March 29, 2012

Healthy Chocolate Chip “Kangaroo” Cookies

March 29, 2012
It went down like this:
We just picked up big brother from Kindergarten and it was after school snack time and I had nothing but a counter full of fruit, which never seems to be just what a 5 and 3 year old wants. So I asked my boys “Do you want me to make animal crackers or granola” both of which would be much better than the alternative quick and easy snack : Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys (I can’t believe that I have that stuff in my house! Yes I let me kids eat it, as a treat occasionally. Like once every 2 weeks, if their room is clean. I’m such a mean mom.)
The vote was:
Ryan: “Animal Crackers!”
Simon: “Granola!!”
Ryan: “Animal Crackers!”
Simon: “Granola!!”

Ah, the sweet sounds of kids fighting over healthy snacks.

And they fought about it until they got distracted by their Legos and so I frantically searched Pinterest for a sugar-free granola recipe. My internet was running at a snail’s pace so I gave up the search before I got sucked into the swirling, time-stealing vortex of Pinterest.
I really love baking and I’ve made plenty of cookies in my life but this was my first rogue, no-recipe cookie making experience and let me tell you it was empowering! I got out my favorite healthy ingredients and started measuring and mixing. When the finished result came out of the oven I was pleasantly surprised the my creation was so tasty!They are a good mix between Animal Crackers, Granola, and good old fashioned chocolate chip cookies. These little morsels are nutrient packed and there is NO SUGAR added to them!

Kangaroo cookies
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Kangaroo Cookies
3/4 C Whole wheat flour (fresh ground wheat is best)
1/4 C Ground flaxseeds
1 C Rolled oats
1 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 Banana, mashed
3 T Butter, softened
1 Large egg
1/2 C Unsweetened applesauce
1-2 T Honey
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 C dried cranberries (or raisins)
1/2 C Chopped walnuts
1/2 C Dark Chocolate Chips (mine were Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl mix together flour, flaxseed, oats, baking powder, and cinnamon.
In a separate medium sized bowl mash banana with a fork and mix in softened butter.
Add egg. Mix well. Then stir in applesauce, honey, and  vanilla.
Add banana mixture to the dry flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in cranberries, walnuts, and chocolate chips. You can also substitute your favorite nuts or dried fruits.
Drop by teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheet and press down slightly. The cookies don’t flatten out much in the oven.
Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees, until the edges are slightly golden.
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These cookies are full of omega-3 fats from the walnuts and flaxseeds, fiber from the whole wheat and flax, vitamins and antioxidants from the dark chocolate and cranberries (or raisins), and the cinnamon is a great metabolism booster.  since they are sweetened with fruit and honey you don’t have to feel guilty about eating more than one or two. And you WILL want to eat more than two! 
We have been trying to really cut back on sugar and I’ve cut it out of my diet almost entirely so this is a great way to satisfy a ravenous sweet tooth without giving in to sugars that can harm your health.
And why are they named Kangaroo cookies? Big brother said that the chocolate chips looked like little kangaroos in a pouch. I love his imagination.
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March 22, 2012

Healthy Lemon-Colada Smoothie

March 22, 2012
Spring is officially here! The first day of spring was only 2 days ago and to celebrate my favorite season in the desert I am making a yummy Lemon-Colada Smoothie that will put a a spring in your step.  And it’s full of healthy stuff that will make you feel good inside. Can’t beat that!
My kids loved it too. It tastes like a sunny day on the beach.
Lemon colada
Lemon Colada Smoothie
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Juice from 2 fresh lemons (about 5-6 Tbs. juice)
2 bananas
1 C Frozen Pineapple
1 Ripe Pear, cored
1/2 C  Fat Free Greek Yogurt, plain
1 1/4 C Silk PureCoconut Milk
1 C Ice
1Tbs Honey (optional)

1. Juice your lemons and remove and seeds. I recommend using fresh lemons over lemon juice because it is so much tastier and healthier and most of the time store bought juice has preservatives, check your ingredients.
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2. Add lemon juice, bananas, pear, yogurt, coconut milk, honey,  and ice to your blender and blend until smooth. Taste your smoothie and if you like it sweeter you can add more banana or honey.
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The lemon juice helps to keep your blood sugar from spiking and is a great gut cleanser. The fruit is full of fiber potassium, vitamin C, and healthy enzymes.  Greek yogurt adds protein and calcium. Coconut milk has tons of calcium, and vitamins D and B12. This smoothie is a great energy booster and it is low fat!
Mix it up, drink it up, and smile! It’s spring!
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March 15, 2012

Pinterest Project Calendar

March 15, 2012
I’m a Pinterest addict.
What? You are too?
Ok, so we all are. It’s completely addicting.
I have pinned so many beautiful inspiring pictures of recipes, inspirational words, and amazing projects. I have even seen some of them come to life here in my own little house. But there are so many projects and so little time so I need to pick my favorites and get to work.
One project a month. That should keep me busy.
Here is the schedule.  (BTW you can checkout and follow my Pinterest boards Here)

March: New pillow for my couch like this cute striped pillow with a big yellow flower (Love!)
(This pillow is from UrbanFringe)

April: Bapron (bib apron)- because Little Mister is a messy eater.
May: Puffy Paint canvas.  I’m feeling a fun damask design would rock the canvas.

June: Painted Knife Block.

July: Cake Stand. I like this one because of the bright colors. I love the upside down tart trays and the bright colored paint. There are a million ways to make these.
August: Drawer handle jewelry organizer.

September: Stenciled Curtains
October: TBA. I am on the lookout for a great Halloween d├ęcor tutorial.

November:Pottery Barn Inspired Finials
December: TBA. Something Christmassy, of course.

What pinterest projects are you making this year?
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March 2, 2012

Super Power Green Smoothie recipe

March 2, 2012
What does every mom need? I mean besides a day off, a spa day, and to eat anything she wants without gaining weigh.
Super Powers!
Being a mom is hard work. We run a around like a crazy, stressed out, chicken with our head cut off all day long and then I go to bed and to it again. Caffeine seems to help pick you up for an hour of two but then *crash*. The energy is gone as quickly as it came. Not to mention all of the not-so-awesome side effects of caffeine, like keeping you from sleeping well, which makes you even more tired. Soon you are dragging your tired butt out of bed and reaching for the caffeine first thing in the morning just to make it through another day. It is a terrible, vicious cycle that MUST be broken.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am a caffeine addict and I crave it every day. But the important thing is that I don’t give in to those cravings. I have found something better! When I start to feel that tug that takes my car directly to the nearest Circle K or McDonalds, I know that I am in need of some super powers to get me through my day.

When I was pregnant with my baby I craved fruit all the time. I knew it was healthy so I indulged often. By far my favorite way to eat (or drink) fruit is in smoothie form. I am now a smoothie addict too. seriously. This is AMAZING stuff! I would dump in my favorites like bananas, pineapples, blueberries, mangos, cherries, etc. Blend them up with some milk and ice and enjoy. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. All food tastes even better when I’m pregnant, and fruit was like my crack.
Now that I am trying to shed the last 10 pounds of baby weight I discovered the miracle of the green smoothie! I started adding spinach for the extra iron, omega-3, and fiber. Once I got used to adding a few leaves I added more, and more and more until I worked my way up to about 2 cups of spinach in my smoothies. Astounded by how awesome I was feeling, I decided to go even further and add another power food: Kale. If you haven’t tried this yet, throw some kale in your cart next time you hit the grocery store. It has a cabbage-like taste which some people don’t like but if you can get used to it, or if you love it, the health benefits are phenomenal!!
Kale is packed with antioxidants, (a.k.a. cancer fighters), fiber, calcium, vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and a whopping 1020% daily value of vitamin K. And it has high amounts of lutein which helps fight aging and keeps those nasty wrinkles away.
The next ingredient is Kefir. Kefir is kind of like a yogurt smoothie drink but it even better.

“Both kefir and yogurt are cultured milk products but they contain different types of beneficial bacteria. Yogurt contains transient beneficial bacteria that keep the digestive system clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria that reside there. But kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract, a feat that yogurt cannot match” (Source )

In other words, kefir is the bomb.  It will help regulate your digestive system and keep you in balance.
To sweeten this healthy concoction I use a ripe pear or sometimes a banana. More fiber, vitamins, and cancer kickin’ nutrients!
I have experimented pretty much every day with this recipe and come up with my favorite combinations. I have even added things like almonds, chia seeds, mint leaves, ginger or cayenne pepper (I don’t recommend that last one.) My favorite addition is fresh mint leaves.
Try this Super Power Smoothie in the morning or anytime you need a natural, immune boosting, energy kick that lasts.
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2 cups spinach
2-4 large kale leaves, stems removed
1/2 banana (optional, add for sweeter smoothie)
1 ripe pear
handful of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup kefir or yogurt
1/2 - 3/4 cup coconut milk (or almond milk, or whatever milk you love. You can even substitute water if you are counting calories.)

(other optional ingredients: 1/4 cup rolled oats, a few fresh mint leaves,1 tsp. fresh ginger, or whatever fruit you love.)

Stuff all of the ingredients in a blender of food processor and blend until smooth. I use a Ninja Food Prep Blender. I absolutely love my Ninja! And this sounds bad but I kind of hope it dies so I can buy a fancy new super Ninja System 1100. It’s on my list of things you can buy me for my birthday. *wink wink*
If you prefer a sweeter smoothie you can add honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar. The more simple, raw, and natural the better!
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I drink it straight from the ninja bowl. Sooo good. I’m telling you, you are going to be hooked on this nutrient rich, body fueling smoothie. It makes me feel like a super hero!
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