Friday, August 31, 2012

Recipes I've Been Making

Sunday I got a day off.  And it was just what I needed to spend my day in the kitchen preparing batches of staples.  Ya see, I have been hearing a lot of complaints lately that there's nothing in the house to eat.  I like to have batches of staples made ahead for snack times or quick breakfast options but I just haven't had the time to get our supplies up to par again.  So, I spent most of the day getting some stuff made up to freeze.  All are vegan and all are delish!

Here's some of the items that I made:
Vegan pumpkin muffins.  I made a double batch of these to freeze.  I made some muffins and 3 small loaves.  For reals people.  These are so delish that you will never miss the eggs, dairy and crap that comes along with it!  *Note-I use 1/2 cup honey instead of the 1 c sugar the recipe calls for and it is plenty sweet enough for us.  Enjoy!

Forever Cookies.  Y'all.  These are amazing.  And, seriously, I could just sit and eat them forever cause there aint a lick of bad stuff in them.  The recipe calls for 4 dates and 4 prunes but I didn't have any prunes so I just used 8 dates and they are still every bit as scrumptious.  (these can be frozen) Mmmm...

"Lara balls."  We eat a lot of Larabars around here but, when I have the time, I like to make my own.  They are actually more tasty and, of course, less expensive to do so and they are super simple.  Give it a try.  Just take a bunch of pitted dates, a handful of nuts (I use some almonds, cashews and walnuts), a tablespoon of cocoa powder  and a splash of vanilla.  Put it all in a food processor and process until nuts are broken up.  Then spoon some out and form into balls.  Keep refrigerated.  You can also add some nut butter while processing as well or throw in some chocolate chips at the end.  Possibilities are endless.

Juice.  I have found that I need to make my juices the night before if we want to consistently have juice in the mornings.  It's just too crazy and time consuming in the morning.  I made a beet, carrot, apple, pear, ginger, spinach, cucumber juice for today.  So good.

5 ingredient granola bars.  I made these with 1 c crunchy peanut butter and omitted the peanuts called for in the recipe.  I also use honey instead of the rice syrup.  Oh, and I add vegan chocolate chips and flax.  Pretty delish.  I freeze these as well to have on hand.

Make ahead oatmeal smoothies.  I found this recipe on Pintrest awhile ago and love it.  I made 6 pineapple ones and 6 strawberry/banana ones.  These freeze beautifully and make for a great go to healthy snack.  My kids LOVE them!

Peaches.  We went peach picking last week and I had a huge amount of peaches.  I peeled and sliced close to 30 peaches and froze them.  I did this last year and we were able to have peaches all winter long.  I love having frozen peaches to make peach sorbet.  Soooo yummy!

PB&J Sushi rolls.  I made these for the kids today for a fun twist on the boring 'old pb&j.  They loved them!

Pretty much every week I try a new recipe.  Or two.  Or three.  Yes, I spend a lot of time in my kitchen!  Some of the recipes I tried this week are:

Veggie Sushi rolls.  Many years ago, when we were on our raw vegan food kick, I attempted sushi rolls and failed miserably.  They were so awful that I swore off making them again.  I think it was because they were just veggies, no rice.  And I used horseradish.  If you ever ate raw horseradish then you would know why we weren't doing cartwheels over them.  But I decided to give it another try and watched this video to learn how to make real sushi.  I used 1 cup of sushi rice, 1 1/2 cups water.  Added some salt to the water and simmered until done about 20 minutes.  Then I mixed up 2T rice vinegar and a little less than 1T of sugar and poured it over the cooled rice.  Follow directions in the video of how to roll and voila!  So yummy!  My kids were less than thrilled and wouldn't even try the cucumber ones I made for them.  I believe it's because the nori was visible.  So, next time I am going to try to make them more of a California roll style with the rice on the outside for them.

Oatmilk, fig & grape smoothie.  Of course I doctored this up and added some spinach and flax and a few frozen banana slices.  I really liked it.  Hubs liked it too as well as Madelyn.  Kaiden said it was too "spicy" for him.  I think he was referring to the cinnamon.  But, it's definitely one that I will make again.

Peanut Butter & Jelly, Banana (and some vegan chocolate chips) panini.  I have this old George Foreman grill that I recently wanted to sell in our recent garage sale.  Thank goodness nobody bought it cause I have been making panini sandwiches.  I decided to make one with PB&J for a fun new twist.  It was great!

Vegan chocolate milkshake.  I just made this yesterday and I'm in love with it.  I think I might make it again for dessert tonight.  Mmmmm!

So there you have it.  Who said cooking without animal products isn't yummy?  If anything I have been having more fun in the kitchen making things that taste good and are good for us!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Milkshake (with spinach!)

(Come see our new site, Keepin' it Real, for new recipes and information about real food.)
This week hubs and I did 2 Cross fit workouts in our garage.  When I tell you they kicked our butts, I am seriously not exaggerating.  They are insane.  We found the workouts here.  Y'all.  That girl is nuts.  We did her ZWOW #1 this morning and my arms are still barely usable.  I hope I can move tomorrow.  

Anyways, I have found myself extremely hungry today.  Probably because I burned so many calories in that crazy workout.  I drank a beet juice this morning after our workout and had overnight oats for breakfast. For lunch I had Manna bread with almond butter along with sliced veggies and apples with hummus as well as a tofu cinnamon/honey dip I made yesterday.  When we came home from an outing I was famished so I decided to make a huge salad full of nuts, avocados, tomatoes, peppers, seeds and anything else I could throw in.  It was so good.  Just what I was craving.  About an hour later I was in the mood for something chocolaty without totally ruining my workout this morning.  So I made a milkshake!  

2 frozen bananas
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (but any non-dairy milk will do)
1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
10 drops of stevia
Handful of cashews
Handful of spinach

Other add ins you could use: Flax, hemp seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes, raw cocoa creative! 

Blend in Vitamix until smooth!  Enjoy!

As many of you know, I add spinach to pretty much all smoothies that I make.  It's a green that you can't even taste so I feel extra good getting some more greens in our diet while still eating yummy smoothies and milkshakes!  

Since become a (mostly) plant-strong vegan this year I love that I can find yummy treats that won't camp out on my hips.  I love that I can eat practically anything (plant based) that I want and I still feel like I have so much energy!  I love that my kids are becoming healthy along with us.  And I love that we are not falling victims to the SAD (Standard American Diet)!!

Go ahead, have a milkshake and don't feel guilty about it!

Monday, August 27, 2012

When Kids Find My Phone

When my kids find my iPhone on the counter while I am in the shower they take pictures.  Random pictures. Lots of random pictures.  And when I go to look at the pictures on my phone I find that I have to delete lots of random pictures.  Such as these.

A towel and stool on the bathroom floor
A Spiderman car and plastic jalapeno pepper
A play hot dog and a foot
Toys and puzzles that they were probably supposed to be cleaning up
A boys leg

And when they find my phone in my purse while at Costco they take more random pictures 
Of feet and rain boot boxes, frozen fruit and pecans
And my purse and new underwear


And then they get home and take more random pictures
Of laundry.  I sure was hoping they would fold it rather than just taking a picture of it.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Madelyn's 3rd Birthday

As many of you know I spent the past year here in PA while hubs tied up loose ends in AZ before he moved here.  He finally arrived the end of May to make our family complete.  It was a looooonnnnng year that we will vow to never do again.  Our family works much better under the same roof.

So I received the keys to our townhouse on May 15th and spent the 2 weeks before hubs arrived trying to get the place cleaned and in order so that we could move right in when he arrived.  Being that we moved in June 1st and Madelyn's birthday was June 5th and we still were unpacking boxes that arrived from AZ, we weren't able to focus on celebrating her birthday with a real party.  But, we tried to make her birthday as special as we could with a trip to the Crayola Factory during the day.  Mee-ma and P-pa came over that night for dinner and cupcakes and I don't think that she even noticed that she didn't get a big celebration.
Big girl bike from Mee-ma & P-pa

Bath towel

Opening her new princess books

Playing with her new princess castle all dressed in her new dress from Mommy & Daddy

Happy Birthday peanut!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Trip to the Boonies

All slackers raise your hands!  (shamefully raising hand)

It's been sweet forever since I have been on a regular posting schedule and, well, now that school is going to be starting again and I will have an abundance of time on my hands (insert sarcasm here) I want to get caught up on posts before the memories slowly slip my mind and enter the great abyss to never be remembered again.  I don't care what anyone says, "mommy brain" is totally a disease.

I digress.  

Back in July we took a road trip to North Carolina to visit my brother-in-law at his new (well, he's been there 2 years by now) farm out in the boonies.  He's got 50 acres of land with a barn, gardens, stream, tennis court and nothing close other than Boone, NC that's a good 30 minutes away.  He is really into sustainable living and working to make his farm a place that he can "live off the land" if needed.  It was great.  We had a blast.  Getting to ride the ATV's, skipping stones in the stream, playing the PlayStation, picking dinner out of the garden, playing ping pong, tubing, campfires, fireworks and lots of time talking.  Back to the days when TV wasn't available 24/7.  

We made the 2 day journey by car stopping halfway in Harrisonburg, VA.  It took us 6 hours to get halfway (there were lots of bathroom breaks and a lunch break).  The final 1.5 hours of the trip took us on the back roads of NC that were constantly winding this way and that.  But we got there in one peice.  All in all, the kids did great and were fine in the car for the entire trip.  

Kamran (my BIL) has two large pools of talapia in which he raises to help support his Aquaponics system.  It's all very interesting to learn about. The talapia were starting to get too abundant so he did harvest about 40 of them while we were there.  I'll save you the gory pictures, but at least I got to see fish being harvesting once in my lifetime.  
Feeding the fish
 There are 2 ATV's which we took out a few times on the property during our visit.  The kids LOVED them (and the adults had fun too!)
No fear from my little princess!
The boys out for a quick spin

Using the new sling shots down at the stream
The ping pong table was one favorite past time when trying to come up with things to do.  I don't know if the kids were a help or hindrance during this game of pong.
 Most nights we sat outside and talked.  This night we built a campfire to roast some marshmallows.

My brave girl doing sparklers for the first time.  Kaiden (in the background) wanted  nothing to do with it!

Mommy helping to roast marshmallows.  Mmmmm!
 The girls played many games of "Just Dance" on the PlayStation.  But, we even got the guys in on the action.
Hubs and his bro battling it out on the dance floor.
 My BIL has two gardens on his farm where we got a bunch of food for dinner many nights.  This day we were all out helping to pick some food.  Everyone has to pitch in and work on the farm!
Picking potatoes
Also got some squash, garlic, lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, and much more!  All organic and super yummy!
While this city dweller can't imagine living there full time (I mean, what's a girl to do without a Target close by?!?!?!) I enjoyed living the week without the hustle and bustle of "normal" life.  We look forward to our next trip to see them!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Kids Say the Darndest Things: Part Three

Another addition of My Kids Say the Darndest Things.  They continue to crack me up!  I can't believe some of the things that come out of their mouths!

Notice Kaiden's tie that he wanted to wear on the outside of his sweater!
Can you give me a piggy bank ride?
"Mommy, who made you so, so smart?"
"Water washes all your things away.  It's really good for your body."
"Can you put my watch on me so I know what clock it is?  Oh, it's fourteen and sixteen."
M: "I'm gonna show you my muscles." Me: "oh, those are big muscles."  M: "No, no.  Those are little muscles."
"I don't want to see that bug.  I'm scary of it."
After her falling and getting a scratch on her finger: "I got a crack on my finger."
"Look at my big muscles.  Cause I went pee pee in the potty!"
"I am a granddaughter.  And Kaiden is Mee ma and P pa's granddaughter son."
"I'm having a really bad day.  Cause I took a drink of water and it made me cough."

"Madelyn, I prayed to God that your lip would feel better so you don't need to put ice on it."
"Do you know what I want to be when I grow up?  A knight in shining armor."
Talking to Mee-ma: " I want to tell you about a necklace that I got for mommy.  Somebody took me to get it for God-mother's day."
"Night, night.  Sleep tight.  Don't let the bugs get a bug bite."
Me: "Go put your shoes on we're leaving." K: (grabbing at his pants) "But myself hurts so I just want to go naked."
K shouting to M from another room: "Madelyn, come in here.  I want to talk to you.  I'm not naked."
"See you in a year, raccoon."  "See you soon alligator.  See you soon crocodile."
"I wanna walk in the rain.  Cause it will make me grow!"
"I'm going to eat all the cucumbers cause I'm the cucumber man!"
K: " I just love flowers.  You know what I like more?  Giving you flowers." Me: "I like when you give me flowers."  K: "And even it makes God happy."
"Mommy, I remember when God made me."
"Give me that broom so I can broom this up."  Me: "You mean sweep it up?"  K: "No broom it up."

"You know what else God made?  Oh this is gonna be a good one.  You're body!"  M: "And He made your boogies!"
After I sprayed bees to kill them with bug spray: M: "You saw them die?"  Me: "Yes."  M: "You mean you saw them die on the cross?"

Friday, August 10, 2012

"Pasquito" Bites

Madelyn woke up this morning with a lot of little bug bites on her.  I am assuming they are mosquito bites since she keeps saying they itch.  Today at lunch I had the cutest conversation with them about mosquitoes.

Madelyn: "Mommy, my pasquito bites!"
Me: "Do they itch?"
Madelyn: "Yeeeeessss.  My pasquito bites itch. (pause) Do pasquitos bite?"
Me: "Yes."
Madelyn: "Why do they bite you."
Me: "Cause they like to eat little drops of your blood." (actually I have no idea if this is true but let's go with it)
Madelyn: "Do they say sorry after they bite?"
Kaiden: "Well they don't know your name.  After they bite you then you can tell them your name.  Right mommy?"
Me: "Well, sure, buddy.  If you want."

Bless their little hearts.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Juice Fast Day 2

Day 2.  I am surprised how well I felt this morning.  I went to bed feeling a little hungry and had a slight headache so I wasn't expecting to sleep all that well.  But low and behold I slept soundly (I don't think I even moved at all until 5:30 when I got up to go to the bathroom).  I started off the morning with a lemon water and added a *smidgen* of cayenne pepper.  It actually wasn't too bad.  Probably since I hardly added any pepper to it at all.  An hour later I had my first juice while rushing kiddos out the door for camp.  Here are my juices for the day:

Breakfast-12 oz
Carrots (I think I used about 6 to make enough for 2 of us)
Oranges (2)
Sweet Potato (I only used one, but wish I had another to make more juice)

Mid morning snack
Glowing green smoothie-6oz (technically not a "juice" but remember, I'm making the rules up as I go!)
I had some left over from yesterday so I just drank this up.

Lunch-16 oz
Mean Green Juice with spinach and kale

Afternoon snack-16 oz
Pear (I used only 1 instead of the 2 the recipe called for since my pears weren't as ripe as they should be.  After a few days they should be good to go)
Handful of basil
Cucumber (2)
Romaine (the original recipe called for spinach)
Broccoli stalk (this was added by me since I still needed some more juice to make a full 32 oz)

I felt pretty good today up until lunch time.  I got really hungry so I had my lunch juice.  Again, feeling pretty good afterwards.  Right around 2:00 I almost caved and ate real food.  The thought ran through my mind to eat everything in the pantry, but I had my afternoon snack juice instead and instantly felt better.  Soon after hubs was feeling hungry so I made a double batch of an apple pie smoothie (apples, almond milk, banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, pecans and ice) since dinner was still a ways away.  We both drank that but realized that I still wanted more.  I told hubs I couldn't do it anymore and had to eat something!  So we both caved about 3:30 and had some crackers with tabbouleh and hummus.  It was just what I needed.  Then for dinner we both had a huge salad with all raw veggies.  Fail.  I do expect that we will give it another try sometime in the near future.  But I am ready to go back to my plant based diet while still including at least 1-2 juices per day.  It's hard, y'all.  Not only the not eating and only drinking juice/water/herbal tea part of it, but all the prep work and planning is exhausting.  Phew.  Not all hope is lost.  Yet.

I wanted to point out that we were NOT attempting a juice fast to loose weight.  I know that there are many people that do (and 3 weeks later gain it all back).  Ironically since adopting a mostly (80-90%) plant-based vegan diet back in January I have found I no longer struggle with my weight and no longer feel sluggish and tired!  I simply can eat anything I want (plant based) and not gain weight!  And my energy is through the roof!  How's that for a weight loss plan??? No dieting necessary and the weight stays off?!?!?!  Yes, it's true!!!  We are simply attempting a juice fast to detox our systems.  Some more on juice fasting you can read here and here (I love Food Babe...she's got great information).

If you are thinking of doing a juice fast please read about it first.  If you are on medications please consult your doctor.  Also, please don't think that you can go and buy a bottle of juice from the grocery store and survive on it.  Juice from the store is "dead" and will not provide you the nutrients your body craves.  You must juice with a juicer using only fresh veggies and fruits.  Organic is optimal so that you aren't filling your body with more toxins from pesticides on conventional produce.  The point is to DETOX your system from all the sludge and muck that has been rotting in your body from years of eating animal products, sugar, refined flours, processed foods and such.  Not to mention the chemicals in our body from shampoos, soaps, lotions, make-ups, etc that we slather on our skin.  YUCK!

So back to regular eating for me.  At least for now.  But I see another fast in my future.  Hoping to make it a little longer next time.  Until then, drink your green juice!  You'll LOVE it and your body will thank you!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Juice Fast Day 1

I must be crazy.

Hubs and I are embarking on a juice fast.  Originally I thought I'd like to tackle a week long fast.  After today I think it's highly unlikely to even last another day.  I'm hungry.  And tired.  And miserable.

Ever since we watched Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (free on Hulu-go watch now!) back in December we have wanted to do a juice fast to detox our systems.  We got our Omega juicer in June and LOVE it so we were all geared up for a fast.  I tried it back in June and lasted 6 hours before caving into a delightful hummus dip and pita chips at 3:00 in the afternoon.  Fail.  Hubs tried it last week lasting 3 days juicing all day long and just eating a raw dinner such as a large salad.  Good on him!  But, in order to support each other and make it longer than a couple hours, we decided to try this fast together.  I fear I am weak.  I fear more failure ahead.

I am going to try and blog my progress this week and record the recipes that we are using and my moods throughout the week.  Here goes nothing.

Juices for today:
Upon waking I had a 16 oz water with lemon.  My intentions are to slowly add the Cayenne pepper to it, but baby steps people.  Baby steps.
Lemon-Lime Juice (18 oz)
1 lemon (I used 1/2 lemon)
1 lime (I used 1/2 lime)
2 pears (I used 1)
2 green apples (I used 1 gala apple)
2 carrots
1 piece of ginger
2 cups purple cabbage (I omitted this and subbed some pineapple and added one beet)
This juice was yum-o!  It was just what I needed to start off our juice fast.  I made hubs a tomato, jalapeno pepper, carrot, celery, parsley number but no.  My taste buds aren't having it.  I'm not a "V-8" fan and don't think I could stomach a juice such as that.

I was feeling really hungry, so I opted to make a green smoothie instead of juice.  I thought it would keep me full longer (I'm making the rules up as I go ya see).  So I made a Glowing Green Smoothie (16 oz)  I often make these and freeze them in glass jars.  They taste yummy and it's easier when I don't have the time to spend in the kitchen, I just get one out the night before to thaw.  It made enough for the two of us to each have 16 oz and a little left over.  Unlike juice, this can be made and kept in the fridge for a few days since the fiber is still in tact.  It was delish.  The key to this is using a really ripe banana to give it some sweetness.  This is a good one for your healthy recipe box.

Mid afternoon snack:
Classic Green Juice (aka "Mean Green") 16 oz (I doubled it to make enough for hubs and I)
This juice is the signature juice Joe makes in the documentary "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead."  Mmmm :)
1 bunch of kale (I use lacinato)
4 stalks of celery
1 cucumber
2 granny smith apples (I think today I used pink lady and a pear)
1/2 lemon
1 inch ginger root

We still have some items in the fridge that need to be eaten.  So I made a portabella mushroom, eggplant, spinach, goat cheese and hummus sandwich.  Remember, I'm making the rules up as I go here.  It's just what I needed after my first long day of juicing.  I think this will help me make it through the night so that I can tackle day 2.

Summary of the day:
My mood was up and down all day long.  I felt really great in the morning after my juice.  Right around lunch time I was starting to get anxious and really hungry.  The smoothie helped but not as much as I thought it would.  It was especially hard to make the left over pizza for lunch for the kids.  Oh, I almost caved!  But I put the kids down for quiet time at 1:00 and took a shower and after that I felt pretty good until later in the day.  My dad (thankfully) took the kids for the afternoon/dinner time for a swim and I am so glad to have had a quiet afternoon to myself.  My mind was in a complete fog the rest of the afternoon.  I, admittedly, felt a little scared for myself out on the roads driving as it was almost like I couldn't concentrate very long at all.  My mind was all over the place.

The other thing I noticed was that I had a white film on my tongue.  I read that this is a common symptom of detoxing.  All the little toxins making their way exit any way they can.  

I found it really hard to remember not to eat.  As I was making breakfast this morning for the kids I was cutting up a bunch of fruit and "accidentally" stuck a cherry in my mouth without thinking.  Totally out of habit.  I almost did it again later when I was making the kids yogurt with bananas and sprinkling crushed up graham crackers on top.

So, all in all, I would say that day 1 went just ok.  I expected it to be hard and it was.  I expect day 2 to be a little easier and hopefully after day 3 I will turn a corner as most say they do.  I am still excited to continue this juicing journey.  Sit back, relax and grab your favorite green juice and come along for the ride!