Happy Hump Day. This past weekend marked the annual planting of our summer garden. I had never really thought much about actually growing food until my lifestyle changed about 10 years ago. When I decided to research and understand everything I was putting into my body, it was a perfect solution to the highly processed foods available in the marketplace. We made the initial planting endeavor many years ago and have enjoyed eating the fruits of our labor ever since. Our boys enjoy being outside and getting their hands dirty in the soil, so a home garden has turned out to be a great way to get the kids outdoors and involved.
Strawberries are perfectly in season right now and that means all things strawberry in my house. I love to cook and bake using seasonal local produce so I generally purchase fruits and vegetables that are in season and therefore have the most nutritional value. Strawberries have a fairly short life cycle and because they are so tasty, we really take advantage of their abundance for the next few months. Find a local U-pick farm and make it a family outing to get berries.
This recipe was created by accident. I used frozen cranberries in the batter the first time around and they turned out good. But, I ran into Swamp Rabbit Café, a local grocer a few days later, and they had pints upon pints of fresh strawberries and my mind went crazy thinking how my new little recipe would be even better with those fresh berries. I was not disappointed. These muffins turned out moist and flavorful. Success. You must try them and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Feel free to pop leftovers in the toaster and reheat for breakfast.
Fresh Strawberry and Flaxseed Muffins
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats – ground (I use a coffee grinder)
1 cup almond meal
1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1 TBSP ground flaxseed
1 TBSP chia seeds
1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil – melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 heaping cup fresh strawberries – chopped
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a muffin tin with paper liners or spray. In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients. In a small bowl combine all the wet ingredients. Combine the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until well incorporated. Gently fold in the strawberries. Fill muffin tin cups to about 3/4 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden around the edges.
My kids, on their own, created this tasty smoothie. We watch Food Network sometimes before bed to round out our day. This always inspires them to get in the kitchen. My 9 year old takes this kitchen stuff very seriously. He gets into the groove and wants to prepare food well after bedtime. Maybe that’s just a stall tactic. Anyway, it works on me. I usually tell myself “he must go to bed” or I could stay in the kitchen with him all night. I have found it to be a wonderful place to let childhood creativity and imagination run wild.
When it comes to juices and smoothies, they are actually pretty talented. We have been blending as a family long enough that they have become little “blender experts.” During the summer months we have an abundant herb garden and that’s where they find most of the accent flavors for their drinks. This particular smoothie includes the herb mint and their two basic fruits: strawberries and bananas. More often than not, they will choose these two as their base and then expand with whatever seasonal fruit we have in the fruit bowl. On their own they will not willingly choose to add vegetables, and that’s okay. When I blend a smoothie for them I add their veggies and they happily drink it, but its not a requirement when they are being creative. This is their stage, not mine. When they make a new drink they always say to me, “if this turns out good, you should put it on the blog.” So here we are. I hope you enjoy this drink that was lovingly thought up and designed by my boys. They think of you as much as I do. Happy Blending!
Summer Strawberry Smoothie
1 frozen banana
1 cup frozen strawberries
3 fresh mint leaves
2 TBSP plain Greek yogurt
2 TBSP raw local honey
1/2 lime – juiced
1 cup full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup almond milk
Place all ingredients in a high speed blender. Blend until creamy, about 1 minute.
How do you ensure you are getting enough calcium when you consume very few dairy products? That’s a great question and one that I am asked often. What most people don’t know is that there is a plethora of dairy-free foods that contain high amounts of calcium. Up until about 10 years ago, I consumed large amounts of dairy products. Unfortunately, those products did not agree with me. Commercially produced cow milk is highly processed and is often times intolerable by most people. So, it was one of the first things I gave up on my quest for better health. I am not recommending everyone stop consuming cow products, I just want to educate you in other varieties of calcium rich foods that can help you reach your recommended daily requirements. Our bodies need calcium. According to Dr. Sears, not only do we need calcium for strong bones and teeth, but it is also required for every cell in the body to function in a healthy way. Calcium is used by nerves and muscles and it contributes to proper blood clotting. Given all these very important functions of calcium, I make it a point to ensure I am getting enough. I eat a well-rounded whole foods based diet. That includes calcium rich foods that are produced from nature. Fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes all have good amounts of calcium. For an entire list of calcium-rich foods, click here. Today’s post includes the calcium-rich foods that my family eats on a regular basis, but we do not limit our menu to just these ten. It’s important to offer and try many different foods. Add a few of these to your families meal planning and know that you are fueling their bodies with the proper nutrition. Dairy-free Calcium Rich Foods 1. Spinach – 1 cup – 24% DV 2. Beet Greens – 1 cup – 16% DV 3. Bok Choy – 1 cup – 16% DV 4. Swiss Chard – 1 cup – 10% 5. Kale – 1 cup – 9% DV 6. Sesame Seeds – 1/4 cup – 35% DV 7. Cabbage – 1 cup – 6% DV 8. Brussels Sprouts – 1 cup – 6% DV 9. Oranges – 1 medium – 5% DV 10. Parsley – 1/2 cup – 4% DV Here are a few of my recipes using these foods: Raw Kale SaladSizzling Cabbage & White BeansSuperfood Smoothie
I recently posted a list on Facebook of foods you should NEVER feed your kids. Pop-Tarts made the cut. It’s unfortunate, but they are loaded with junk. And when I say junk I am referring to the high amounts of sugar (corn sugar and high fructose corn syrup), preservatives, and highly processed oils. None of these ingredients fuel your body or your brain. When I am thinking of breakfast or snack options for my children, these two issues are always at the forefront of my decisions. Will this food strengthen their body and their brain? If not, then we try to skip it. That’s not to say that we don’t sometimes have things that may not fit into these two questions, but my goal is to be around 85-90%. That leaves us with enough room for birthdays, celebrations or the occasional special treat. I have been working on these pastries for quite a while. When I posted a picture of them on social media a few weeks ago I got several requests for the recipe. I needed to make a few adjustments before I was ready to share it and, of course, test them on my children. They loved them. I tried them with several different fillings and they were all yummy. So, I am going to share the basic recipes and you can substitute any fruit you desire. If you were like me and enjoyed countless pop-tarts as a child, these are going to quickly bring back the nostalgia of childhood. They don’t taste exactly the same, but I wasn’t going for that highly processed taste. Just the opposite, in fact. These are hearty, flavorful and flaky. I hope you enjoy this makeover.
Healthy Tart Pastries
For the pastries:
3 cups whole spelt flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
3 tsp baking powder
5 tbsp coconut oil – still solid
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2-1 cup almond milk
For the filling:
1 cup fresh or frozen fruit of your choice
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp raw local honey
1 tbsp chia seeds
For the topping:
1 tbsp raw local honey
1 tbsp grassfed butter
Preheat oven to 400. In a small saucepan add the ingredients for the filling with the exception of the chia seeds. Bring to a boil. Turn temperature to medium and let the fruit continue to slowly boil about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and add the chia seeds. Place the fruit into the freezer while you are preparing the pastry dough. This allows the fruit to set. Add all the dry ingredients for the pastries into a large mixing bowl. Add the coconut oil and work the oil into the flour mixture. Add the olive oil and continue to combine. Add the almond milk beginning with 1/2 cup and work the mixture until it begins to become a dough. Add the remainder of the milk if you need it. Knead the dough a few times, but be sure not to overwork it. Roll the dough out onto a large piece of wax paper. With a rolling pin roll the dough out very thin. With a pizza cutter, cut the dough into equal sized squares. Add a few spoonful’s of the fruit compote to half of the dough squares. Place the remaining half of dough squares atop the compote. With a small bowl of water, dip a fork into the water and make indentions all the way around the pastry until it is closed up. Place all the pastries onto a baking sheet and bake them for 20-25 minutes. In a small saucepan melt the honey and butter. When the pastries are done, rub them with the honey/butter mixture.
With the holidays behind us and routines back in full swing, I am always open to anything labeled “simple.” Our morning routine is pretty basic. We all stumble to find the motivation needed to get moving and one-by-one end up in the kitchen. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and is the perfect meal to encourage healthy eating habits with your entire family. But, it also happens to be the meal when most families are the busiest and saving a few extra minutes can be the difference between being late or on-time for school or work.
Oatmeal is always a sure thing for my family, so this easy and nutritious recipe is a staple. I have posted several other oatmeal recipes which further proves our love of this healthy grain, but this one takes the least amount of time. Prepare this healthy dish the night before, stick it in the fridge and don’t think about it again until morning. It’s that simple. Now enjoy a hot cup of tea and begin pondering what’s for dinner, at least that’s what I do every morning. I hope you enjoy!
Simple Overnight Oats
1/2 cup whole grain oats – not instant
1 TBSP chia seeds
1 TBSP pure maple syrup
1/3 cup fresh or frozen berries
1/2 cup almond milk plus a bit more to stir in the morning
In a bowl or glass jar combine the oats and chia seeds. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until completely combined. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, add a bit of almond milk and stir. This recipe is for one serving. Duplicate it for the amount of people you need to feed.
Here are a few more simple oatmeal recipes for you to try:
It is the quintessential summer snack. A child can hear and recognize the musical sound of the ice cream truck as a dog hears a high-pitched whistle, even from miles away. I can distinctly remember being young and staying with my cousin for a week every summer. The days were filled with hours at the pool, going to see movies and anxiously awaiting the infamous truck. Her neighborhood was a late-day stop for him, so it was an all-day wait. But, it’s what summer is all about. Now that I have children of my own and try to instill cleaning eating habits, I had to come up with an alternative to chasing down a refurbished, refrigerated truck on a daily basis.
These simple pops are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals from the berries and healthy protein from the addition of Greek yogurt. I use a touch of raw local honey to keep the little ones happy. After all, a popsicle should be sweet, right? So, I think I have covered all the bases with this recipe. Moms will be comfortable letting their children partake in this snack, and kids will love the sweetness. With the upcoming holiday, let your kids help out with this treat, as it’s quite fun having your kids help in the kitchen. I hope your family has a safe and happy 4th of July. Enjoy!
Festive Healthy Homemade Popsicles
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh strawberries
2 splashes filtered water
3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tsp raw local honey
small paper Dixie cups
straws – cut in half
In a blender add the blueberries and a splash of water. Blend until liquefied. Pour a small amount into the paper cups until all the liquid is used. Cover each cup with a small piece of plastic wrap. With a knife, make a small slit in the middle of the plastic wrap. Place a straw into the cup through the slit. This will hold the straw in place until completion of the first freeze. Freeze for at least 2 hours.
In a small bowl mix together the greek yogurt and honey. After the first freeze, remove the plastic wrap. Add the yogurt mixture to each cup. Freeze for at least 2 hours.
In a blender add the strawberries and a splash of water. Blend until liquefied. Remove the cups from the freezer and add the final layer of strawberries. Freeze for at least 2 hours.
After the final freeze, run a little warm water over the outside of the cup and remove the cup. Your kids will love these!
People often ask me how I stick to my clean eating lifestyle while traveling. It’s not always easy. So I wanted to share a few of my favorite “go-to” travel snacks that help keep my family satisfied while ensuring we continue to eat as clean as possible. Now, at home we don’t eat very many processed foods, but while traveling that can often times be hard to accomplish. So, I assembled a great list of what I consider to be healthy snack foods that will make traveling so much easier. I hope you have safe and happy travels this summer. Here you go:
Healthy Travel Snacks
1. electrolyte water – always stay hydrated
2. fresh apples, carrots, peppers and grapes – cut and bagged
5. squeezable veggie and yogurt pouches – easy for children
6. raw date and nut bars
7. fruit leathers
8. baked snap pea crisps
9. justin’s travel packs of almond butter – add this to an apple or cracker
10. annie’s bunnies
11. homemade raw nut mix – cashews, walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds
12. mary’s sticks and twigs gluten-free pretzels
13. nut thins
14. garden of life raw greens packet to add to juice or water
I hope everyone had a Happy Easter and for some, a spring break. We just got home from a few days at the beach. I love going to the beach, or traveling in general, but eating clean is often a challenge in doing so. So, whenever my family returns home from being on the road, we immediately begin detoxing with superfood smoothies and juices. I am participating in a wonderful wellness day at the beautiful Greenbrier Farms (www.greenbrierfarms.com) in May. This time of rejuvenation includes a yoga session, tour of the farm, and a superfood smoothie (enters Mega Healthy Mama). As some of you either don’t live around Greenville or are unable to attend this event, I wanted to share the superfood smoothie recipe with you. That way you can still gain some benefit from the wellness day. I have prepared this smoothie at many different events and it is always a hit. It has become a crowd favorite and should become a staple in your smoothie recipes. It has frozen organic strawberries and bananas which makes it a very creamy cold smoothie. Kids usually love this drink and won’t even ask why it’s green. I look forward to seeing you at Greenbrier Farms if you are able to join us. If not, please enjoy this yummy and nutritious smoothie with your family.
1/2 frozen banana
1 cup frozen organic strawberries
1 cup fresh spinach – packed
1 cup fresh kale – packed
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
Add all ingredients into a blender in the order listed. Blend until creamy. This recipe makes about 3 cups of smoothie. If you have leftovers, you can refrigerate the remainder, but I would drink in the same day.