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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Interesting read and a great find

I came across this post when I was searching the web for a product.  I loved this guys take on diet soda.  Nothing can be proven yet because studies are still in effect.  I like his approach on taking the facts... the taste, the unpronounceable ingredients, people who are "trying" to lose weight but live on the stuff.

I didn't read the whole article just bits and pieces because quite frankly I don't have a diet soda (or plain soda) drinking problem.  It is definitely an interesting read, I think, and there will always be those out there who will defend their habit.

My opinion- if you choose to drink soda.  Drink regular- and even then limit it to at least one every other day and eventually to just every once in awhile.  Quite honestly-- if you are worried about your health at all-- just don't drink it.  Water really isn't that bad.

Another little tid bit-- you can make your own kind of soda like drink a little more natural like.  If it is that burning sensation you crave.  (Yes it seems I may have a natural alternative for almost everything!)  Go here to read how.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Working out the kinks

I mentioned awhile ago that there were going to be some changes being made to this blog.  They are still in the works and until they start I am going to keep up with linking up my new finds and new readings.

I also need a little help from my readers- I have realized these past few weeks that more often I have people come to me to talk about health and that I love.  However, I do need a little help with posts so if you ever have a question or topic you want to learn more about- maybe I already know something abut it and if I don't I would probably like to know more about it too.  So let me know if there is anything on your mind and if you need an immediate answer I don't mind the phone calls! :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Take a look

Oh my- doesn't this look delicious?  My February meal list has started to compile and I haven't even done that great to sticking to my January one... in the sense we have been eating what we have before we buy new ingredients for other meals.  The kids are sick of pasta! :)

sidenote for locals-- Natural Grocers in Washington has avocados for .79 each right now.  That's a great deal!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Today I am reading...

Over at The Nourishing Gourmet on How to Deal With Sugar Cravings.  Sweets are my weakness and I even  find myself trying to hold back from the "healthier" kind of treats.  I went a month without sugar once and loved it... especially when I found out after wards that I was pregnant.  I was really impressed with myself that I had so much self control.  I love these tips.  Whether you are trying to go without sugar for an extended period of time or cut back on your intake these are great suggestions!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What I am reading today.

I have been fortunate to come across some blogs that are perfect for me.  They have taught me a lot- when I am able to take some time to read them.  I want to share them with you as I learn and read for myself.  However, I don't want to make it seem like their words are mine and quite frankly why go to all the trouble of composing a post when someone else has done a fabulous job of it.  So I will share by sending you to the original post.

Tonight I am reading over at Keeper of the Home.  Starting with the post My Journey to Burnout: Proof That I Really Can’t Do It All. 

This post and the ones after it were very interesting to me.  This is something I feel like I have shielded myself from my whole life- getting burned out.  Perhaps there is no way to completely protect yourself from it.  Read this if not for you then maybe to understand someone in your life.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Some changes....

After doing some personal evaluating there will be some changes being made to this blog.  For now they will show up in the posts and the actual blog look and layout will change eventually (I hope).  I am trying to keep it real- keep it the way I want it- and just a simple easy way to share things that interest me.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Open Face Spinach, Artichoke, and Egg Sandwich

There is a local restaurant that sells an amazing breakfast panini and this is my way of recreating it. The combination is amazing- and yet mine still didn't compare to the restaurants it is on it's way.

1slice of whole wheat toast
Handful of spinach
2 seasoned scrambled eggs
3-4 artichoke hearts
sliced/shredded cheese of choice

Layer in order and enjoy!

I also covered mine with a wet paper towel and put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Do as I do not only as I say.

A few months ago I made my older girls a chart of the tasks they need to complete through the day- with the majority being done before school.  They were having a hard time doing the simple required things and a chart helped them get the job done faster.  Their chart consists of these things: say prayers, read scriptures, make bed, brush teeth, instrument practice, homework, read, and a miscellaneous chore around the house.

During Christmas break one of the girls has a question about-- why they had to do their chores when they weren't in school.  I know I had explained to them the reason for the chart when we set it up but it was apparent they had already forgotten.  The chart is just a fun way for them to make sure that they do the things that they should eventually be doing out of habit.

It dawned on me that maybe it should be brought to their attention that mom and dad work on these same things on a daily basis.  So- I made a family chart.  It is by example that our children will learn.

I can't manage to get a better picture of the chart so this one will have to do.
Say prayers, Read Scriptures, Make Bed, Brush Teeth, Homework, and Exercise.
Along with a weekly spot for Family Home Evening and Nightly Family time with Scripture reading and Prayer.

I hope that the kids knowing that we are doing these things that they will make a bigger effort of making these things a daily part of their lives.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Learning to Love my Laundry

Back in the day when we were first married I loved doing laundry.  Having a completely empty laundry basket absolutely thrilled me.  Even once we had our first child I still enjoyed having my one day for laundry. getting everything folded and put away.  I did laundry twice a week- one day was for clothes the other day was for sheets.  It was blissful.

Now-- I dread it.  I am amazed that all three of our laundry baskets seem to constantly be overflowing.  I usually get ahead of my self and wash and dry more loads then I have the energy to fold and put away, or maybe someone gets sick which adds a few more loads all in itself getting farther behind, or whatever the case may be the laundry just isn't getting done and when it is it's done grudgingly.

Lately I have felt the need to get over this hatred.  The chore of doing laundry will always be there.  We are a family of six.  We have our daily clothes, p.j.'s, work clothes, work out clothes, sheets, towels, spilled something on this outfit have to get a new one.  We have linens that have to be cleaned- and for that luxury I am thankful.

I have laid out a plan for me these past few weeks on ways to start to love my laundry.

1. Two loads a day (excluding Sundays)- to stay on top of things.  I have found out that two loads seem to be the max I can do and get it done right.  It is necessary to do laundry daily.  You never know what challenges are going to be thrown your way and having a lower level of laundry gets you ahead of the game.

2. Wash, dry, fold/hang, put away that day.  This is a no brainer- simply following through with that task makes a world of difference.

3.  Decorate laundry room and keep clean.  I have found some cute projects and vinyl that I want to put up.  The laundry room can tend to be the dropping place for things not to mention the kids crafts are stored in there.  Keeping the area clean will make it more pleasing to want to go in there.

4.  Get everyone on board.  We need to have a family understanding that at this time this is important to mom.  Word of encouragement and following through with your end of the deal like getting all clothes in hampers will be very much appreciated.

Things to get over/and other thoughts:

::Chances are we won't get to re-wear things very often.  The kids clothes usually get too dirty.  Our jeans get washed with every wear due to mess.  I see this as living- I used to literally stress over my kids getting dirty because I wanted them to re-wear a pair of jeans.  I have let that go.  Now if I get after them it is because spot treating can be so time consuming.  One more battle to overcome.

::I do the laundry- even though I have a grudge towards it.  I like it that I do the laundry.  The times my husband has done it have been in times of dire need and quite frankly, I like it that way.  I like to be appreciated for a job well done and for his times of helping me to be ten times more appreciated.

::My kids may not do things the same way that I do.  My girls are responsible for putting their own clothes away.  They need to learn that it is an important task (as do I) and if there basket sits in their room for a few days I need to deal with it and let them learn on their own.  And if they don't put their clothes away the way I would have I also need to just get over it.

Facing your fears is the first step right?  I am excited to love my laundry and hope I can keep it up!  What are your feelings about laundry and what kind of things do you do to love it?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Meal Plan

Meal planning and home cooking is something I have really slacked with these past few months and I am ready to get back on track.  I have been trying for a couple of weeks to get back in the swing of things and my family is much happier and functions better when we eat at home (and healthier).  I sat down this past week and wrote out meals for 31 days.  Yes different meals each day.  Although I think meal planning is the easiest part of it all.  The hard parts are deciding on a weekly basis which of those meals to make, which day, shop for them, and then actually make them.

I cheated a little bit making my meal plan and I will share with you my thought process:

Fridays are pizza night so I wrote down four pizza choices:
1. Southwestern Taco Pizza
2. Breakfast Pizza
3. Homemade Pizza
4. Order out Pizza

Sundays need to be a meal that can be made ahead of time or cooking in the crockpot all day.  I also went with the mindset of some classics and comfort foods, for our family:
1. Lasagna
2. Chicken Tortilla Soup
3. Potato, Artichoke, Asparagus soup
4. Spinach and Shells
5. Meatloaf

My husband and kids like meat.  I would love for them to be able to have some grilled steak or chicken along with a good side.  So I went through my archives looking for some side dishes that I/we like that could also serve as a good nutritious meal for me on their own.  This list will just be the one side I thought of as I am sure the rest of the menu will be planned out closer to the individual day:
1. Sweet Potato Fries (I actually decided to do this with hamburger- I love to get a bit of summer taste in the middle of winter.)
2. Spinach Artichoke Dip
3.Sauteed garlic spinach
4. Twice baked green potatoes
5. Pasta with Pesto (I will be featuring this recipe shortly.  It is so yummy but the man of the house could have used grilled chicken to go with his.)

Here is a bit of the cheating part.  I allowed myself four free nights for leftovers, throw together meals, perhaps a night out for just mom and dad, whatever it may be.  I don't want to over plan and not be able to follow through as I have seen that pattern in the past.

Another set of cheating- is three nights for something new.  Sometimes I come across something on a blog that I just can not wait to make.  I think three nights is generous enough for this and I have back-ups just in case I don't come across anything.

4+5+5+4+3= 21  That leaves me with just 10 more meals to plan.  So easy!!

1. Dinner Pancakes (this one will surprise you if you don't already know what it is)
2. Stir Fry
3. Tacos
4. Taco Salad
5. Spaghetti and Meatballs
6. Sloppy Joe's in a bowl
7. Crockpot chicken and Quinoa/rice
8. Simple Perfect Enchiladas
9. Breakfast
10. Sandwiches or salad- buffet style

I cut myself a little slack this month and planned some pretty simple and easy meals.  I plan on getting back on track with making and stocking up on beans, making bread and tortillas, and perhaps experimenting with homemade yogurt, along with testing out some homemade salad dressings.  This will be one busy month in the kitchen!!

I would love to know some your meal planning ideas or even some of your favorite (healthier) meals.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year's

Brand new year, fresh start, fresh posts starting in the 100's, and everyone is bustling around making goals.

I like January 1st.  I think it is fun to start a new year especially the year being 2011- my husband and I laugh at movies that talk about the future and give out a date that has already past and yet we don't have floating houses or flying cars- to my knowledge. 

I tend to not make resolutions or at least not refer to them that way.  If I am going to set a goal for myself I typically like to start the day I have the thought.  However, we do sit down as a family New Year's Eve and talk about the things we would like to do to improve ourselves this next year.  Some of the things my kids said this year- 6 year old: homework--  5 year old: clean up after self--  2 year old: go potty aka potty training time (we were pretty impressed with her suggesting this one- sounds like she made a goal for me too!)

There have been a few things I have been thinking about and have already started working on for myself.  I plan on sharing those things with you this week and am pretty excited about them.

Happy New Year to you all- hope this one is better then the last.