Wednesday, February 29, 2012

First Tomatoes of the Season and Volunteer Plants


Tomatoes have become like a weed in our yard these days.  They pop up everywhere!  About mid-December, some variety of tomato decided to pop up amongst all the carrots under the crepe myrtle tree.  It looked so cozy there, we decided to just let it stay.  Two hard freezes later, it managed to survive, bloom and produce a few precious, little tomatoes that will be ripe and ready to eat very soon.  I can't wait!!

A lesson we've learned over the past few years of gardening is that if a plant just seems to voluntarily pop up in the middle of nowhere, just leave it alone.  Some of the most productive and heartiest plants we've had have been ones that found their own home, and we left the squatters alone.


For the longest time, I couldn't get a globe eggplant to grow that wasn't bitter.  Last year, one popped up on it's own right-smack-dab in the middle of the black-eyed peas.  The hubby wanted so badly to yank it, but caved to my begging and pleading (I am the only eggplant lover in the house).  We ended up getting at least 40 big, beautiful eggplants from that one happy plant.

The moral of the story....live and and let live.  If a veggie plant just pops up in a not-so-planned place, let it grow...it may be one of the best plants you've ever accommodated!     

Happy Wednesday!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Co-op Delivery Day

Wow...what an adventure!!  We left the house with a practically empty pantry this morning, and as I type, that thing is packed to the max!  I am so mad I didn't take a pic of the pile of food we brought into the house or the whole process!  I got all wrapped up in the excitement and totally forgot!!

I made the "announcement" last week that I finally got over my change-aphobia and took the plunge to join the local United Natural Foods Co-op.  I am SO glad we did!!  Our first order was due two days after we signed up...talk about just jumping right in.   We ordered Thursday, and the hubby and I dropped the girls off this morning and headed straight to the drop-off location.  The semi-truck pulled up about 10 minutes after us and off to work we went.

Little man had a blast watching the driver maneuver the forklift to unload all the cases off the truck.  I'm not going to lie...I learned a thing or two myself.  Box after box was moved into the church, checked in, and sorted.  I still can't believe how fast the whole thing went!

We journeyed into a whole new adventure for us today, met a bunch of great people and, the most exciting part of the day,...walking into my house with 38 pounds of organic produce for $42!!!

Happy, happy Tuesday!! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pantry Raid #12: Cereal

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So, I'm sitting on the couch with the hubby last night reading the most phenomenal book to the sounds of "boink, boink, squeek, squeek, boink, boink, squeek, boink..." (the sound of basketball is almost mind numbing to me) when a change in the tv screen catches my attention.  It a commercial (whew...a break from the boinks and squeeks)...the tv screen is filled with beautiful, amber waves..."oh cool, it's grain" I think to myself.   My mind wanders..."Cartoon grain?...oh, the Trix rabbit...the TRIX RABBIT?!?!?!...WHAT IN THE WORLD?!?!?!?".  The last part actually came blurting out of my mouth and drew the hubby's attention to what was causing my loud outburst.  The both of us sat there, dumbfounded, jaws on the floor, starring at this insane commercial. 

The makers of Trix, Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms, to name a few, have decided to market their sugar laden cereals as "whole grain".  I know some of you are probably thinking "where in God's creation have you been?", because as I began to research this new-to-me phenomenon, I realized it's not so new.  I'm just not a tv watcher (cable is just on because I haven't gotten around to turning it off after football season), and I haven't shopped the cereal isle in at least two years, so this "whole grain" thing slipped right by me. 

The maker of these kid-oriented breakfast items tells us on the website that "About 10 percent of the estimated whole grain consumed in America comes from Big G cereals. Today, General Mills delivers almost 35 million whole grain servings per day via Big G cereals alone."

That just plain old scares me! 

Why?  Let's take a look

Credit: General Mills
Whole grain means the grain was milled in it's entiriety--the bran, germ and endosperm.  Kudos to GM for using whole grain corn as the first ingredient (meaning the ingredient whose contents is the highest in this cereal), but the buck stops there with a big screeching halt.  Since it is not labeled non-GMO, you can bet with a 99.9% accuracy, that your kids are eating GMO corn. 

The next ingredient--sugar!  That's beet sugar most likely, because it is not labeled as cane sugar.  95% of beets grown for sugar in the US are GMO.  Not only are they GMO, there is no fat, fiber or protein in white sugar (cane or beet), nor is there any other vitamins or minerals--100% dead food (empty calories).

Corn Meal-because they couldn't make the cereal out of entirely whole grains (that would cut into their shelf-life and profits), so they needed a filler.  Corn meal is corn that is milled and stripped of it's bran and germ to preserve shelf life. Once again, it's not labeled non-GMO, so it most likely is a GMO and more dead food with empty calories.

Corn Syrup-I love that commercial about corn syrup where the sweet couple is sitting on the picnic blanket, and she offers him a popsicle.   He says "I thought you loved me?", and she tells him "it's made from corn, has the same calories as sugar and is fine in moderation".   Run, you poor man, run!!  She's like the modern day Eve, except without the serpent, because she IS the serpent!!!  Yes, it is "made" from corn...if you can still call it that after all the processing they do to it to get the end product.  Yes, it has the same dead calories as sugar.  No, it is almost impossible to moderate corn syrup in the average American diet because it's in everything (unless you are eating mostly whole foods). 


Canola and/or rice bran oil- Extracted properly and grown organically, these two oils could have actually been good for you.  Canola is almost impossible to grow organically or even non-GMO right now because of the infestation from GMO canola crops.  Organic farmers are dealing with cross-pollination and nasty law suits from Monsanto (the creators of the GMO seed and the Round-Up they use to spray the crops).  Then, the oils are extracted using chemicals and high heat.  This kills all the good for you stuff, leaves traces of bad for you chemicals behind and can cause free-radicals (carcinogens).
 
Trisodium Phosphate- The is a cleaning agent, food additive, degreaser and stain remover.  It is commonly found on the shelves of hardware stores.  Manufacturers use it in food as a thickener, emulsifier, or acidity regulator.  Why this is even used in cereal is beyond me...

Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 1 and other colors added- I get why the coloring is in the foods...it makes it fun for the kids, so the kids "want" to eat it...another marketing ploy.  It's a frustrating topic, because we want our kids to have fun things to eat, but, really, the dangers outweigh the fun.  There are plenty of truly natural food dyes out there that will make food just as fun for our kids to eat...they don't have to eat poisons.  More info on these additives is available on the Valentine's Candy Pantry Raid.
   
Natural and artificial flavor- I won't get on my rant about this one today :)  All I have to say is that if they put all that other junk in the cereal already, I am pretty sure they aren't adding pure orange juice to get that orangy flavor.
  
Citric Acid-This is not your mama's citric acid.  I had myself completely convinced citric acid was just lemon juice.  A little research and science reared its ugly head again.  I talked about it in the All Natural Pantry Raid.

Malic Acid- This is a chemical food additive that enhances the sour flavor in foods.  Hmmm...maybe that's why they felt the need to add the trisodium phosphate to regulate the acidity...lol!

BHT- Is a preservative and stands for Butylated hydroxytoluene...sounds like something I want to eat.  I guess they shorten it to BHT so it doesn't scare label readers as bad...or, maybe, they might just accidentally overlook it :)  According to Wikipedia, it "is a lipophilic (fat-soluble) organic compound that is primarily used as an antioxidant food additive (E number E321) as well as an antioxidant additive in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, jet fuels, rubber, petroleum products, electrical transformer oil, and embalming fluid."  They also mentioned that "In the 1970s, Benjamin Feingold, a San Francisco MD who established the Feingold diet, claimed that BHT could produce hyperactivity in some children".  Sounds like a plan to me...feed the kids a big bowl of BHT and send them off to their teachers, but hey, they got their whole grains for the day.  Crazy!!!!

The book I'm reading references a research project done on rats.  Some were fed cereal similar to the one I've cited here.  The others were fed the cardboard boxes that the cereal was packaged in.  The ones eating the boxes thrived better.  Essentialy the rats fed the boxes were fasting while the ones fed the cereal were eating toxic white flour, sugar and artificial colors. 

I just grabbed the label off of one cereal.  The rest of them aren't much different.  Even Wheaties have corn syrup, BHT and sodium phosphate.  My point...take the time to read the labels or,
save yourself the headache, and just make them a bowl of oatmeal.

Happy Monday!



Friday, February 24, 2012

What the Bible Says About Food

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A friend of mine just gave me an excellent book written by Dr. Rex Russell called "What the Bible Says About Healthy Living"--you rock, Amy!!  This book has been stuck in my hands for a day straight, except when life calls (practically every other second) and, I have to put it down to tend to the non-stop chores, so I'm only on chapter three.  In those three little chapters, there has been enough information for me to chew on for a month...have I mentioned, I LOVE this book!?!?!


Speaking of chewing, did you know that food is mentioned all over the bible?   The bible is given to us to guide us spiritually, but, we forget, it's a User's Manual.  God gave us all we need to know about the body and soul He created us with right there in plain black and white! 

Before I get into the food part, here are a few fun facts Dr. Russell threw out there to kick off the book. 

In the mid-1800's, a hospital in Vienna was having a problem--new mothers were dying at a rate of one in six.  Turned out doctors who had just examined the dead were walking right over to the maternity wards and examining the expectant mothers without washing their hands.  Had they read up on God's Word, they would have known that "whoever touches the dead body of anyone will be unclean for seven days" Numbers 19:11

Or-

It is routine to circumcise babies within three days of birth.  Dr. Russell had a patient who's circumcision just would not seem to clot.  No harm was done, but the stress on mom and doctor's could have been avoided had God's Word been followed.  "For the generations to come every male amoung you who is eight days old must be circumcised" Genesis 17:12.  Why?  Because Vitamin K is our natural clotting agent.  God designed the infant body to produce a supply of Vitamin K after 5-7 days of breast feeding.  How do we know this?  Because modern science has proven it through research. 

I thought those were really cool little tid-bits!


Back to the food...

That seminar I went to a few weeks ago revolved a lot around this book.  Sue Becker from Bread Beckers was the speaker.  She's been sharing information about bible based eating for the past 20 years through her company and speaking engagements.  One of the verses she discussed was Proverbs 23

 1 When you sit to dine with a ruler,
note well what is before you,
2 and put a knife to your throat
if you are given to gluttony.
3 Do not crave his delicacies,
for that food is deceptive.

4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
do not trust your own cleverness.
5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
for they will surely sprout wings
and fly off to the sky like an eagle.
  
6 Do not eat the food of a begrudging host,
do not crave his delicacies;
7 for he is the kind of person
who is always thinking about the cost.[b]
“Eat and drink,” he says to you,
but his heart is not with you.
8 You will vomit up the little you have eaten
and will have wasted your compliments.

Most diseases we face today are nothing new.   What's new about them, is that they have never been as common as they are now.  History shows that up until the last six or so decades, diseases like heart disease and diabetes were reserved for royalty...lucky them.  Just kidding, the rich were the only ones that could afford refined flours and sugars.  Funny how the tables have turned, and, now, that's the cheap stuff.  When God spoke of dainties and delacacies, he was refering to those light, fluffy pastries and breads made from white flour and sugar. 

God says not to crave these foods because they are deceptive and you might as well put a knife to your throat instead of indulging in them.  They are deceptive, because they look like food and taste like food, but they are dead food.  Not only dead food, but food that messes with the way God intended for our bodies to run--smoothly. 

He says not to worry about getting rich--sounds like a less stressful way of life to me.  Strange how He stuck that in the middle of two proverbs about food.  Do you see the correlation?

Then, he says not to eat the food of a host who is resistant to share his expensive delicacies (I'm thinking this is the guy who's keeping up with the Jones', wants to look rich,  and is racking up debt just to serve a fancy meal), because you will vomit them up.  I am loving these verses about vomit...gross, God!!  What He's saying here is these foods are not good for your body, and it will reject it--been there. 

Sue also pointed out a verse from Isaiah.

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. 
Isaiah 55:2

God tells us not to waste our labor or money on fake food. 

What is fake food??

It's all the processed junk I've been talking about in the Pantry Raids that we find on the grocery store shelves.   It's food with additives, color enhancers, scientifically manipulated, homogenized, ultra-pasterized, pureed, pulverized and has every ounce of life sucked out of it!


How can we feed life with food that has no life??

We can't!  That is why we are facing chronic fatigue, chronic diseases, obesity, rising health care costs and all the other yuck that goes along with our lack of knowledge of just what is in (or not in) our food.   

This book has me so hyped up (if you can't tell), that I am thinking there's a need for a second weekly series of posts focusing on what God has to say about food.  Let's consider this post #1 :)

Happy Wednesday!!


Snazzed Up Beans and Rice


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It is crucial to my sanity to have a few easy meals that I can throw together when weeks like this week come roaring through.  We have been go. go, going all week.  It took me a few days (more like all week) to get my gears rolling and think ahead a day to dinner so I didn't find myself throwing a bunch of random veggies in a pan at 5pm and trying to come up with some way to present it to the family as dinner.  Although, it always seems to fly, and it's healthy.  I think I'd be pushing my luck if I tried it twice in one week though.

Beans and rice is always a simple, inexpensive go-to-dinner.  At one point in our marriage, I tried to pull the old boil in a bag rice and a can of beans trick...talk about not flying.  The hubby just was not going for that one.  I used to get so aggrevated that he wasn't a eat-out-of-a-box kind of guy.  He was raised on "real" food...something I hadn't had too much experience in eating until I met him.  I can look back on that aggrevation now and be so glad he didn't cave, but, boy, did I want to throw a frying pan full of Hamburger Helper at his head a few times :)

So, now, if I am going to make beans and rice, it's from scratch.  What I love about this dish is that you can throw it all into a crock pot and let it go for the day.  Who doesn't love that?!?!


SNAZZED UP BEANS AND RICE RECIPE

3 slices Bacon (Nitrate free)
1 small Onion, diced
1 Bell Pepper, diced
2 Celery Stalks, diced
3 large Carrots, sliced
1 head Garlic, finely chopped
1 can Tomato Paste (organic, look for BPA free lining)
2 cups Pinto Beans
8 cups Chicken Stock (organic, homemade if you have it)
1 Tbsp Sea Salt (start there and add more according to your taste)
1 tsp Cumin
Pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups Brown Rice (organic)
3 cups Water
1 tsp Sea Salt

Dump it all in the crock pot, turn and it on high.  Cook for at least 5 hours.  Give it a taste.  Add more salt and pepper if needed.

Note: If liquid gets too low at any point, add a little water.  All crockpots work differently, and you don't want it to dry out. 

An hour before serving, put rice, water and salt in a pot on high.  When it comes to a boil, lower tempature to low and put a lid on it.  Cook until all the water is absorbed into the rice.  Serve beans over the rice. 

Enjoy! 



 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dinner the Lazy Way

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When it's just one of those days that I start going at 5am and don't stop until 5pm, I really don't feel like cooking.  It's on a night like that I, every once in a while, succumb to my exhaustion and take-out pizza actually starts to seem appealing.  Then, on a really bad night (like last night), I spend an hour battling with myself on whether I should cave or muster up the strength to whip up something easy, dig for coupons, order the pizza, pick it up and two hours later, I am eating fake food while thinking "this doesn't even taste that good!!"

So, as I'm sitting in the same boat tonight, it just seemed easier and much more tasty to grab as many veggies as I could from the garden,

 

(red cabbage, a tomatillo, beet greens, broccoli, carrots, onions and a potato)
 





cut them all up, throw them in a pan with a little olive oil, salt & pepper and cook them down. 
 



Throw an egg on top


(aren't these the coolest eggs!) and voila...dinner!


Sorry...this picture could have been way better, but I'm tired and tired won.

It tasted eight million times better than the nasty pizza and actually had nutrients.  The best part, it took me 15 minutes--less time than it took last night to decide to buy a silly pizza.  AND...it cost me 5 eggs and a potato (~$2).  The rest was free.  Doesn't sound like rocket science to me...$18 for nutrient void pizza or $2 a meal chock full of good for you.  The kids (including a neighbor kid) ate every bite and two of them went back for seconds...that's success to me.

P.S.  I throw meals like this together all the time, because it's just easier. 

Happy Tuesday!!





Monday, February 20, 2012

Pantry Raid #11: Buying in Bulk, Co-ops

Good morning!!  I am SO excited about today's Pantry Raid!  I've been tossing around the idea of joining a local natural foods co-op for at least two years (maybe even three).  It just makes sense that if I'm going to make the trek all the way to the health food store three or four times a month while wasting fuel and my time, that it would just be easier and more productive for myself and the environment to buy all the same items at once through a co-op on a monthly basis. 




For the most part, we've gotten to a place in our pantry that I pretty much buy the same items over and over again.  Aside from seasonal produce which changes frequently, there's the occasional item outside the box for a new recipe I want to try or a crazy craving that just needs some satisfaction.  But, pretty much, I am a creature of habit.  This makes buying in bulk flat out easy...it's just the getting the list out of my brain and onto paper that causes a bit of a stumbling block for me.    

So,  I put off joining the co-op for years because the idea of getting organized enough to implement this change in our household just scared me to death.  Have I mentioned that I am a MAJOR procrastinator, an over-analyzer and I don't like change at all?  This combination can be paralyzing sometimes.  Scary, huh?  Talk to the hubby...he'll be more than happy to tell you just how scary it is :)   I can only hope some of you are the same way...otherwise, I can't imagine what you are thinking about me now...lol!

I guess getting over that hump for me is what makes this new adventure extra exciting.  Once I get "the list" together, I will be adding it to the resources here on the blog (more excitement).  SIDE NOTE:  Some of you have been asking how to get updates on when new posts are added.  Just enter your email address in the space in the left column to "Subscribe via Email".  After you hit submit, you will receive a confirmation email.  Make sure your click the link in it.  Back to the Raid...An even more exciting piece comes into play with my constant need to save our money that the hubby works so hard for.  Less money spent means less of my hubby's precious time spent working and more of his time spent at home with the family.  That's something I am willing to work extra hard for!  Buying in bulk is a huge contribution to that cause, amd that gets me even more excited!!


Here's how the co-op works...

Joining with a full membership gives you access to United Natural Foods, Frontier co-op, Peaceful Pastures, Live Oak Dairy, and Global Organics. You can get detailed info on these suppliers at their website www.jaxnaturalfoods.com/supplier/  There is not a single item I would buy at the store that I can't get through these suppliers....so cool!

In essence, the co-op members place their individual orders, and the co-op orders from the suppliers in bulk to fill these individual orders.  The co-op orders like a grocery store just more personalized because individual orders are made up front, so only what is needed is ordered.  I hope I'm making sense.  There is a little more inner working between members before the order is placed, but that is the basics of it.  When the order arrives, members get together to sort it before they take it home.  Pretty simple...I'm not sure why I put this off for so long!!  Even though some work for me goes into the process on delivery day, it will take way less of my time and energy than the 4-5 trips a week to the grocery store plus 3-4 a month to the health food store...did I mention I am unorganized and a procrastinator? :)

So, today marks the beginning of a new journey for me...I am going to HAVE TO get organized.  At the risk of sounding like Martha...this will be a good thing!   This should make for some fun blog posts...lol!

Happy Monday!!




Friday, February 17, 2012

Homemade Soap

A year or so ago, I stumbled onto some information about sodium laurel sulfates while I was researching homemade laundry detergent.   The history of the products we use every day that are sitting on the store shelves, in our laundry rooms, kitchens and bathrooms never ceases to baffle me.  This information changed the whole way I look at soap.

Soap is such a simple thing.  It is a reaction between a fatty acid (oil) and an alkali, metal hydroxide (potassium or sodium hydroxide).  When loosened with water, soap attracts dirt and allows it to be washed away. The earliest use of soap that has been discovered dates back to 2800 BC in the days of Babylon.  In those days, animal fats were mixed with wood ash to obtain saponification (i.e. make soap).  This soap was a little more harsh, but did the job.  Later on, vegetable fats were substituted in for the animal fats, and so began the production of what we call castile soap. 

Pure castile soap, usually made with olive oil, was used by the masses until it was discovered that the glycerin could be extracted from soap to produce more lucrative products like dynamite and body lotions.  Glycerin is the "moisturizer" in soap.  Yes, you just read that right...they take the moisturizer out, so the soap dries out your skin, and, then, they sell you another product that they put the moisturizer back into so that you can get rid of the dry skin.  Funny, huh?? 

Even better...glycerin is more lucrative if sold to industries outside the cosmetics industry, so they figured out that they can use mineral oil instead of the glycerin as a moisturizer.  Mineral oil is derived from petroleum and the World Health Organization classifies it as a Group 1 carcinogen to humans. 

In addition to mineral oils, commercial soaps use chemicals called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS) to increase the sudsing in their products.  These chemicals were introduced in 1942, right around the time that more households started using city water.  These additives (degreasers) helped diminish oils that were left over from this new castile soap and treated water combination resulting in a "cleaner" feel.  This "cleaner feel" was marketed to be related to the sudsing. That is why we feel the need to see lots of suds to think we're getting clean--it was all a marketing ploy put in place by commercial soap producers that has now stuck with us.  

SLES, SLS, ALS are proven skin irritants.  They are produced with carcingenic chemicals like nitrate.  They are used widely by science as a penetration enhancer, i.e.  their molecules are so small, they are able to pass through your cells taking other toxins with them.  Their manufacturing process is highly polluting emitting cancerous fumes into the air.  They are toxic to fish and other marine animals while they pollute our water systems....shall I go on??

This, my friends is why I am that crazy lady that makes her own soap...plus, it's fun!  I could buy it, but I'm cheap, so I make it myself.   Do I like it??  Yes, yes, yes!  My dry skin has improved tremendously and those occasional adult acne breakouts have almost completely stopped.  Crazy!

So, on this dreary, rainy day, what better fun to have than whipping up a quick batch of soap!

BASIC CASTILE SOAP RECIPE
19 oz distilled water
7.1 oz sodium hydroxide
25.5 oz palm oil
25.5 oz coconut oil
7 tsp essential oils (optional)

IMPORTANT:  Sodium hydroxide is dangerous if handled incorrectly.  Wear gloves and goggles when making soap to avoid burns.  Once saponified, it is no longer hazardous.



You will need a soap mold.  I just use a wood box the hubby put together for me.  It needs to be 15" x 7" and at least 5" high.  Line your mold with wax paper (I used saran wrap here...not highly suggested, but didn't have wax paper)


Weigh out sodium hydroxide.  Set Aside.


Weigh out water.  SLOWLY add sodium hydroxide to the water.  Mix well.


The fumes may get a  little strong, so step out of the room if you need to and come back to finish mixing.  The reaction between the water and sodium hydroxide creates heat, so set the bowl aside to let it cool.

While wating for the the sodium hydroxide mixture to cool.  Weigh out your oils.  Heat them until they become liquid.  Allow them to cool as well.




Both the oils and the sodium hydroxide should cool to 80-100 degrees. 

When they both reach tempature, while stirring, SLOWLY pour the sodium hydroxide into the oils.  I use my kitchen stand mixer with the paddle attachment for this.  Start on the slowest speed.  Let it mix, as it thickens, increase the speed.



The soap will reach what they call a "trace".  This is when you can drizzle some of the mixture over itself and it leaves a trail.  Kind of a cake mix batter consistency.  When you get to this point (this could take 30 minutes or more of mixing), you can stop mixing.  Add any smelly goods here (7 teaspoons of essential oils maximum).  Mix it in for another 30 seconds.

Note:  I don't get all fancy with my soap...it's just for my family.  Don't stress yourself out trying to make it smell or look perfect. 

Now, pour the soap into the mold.  Cover the mold to keep the soap from being exposed to the air.  I just through a small piece of plywood over it.  Let that cure for 24 hours.  Pop the soap out, cut it into bars.  Now, put the bars in a cool, dry place to finish curing for minimum 2 weeks. 

Easy as pie!  Easier to me, because I can not bake a pie the right way to save my life!! :)

Happy Soap Making!!!
 





Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Whole Wheat Winter Squash Chocolate Chip Muffins

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This past Saturday, I had the privilege of attending a Healthy Living seminar that focused around whole grains being one of the most important foods we can consume.  I have so much information to share with you all about grains..I am so excited!!



The speaker discussed our physiology and how eating grains the proper way can help our bodies function to their maximum capacity.  She really focused on the importance of milling your own wheat, which I have been doing, but had no idea the complexity of the science behind it....
SO my cup of tea!!



Anyways...I have been making these muffins for years and hadn't made a batch in a while.  This weekend inspired me to come home and whip a bunch up!  Muffins are such a versatile way to incorporate whole grains, fruits and veggies into our family's diets without them realizing what you are up to ;)





WHOLE WHEAT WINTER SQUASH CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFIN RECIPE

1 c. Winter Squash, pureed (butternut, pumpkin, acorn)
1/2 c. Honey (best if raw, local)
1 Egg (best if farm fresh, free range, organic)
1/2 c. Olive Oil (organic, extra virgin; could sub coconut oil)
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 1/4 c. Whole White Wheat Flour (best if organic, fresh milled)
1/2 c. High Cacao Content Chocolate Chips (best if organic, 70% or higher)

Preheat oven 350. 

Beat squash, honey, egg, olive oil and vanilla together.  In seperate bowl, combine all dry ingredients.  Add dry ingreients to wet.  Mix until flour is just barely absorbed.  Fold in chips while being careful not to overwork the batter and develop the glutens. 

Distibute batter evenly into a lined or greased 12 cup cupcake pan.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

Serve with butter, cream cheese or eat plain...Enjoy!!!



Redemption!!

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A few weeks ago, I posted about our big, fat carrot failure.  What a mess!!  Well, I am proud to say (all bragging aside), we are back in the saddle again!  I was craving some roasted root veggies for dinner tonight, took a meander out the front yard, crossed my fingers, wrapped my hands around some long leafy carrot greens and yanked.  To my amazement, out came the most beautiful carrot ever!!  Woohoo!! Then another, and another....and, another!!

The secret...just throw some seeds on the ground, cover with a 1/2 inch of dirt and let them grow.  Huh...who would have thunk?!?!?! :)

There is no excuse ever to not grow carrots.  These are tucked up under the Crepe Myrtle tree outside filling in the plant bed it sits in.  There must be 40 carrots under there!!  Promise me, you all will try this next year!!

Dinner tonight...

Roasted Root Veggies (Carrots, Beets, Onions and Potatoes) tossed with garlic, olive oil, sea salt and pepper.  Roasted at 375 until tender...so easy!

With Pan Seared Venison Roast (just seasoned with salt and pepper seared in olive oil)


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle!!





 

In my constant zeal to get rid of the world's trash in it's entirety, I get stopped in my tracks ever so often to  realize I am only one woman and can't conquer the world.  A few years ago, I introduced a company called Terracycle to my daughter's elementary school.  For those of you that aren't familiar with Terracycle, they are a company that has teamed up with organizations and individuals in the quest to eliminate waste.  There are all kinds of different items that get tossed in trash cans all over the country every second of the day that aren't recyclable like ink cartridges, cell phones, candy wrappers, chip bags, juice pouches and so much more.  Terracycle takes these items and "upcycles" them into something new.  The money they pay the collector goes to the charity of their choice.  In our case, it is our local elementary school. Check them out at www.terracycle.net.


After attempting to single-handedly take this task on myself the first year, I decided to pass the buck to a group of women the next year that had the extra time and the same passion as myself for keeping our planet clean.  They did an incredible job growing our Green Team!!!  This year, I had the privilege of joining back up with them to keep the torch going.  It's been so exciting to watch the school evolve into one that is so much more conscientious about recycling!!

 

Even though this ginormous pile of juice pouches nearly sent me over the edge, thank you Lord for Vanesa, it was so exciting to see it shipped off to Terracycle for a better purpose than clogging up our landfills!!!   This pile filled up three big packing boxes and was shipped off with two additional boxes--one full of inkjet cartridges and another with cell phones.  Great job Green Team!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pantry Raid #10: Valentine's Candy

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With Valentine's Day upon us, I thought I would share a fun conversation I had with my oldest daughter this morning about the sudden, uncontrollable flow of junk food into our home.  Every school-day morning, I rattle off a list of Mom-Approved foods available that day for the kids to pack in their lunches.  Usually homemade crackers and cheese, carrots, broccoli, a healthy sweet, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, some sort of fruit and some healthy, homemade sweet.  They get to pick three--two for lunch and one for snack.  There are mornings where I get done with my list and they just stare at me blankly as if I had something hiding up my sleeve that sounds more appealing that day just waiting for the big reveal, but for the most part, they pick what they want and get to packing.

I'm excited this year that their school and teachers have taken a turn towards being a little more aware of what the kids have in their lunch boxes.  It's really been helpful that our third grader's teacher has put the hammer down about junk-food snacks in her class.  I'm sure it is helping teachers remedy sugar-induced, hyper-activity in their classes, but for me, it helps combat the "why can't I have's" when packing lunch each morning.

This morning, the request was made to pack a box of Sweethearts as part of lunch.  It's nearly impossible to regulate all the candy that appears on Valentine's Day.  It comes from school, friends, family, church....everywhere!!  Multiply that by three kids and I could make myself nuts trying to end the massive sugar boom happening in our house this week.  So, I truly do appreciate that the question was asked, and the box wasn't just smuggled to school in a backpack.  There's always this fine line between being militant about the junk food and being too free with it.  I don't want the kids eating it, but at the same time, I don't want them sneaking it either.  So, when the question is asked, I have to take a deep (very deep) breath and take my time with the answer even though I really just want to blurt out a big, fat "NO!!" followed by no explanation whatsoever.  

I'm sure this morning's answer was a bit overboard, just because I'm coming off this weekend's high of being less of a perfectionist....which by the way was SO freeing!!!  I highly recommend it!! :)....seriously!!!

Back to the Sweethearts...the ingredients your child consumes with one of those somehow "required" at Valentine's Day, "Be Mine" hearts is plain out mind boggling.  Each little heart contains sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, glycerine, artificial and natural flavors, gelatin, vegetable gums, citric acid, artificial colors (red 3, yellow 5, yellow 6, red 40 and blue 1).  My answer to my daughter's question...a drawn out lesson in exactly what each of those ingredients are and what they do to our body.  Needless to say, the box did not make it's way to school.

Well....what exactly are these ingredients, you ask??

The first three have been hit on pretty heavy in earlier Pantry Raids.  Essentially, they are all sugar (in one form or another).  Why they needed to use three different sugars is beyond me.  The first is nutrient-barren, white, table sugar not labeled "cane" sugar, so most likely beet sugar and most likely GMO.  The second is corn syrup always derived from GMO corn.  The third, dextrose, also a sugar derived from starch (usually GMO corn). 

Glycerine is a product of soap making.  The glycerine in natural soap is extracted and used in the food, pharmaceutical and weapons industry.  It was first extracted from soap in 1889 for the soul reason of creating dynamite.  It was later discovered that glycerine has a sweet taste and could be used in processed foods as a sweetener and thickener.  All I can wonder is what crazy person decided to put it in their mouth and taste it!?!?!

Artificial and natural flavors...you know what I think about those.

Gelatin is a substance derived from the collagen in animal skin and bones also used as a thickener.  The collagen is removed and processed into a powder form to use in food processing.  It is the same ingredient used to stabilize jello. 

Vegetable gums are, yet again, thickeners.  Xanthan gum being the most popular.  Brocolli, cauliflower and other leafy vegetables are allowed to ferment.  The bacteria Xanthomonas campestris causes the fermentation, the black rot and also the "slime".  The slime is a natural stabilizer and thickener also called xanthan gum.

Citric acid was my surprise ingredient from the post on natural foods.  I am still amazed that it isn't lemon juice!!!   Are you seeing a pattern here?  I've only broken down two products this way in my Pantry Raids and both had citric acid and dextrose.  I am willing to bet doing a few more products will reveal duplicates of many of these ingredients.

Artificial colors...Yes, these treats do contain the infamous red 40 known for it's contributions to severe allergic reactions in children.  You know... those little people that are the main consumers of this Valentine favorite.  Yellow 5 and 6  are made from tatrazine.  Tatrazine has been linked in some studies to various immunologic responses including anxiety, migraines, clinical depression, blurred vision, itching, general weakness, heatwaves, feeling of suffocation, purple skin patches, and sleep disturbance.  Blue 1 is a petroleum derivative.  Some reactions to Blue 1 include eczema, hives, puffy eyelids, dry skin, sneezing, recurring ear infections, congestion and wheezing.  But, the wouldn't be as yummy if they weren't all those pretty colors!!  (if you guys haven't figured it out yet, I tend to be a bit sarcastic at times :))

Let me end by saying that it is absolutely impossible to shield our kids from all of these "treats", but being better educated on what our kids are truly consuming through these products can help us make them more aware of why we limit them in our households.

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

My Dry, Crusty House

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Do you ever find yourself stuck on the hamster wheel of doing??  You are not alone, because I am so there with you right now!!

Sometimes, the world just gets a hold of me, and I get all wrapped up in my crazy obsessions that end up consuming my every, waking moment.  Just coming off my daughter's birthday week, Valentine's straight ahead, Spring Carnivals at school, lots of volunteer commitments, mixed in with the everyday running, cooking, cleaning and the mile long to-do list...this girl's head is spinning faster than Superman on caffeine!! 

As if that's not enough, to compound the insanity, I have a problem with perfection.  The main problem being that I will never be able to obtain it, but secondly, I just can't seem to shake it.  It's like a nine-month-old kid that's crawling and is just learning to pull-up.  It follows you around all over the house just looking for your attention.  If ignored long enough, it gets louder.  Then, give it five seconds to catch up, and it's wrapped around your leg with a death grip screaming for you to just pick it up!

I've tried hiding around the corner, playing peek-a-boo, hobbling along on one leg while dragging it around....it won't go away!!!   Then, when I do pick it up to make it happy, I find myself doing everything else with one hand.  My kids, the hubby, my responsibilities all get half of my effort, because I'm too busy tending to my addiction to perfection.  Which, of course, leads to all kinds of strife in the house. 

Our memory verse for last week's bible study was Proverbs 17:1.  Boy, you have got to love some wise ol' Soloman...

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.  Proverbs 17:1 (NIV)

Here's how the Message puts it...

A meal of bread and water in contented peace is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels.  Proverbs 17:1 (The Message)


So what if I let go of perfection, and the house gets a little crusty (i.e everything isn't done perfectly)?  I would rather a peaceful house than one where Mama is stressed out and ain't happy. 

And you all know, If Mama Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy!!!  LOL!!

PS...Here's an update.  God has a sense of humor...just because I decide I'm going to embrace this for the weekend, He sends me some fun!  My bread starts rising and does some wacky stuff.  This would have been melt down city in my not so crusty house :).  Little man says, "Mommy, just cook it, it's crazy bread!".  Well then, crazy bread it is :)!


Then, to add to the fun, it's rainy and cold, so I was bringing in our little seedlings to keep them happy.  The tray breaks, and this is what's left of the dirt in the pots.  The rest (including the dirt from the 10 missing pots not shown here) was scattered from one end of the foyer to the other.  I wish I had taken a pic!!!  Luckily, we were able to re-pot the plants.  Did I freak out?...nope, there's dirt in my grout and I am ok...whew!  
 
What are you all up to this weekend while your house, or to do list :),  gets dry and crusty??

Happy Friday!! 







Thursday, February 9, 2012

Strawberry Studded Chocolate Tart--the Healthy Way

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With Valentine's Day right around the corner, my mind wanders off to imaginary places with chocolate flowing from streams and into cascading waterfalls over lush, green hills and valleys with bright, pink wildflowers speckled throughout the landscape .  I have to wonder if somewhere along the line, the translation for the Hebrew words meaning 'milk and honey' in the bible got messed up, and God really said the Promise Land was the land flowing with  'chocolate'?   That sounds like heaven to me :)


  


There is no other food I can think of that goes better with chocolate than strawberries.  So, to celebrate one of my favorite days of the year, I experimented a little and came up with this beauty.  


 

Buy your strawberries organic, I promise you won't be disappointed...they taste like candy!!  God didn't mean for us to have to create fake treats with processed sugar.  He wanted us to enjoy sugar the way He gave it us to enjoy in untainted fruits free from pesticides and genetic tampering.   Organic strawberries are a pure indulgence all on their own...they don't even need the chocolate!



Even when it's not Valentine's Day, I can't help but look at a strawberry and think of pink and red with white heart shaped doilies.
 


If you're looking for a healthier way to celebrate this year with your special someone....you have got to make this!!  It's so good, I had to stop myself from "taste testing" before there was nothing left for pictures!!

 


It's loaded with rich, organic, high-cacao-content chocolate offering lots of nutrients and antioxidants.  Studded with Vitamin C, folate and potassium loaded strawberries and accented with heart-healthy, immune-boasting whipped coconut milk....this recipe is an indulgance not to be missed! 


STRAWBERRY STUDDED CHOCOLATE TART RECIPE

Crust

3/4 c. Fresh Milled Wheat Flour (organic, hard white berry wheat)
1/3 c. Cacao Powder (organic, use the highest cacao % you can find, sub with dark choclate cocoa if unavailable)
1/2 c. Sucanat
1/4 c. Butter (organic), melted and cooled
1 Egg (free range, organic)

Filling

1 1/2 c. High Cacao Content Chocolate Chips (organic, I used 70%)
3/4 c. Heavy Cream (organic, raw is even better if you can find it)
9 Strawberries (organic), halved

Whipped Topping

1 can Organic Coconut Milk, refrigerated overnight
1 Tbsp Raw, Local Honey
2 Tbsp Cacao Powder (same as crust)

Preheat oven to 350

Mix together all ingredients for the crust.  Press crust down into a pie or tart pan.  Bake for 20 minutes.

In bowl, microwave chocolate chips and heavy cream for 1 1/2 minutes stopping the microwave in 30 second intervals to mix. 

Pour thoroughly mixed chocolate/cream mixture over the crust after it is removed from the oven.  Press strawberry halves down into the warm chocolate mixture leaving them partly visible.   Let cool for 2 hours in refrigerator.

Open can of coconut milk, remove solidified portion from the top leaving the liquid behind.  Whip on high speed with honey.  Gradually add cacao powder on slow speed being careful to incorporate well before returning to a high speed.  Pipe whipped topping border around tart.  Enjoy!!

What are some of your favorite Valetine's recipes?

Happy Indulging!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

10 Ways to Eat Organic without Breaking the Bank


Coming from a lifestyle of couponing like a mad woman and spending less than $60 a week on groceries, making the switch to eating organic was enough to give me heart palpitations.  I remember buying my first gallon of organic milk.  I think I must have stood in front of the dairy section for 10 minutes drawing battle lines in my brain.  People must have thought I was crazy....I'm sure there was a point a started talking to myself to ease the pain of the whole process.  I brought the gallon home and tortured the whole family by rationing it for a week!

Now, groceries cost us between $80-120 a week depending on what I decide to stock up on or if there is a splurge for something out of the ordinary.  It's more than we used to spend, but our new eating style has caused savings in other areas to compensate for it.  Here's what I mean....

#1:  Eat out less.  As we slowly switched from conventional and processed foods to 100% organic, our desire to eat out went to a complete zero.  I'm not saying we never eat out, but it doesn't taste as good, and we really only do it when life circumstances push us that way, or we are traveling.  Even when traveling, I try to pack as much food from home as I can possibly bring myself to prepare.

#2:  Grow your own veggies.  Even if you are growing 1/4 of the veggies you consume, it's a huge dent in the grocery bill.  I know it seems like an overwhelming task, but I promise you if you just jump in and try it, you will find it's not that big of a deal.

#3:  Limit processed foods.  Even the organic ones!  It will save you a fortune.  If there's items you like stocked in your freezer like waffles, pancakes or frozen lasagnas, make them yourself in large batches and freeze them.  Stock your pantry with healthy homemade snacks like granola bars and muffins.  Have a girl's night!  Each of you provide a recipe and everyone chips in on the ingredients and the labor. I also find this keeps me in the kitchen more and not out entertaining myself with other things that cost money.

#4:  Buy in bulk.  The bulk bins at the health food store are not only a benefit to your pocket, but also supports environmental health with less packaging and shipping.  Bulk bins allow you to buy in smaller quanties, but buying in even larger bulk can save you tons.  For example, I pay $1.35 a pound in the bulk bin for wheat berries compared to  $.89 a pound in 6 gallon buckets from my grain co-op.  Buy your fruits and veggies in bulk when they are in season and less costly.  Then, learn how to can...it's very satisfying to see a pantry full of items you canned yourself!!

#5: Join a co-op.  There are all types of co-ops out there from organic produce delivered right to your door to bulk grains and beans.

#6:  Hunt and Fish your own meat.  This saves us so much on our grocery bill.  The hubby has our freezer stocked with shrimp, fish, gator, venison and wild pork.  What else could you ask for??  Maybe a little squirrel or rabbit when I get the guts up to try them :)  I hear both are amazing, but I just can't take the leap yet!!   I need to talk the hubby into offering classes on this...maybe a few takers on the idea might push him ;)  Until then, find a friend who has these skills and learn everything you can from him (or her)!!

#7:  Eat less dessert.  I can whip up a healthy dessert that won't blow my waistline, but too many of these will for sure bust the bank.  Curing an occasional craving can be less expensive by keeping a quality chocolate bar laying around.

#8:  Make a budget and stick to it.  Once you get the hang of what it's going to cost to eat organic and whole, pulling a budget together is simple.  Sticking to it will keep you from making those extra purchases that you really didn't need in the first place.

#9:  Shop your local farmer's market.  Support your local farmers!!  It's good for you, the local economy and the environment.  There are always great deals on all types of local grown food at the farmer's market.  You will be buying in season, so you will pay less.  Stock up on freezable items like strawberries and use them all year round.  I like taking an occasional trip to the Gainesville Farmer's Market where I can find organic free range chickens for half the price of what I pay at the store.  It's worth an hour trip every few months to stock up, and we get to visit family. 

#10: Use food to get your daily dose of vitamins.  When you eat properly, the need to supplement with vitamins decreases exponentially.  This could save you a fortune!!

Take it slow, make one change at a time, and you will find that it is possible to eat whole, organic foods without going broke!

Happy Shopping!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Where's the Squash?!?!

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The Art of Hand Pollinating Squash Flowers

Every Fall, I look forward to planting, growing, and, especially, eating winter squash.  Butternut, acorn, spaghetti...I love it all!!  As the winter squash harvest slows down, thoughts of summer zucchini and yellow neck squash sauteed with fresh, garden grown tomatoes start occupying my mind . 

The first year we planted summer squash, we couldn't figure out why the fruit would form on the plant, shrivel up and fall to the ground.    This happened all summer.  I was so frustrated (insert temper tantrum here)...I wanted squash!!! 

A quick lesson on the birds and the bees gave a full explanation.  Apparently, we were lacking in the bee part of the equation.  You see, squash flowers need to be pollinated in order for the fruit to grow.   Upon more careful inspection, we came to realize that there were two different types of flowers growing on each plant--a male and a female.  

The female flower is the flower that has what looks like a baby fruit attached to the base of the flower.  The male flower has no fruit.  Looking inside the male flower, you can actually see pollen inside the flower all the way at the bottom.

 

 

The bees job is to get pollen from the male flower and transfer it to the female flower.  With all the pesticide sprays and other tampering we do with nature, bee populations are dropping exponentially.  No bees means no pollination.  No pollination means the fruit on the female flower shrivels up and falls to the ground.  And, that meant no squash for my tomatoes, and we were SO not having that happen!!

So, off to the garden we went with a handy dandy q-tip to act like bees.  If you have this problem, just grab a q-tip or a small paint brush, rub it down inside the male flower to gather some pollen and transfer the pollen to the female flower's pistel, and...voila...pollinated squash flowers.
   

Happy Gardening!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pantry Raid #9: Chocolate

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Happy Monday Everyone!!   I don't know about all of you, but I am wiped out after this weekend.  Super Bowl is such a fun excuse to hang out with good friends, but my body doesn't do staying up past 9pm very well anymore.  It was midnight before my head actually hit the pillow last night...gosh, that makes me feel so old!!!  It seems like just yesterday, I was in college staying up all hours of the night and running on nothing but caffeine and chocolate the next day!!

There was a time where I would say that I wasn't sure if chocolate even counted as a food, but these days, I am sure...it so does!!  A food in my book is anything that offers our bodies nutrients for energy or growth.  And yes...to all my chocoholic friends...chocolate counts as a food!!  Not only is it a food, it even classifies as a SUPERFOOD!!!

What?!?!  How?!?!?

Chocolate as most of us know it has gotten itself a pretty bad rap.   Over the past few years, as I have dug deeper into the mystery of what exactly IS in my pantry under the guise of "food", I have found a few common threads.  One of which being that, as humans, we are just weak to whatever tastes good.  If it's cheap, we are even weaker!  Manufacturers know this.  They know that if they can put a product out there that tastes really good and doesn't break the bank, we will indulge...and indulge...and indulge a whole lot more.

Let's look at chocolate in it's purest form.  Chocolate comes a tropical plant known as the  Theobroma Cacao Tree.  The cacao bean is harvested from the tree, fermented and dried.  In this form, cacao is rich in magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, chromium, anadamide, theobromine and is an excellent source of antioxidants.  Pound for pound, it has more antioxidants than blueberries and more flavanoids than green tea.  Anadamide is an endorphine that our body produces naturally.  It's the same endorphine that is released to give us that "high" after exercise.  This is so cool...only one plant to date has been found to contain this "bliss chemical"....that's right, the cacao plant!!    Theobromine is an anti-bacterial substance that, ironically, kills the primary bacteria that causes cavities.  It also dilates the cardiovascular system contributing to a healthy heart.

So, what happens to that perfect, little bean next to make it so bad for you??   


Let's back up one step before we go any further.  It's name being derived from the Greek word meaning 'food of the gods', speaks for itself.  Chocolate is listed among the tops of many's "Love Lists"...including mine ;).  The result of chocolate being in such high demand is a push to grow it faster, bigger and cheaper.  When something needs to be grown faster, bigger and cheaper, organic farming methods go out the door and farmers turn to pesticides and chemical fertilizers.  Conventionally grown cacao, second to cotton, uses more chemicals than any other industrial produced agricultural product.  So, along with your daily overdose of nutrient-void sugar, when you indulge in mass produced chocolate, you are also getting your daily overdose of body-destroying, chemical toxins.  


The toxin ridden beans are shipped usually from Africa to the manufacturer where they are broken down into a powder and mixed with most likely (in a decent quality chocolate)  white sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, milk or milk powder, and vanilla.  To give it a smooth texture, emulsifying agents are added (mostly soy lecithin, which is a GMO).  When all is said and done, that perfect super-bean has been degraded to a mere 7% content in some final products.  The processing has killed all it had to offer, and it has been diluted with sugar and other vitamin depleted ingredients. 

The solution???

Some farmers understand the importance of keeping their land untainted and clean from commercial pesticides and fertilizers so that they will be able to continue to grow these special beans.  They are willing to put in the extra work and love that it takes to grow a "real" cacao bean.  These beans are treated properly by chocolate makers and respected for the care that was put into growing them.  They are processed by companies that value what the cacao bean has to offer.  Their final products will be labeled with a 70% or higher cacao content.

We as consumers need a little pruning when it comes to buying and eating healthy chocolate.  Yes, it is more expensive to buy organic, high-cacao containing chocolate.  Here's a few things to keep in mind.  The flavor is much more powerful, so a little goes a very long way.  This way, you eat less and the cost balances itself out.  Eat it slow--take a bite, let it melt in your mouth and enjoy it!!  (side note:  I wait until the kids are all napping or out of the house and savor every morsel)  Second,  if you are used to eating milk chocolate, make the change gradually.  Start with a 60% or 65%  bar and work your way up.

I promise, this is one of those changes you will be so glad you made!!  I love that I can indulge in chocolate everyday completely guilt-free!!

With Valentine's on it's way, I want to know....

What is your favorite chocolate recipe?  I need some fun ones to "makeover" with a healthy spin!!



 



Friday, February 3, 2012

Portabello Mushroom and Beet Greens Frittata

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It's not unusual in my house to be up hours before the sun.  Last Saturday, I was not only up way before any normal person should have been, but I was craving beet greens!  I know...weird.  I have been eating them like crazy since I learned that they taste just like spinach. 

So, with my wide-awake, six-year-old by my side, my trusty chef's knife and flashlight, off to the front yard I went to clip a bowl full of beet greens and broccoli from the garden.



A favorite way to slip some veggies into the family's morning routine is with a frittata.  The kids like to call it breakfast pizza.  It's basically the Italian version of an omelet without all the crazy flipping and rolling.  I can't make an omelet that looks pretty to save my life!  I've finally just gotten over it, embraced my Italian heritage and decided frittatas sound much more fancy anyways.

They are so easy to make too!

PORTABELLO MUSHROOM AND BEET GREENS FRITTATA RECIPE

1/2 Medium Sweet Onion
1 c. Broccoli, chopped
3 c. Beet Greens, chopped

1/4 c. Green Onions, chopped
5-6 Baby Portabello Mushrooms
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
6 Eggs
1/4 c. Milk
1.5 tsp Sea Salt
Pepper to Taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Chop veggies into bit size pieces.  Add olive oil to oven safe saute pan.  Over medium heat, saute onions until starting to become transparent and broccoli turns bright green.


Add the rest of the veggies, 1 tsp salt and pepper.  Cook until softened.  Remove from heat.

Whisk eggs, 1/2 tsp salt and milk.  Distribute veggies evenly through pan.  Pour egg mixture over veggies.  Roll pan around making sure the egg covers evenly.  Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until frittata begins to brown on top.


Happy Eating!