Thursday, December 12, 2013

Healthy Pineapple Banana Smoothie

I will admit, I consider this a Healthy Smoothie but I did add a couple ingredients that are not on our "clean eating" list... but it's deliciousness is worth it.

In blender combine:
1-2 cups frozen fresh Pineapple
1 whole Banana
1 cup Vanilla Ice Cream
1-2 cups Milk
1 handful baby Carrots
1 handful Kale
1 tbs. Flax Seed
1 tsp. Vanilla

Chocolate Syrup

As seen in the picture, I added a ring of chocolate syrup around the glass before pouring smoothie- omit for healthier option. But this works great for family marketing tactics :) Smoothies are a great way to hide veggies from your children (and husbands)! And they totally think they are getting a special treat. Mom points!!!

Optional Substitutes:
Fruit- mango, peach, berries
Ice Cream- frozen yogurt, sorbet, omit completely
Milk- coconut or almond milk
Kale- spinach

Easy Pineapple Tomato Jam on grilled sandwich

Dinner doesn't get much easier than this moms!

In a small saucepan cook down:
    2 cups fresh tomatoes
    1 cup fresh pineapple
    1 tablespoon brown sugar

Keep covered and cooking on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cooks down in about 15 minutes.

While Jam is working its magic, prepare the sandwich. I had my two year old spread some EVOO on homemade buns (recipe to come) and broiled them light brown in the oven. I also lightly sautéed some uncured Canadian bacon. And that's all it takes and you have got a delicious gourmet sandwich approved by my husband, young daughter, and of course, myself.

Optional Substitutes:
Tomato- cherry, grape, large (diced)
Fresh Pineapple- canned pineapple, mango, peach
Brown Sugar- honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar
Canadian Bacon- ham, turkey

Friday, December 6, 2013

Maple Walnut Banana Bread

Another one I adapted from a Pinterest recipe according to what I had at home and it turned out great so I thought I would share.

Mix Wet Ingredients:
3 ripe Bananas mashed
2 Eggs (at room temp.)
1/2 cup Butter (1 stick at room temp.)
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 cup Maple Syrup

Separately Mix Dry Ingredients:
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup White Flour
1 Tbs. Baking Powder
1/2 Tbs. Cinnamon

Combine wet and dry ingredients. Place in greased baking pans. Bake at 350 degrees.

Muffins ~ 20 min
Loaf~ 35 min

Recipe makes 2 loaves, or in my case 1 loaf and 6 muffins.

Don't ask what happened to the 6th Muffin ;)

Delicious Guilt-Free Cake- Birthday, Whole Wheat Flour, Sugar-free, Carrot, Coconut, YUM!

I didn't start taking pictures until the end of baking this cake... and here is the honest truth: My mom is a very health conscience eater and she does not eat white sugar or flour. So when it came time to make her a birthday cake, I didn't really plan on making a cake that actually tasted good. It was more for the thought of making her a birthday cake. Well surprisingly, this cake is quite delicious and, dare I say, good for you!

Ingredients: This is to make a small pie-pan cake. To make a regular size (9x13) double the recipe.

3/4 c Whole Wheat flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg

4 Tbs. Butter (1/2 stick)
1 large Egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup Almond Milk
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1 cup shredded Carrot
1/2 cup shredded Coconut

Mix dry ingredients. Beat wet ingredients. Mix dry and wet together. Spread evenly in a greased pie pan. Batter will be thick. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.

1 cup Coconut Oil
2 Tbs. Honey
2 Tbs. Maple Syrup
Optional- mix in some reserved shredded carrot and/or coconut

Wait for cake to cool completely before spreading on frosting!

And that's all folks. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday Mom!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Have you heard the one about the waitress who asks the main if he wanted "Soup or Salad" and he replies "Yes, I will take the Super Salad." Waitress confused. Man confused. Family laughing. You.... had to be there ;)

Well this, despite my poor anecdote, is truly a SUPER SALAD. It is super easy, super healthy, and super loved! I took it to my family Thanksgiving and they literally scraped the bowl clean, and I think just about every Aunt asked for the recipe. So for all my dear family members or anyone else wanting an awesome, or shall I say Super, salad recipe, here it is...

Walnuts (roast for 5 min at 350)
Feta Cheese
Dried Cranberries

I used about equal amounts of each item except a little more of the Orzo. This is really a fool proof salad. Just make it to your liking. Don't be afraid to substitute or omit some items. Wild rice could replace the Orzo, dried cherries, Blue cheese, cashews... use what you have on hand!

1/2 cup Onion (chop and sauté)
2 Tbs. Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
2 Tbs. Honey
2 Tbs. Water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 squeeze of lemon or orange

Again, I am no chef but I just estimated these quantities when I made this. So blend all of the dressing ingredients with a food processor, pour over salad, and toss!

You are sure to be the Super Favorite at any family event!!!

Dairy-free (omit cheese)
Gluten-free (substitute rice for orzo)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dinner in the Orient

Most of my ideas start with something small and spiral into something so much bigger. This dinner all started because I had some egg roll wrappers I wanted to use up. As you can see from the pictures, my 2-year old and I pulled off quite the surprise Oriental Dinner for Daddy!

Homemade Egg Rolls:

Brown 1/2 Ib meat (ground sausage or chicken suggested) with small chopped onion. When meat/onion are near done, mix in 1-2 eggs and cook to completion.
       *For Vegetarian Friendly option, omit the meat.

Use a food processor to shred carrots and cabbage. Set aside in a large mixing bowl.

Give the meat mixture a couple pulses in the food processor as well and then add directly to the mixing bowl.

Add seasonings to taste.
        1 tsp salt
        1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
        2-4 tsp curry powder

Scoop mixture onto Egg Roll Wrappers, roll, and seal with a dab of water. Deep fry until golden.

Notice my 2-year old did all of the scooping!

Add some Oriental flare to make the dinner extra special.

Our beverage was none other than Young Living's Ningxia Red, as its main ingredient, the Wolf-berry or Goji berry, is grown in China.

Our table settings are compliments of my in-law's wonderful foreign exchange student from Thailand. The table is my daughter's cardboard play box covered in a bed sheet :) Grab some couch pillows and you have dinner in the Orient! 

And, although I couldn't convince my 2-year old to join me, I even dressed up for the occassion!

These dinners are definitely not an everyday thing at our house, but they sure are fun when they spontaneously come about!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Organic Acorn Squash Soup (Vegetarian Friendly)

As noted in my previous post, we are trying to make the transition to Organic food as much as possible. Inspired by the sign at my local bulk food store that read "Organic Squash," I picked a few up without really having a plan for them. 

After searching some Pinterest recipes, I decided to just go for it and make my own soup "concoction," as my hubby would say. Well, it turned out spectacular, so I thought I would share...

This soup comes together very easily and without much preparation. Once the squash are ready, it is simply a matter of mixing and warming the ingredients.

2 Organic Acorn Squash
3 tbs butter or olive oil
2 c Organic Broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 c Organic Milk ( I used 1/2 coconut and 1/2 cows)
2-4 c water
1 medium red onion
2 tbs curry powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to heat level)
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Okay, do not be freaked out by the seasonings list... I just dumped a little of this and that to give a nice rich background flavor. If you want to give or take a few, your soup will still turn out yummy! The curry powder and salt are the only two I would not replace.

Halve and clean the squash. Place upright on a baking sheet and spread with 2 tbs butter or oil. Bake at 400 for 50 minutes. I did this in the morning, let them cool, and then scooped out of the skins and into the blender. 

Chop and saute the onion in remaining tbs butter/oil. Add to blender. I stored this unblended in my refrigerator until I was actually ready to make dinner, but it can be used immediately as well.

I blended my squash/onion combination in two separate batches. Add the chicken broth and milk to help with the blending process. Any additional thinning can be done with water. Thin soup in blender to your desired consistency. I did mine similar to any cream-based soup. 

Once blended, add directly to a pot and begin warming as you stir in seasonings. Let cook for about 15 minutes and serve! For garnish I added a swirl of organic cream (coconut or cows).

This was my first attempt at making and eating squash soup, but it was a definite hit. Easy prep and a great dinner to warm up with!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Family's Journey to Natural Medicine and Organic Living

Growing up, I'm pretty sure I didn't even know what the term "organic" meant. When I did learn about it in my adulthood, I specifically remembering saying, "All those 'Organic food' people are crazy! I grew up on Kool-Aid, fruit snacks, and fruity-pebbles, and I am doing just fine."

Now, mind you, my Mom did cook for the family.  I would say about 50% of the food we ate as kids came directly from a box. We had to eat at least two bites of everything Mom made. And, we only ate out as a family three times a year. But, we were an active family: dirt biking, swimming, camping, sports...etc.

I considered us a "Healthy Family." We all got the occasional cold/flu bug, my mom suffered from allergies, and I seemed to have a 'sensitive stomach,' but there didn't seem to be any major side-effects from our non-organic, GMO-filled diets... or was there?

Fast-forward my life- I got married, had our first daughter, started my career as a teacher, and everything was going smoothly (at least to the "naked-eye"). That is until our daughter started developing allergies...

It really started from her birth. My mother's instincts just told me there was something more going on with this precious baby who was never happy. She fussed all the time, always seemed to have gas no matter how much I burped her, and spit up after every feeding. I blamed it on myself, thinking I wasn't making enough milk and she was hungry. "She has colic. She will grow out of it," was the only advice offered by my family and my pediatrician. I wouldn't settle for that answer. I knew there had to be a reason and I was determined to try anything and everything to make my little girl feel better.

So, I started searching the Internet. I was just looking for someone, anyone, who had gone through this. I truly believe God led me to a blog by a mom that had went through the same thing with her child. (I wish I saved her blog so I could thank her now) Her suggestion- go dairy free!

After 3 weeks of no sleep and a baby that was never happy, I began for the first time paying attention to the food I put in my body. I read every label of everything that entered my body and made sure there were no dairy products in any of it.

Tears still fill my eyes when I go back to the day, 3 days into my "diet," when my sweet baby girl fell asleep on her back for the first time- not needing the pressure on her stomach to relieve the gas pains. I remember so clearly the first time I was able to feed her and she didn't spit it all back out on my shoulder.

This summarizes the story of the 7 months I spent nursing. I read every label and turned away everything that contained dairy. Yes, that meant NO CHOCOLATE, no butter, no raw dairy, nothing with dairy baked in it... absolutely nothing dairy! So, I could pretty much eat whole foods and oatmeal cooked in water. Just one bite of a food containing dairy would upset her for 3 days (that's how long dairy stays in your system). I remember I had to have just one Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie- Mistake! Eating out, eating at a family or friend's house... they became nearly impossible.

As my daughter weaned from nursing and onto table food, her allergy remained. Now, she couldn't have anything dairy, which wasn't quite as difficult because baby foods are mostly dairy free anyway.

Other than the dairy obstacle, we were a "normal" eating family that remained relatively healthy. As healthy as it gets for two school teachers and a full time day-care baby (or so I thought).

And then came the rashes! At just under one year old, our daughter began developing terrible rashes in the cracks of her body. After trying every over the counter cream I could find, which didn't even touch the itching and oozing, I decided to take her to the family doctor. We tried a handful of prescription drugs to no avail.

My mother's instincts kicked in again and I knew there had to be an answer for my little girl, who not only was covered in rashes, but had now lost her balance and ability to walk without falling every few steps. We started taking her to a ENT who specialized in allergies. After getting her blood tested for specific allergies (most horrific experience ever. small veins= screaming child on floor being held down by 3 nurses... yes that awful!) and through his recommendation, we had her adenoids removed, tubes put in her ears, and began a strict diet free from gluten, wheat, dairy, coconut, brown rice, eggs, and more! She gained the ability to walk and hear again immediately after surgery. The diet did help contain the rashes, but they never truly went away. We weren't sure if this would have to be her lifestyle, but it sure was taking its toll on us.

Sweet baby headed into surgery- I often wonder now whether there was a different way... read on!

As her 2nd birthday rolled around, we were able to cheat her diet every once and a while without much effect on her skin. We were all so excited she got to eat real ice cream for her birthday! Little did we know the WORST was yet to come...

Spring 2013 and we find the rashes on our sweet 2-year old getting worse quick. We went straight back to her diet. We went days being more strict then we had ever been; not letting her have a single bite off of "the allergy list." Nothing was working. In fact, her rashes continued to worsen. We were literally at the point where she wouldn't put on clothes. We couldn't hold her because it hurt. She would just stand in the middle of her room, naked, crying. We were at a point of complete desperation and hopelessness.

 This was her rash without the open sores even.

After she cried herself to sleep, I became a mother-on-a-mission. I was determined to find someone, anyone, who could help her. I knew any of the doctors we had seen up to this point would prescribe her a steroid cream, but I just didn't want to go that route again. And to this day I don't know what, other than God and the fact that we had exhausted so many other options, told me to start searching for a natural homeopathic doctor, but that's what I did. I spent hours finding and reading the websites of all the board certified doctors in Michigan that now practice natural medicine. I came across The Complete Wellness Center out of Grand Rapids and liked what I read. I saved their number in my phone (since it is now about 3 am) and went to bed, not that I really slept.

We went about our morning trying to comfort our daughter the best possible. The rashes did seem to ease through the night and were tolerable until about lunch time. I rearranged my day at school and got out of the classroom at exactly 9:00 to call Dr. Linda's Wellness Center. We took the first appointment available, which was two days out.

The family and friends that knew what was going on asked what we were going to do, and when I told them we were taking her to a Naturalist (not covered by our insurance), they often questioned me. Even my husband was leery of it. It seemed strange all this information about "Energy Therapy" that I read about. Supposedly, they planned on treating my daughter with lights, colors, and lasers. Honestly, I didn't know what to think but I was desperate. No amount of money, no opinion from another, nothing... nothing could keep me from trying any means possible to help my little girl (Not that that makes me any different any other loving parent out there).

So, at eight months pregnant, we packed up our daughter and set off on the three hour drive to Dr. Linda's. We spent three hours at her office going over our little one's story, muscle response testings, and energy therapy treatments. When we left the office we were all tired but hopeful.

We went home that night... put pajamas on our little girl, tucked her in bed, and sat amazed as she fell asleep without a single tear. After nearly three weeks of going to bed screaming every night, she went to bed that night without even the slightest fuss.

As the nights went on, the rashes continued to improve and we even returned to a normal diet. We did go back to Dr. Linda's for one more treatment after noticing a slight sensitivity to raw dairy still. But I tell you this... by the grace of God, Dr. Linda healed my daughter of her allergies.

We had tried endless traditional medicine fixes. We went against the recommendations of our family and friends. We had doubts, and we too thought that the homeopathic route was, dare I say, a little "hokey." But to this day, I stand firm on the belief that God led us to Natural Medicine to cure my daughter.

At this point, I stood looking at my medicine cabinet thinking, "What is this stuff? What good is it? If my daughter could be treated from one of the most severe list of allergies I have seen without a single drug or poke of the skin, why are we putting any of these drugs in our bodies?!"

By now, I have had my second daughter. Some co-workers at school put together a little gift bag for her arrival filled with some natural baby care soaps and lotions and a book on essential oils. Curiosity led me to attend my first "Oil Meeting" with my 6 day old baby and signed up for Young Living Essential Oils right then and there.

Young Living Essential Oils

Look at this beautiful skin!

Since this day, I have treated every single ailment our family has had with natural, essential oils. No drugs. No Side effects. Stomach aches, ear aches, head aches, teething, scrapes, cuts, burns, and even allergies!

I continue to attend as many of our Young Living Oil meetings as possible, where I have learned how to better use the oils, and just recently how to make healthier food choices. With my new career change as a Stay-at-home-mom, I am now able to begin diving into the Organic eating world. I know it is a journey worth making because what we put in and on our body, despite its approval by the FDA, or a doctor, or a family member, or even despite us knowing it, does effect our health. I know that my family is happier and healthier because of Natural Medicine, Essential Oils, Organic Foods, and, above it all, the God that has led us this far.

(Please note that laying in leaves was a huge "no-no" when she had allergies)

From here... onward to healthier living. It is my prayer that our story would inspire others to make natural choices for true and healthy living. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments as we do this thing called life together!

to be continued...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dirt-Road Apple Pie

Dirt-Road Apple Pie

I got this brilliant idea to make an apple pie from scratch for the first time... and believe it or not it actually turned out as brilliant as my plan for once! (examine pictures)

So, I started off by sending my husband and toddler out to pick apples down the dirt-road... hence the name "Dirt-Road Apple Pie." My only instructions were "grab a few from each tree." 

In the meantime, I mixed up the crust...

Simple Pie Crust:
In a food processor or blender, mix:
             2 1/2 c flour
             1 tsp salt
             1 tsp sugar
             2 sticks chilled, cubed butter
Pour out onto a clean surface and use hands to work in 6-8  tablespoons of ice water.  Just enough for the dough to stick together, but do not overwork. Wrap in plastic wrap and cool in fridge for 1 hour... 

Once your loved ones have returned from apple picking, peel and chunk 8 cups of apples. Keep from browning by tossing in 2 tbsp lemon juice.

Use flour to roll out half of the dough and place in a pie pan. Mix in with the apples:
           3/4 c white sugar
           1/4 c brown sugar
           1/4 c flour
           1 tsp cinnamon
           1/4 tsp nutmeg

Pour apples over first crust, roll out second crust, and crimp edges together... I'll have to be honest, at this point, my kids were screaming so just get those crusts on and seal  the edges, brush on an egg yolk whipped in a tbsp. milk, and make some slits in the top. Pop in the oven at 375 for about 45 minutes.  

Cool, cut, and Enjoy!