The View From Here: April

I thought it would be fun to share a snapshot of what’s going on in our home each month with you. So we’ll start with April and see how it goes!

We’ve had gorgeous warm days this month but some chilly days along with it. The ups and downs with the temperature have caused some severe weather. Thankfully, though, nothing too serious in our neck of the woods has happened.

Pic 1 April

 

Josiah hit six months during April, so we’ve been introducing some solid foods! We’ve started really slowly with just a few tiny bites each day (and only about 5 days so far). Unfortunately, he hasn’t been too keen on any of the foods that we’ve given him—avocados, carrots, and sweet potatoes. I’m beginning to wonder if it could be an issue with textures. At any rate, try, try and try again!

Pic 2 April

 

Josh, (my husband), is wrapping up a class this month. He just submitted his last assignment and will be completely finished by the end of this week for the semester. It’s such a relief—even though he’s the one in school, I feel like I kind of am too….

Pic 3 April

 

 

Favorite new recipe: Okay, so I have two (and both are sweets!). These Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins are delicious and low in carbs. They make a great snack and you can’t tell that pumpkin is in them at all (for those of you who may be leery of muffins that contain pumpkin).

And these Paleo “Peanut Butter” Cups are a new favorite too. I’m a diehard fan of Reese’s Cups, but I no longer eat them since I have gone to a real-food diet. This is an excellent substitute (much more nutritious) and so easy to make. Both of these are allowed on the Paleo diet and are great options for those with food allergies/intolerances.

Frugal change: Since moving to this new area in February, I’ve been buying most of our food from the grocery store. However, I’ve been researching purchasing options for local, high-quality meats. We made our first order this month from a local farm and we are really pleased. We didn’t necessarily set out to decrease our cost—although we did have to consider cost as we looked at all of our options—but I’m happy to say that making this switch did lower it a bit!

How was your month? Anything new? Please share!

Advertisements

Green Breakfast (or Anytime) Smoothie

green smoothie 1Over the past several weeks, I’ve been looking for more (and different) ways to get vegetables into my diet, preferably uncooked vegetables. I don’t have a problem with cooked vegetables, but I have gobs of ways to get those in. But raw veggies? Well, there’s salads..and more salads..and salads?…

green smoothie 2Don’t get me wrong—I’m a diehard salad lover. But I just needed a change-up. And I have to say that this green smoothie is now a go-to favorite in the morning, or really anytime of day. It’s not super original—there are a lot of green smoothie recipes out there. But it’s fairly quick, pretty tasty, and my personal favorite of the green smoothies I’ve tried.

Now this isn’t a super sweet smoothie (i.e., don’t bite into it expecting green fruit-flavored ice cream.) But it has a nice, slightly sweet flavor that isn’t super strong but crisp and fresh. Don’t worry though—if this doesn’t sound like your thing, there are ways to enhance the sweetness which are listed below.

Green Breakfast Smoothie (2 servings)

  • 1 sweet apple (Gala, Pink Lady, etc), cored
  • 1/3 cup avacado
  • 1/3 cup carrots
  • 8-10 slices cucumber
  • 3-4 cups baby lettuce mix (or leafy green of choice)
  • Splash of lemon juice (1/2 – 1 tsp)
  • 1-2 pieces of frozen fruit (handful of berries, piece of mango, etc)
  • 1 cup of water

Optional add-ins/substitutions: coconut milk (or milk of choice) instead of water; gelatin powder (for protein)

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve immediately (or place in refrigerator for 1-2 hours for a colder result).

For a sweeter smoothie: add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of frozen fruit (mango, pineapple, bananas, etc) and reduce the amount of lettuce.

One additional note: I’ve found that the raw vegetables/fruit and lemon juice in this smoothie can cause a bit of a detox effect. Please keep this in mind if you plan to try this for yourself.

Have a favorite smoothie recipe? Please share!

This post was shared at Homestead Barn HopMostly Homemade MondaysNatural Living Monday, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, What’d You Do This WeekendAnti-Procrastination TuesdayFat Tuesday, Healthy Tuesday, Totally Talented Tuesdays, Tuesday Talent ShowAIP Recipe RoundtableAllergy Free Wednesday, Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Real Food Wednesday, Waste Not Want Not, Wellness WednesdayPennywise Platter, Simple Lives ThursdayThe HomeAcre Hop, Fight Back Friday, Gluten Free Fridays, Natural Family FridayReal Food Fridays, Simple Meals Friday, Unprocessed FridaysWhole Food Fridays, Savoring Saturdays

Chicken Veggie Sauté

We are pretty big fans of sauté/stir-fry meals at our house. These savory dishes are usually pretty simple to prepare and easy to warm up again as leftovers. And did I mention it’s my husband’s favorite way to eat vegetables? So, of course I make something like this as often as possible.

This is probably our favorite version yet.

Chicken Veggie Saute pic 5

The beauty of this meal is that it can be easily altered to match what you have on hand. I never make it the same way twice but we’ve enjoyed it EVERY time (and we’ve been eating it for over a year now). And the ingredients are very simple: vegetables, pastured chicken, sea salt and pepper. The strong flavors of the vegetables and the savory chicken complement each other so well that no other seasonings or spices are really needed.

Add a good dab of coconut oil, olive oil, ghee or fat of choice to the skillet and heat to medium. Add a coarsely chopped onion and/or bell pepper. You can substitute one for the other if needed. I didn’t have an onion this time around so I just used two bell peppers (see picture below). I wouldn’t recommend omitting both vegetables though as these add so much flavor. And make the pieces as big or small as you like. I usually opt for big because it’s quicker.

Chicken Veggie Saute pic 1

Let the onion/pepper cook for about 5-7 minutes and then add the next group of vegetables. These should be vegetables that take a bit of time to cook (ie not greens, broccoli, etc). I generally add some sort of winter squash such as butternut or acorn, and another root vegetable such as a turnip (rutabaga or parsnip would work too). Prep tip: If you are running short on time, prepare the squash the night before or see if you can find it pre-cut in the grocery store. But if neither of these are an option, you could substitute one to two sweet or regular potatoes.

Chicken Veggie Saute pic 2

Continue cooking until the vegetables are just beginning to get soft. Then add boneless, skinless chicken (breast, thigh, tenderloin—whatever you prefer) and continue cooking. You can either cut the chicken up in pieces or just separate it as you go (which is what I normally do).

After a few more minutes, add the next vegetable, which should be a vegetable that cooks more quickly. I usually add something like zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, broccoli…this time I added zucchini.

Chicken Veggie Saute pic 3

Once the chicken is fully cooked and the vegetables are soft, turn the heat down to low and add chopped greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, chard, etc), sea salt and pepper. For added flavor and nutrients, I like to add two to three freshly minced garlic cloves, but this is optional (it will taste great either way!) Continue to simmer the mixture until the greens have fully wilted (usually five to ten minutes).

You can serve this over rice or just as it is (which is usually what we do).

Happy eating!

 

Chicken Veggie Sauté (Makes 3-4 Servings)

  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 of a winter squash (butternut, acorn, etc), peeled and cubed
  • 1 turnip (or root vegetable of choice), peeled and cubed
  • 1-2 zucchini or yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 bunch of greens, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 lb to 1.5 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken (cut into cubes if preferred)
  • Coconut or olive oil (or fat of choice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional add-ins and/or substitutions: Sub sweet or regular potatoes for the squash; sub mushrooms or broccoli for the zucchini

Chicken Veggie Saute pic 4

Place oil or ghee in a large skillet and heat to medium. Add onion and pepper and cook for approximately 5-10 minutes. Add cubed squash and turnip and cover; continue cooking until vegetables begin to soften (10-20 minutes). Add chicken and cover, stirring occasionally (if chicken is not previously cut, shred with spatula as it cooks) After 5 minutes or so, add zucchini and cover, stirring occasionally. Once chicken is completely cooked and vegetables are soft, turn heat down to simmer and add greens, sea salt, pepper and minced garlic. Cover and simmer until greens are wilted and soft.

 

This post was shared at Homestead Barn Hop, Mostly Homemade MondaysNatural Living Monday, Thank Goodness It’s MondayWhat’d You Do This WeekendFat Tuesday, Healthy Tuesday, Totally Talented Tuesdays, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Real Food Wednesday, Waste Not Want Not, Pennywise Platter, Simple Lives Thursday, Thank Your Body ThursdayThe HomeAcre HopFight Back Friday, Gluten Free Fridays, Natural Family FridayReal Food Friday, Simple Meals Friday, Unprocessed FridaysWhole Food Fridays, Savoring Saturdays

Cooking Chaos: 3 ways to successfully navigate the endless flow of recipes

Whether you are a foodie, have food allergies, are on a special diet or just love real, whole foods, you are probably a hoarder of recipes. I’ll be the first to raise my hand on this. When you have access to gobs and gobs of recipes, cooking tips, nutrition info…literally at your fingertips…well, a vast collection begins to accumulate. Regardless of how you keep up with it (placing favorites on your Bookmarks, pinning them on Pinterest or plain old-fashioned print-outs), it can just get..well…a little out of control.

recipe booksI’m speaking from experience, in case you couldn’t tell. When I first began radically changing my diet due to health problems (see “About” page), I was a leech on the internet. I scoured and scoured for recipes and would print many new ones every week. It was such a great resource and really helped me through that rough transition period. But as time went on, everything became more cluttered. I attempted to organize it all in a binder, using dividers and sheet protectors, which was helpful to an extent. But I still found that I was having clumps of new recipes stuck in the back and was quickly running out of room. And then many that were already in the binder weren’t being used. So at some point, I decided to do a total 180 and quit printing anything, unless it was really unique. But this wasn’t a good solution either as I was missing out on new food ideas.

So why is it important to have a good organizational scheme in place when it comes to managing your recipe info? It’s not just a neat freak thing. Anyone who has been in the real food world for even a short amount of time, and is therefore cooking the majority of meals and snacks, knows that having recipes on hand and easily accessible is important. Sure, you have some that you just know by heart, and some can be altered and still turn out alright, but most likely there are still many others that you need to refer to time and time again. Here are a few of the issues I have experienced:

  1. If your recipe collection is unorganized, you can’t find what you need when you need it.
  2. You’ll forget about good recipes as they get tucked away behind the new and incoming.
  3. You’ll end up having new recipes, tried-and-true ones, mediocre ones, ones you can’t even remember ever looking at…all wrapped up together.

So how do we fix it? Here are three general tips that I’ve found can help declutter your stockpile and make it a bit easier to manage.

  1. Find an organization method that fits you (and then do it.) We are all different which means that the same thing probably won’t work for all of us. What I find helpful may drive you nuts and vice versa. So figure out how you like to manage your recipes and what’s easiest for you to use; do you prefer a computer or hard copies? Do you want to use an app, a spreadsheet, or a filing system? Is Pinterest the way to go? Once you find what works for you, start doing it.
  2. Be selective. This one is a bit challenging. There are oodles of great recipes out there, and narrowing it down can be just downright tough. But if you find yourself marking two or three new things each day…well, it’s going to pile up fast (unless you do have the time to try recipes at this rate). So begin with being just a bit more picky as you scan the latest additions. For some of us, that may be going down to one new recipe each day, others one each week and others no change at all.
  3. Toss what needs to be tossed. Ok, this one is really hard for me. I tend to be a pack rat. My inner dialogue goes something like this “Ok, you need to pitch this one. You found it two years ago, still haven’t tried it and don’t plan to anytime soon.” “But I may need it at some point.” “You’ve been fine without it this long. Plus, it will be easy to get again online.” “Yeah, but…” You get the idea. Go through your recipes regularly and don’t be afraid to toss ’em out. Again, this will look different for everyone, but in general, any unused recipes can go (unless it’s been unused by accident and you intend to try it soon) and those that were mediocre or flat-out bad. Note: I wouldn’t recommend pitching a recipe that you’ve just worn out (i.e. a favorite that you need a break from). Simply retire these kinds of recipes but make sure you can easily access them again when you’ve had a long enough break.

To wrap up, I’ll tell you how I’ve decided to organize my recipe stash. I decided that hard copies were best for me. I really like using the computer for almost everything, but when I’m actually in the kitchen, cooking? I need a piece of paper in front of me.

I continued with the binder system that I mentioned above. I placed labeled dividers and sheet protectors in it.

Then I began going through the recipes. I got rid of any that I hadn’t used (and didn’t plan to use anytime soon). I also found the ones that I had never tried and stuck them in a stack of “Newbies,” which is where I will be keeping all new recipes. So the binder is now full of recipes that we like and use, and the new recipes are separate from the tried-and-true ones.

How do you organize your recipe collection?

Banana Nut Pancakes—Grain, Dairy and Refined Sugar-Free

Banana pancake 4 mediumI usually find myself in a rut when it comes to breakfast. I feel like I have the same thing over..and over…and over…again. It’s not that I don’t have things I could make, it’s usually that I just want something quick. The morning is when my infant son sleeps the best, so I want to get everything I possibly can done during this time. What I don’t want to be doing is a lot of cooking and dishes, especially since I’m the only one eating breakfast (my husband is already gone to work by this point).

However, when you are on a grain-free diet, quick breakfast ideas can be a bit more tricky. So over the last few weeks, I’ve been toying with different ingredients and came to a pretty simple pancake recipe that I’ve found to be a personal favorite.

I had a few goals in mind with this concoction:

  1. To make it very simple, requiring a minimal amount of ingredients
  2. To make a small serving size (since I’m only fixing it for myself)
  3. To be grain-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free
  4. To taste great (I mean, really, who wants to eat gross pancakes?)

Surprisingly, I think this pancake recipe hits all of these! The banana and nuts add a nice flavor and help hide the coconut flour taste. It’s also really quick to put together—about five minutes or so. It does make a small serving, about 5-6 small pancakes, so if you are cooking for more than one or two people, go ahead and double the recipe.

Start with mashing a very ripe banana in a small bowl. Once the banana is completely mashed, add one egg. Mix together well.

Banana pancake 1

Next, add the vanilla and baking soda (and optional raw honey) and continue mixing. Once all these have been thoroughly mixed, add one tablespoon of coconut flour then whisk it into the mixture. Continue doing this until you’ve reached three tablespoons.

Banana Pancake 2

The only thing left to add is the nuts. I’ve been using walnuts, but pecans would probably work well too. Mix in a handful of walnuts, more or less based on what you like best. In an oiled skillet (I used coconut oil), dip out a spoonful of batter and lightly flatten with the spoon or a spatula. I recommend keeping to a small size with these pancakes. The coconut flour makes them dense, so they can be hard to flip otherwise. Additionally, you’ll want to cook these on low to medium heat. I’ve found that when I cook on high heat, the pancakes get too brown on the bottom too soon.

Banana Pancake 3

Make up the rest of the batter. These are great with maple syrup, honey, nut butter, fruit or even just plain (yes, I like them that much!)

 

Banana Nut Pancakes (Makes 1-2 servings)

  • 1 very ripe medium banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp raw honey (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • walnuts or pecans to taste

Banana pancake 5

Mash the banana in a small bowl and add egg, vanilla, honey and baking soda. Combine well. Whisk in coconut flour (one tablespoon at a time). Stir in nuts. Place a spoonful of batter in a well-oiled skillet, lightly flatten with spoon or spatula and cook over low to medium heat. Continue until all of the batter is gone. Serve with maple syrup, honey, nut butter or fruit.

 

This post was shared at Homestead Barn HopMostly Homemade Mondays, Natural Living Monday, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, What’d You Do This Weekend, Anti-Procrastination TuesdayFat Tuesday, Tuesday Talent Show, Totally Talented Tuesdays, Healthy Tuesday, Naturally Sweet TuesdayAllergy Free Wednesday, Waste Not Want Not, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Real Food Wednesday, Wellness Wednesday, Full Plate ThursdayPennywise Platter, Thank Your Body ThursdayThriving on Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, The HomeAcre Hop, Gluten Free Fridays, Natural Family FridayWhole Food Fridays, Real Food Fridays, Fight Back Friday, Simple Meals Friday, Unprocessed FridaysSavoring Saturdays