies for myself for many reasons: they are so easy, I never run out of the ingredients, they give me energy and fill me up without weighing my down at the start of the day, and did I mention they are easy – just to name a few!
When I became a mom to toddlers, my love for smoothies only increased. With our first little guy J, I couldn’t fill him up! He was constantly hungry and he had a problem with chewing which had my Heimlich maneuver on standby at all times – not to mention my nerves a wreck when he ate anything close to age appropriate bites. Snacks in particular were an issue because I couldn’t just give him a snack to eat; I’d need to be watching. Then with our second baby, JoJo, we had the opposite issue of her never wanting to eat. Bring on the patience, sister!
So anyways, I needed to get creative. I have to credit J for the idea because he’s the one that originally asked to taste my green smoothie and why I hadn’t thought to let him try it before is beyond me! HE LOVED IT!! So this is where our “smoothies for toddlers” got its start!
I wanted to share a few of our family’s favorite recipes with y’all. A few sweet friends have asked me recently to write a post on this so here goes:
** Note: We only drink coconut milk for our milk so that’s what I’m writing on these recipes, but any kind of milk is totally fine – it substitutes equally. I also will use coconut water. Regular water works to but I like the added benefits of the coconut milk/water.
Blend all ingredients in each recipe until smooth, add a fun straw, and ENJOY!
Just Peachy
8 – 10oz coconut milk
1C kale
1C spinach
1 banana
1/2C frozen peaches
Tropical Greens
8 – 10oz coconut water
2 C kale
1 banana
1 C frozen pineapple
big splash of orange juice
Berry Blast
8 – 10oz coconut milk
1 C kale
1 C spinach
1 ½ C frozen mixed berries
juice of half a lemon
Peanut Butter and Banana
8 – 10oz coconut milk
½ C spinach
2 frozen bananas
2 TBS peanut butter powder (our favorite is by Just Great Stuff)
Greek Goodness
8 oz coconut milk
¼ C (2oz) Greek yogurt
1 C spinach
1 C frozen berries
1 banana
1 TSP chia seeds
Peanut Butter & Jelly
8 – 10oz coconut milk
½ C spinach
2 TBSP peanut butter powder
1 C frozen berries
Mighty Green Toddler
8 – 10oz coconut water
½ cucumber
½ C spinach
1 green apple, cored
1 frozen banana
1 heaping TBSP hemp seeds
The best part about these recipes – you don’t need to measure exactly and you can make “smoothie packs.” These have saved me SO much time. Prep your portioned out fruits in zip lock bags and freeze (you can add the greens in, I just prefer to portion greens and refrigerate separately). Then you can grab two bags in the morning, add you milk or water and blend. Literally a 30 second meal or snack!
Fun goodies to add: hemp seeds, chia seeds, or honey are some of our favorites!
(If you have any different recipes that your kiddos, or you, love leave the ideas below! I’m always looking for easy and fun new recipes!)

 

Sweet Kid-Friendly Treats

I started making these sweet treats when Ryan and I were first dating. They’ve evolved into one of our family favorites! Super easy and even fun to make with the kids!
I normally keep a bunch in the fridge and by the end of the week we’ll be ready to make more.
Butter Balls
(I don’t know why we call them this because
there is no butter in the recipe, but anyways….)
20 small marshmallows
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup honey
1 ½ – 2 cups dry milk
1 cup (or more) of topping for rolling

1.    Mix the peanut butter, honey, and dry milk in a bowl to create a dough-like mixture. The dough should be somewhat dry so when you roll it in your hands it should stick together to form a ball. If the dough is too moist, add more dry milk.
2.    Scoop a tablespoon of mix and flatten with your fingers. Place a marshmallow in the middle and roll the dough around the marshmallow.
3.    Roll the ball through your topping (we used crushed heath bar – see below for topping ideas)
4.    Line all the butter balls on a plate or in a container and refrigerator for 1 hour. They will last in the fridge for at least a week.
YUMMY TOPPING IDEAS// heath bar, crushed mini M&M’s, chopped peanuts, chopped cashews, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, chocolate shavings

VARIATIONS// you can also use other nut butters, you just need to adjust the dry milk accordingly. The nut butter and honey should always remain proportional.


Juicing continued…

Juicing continued…
So as I mentioned yesterday I love juicing! I’ve noticed some major health benefits to juicing which makes the sometimes long process of juicing so incredibly worth it!
When I first started juicing, my mom was fighting cancer. I woke up every morning and made us both a big green juice. She loved it! She felt better throughout the day, was able to keep the juice down, it was easy for her to drink, and it was delicious even when chemo altered her taste buds.
During the last 2 weeks my mom was alive, these benefits changed to me as now it was about the only thing I could keep down. Juice is packed with so many nutrients and you will feel that benefit indefinitely! 
So rewind to the first week of my juicing adventure! I bought our juicer the day before I started a new position at work (which had nothing to do with me buying the juicer I just remember the timing). The first morning I juiced I felt great… then the next day came. I literally came down with the worst “cold” of my life. My poor mom had to wear a mask in the house because I literally looked like a small train ran my over! It was awful! Then comes the next day… I wake up with a million pimples. I have always had extremely dry skin and I’ve never dealt with acne so this was surprising to say the least. I didn’t even know what to do with a zit! At this point I’m still thinking I caught this awful monster from work or something but I would soon figure out my body was literally detoxing. At this time of my life I was running 6-10 miles a day and was in great shape so if someone looked at me they’d think I was really healthy. What they wouldn’t know is up to this point I had dealt on and off for many years with an eating disorder. I’m not going to get into this too much right now but I had a horrible body imagine and was about as unhealthy as could be. In fact my doctor told me to stop running because all things combined I’ll probably have a heart attack.
So after my gross phase of monster cold finally faded my body literally felt healthy! I could feel my energy level rise, my skin looked way better, and I had better hunger/satisfaction in my diet. Another thing I noticed was little things like achy joints, dry eyes, bloated tummy, swollen fingers all were greatly reduced! This was huge for me!

There is no way to possibly consume as many veggies and fruits through whole food as you do through juicing. On average, I will juice 5 zucchini, a bunch of chard, a bunch of kale, 2 cups of spinch, 2 apples, ½ grapefruit, and ginger (which is amazing for your tummy) all in one day! If I tried to eat all this I would be eating all day! Plus it tastes amazing! If you have any good recipes pass them along!


Juice, Juice, Juice

I love juicing! I started juicing after visiting with a friend who made an delicious juice for me and I have nothing but amazing things to say about it! I bought our juicer during my mom’s battle with cancer and started seeing the health benefits immediately. During the last few weeks my mom was alive I pretty much lived off of juice alone. It was the only thing I could keep down at the time and I was happy knowing I was at least getting some good nutrients.
I’ve tried 3 different kinds of juicers and am completely pleased with the one we bought. You can find the link by clicking here. My mother-in-law bought a slow juicer so I experienced that method of juicer from her and I’ll tell you the difference. The slow juicer had a difference consistency than our juicer did and my husband in particular was not having it. If you are one to like pulp you might not mind it so much, just remember that orange pulp and kale pulp are different and kale pulp is not for me! Some people argue that slow juicers give more nutrients and all I have to say to that is whatever floats your boat. No matter the difference, you are receiving SO very many nutritional benefits by juicing tons of yummy greens that if it’s easier for you to consume less pulp and more free juice I say a regular juicer is for you! But hey! To each his own!
Over the last past couple of years I’ve narrowed down my favorite juices and I’ll list some simple and yummy recipes below! I’m going to list them in single serving amounts but when I make juice I typically make enough for 3-4 glasses. I’ll post one big recipe (my go-to) at the very bottom. Cheers and happy juicing!
*Keep in mind: You can make some delicious fruit juices just remember the more fruit you add the more sugar you are consuming. Sometimes this makes for the perfect treat, but adding more greens than fruits makes for some delicious and extremely healthy juices. It’s all about balance!
Summer Beauty
1 bunch kale
2 handfuls spinach
¼ pineapple
2 apricots
1 small green apple, cored
½ inch ginger
The Basic Green
1 bunch kale
2 large handfuls spinach
2 stalks green chard
1 green zucchini
2 small green apples, cored
¼ inch ginger

Sweet Orange
1 orange
1/3 pineapple, peeled and cored
2 carrots
½ lemon, without the rind

Dance to the Beet
1 medium green apple, cored
2 small beets, cleaned thoroughly
3 large carrots
½ inch ginger
handful spinach
(Beets are tricky to juice, I strain my juice before serving to make sure its pulp free!)
Cheerful Cherry
3 large kale leaves
2 large leaves of romaine lettuce
1 green zucchini
2 stalks celery
1 large carrot
1 medium green apple, cored
handful cherries, pitted
½ peach

Family Sized Greens
4 green zucchini
1 large bunch (about 7-8) rainbow chard
2 bunches kale
3 cups spinach
4 stalks celery
5 small green apples, cored
2 peaches, seeded
½ large grapefruit
1 ½ inches ginger

*When storing fresh juice, store in glass jars (I used Mason jars) and fill to the tiptop so NO air is left in the jar. Seal with a lid and refrigerate up to a few days.

What We Eat

Nothing bothers me more than wasting food. It’s like throwing money right in the trash and 9 times out of 10, the next time I go grocery shopping, I’m rebuying that wasted food!
The other night I really wasn’t prepared for dinner and thought I’d end up making a meal I had in the freezer plus a salad but I realized I had some squash and a potato on their last leg and needed to make them that night. As much as I love veggies, Ryan is not going to appreciate a meal consisting of just a bunch of different vegetables and frankly, I probably wouldn’t like the meal these items were heading for either.
So after combining a few recipes I’ve seen I came up with the perfect dish to use up all my veggies at once. It was super easy and really could have added a ton of different vegetables if I had others I wanted to use. Very versatile recipe as far as ingredient go!

Ingredients
1 yellow onion
1-2 zucchini (I used two small and has a couple pieces unused)
1-2 yellow squash
1 medium potato
1 tsp minced garlic
Italian cheese blend
dried thyme
salt and pepper
olive oil
*tomato would be a yummy addition to this dish if your family likes tomato or any other round vegetable you need to use up.
Instructions
1.    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
2.    Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Saute in a skillet with olive oil until softened.

3.    While the onion and garlic sauté, thinly slice all the vegetables into equally as thick rounds.

4.    Prepare an 8×8 baking dish (I used coconut oil spray). Spread the onion mixture evenly over the bottom of the dish. Place the rounds in alternating order until the dish is full.

5.    Sprinkle salt and pepper and thyme. Add shredded cheese as desired.


6.    Cover the dish with foil and bake for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are about done. Uncover and bake an additional 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.
7.    Enjoy!

*This recipe is also great reheated the next day! Depending on how fresh our veggies are will determine how long the dish will keep.
** After thought: If I was going to the store to deliberately make this recipe I would try to find vegetables a little closer in size as our potatoes took longer to cook.


What We Eat

We have a couple staple food item in the fridge at all times. I find we eat healthiest if we have quick meals already prepared. I’d much rather grab something fresh and homemade than eat out if we are in a hurry. Usually Sundays and Wednesdays are my days to make sure all our staples are freshly stocked. Sometimes I’ll use them as a side for dinner if I didn’t have time to prepare a full meal, other times I’ll add them to Ryan’s lunch or eat them myself of course!
I found a set of stacked bowls in 4 sizes from Costco last year and absolutely love them. They always contain the same things in our fridge. My brother and sister in law bought us another set we asked for for Christmas so I use one at all times and have the other either in our trailer or use it for leftovers, etc. I always have one full of quinoa. I love quinoa and it’s great because it can be eaten cold or warmed up.
Another key thing we have is the salad below. I love this salad because it’s so simple to prepare and is super filling. It affectionately has been named the garbage salad because I can basically add any extra veggies from the week’s dinners inside it if they need to be used up! I’m always munching on it and there is nothing bad about it! I sometimes add feta in but even still this salad is super healthy and delicious. It’s also husband approved!
Disclaimer: I make this salad in a large quantity because I want it to last us a few days. If you want less, just adjust the recipe, as you desire. This salad doesn’t last long in our house, but it will keep for at least 4 days in a container depending on the freshness of the veggies being used.
Ingredients
3 cucumbers
2 yellow bell peppers
2 orange bell peppers
1 red onion
1 large can garbanzo beans
feta cheese
olive oil
red wine vinegar
oregano
salt



Instructions
1.    Chop all your veggies into about equal sizes and toss in a salad bowl. Add beans and feta.
2.    Add a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil so veggies look slightly coated. You want enough to taste but you don’t want the salad to look too wet or have any liquid sitting at the bottom of the bowl. The salad won’t keep as well.
3.    Sprinkle with oregano to taste. Add a pinch of salt.

* I also like to add olives, artichoke hearts, or tomatoes if I need to use it up from another recipe or if I’m just being a little fancy! This salad tasted amazing with quinoa for a little added substance.


What We Eat

One of my favorite feelings is trying a new recipe and it coming out great! As I’ve mentioned before, I find cooking for others an act of love. Whether its for friends, family, or just my hubby and me, I think its such a wonderful act to turn a bunch of individual ingredients into a yummy meal for others. Plus it’s definitely an act of serving… especially as you do the dishes!
Anyways, I made a new recipe for our family this week and according to Ryan it was the second best thing I’ve ever made (Jerk Chicken is still in the lead! Get that recipe here).

Ingredients
1 package futtuccine pasta or linguine pasta
1 yellow bell pepper
8-10 small sweet peppers (I buy the bag of mini peppers from Sprouts)
1 yellow onion
2-3 sausages of you choice (I use spicy chicken sausage)
1/3 cup chopped parsley
¾ cup heavy cream
1 cup pasta water + 3-5 bullion cubes
1 tbsp chopped garlic
*I found “Better Than Bullion” from Sprouts and prefer this over cubes. It has a ton of flavor and made a difference in this dish. I have since seen it at a few different markets and its definitely worth a try. If you use this, you only need about 1 tbsp. You can also just use broth.
Instructions
1.    Prepare your ingredients. Cut peppers into small rounds and bell pepper into small pieces. Chop onion to equal size pieces as other veggies.
2.    Add olive oil to your pan (I started with a large pan and eventually moved to my dutch oven. Looking back I’d just use a dutch oven… Way easier!). Saute oinion, sweet peppers, and bell peppers in the pan until about ¾ done. Add sausage to the pan and cook until done.

3.    Remove sausage from the pan and cut on a diagonal. Return to pan.

4.    Meanwhile, cook pasta to package directions.
5.    Add pasta water + bullion and combine until mixed. Add the mixture to the pan with the peppers and sausage.
6.    Add the cream to the pan as well. Stir to combine. Mixture will begin to thicken.


7.    Add cooked noodles, parsley, and garlic to the pan. Toss to combine.
8.    Serve hot!


*We don’t like tomatoes but adding some halved cherry tomatoes would be good. We topped with shredded Italian cheese blend.

What We Eat

Since receiving my Miss Menu in the mail a couple weeks ago I’ve been so excited to use it! The first week I had it we were on vacation so this week was my real first week of use and so far I couldn’t love it more.
One big thing I noticed is I saved a bunch of money at the grocery store since I knew exactly what items I needed. I was able to buy for the entire week since I planned our meat meals according to the day I went to the store. I also saved a ton of time at the store since all my items were in categories based on how the store is run. So efficient I don’t know why I ever lived without this! Score 1 for organization!
Anyways, I thought I’d combine two days worth of dinners in this post. Tuesday night I made Cajun chicken and Andouille sausage gumbo and Thursday night I made jerk chicken. Both turned out delicious and both were first time recipes in our house! I was so happy they came out good because nothing is worse than spending a couple hours (and more than a couple dishes) on dinner and it going bad. Like I mentioned in an earlier post I am planning to cook every night for the next two weeks. Most of the recipes are new to us with a couple “oldies but goodies” thrown into the mix.
I don’t normally follow a recipe exactly. I like to look at them and get an idea for ingredients then cook by taste. Like my mama did! So these recipes are about as exact as I could get them but I encourage you to add a pinch more or less as you feel fit!
As a side note: Ryan said the jerk chicken is the best meal I’ve ever made… WooHoo!
Cajun Chicken Gumbo
Ingredients
4 cloves of garlic
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 andouille sausage
1 green bell pepper
1-2 stalks of celery
¼ lb okra
1 yellow onion
2 tbs butter (I use unsalted)
2 tbs all purpose flower
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tbs Cajun seasoning
½ -1 cup long grain rice (I use brown)
Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste



1.    Cook rice according to package, or I add 1 tsp unsalted butter to 2 cups boiling water, add rice, and simmer, covered, for about 45 min or until all water is absorbed.
2.    While rice is cooking, prepare other ingredients. Wash produce and remove chicken and sausage from fridge. Peel and mince the garlic. Remove the stems, ribs, and seeds from bell pepper and dice along with the celery. Peel and dice the onion. Cut off stems from okra and cut into small rounds.
3.    Make a roux. In a medium pot (I used a 5 ½ quart dutch oven), melt the butter on medium head. Add the flower and stir constantly for about 3 minutes or until deep golden brown.



4.    To the roux, add a drizzle of olive oil, bell pepper, onion, celery, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Stir frequently until vegetables have softened, about 3 minutes.



5.    Increase the heat to med-high and add the chicken breast, sausage, crushed tomato, cajun seasoning, okra, and about 2 cups of water (I add just under the 2 cup line worth of water). Season with a little salt. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to med-low and simmer, stirring occasionally until chicken and sausage are completely cooked (I cover because I feel the meat is more moist but it will cook slightly faster this way).  Remove from heat.


6.    Remove the cooked chicken and sausage from the pot. Slice the sausage and shred the chicken.


7.    Return chicken and sausage to the pot of gumbo and stir to combine. Add cooked rice. Divide gumbo between two bowls and enjoy!


Jerk Chicken
Ingredients
¾ cup of rice (I used same long grain brown rice from above)
1 can pinto beans
2 scallions
1 bunch cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 large carrot or 2-3 medium carrots
1 green bell pepper
1 red onion
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-1 ½ tbs jerk seasoning
2 tbs tomato paste
3 tbs chicken demi-glace
1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

* William Sonoma has demi-glace but it is really pricey! I found “Better Than Bouillion” from Sprouts and thought it worked perfectly! Plus it’s a tenth of the price! Or you can made demi-glace from scratch but its a pain in the behind. 

1.    Cook the rice. In a small pot bring 2 cups water to a boil and add 1 tbs unsalted butter. Once boiling, add rice and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook about 45 min or until all water is absorbed.



2.    Prepare ingredients while rice cooks. Wash and dry produce. Drain and rinse pinto beans. Slice scallions at an angle. Peel and roughly chop garlic. Roughly chop cilantro leaves. Slice carrots into rounds (I didn’t peel the carrots, just washed but if you prefer, peel the carrots at this time). Dice the onion. Remove seeds and ribs and dice bell pepper.
3.    Season chicken with jerk seasoning and salt (I do this once my chicken is already in the pan by doing one side at a time. It doesn’t really make a difference I just feel its cleaner).

4.    In a large pan, heat olive oil and add the chicken (if you haven’t already seasoned do it now).

5.    Cook chicken about 3 minutes per side.

6.    Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, and carrots to the pan. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook until veggies are softened.



7.    Add tomato paste, demi-glace (or sub), pinto beans, and 1 cup water. Stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to med-low. Cover with a lid until chicken in cooked through.

8.    Divide rice between two bowls. Top each with a piece of chicken, half the sauce mixture, cilantro, and scallions. Serve with a lime wedge.