Our Anti-Aging Immune Boosting Shake/Smoothie Ingredient Musts

We have had one of the most incredibly busy two weeks of our lives. From traveling down south to spend time end our summer in the Carolina coasts to having my in-laws visit, our days have been a blur of activity. Now that school (kindergarten for my oldest) is in full swing, it’s difficult to imagine a day where we are not almost always on the run from one activity to another. This type of schedule can sometimes take a toll on health, especially now that Fall is right at our doorstep.

I am starting to take a more serious approach to bolstering our immune systems. I read last night about a respiratory virus that is causing children in Colorado to be hospitalized. It’s troubling and although it’s a few thousand miles away from us, I am not dismissing it, as things do have a tendency to spread quickly. So we have made a decision to make our health a priority, starting especially, with what foods we eat.

One of the best ways to get as many veggies into your diet as possible is through a shake/smoothie. While some people use ready-to-made blends, we prefer to use fresh as many fresh ingredients as possible. Using fresh ingredients does require a good quality blender. We bought a Vitamix a few years ago and I have to say, it has been worth it for us. We have blended countless carrots, kale, spinach, beets, fresh ginger, turnips, and even mustard greens into our shakes and our Vitamix has performed beautifully every single time.

I had this shake this Blueberry based shake this morning:

 

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While the fruits and veggies vary a great deal on our shakes, here are the ingredients that always make it on our list.

FRESH ORGANIC SPINACH – a very nutrient-dense green that is also low in calories! Among other things, spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, folate, manganese, iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B2, potassium, and vitamin B6. Basically, it’s all the good stuff we need.

RAW CHIA SEEDS – chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia Hispanica that grows in South America. This seed was extremely important to the Aztecs and Mayans, and the word “chia” is actually the Mayan word for “strength.” Just like spinach, chia seeds are low in calorie, but dense in nutrients. In addition to this, it is also loaded with antioxidants.

RAW FLAX SEEDS – another seed loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, flax seeds also aid in digestive health, reduction in bone loss, and increase immunity.

RAW GINGER – this herb has been used in traditional medicine in many countries and cultures across the world. it’s known to have more than 12 antioxidants in addition to containing essential oils, protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin C, choline, folate, inositol, manganese, panthotenic acid, silicon, and a small amount of vitamin B3.

RAW HEMP SEEDS – our household cycles back and forth between eating meat and being vegetarian. we think this is important for optimum health. hemp seeds are considered a “superfood,” because not only are they, like the others above, loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, but they also a great protein supplement for those who do not eat animal products.

RAW ALMONDS – though typically considered a nut, almonds are actually the seeds of the almond tree! almond skins alone contain an abundance of antioxidants while the almond itself is low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.

We have found great benefits to incorporating these ingredients into our shakes on a daily basis. As a family, we rarely get sick. We are a snowboarding family and are outdoors all winter long. My two children get sick at most, maybe 2x a year, 1 mild cold in the fall/winter and seasonal allergies in the spring, which I am still working on finding ways to alleviate using natural means. And, predictably, the colds usually come after the holidays, when we’ve been feasting on one too many treats and goodies from family gatherings. When this happens, we whip out our Vitamix and take it from there.

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No Flour All Natural Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies

I cant make enough of these!

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I couldn’t even take these photos without my 5 and 3-year-old hovering in the background, eagerly awaiting to take bites. We are BIG nut lovers in our household, so this treat always hits the spot.

Ingredients

1 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
2 whole eggs (if your peanut butter is very runny, stick with 1 egg)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (ONLY add if you are using unsalted peanut butter)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup semi-weet chocolate chips (dark chocolate works great too!)

1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease an 8″ square pan.

2. In a bowl, mix the peanut butter, honey, egg, salt and baking soda until mixed thoroughly. Then fold chocolate chips in.

3. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes or until top is a light golden brown.

4. Let cool and serve warm! Enjoy!

Baked Sweet Potato Turkey Meatballs

We spent a lot – a lot – of time with family this weekend. It was my sister’s 26th birthday and, celebrations started on Friday evening with dinner at my house. Whenever I have to make dinner, I always try to make something sophisticated enough for adults to enjoy, but also fun enough for kids to want to eat. It also has to be healthy and easy because I don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen!

The one food that I could think of that fit the bill in this instance were turkey meatballs. I also had two good-sized sweet potatoes that I wanted to use, so I figured combining the two would make for a delicious dinner. And I’m so happy it came out exactly how I wanted! My sister kept raving about how the grated sweet potatoes stayed firm in the baking process and gave the meatballs a bit of a crunch. I’m looking forward to making these again!

 

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup finely grated sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoons oatmeal or breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons grated Romano (optional)
  1. Set oven to 350ºF and lightly spray with oil a large baking tray.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  3. Portion by tablespoons onto the tray. You will get about 24 balls. To get more, I just doubled the ingredients.
  4. Bake 15-20 minutes or until firm and lightly brown.

Easy Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

I love cinnamon rolls and when I bake them at home, I try to make them a bit healthier. Healthy cinnamon rolls sounds a bit ridiculous, but I was determined to give it a shot. I studied cinnamon recipes, stripped away some unnecessary steps, and then replaced the ingredients with their healthier counterparts. Surprisingly, the result was still the same – delicious! And with only 8 ingredients, it just couldn’t get any easier to make them.

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1 packet instant dry yeast

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 tbsp apple sauce

3 tbsp vegan butter

¼ tsp salt

1 tbsp cinnamon

¼ cup coconut sugar

  1. In a large sauce pan, heat the almond and 3tbsp apple sauce until warm, not boiling or else it will kill the yeast.
  2. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Mix yeast in and let activate for 10 minutes. Add a tbsp. of sugar and salt. Mix well.
  3. Next, add in the flour, but sprinkle a little bit at a time, stirring as you add. The dough will become sticky. When it becomes too thick to stir, remove from bowl and place on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 2 minutes or until you form a ball. Rinse the bowl, coat with grapeseed or canola oil and put dough back in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. The dough should double in size.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin rectangular shape. Brush melted vegan butter and sprinkle coconut sugar and cinnamon.
  5. Starting from the longest side, roll up the dough tightly. Then with a serrated knife, cut the dough into even sections and position in a greased 8×8 square baking pan (I ended up with about 10 rolls). Brush remaining vegan butter on top, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit while you preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Once the oven is hot, bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Once done, let cool for a bit, then frost with an almond milk and powdered sugar mixture (optional).

 

5 Things Moms Need to Remember to Be Grateful For

A friend on Facebook tagged me to list things that I am grateful for as part of a positive attitude challenge. At first I was hesitant to participate because my list is so long. I try to live a life of conscious gratitude because at one point in my life I felt I had nothing and today, as a wife and as a mom, I feel I truly have everything. And so I kept puttering about a few days trying to forget this positive challenge, but a voice just kept nagging me to sit down and write because as silly as things like this may sound, staying positive can be so easily forgotten. So here I am sitting down and listing all the things I am grateful for.

1. Motherhood is hard. Extremely. But it keeps me grateful. From being pregnant to giving birth to the immense pressure of raising our children the “right” way, it can all be overwhelming. Yet it is exactly this precise hardship that has made me realize that everything I do as a mother matters a great deal. After all, they don’t give important jobs to just anybody, so there has got to be a reason why we’ve been chosen to be mothers and we must always try to rise to this challenge.

2. Chaos. I am grateful for our topsy-turvy days, full of noise and a house strewn with toys. Days where someone is inconsolable because they cant find their precious sleeping blanket and the dogs have run around the house sopping wet right after a bath. These types of days are full of frustrations that we have learned to transform into laughter. And laughter is medicine!

3. Exhaustion. This is the type of tiredness I work towards everyday because it means we were not only physically active, but mentally as well. Every fiber of my being worked hard at whatever it was I was doing, whether it be cooking or teaching the kids. And so I wake up the next day, still tired, but electrified with the knowledge that I am capable of doing so many things.

4. That My Family Thinks I am The Most Amazing Person. Doesnt matter that most days I have no makeup on, my hair is in a ponytail, and the sexiest thing I am wearing are my worn out yoga pants. And, despite being the only girl in the household, I belt out songs from “Frozen” like I want the whole neighborhood to hear. Doesn’t matter. My family still loves me. And so does yours!

5. Forgiveness. We are a very happy family and I think the reason is because we have made forgiving a priority. Let’s face it. We all make mistakes and feelings get hurt. But forgiving strengthens us all as it shows others, especially children, that we are all human and sometimes we falter. And that’s ok. So long as we falter while striving for our ideal selves.

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Lazy Sunday Chia Egg Bites

I love Sundays. In the area where I live, all retails are closed on Sundays with the exception of grocery stores and so you literally have no choice but to rest on Sundays – either that or food shop!

And so in our household, Sundays usually mean staying in bed for as long as possible and then getting up to make it as far to the living room only to end up lying down on the couch. Only when I hear the incessant chirping of two little kiddies looking for food do I pull myself off and make something.

Since I fully take the word lazy to heart on Sundays, I try to cook the easiest things I can think of. And egg muffins truly fit the bill! You can put pretty much anything you would want in a regular omelette in there and it will come out tasting great.

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Chia Egg Muffins

10 large whole eggs

2 tbsp chia seeds

10 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves

2 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)

2 tbsp fresh chopped romaine leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a bowl, whisk eggs. Then add all the other ingredients, mix well until combined.

3. Spray a muffin tin and pour egg mixture evenly into cups. I’ve found it’s usually around 1/3 cup for each.

4. Bake for around 30 minutes or until you can stick a knife through the center and it comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.

5. Serve warm.

You can also refrigerate these and they will keep for 5 days so that you have a quick and easy breakfast or snack throughout the week.

Zombie Hugs And Everything In Between

Weekends feel like such an incredible relief from long hectic weekdays. The best kind of weekends are the ones where we dont make any plans and stay home. Of course, staying home might involve having to do home related chores and so sometimes its best to get your head out the door for a bit and take a breather. One of our favorite things to do is sit at a coffee shop and discuss. The past few years of using our local Starbucks as our hang out spot, we have met some of the quirkiest (even quirkier than us and we are a quirky family as you will learn over time) and most intelligent people we have ever come across. That makes sense, as there’s no better fuel for an active mind than a healthy dose of caffeine!

Unfortunately, coffee shops don’t always have the healthiest or freshest snacks for that matter. Whenever the kids and I get hungry, if we dont go prepared, we almost always end up buying the richest dessert-y item. And while it’s ok every now and then, it’d be a bit dangerous if it becomes a habit. This is where those mason jars come so handy! I usually pack one where I layer yogurt (usually plain nonfat Greek), granola, and some sort of fresh fruit on top. For added sweetness, I sometimes add a dollop of honey or maple syrup to the yogurt. It’s so fast and easy! Now I can have my barrista coffee, guilt-free!

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After our snacking is done, we usually play little games with the kids. For whatever reason, my kids have become obsessed with zombies, which is not really unusual unless we consider the fact that our household does not have commercial tv. Their love for zombies is something they have arrived at on their own, which I am fine with, since they often ask really interesting and thought-provoking questions like, “Mom, what happens if a zombie gets stuck in the toilet?” or  “What does a zombie do when he’s full and doesnt want to eat brains anymore?” It’s usually at these moments that we give them the best answers we can give and before they’ve had a moment to process them, we accost them with “zombie hugs.” And pretty soon, we are all enveloped in laughter.

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Zombie Hugs To You All!