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the haas machine: May 2013

Friday, May 31, 2013

One Crunchy Mama's Wellness Tips

According to Urban Dictionary, a "Crunchy Mom" is: a member of an increasingly growing group of moms who are neo-hippies. They generally believe (for varying reasons) that there is something bad or less beneficial about buying mainstream products or doing other common activities in the mainstream way.You might be a crunchy mom if you:

  1. Bake all your own bread 
  2. Make your own jam, jelly, pickles, applesauce, etc. 
  3. Gave birth at home -- by CHOICE! (With a midwife, doula, or unassisted!) 
  4. Prefer to teach your children yourself at home instead of letting the public or private schools do it for you. 
  5. Grow your own food as much as possible, and buy the rest at farmer's markets or health food stores. 
  6. Are vegan or vegetarian. 
  7. Choose not to use birth control. 
  8. Don't wear a bra or shoes. 
  9. Don't use shampoo or soap, but instead maybe sea salt or a variety of other things. 
  10. Had your placenta chopped up for an anti-depressant pill or smoothie. 
  11. Have no television in your home -- and actually read BOOKS for entertainment! 
  12. Grind your own grain to make your own bread with (did you know that wheat looses about 90% of it's nutrients within 7 days of being ground?) 
  13. Don't cut your hair or wear pants (not going around half-naked, but wearing skirts! Silly people! Get your mind out of the gutter!) 
  14. Can add 10 more things to this list that I didn't even think of!
OK, so I might be more crunchy that I even realized, since I can check off at least 9 of the above mentioned (can you guess which ones?) This post might put all that over-the-top, but I thought it could be helpful to share.

The other week Ruby & I were coming down with a bit of a cold. Immediately, I started doing many things you will see on the list below & thought to myself, "We (I) are (am) so weird. Maybe there are people out there who want to be more weird like us?" Maybe that's the case, maybe it's not. Either way, here is a collection of some of the rituals we do either to prevent sickness or to nurse ourselves back to health.

I would love to hear if you have anything to add to this list or if you have any questions regarding some of the things we do. Please know that I am not a Dietitian, nor am I a Doctor or anything fancy like that. These are just some things that have worked for me & my family. Please see your family Doctor if you are needing medical attention!
  • Hand washing
    It's very basic, but it's one of the best ways to prevent spreading sickness. Wash your hands before you eat, after you use the bathroom, after handling money, after diaper changes, etc.
  • Safe cleaning at home
    We don't have anti-bacterial anything (we make all of our cleaning recipes). Outside of the home, I'm a bit more diligent about disinfecting (things like shopping carts, high chairs, & table tops, etc. especially with little ones who touch everything & put their hands in their mouth).
  • Nutrient-rich eating
    Food is fuel for the body, so what do you want to fill it with-- junk or food that will nourish your body? (we eat lots of whole grains, lean proteins, full fat dairy products, colorful vegetables, & some fruits & try to stay away from processed foods, empty sugary drinks, & lots of sugar). Check out this winter immune boost.
  • Eating fermented foods that are filled with probiotics
    Yogurt is our fav & it's super easy to make at home in your crockpot! I also give Ruby probiotic supplements when she's sick, but especially right after she started eating solid foods or if she's had to take antibiotics for any reason. Probiotics are super beneficial for a healthy gut & healthy body!
  • Vitamins
    Look for ones with no funky ingredients or artificial sweeteners (I recommend Rainbow Light).
  • Raw garlic
    It has to be raw! Raw garlic is a natural immune booster. I like it best minced on some scrambled eggs so it's easier to eat.
  • Garlic ear oil
    We use this to naturally heal ear infections (instead of taking antibiotics). Even when Ruby has a cold I put the drops in to prevent ear infections. I just put 3-5 drops in each ear 2-3 times a day.
  • Snot suckers during snotty times
    When I first saw the Nose Freida, I thought it was a joke. But then I heard all the rave reviews & caved. Although Ruby still isn't a huge fan, it really helps to clear out her nasal passages, especially right before bedtime or naptime. It works so much better than those ball syringe things & it's WAY easier to clean!
  • Ecalytpus essential oil on the feet with cotton socks
    I mix a little bit of oil (olive oil or sesame oil) with a few drops of essential oil & then rub them on Ruby's feet to alleviate coughs. I love Aura Cacia oils.
  • Vapor rub on the chest &/or feet
    I also like to use this vapor rub on our chests when we're stuffy or coughy. LuSa Organics is local & smells amazing!
  • Homeopathic medicine 
    We love Hylands line of medicines for coughs, allergies, & teething.
  • Steamy, hot showers 
    Shut the bathroom door & crank on the hot water to loosen mucus! You can take it one step further & hang sprigs of eucalyptus from your shower head or sprinkle the essential oil on the tub floor for an even more refreshing shower.
  • Unless dangerously high, we leave fevers alone
    Fevers are our bodies way of fighting infections
    , so I'm not big on giving Tylenol or any other fever reducer unless it's really necessary. We snuggle a lot & drink lots of fluids (namely tea, water, & 100% fruit juice) & I just keep an eye on Ruby's personality, which can be a big indicator if she's really dangerously sick or not.
  • Homemade pedialyte when dehydrated
    Pedialyte has so many funky ingredients in it, but if Ruby has been throwing up, it's important for her to be well-hydrated. This more natural recipe is one that I've used to help replentish her electrolytes. I haven't tried it yet, but I've also heard amazing things about coconut water.
  • Nursing
    My original goal was to nurse Ruby until she was 1 year old, but after I learned all of the benefits of continued nursing, I changed my mind. The World Health Organization actually recommends breastfeeding until age 2 or beyond to provide incredible nutrition for the child & many health benefits for mama, too. Check out this site for some humorous myths about nursing into toddlerhood & this site for a few other benefits.
  • Restful sleep/naps
    Sleep is one of the most important things when sick. There have been times where that means I need to sleep with Ruby if she's having a hard time napping during the day or just needs more cuddle time (she's a very cuddly sleeper!) I really think that sickness is often our bodies way of saying "slow down & rest!" & if we just keep go-go-going, we will just feel miserable longer.
  • Drinking lots of water (sometimes with lemon)
    Water is my cure-all for most things. Have a headache? Feel dizzy? Trying to kick a cold? Guzzle some water. When I'm starting to get sick, I aim to drink about a gallon of water a day with some fresh lemon. If it's hard for you to drink straight up water, try one of these refreshing recipes (I also like sticking cucumber spears in my water). Water is so important to me that I have even set an alarm on my phone every couple of hours so that I remember to drink more throughout the day (yes I am a super dork).
  • Smoothies packed with healthy fruits & yogurt
    Sometimes when we're sick, we don't feel like eating, but it's important for our bodies to get good vitamins & minerals. We eat this smoothie (or a variation of it, depending on what we have available) a lot so that we have energy to fight off the sickness.
  • Fresh air/sunshine every day
    I'm a big believer of outdoor therapy. There have been many days where Ruby was teething or fussy about something & just a 30-minute walk would alleviate her symptoms (or at least help me from not going too crazy because we were out of the house for a bit). If I have a headache, often times a good stroll will help me feel better. Fresh air & sunshine are restorative for your body! If you're not convinced, here are 10 reasons kids need fresh air.
  • Drinking tea
    Try peppermint & lavender for headaches/tension/anxiety, nettle for allergies, camomille for teething, etc. Kids can drink tea, too (non-caffeinated of course). I just steep it for 3-5 minutes & then pour it over ice so it is lukewarm. Ruby loves tea! Here is an exceptional tea blend to help with allergies (I swear that nettle tea has cured my allergies... I promise).
  • Essential oils for headaches & migraines
    I especially have found relief with peppermint & lavender oils. I usually take a hot bath & put some oils on a wash cloth & then put that on my forehead for 20 or so minutes (I love Aura Cacia's essential oils).
  • Neti pot for cleaning out the sinuses
    works wonderfully if you've got a cold or are suffering from allergies (once you get the hang of it). Just make sure you don't use tap water.
  • Washing your face often during allergy season
    If you're sensitive to pollen, it's a good idea to at least rinse your face off before bedtime so that you aren't bringing a bunch of pollen with you to bed. Here are a few other helpful allergy prevention tips.
  • Using raw, local honey for allergies
    There are literally hundreds of benefits to eating raw local honey, but allergy relief is one of the best ones I've experienced!
  • Exercise
    I know I already mentioned getting outside, but if it's rainy or something, we still try to do something physical. I like to start most days off doing a 40 minute yoga session (sometimes Ruby joins in if I'm too lazy to wake up before she does). We also like to go for an hour-long walk or bike ride most days & generally walk or ride whenever we have errands that are within a short-ish distance (we live right on the edge of downtown). Exercise is so important, even when you're sick, but make sure you don't overdo it.
  • Massage
    Massage is amazing for so many reasons, but I especially enjoy it for preventing headaches & for more comfort while pregnant. It can even help babies with teething or colds!
  • Hazlewood necklaces
    We have used these on Ruby for teething pain as well as clearing up ezcema & they really work! Last spring she was having some pretty funky skin rashes & after wearing her necklace for a day it was completely cleared up.
  • Amber teething necklaces for teething
    Amber necklaces
    are a little more popular & we have also tried these to help with Ruby's teething pain. The evidence hasn't been as obvious as with the hazlewood necklace, but there have been times where she wasn't wearing the amber necklace & was exceptionally cranky... who knows.
  • Homemade cough drops
    I don't like to take most cough drops because they contain so many sugary, fake ingredients (check out Halls cherry cough drops: Menthol 7 mg, Eucalyptus Oil, FD&C Blue 2, FD&C Red 40, Flavors, Glucose Syrup, Soy Lecithin, Sucralose, Sucrose, Water). These cough drops don't take much time to make, don't have artifical colors, & taste sooo much better.
  • Epsom salt baths
    A lot of people are deficient in magnesium. Epson salt baths are a super easy way for the skin to absorb some good-for-you minerals. Especially when you're sick these baths are beneficial to help remove toxins from your system. I like to buy the plain epsom salt & add a few drops of my favorite essential oils in before mixing the salt into hot water.
  • Chiropractic care
    We love our Chiropractor! Both Ruby & I go every 6 weeks or as needed (especially if Ruby has a bad fall or has a cold). For me, it helps prevent migraines & headaches & was especially helpful while I was pregnant. For kids it's very important since their little bodies are going through so much growth & trauma all the time (it's especially helpful for newborns since being born is kind of an event for them). And I bring Ruby when she's got a cold, too, to help prevent against ear infections & even strep throat! I started bringing Ruby to the Chiro when she was 7 or 8 months old, but I will definitely bring our future kid(s) within days of being born.
  • Natural ingredients to treat sunburn
    This is the only thing I'm suggesting that I haven't actually tried: putting a mixture of aloe, coconut oil, & raw honey on sunburn. I think I'm going to give it a try this summer!
And in case this wasn't entertaining enough, check out this funny video on sh*t crunch mamas say. I know it's old, but it still makes me laugh so much. Whew! That was a lot of things... what do you like to do to treat or prevent sickness naturally?

(This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase something from amazon, I will get a small compensation).

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wednesday's "What We Ate May 20-26, 2013"

I do some pretty strange things when my family starts feeling sick. Things like eating raw garlic cloves & sticking garlic oil in our ears. We take vitamins & run salt water through our sinuses & use homeopathic medicines. We eat lots & lots of healthy foods; ones packed with healthy nutrients & gut-friendly probiotics. We sip tea with local honey. We sleep. We rest. We hibernate.

I'm actually working on a more extensive post with more of the things we do to prevent sickness & help it pass without using lots of medicines filled with artificial dyes & unnecessary interventions. I'm convinced that most of the time, what our bodies really need is good nutrition, fluids, & rest & that modern medicine often gets in the way of our bodies natural ability to heal. I'm obviously not a dietitian or an expert on natural medicine, but we do some things that have really helped us feel better naturally, so I'd just like to share our experiences with you. I'll let you know when it's ready to post (** update: it is linked above).

What made me think of this is that this past week, Ruby & I have both been fighting a cold. No matter how much you try to prevent sickness, sometimes it just happens. She's had a runny nose most of the week & has been up coughing a lot at night. I've had a lot of pressure in my sinuses & have been really low on energy. I've been trying to baby us a little back to health & prevent any further sickness (namely ear infections for her).

Our meals were simple this week, but tasty. I'm still obsessed with sweet potato hash, so I made that again. My family came in to town for the holiday weekend, so we were able to eat out a few times with them & enjoy grilling one of the days (it was raining, but oh well). Most of the meals I prepared were quick ones because we've been busy with band practice, pre-marital counseling, family, bachelor parties, & an herb class (more on that later). This next week our meals will be just as simple, as it's another busy, busy week for us. Hopefully it will be less snotty.

What do you like to eat in the midst of a busy/sick week?
Wednesday's dinner: chicken Caesar salads with roasted garlic & whole wheat pitas

What We Ate May 20-26, 2013
Monday: Venison tacos (corn tortillas, avocado, cheese, tomatoes, bell peppers) with watermelon
Tuesday: Mushroom & onion omelets with pineapple & whole wheat toast
Wednesday: Chicken Caesar salads with roasted garlic & whole wheat pitas
Thursday: Sweet potato hash with caramelized onions, sausage, & eggs with whole wheat toast
Friday: Sandwiches from our co-op while we were at our farmer's market
Saturday: We ate out with my family
Sunday: Grilled chicken with asparagus & fresh salad (lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, soy nuts)

I also made a batch of crockpot yogurt this week.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sweet Potato Zucchini Muffins

My perfect day would always involve a hearty muffin. Nothing too sweet, nothing too dense. Just hearty & delicious. When done right, they really are the perfect snack/treat no matter what the situation.

Right after Ruby was born, one of my friends brought over a large ziplock bag full of mini zucchini muffins. She labeled them "midnight nursing treats" & they were the best! Nursing made me super hungry, & mini muffins are just so easy to pop in your mouth, so it was a complete score.

My kid is the world's slowest eater at breakfast (usually when we need to be somewhere). Muffins can be the perfect breakfast on the go, minus the crumb factor.

And then there's just general business. Muffins are great when you need a little pick-me-up & don't have time to make something really healthy. They freeze well, too, so like in my case, I usually make 2 or 3 batches of a particular muffin we like, freeze the majority of them & then take them out as needed.

Although my husband could eat Kwik Trip muffins for the rest of his life, I know we are just too good for that. Those are pure sugar bombs & although I will admit that their double chocolate muffins just might be one of the most rich & chocolaty treat I've had, I shudder to read the ingredients,

My friends, these muffins I share with you are really the best of both worlds. They are hearty, they are mildly sweet, & guess what? There are 2 different veggies packed in them (plus 1 fruit). The veggies aren't hidden in puree form, so they make a sort of confetti look (one that Ruby generally picks out & squeals, "spinach!" before shoving it in her mouth).

I might be one of the only people who would prefer a more savory muffin to the crumb topped sugary ones, but I think that even the traditional muffin enjoyers would be satisfied by this muffin. If you're looking for a few other simple muffin recipes, check these ones out too:
I have a whole board on pinterest dedicated to muffins. Looks like I need to try out a few more recipes in the near future. What are your favorite muffin recipes?

Sweet Potato Zucchini Muffins
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup demerara sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup milk
1 overripe mashed banana
2 tbsp ground flax seed (+4 tbsp water)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup grated sweet potato

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using a box grater or food processor, grate 1 cup of fresh zucchini (it took about three small zucchinis). Peel 1 medium sweet potato & do the same.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl & stir to combine. In a separate bowl, combine 2 tbsp ground flax with 1/4 cup water & set aside to thicken into a “flax egg.” Once thickened, combine all wet ingredients & add to the dry mixing bowl.

Grease your muffin pan (unless you are using silicone cups, there there's no need!) & spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown & cooked through. If using silicone cups, pop them out of the cups immediately & allow them to cool on a cooling rack.

Recipe adapted from The Daily Garnish

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Whipped Coconut Body Butter

Turns out I'm not the only one who's sort of obsessed with coconut products these days. I love eating them in things like chocolate chip cookies, coconut bread, chocolate pie, & coconut chicken nuggets. That is pretty normal. But what I've really been getting into as of late is using coconut oil for skincare products.

I am so in-love with this recipe for homemade lip balm, which uses only coconut oil, beeswax, vitamin e oil & essential oils- all things you can find at your local coop (or often times cheaper on vitacost or amazon). I've made a couple batches of peppermint & lavender lip balms & they are probably going to save me thousands from "splurging" on all those $3 tubes of natural lip balm I'm so often suckered into buying.

This lastest recipe for whipped coconut butter is quite a treat as well. The ingredients again are minimal & it's extremely cost effective. If you're one who doesn't quite like a good, greasy body butter (coconut oil is, um, an oil), then you might have to re-think this project. I happen to looove that feeling (until I need to touch something), so it is near & dear to my heart.

Have you used coconut oil for any skincare products? Please share in the comments below!

Whipped Coconut Body Butter
1 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vitamin e oil
Few drops of essential oil for scent (optional)

Put everything into a KitchenAid mixer & mix on high for 6-7 minutes, using the wire whisk (make sure your coconut oil is in solid, not liquid form, or it will not whip). Spoon your whipped coconut oil into a glass jar with a lid. You may need to keep it in the fridge if your house is so warm that it becomes melty!

Recipe taken from Living the Nourished Life

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday's "What We Ate May 13-19, 2013"

Dear garlic lovers,
I wish you all could have been at my house on Monday for dinner. I followed the directions for a supposedly tasty garlicy cauliflower mash (mock mashed potatoes). I was a little squeemish about the 4 (FOUR) whole, raw garlic cloves that were needed, but I went against my gut & followed the directions. The first taste was painful. The second (why, oh why was there a second?!) literally made me cry. The day where there was too much garlic was in fact discovered at dinner on Monday. The mash was sadly tossed. I thought about running to the store for more cauliflower, but I hardly ever do that while cooking, so we just ate some hummus & cucumbers instead. It was a sad night, but I will try again.

In other happier news, I had a wonderful veggie burger making party with some of the other ladies from our church last week. We do a lot of grilling in the summer as a church, so we wanted to provide a stellar veggie option. We had a blast, chatting over wine & a few snacks & veggie burgering it up. Thanks for joining me in making 114 burgs, ladies!
 Roasted beet hummus from the veggie burger making party
  Ricotta vegetable dip, also from the party

This week I also continued on my chicken enchilada obsession & tried it out as pizza (recently, I've also made it as pasta). Basically you just sub the tomato sauce for enchilada sauce, top with sauteed peppers & chicken, with a bunch of spices & cheese & then top with sour cream/greek yogurt & bam! You've got yourself a chicken enchilada pizza.

The week mostly went well eating-wise, in spite of Monday. After the garlic catastrophe, it so made me appreciate that when meals go wrong, we still have tons of food that is available for us to eat. Not everyone can choose what meals they have, let alone how much they eat & when, & definitely not everyone can throw away their nasty dinner & exchange it for a better one. We are so richly blessed.

What are you eating these days? Was anything an epic fail?
Thursday's dinner: whole wheat almond pancakes with scrambled eggs & strawberries

What We Ate May 13-19, 2013
Monday: Almond crusted chicken nuggets with garlicy cauliflower mash cucumbers & hummus
Tuesday: Veggie burgers with salad (spring mix, carrots, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, ranch dressing)
Wednesday: Chicken enchilada pizza
Thursday: Whole wheat almond pancakes with scrambled eggs & strawberries
Friday: Creamy avocado pasta
Saturday: Roasted vegetable sandwich with goat cheese, spinach & balsamic with tortilla chips & salsa
Sunday: We had pizza with friends

I also made a batch of bread & whole wheat burger buns this week.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Creamy Avocado Pasta

All you avocado fans out there gotta know about this! And those on-the-fence or (gasp!) avocado haters, seriously need to wake up! Avocados have got to be on my top 10 food list for sure. I love slicing them up to put in turkey sandwiches, in fish & black bean tacos, on huevos rancheros, in smoothies, or simply on toast with sliced tomatoes. I love them on nachos, on enchiladas, in chicken tortilla soup, as guac, & even in cheesecake. They are da bomb.

I've unsuccessfully tried to grow my own avocado plant from a seed several times. Maybe one day I'll be diligent enough to do it, although I'd be doubtful that I'd even get one actual avocado since we live so far north. Who knows? Either way, I'm going to need a small farm of avocado plants due to my obsession with these little guys.

A fun site to check out is the amazing avocado. There are hundreds of recipes on this site (it's where I got the idea for the cheesecake), as well as all of the benefits of eating avocados. Read away & educate yourself!
This particular recipe I'm sharing with you today is one of our family favorites. We both like how creamy the consistency is (almost resembles a heavy cream type sauce) & of course, the earthy avocado-ness of it all, but I also love that it literally takes under 15 minutes to prepare. It's the perfect quick, yet satisfying meal for the nights when you have zero (or 15) minutes to cook.

You can be adventurous & add chicken or shrimp or any veggies that you like. We've made it with chicken & chopped red bell peppers before & it was delish. On this particular night that I made it, we were rushing out of the house to go to our local farmer's market, so there was no additions made & it was still quite yummy.

Do you like experimenting with avocados? What are some of your favorite recipes for them?

Creamy Avocado Pasta
1 medium sized ripe avocado, pitted
1/2 lemon, juiced + lemon zest to garnish
1-3 garlic cloves, to taste
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Your choice of pasta (we used whole wheat spaghetti)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring several cups of water to a boil in a medium sized pot. Add in your pasta, reduce heat to medium, & cook until Al Dente, about 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by placing the garlic cloves, lemon juice, & olive oil into a food processor. Process until smooth. Now add in the pitted avocado & salt. Process until smooth & creamy.

When the pasta is done cooking, drain & rinse in a strainer & place pasta into a large bowl. Pour on sauce & toss until fully combined. Garnish with lemon zest & black pepper. Serve immediately (this dish does not reheat well so eat it right away!)
Recipe adapted from Oh She Glows

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Whole Wheat Burger Buns

Buns. Buns. Buns. Buns. Bunnnnnnnnsssssss. I think I would rather starve than go on the Atkins diet because I am so in love with all things bread. Maybe that's a problem, but maybe it's not. I'm a full believer in most foods moderation-wise & I figure, if we're going to splurge on something scrumptious like a hamburger or heck, a veggie burger, then why not go way over the top & make a hearty bun? Go big or go home people.

I've been testing out a few bun recipes for a couple months now & have been pretty disappointed with most of my results. I've always struggled in the bread/bun/roll department, mostly because you are supposed to do things like take the temp of the water, or wait exact amounts of time before adding certain ingredients. I'm not that good at following directions anyways, but once you start telling me when I should do them, too, things go downhill quickly.

Luckily this recipe is pretty much fool-proof (although I totally screwed it up the first time, thinking that the recipe made 6 bun halves instead of 6 bun pairs, so we ended up having GINORMOUS burgers that night & had bun hangovers in the morning). Plus, they are wholesome & hearty & they freeze like champs, so you can whip up a big ol' batch & enjoy them for all your summer cook outs.

I especially like how each bun is uniquely shaped. No bun is the same- each one a special ball of wheaty goodness with a cripsy, yet flakey crust. You're seriously gonna love these buns.

Whole Wheat Burger Buns
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups warm water, divided
2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil

Mix the sugar, 1/2 cup warm water & the yeast i& set aside for about 10 minutes until the mixture starts to froth, indicating the yeast is alive & well.

Sift all the flours, salt, & baking soda. Knead on low speed in a stand mixer or by hand for about 5 minutes, trickling in 1 cup of water until you have a dough that's smooth but slightly sticky. Add the oil & continue to knead until the oil has been absorbed by the dough, about 1 more minute.

Now place in an oiled bowl, turning over once to coat all over with oil, cover with a kitchen towel, & set aside for 2 hours until the dough has risen. Punch down the dough & divide into 6 balls

Shape them into smooth balls. Place the buns on a lightly greased baking sheet, at least a couple of inches apart. Flatten the tops slightly with your fingers, & let the buns rise for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 370. Place the buns in the oven & bake 25 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Holy Cow! A Vegan Blog


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday's "What We Ate May 6-12, 2013"

Are you ready for summertime food? Have you dusted off your grills yet? Wiped off that skuzzy patio furniture? Located your kids sidewalk chalk? Although we've been experiencing much on again/off again spring here in Wisconsin (we had a frost advisory on Sunday, but on Tuesday it was 80 degrees), John & I are so in grill mode. Over the past week, we've still been pretty busy with our yard work (John leveled the ground by our raised beds & placed a few patio blocks, surrounded by rock & I finished some painting & prepped the ground for some grass seeds), we've still been able to enjoy a meal or two outdoors on our patio.

This past week, we had a few flops for meals (the stir fry & tuna noodle casserole were kind of blah), a few surprisingly tasty meals (cobb salads), & of course, an old summer standby (burgers) with the added bonus of a new edamame salsa recipe (soo good!) I can't wait to try out more meals that use in season foods & local produce.

Which reminds me, on Friday, Ruby & I had quite the lovely day. We got up early & headed out to rummage sales for the morning. We found a couple gems (mostly some toys for her to play with in the newly fenced in yard, as well as some clothes that actually might fit her), but most of all, we just had a great time interacting & enjoying the experience of rummaging together. She loved seeing so many new faces & all of the items that people had for sale. Later in the day, we went to the children's museum, & then our local farmer's market. It was so refreshing to be there & the sun came out at the most perfect time, so it was pleasantly warm.

Our farmer's market is really quite the special treat. I just love all of the hustle & bustle-- all of the beautiful local produce, crafts, plants, flowers, meats, eggs... I just want it all! They even have a band play on most Fridays & starting in June, will offer free yoga in the park right next to the market. They will even be doing a few kids' yoga sessions! Ruby loooved the music & again, all of the new faces. I think she is an extrovert at heart (which is terrifying, by the way). She loved running around with a group of (unfamiliar) children in the park & chasing after a dog she became acquainted with.

I think we've discovered our new Friday tradition, my friends. What a wonderful way to start the weekend! I can't wait to start planning my meals around the bounty of fresh veggies from my garden & from the farmer's market this summer.

What are some of your favorite summertime meals?
Monday's dinner: burgers on the grill with edamame salsa & tortilla chips

What We Ate May 6-12, 2013
Monday: Burgers on the grill with edamame salsa & tortilla chips
Tuesday: Southwest stuffed peppers with watermelon
Wednesday: Chicken & sugar snap pea stir fry with rice
Thursday: We went bike shopping & stopped at Maggie's for dinner
Friday: Cobb salads with whole wheat pitas
Saturday: Skillet tuna noodle casserole
Sunday: We celebrated mother's day at Piggy's (mostly just for the flourless chocolate cake!)

I also made a batch of yogurt & whole wheat bread this week.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Whole Wheat Almond Pancakes

Yes, I know pancakes are really nothing new. Most people already have their favorite pancake recipes on hand, but I'm mostly just posting this so that I don't have to take 5 minutes to look through all my recipes I've pinned. This post is mostly for me, but it's so good that I thought you might enjoy it, too.

We use this recipe quite often, as we are big fans of breakfast for any meal. I usually end up making a big ol' batch of them about once a month & Ruby is delighted with a special pancake "treat" once a week for breakfast. What kind of mom am I that pancakes are a treat? Oh, an awesome mom? Thank you very much.
Before you get all compliment-y on me, just let me tell you that I usually slather her pancakes with homemade applesauce instead of maple syrup. For one thing, she really doesn't need any more sugar-type-energy & for a second thing, I am kind of a maple syrup hoarder/snob. We buy the good stuff around here (please don't ever show up to my house with a bottle of Mrs. Buttersworth!) so I might get a little panicky when I see mounds of syrup oozing onto a plate.

Real maple syrup is one of those little things in life that just make it a little bit sweeter (yep, I went there). It's quite delicious in coffee (especially with whole milk & dark cocoa powder), it is scrumptious in basic almond granola & whole wheat corn bread& of course, it pairs marvelously with these whole wheat almond pancakes.

Most people like to use vanilla extract in their pancake recipes & I agree that it's good. But just try some almond next time & if you're into almonds (I guess that's another food obsession of mine), you probably won't go back to those vanilla-y ways.

Whole Wheat Almond Pancakes
2 cups whole wheat flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups + 2 tbsp whole milk
1 tbsp almond flavoring
Slivered almonds

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add wet ingredients to the mixing bowl & mix well with a spoon until there are no more dry spots (don't over-mix). Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Lightly coat with melted butter & pour 1/4 cup of pancake batter. When the pancake starts to bubble, add a bit of slivered almonds. When the bubbles settle & the edges begin to set, flip the pancakes. Repeat with the remainder of the batter.

Recipe adapted from Skinny Taste

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wednesday's "What We Ate April 29-May 5, 2013"

Oooh-wee, did we have quite the productive weekend! We've been working on our yard for 3 weekends in a row now & it seems like every other second we've had we've either been planning our next project or shopping at Menards for the items we need. Finally, we are starting to see the light & all the joys & excitement that finishing projects brings. Unfortunately (for my husband), my list is till existent, but I think I'll give him a break for a couple weekends at least (maybe).

Over the past couple of weekends, we have ripped out masses of bushes, an existing fence, & have tore up a lot of our yard in preparation for a new fence. Our neighbor graciously volunteered his time to help John & man, did they work hard! We still have to stain the fence, & I've got a bit more painting to do (I painted our front door, just finished the railings & 2 flower boxes on Tuesday, but still have to paint our shutters & the foundation) & lots of gardening (John has 2 more flower boxes to build & the cucumber trellis, plus the actual veggie planting), but at least we now have a confined space where Ruby can play & enjoy the outdoors while we work.

Our primary reason for a fence was Ruby's safety, but also my sanity. I wanted to be able to garden without keeping a (literal) leash on her. She's a very curious kid & our yard is pretty much the size of a minivan, so it wouldn't take much for her to bolt out into the street. A fence gives her the opportunity to play as she will, but in a space that I can constantly (or not so constantly) keep an eye on her.
 We are now officially Americans who own a picket fence. What happened to us?
 The north side of the house with a view of our patio. No more bushes!!
 We have 2 gates to contain the wee one.
Check out all the landscaping I have yet to do...

Along with our busy project weekend, came some tasty summer foods. Friday hardly felt like summer around here (mid 30's & raining!) so we needed some serious comfort food to warm up, but Sunday we were able to enjoy grilling & eat on our little patio that we built in 2011. It was our first official meal out there since we built it (we just finally got a table & chairs a few months ago!) & I foresee many, many evenings spent out there.

Grilling is one of our favorite pass times. For real. Grilling is so satisfying & delicious (we are hardcore charcoal people) & it sort of forces you to sit back, enjoy an adult beverage, & take in all that summer has to offer you. It's quite lovely.

What are your favorite grill-able meals?
Sunday's dinner: steak & bell pepper kabobs on the grill with left-over cilantro lime rice & strawberries

What We Ate April 29-May 5, 2013
Monday: Breakfast pizza with grapes
Tuesday: Olive Garden's copycat Zuppa Toscana with cheddar scallion scones
Wednesday: Veggie burgers & asparagus on the grill
Thursday: Black bean spinach enchiladas with tortilla chops & salsa
Friday: We ate at our favorite local breakfast diner, Fayzes after a cold day working outside
Saturday: Fish tacos (tilapia, cheese, black beans, salsa, avocado) with cilantro lime rice
Sunday: Steak & bell pepper kabobs on the grill with left-over cilantro lime rice & strawberries

I also made a batch of carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, basic almond granola & whole wheat cornbread this week.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Grill-able Vegan/Veggie Burgers

We're not vegetarians, but that doesn't mean that we don't enjoy a hearty veggie burger every now & then. Now that summer is (kind of) approaching, we are getting into grilling mode & thus, I wanted to find the most perfect veggie burger to meet our needs.

There haven't been many veggie burgers that I have eaten that have been completely satisfying. Usually when I really enjoy a veggie burger, it's not the "burger" itself that I enjoy, but the mounds & mounds of toppings that are layered on the burger to make it taste decent. And if you've ever tried grilling a veggie burger, you know how frustrating they can be. Heck, they usually aren't the greatest at keeping it together even on a frying pan!

I was delighted to find this recipe from Oh She Glows (you really need to check out her recipes- this recipe for creamy avocado pasta is one of our all-time favorites!) & now this will become our staple summer veggie burger. It is crunchy, hearty, satisfying, packed full of flavor, nutritious, & very tasty. What more could you want in a veggie burger?

There aren't any super strange ingredients either- in fact, I had everything I needed on hand to make these. I didn't end up pureeing the black beans, which I overlooked in the directions, & they still stayed together very well. I will, however puree them in the future because I think they would make the burgers even more moist & easy to shape.
A bunch of ladies are coming over to my house next week to have a massive veggie burger making party. We're planning to use this recipe & make over 100 burgers & freeze them for all of our church's summer BBQ's. I've already purchased most of the ingredients & I'm so excited to make these together! What could be more fun than a bunch of women in the kitchen, preparing some hearty, good-for-you foods to enjoy all summer long?!

Do you have any veggie burger recipes that stay together while grilling? Please share!

Grill-able Vegan/Veggie Burgers
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
Flax eggs: 2.5 tbsp ground flax + 1/2 cup warm water, mixed in bowl
1 cup oats, processed into flour
1.5 cups bread crumbs
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed & roughly pureed or mashed
Heaping 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/3 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
Kosher salt & black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 (if baking or grilling). In a large skillet, sauté the onions & garlic in 1/2 tbsp oil. Mix your flax egg together in a small bowl & set aside for at least 10 mins while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Place all ingredients (except spices & salt) into a large mixing bowl & stir very well. Now, add seasonings & salt to taste.

With slightly wet hands, shape dough into patties. Pack dough tightly as this will help it stick together. I made 8 medium patties.

You can either fry, bake, or grill these burgers. You can fry the burgers in a bit of oil on a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side. If baking in the oven, bake for 25-30 mins (15-17 minutes on each side), until golden & crisp. For the the grill, pre-bake the burgers for about 10 minutes in oven before placing on a pre-heated grill until golden & crisp on each side. This will help them to stay together on the grill.

Recipe taken from Oh She Glows

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Black Bean Spinach Enchiladas

I guess I never really knew that you could make your own enchilada sauce, but that's pretty naive, because you really can make most things from scratch. I've just always bought the green canned enchilada sauce because, well, it's easy & delicious. But then I found this recipe & now I am forever ruined.

Of course, we will still make our plain-Jane chicken enchiladas or our chicken enchilada pasta, probably with green canned enchilada sauce, but every now & then, I will "splurge" & take the extra 10 or so minutes it takes to prepare this sauce & I will oogle at the fact that it is both homemade & scrumptious.
These enchiladas are both (super) filling & very tasty. They are the perfect vegetarian meal, but still packed with protein from lots & lots of black beans & cheese. Plus, they are loaded--literally packed-- with spinach. Don't think they taste like you are eating a salad, though, because once they are doused with cheese & the sauce, they taste like something out of a dream.
I'm thinking that these babies would freeze quite well, too, for those lazy summer days when I hardly want to cook a piece of toast, let along gather together a whole meal. I would just freeze the sauce separately from the enchiladas & I think all would be well.
Enchiladas are kind of a big deal in our house (besides their taste, I kind of believe they helped make my labor begin). What are your favorite versions of enchiladas?

Black Bean Spinach Enchiladas
(For the sauce)
3 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. chili powder
Salt & pepper

(For the enchiladas)
15 oz. black beans, rinsed & drained
2 cups corn (I used frozen, thawed)
6 oz. fresh baby spinach
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
3 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
8 whole wheat or flour tortillas
Additional thinly sliced green onions & chopped cilantro for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375. In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add tomato paste, flour, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, & chili powder. Cook for 1 minute, continually whisking. Whisk in broth & bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, & cook until slightly thickened about 8 minutes. Salt/pepper to taste, & set aside.

Saute the spinach in olive oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until slightly wilted. In a large bowl, combine the beans, spinach, corn, green onions, cilantro, & 1 cup of cheese.

Pour a small amount of the enchilada sauce to coat the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Generously fill the tortillas with the spinach mixture, roll up tightly with ends tucked in, & place seam side down in dish.
Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas, coating evenly. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake about 20 minutes & then broil on low for about 5 minutes until golden brown. Let sit for 5 minutes & then garnish with cilantro &/or green onions.

Adapted from The Garden Grazer

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wednesday's "What We Ate April 22-28, 2013"

Have you ever kept a food journal? You know, where you write down everything you eat? The kind of thing that might make you think twice about getting a second helping of dark chocolate almond ice cream or a 4th slice of pizza, just because you have to write it down?

When I was in high school & college, I had severe headaches & migraines (about 2 migraines a week, lasting anywhere from 1-3 days & other headaches daily) & my doctor encouraged me to keep a food journal to see if there were any direct links to what I was eating & my health. Of course there were-- if I ate a lot of processed foods, caffeine, red wine, citrus foods, any kind of food with nitrates (especially hot dogs or lunch meat), MSG, or really any kinds of preservatives, I almost always got a migraine or at the very least, a "normal headache" (that's what I literally called them because that was my normal).

At that time, I also started seeing a chiropractor more regularly, trying to sleep more regularly, drinking more water, exercising more often, & "stressing less" (I used to be a big time worrier) & consequently, I saw a huge improvement in my health.When I was pregnant, I really got serious about eating healthy & I think I had 1, maybe 2 migraines during that time. It was probably hormonal, but I do know for a fact that my eating better sure wasn't hurting me any.

I bring this all up because since I've been sharing all of our dinner meals with you, it's kind of like I'm keeping a food journal all over again, but one that other people read, which is kinda intimidating sometimes. Do I really want to type that we ate hot dogs & cheese sticks for dinner? Hmmm... maybe I can do better than that (but I don't always succeed).

It's definitely challenging to come up with healthy, wholesome & tasty meals every night, but I whole-heartedly believe that the investments are worth the extra time & energy it takes. If you're new to planning meals ahead of time, check out my post on why I think it rocks. If you've missed a few weeks of meals, make sure you check out some ideas for dinner here (there are now 16 weeks worth of meals!)

If someone could read what you ate for dinner every night, would that change the way you cooked?
Friday's dinner: prosciutto-wrapped chicken stuffed with asparagus & mozzarella, covered in a pesto cream sauce 

What We Ate April 22-28, 2013
Monday: We ate at friends' house & they made sweet potato, black bean, & corn quesadillas
Tuesday: Breakfast burritos (scrambled eggs, sausage, black beans, cheese, cilantro & salsa) with grapes
Wednesday: Herb encrusted turkey tenderloins with cheesy broccoli quinoa
Thursday: Spinach lasagna roll ups with salad (spring mix, red bell pepper, cucumber, broccoli, soy nuts, & balsamic vinaigrette) 
Friday: Prosciutto-wrapped chicken stuffed with asparagus & mozzarella, in a pesto cream sauce (it was date night)
Saturday: Crockpot mac 'n' cheese with broccoli
Sunday: Pepperoni pizza quesadillas with carrots, cucumbers & hummus

I also made whole wheat bread & graham crackers this week.