Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Watching the Foodnetwork is a favorite past time of ours.  My oldest two girls used to watch it daily and preferred that over cartoons.  We have kind of phased out of watching it the past few years.  I told my husband a couple of months ago that I wanted to start watching it more with the kids.  I think cooking shows are great for kids to watch!  Even if they aren't making foods they normally like it sparks an interest. 

I recently recorded Giada at Home (one of our favorites- we get tickled when she pronounces things so Italian like).  She was doing a Kidz Kitchen episode and making foods with kids and for kids.  My three year old has watched the episode over and over again and gets excited every time. 

For her birthday I bought the one extra ingredient (mini chocolate chips) I needed to make the Peanut Butter Granola Bars she makes.  We re-watched the episode while we cooked and had so much fun!  Now- my three year old is a pretty spunky little girl but when she is in the kitchen it is all business.  She couldn't be more excited about this little present I gave her.  The hardest part about it all was waiting the hour for the bars to cool down enough to eat.  It was still a little warm but oh so good.

It just wouldn't be me if I didn't change things around in the recipe.  I made the appropriate changes to make it healthier and for my kids liking. 

Peanut Butter Granola Bars
(click the link to see original recipe)

1 egg white
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted*
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/3 cup miniature chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8x8 baking pan and set aside.

Begin melting your stick of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

While the butter is melting, using a hand beater, beat the egg white until frothy.  Stir in the peanut butter, coconut sugar, and honey.  Add the melted butter and oats.  Stir to combine, then add the chocolate chips.  You want to make sure the butter isn't too hot still to melt the chocolate.

Spread mixture into the prepared pan pressing lightly to form an even layer.  Bake until the edge of the mixture begins to brown, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 1 hour.  Cut into squares, serve, and enjoy!

*I will be trying it again using coconut oil but didn't want to change things around too much for the first time making it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I believe health to be a sensitive topic.  Kind of like religion and politics.  People have their own strong views that they support and at times could be considered "stuck in their ways".  I believe these kind of things are what makes us who we are.  Life would simply be boring if everyone was the same.

These past few years I have really tried to learn more about healthy eating.  There are so many people out their with strong opinions.  I am also grateful that I am able to take all these different opinions, methods, and use it for my family.  Forming my own opinions and ways to be stuck in.

I was going through my list of bookmarked "Health" pages the other day and realizing the great variety of things I learn/read about weekly.  No dairy eaters, liver eaters, no meat eaters, no grains, soaked grains, raw milk and cheese, no eggs, organic pastured eggs, no sugar, fermented foods, no yeast, etc. etc.  There are seriously so many things out there you can do to make your health better and everyone's opinion on what they should do will be different.  I may not be an expert on all these things but I love reading what others are doing.  I believe one day it will all come to great use for me but for now it is more of a fascination and has helped me make some great changes for our family.

So for you- take something and change it.  Figure out what would work best for your family.  Take one step at a time in bettering your health and your families health.  It really isn't a hard task you just need to figure out what you want and get it. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In the mean time...

I want to share some of my green smoothie tips.  Now I will admit- we do NOT drink a quart of green smoothie everyday.  Oh I wish we did.  Sometimes I really just get sick of them and/or run out of time to make them.  My kids kind of got burned out on them which I am fine with because they eat enough raw vegetables on their own I am not worried about the health factor.  It is nice to take a break- especially for a little kid- before they detest the food for life.

I do have some tips that make the green smoothie easier to prepare and alleviating that excuse...

photo credit
The best thing about smoothies is most everything you put in it can be stored in the freezer. I keep my box/bag of spinach in the freezer.  It goes from the store straight in the freezer.  If we have some in the refrigerator that we are using for salads and have quite a bit left before it goes bad we stick it in the freezer- no wasting! -- Kale can also be frozen just wash, pat dry, and store in a bag.

photo credit
I have been drinking my lemon water every morning lately and instead of throwing the peel away after I juice it I just cut it up and put in a bag.  These too can be stored in the freezer.

photo credit
Our freezer has been stocked of berries for quite some time.  We keep strawberries and then a mix of marionberries, raspberries, and blueberries on hand- I get them from Costco.  I can't wait to get some fresh berries this summer to freeze.

photo credit
I buy bananas in large quantities and let them ripen a bit then cut them all up and store in one big bag (thanks mom).  I was storing them one banana per bag but the new method saves on having to buy so many bags.  I am not a calorie counter so I just add as much banana that I want to each smoothie.  I think it ends up being about half a banana.

I have recently taken it all one step farther.  I will make a few big batches of smoothies.  Then pour the smoothie in a one quart glass jar with a plastic lid and store it in the freezer.  I did some testing on the expansion and all those things you hear and fear about.  Mine have never expanded too much nor have I ever had the jars break.  It is a great way to have smoothies on hand always.  This morning I set my smoothie on the counter and by lunch time it was drinkable.

Even though we may not get our daily dose I do think that smoothies are the greatest way to change your health around.  It helps you consume more raw vegetables in an efficient way rather then trying to chew them up and eat them.  If you haven't tried one yet- do!  My main smoothie recipe is here but you can always play around with whatever greens and fruits you like.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Life, All better, and Birthday's

Things are getting all mixed up around here.  My comment about loving how life can get in the way came back to get me. :)  I still love how life can change things just makes things you plan take a different route. 

The rest of us ended up getting sick.  Luckily for the last two (my almost three year old and me) it only lasted for a less then a day.  We are all better now and on to our month of birthdays.  I have my oldest three are all girls and the first birthday will be my little girl turning three on Saturday.  Next Saturday will be my daughter that is turning seven and then a week and three days later my other daughter will turn six. 

Do not ask me what was nine months away from this time of year because I honestly have no clue.  It's just the way things worked out.  I have been mildly "stressed" out these past few weeks thinking about these birthdays.  We have finally got all the themes, activities, etc. planned out and now it is just the following through part. :)  Hopefully all my grand --I use this word lightly-- plans will work out and I can share some things on here. 

I have to say I am a minimalist and I have always been known to alleviate stress from my life even if that means just not doing something.  Having an elaborate birthday party is not for me- although I do think they are great.  Quite frankly- time, money, and three birthdays within three weeks just doesn't allow it for now.  Crossing my fingers for everything falling into place and the few little things I do have planned will be magnificent enough all on their own. 

Monday, February 7, 2011


We finally got the illnesses that have been going around.  I think we got pretty lucky compared to what others had.  Only two of my kids got sick and only with fevers.  I say only because I rejoice in the fact there was no throwing up or major coughing going on through the night.  Our cure for a fever- let it work its way out.  It is obviously a way of our body telling us there is something going on.  My two that were sick did a lot of sleeping, resting, and drinking water.  We took a few natural remedies to help in the dire times of that feverish discomfort. 

Due to this hiccup last week I did not get any of my preparing done (except cooking the rest of the beans I had which are now almost gone) and did not get to expand on some upcoming posts.  Now I am playing catch-up with the laundry and cleaning, my family blog, and trying to find that energy that I think walked out the door when I had my third kid. :) 

I love when life gets in the way-- truly I do.  I sat and looked at my three girls last night (little guy was off entertaining himself) and told them how much I love them.  Despite the melt downs, lack of listening, mischievous behavior.  The good out weighs the bad and they are growing up into -fun- young ladies.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February's Menu Plan

Don't get too used to me sharing menu plans a month at a time.  This will probably be the last month of meal plans and I will go back to more of a weekly planning.

Last month we had some changes come about and a lot of the meals have been pushed to this month- hence the main reason I planned the whole month already.  We ate from our pantry and fridge for the majority of January.  Keeping things simple and easy.  It was nice and refreshing but there is just something about a well orchestrated meal that I have been craving.

I am using this first week to get my house re-stocked of things.  My freezer is needing beans, pizza dough, marinara sauce, energy bars.  My refrigerator is needing tortillas and green smoothies.  I have some treats planned to make and have in the freezer/refrigerator so that when the sweet tooth comes this month I will reach in there first.  Being in the kitchen all day everyday preparing this week will mean dinners may remain simple for awhile longer.

Photo Credit
Also this month we have two birthdays so those days will be set aside for meals of choice for the special birthday girls.  I am hoping their choices will help my brain get motivated and give me the chance to re-create some meals into healthier options.  Although- these two favorite foods are salads and raw vegetables. 

Photo Credit
Sunday meals have turned into crockpot meals or something that can be cooking while we are at church.  When we get home from church it is nearly dinner time and the kids are ready for a meal.  We will most likely have a salad when we get home and then the hot meal at the appropriate time.  I am also going to utilize as many soups as possible since our warm weather is coming and we want to take advantage of a bowl of warm soup on a cooler evening.  I can hardly wait to have my chicken tortilla soup and try a new recipe from Nourishing Days.

Other meals planned:
Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes, Basil, and Parmesan
Chicken Nuggets
Stir fry

Meals that didn't make it last month:
Perfect Enchilada's
Sloppy Joe's in a Bowl
Homemade Pizza
Southwestern Taco Pizza
Hamburgers with sweet potato fries

Depending on how the first week of prep goes will depend on the remainder of the meals.  I do have some things jotted down such as potato pancakes, grilled pizza, and a dessert.

And of course my favorite holiday is this month- it is tradition that it is my husband's job to make dinner.  We do have a couple of Valentine standards and I think I need to make sure they happen this year- they are so yum, stay tuned!

Monday, January 31, 2011

On a roll

I am on a roll-- and finding some great new blogs and sites.  I love a new find and usually will get pretty wrapped up in it trying to absorb every bit of information I may not know yet.  That was definitely the case with Kitchen Stewardship.  Luckily I had a sick kid and three others that got along great allowing me to stay in the room with the sickie to read, learn, and find some new stuff.  Quite a few of her recipes are making their way into our menu plan this month.  She also gives some great tips and ideas.  Even if it is stuff you already know it never hurts to re-read something and to work on it a little more.