Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year, New Spinach

Happy New Year's Eve!  I hope you've had a wonderful holiday season like we have.  If you're anything like me, you have probably been indulging in some foods you don't normally eat.  The day after Christmas, both Andy and I decided we needed a quick cleanse.  We'd been partaking in my Mom's delicious Swiss braided bread and lots of cheese fondue—bread and cheese—two things we don't normally eat.

It's amazing to me how clearly my body shows me that it doesn't appreciate these things.  I can't believe I went so many years eating things and not realizing how they affected me.  As I look ahead to the coming year, I look forward to increasing the clarity I have with food.  And I hope you'll come along for the journey.

I've got some things I'm very excited to share with you over the coming weeks: new veggie-filled recipes, budgeting tips, information on GMOs and a new series on navigating grocery stores.  I have so much I want to share in the coming year so I'll be taking a break from posting meal plans.  If you're looking for ideas, you can still check out my old plans here.

The beginning of the new year also has us looking ahead to our goals for the new year.  We don't usually make resolutions in this family however I do like to think about what I want for our family in the coming months.  We'll be focusing on how we want to interact as a family and making a family mission statement.  I'm also a huge fan of celebrating all that we have accomplished in the past year!

If there are any topics you'd like to see covered here, I'd love to hear them!  Let me know what you're interested in and I'll try and cover it.  And have a Happy New Year!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Drink Your Beets- Carrot Beet Juice

I'll let you in on a little secret, I'm not a huge fan of beets.  I've tried to embrace them plenty of times- roasted, picked, sautéed, and juiced.  They always have that earthy taste that I am just not crazy about.  The first time I did a raw cleanse, I forced myself to juice quite a few of them because I knew they were good for me.  I still wasn't crazy about them though.

Why keep eating them? Beets contain some neat-o compounds called betalains.  Betalains perform many functions including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification of the body.

Beets have a super high concentration (all of that crazy red-purple color) in their root which makes them an awesome source. Betalains have also been shown to shrink the size of tumors!! Amazing right?  They also contain high levels of folate, manganese, potassium and Vitamin C.

So I feel compelled to eat beets.  I figure if I eat them long enough I'll learn to like them right?  I've tried a lot of different ways to eat my beets and this juice is by far my favorite.  So what's the secret to tasty beet juice when you don't like beets?  This guy:

I've tried carrot-beet-ginger juice before and it is not the same.  Add in an apple and it's awesome!  Something about the combination makes the beet not only bearable, but tasty.  And it looks so beautiful too!

Those betalains I was telling you about are heat sensitive, so juicing is the perfect way to maximize your intake.  If you're not a fan of beets like me, go ahead and try this juice, you might just change your mind!

Carrot Beet Juice

3/4-1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
1 medium beet, peeled and sliced
5 large carrots, peeled or washed
1 apple, cored and sliced

Chop your goods so they'll fit in the juicer.

Run everything through your juicer. (If you don't have a juicer, you can still make this! Check out this post for directions)

Check out your gorgeous juice...

And then drink right away to get the maximum nutrients!

It's good stuff.

My kids love this stuff.  Lest you be confused about the face he's making, this was what happened when I told him all the juice was gone.

This post is shared at Simple Lives Thursday, Gluten Free Friday and Allergy Free Wednesday.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Meal Plan Monday 12/24/2012

Merry Christmas! I hope you have a peaceful holiday with friends and family as we are blessed to be able to do this year.  I'm keeping it short and sweet this week so I can enjoy this time with my family!

Meal Plan 12/24/2012-12/30/2012 

Breakfast: GF Pancakes
Lunch: Quesadillas with leftovers 
Dinner: Swiss Fondue

Christmas Day
Breakfast: Braided Bread with Bacon and cucumbers
Lunch: Sandwiches, hummus and veggies 
Dinner: Chateaubriand, mashed potatoes and Sautéed Spinach

Lunch: Salad 
Dinner: Homemade Brats, Salad and sweet potato fries 
Breakfast: Baked Eggs
Lunch: Egg Salad
Dinner: Freezer Meal- Stuffed Tomatoes 

Breakfast: Sautéed Veggies
Lunch: leftovers 

Breakfast: Breakfast Casserole 
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Spaghetti with GF noodles

Breakfast: Raw Bowl 
Lunch: Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette 
Dinner: Pizza

Have a Great Week and a blessed Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sautéed Spinach

This time of year it can be hard to eat your greens.  If you're not careful, you might realize you've gone all day without veggies! It's so essential with the added holiday stress and most likely less sleep, we are equipping our bodies with the nutrients they need to handle the extra load.  No one likes being sick on Christmas!

I'm sure you know I love spinach.  We go through pounds of it each week.  I usually don't cook it because it is so easy to use raw, but a plate of sautéed spinach is one of my favorite dishes.  There are do many ways to serve this and it works at any time of the day.

You can serve this with eggs for breakfast, alone for lunch, or add a few more veggies and serve it for dinner.  You could also mix it up and add some fruit for a sweet taste rather than savory.  It's so versatile! I'll be serving this on Christmas day as a side dish- because not only is it good for you and tasty, but it looks classy too!

So go on, eat yo' spinach and arm yourself for another busy day! 

Sautéed Spinach

1 tbsp coconut oil (this one from Tropical Traditions has no taste) or olive oil
1 cup onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
2-3 huge handfuls of spinach

Heat large pan over medium heat and add oil.

Add onions and cook until they start to brown.

Add mushrooms and sauté for 2-3 minutes, than add spinach.

Continue stirring to cook the spinach evenly.

Remove from heat as soon as spinach wilts and serve.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dairy Free Spinach Artichoke Dip

If you’re headed to a party this time of year, you're sure to be faced with a gorgeous spread of processed food.  As good as it may look, I've realized it just doesn't taste good when you're used to real food.  It's also sure to wreak havoc on your system if you aren't used to eating it.

For me, it's just not worth it to eat junk.  Instead I like to bring something I'll want to eat and everyone else will too.  It's also good for me, but I usually keep this info on the down-low unless said partygoers are super cool like me and like real food.

If you've ever made traditional artichoke dip, you probably know that it's usually made with things like cream cheese, sour cream or butter.  Hello dairy fest! That's just not going to work for this family. But I knew there had to be a way to make it magical without the dairy.

A little trial and error and I had it- a creamy tangy dip that will make you want more! We'll be bringing this to a couple get-togethers in the next few weeks for everyone to enjoy!

Dairy Free Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 cup spinach, thinly sliced
2 cups frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
2 cloves garlic
½ tsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup cashews, soaked and rinsed
juice from 1/2 lemon
½ cup macadamia nuts
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp hemp seeds
¼ cup + 1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
After your artichokes have thawed, chop into bite sized pieces.

Combine all ingredients except spinach and artichokes in blender.

Blend on high until smooth.  Add extra water a tablespoon at a time if necessary.

Pour mixture into a large bowl and add spinach and artichokes.

Mix spinach and artichokes into the sauce until everything is thoroughly coated.

Pour mixture into a baking dish and smooth top.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until hot though center.

Serve with veggies or crackers and enjoy!

In case you're wondering, it was a hit with the kids too!

More please?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Meal Plan Monday 12/17/2012

One week until Christmas!!! Eeeek! I've got a ton of homemade projects to do this week so I'm taking advantage of the meals I've been stocking in my freezer the last few weeks.  I plan to do minimal cooking (aside for some holiday baking) so I can spend my time getting all of my projects done.

On Friday we're headed to a potluck and bonfire to celebrate the longest night of the year.  And on Saturday, Andy's brother Travis arrives to spend Christmas with us!  I'm very excited to relax and enjoy time with our extended family in the next week.  I hope you take time to enjoy this season too!

Meal Plan 12/17/2012-12/23/2012 

Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Raw Pad Thai

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs with kale
Lunch: salad with Mustard Vinaigrette 

Breakfast: Sweet Potato Pancakes
Lunch: Fried Rice with veggies
Dinner: Freezer meal- Cauliflower Shepherds Pie
Lunch: Veggie and Hummus Pitas
Dinner: Freezer Meal- Quinoa Stuffed Grilled Peppers

Breakfast: Pumpkin Muffins
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Potluck with friends (bringing my Cranberry Spinach Salad)

Breakfast: Omelets with sautéed veggies
Dinner: Miso Salmon with rice and snap peas

Breakfast: Savory Rosemary Biscuits and homemade breakfast sausage 
Lunch: French Onion Soup and Salad

Have a Great Week!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Homemade Gifts: Dairy Free Irish Cream

If you're looking for an easy holiday gift that everyone (of legal age) will love, I've got it for you.  I've made irish cream quite a few times to gift at Christmas and it is always a huge hit.  I always get asked for the recipe!

Normally, making irish cream requires lots of dairy and processed ingredients- condensed milk, chocolate syrup and of course some heavy cream.  I gag over the can of condensed milk especially.  All of that over processed dairy and sugar!  Definitely not a good way to indulge over the holidays.  

So I cleaned it up with some pretty simple ingredients.  I won't say this is healthy, but it's a lot cleaner than the traditional stuff and a better version for a holiday indulgence!

Dairy Free Irish Cream

1 1/2 cups Irish Whiskey 
1 can coconut milk (full fat)
1 cup nut milk (almond or cashew)
1/2 cup raw honey
4 eggs
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract

Combine all ingredients in blender.

Blend on high for 1 minute.

Pour into bottles and refrigerate until use.

If you are using packaged nut milk, this should keep for 2 weeks (although it probably won't last that long).  If you use fresh nut milk like I did, you should use it within a week.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Cookie Icing

Yesterday I shared my new Christmas cookie recipe with you and, as promised, I'm back with the icing recipe!  It was hard work squirreling away most of the cookies so they made it to the icing stage but I did it.

We had lots of fun icing the cookies as a family.  Some were pretty and some were "loved on," but they were all equally tasty.  I've got fond memories of icing Christmas cookies as a kid each year and I was happy to share this tradition with my kids this year.  Especially since I didn't mind them eating my version.

This recipe is really simple but you'll want to make sure you get some quality coconut milk.  My new favorite brand is Native Forest.  It is almost half cream!  I like Thai Kitchen too but Native Forest has even more cream so it wins.

We don't use any artificial dyes in this house either- super scary.  So I juiced a beet (and made some carrot-beet-ginger juice for me) and used chlorophyll water.  You could definitely do more colors if you're aiming for fancy but I kept things simple today with red, green and white.

Christmas Cookie Icing

1 can coconut milk (cream only)
2 tbsp coconut palm sugar, powdered
1 tsp vanilla extract

optional for dying:
beet juice
chlorophyll water

To powder coconut palm sugar, place the sugar in a blender and blend on high until powdery.
Refrigerate coconut milk overnight.  Once cold, carefully open without shaking.

Scrape the coconut cream from the top of the can.

This is where high quality coconut milk comes in- the better the milk, the more cream you will get in each can.

Combine the coconut cream, sugar and vanilla in your mixing bowl.

Beat on high until it starts to peak.

If coloring your icing, divide into separate bowls and add dye.

Start with 1/2 tsp of dye and add until you have desired color.

Note: natural dyes will not usually be as deep in color as artificial dyes.  Adding too much juice to your icing will make it runny and hard to work with.

Now you get to ice your super yummy cookies.

You can make them all pretty-like and carefully ice each one....

Or you can set your kids free with the cookies and icing.

Just don't expect to walk away with many finished ones.  It seems they go in the mouth as soon as they're iced!

Or maybe just a spoonful of icing....