Friday, October 17, 2014

High Five for Friday!

Happy Friday! 

Linkin up with The Lauren Elizabeth to share my top five things from this week!

1. Gorgeous weather. This is one of my favorite parts of the year with all the sunshine and brisk temperatures! 

2. Winter Squash. I get a little obsessed with squash when it starts appearing in markets in the fall. We've been trying all kinds of new squashes lately because I went a little nuts when they all went on sale recently. Last week I roasted a kabocha squash  which turned out tasty. And this week I roasted a delicata squash, which was amazing. It reminded me a lot of a sweet potato, except a little sweeter. All I did was drizzle with coconut oil and salt and roast for 30 minutes! Squash candy. So good.
Butternut Friend
3. Royals! Ok so I am totally a fair-weather fan and really (still) don't care much for baseball. But it is WAY exciting to live in KC these days! We can ALL relate on some level with a good underdog story and the Royals have one of the best! I think it's pretty cool all the people who have stuck with the Royals as loyal die-hard fans for so long, and now all their dreams for their team are coming true! 

4. Engage-iversary! Yesterday marked 5 years from the day we got engaged! So fun to look back at all the pics from that season of life and reminisce. It was definitely the best choice I ever made! I would say yes a million times over again! 

5. My hubby's birthday is tomorrow! I just love him. He is always way more concerned about others than himself, and even more so when it's his birthday. We have a weekend full of celebrating planned - and a few college and NFL football games in there, too. I'm excited to have some time off together this weekend and enjoy this beautiful fall weather! And eat paleo chocolate cake. Yeah, that too. 

Hope you all have a beautiful weekend!! 

Friday, September 19, 2014

High Five for Friday!

This particular Friday deserves a particularly excited high-five, because I am sorely in need of a weekend! If you could have seen me at 6:30 (just kidding, I overslept) 7:30 this morning you would understand.

I'm linking up with Lauren over at The Lauren Elizabeth blog to share 5 things about this week.

1. We've had tons of activities going on lately! Sometimes it feels like hubby and I just pass each other briefly on our way to the next thing. It's all good stuff and such is life, but I am really really looking forward to not having any major plans this weekend. At least not ones that involve working!

2. It seems like fall came a little early this year, which I am totally okay with. Even though we had a really mild summer, it is so nice that the temperatures are cool enough to leave the windows open and enjoy being outside. Last weekend, we decided we HAD to do something to enjoy the perfect weather so we headed out to play some disc golf! Our little podunk town doesn't have many things to offer, but it does have a beautiful disc golf course surrounding the city lake. We took our dog and let her run (kind of) free in the fields and threw frisbees at baskets for awhile. I'm realizing more and more that being outdoors and doing something active is so good for you. Duh, kids know this that's why they love playing outside! I was never an active kid and always hated exercise until a few years ago, so it's a whole new experience to me to love being outdoors. Being in nature is good for the mind, emotions, and soul.

3. Some good friends of ours started an awesome little "support group" for those who want to learn more about eating a Paleo/Real Food lifestyle. Our first meeting was this past week and it was SO good I wish everyone in the world could have been there!! We shared resources and ideas and tips with each other and I came away even more inspired to be intentional about how I approach nutrition. (I'm sure I annoy the heck out of people who don't care one iota about nutrition and real food and natural lifestyle. Sorry. Maybe I was sent to be a thorn in your flesh...)

I had a rotisserie chicken in the back of the car and she was sniffing like crazy trying to figure out where it was! If this face doesn't make your day, I don't know what will. (It makes mine!)

5. Black bean brownies. I made a batch on Sunday from Chocolate Covered Katie  and then tried a different recipe that a friend brought to small group on Tuesday night. Both were super chocolatey and fudgey and so hard to believe that they had black beans in them! I just love things like that where you can hide good stuff in something indulgent. Makes it feel a little bit less bad. 

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend ahead! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Homemade PSL!

September is here! It's my favorite month and the start of my favorite season (and everyone else in the world).

So a few days ago, I posted this article from on Facebook about the actual ingredients in the ever-popular Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. In addition to not actually being any pumpkin (no surprise there for me), it has synthetic caramel coloring that has been cited as being a carcinogen in some studies, in addition to around 50g of sugar.

Since then I've seen tons of articles and posts on social media about the PSL and arguments about whether 50g is actually a toxic dose of sugar and whether or not caramel coloring is linked to cancer, etc. Lots of people fighting ferociously for the right/personal permission to indulge in a PSL this season despite knowing whats in it.

Here's the deal...the occasional PSL isn't gonna kill you. 50g of sugar is concerning to me, and I personally don't appreciate that Starbucks insists on charging almost $5 for a coffee drink that is made with poor quality, GMO milk and crappy coffee. However, I understand the PSL is tasty and lots of people have a tradition of ringing in the fall season by drinking one.

We don't make a habit of going to Starbucks very often for the reasons I listed above. Since we try to only consume grass-fed organic dairy (when possible) and avoid sugar, I usually end up just getting black coffee and it usually tastes burnt. But, I do love pumpkin spice flavored things! So I set out to recreate my own version of a PSL at home.

Guess what? It's possible, and I made 16 servings for around $6. And it is DELICIOUS.

I looked at a bunch of different recipes, and the one I ended up mostly following was from Once a Month Meals. Mostly what I loved was their idea to divide it up into single servings and freeze it so you can have them on hand. Brilliant!

picture: not mine., which actually looks to be kind of a cool thing! 

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte (Cheap & Clean)

3 cups grass-fed, organic whole milk (I used Kalona brand)
1 can pumpkin (organic preferable. mine wasn't.)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract (or more to taste)

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on low-med for a few minutes. Taste to see if it meets your sweetness preference. I wanted to keep it lower in sugar, but you might want to add more maple syrup.

NOTE - I don't think I would use a different kind of sweetener for this recipe. I've seen ones that call for Stevia and Honey, but I really think the maple syrup adds to the autumn flavor of the drink. I think Honey or Stevia would add a weird flavor to the drink. But if you must, give it a shot.

Once blended, you have 2 options:

1. Add roughly 1/4 cup of the mixture to a 16oz coffee cup and add 12oz hot, strong coffee. Stir and enjoy! The pumpkin will melt and mix in.

2.  I put plastic wrap over a muffin tin and carefully poured the mixture into each muffin cup. Place in the freezer until hard, then pop out and store in a freezer bag or container. When you want to enjoy, just pop one of the little "pucks" into your coffee mug (overnight might be preferable to allow it to thaw) and pour 12oz hot, strong coffee over it. Yum!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Memory Lane: First Day of College

The last few days, my social media feeds have blown up with pictures of kiddos going back to school. It makes me almost kind of miss school! Almost.

I was reminiscing with myself today about school and college days, and remembered a pretty hilarious story about my first day of college at SBU. It had been a beautiful August weekend in Bolivar, but on Monday when classes started, we woke up to rain.

No worries. I was prepared with an umbrella!

I got up early and put on a cute outfit for the first day of school, and made sure I was all organized and prepared. I even left early to go to breakfast before my 9:00am class.

On my way in to the cafeteria, I gracefully tripped and fell into a puddle and got an entire leg of my jeans soaking wet and covered in mud. Not exactly the ideal way to start off a new semester in a brand new place.

So...instead of breakfast, back to the dorm I went to change my clothes.

Donning outfit #2 of the day, I decided to drive to my class instead of walk since it was still raining, figuring I could at least walk with my umbrella through the parking lot and make it to class relatively unscathed by the morning's events.

While I was changing my clothes and driving across campus to class, the rain decided to flip the switch to monsoon and started coming down in torrents. Awesome. I pulled into the parking lot and couldn't even hear the radio in my car because the rain was so loud outside.

Is it better to be late on the first day of class, or to arrive soaking wet? I was torn. There were really no good options left for making good first impressions on professors and classmates!

I decided to make a run for it. Convincing myself it sounded like it was "letting up" (it wasn't), I opened the door, whipped out my umbrella and ran for it! About 3 seconds into my sprint through the torrential rain, my umbrella flipped inside out and rendered itself completely useless, so that was nice.

I arrived to my very first class looking like I had just stepped out of a fully clothed shower. Not a single inch of me was dry. Thankfully, other classmates also arrived wet....but nobody looked quite as soaked as I felt.

Oh, but it gets better still! My first class that day was Introduction to Public Speaking.
And everyone knows that in a college speech class, the very first day is impromptu introduction speeches.
Yep. That's right.
I gave my first college presentation looking like a wet dog.

Humble pie was served that day.

Thankfully, I can look back and laugh now at how ridiculous that day was!
Hopefully your back to school days go better than mine!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Taking Stock

This post kind of reminds me of Xanga, which was an awesome blog site back in the old days and I was a much more consistent blogger about the drama and angst of teenage me. Thankfully everyone lost their passwords to Xanga around the same time we all got sick of each other's drama and grew up, and so we no longer have those blogs anymore.

Anyway, I read Kate's blog and she posted this and got the idea from this blog, which I've never read. I thought it was cute so I decided to do it, too!

Making : plans to learn how to make kombucha next week with a friend! so looking forward to making our own and experimenting with flavors, and saving a ton of money by not buying kombucha anymore.
Cooking : Chocolate Avocado Cookies...recipe to come
Drinking : water, water, water. because i drink too much coffee, coffee, coffee.
Reading : Trusting God by Jerry Bridges. Highly recommend. And Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple by Dr. David Stewart.
Wanting : for God to change my heart on some things.
Looking : for new open door, a change in course...
Playing : this weird puzzle game on the iPad where you connect colored dots to each other without them crossing or touching. it is boggling.
Wasting :  food is the worst. :-(
Sewing : nothing but I have a sewing machine and half a closet of clothes that are too big so I wish I was a better seamstress!
Wishing : that abs weren't made in the kitchen, because chocolate avocado cookies are in the kitchen.
Enjoying : the long summer days where it is light outside until 9pm. there are only a handful of these days each year and they are my favorite.
Waiting : on The Lord.
Liking : that we very rarely have a need to go to Wal-mart anymore.
Wondering : what the future holds?
Loving : new and old friendships that are becoming so rich

Celebrating : four years of marriage with my love

Hoping : that I can reach a goal I have set for myself before the end of August.
Marvelling : at how smart my dog is.
Needing : a highlight and haircut
Smelling : Lavender...Stress Away...Dragon Time...Peppermint.
Wearing : shorts comfortably for the first time in my life.
Following : all the Young Living convention happenings this week and wishing I could have been there!
Noticing : a lot of hurting people in the world.
Knowing : that my attitude is always a choice
Thinking : about God's sovereignty and providence.
Feeling : sticky.
Bookmarking :
Opening : hopefully packages from Amazon with my kombucha tea and glass bottles!
Giggling :  with my husband - always.

And a picture of my Stella hugging my arm with both paws. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Make your own...nut butter!

The other day, as I was eating the last of the nut butter in the entire house again, I was complaining to my husband that it feels like we run out of nut butter every 3.5 days. It happens frequently, okay?

We had a short, unproductive conversation about our VitaMix blender and the fact that we were pretty uneducated about what it could do besides make smoothies...

I went to hang out with a friend at the pool for the afternoon, and pretty soon I got a text with a picture of a 3lb bag of almonds and a question: Should I roast these before I make almond butter?

Oh boy.

I honestly didn't know but I guess the answer was yes, because about 30 minutes later I received this picture:

Ta da! Roasted almond butter! 
Literally just almonds freshly roasted and blended in the VitaMix. 
He said it took less than a minute. 
And he watched several YouTube videos before he did it. 

I'm seriously impressed, because this stuff turned out SO creamy and gooey - the perfect consistency that always seems to be lacking in almond butter, am I right? We think the texture has something to do with the fact that the almonds were piping hot when they were blended. 

Either way, he totally did it right because it is delicious. We figured that roughly 3 cups of roasted almonds made a little over 2 cups of almond butter. SUPER inexpensive considering you can usually find almonds on sale in bulk at health food stores.

Next up we are thinking cashew butter. Holy moly. 

Also, to clear up confusion, we had heard that the VitaMix blender 64oz pitcher was for "wet" ingredients and if you wanted to make your own flours or grind nuts, you would need to purchase their "dry" container for blending. I guess we decided to take a risk and used our wet pitcher to make almond butter and it worked out great! 
However, our almonds were very warm and probably a little soft from roasting, so I would not recommend trying to blend up rock hard nuts in your VitaMix without doing a little research first. 
Show some love to the VitaMix, people. 

Coming soon: we are in the process of starting to make all kinds of things on our own...including kombucha, water kefir, and almond milk! I could not be more excited about spending less money at the grocery store and having fruity fizzy probiotic drinks in my fridge! 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Granola! (NYT Olive OIl)

A few days ago, some friends of mine on facebook were having a discussion about granola recipes. To my delight, several friends posted their own recipes that were their favorites, and next thing you know I had a hankering for granola.

Usually we don't eat grains at our house. Most grains cause at least a little bit of an inflammatory response in the body, especially if they contain gluten. Even if they don't, they aren't the best and they really don't give you any nutritional benefit -unless you count a blood sugar spike a benefit.

The one grain I am occasionally willing to make an exception for is oats. Not in excess, mind you, but every once in awhile, I say oats are okay. I have made granola only out of nuts before, but good grief that gets expensive.

So when my friend Natalie posted a link to this  New York Times Olive Oil Granola , I was all over it. There are only a couple of recipes that I have blogged about immediately after making, because they were so so good that I wanted to always have the recipe on hand. This blog is kind of my own personal cookbook, btw.

I made a few adaptations to the recipe, and it still turned out fantastic. Here's what I did:

NYT Olive Oil Granola

3 cups whole grain oats (gluten free)
1.5 cups hulled pistachios
1 cup pumpkin seeds hulled (except mine weren't...)
1 cup coconut chips (I used flakes)
3 Tbsp Chia seeds
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger & nutmeg (Recipe calls for cardamom, which I didn't have, but it would be amazing)
Handful of raisins and chopped dried apricots

Preheat oven to 300. I added all the dry ingredients together in my mixer, and then added the liquids on top and mixed well. Reserve the dried fruit until after it is all baked, otherwise they will turn into little rocks that will break your teeth. I baked it all in a jelly roll pain for about 55 mins and stirred every 15. Once it is baked, add your raisins and chopped apricots and stir together. Enjoy!

The recipe I linked above suggests serving this with ricotta cheese and fresh berries (yum). I think it would be delicious with a splash of coconut milk or grass fed cow's milk, or used as a topping with some baked apples! It is calorie dense, but has lots of good stuff in it so it would be a great pre- or post-workout snack to give you energy! Hope you enjoy!