Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pictures from our garden

I apologize for my hiatus but we've been busy enjoying the summer, beach vacation, amusement parks, purging the house (a late spring cleaning), family visiting, and last of all purchasing a house which is requiring tons of repairs to be done, taking up tons of time! For the first time EVER we have a successful garden. I have always had the brownest thumbs and plants just die when I look at them. This year I enlisted the help of the kids with weeding, planting, and watering and we have success! In addition to our planted garden, our berry patch is bursting with berries! It's all very exciting around here ;)

Here are some pictures:

A tiny strawberry


Corn is getting big!

Basil! My fav fresh herb!

Green tomatoes

Tons of tomato plants



Bright green frog camping out in our pond


Squash. Picked two today!

A view of the garden

Deep in the berry patch

Look, there's a little girl growing in the garden!
Lots of peppers!

Jailed himself

Friday, May 17, 2013

Strawberry shortcake monkey bread cupcakes recipe review

Strawberry Shortcake Monkey Bread, that's a mouthful! A mouthful of yumminess! These "cupcakes" are gluten free and grain free, and can also be made sugar and dairy free!!! You would absolutely never know these are gluten free. They are just that good. The whole recipe can be found over at Real Sustenance. I made some very minor changes and I'll tell you what I did but go over and check out her blog because it's great! Especially if you are gluten/grain/dairy/sugar free!!! I've made these twice now (in the same week) and everyone is requesting I make them again.

The recipe says it makes 10 "cupcakes" (though I don't really find these to be very cupcake like, more muffin like) but I used a regular muffin tin and was able to get 12. It would be great to be able to double the recipe (which I haven't tried yet) but almond flour is not cheap my friends. Which brings me to the next thing...

The second time I made them I used flour I made from grinding up sunflower seeds in my vitamix. These still came out GREAT with a slightly different taste since you can really taste the sunflower seeds. I also have heard that mixing sunflower seed flour with baking powder or soda at a certain ratio can turn it green. When these first came out of the oven they were not green. After sitting for a little while they maybe had a slight green tinge, but was only noticeable because we were looking for it.

I used 1/2 ts of salt both times instead of 1/4 ts. 1/4 ts just didn't seem like enough. They were not at all salty, so I highly recommend that.

I used butter and cane sugar but there's options in the original recipe for not using either if that's something you avoid.

The second time I made them I forgot the powdered sugar glaze and it wasn't missed, so skip it if you like.

Overall these were great and I will continue to make them. Thank you for this amazingly healthy recipe.

I think I may try blueberries next time...though that completely changes the name of them ;)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cheese Stuffed Baby Peppers

These little baby peppers are so delicious and easy to make. Thanks to our long time family friend, Lori, for the great idea! This is a very versatile recipe. You can use any combination your heart desires. My favorite is mozzarella, Parmesan, and jack. I've also used cheddar. You just toss the cheese with salt, pepper, fresh chopped garlic (though I've used dried minced garlic when I didn't feel like chopping) and any other herb you would like. Great appetizer, snack, or side dish! My kids gobble these up! They can be made on a grill or in the oven with a pepper rack, or in the oven packed in a oven safe dish (I've used round pyrex dishes and packed them in there so they can all stand up. You just want to make sure the sides of the dish are taller than the peppers. The pepper rack is really awesome for this, highly recommended.)

Cheese Stuffed Baby Peppers
by Amanda @ Natural and Organic Lifestyle

1 lb baby bell peppers, organic
Approximately 1 lb of cheese, any combination  you like (parm, moz, jack, cheddar, etc)
3 cloves of garlic, minced, organic
Salt to taste (I use about 1/2 ts)
Pepper to taste (again I use about 1/2 ts)
TS or to taste of any herb you like, I've used thyme, parsely, and basil

Shred cheese and toss with salt, pepper, garlic, and herbs. Slice the tops off of the peppers and remove seeds. Stuff with cheese to the top and place in pepper rack or oven safe dish. Repeat for all the peppers. If using a pepper rack and your pepper is too small for the hole (also keep in mind they will get soft when cooking and will squish a little) stick a toothpick through the pepper across the hole to keep it in. Place on grill and cook until cheese is melted. Or place in oven at 350 degrees (though 400 works too if you're cooking something else at the same time, very forgiving) for 10-20 minutes until cheese is melted. Let cool slightly, the cheese will be hot, then serve!

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Friday, April 26, 2013

GMO: crops to avoid, companies to avoid, and companies to support

Of course, the best thing to do to avoid GMO's is to stay away from packaged foods and avoid whole foods that are currently gmo'd. Cook from scratch. Grow and preserve your own food. Join a local organic CSA.

According to the Non-GMO project, the following crops are the highest risk crops of being gmo:
  • Alfalfa (first planting 2011)
  • Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop)
  • Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres)
  • Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Sugar Beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010)
  • Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres)
The following crops are at risk for contamination:
  • Beta vulgaris (e.g., chard, table beets)
  • Brassica napa (e.g., rutabaga, Siberian kale)
  • Brassica rapa (e.g., bok choy, mizuna, Chinese cabbage, turnip, rapini, tatsoi)
  • Curcubita (acorn squash, delicata squash, patty pan)
  • Flax
  • Rice
At this time, the following companies are companies that either have products that contain gmo's and/or donated a significant amount of money to defeat the labeling of gmo's:
 List provided by

Campbell’s - $250,000.00

  • Healthy Request
  • Wolfgang Puck Soups
  • Pace Foods
  • Pepperidge Farms
  • V-8

Cargill, Inc - $202,229.36

  • Truvia Natural Sweetener
  • Shady Brooks Farms
  • Diamond Crystal Salt
  • Liza
  • Nature Fresh
  • Peter’s Chocolate
  • Wilbur Chocolate
  • Honeysuckle White
  • Rumba Meats
  • Good Nature

Coca Cola -  $1,164,400.00

  • Vitamin Water
  • Smart Water
  • Dasani
  • Nestea
  • Minute Maid
  • Honest Tea
  • Odwalla
  • Vitaminenergy

Con-Agra - $1,076,700.00

  • Orville Redenbacher’s Organic
  • Hunt’s Organic
  • Lightlife
  • Alexia
  • Healthy Choice
  • Hebrew National

Dean Foods -  $253,950.00

  • Horizon
  • Silk
  • White Wave

General Mills - $908,200.00

  • Nature Valley
  • Fiber One
  • Cheerios
  • Cascadian Farm
  • Muir Glen
  • Lärabar
  • Gold Medal Organic
  • Food Should Taste Good

Heinz/Hains Celestial - $500,000.00

(Hains is actually owned by Heinz, Phillip Morris, Monsanto, Citigroup, Exxon-Mobil, Wal-Mart and Lockheed Martin)
  • Earth’s Best
  • Spectrum Organics
  • Garden of Eatin’
  • Casbah
  • Rice Dream
  • Soy Dream
  • WestSoy
  • TofuTown
  • MaraNatha
  • Mountain Sun
  • Walnut Acres
  • Fruiti di Bosco
  • Health Valley
  • Bearitos
  • Bread Shop
  • Celestial Seasonings

Kellogg’s - $632,500.00

  • Kashi
  • Muslix
  • Nutrigrain
  • Bear Naked
  • Morningstar Farms
  • Gardenburger

Kraft - $551,148.25

  • Snapple
  • ReaLemon
  • Triscuit
  • SnackWell’s
  • South Beach
  • Boca
  • Back to Nature
  • Nabisco

Nestle -   $1,169,400.00

  • Pure Life
  • Pelligrino
  • Perrier
  • Poland Spring
  • Gerber
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • Tribe Mediterranean
  • Sweet Leaf Tea

PepsiCo $2,249,661.61

  • Miss Vickie’s
  • Sun Chips
  • Aquafina
  • SoBe
  • Harvest Crunch
  • Dole
  • Ocean Spray
  • Tropicana
  • Miranda
  • Tazo
  • Quaker
  • Naked Juice
  • Mother’s

Unilever – $467,000 (source)

  • Salada
  • Knorr
  • Ben & Jerry’s
 Here is a list of companies that are GOOD options:
  • 7th Generation
  • Amy’s Kitchens
  • Apple and Eve
  • Applegate
  • Azumaya
  • Blue Diamond
  • Bob’s Red Mill
  • Bossa Nova
  • Cal Organics
  • Cedarlane
  • Cell-nique
  • Choice Organic Teas
  • Clif Bar/ Nectar Fruit
  • Coombs Family Farmers
  • Cosorzio All Natural
  • Country Choice
  • Crystal Geyser Alpine Water
  • Doctor Kracker
  • Dr. McDougall’s
  • Dr. Praeger
  • Eat Raw
  • Echo Farms
  • EcoMeal
  • Eddie’s Pasta
  • Eden Foods (The only company NOT using harmful plastic in the lining of their cans as bonding agent!)
  • Edward and Sons
  • Endangered Species Chocolate
  • Ener-G
  • EnvironKiz
  • Fantastic Foods.
  • Giving Nature
  • Golden Temple
  • Go Naturally
  • Greenway Farms
  • Harvest Bay
  • Hawthorne Valley
  • Ian’s Natural Foods
  • Koyo Organics
  • Lakewood
  • Lesser Evil
  • Let’s Do…Organics
  • LifeStream
  • Living Harvest
  • Lundberg Family
  • Madhava
  • Murray’s Chicken
  • Nasoya
  • Native Forest
  • Natural by Nature
  • Nature Factor
  • Nature’s Path
  • Newman’s Own Organic
  • Organic Prarie
  • Organic Valley
  • Pacific Naturals
  • Pamela’s
  • Peace Cereal
  • Petalumi
  • Rapunzel
  • Real Foods
  • Republic of Teas
  • Road’s End Organics
  • San J
  • Sensible Foods
  • Seven Star Farms
  • Sunergia
  • Tasty Bite Indian
  • Terra Nostra
  • Texmati
  • Theo chocolates
  • Think Organic
  • Turtle Island Tofurky
  • Vermont Mystic Pie
  • Vitasoy
  • Vita Spelt
  • Vivani Chocolate
  • Wizard’s Saucery
  • Woodstock Farms
  • XOXOXO chocolate
  • Yogi Tea
  • Zija
  • Zoe’s Granola

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Super Silky Lotion

This is a super silky, hydrating lotion. Caution: when it goes on it looks very shiny (which is why I've hesitated on posting this) BUT it soaks in rather quickly and the shine goes away. This is a wonderful lotion I've been making for quite awhile and our whole family loves it. I was able to order all these items from Amazon, so that's an option if you can't find them locally.

Super Silky Lotion
by Amanda @ Natural and Organic Lifestyle

1/2 cup organic coconut oil
1/2 cup organic grapeseed oil
1 cup raw organic shea butter
Optional: Essential oil for fragrance, I use about 10 drops

Mix all ingredients together in a blender. Store in an airtight container. Makes 2 cups.
Slather on =)

I'm brewing kombucha!

Don't know what kombucha is? Well I'll tell ya...
Kombucha is a fermented tea which has been consumed for thousands of years, an ancient elixir. Though the benefits of kombucha are completely based individually, some benefits it's known for are improving digestion, clearer thinking, and increased energy.
Here is a list of some other benefits from Kombucha Kamp website:

*Probiotics – healthy bacteria
*Alkalize the body – balances internal pH
*Detoxify the liver – happy liver = happy mood
*Increase metabolism – rev your internal engine
*Improve digestion – keep your system moving
*Rebuild connective tissue – helps with arthritis, gout, asthma, rheumatism
*Cancer prevention
*Alleviate constipation
*Boost energy – helps with chronic fatigue
*Reduce blood pressure
*Relieve headaches & migraines
*Reduce kidney stones
*High in antioxidants – destroy free-radicals that cause cancer
*High in polyphenols
*Improve eyesight
*Heal excema – can be applied topically to soften the skin
*Prevent artheriosclerosis
*Speed healing of ulcers – kills h.pylori on contact
*Help clear up candida & yeast infections
*Aid healthy cell regeneration
*Reduce gray hair
*Lower glucose levels – prevents spiking from eating

I'm not saying it will do any of these things for you, but it might. None of these statements have been approved by the FDA (haha, all the more reason to try it!) and I am not a medical doctor #disclaimer =)

Brewing kombucha is something I've wanted to do for quite awhile. I never started because I couldn't find a bottle of plain flavored kombucha locally, never really thought of ordering a bottle online. Well, I finally ordered a case, and then they sat in the fridge for awhile. FINALLY I did some research and decided to start brewing. I didn't have a SCOBY to start with though. I found instructions on how to grow my own, but apparently that is no longer recommended since the strength of kombucha that's allowed to be sold retail is not able to grow it itself. So I was stuck. No one I know brews is so I couldn't snag one from a friend. Finally I decided to order one from They seemed very reputable and there are tons of articles and how-to's on brewing kombucha. I highly recommend visiting their site if  you have any interest in brewing. I was very excited when it arrived and wanted to start brewing right away! But somehow I failed to notice you need a gallon sized container (How did I miss that???) So I ordered one because I couldn't find one locally. I was itching to start and everytime I tried something was missing!!! FINALLY the jar came and I was able to start brewing. Here's a picture of my brew on the first day:
Today is day 8 and I took my first taste of the brew. You're supposed to take a straw and put it under the SCOBY and take a sip. Yeah, I kind of looked at it for a minute thinking "I really have to drink something with that thing floating on top???" I did it though. It tasted great! I think I'm going to give it a few more days of brewing though since this is my first time. I want to see how it tastes if you go longer. Not sure what my preferred "kombucha taste" is.
Here is a picture of it today:

The SCOBY multiplies every time you brew and a new one is formed. I think this is a really cool process. Next I need to figure out how I'm going to flavor it!!! So exciting! I know...I'm a dork.

And, by the way, I actually tried to grow my own SCOBY even though it was doubtful it would work:
Uh, yeah, a month later and nada. So save yourself the time and buy one! Or if you're local to me, I'd be happy to pass one on. Like I stated above, each time you brew a new SCOBY is formed. Fun stuff!

There is an initial cost to brewing your own kombucha, but over a few batches you'll make it back in what you would have spent if you bought bottled, and you'd have a far superior product. I think I spend $25 on the SCOBY and $10 or so on the gallon size jar. Considering a bottle in the store can range anywhere from $3-5, you'll make back that money quickly.

More later on my adventures with kombucha!

If you've tried brewing kombucha I would LOVE to hear about it!

Hot Tonic

I was just making a fresh batch of this and it occurred to me I've never shared this recipe here before. This tonic is so good for many ailments. It was developed by a naturopathic physician. The ingredients have been used for centuries with powerful antioxidants and disease fighting properties. It's been known to help people with arthritis as well as many other ailments. It clears the nasal passages which makes it powerful for colds and flu.

Note that this is very spicy. You can mix it in water or with honey to make it easier to take. Though, my kids take it straight on a spoon, so pull your panties up and try it ;) Do not take it on an empty stomach.

For a three week cleanse:
Week 1: 2 TB a day with each meal
Week 2: 3 TB a day with each meal
Week 3: 4 TB a day with each meal
After that 2 TB a day is a good maintenance.

In a blender, blend up: (organic ingredients are highly recommended)
1 bulb garlic (not a clove, a whole head), peeled
1 small yellow or red onion, peeled and cut in 1 inch chunks
1 piece of fresh horseradish (about the same size as the onion) peeled and cut in 1 inch chunks
1 or 2 fresh, small hot red peppers, seeds removed and cut in 1 inch pieces
1 piece of fresh ginger (about the size of the onion) peeled and cut in 1 inch chunks
apple cider vinegar to cover (about 2 cups)

This will last 2 weeks at room temperature or months refrigerated. Shake before use.
Makes about a quart.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Delicious Baked Potato Casserole

This is good, so good! Now that I'm looking at the picture I'm wondering why it's been so long since I've made it! This is a hearty casserole that can serve as a main dish or side dish, or bring it to a potluck! Very versatile!

Also, apologies for the lack of posting for the last month. I find as we near spring and the end of the school year there isn't as much time for writing and posting. I have many articles and recipes in the works, so those will be coming in the future. We like to wind down our school year by mid-May to allow for a much needed long summer. Not to mention, it's SO hard to concentrate when it's been so cold for so long and it's warm again!

Enjoy this recipe!

Delicious Baked Potato Casserole
by Amanda @ Natural and Organic Lifestyle

3 lbs organic potatoes (6-8 depending on size)
1 cup organic milk
1/2 cup organic sour cream
2 cups organic shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 - 1 ts of good salt, or to taste
Pepper to taste (I like about 1/4 ts)
1/2 ts organic garlic powder
1 lb organic turkey bacon, cook and crumbled, divided
Green onions to garnish

Boil or bake potatoes until tender. Once potatoes are done, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. With a hand or stand mixer, beat potatoes with milk, sour cream, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir in half the bacon and 1 1/2 cups of cheese. Spoon into prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Top with remaining bacon, cheese, and green onions. Bake for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Broccoli Cheese Rounds

These little gooey rounds are a great appetizer, lunch, or side dish. These are a great way to get veggies into picky eaters. Lucky for me I really don't have to get fancy with broccoli to get my kids to eat it thanks to the "broccoli monster" game my hubby created when our oldest was one or two. It consists of the kids eating the tops off the broccoli and then the broccoli monster gobbles up the stem, complete with loud sound effects. It was really great, all the kids LOVE broccoli and eat a ton of it now. Unfortunately for hubby, they still expect him to play the game, 8 years later (aside from our oldest who always declares that he eats his own stems now). They even save the stems for the broccoli monster if he's not home in time for dinner. Nothing like cold, slimy broccoli stems wrapped in a napkin waiting for you when you walk in the door ;)

Anyway, back to these rounds. Luckily for the broccoli monster the stems are all incorporated in and it would be really hard to save stems from these. Though I do have to say our three year old did find a way to liberate a stem. These taste great on their own or dipped in just about anything. And I do mean anything, lol. I think last time we had them there was a variety of dipping going on consisting of ketchup, mustard, ranch, and blue cheese. All were a success with the dippers. Please don't take my word on that and blame me if you gag after dipping them in blue cheese or something, I only dipped them in ranch =) I can't vouch for the sanity of my kids dipping pleasures.

Plus I made these grain-free! Other recipes I've seen all incorporate bread crumbs, which you could do, but I used almond meal.

Broccoli Cheese Rounds
by Amanda @ Natural and Organic Lifestyle
Makes about 20 rounds (about 2 inches wide)

2 heads of broccoli
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 ts good salt
1/4 ts ground pepper
1/2 ts garlic powder
1 1/2-2 cups almond meal, start with 1 1/2 cups and if your batter ends up to gooey you can add more (you could use bread crumbs here if you want)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop the broccoli real small and steam until tender. If it's small enough it shouldn't take more than a few minutes to steam it. Let it cool for a few minutes. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. With your hands, form into patties, I make mine about 2 inches wide but you can do any size you want. Place patties on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes and then flip them and bake for another 15 minutes or until a nice golden brown. Let cool a little before serving. Enjoy!

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!