Friday, March 29, 2013

Avocado Deviled Eggs

If you've dyed your Easter eggs (or are planning to), you've got a lot of boiled eggs on your hands.  This year I'm being proactive about using them.  Instead of letting them sit in my fridge for weeks, I'm going to use them on Easter day!

We're heading to lunch with lots of family, including some relative visiting from Switzerland.  I'm bringing a couple of side dishes and dessert, but I decided I wanted to bring some yummy deviled eggs too.  An easy appetizer plus using up my giant stash of boiled eggs = awesomeness!

It's not that we don't eat boiled eggs.  The kids love them as a snack and we'll mix up some egg salad too.  But we dyed lots of eggs this year and I'm happy to lighten the load and make a little room in the fridge.  Plus, deviled eggs are super yummy.

And guess what?  These little eggy masterpieces skip the standard mayo and use avocado instead.  Avocados are much more nutritious than even homemade mayo and if you're comparing the store bought mayo, there's no contest!

Even if you'll be using your Easter eggs on Easter morning, there's still plenty of time to prep these babies.  They've only got a few ingredients and you can whip them up in a matter of minutes.

Avocado Deviled Eggs

1 dozen boiled eggs
1 avocado
1 large dill pickle, diced
1/4 tsp sea salt
pepper to taste

Peel and rinse eggs. Slice longways.

Remove the yolks and mash together in a medium bowl.

Add avocado, roughly chopped and mash in with the yolks.

If you prefer a smoother look, you can do this in your food processor.
Add salt pepper and dill pickle and mix.

Fill each egg with avocado filling.

Chill until serving and enjoy!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

An Unconventional Easter Basket

Have you noticed the massive amount of Easter stuff in the stores?  We stopped at Target last weekend for a mattress pad (we've had one too many pee accidents on our new bed) and as we strolled the aisles, I was bombarded by the massive amount of Easter "stuff" for sale.  Dishes, towels, clothes, giant decorative bunnies... sigh.  And this wasn't even in the Easter aisles.

Luckily for me, the bedding was next to the Easter display.  Aisle after aisle of plastic baskets, eggs, grass and cheap plastic toys.  Oh and the candy.  Chocolate bunnies and eggs and candy of all kinds, yippie!  Kota was beside herself with all of the stuff we "needed." What, you mean the stuff that will be in the garbage next week?

How is it that this holiday became about chocolate bunnies and plastic chickens pooping candy eggs (you've seen those right?). 

Besides our food restrictions and standards, we try not to get caught up in the crazy marketing surrounding every single holiday .  Despite what marketers would like me to believe, I really don't need more stuff.  Especially toxic stuff.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not sucking the fun out of Easter over here.  Kota has been practicing her egg hunting skills and has already asked if the Easter bunny will be coming to our house.  Indeed he will.  He'll just be dropping off some simpler treats.

This year, our littles will have baskets filled with homemade goodies and a simple craft.  No spending frenzy at the store, no cheep plastic toys, and no toxic junk food.  So what makes up our Ester baskets?

No grass!

We'll be using some of the wooden and wicker baskets that the kids already play with.  The Easter bunny likes to recycle right?  We'll also be skipping the plastic or paper grass that has no redeeming value.  Instead our little baskets will be lined with play silks.

The Treats
Like I said, the ridiculous chemical filled candy will not be entering this house.  Instead, we'll be enjoying some homemade treats.  First on my list will be a little breakfast treat (bonus: one less thing to cook in the morning!)- I’m thinking I’ll make these tasty little mini muffins.

The kiddos will also be getting a raw treat- these raw brownies, which they love.  They're simple to make and naturally sweetened with dates.

I've also dehydrated a batch of strawberries for their basket.  Talk about a simple Easter basket addition. Slice and dehydrate!

Finally, I'm planning to make some very special chocolate mini eggs.  I'll be using my dairy free truffle recipe and rolling them into mini egg shapes instead of balls.  This way my kids will get a fun chocolate treat without the sugar, dairy, soy and other additives that you'll find in the Easter aisles.

Getting Crafty
My kids definitely don't need more toys but we can always use more art and craft supplies.  Kota was running low on beads so I bought her some wood and shell beads to string.  These were under $5.  I'm making a simple felt book for Aidric with truck shapes.  The felt for is was under $2.  This is the only money I've spent on their baskets, everything else we had on hand.

I'm happy that we're keeping it simple this year.  We aren't contributing to landfill waste or filling our bodies with lots of toxins.  Hopefully some of this is rubbing off on the kids too.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Natural Easter Egg Dyeing

If you’re like me, you don’t allow artificial dyes in your home.  This goes for the food coloring and egg dyes.  Nothing good can come of this stuff.  Last year was my first attempt at naturally dying eggs.  I kept it simple and just tried some foods I had on hand. 

The results were pretty good but this year I wanted to do some more experimenting.  I felt kind of like a mad scientist cooking up all kinds of brews in my kitchen/laboratory.  It also smelled pretty interesting: a combination of cabbage, onions, berries and turmeric.  Yum right?

This year, I was really pleased with the results.  I got some very vibrant colors and almost all of my dyes worked!  The losers were cranberries and red onions.  The cranberries caused a weird reaction and formed a slimy film all over the egg.  I ditched that one.  The red onion dye worked fine but just made a dirty brown color that wasn’t very spectacular.

You’ll notice the only color I didn’t make was green.  I didn’t find a good food source that would make green dye.  Although I didn’t try it, I’m sure you could use a combination of blue (purple cabbage) and yellow (turmeric) to get a pretty green.  Next year I’ll have to try it.

Natural Egg Dyeing

Pink- Beets
Combine 4-5 thinly chopped beets with 2.5 cups of water.
Simmer for 30 minutes, strain and cool.
Add 1 tbsp of white vinegar for every cup of dye.

To dye: leave egg in dye for 5-30 minutes depending on the shade you want.  You’ll get a light pink after 5 minutes but for the vibrant pink you see in the photos, you’ll want to leave the eggs in for 30.

Orange- yellow onions
Combine outer dry skins from 5-6 onions and 3 cups of water.
Simmer for 30 minutes, remove peels and cool.
Add 1 tbsp of white vinegar for every cup of dye.

To dye: leave egg in dye for 15-45 minutes.  For a lighter peach, 15 minutes will do it.  If you want bright orange, leave the eggs in for 30-45 minutes.

Note: You only need the outer dry skins from the onions.  You can pull these off of your stash of onions but I raided the onion bin at the grocery store and nabbed a bunch of dry onion skins.

Yellow- turmeric
Combine 2 cups of water with 4 tsp of turmeric.
Simmer for 15 minutes and cool.
Strain through a coffee filter if desired (not necessary).
Add 1 tbsp of white vinegar for every cup of dye.

To dye: leave eggs in dye for at least 30 minutes.  Depending on the strength of the dye and color desired, you may need to leave your eggs in the dye for a couple of hours.  I was able to dye one egg and get a vibrant yellow after 30 minutes but the second one needed to soak in the dye over night to become bright.

Blue-Green- blueberries
Combine 2 cups of water with 1 ½ cups of frozen blueberries.
Simmer for 30 minutes, strain out blueberries and cool.
Add 1 tbsp of white vinegar for every cup of dye.

To dye: soak eggs in dye for 15-45 minutes.  Eggs will look navy blue or purplish but will fade to blue-green.

Bright Blue- purple cabbage
Combine 4 cups of water with ½ head shredded purple cabbage.
Simmer for 30 minutes, strain out cabbage and cool.
Add 1 tbsp of white vinegar for every cup of dye.

To dye: soak eggs for 1 to 8 hours.  Depending on the strength of the dye, the eggs may need to be soaked overnight.  Mine were still light blue after an hour so I left them overnight and they turned out a beautiful shade of blue.  When I made these last year the dye seemed much more concentrated so I think the coloring of the cabbage varies.  No matter hat, you should get good results, it just may take a little longer

Deep Purple- blueberries
Follow dirctions for the blue-green eggs

To dye: soak eggs in dye overnight or for at least 4-6 hours.

Since the dyes are all natural, you can expect the eggs to fade or change colors in the fridge.  If you want to keep your colors vibrant, rub them with a little olive oil- this will also give them a little deeper of a color.  I'm ok with the fading and I actually think it's kind of fun to see what happens!

This post is shared at Homestead Barn HopNatural Living MondayTastful Tuesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday and Fresh Foods Link Up.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Blueberry Vanilla Mini Muffins- GF, DF

We’re all about the mini muffins here.  Today Aidric showed me how he can shove a whole muffin into his mouth.  I was so proud.  I’ve been making these particular muffins for a couple of weeks now and every time they are gone within the day.  Normally it only takes about an hour.

The last time I made them for breakfast the two kiddos ate them all- seriously, I didn’t get a single one.  Two tiny people ate 24 mini muffins.  That’s ok though, I’m prepared now to squirrel away a couple right when they come out of the oven.

We’ve been enjoying lots of blueberries here lately since they’re in season.  I’ve got a trip planned for this weekend to take the kids picking.  Hopefully some will end up in they’re buckets. 

You can used fresh or frozen berries for this recipe, either will work.  I’ve been using up the last of our frozen stash in preparation for our picking spree.  If you do choose frozen, be aware they will cool down your dough and thicken it (due to the coconut oil) but it won’t hurt!

Blueberry Vanilla Mini Muffins

Makes 24 mini muffins

¼ cup coconut flour
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp sea salt
3 eggs, room temperature
3 tbsp honey
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350.
In a small bowl, combine coconut flour, baking soda and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut oil, honey, vanilla and eggs.
Beat until thoroughly mixed.

Add dry ingredients and beat until lumps are gone.

Fold in blueberries by hand.

Grease a mini muffin tin with coconut oil and spoon a heaping teaspoon of batter into each muffin cup.

Bake for 10-11 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

 Hide from kids as necessary!