Thursday, January 24, 2013

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Aioli Dip

Up until I made these, I hated brussels sprouts with all my being. I'd gag my way through eating them occasionally but generally we wouldn't eat them because I couldn't stand the taste or smell, and I'm the cook, so that's my choice =) I love aioli sauce though so I thought I'd give this recipe a whirl. I figure aioli can make anything good right? Turns out these are good even without the aioli! I have to say though, my oldest kid decided he loved them with honey mustard...weird, but whatever, he eats a ton of them and asks me to make them again and again!
This is a recipe I found on pinterest (though I modified it), and I think this is the original:  Costa Kitchen She uses canola oil and I do not recommend that. I understand why she did, but no one should consume canola, for any reason. It is an unhealthy oil and is one of the top genetically modified foods. So I used olive oil, though I don't totally agree with cooking with olive oil, it doesn't withstand high heat very well. I thought coconut oil would be a little weird. If anyone tries any other oil I would love to hear about it!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Aioli Dip
by Amanda @ Natural and Organic Lifestyle

1 lb brussels sprouts, organic is preferred
A couple tb organic olive oil, or oil of choice
Good salt, to taste
1/4 ts organic ground pepper
1/4 ts organic garlic powder

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 ts organic crushed garlic
pinch of dried parsley
Salt to taste
Juice from half a lemon

Toss brussels sprouts with oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Spread on a parchement lined cookie sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until they are just browned.

While the brussels sprouts are roasting, whip together your aioli sauce. Mix together mayo, garlic, parsley, salt, and lemon. Serve alongside your brussels sprouts in a ramekin.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Natural Watercolor Paints

This was part of one of our unit study lessons and thought I would share it. I thought it was a neat idea. Not only do the kids get to participate in the cooking of the paint, then they get to paint with it. I would say there isn't anything my kids love more than painting. They would paint at any moment in any day if I let them.

How we did it:
Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil
Drop in 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries
Simmer until water is very dark, about 20 minutes
Let cool
This can be stored in the fridge for a week

We also did spinach. As you can see above it did not come out green. It came out yellow :/ I "think" that if I had processed the spinach in the food processor before boiling it might have been more green.

From what I've read you can also do raspberries, red cabbage, blackberries, cherries, and more.

Just thought it was a neat idea. I really liked the way it dried on the paper. It actually darkened as it dried.
So go for it, make your own watercolors!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Lemon Bars

This recipe is super exciting to me. When I was a kid I used to make these, from a box. Every holiday I would take some to my grandparents house, and like clockwork, my step grandpa would snatch them up and not let anybody have any. So I started making two batches, one just for him, and one for everyone else. Then he would try to steal the second was hopeless ;)

I stopped eating these ten years ago when we became enlightened on healthy eating. Those bars from the box do not equal healthy eating. Disclaimer: I am not at all claiming this recipe is healthy, there is a lot of sugar, BUT there are a minimal amount of ingredients, and you can pronounce them all =) So, on to these delightful little treats. These are a great "special occasion" or occasional treat.

Lemon Bars
by Amanda @ Natural and Organic Lifestyle
Inspired by Mommy Bistro

1 cup softened organic butter
2 cups organic whole wheat flour (pastry flour would be great here if you have it)
1/2 organic powdered sugar
1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (about 4 Meyer lemons)
Zest from 2 lemons
1-2 cups organic sugar (using sucanat would make these healthier than regular pure cane sugar. Original recipe calls for 2 cups, I think that's a bit much.)
4 organic eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor (or by hand with a fork) mix together softened butter, flour, and powdered sugar until well combined. With wet hands, press dough into a 9x13 baking dish, evenly. Bake for 20 minutes or until edges are starting to brown. In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, zest, sugar, and eggs. Pour over hot crust and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool on the counter and slice with a wet knife. Dust with more powdered sugar if you desire, makes it pretty =)
Dig in! neatly on a plate to serve to guests, hmph....and hide some for later.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

FDA to approve first Frankenfish

The FDA has cleared the way for approval of the first genetically engineered animal for human consumption - a GMO salmon gene-spliced with an eel - despite mounting concerns that it's likely hazardous for humans and poses a threat to the wild salmon population.

The FDA’s own testing revealed that “Frankenfish” causes increased allergy risk in humans. “Frankenfish” grows twice as large, twice as fast as the average wild salmon. If it escapes into the wild, it could threaten the entire wild salmon population.

Click Here To Tell the FDA: NO FRANKENFISH!

Learn more about Frankenfish here:

Monday, January 7, 2013

2012: Top ten most viewed posts!

I'm happy to announce this list of the top ten most viewed posts from 2012! Happy New Year!

This will make my hubby happy =)

Homemade carpet cleaner

Natural Odor Eliminator
Along with my compost cracker fail, haha.

Raw Date Balls
About to make these right now!

Reusing your green onion ends
Still love this idea. Tried it in dirt too, worked for a few times and then just stopped growing.

Ricotta Stuffed Hot Peppers
Made these last night! Ate the rest for lunch today =)

Baked Chicken Parm Casserole

Queso Dip

Mom Rules
One of my fav's too =) If you haven't read this it's a must read!

Non GMO awareness month 2012

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Onion cutting at its best!

We eat a ton of onions around here. That means a lot of onion cutting, and crying, and fear of cutting my fingers off because my eyes were tearing so much I couldn't see. I've tried the freezer method. I've tried the spoon in mouth (which works sometimes but when it doesn't its miserable). I've tried cutting them as fast as I can like Rachel Ray suggests. Still a miserable experience. Suddenly I got this great idea! I dug through our box of summer stuff and snagged a pair of my kids goggles! It worked perfectly!!! I later was informed that"onion goggles" is a real thing that already existed, go figure. But hey, if you have swim goggles laying around, don't spend the money on fancy smancy onion goggles :)

Cranberry Carrot Juice

I love this vibrant refreshing juice! My kids? Not so much! In the juices defense, I think it was the ginger they couldn't handle. My three year old took one sip and coughed like I drank the rest of hers. The boys liked it but couldn't handle too much of it. Which is actually pretty strange because they love ginger. I guess when it's juiced it burns more. The funny thing is, I added half the amount of ginger, tasted it, and then added the rest, seemed fine to me. Oh well, oops. So my suggestion, if you are serving this to kids, only put about half the ginger in.

Cranberry Carrot Juice
by Amanda @ Natural and Organic Lifestyle
Inspired by VegVivaciously

Makes about 48 ounces

5 lbs organic carrots
8 oz organic cranberries (mine were frozen and still juiced well)
3 large organic apples
1 inch piece of ginger (or to taste)

Process through your juicer and stir. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone is looking forward to a healthy and happy 2013. I'm not one to make new years resolutions because I'm more of a "I want to do it NOW" kind of person. So if I'm feeling like I need a change regarding diet and exercise, I generally get started right away. But I do happen to have some current changes I would like to make, and it just happens to be the new year! I'll share those with you in a minute.

It's been a busy month and I feel we've gotten off track on a lot of things. We've been buried in snow, the picture above was after our first snow, our snow people family =)
This picture is after a foot of snow the following week...

As a friend said "Now they're wearing blankets." =)

I do feel like in the last month diet and exercise has definitely gotten off track for our whole family. Checking my log, I haven't ran in 3 weeks. It's so darn cold out there, and the ice and snow scare me a bit. I'm not a huge fan of running on the treadmill, it used to be the opposite. So I am resolving in the next couple weeks to explore some new (to me) indoor exercises. I will add some treadmill time in there so I don't totally loose the running bug, but mostly some fun indoor stuff. I have a stationary recumbent bike I use sometimes, but it's not all that exiting. I often do JM's 30 day shred dvd, and some random yoga ones, but it's been awhile. It'll be fun to try some new routines. If it ever thaws, I'll get out there and do some running, but until then I'll be in my warm cozy house burning some calories.

Food. There aren't a terrible amount of things I want to change but there are old habits I would like to bring back and some other minor changes. Every morning we used to have smoothies and freshly juiced juice. Now it seems it's one or the other. I've played with the idea of doing one at breakfast and one at lunch but then that means hubby loses out. Though, we do have a Green Star juicer and it has the longest "shelf life" for retaining vitamins and minerals in the fresh juice. So I could do it at lunch and save it for him when he gets home. That's an option. But I also know with homeschooling, lunch often needs to be quick and easy, like I'm talking minutes to prepare, haha. So I'm thinking back to how I used to do it. I would throw all the ingredients for the smoothies into the blender the night before and throw it in the fridge until morning. Generally the frozen fruit doesn't thaw completely, so it will still be smoothie consistency, if not, add a little ice. Then all I have to do in the morning is pull it out of the fridge and blend. This saves me about ten minutes in the morning, give or take. I also used to prepare the veggies for the juice the night before. Generally it was just carrot juice, so I would wash and cut the ends off the carrots. Then I would place them in a baking dish covered in water, cover the dish, and place in the fridge the night before. This also would save me about ten minutes, not to mention I could usually recruit a kid to juice it for me in the morning. So there's another ten minutes saved. I love starting the day with smoothies and juice because it makes me feel we've given ourselves a great start to the day. No matter what we eat the rest of the day, I know we've already started with some good nutrition. So if all I give my kids for lunch is pasta, I don't feel so bad =)

So there's the other thing. I'm really thinking, at least for myself, but I think two of my kids would also benefit greatly, to eliminate wheat and all gluten. I went a couple months with no grains at all and felt really good. Now, when I do eat a wheat product, I feel bloated and can feel it sitting in my belly. I really feel that if a food doesn't make you feel good, then you shouldn't eat it. By far this is much harder for me than eliminating meat ever was. I used to be vegan and vegetarian, but added raw organic dairy and organic pasture raised meat/poultry into our diets about seven years ago. Granted, we do eat a good amount of non-raw cheese, but that's more of a cost issue. It's hard to eat perfectly on a budget. I just try to do the best we can. I feel if that's the worst thing we eat, then we are doing okay. I have greatly decreased the amount of packaged food I buy. Though, we weren't buying/eating as much as the average American on the standard American diet, I did feel like we had too much. I now bake my own bread, granola bars, cookies, crackers, muffins, tortilla chips (flavored and not), nut clusters, dried fruits (my kids can plow through some dried apples),and many other snacks. If I have these snacks on hand it generally stops my kids from going and grabbing a packaged granola bar. I do hope to add more to this list and eventually not buy anything in a box.

I also have some new fun ideas for this blog for the future. I'm really excited about it! So stay tuned.
Please feel free to share your ideas for a healthy new year in the comments. I feel it's very helpful to put it out there so you are more accountable. Let's do this together!