Grape and Strawberry Christmas Tree

10698554_925985044079417_3008334579085086101_nAlong with our gingerbread muffins we made today, I put this festive tree together with the last of the strawberries the kids picked at Avalon U-Pick Hydroponic Farm that’s just down the street from us. It’s all gone now :)

 

“Blackened” Gingerbread Muffins

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These super moist muffins get their sweetness from the raisins and some added protein from the black beans. And ginger is so good for you! 

Gingerbread Muffins

makes 10-12

  • 2 cups raisins

  • 1 cup black beans, cooked 

  • 1/2 cup whole grain flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten- free flour mix)

  • 2 Tablespoons clean oil

  • 1 Tablespoon molasses

  • 2 teaspoons gingerbread spice mix*

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Line muffin tin with liners. Preheat oven to 350. Place black beans and raisins in a food processor. Mix until beans and raisins form a thick paste. Add in remaining ingredients and process again until well combined. Spoon into muffin liners and bake 15-18 minutes. You can always add in some chocolate chips for an extra-special treat.

 

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b8b/19248628/files/2014/12/img_0679.jpg* I make a batch of this so it is always handy. Double it, triple it, or do whatever you would like so you don’t have to keep pulling out all these ingredients when you want to add a gingerbread spice to your creation.

Gingerbread Spice Mix
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Mix and store in a baby food jar.

Seared Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash over Swiss Chard – “A Salad For Each Week” #48

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Yes, I am still alive. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Thanksgiving, Christmas events, updating our youth room at church, and our active involvement in the local (and super spectacular!) production of The Nutcracker have kept me away from the keyboard except for quick check-ins here and there. However, these activities did not keep me from fueling our bodies with nutritious, clean foods. I made sure to have an assortment of fruits and veggies always on hand. And before it got crazy, my freezer was stocked with nutrient-packed snacks for school days. Today was our first Saturday together at home since September. After a “no-schedule” morning and afternoon,we grilled out and I made this salad with my leftover roasted butternut squash.

Brussel sprouts and pumpkin seeds are both high in protein and butternut squash and swiss chard are great sources of vitamins A and C. AND swiss chard contains over 600% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin K (think bone support).

Seared Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash over Swiss Chard

  • 4 large leaves swiss chard, 

  • 1 cup brussel sprouts

  • 1 cup butternut squash, roasted and cut

  • 1/8 cup thinly sliced onion

  • 2 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted

  • 1-2 garlic clove, minced

  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin oil (or other clean oil)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Balsamic vinegar

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute about 3-4 minutes. Add brussel sprouts and sear until tender and charred. Add in butternut squash and allow to brown. Season with a touch of salt and pepper. Place veggies over swiss chard and top with pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with a touch of balsamic vinegar. Serves 2.

 

Other recipes you will enjoy:

“A Salad For Each Week” Recipes:

  1. Broccoli and White Bean Salad

  2. Asian Purple Cabbage Slaw

  3. Fresh and Minty Cantaloupe and Tomato Salad

  4. Tangy Kale and Sweet Potato Bit Salad

  5. Key Lime Corn and Black Bean Salad

  6. Green Bean, Tomato, and Mozzarella Pesto Salad

  7. “So Long Summer” Salad

  8. Pickle Salsa

  9. Gingery Broccoli and Carrot Salad

  10. Mediterranean Farro Salad

  11. Home Grown Kale and Pumpkin Seed Salad

  12. Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Warm Chutney Dressing

  13. Cranberry and Orange Quinoa Salad

  14. Southwest Ranch Dressing

  15. Marinated Mushrooms

  16. Fajita Quinoa

  17. Caesared Brussel Sprouts

  18. Fresh Argentinian Salad

  19. The “New Green” Salad

  20. Shrimp, Strawberry, and Feta Salad with Balsamic Chia Dressing

  21. Garden Fresh Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

  22. Cool Zucchini, Carrot, and Radish Salad

  23. Layered Greek Salad

  24. Shredded Brussel Sprout Salad

  25. Ginger Dressed Slaw

  26. Creamy Balsamic, Blueberry and Basil Spinach Salad

  27. Tangy Green Bean Salad

  28. Florida Summer Salad

  29. Avocado and Crab Salad

  30. Bella Salad

  31. Sweet Potato Home Fries

  32. Tomato and Carrot Balsamic Salad

  33. “The Southeast” Summer Salad

  34. Homemade Caesar Salad

  35. Creamy Caesar Salad

  36. Antipasto Pasta Salad

  37. Curried Cauliflower Sauté

  38. French Onion Green Beans

  39. Mason Jar Greek Salad

  40. Thanksgiving Salad

  41. Carrabba’s Creamy Parmesan Salad

  42. Breakfast Salad

  43. Broccoli and “Bacon” Salad

  44. Cucumber Salad

  45. Roasted Beet, Nut and Feta Salad

  46. Butternut Squash and Green Bean Succotash

  47. Grilled Smoky Spanish Salad Seared

Lasagna Packed with Goodness from the Dirt!

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It’s a crazy week around here…Nutcracker practice nightly, last week of Scott’s semester (exams, 10 page paper), Christmas prep, continuation of youth room transformation, my studies for Pilates certification, and life in general. This morning I made lasagna to last us the next 2 days. It’s packed with lentils, squash, cauliflower, flax, and lean protein. Here is how I prep my Italian classic:

  • I do NOT cook my noodles. Because I allow the lasagna to chill in the fridge for the day, the noodles absorb the sauce and are able to cook through while baking in the over.
  • My sauce consists of sauteed onion, garlic, marinara sauce, lentils, and organic winter squash baby food. I mix these together along with my browned lean ground turkey.
  • My cheese layers are made up off low-fat, all natural cottage cheese, a touch of part-skim mozzarella, pureed cauliflower, and dried Italian seasoning.
  • I place a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 pan, followed by a layer of whole wheat lasagna noodles, more sauce, and then the dollops of the cheese mixture. I repeat these layers again and shred a touch more mozzarella on the top, along with ground flax and fresh basil.

Since I do not eat pasta, my lasagna is pictured below. My “noodles” are asparagus spears. I will sometimes use thin layers of zucchini or eggplant in place of noodles as well.

Now I can work and not worry about meal prep for my tribe of active ones! IMG_0489.JPG

Chocolate Nut Bars (No Bake!)

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I made these yummy bars this morning, and my kids and mother-in-law ate them up after our lunch of homemade pizza, Caesar salad , and seared chicken. A small handful of ingredients, a food processor, and a wax paper-lined pan is all you need!

Chocolate Nut Bars

-1 cup of nuts (I used almonds and cashews)
-2 cups of dates
-1/2 cup organic Cocoa powder
-1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Place nuts into a jar. Add just enough water to cover nuts. Allow them to soak for at least 30 min. Line an 8×8 pan with waxed paper, allowing paper to hang over edges. Place nuts (and soaking water) into a food processor. Process until thoroughly chopped and paste like. Remove into the lined pan. Place dates into processor and process until dates are also thoroughly chopped. Add in cocoa, vanilla, and nut mixture. Once again, process until mixed. Add in chocolate chips and pulse until evenly distributed. Press mixture into lined pan until smooth on top. Place in fridge for about 30 min. Slice into desired size bars and serve. Keep covered in the refrigerator.

Joel’s Thanksgiving Recipes – How a 5 Year Old Would Cook Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Cooking 101: Meal prep through the eyes of my son. I love how he watches me and incorporates what he knows into the recipes. Thanks to his wonderful preschool teacher, Mrs. Sink, for putting this together.

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Grilled Smoky Spanish Salad – “A Salad For Each Week” #47

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On cool days, a warm meal is a welcomed treat that keeps Jack Frost from nipping at your nose. While salads are often associated with a way to cool down, there are ways to keep your favorite greens going strong in your diet even when the days grow cold. Taking hearty leaves, like romaine, and grilling them still gives you that traditional crispiness of a salad while adding that warmth your body craves. I opted for a Spanish flavor for this salad, and their dishes often feature peppers and olives. To add to the grilled taste and in keeping with the Spanish flair, I also added a bit of smoky paprika. Rich carbs, healthy fats, and nutrients from every ingredient keep your immune system in full gear during the flu and cold season!

Grilled Smoky  Spanish Salad

  • 1 head romaine, outer leaves removed

  • 1/2 cup roasted peppers, sliced*

  • 1/4 cup green olives, sliced 

  • 1/4 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped

  • 1-2 garlic clove, minced

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Generously spray or rub romaine (all sides) with the olive oil. Season with a touch of salt and pepper. Place on grill and grill for about 3-4 minutes a side, allowing grill marks to appear on leaves and for the head to heat through. In a small bowl, mix together peppers, olives, garlic, and paprika. Stir. Place romaine head onto dish, top with olive and pepper mixture, and then add on chopped almonds (marcona almonds are a Spanish variety, but raw almonds work too). Drizzle with a touch of olive oil if desired.

*Roast your own! Lightly coat with olive oil and place on foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 400 for about 20-30 depending on size of peppers.

Other recipes you will enjoy:

“A Salad For Each Week” Recipes:

  1. Broccoli and White Bean Salad

  2. Asian Purple Cabbage Slaw

  3. Fresh and Minty Cantaloupe and Tomato Salad

  4. Tangy Kale and Sweet Potato Bit Salad

  5. Key Lime Corn and Black Bean Salad

  6. Green Bean, Tomato, and Mozzarella Pesto Salad

  7. “So Long Summer” Salad

  8. Pickle Salsa

  9. Gingery Broccoli and Carrot Salad

  10. Mediterranean Farro Salad

  11. Home Grown Kale and Pumpkin Seed Salad

  12. Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Warm Chutney Dressing

  13. Cranberry and Orange Quinoa Salad

  14. Southwest Ranch Dressing

  15. Marinated Mushrooms

  16. Fajita Quinoa

  17. Caesared Brussel Sprouts

  18. Fresh Argentinian Salad

  19. The “New Green” Salad

  20. Shrimp, Strawberry, and Feta Salad with Balsamic Chia Dressing

  21. Garden Fresh Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

  22. Cool Zucchini, Carrot, and Radish Salad

  23. Layered Greek Salad

  24. Shredded Brussel Sprout Salad

  25. Ginger Dressed Slaw

  26. Creamy Balsamic, Blueberry and Basil Spinach Salad

  27. Tangy Green Bean Salad

  28. Florida Summer Salad

  29. Avocado and Crab Salad

  30. Bella Salad

  31. Sweet Potato Home Fries

  32. Tomato and Carrot Balsamic Salad

  33. “The Southeast” Summer Salad

  34. Homemade Caesar Salad

  35. Creamy Caesar Salad

  36. Antipasto Pasta Salad

  37. Curried Cauliflower Sauté

  38. French Onion Green Beans

  39. Mason Jar Greek Salad

  40. Thanksgiving Salad

  41. Carrabba’s Creamy Parmesan Salad

  42. Breakfast Salad

  43. Broccoli and “Bacon” Salad

  44. Cucumber Salad

  45. Roasted Beet, Nut and Feta Salad

  46. Butternut Squash and Green Bean Succotash

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Butternut Squash in disguise!)

IMG_0277.JPGI made a lot of butternut squash the other day and had some leftover. What does one do with the rest? Make some yummy oatmeal raisin cookies of course! Think of the squash as a banana – moist, sweet, and a great binder in baked goods. 2 of my 3 kids loved them (the middle child is a little more picky when it comes to food :P ) Now you can bake up extra squash and use some in a savory dish like my succotash, and then you can make dessert!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

  • 1 cup cooked butternut squash
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup whole oats
  • 1/2 cup organic whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place flour, oats, flax, baking soda, baking powder, spice, and salt into a large mixing bowl.  Stir. Add in squash, syrup, and vanilla. Stir until all ingredients are combined and moist and then fold in raisins. Place batter by large spoonfuls (about 2″ in diameter) onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes. Allow to cool. Store in an airtight container for 2 days on counter or in fridge for up to a week.

Make the Moistest Turkey Ever!

IMG_0288.JPGMy secret weapon for the moistest Thanksgiving turkey ever: A cooler. (The blue marker on the lid is compliments of my 5 yr old son. :) )

I’ve done this twice now, and I have received many compliments on the flavor and juiciness of the turkey. You and your guests won’t be disappointed!

Here’s what to do:

  1. Place a semi- or fully thawed bird into the cooler. (Make sure the drain is closed!)

  2. Fill cooler with water until bird is completely covered. Add ice if bird is completely thawed.

  3. Add in 1/4 – 1/2 cup salt, depending on the size of the turkey.

  4. Allow to sit in the brine for 8-10 hours. Check occasionally to make sure water is still cold, adding ice if needed.

  5. Remove from cooler and into a large roasting pan and remove any gizzards.

  6. Pull skin away from breasts but don’t cut off.

  7. Rub the turkey (under the skin) with some olive oil, pepper, poultry seasoning, and place fresh sage leaves in between the skin and meat. Take thin slices of oranges and lemons and place those between the skin and meat as well.

  8. Place additional sage leaves and orange and lemon slices or chunks into the cavity of the bird.

  9. Bake in the oven for specified time for the size of your turkey.

  10. Pull out of oven and allow to rest for about 10-15 min. Pull off skin and carve.

Butternut Squash and Green Bean Succotash – “A Salad For Each Week” #46

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Last Saturday, I was at Whole Foods with a friend, and we grabbed an early lunch after a race to benefit Give Kids the World. As I was strolling along the salad bar, I came across their autumn version of succotash. I piled a heap on my plate, and when I sat down and tried a bite, I knew I had to recreate it! Butternut squash is high in vitamins A and C boosting eye health, anti-inflammatory benefits, and immune support, so eat away! :)

Butternut Squash and Green Bean Succotash

  • 1 butternut squash, cooked* and cubed

  • 3 cups fresh green beans, cut in half

  • 1 cup lima beans (I used frozen)

  • 1 cup organic corn (Again, I used frozen)

  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

  • 1-2 garlic clove, minced

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 Tablespoon white balsamic vinegar 

  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

  • Fresh parsley

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place all vegetables (squash-onion) into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and s&p, scatter on garlic, drizzle with oil and vinegar, and add in fresh parsley. Carefully stir to combine and coat thoroughly. Allow to chill at least 2 hours, preferably longer, if possible, for the flavors to marry. Makes about 8 – 10 servings. Serve alone or on top of your favorite lettuce.

*Slice in half, lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Place flesh side down onto an oiled cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake at 350 for about 30 min or until slightly soft when squeezed. Cool and then cube.

Other recipes you will enjoy:

“A Salad For Each Week” Recipes:

  1. Broccoli and White Bean Salad

  2. Asian Purple Cabbage Slaw

  3. Fresh and Minty Cantaloupe and Tomato Salad

  4. Tangy Kale and Sweet Potato Bit Salad

  5. Key Lime Corn and Black Bean Salad

  6. Green Bean, Tomato, and Mozzarella Pesto Salad

  7. “So Long Summer” Salad

  8. Pickle Salsa

  9. Gingery Broccoli and Carrot Salad

  10. Mediterranean Farro Salad

  11. Home Grown Kale and Pumpkin Seed Salad

  12. Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Warm Chutney Dressing

  13. Cranberry and Orange Quinoa Salad

  14. Southwest Ranch Dressing

  15. Marinated Mushrooms

  16. Fajita Quinoa

  17. Caesared Brussel Sprouts

  18. Fresh Argentinian Salad

  19. The “New Green” Salad

  20. Shrimp, Strawberry, and Feta Salad with Balsamic Chia Dressing

  21. Garden Fresh Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

  22. Cool Zucchini, Carrot, and Radish Salad

  23. Layered Greek Salad

  24. Shredded Brussel Sprout Salad

  25. Ginger Dressed Slaw

  26. Creamy Balsamic, Blueberry and Basil Spinach Salad

  27. Tangy Green Bean Salad

  28. Florida Summer Salad

  29. Avocado and Crab Salad

  30. Bella Salad

  31. Sweet Potato Home Fries

  32. Tomato and Carrot Balsamic Salad

  33. “The Southeast” Summer Salad

  34. Homemade Caesar Salad

  35. Creamy Caesar Salad

  36. Antipasto Pasta Salad

  37. Curried Cauliflower Sauté

  38. French Onion Green Beans

  39. Mason Jar Greek Salad

  40. Thanksgiving Salad

  41. Carrabba’s Creamy Parmesan Salad

  42. Breakfast Salad

  43. Broccoli and “Bacon” Salad

  44. Cucumber Salad

  45. Roasted Beet, Nut and Feta Salad

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