Beverages, Food

Simple Fall “Smoothie” {gluten-free, dairy-free & made with butternut squash!}

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I don’t know about you, but I love butternut squash.

Love it. Since I’ve started going gluten-free I’ve had to look for substitutions and replacements for the wheat products I can no longer have.

So some nights I’ll fix myself some butternut squash when everyone else is having noodles or stuffing or whatnot.

I don’t typically eat a whole squash, so I’ll save the remainder, along with the cooking water so that I can make a puree. I usually throw it in the fridge so I can make it up in the morning. 😝

Sometimes I’ll use that to make some gluten-free muffins…made a triple batch of butternut squash and apple muffins last time.

But here I decided to make some smoothies.

Last year, I posted a recipe for a Pumpkin Spice Smoothie. I used a pie pumpkin to make that recipe. However, later that season I tried making it with butternut squash and I actually preferred it to the pumpkin.

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Overall, the taste and color I like much better than the pumpkin smoothie. It tastes much more like “pumpkin” than the actual pumpkin! Haha. I think of pumpkin pie Blizzard’s and actual pumpkin pie when I drink this. It would be good with dairy or non-dairy whipped cream too!

Cost:

This recipe cost me $1.57 to make a 16oz smoothie. That’s about 70¢ more than the pumpkin smoothie. Mainly because the price of almond milk at my Aldi store has increased, but also because the pumpkin was a bit cheaper.

You can find the recipe—->> here.

Enjoy!

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Beverages, Food, Reflections

Roasted Dandelion Root Tea {First Impressions}

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The foraging adventures continue! I wanted to harvest some dandelion roots this fall with the intention of making roasted dandelion root tea.

It sounded interesting. And every single source said the health benefits of the plant were numerous.

According to learningherbs, dandelion roots are good for liver health. And because the liver affects many other parts of the body, dandelion root helps with a lot of different things. (The recipe I used can be found through the above links as well.)

As livestrong mentions, dandelion root has a lot of potassium and “It also contains high levels of iron, boron, calcium, silicon [and] vitamin C.”

Super-healthy? Sign me up. I can get it for free from my own yard? I’m on it.

And so I grabbed my shovel and I wandered about outside looking for some good-sized dandelion roots. The kids were mostly good enough not to wander too far from sight 🙂

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Here are some of the largest roots from some of the biggest plants. I harvested about 7 or so roots total.
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After scrubbing, chopping and air drying the roots completely they were ready to roast.
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The finished product. I sorted the pieces and discarded the blackened ones. I had exactly 2 Tablespoons the recipe called for.
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Here you can see the difference in color.
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After simmering the dandelion root for about 20 minutes I had a very dark tea, similar in shade to coffee and somewhat similar smelling.
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I blended the liquid with about a Tablespoon butter as directed.

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And then I took a sip. I immediately made a face. It was very bitter. As I expected. Somewhat like coffee but not as…warm? Flavorful?

I had to add things to it to make it drinkable. First, a bit of vanilla, cinnamon and honey.

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It was still too bitter. More honey and a lot of unsweetened vanilla almond milk were added. And then I ended up adding a spoonful of coconut palm sugar before I was happy with the taste.

I’m trying my best to avoid refined sugar. It’s been hit-and-miss so far. But this time…victory 🎉

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Afterwards…heavy on the sweeteners and milk.

Oh my it was so bitter. But tasted rather good in the end.

I couldn’t help but think about bitterness as an emotion, as opposed to a taste.

I remember my son when he tasted cocoa powder for the first time. It smelled like the chocolate he loved but left a bad taste in his mouth.

“Grace given when it feels least deserved is the only antidote for bitter rot.”

from Uninvited, chapter 7, by Lysa TerKeurst.

But tempered with sweetness and mixed into the cookies he loved, the bitterness was transformed. It was the same for the tea. Bitterness transformed was a pleasant thing instead of a thing almost poisonous to swallow.

As I battle bitterness threatening to overwhelm me, this lesson hit quite close to home. I’m grateful for the lesson so gently revealed.

And I enjoyed my cup of tea 🙂

Any coffee drinkers out there? Have you ever tried roasted dandelion root tea? If so, what was your impression?

~Rachel

The Great Outdoors

What’s That Plant? (Symphyotrichum pilosum or Aster pilosus)

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“They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere

When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here…

But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze

Of a crisp and sunny morning of the early autumn days”

-From When the Frost is on the Punkin, by James Whitcomb Riley.

The beautiful month of October is here. In my corner of the globe in the Midwestern US, this means that fall is in full swing.

It is a time of harvest. Of slowing down. Of bidding summer goodbye. Of bonfires and cozy sweaters. Crunchy leaves.

In my mind, I see the green landscape slowly fading from green to autumn hues. Some plants, like my basil, are fading fast as the days and nights grow cool.

And others, like a plant I’ve recently learned about, are still in their prime.

It is a goal of mine to learn more about plant life. I want to know the names of everything. What they look like, where they are found, if they are edible. I want to learn as much as possible about the green world around me.

And so I wanted to share a plant I found that has a few interesting qualities.

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Name

This is frost aster. It’s Latin name is Symphyotrichum pilosum or Aster pilosus. Why 2 names?

Well, Urban Ecology Center explains that:

“As if to keep things fun and interesting botanists have decided to split up the genus Aster and there is now another genus, Symphyotricum. Consequently a newer name for A. pilosus is Symphyotricum pilosum.”

Appearance

Frost aster has alternate, smooth edged leaves that are long, thin and pointed.

It has composite flowers, with yellow disk florets (center) that change to redish-purple or redish-brown and 15-35 white ray florets that surround the disk florets.

This plant is quite tall, at least 4′ before the stems began to lean over. This is a bit taller than what most sources say this plant’s height range is but it’s likely so tall because it is a more mature plant.

Edible?

As far as I can see the answer is no. However, according to sources listed on Common Sense Homesteading, in the past the heath aster (not frost aster, see below) was used by Native Americans in teas, lotions and to “create a herbal steam” in a sweat lodge. Kinda like a herbal sauna. Sounds cool. Always secretly wanted to try the whole sweat lodge experience.

Unique Qualities

Two facts of interest:

  1. Frost aster is aptly named because it continues to bloom into the frosty days and weeks of autumn long after other plants and flowers are spent.
  2. For this reason, many insects rely on this plant for nourishment. I saw quite a few honeybees and bumblebees browsing busily amongst the flowers.

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Same plant, different location.

 

Also Frost Aster?

I found another plant that seemed to be similar to the frost aster. But it was much smaller and looked a bit different.

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I did a bit of research and narrowed it down to 2 kinds of aster.

Was it

Symphyotrichum lateriflorum (also called Aster lateriflorus) or calico aster?

or

Symphyotrichum ericoides, (also called Aster ericoides) or heath aster?

I decided it was heath aster because it had:

  • very short, narrow leaves
  • a bushy appearance, very short. It reminded me of rosemary somewhat.
  • no colorful flowers like described for the calico aster.

 

I enjoyed learning more about this unique plant. Isn’t it amazing how much variety and beauty there is in the world?

~Rachel

All photos are my own.