Honey fruit salad

If you have kids, inevitably you’ll have to help out with a school party. Kids have parties for everything, like at least once a month, they really know how to party. Right now I’m helping plan a preschool Easter party, which means either crafts, games or food. I volunteered for the fruit, since I know about fruit and have this simple, quick recipe for fruit salad that kids love. I also am in charge of games, and really wish I was still a little kid so I could participate in the bunny relay or “bunny, bunny, where is your egg”. I’m a kid at heart, I can’t help it.

This recipe is perfect since strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are prevalent right now, you can find them everywhere.  The original recipe calls for poppy seeds, but I never have them on hand so I left them off. Also, I’ve used grapes in place of raspberries in the past, because my littles aren’t fans of raspberries. Best part about this recipe, you can rinse your berries, chop your bananas and whip up the honey/lemon sauce in like 5 minutes, perfect when you are running late for a party and can’t find pants.

 

Recipe: Honey fruit salad

Summary: Quick, simple, sweet recipe, great for sharing at parties and cookouts

Ingredients

  • 2 medium firm bananas, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries
  • 5 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Mix berries in medium bowl.
  2. Mix lemon and honey in separate bowl, then pour over berries. Chill and serve!

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time:

Number of servings (yield): 12

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

Protein-Packed Breakfast

A good friend of mine, Jana Saur, mentioned to me that she had been making this awesome protein-packed breakfast after her bi-weekly morning butt crack of dawn bootcamp sessions. We were at the beach together when she ate this breakfast, and I couldn’t help but notice she didn’t snack at all when the kids and I devoured our regular morning snack.

proteinbreakfast

High protein breakfast

With a whole foods diet, you get hungry often. Your body processes the whole foods quite nicely and sometimes quickly. I spend a lot of time cooking, and preparing food, and shopping for food, and researching food recipes, and writing about food. My family eats every 2 hours most of the day, no lie. So you can imagine my surprise when a close friend who eats whole foods, was able to go almost four hours without eating. I couldn’t believe my eyes. So I had to try it for myself. It is super simple, and quick, and delicious. If you like eggs, beans, spinach, and cheese you should try it, too. This healthy, whole food, delicious meal, which only takes about 5 minutes to make, will keep you full for at least 3.5 hours, at least that was my AMAZING experience. And probably my new breakfast routine.

Recipe: Protein-Packed Breakfast (Eggs)

Summary: Quick, easy breakfast that will keep you full for hours

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup black beans
  • handful of fresh spinach
  • 2 T salsa, homemade or store bought
  • shredded cheese, I used cheddar

Instructions

  1. Fry eggs over easy or medium
  2. Heat beans in pan on stove, or microwave
  3. Place spinach on plate, top with warm beans, salsa, eggs, then shredded cheese.

Variations

Can add chopped green onions, black olives, greens other than spinach if you prefer, any type of bean, corn. You can even wrap this all in a tortilla shell to take on the road.

Preparation time: 0

Cooking time: 5 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 1

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

Trader Joes – parking lot danger

I love Trader Joe’s, like visit it for fun sometimes to try samples and buy more wine I don’t need kind of love. The store is so cheesy with its warehouse, pirate themed, whatever it is that draws me in. And the food, delicious cheeses, wine, beer, nuts, dried fruit, frozen fruit, boxed food for those days you can’t pull a meal together to save your life. Oh, and the chocolate covered almonds with turbinado sugar and sea salt. YIKES, I could eat that whole darn box, but the follow-up conversations with the toilet might kill me.

Anyway, the Trader Joe’s near us has a deep, dark secret. Actually for most moms who shop this location, it probably is no secret at all. The parking lot is terrifying. I’ve been scared out of my mind a handful of times, and know others who have mentioned similar life-threatening experiences.

My first near death experience was a beautiful sunshine-filled ball of happiness kind of day. My sister was visiting with her kids so counting my oldest, we had two adults and three total human children, and one baby in my belly, my youngest. Our happy-go-lucky group had just purchased those almonds I mentioned above because I was a whale and always hungry when I was pregnant, so we had to have chocolate on hand at all times. We were carrying our goods out to the car, with those three children in tow, and moving at a snail’s pace, because that is what moms do when they are pushing a cart uphill, trying to motivate small children to get their butts in gear and follow said cart. This jerk in a convertible pulls up behind us and basically starts tailgating us. We were walking! He was tailing us like someone would on the highway who was trying to pass, and eventually, when the other lane cleared out, he revved his engine and passed us by slamming down on the gas and whizzing off into the distance. I had no idea what was going on at the time, just sweating and thinking how fast I could get those almonds in my mouth. But once he slammed the gas, I realized quickly that we were in danger. Luckily no one was injured, but seriously, not safe dude. My sister proceeded to scream at him as he floated away in his stupid red convertible. What dude drives a convertible by the way, and tailgates women and children in the Trader Joe’s parking lot? What sort of person is this? I digress, the point is this parking lot is not safe.

Another instance occurred last week when I took both munchkins to Trader Joe’s because we had a little time before preschool. I’m not pregnant now so chocolate wasn’t on the list. Their olives and sun-dried tomatoes were on my list, man those are delicious. But anyway, we were walking inside the store and stopped to grab a cart when we all heard screaming. This poor woman was helping her probably 2-year-old daughter up from the ground, the precious angel baby had fallen in the parking lot, while her two sons were running like deranged lunatics toward the store. She was honestly paying attention to the one who she thought needed her most, but those boys were in danger and my heart dropped when I saw a man in a car driving about 40 miles an hour through the parking lot. Yeah, I know, right! Slow down for the love of babies and mamas everywhere! The kids stopped running for whatever reason, they were actually in the cross walk, and the man decided it would be a good idea to lay on the horn, like somehow this would help the situation. Hey jerk – slow down in retail parking lots, how about? That might be fun.

My message, slow your butt down in retail parking lots. For real, what exactly are you hurrying to when you just got done shopping at Trader Joe’s. You afraid those chocolate covered almonds are going to melt?  Or maybe your bok choy needs to be cooked right away? People drive me bonkers. This post has very little to do with food, and I apologize, but I just felt the need to vent. Oh, and let ya’ll know, if you see me and my kiddos wearing helmets and armor to buy some food at Trader Joe’s, you’ll know exactly why.

Spring gardens and markets

The weather has not only been annoying what with all the rain/ice/snow this winter and early spring, but it has actually caused gardens to slow their roll, um, I mean growth. The soil needs to be warm enough to promote growth for most spring plantings, so the constant warmth, then freezing has been pretty hard on gardens.

Needless to say, our community garden in the neighborhood has had some lettuce and asparagus, and bits of kale popping up this week. I went to visit the garden today and did some weeding then harvested a great, big bag of fresh lettuce this morning. My family ate part of the lettuce as a side with our lunch with some homemade salad dressing, parmesan cheese and olives. Don’t judge. Nothing more local, fresh, or delicious than picking your own produce and eating a salad an hour later. Heavenly!

I encourage you to visit your local farmers market and support your local farmers. Farming is no easy task, and it is not for the weak, nor does it usually provide much of a living. The farmers you meet love the earth, and fresh, local food and will love you for supporting them. Farmers markets are opening up all over the Triangle this month, several of them opened today! I made a Local Markets page on the blog so you can check addresses and times for this season or click through to read more about each market. This list isn’t all inclusive, it only includes markets that I have personally been to, or heard good things about. If you have been to a farmers market locally and want me to add it, just message me. I think this list is super helpful, let me know what you think in the comments section.

Finding time for cooking

I spent a whole lot of this past week cooking, and feel like I don’t have much to show for it. We always eat the rewards of all my hard work, which is satisfying at times, and downright annoying at other times. Okay, if I’m honest with myself, I’ve spent a whole lot of the past five years cooking, and I guess if you count healthy kids and healthy parents because of a whole foods diet, then I have a hell of a lot to show for it.  So I’ll stop complaining now, the fact that the food disappears means they like it, so okay, I’m good.

I finished reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan and he makes an interesting point that we spend a whole lot less time preparing food than we used to. Back in caveman days, they hunted and gathered food all day long, just to survive. Americans spend very little time these days hunting and gathering their own food (reading ingredient labels, and making sure to food we consume isn’t poisoning us), to our detriment since convenience, packaged foods are hard on our bodies and lead to problems like obesity, heart disease, and type II diabetes. I think it is a mindset for me, I just have to accept that feeding my family a whole food diet takes a lot of time and energy, and that is worth it to me, so I will carry on.

I know that spending all day in the kitchen isn’t exactly an option for working families. But if you work full-time and you feel that healthy whole foods are important, then check out this interview I did a year or more ago about a Weekend Cooking Extravaganza. Cooking like this is a wonderful idea for working families who don’t have time to cook EVERY, SINGLE night, but have some time on the weekend to shop and prepare meals ahead of time. You can even get your kids involved washing veggies, snapping green beans, chopping if you have older kids, and depending on their age, even cooking!

Keep fighting the good fight, it is so totally worth it!

I’m heading to the beach this week for ‘Spring Break’. My daughter’s preschool is closed all week and somehow this doesn’t feel like a break at all, at least not like the ones I looked forward to from junior high through college. Keeping both kids home for five straight days is no break, so we are beach bound and excited. The blog, including facebook, google+  will be silent for a while. No worries though, I’ll be back, sporting my first sunburn of the season I’m sure. Fingers crossed that is a joke.

 

Please note that some of the links included on my blog are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I will only recommend products I use in my own home. Please let me know if you have any questions about any product I recommend.

Listening to my body

I am a runner. I had gotten used to saying, “I was a runner,” for the past 6 months before, during, and after my rogue hip surgery. But yesterday I ran for a total of 7 minutes, on a treadmill, and I’m starting to think  to myself, “I’m a runner,” again. I had honestly gotten tired of running before this all happened, it was becoming a chore, and I was pushing myself to run more often than I wanted to, not sure why. Right now though, running feels awesome, like I’m reconnecting with a long-lost friend. Although I am holding back like mad, running only twice a week. I’ve always been the type of runner who just pushed through the pain. In the past I’ve enjoyed the fact that whatever I asked my body to do, it would do, and usually surprise me in its ability to respond to being pushed. Luckily, I never had a lot of pain, but if pain reared its ugly head, I would just ignore it. Greatest plan ever! (I’m being sarcastic here, people)

Running is kind of like a drug, chasing that adrenaline rush, and exhaustion, and mind-free-ness that comes with a good run. Some runs are terrible, and you just want to walk and stop and go home. Most runs are just okay, you get them done and smile for having completed a goal. But some runs are just, wonderful. These runs are rare, but once you find them, discover their beauty, you want to keep searching to experience that feeling again, over and over.

As you can imagine, I’ve been thrown for a loop with having to have hip surgery, and go through physical therapy to learn how to walk, and eventually run again. I feel lucky to be able to continue running, and get back into this sport that I love. I am holding back partly because I’m fearful of pain, but partly for protection. I want to take care of myself and do things the right way, build up strength in my legs first and get my body prepared for exercise, and then run. It hasn’t been easy, but I do love a challenge. I’m ‘listening to my body’ a lot more now. This phrase has been repeated to me over and over through the years, while I smile and nod, and just keep pushing. Now it feels so real and pertinent, maybe because I’m getting older, not old, just older. I think the older you get, the more your body deserves to be listened to, paid attention to. My body has given me so much, and put up with so much, I think I’ll have a listen now.

Springtime Minestrone

Soup again? Yes, hush up if you want to eat! Wait, I’m talking to Foodie Mama friends, not my kids, sorry, frustrating day. So, I found a springtime soup and I decided that my family could just deal with it, we haven’t had soup in at least two weeks and this recipe sounded so good, I couldn’t stand to not eat it. I found the Springtime Minestrone recipe on this awesome dude’s blog, frugalfeeding.com. He has the simplest recipes that are frugal, hence the name of the blog. And his pictures are fantastic, check it out when you get a chance. I’ll include a link to his recipe, although you’ll have to do grams to ounces conversions if you use his version. That took time too, ugh. I used an online conversion calculator for the ingredients but also estimated with the measurements , and it worked out great for us.

I served the minestrone with buttered toast and salad (including some fronds from the fennel!)  with balsamic dressing, and my family was all smiles and empty bowls. That is my kind of dinner! This soup takes some effort though, I won’t lie. This recipe isn’t something you can throw together on a work night expecting to eat in 30 minutes. The cleaning/chopping takes a good ten minutes, then bringing things to a boil, then simmer, then add pasta. This is a weekend meal for sure, but definitely worth the time. Without further ado…

Recipe: Springtime Minestrone

Summary: Delicious, albeit time-consuming, light springtime soup

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 stick of celery, finely sliced
  • 1 bulb of fennel, roughly chopped (Here is a great video on how to cut fennel)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • 1 tomato, squished, or half can diced tomatoes
  • 2 oz. of bacon or pancetta, finely chopped
  • 4-6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1 t of dried will do
  • 1/2 cup dried spaghetti, broken up
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/3 cup garden peas
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 3 T Olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Begin by sautéing your onion, celery, fennel and garlic in olive oil in a stock pot until soft.
  2. Add the bacon and allow to cook about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato and 4 cups of the stock, bay leaves, thyme and butter. Simmer for half an hour with the lid on.
  4. Remove the thyme twigs (or not if you used dried) and bay leaves, add the spaghetti and cook lid off until noodles are soft.
  5. Add the peas, cook for 5 minutes, add more stock if necessary.
  6. Season and serve topped with spring onions.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s)

Diet type: Vegetarian

Number of servings (yield): 6

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

Whole food tips, tricks and recipes – March 22, 2014

lukejones

Luke Jones

Luke Jones is the creator of Health Room, a blog he uses to share ideas in health, lifestyle and sustainability. He’s also a big fan of movement, following dreams, and eating a whole food plant based diet. Luke presents 8 Ways to Eat More Plants. Luke has put together 8 simple ideas on how to eat more plant whole foods every day. Check out his post!

 

staceydraprile

Stacey Daprile

Stacey Daprile, author of the blog Positively Stacey, shares her her recipe for an easy healthy dish – full of vegetables! Stacey is a wife, a mother of six of a blended family, whose children range in ages from 24 – 12. They have two wonderful dogs; a standard Goldendoodle and a Bernese Mountain Dog, and a pound cat named Lily. Stacey is a middle school teacher and a part-time adventurer. “One of the beauties of this frittata is that it tastes delicious warm, room-temp, or cold.”

 

Tim Ponticel is a full-time Mechanical Engineer and runs Fitness for Professionals in his spare time. His enthusiasm for fitness led him to create this blog to help and inspire other busy professionals live a fit lifestyle. Tim presents Nutribullet Nutrition Extraction System Review. “The Nutribullet nutrition extraction system makes healthy and delicious drinks in a short amount of time. This article is a review of the product based on my experiences. Use this review to make an informed decision before buying.” For those of you thinking of purchasing a Nutribullet, Tim gives a really thorough review, check out his blog post to read more.

 

krististone

Kristi Stone

Kristi Stone is a Southern California gardener and homesteader, with a bend toward natural living and whole foods. She blogs at The Mind to Homestead, and has a podcast by the same name, which can be heard on the Survival Mom Radio Network. Kristi presents Simple and Delicious Vanilla Cinnamon Honey Granola Recipe. This recipe is totally simple with only rolled oats, honey, vanilla, butter, cinnamon, and salt – pantry items you probably already have on hand!

 

Lentil Nachos

I know, that is the weirdest title for a recipe, but if you trust me, you will try this. My family devoured this, went for round 2 and almost finished off the whole thing. I would never think to use lentils to replace ground beef in nachos but goodness gracious sakes alive, it was fantastic, and healthy! I’m so very glad I tried this recipe. I found it on allrecipes.com, which has never let me down. The user reviews are imperative though, be sure to read through the user reviews on recipes, you will glean all kinds of great information, like using more liquid so you don’t end up with crunchy lentils.

We served this on a giant platter in the middle of our kitchen table and made a pretty decent mess, but there were no plates to clean, just chips on the floor! I’m not sure that is better, but it was definitely fun and a change from our normal dinner routine. I have fond memories of a recipe my mom made growing up that was similar to this, it seemed so naughty to not use plates! I know, I’m a nerd, I get it.

Some optional toppings: sliced green onions, olives, guacamole or sliced avocado, sour cream/plain whole milk yogurt. We topped our nachos with green onions and olives because I didn’t have an avocado and forgot the plain whole milk yogurt, but next time baby, I’m using all of those toppings.

Recipe: Lentil nachos

Summary: Healthy, delicious, vegetarian nachos

Ingredients

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or chopped
  • 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cooked black beans – if canned, then drain
  • 1 cup corn kernels – I used frozen corn
  • 1 cup salsa – preferably homemade salsa, but store bought works in a pinch
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 (13.5 ounce) package tortilla chips

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place onion in skillet and cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute.
  2. Stir in lentils, broth, water, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30-40 minutes.
  3. Add in corn and black beans when there is about five minutes left on timer, to warm through.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Spoon a layer of lentils on a large platter, then salsa, then sprinkle with shredded cheese and other toppings. Serve while still warm.

Quick notes

Toppings can include chopped green onions, black olives, sour cream or plain whole milk yogurt, guacamole or sliced avocado.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 45 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegetarian

Number of servings (yield): 4

Culinary tradition: USA (Southern)

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

Spaghetti Squash!

My good swimming buddy mentioned making spaghetti squash for her family the other night and I was intrigued. I’m 37 years old and I’ve never tried spaghetti squash. She emailed me the basics and it was so simple and delicious, perfect for my blog. I love spaghetti squash, love, love, love it. It is the mildest squash I’ve tried so far, and literally comes out looking like spaghetti. I cannot wait to try it in place of pasta noodles one night, just to see what happens. Side note: I’ve decided to rename the blog, “Amanda learns to cook.” I know these are all things that most people already know, but I’m just fascinated. I never was very interested in food growing up. My dad says I was too busy chasing boys, but I prefer to think they were chasing me. HA! Anyway, this love of food is new, and I’ll admit, exciting/daunting sometimes. Like today, when I tried spaghetti squash, I had this regret that I’ve waited 37 years to try it. Oh well, you live you learn, and you buy more spaghetti squash dangit.

Here is the simple recipe my friend shared with me, I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I did.

 

Recipe: Spaghetti squash with herbs

Summary: Roasted spaghetti squash sautéed in butter and spices

Ingredients

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 1-2 T butter
  • 1 t sage
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut the spaghetti squash in half length-wise, this is not easy so be prepared with a big knife.
  2. Use a spoon to scoop out seeds.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Place squash “face down” on baking sheet lined with foil.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes at 350.
  6. Once cool enough to handle, fork out all of the squash “noodles” into a large bowl.
  7. Saute for 3-5 minutes with butter, sage, salt and pepper.

Preparation time: 3-5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 45 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegetarian

Number of servings (yield): 6

Culinary tradition: USA (Southern)

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)