Friday, December 16, 2011

Pumpkin/Turkey Chili

As promised, here is the recipe I borrowed (and tweaked just a little) from Primal Mama Cooks...and Dishes on Life (

Seriously, this is the easiest and yummiest chili. Very festive too for this time of year- a must-try recipe for the holidays! Let me know what you think. :)


3lbs. Ground turkey (or grass fed ground beef)

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 bell pepper, diced (I like red, yellow or orange)

1 14oz can of canned pumpkin (make sure it's just pumpkin)

2 cans of organic black beans

2 cans of organic pinto beans

1 tsp pepper

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 jar chipotle salsa

1 box of Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

1 tsp cumin

"Cook the ground turkey, diced onion, and pepper in a large pot until the meat is crumbly and no longer pink. Drain. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and then simmer for one hour."

Easy Peasy! Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Snacking Box

I have talked about the success of our "snacking table" several times on this blog. This is my lazy version. We haven't had time to put fresh fruits, veggies, and other snacks out so I have a created a quick, easy "snacking box" for the kids. If they are hungry between meals, they go here or they can always eat any fruit we have on the counter as well.

This week: organic brown rice cakes, Lara bars, sprouted almonds, dried seaweed snacks, raisins, banana leathers, and snap pea chips. It gets the job done and keeps tummies full while I'm running around!

Pasta Primavera Salad Surprise (Or Something Like That!)

This is another winner from our Fit for Life recipe book. Really delicious, and fairly easy. The most time-consuming part of this recipe is chopping up all the individual ingredients to make them "pretty."


1/2 to 1 lb of whole wheat penne pasta
1 firm avocado, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
4-5 celery stalks, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cucumber, diced
2-3 Tb Olive Oil
1/4 cup fresh basil, minced or 1 Tb dried
1 small red onion, diced
4-6 cups of tender lettuce (red leaf, butter or bibb), shredded
2-3 cups of fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
ground sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Cook Pasta. While cooking, place diced and minced veggies in a large salad bowl. Add the olive oil and seasonings and allow to marinate.
Drain pasta and toss in 1 Tb of olive oil. Add shredded greens to marinating veggies in the bowl, and then add pasta and toss well. Adjust seasonings and serve.

I have to say that every recipe from the Fit for Life books has been amazing. Really filling, yet light and energizing. I have been trying to follow the principles of this book for about 6 weeks and have found surprisingly that my weight has plateaued. Although I feel really good most of the day, I am very hungry in the mornings with the "fruit only" rule until noon. This last week I decided to have my fruit and green smoothie first, but then allow myself a small breakfast around 10am. That has alleviated my hunger, boosted my energy, and I have dropped a couple of pounds since adding a few more calories to my mornings! It goes to show you that every person's body is different. It is fun and interesting to read and study different nutritional approaches, but in the end it is usually a mix, a tailor-made plan, that works for the individual. For me I need to eat a little before noon, but I still feel much better when I follow the remainder of the food combining principles throughout the day. It doesn't always happen, but I notice a difference in energy when I do. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fruit Kabobs

I have been reading the classic nutrition book, "Fit for Life." I absolutely LOVE all the recipes in this book. They are mostly vegetarian and are all properly combined to aid in digestion and eliminate a lot of the stomach issues people experience frequently (bloating, gas, heartburn, etc.). Really fascinating information.

The basic tenets of this book state that there are 3 distinct cycles our bodies go through every 24 hours. From Noon to 8pm is the Appropriation Cycle where we take in nourishment (Eat), from 8pm to 4am is the Assimilation Cycle where our bodies absorb and use the nourishment, and lastly from 4am to 12pm is the Elimination Cycle where our bodies cleanse and detoxify themselves (this final cycle is extremely important in preventing illnesses, acute and chronic, and also ridding ourselves of unwanted fat).

Although all 3 phases are extremely important and build upon each other, I have been trying to implement this 3rd cycle more often in our home. In order to aid your body in proper elimination, the authors suggests you eat nothing but fruit or fresh, fruit juices before noon. I have added greens to this list as well because they practically digest themselves, and we drink large green smoothies every morning any way. We don't usually make it until noon, but my goal is to at least have the children (and myself) drink our smoothies and eat some fruit before they eat anything else. It actually has really simplified our mornings. The kids were a little bored after the first couple of weeks, so we decided to take all the fruit we had in the house and make fruit kabobs.

They each made them themselves. I personally would rather just sit down and eat fruit instead of cutting up every piece and putting it on a stick so I can just take it off the stick and then eat it! But, that's just me. They were very proud of their creations and stopped whining about the fruit rule for the day! You can do this with any fruit you have on hand. :)

Mexican Rice Bowls

This is a Fit For Life recipe, and has quickly become one of our favorite, quick, "go-to" recipes when want something fast, filling, and very easy!


4 cups of cooked brown rice
4-5 cups of chopped romaine lettuce
fresh salsa
sliced olives
shredded cheese (optional)
alfalfa sprouts
lemon juice

(You can also add your favorite steamed veggies, fresh corn or cilantro).

To assemble, just layer the ingredients you choose beginning with a generous helping of rice and romaine and dinner is served! We like to leave all the ingredients out, so that everyone can make it just how they like it.

Serves 6

Apple, Strawberry Cobbler

We made this raw pie for a friend of ours the other day, and it was really, really yummy (we made one for us too!). I rarely bake desserts because the raw desserts are so fabulous, and are so good for you! You don't feel heavy and sick like you do after eating a big slice of baked apple pie with ice cream. It's a win-win situation! The only thing that would have made it better is if I could have gotten strawberries from my favorite farm (James went there, but they were sold out!). But, it was good nonetheless.

This recipe is from the "I Am Grateful" raw recipe collection:


For the crust and topping:
4 1/2 cups of raw pecans (do not soak)
3 Tbs of finely chopped, well-packed dates
2 Tbs cinnamon
1 Tb vanilla
1/2 tsp sea salt

For the filling:
5 cups sliced pink lady apples (or other very sweet variety)
3 cups sliced strawberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tb vanilla
pinch of sea salt

To make the crust:
Process the 3 cups of pecans with the cinnamon, vanilla, and sea salt for 1 minute in your food processor fitted withe the "S" blade. Then place in a bowl and add remaining 1 1/2 cups of pecans ( I would get the pecan pieces vs. whole pecans so it sticks together better). Press the crust into your pie pan setting aside 1 1/2 cups of this crust mixture for the topping.

To make the filling:
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Evenly distribute the filling on top of the crust. Then crumble the remaining crust on the top.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Best Granola!

This is a super easy recipe! Plus it tastes fabulous, and if you have a dehydrator it can remain raw!


2 cups of raw almonds, soaked overnight
2 cups of raw sunflower seeds, soaked overnight
1 cup of raw cashews, soaked over night
1 cup of raw sesame seeds
1/4 cup of dates, soaked for 15-20 minutes
1 cup of raisins
A few dashes of Sea Salt
Two dashes of Vanilla
A few dashes of Cinnamon
1/4 cup of raw honey or agave

Pulse chop nuts in the food processor until coarsely ground. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Puree dates in the food processor until smooth. Add to the nut mixture. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Spread onto Teflex sheets and dehydrate at 105 degrees for 12-24 hours! I store mine in a glass jar in the fridge. It should remain good for several weeks!

You could probably bake this mixture on the lowest heat in your oven with the door cracked open. Stir frequently until granola clumps together and is dry.

Top with almond milk, apple juice, and/or fresh fruit- enjoy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What's For Dinner: My Thoughts on Meal Planning

We only eat meat once, maybe twice a week. When people find this out, I often get asked what we eat for dinner. Several people have told me that they wouldn't know what to fix for dinner if meat wasn't on the menu. I thought I'd give you my menu plans for the last two weeks to give you an idea of what we usually eat.

Since the baby's arrival, our menu plans have been pretty simple. One night we usually enjoy a bean or vegetable-based soup or a pasta dish, one night we usually do something with eggs (omelets or a scramble or casserole), and one night we usually do some sort of main-dish salad. The rest varies depending on our schedule and time-constraints. I write out these dinner ideas on a sheet that is kept on the fridge, so that when anyone asks (and I get this question a lot), "What's for dinner?" I just tell them to go look on the fridge! This list is handy to have out. I often check what is for dinner the night before so I know if I need to defrost anything or soak anything or put something in the crock pot overnight, etc.

One thing I have realized with raising a family on a budget, and trying to eat healthy, is it is absolutely essential to plan out the weekly menu. If I don't plan, we inevitably end up eating out or eating something quick and less nutritious. I plan all of our menus on Thursday and do all my grocery shopping on Friday (pay day!). I plan 6 complete dinners, leaving Thursday night as a leftover night (it's my favorite night because there is no prep- we eat whatever is left in the fridge so we can fill it up again the next day!).

I have recently started planning out breakfasts, and I also keep the breakfast list on the fridge. Many of our breakfasts we prep the night before (simple stuff like putting the steel cut oats in the crock pot, or soaking grains for muesli or putting together parfait, etc.). This has helped tremendously with my need to get a little extra shut eye with the baby in the morning. The older kids can get up and breakfast is practically ready! No more grumpy, hungry kids waking me up after I just fell back asleep for the fourth time!

Lunch is a free-for-all. It is usually leftovers from the night before, salads or hummus and veggies, maybe a green smoothie or a pb & j. My three older kids make their own lunches most of the time, so I don't sweat it at all.

The other trick that has helped meal-planning go smoothly is to a have a food prep day. Savanna and I usually tackle this together on Saturday. It takes us a couple hours, but we will do our batches of granola, batches of whole wheat pancakes or homemade yogurt for breakfasts, a big pot of soup, a large salad, homemade bread or muffins, any treats or snacks for the upcoming days, etc. Then the rest of the week we just go by the lists and it's easy peasy!

So as you can see, the menu planning can be quite the project each week. It takes me a good amount of time, but I love looking through my cook books or websites and finding new, fun recipes to try. I love that I can type "main-dish vegetarian salad" (or any other specific dish) into the search box and get a TON of new recipes! There are always our "fall-back" dishes. When I just don't have time or need a quick meal idea, we have our family's "tried and true" go-to recipes.

Okay, FINALLY, here are our menus for the last two weeks (It's Thursday, so I'm swapping the old for the new):

Dinner For Last Week:

Friday- Vegan Pesto Pasta with Steamed Broccoli and Salad

Saturday- Turkey Sandwiches and Soup

Sunday- Veggie Omelets, Fruit Salad, and Toast

Monday- Bruschetta on Whole Wheat Baguettes and Salad

Tuesday- Vegan Taco Soup and Caesar Salad

Wednesday- Garden 3 Bean Salad with Homemade French Dressing
and Whole Grain Crackers

Thursday- Leftovers!

Dinner For This Week:

Friday: Veggie Melts on Whole Grain English Muffins with a Side of Fruit

Saturday: We'll Be Out of Town

Sunday: Egg-in-the Hole (An egg fried into a piece of buttered toast) and Fruit Salad

Monday: Vegan Taco Salad with Mexican Rice and Homemade Guacamole

Tuesday: Hawaiian Steak Kabobs and Salad

Wednesday: Vegan Macaroni and Cheese with Steamed Broccoli and Fresh Snap Peas

Thursday: Leftovers!

(I usually keep the same breakfast menu for several weeks)

Friday: Parfait (layers of homemade yogurt, granola, and mixed berries)

Saturday: Muesli (Soaked oats, raisins, cinnamon, a dash of vanilla extract, shredded coconut, sesame seeds, ground flax, etc- it varies based on what we have in the house) topped with chopped bananas and almond milk

Sunday: Whole Wheat Pancakes topped with blueberries, slivered almonds, maple syrup and a side of fruit

Monday: Steel Cut Oats mixed with berries, ground flax and a side a fruit

Tuesday: Carrot/Apple Breakfast Muffins, a handful of trail mix, and a side of fruit

Wednesday: Granola, almond milk, and a side of fruit

Thursday: Same as Monday

And there you have it! I will try to post some of these great recipes but if there is one that you would like beforehand, let me know and I'll get it to ya!

Happy Meal Planning!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Black Bean Burgers

I made these black bean burgers the other day for lunch and they were a big success. Very tasty, healthy, and is an inexpensive way to serve burgers.


2 cups of cooked black beans
1 1/2 cups of cooked brown rice (I used cooked quinoa)
1 cup of bread crumbs (I took a piece of sprouted wheat bread and pulse chopped it in my food processor until it was the consistency of bread crumbs)
1 egg (or egg substitute- you could use ground flaxseed- 1 Tb of ground flax to 3 Tb of water mixed well until it is the consistency of an egg)
4 Tb (or so) of mild salsa
A handful of grated cheese (optional)
garlic powder and sea salt to taste

Mix all ingredients well. I put them in my food processor to chop up the beans a bit. Form into patties. Fry over medium heat in a pan with a little olive oil until brown and crispy on both sides.

Serve on buns with all the normal burger toppings. We used lettuce, tomato, pickles, mustard, ketchup, and red onion.

*This batch will make 10 to 12 burgers depending on the size. It is better to make the burgers smaller and serve each person two or three. The batter seems to hold together better this way then when I tried making larger burgers.

**Beans plus rice equals a complete protein. Quinoa is also a complete protein so even though this is a vegetarian/vegan dish, it is very filling.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread

This bread is incredible- easy, healthy, and delicious. The only thing that would make it better is if it was sprouted first (I haven't attempted my own sprouted bread yet)! I also love that it only has 6 ingredients- all of which I usually have in the house. I figured it out and with this recipe it costs about $1.50 for a fresh loaf of whole wheat bread. You can't beat that!


1 Tb of active dry yeast or 1 packet active dry yeast
3/4 c warm water (110 degrees F)
2 c of additional warm water
3 Tb honey
6 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp sea salt

Makes 2 loaves.

Stir yeast into 3/4 c of warm water. Wait 5 to 10 minutes until bubbly. Mix honey into the 2 additional cups of warm water. In a large bowl add the 6 cups of flour mixed with the sea salt. Make a well in the middle of the flour and slowly pour the honey water into it. Add the yeast water and stir dough with a wooden spoon. Wet your fingers and hand-mash the dough until it is evenly mixed. The dough should be wet and sticky, but able to hold its shape.

Knead for 20 minutes (I did this in my Kitchenaid. More power to you, if you want to do it by hand. It could count as your exercise for the day!) You'll know when it is done because it will become silky smooth, and when gently pulled apart it will form very thin sheets or strands that do not tear. Place a tsp or so of the olive oil in the bowl and turn the dough to coat all the surfaces. Cover it with a damp towel and let it rise for 2 hours until it doubles in size.

Punch it down in the middle with your fist. Fold edges in toward the center and squeeze all the air out. Here you can add any chunky ingredients you want- raisons, chopped nuts, herbs, cheeses, etc. I didn't add anything.

Divide in half and form into two loaves. Grease two loaf pans with the remaining oil or butter and place the dough into them. You can sprinkle oats, sesame or poppy seeds, chopped nuts, dry flour, etc on the top.

Let it rise again for about an hour.

Bake: Place loaves in a cold oven. Turn the oven on and set to 350 degrees. Mine were done in about 20-25 minutes. You will know if they are done if you dump the loaf out of the pan upside down into your toweled hand and insert a knife through the loaf from the bottom until it almost touches the top crust. It will pull out clean if it is done.

Let it cool thoroughly before storing- preferably on a wire rack. Place in the fridge or freezer as soon as it cools. If you are planning on freezing it, slice it first. You can thaw frozen bread at room temp overnight or bake it at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes wrapped in foil.

(This recipe is courtesy of "Super Baby Food" by Ruth Yaron)