The Great Outdoors

Lazy Summer Happenings

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Hey everyone! I debated whether or not I should post today…I’m getting a little lazy about blogging.

One of the reasons is that I’m devoting more time to my kids and family and to keeping my home in nice shape. It has been a good decision ☺

I do miss blogging more than 1x a week, but my kids are still rather young and have a lot of demands needs at this stage in life.

Plus, you know, getting one post per week gives me time to brainstorm a good post for you guys. Everyone has been loving the food posts lately and I Thank-you for that πŸ˜„

Summer can be such a lazy time, but it can also be a time of high energy. When I think of summer, the words “lazy” and “productive” come to mind.

I’ve been both so far. I’ve got my garden and garden beds, my sewing and knitting projects, fun places to go, people to visit with.

Annndd..you know. Sometimes I like to be lazy, sitting on the couch with my knitting or a good book. I have to get up a million time to break up fights, get snacks and so forth. But whatever. Life with kids is mayhem sometimes.

Anyway…enough of my rambling. Here is a bit of what my family and I have been up to this summer.

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Making dandelion wine.

This was the last step before bottling. All of the ballons had to be flat for 24 hours before we could cork them. (Shows that the fermentation process is complete.)

We bottled these in early June, so they should be ready in early December. I can hardly wait! My husband and I have always wanted to try this and I’m so glad we did.

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Harvested this bunch of sheep sorrel from the garden.

I ate some of it fresh and some in a smoothie. It has a nice tart taste and tons of vitamins.

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These itty bitty radishes were so cute.

I was impressed with how fast they grew. They literally sprouted the day after I planted them and were ready to harvest in about 3 weeks.

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This little wonder is a garlic scape.

I harvested about 3 of them from my garlic plants about a month or so ago. I had read a post about garlic from two branches homestead that discussed how to grow garlic. One step is to cut off the curly garlic scape so that the plant’s energy will go toward growing the garlic bulb and not the flower. The light green part in the photo is where a flower would appear.

I cut up some of the scape, like a green onion and had it on my salad. It was good!

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Joy of joys, elderberry blossoms!

There are so many this year that I think I can safely harvest some to use in a recipe.

Last year, there wasn’t many, so I let the birds have their fill.

The flowers smell so beautiful! There should be berries in another month or so…you know I’ll share if I make something ☺

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Most recently, I made these little treats for the 4th of July.

I used a tiny star cookie cutter to cut out peices of watermelon, then piped on a bit of almond yogurt, then a blueberry on top.

Magnifico!

(My daughter just liked licking the yogurt off. She let me eat the rest πŸ˜†)

What about you? Any lazy summer happenings of note where you are? Stay cool & enjoy this beautiful summer that He has provided. God bless!

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Food

What to Eat for Breakfast When You Would Rather Have a Donut {6 ideas}

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Honestly, some mornings I’m dragging. Like hardcore dragging and the only thing I want to grab is something super-easy. And what is easier than reaching for sweet tasting baked goods from the store?

I mostly do pretty well when it comes to my first meal of the day. But other days begin poorly when I’ve convinced myself that I can eat something deficient in nutrition just because it pleases my taste buds.

The result is always, inevitably a sugar crash which leaves me feeling ick. Never a good idea. But somehow I always have those moments when I think, “hey…maybe sugar for breakfast will be ok today.”

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Source: Pinterest

6 Healthier Breakfast Ideas (When You Would Rather Have a Donut)

 

1. Whip up a colorful fruit salad.

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I made this simple fruit salad last week from sliced/diced kiwis and mangos. Try to make a fruit salad that has as much color as possible for visual interest and nutrient value. The natural sugars will help curb the cravings.

 

2. Bake some good muffins.

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Muffins are always my go-to when we need a healthy breakfast food or healthy snack. I’ve been using the same ole recipe for like 4 years so recently I decided to try a new one.

The muffin pictured above is from a batch of Applesauce Oat Bran Muffins, from the back of a box of Hodgson Mill Old Fashioned Oat Bran Cereal. I tried it out and they were good! The kids liked them too. Even my pickier child (my son) ate them up.

Here is the recipe for the muffins I tried:

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A good muffin recipe will give you fiber, will be low in sugar and include some sort of mashed or pureed fruit or veggie.

3. Make some healthier donuts.

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My first attempt at making chocolate donuts…I think I filled the molds a bit too full.

These Chocolate Donuts from The Nutty RD are absolutely the bomb. (Lol do people still use that phrase?) No refined sugar, gluten-free and dairy-free. They also have healthy fat that will help you get your energy back. And not in a dramatic way like the other kind of donuts.

And if you don’t have a donut pan no worries πŸ™‚ Check out this tutorial and video from Tip Hero on how to make your own makeshift donut pan with tinfoil and a muffin tin.

 

4. A big ole old fashioned breakfast. (Or a hot breakfast that appeals to you.)

Sometimes what your body really needs is a veratible smorgasboard of hot, yummy food. I do not do this very often. We are a small family and no one person seems to like the same thing. Except french toast. We are lovers of french toast πŸ˜‹

Usually a hot breakfast for us is things like buttered toast and tea, scrambled eggs with lots of stir fried veggies, or my favorite…sweet potato hash. These things are super easy to whip up and will leave your body feeling satisfied. The protein/fat/fiber combo that will keep you feeling full for longer.

 

5. Oat bran cereal with apples, raisins and cinnamon.

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This is a new favorite for me and a change from my usual oatmeal and raisins. I cook the oat bran in a mix of water and almond milk. I will also cook up some apple chunks and raisins in a bit of cinnamon and water. I add the fruit, some of the liquid and a bit more almond milk over top the cooked oat bran.

The texture is smoother than cooked oatmeal and tastier, I think. Pleanty of fiber and the cinnamon and fruit will help tame your sweet tooth.

 

6. Homemade granola bars.

These are great because you can make them beforehand and just grab one when you wake up.

I finally found a recipe that I love…the Rock-n-Rolled Oats and Quinoa Energy bars from Sadie Nardini’s book The 21-Day Yoga Body are my absolute favorite. Ok so yeah they aren’t technically granola bars but might as well be.

They are full of awesome ingredients like cooked quiona, ground flaxseed, raw almonds and dried fruit. They hold together pretty well and its not because of a massive amount of sugar. Yay!

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Food, Snacks

Favorite Toddler Snacks #2 (All Healthy and Well-Loved)

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Toddler snacks are not glamorous. They are messy, sometimes strange and maddeningly frequent. I feel like I give out a million snacks a day. And usually my kids want the same things over and over.

But I’m putting a halt to the easy things. (Like pretzels.) And I’m cutting down on the snacks. Too many snacks=too full for supper. No supper and bedtime schedule is thrown off.

I need to focus on healthy snacking.

I thought I would go over our favorite healthy snacks again and share the ones L loves. Her tastes are different than J’s. She will eat everything from snack list #1 and more. It makes me happy she is such a good eater. Hopefully it will continue!

Here are 14 of her favorites. They are all healthy and approved by my 1-year-old’s tastebuds.

 

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    She loves her frozen peas! And they are awesome for helping with teething.
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    Frozen berries…we’ve been loving Bing cherries lately.
  3. Watermelon slices.
  4. Red grapes, cut in 1/2 or 4ths.
  5. Almonds or cashews, sliced
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    These snack bars from nature’s bakery. (Dairy-free!)
  7. Freeze dried strawberries
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    Part of a freshly baked whole wheat bagel (from the grocery store bakery).
  9. Corn chips and guacamole.
  10. Homemade graham crackers.
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    Fruit smoothies. I use 2ish cups almond milk, 1-2 frozen bananas and 1/4-1/2 cup frozen berries. Then cinnamon and sometimes spinach leaves or (quick 1-minute) rolled oats to add more fiber and balance out the sweetness.
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    Dried berries. We made dried cherries using our dehydrator.
  13. “Peanut butter bread” as J likes to say. (It’s just natural peanut butter on whole wheat bread).
  14. These teething buscuits. I admit I haven’t made them in awhile but I remember L loved them. I love that they have zero sugar and use up that powdered baby cereal that I could never manage to use up otherwise.

And that wraps up toddler snack list #2! It was fun to look at all the different things that L likes. The pickiness factor is not as strong. I’m thinking it’s either because she was breastfed or just because I’m more determined to keep offering her things. Probably both.

I was tempted to add “crayons” to the list because apparently they are delicious. She was gnawing on one as I was finishing up this post. *Throws hands in the air* Ah me. The lure of the tasty crayon is not so easily overcome.

~Rachel

Food, Snacks

Favorite Toddler Snacks #1 (Healthy and Loved By My Little, Too!)

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If you are reading this post, then it is likely that you have a toddler and know very well what I am about to say. Toddlers have sporadic eating habits. In between the cravings for all things crackers, and the constant demands for something to eat coupled with the game of making them actually want to eat something healthy…it can get to be a bit of a challenge. But the need to eat will always be there. So its up to us to find healthy solutions for our kids and family.

It can be a difficult thing to find healthy snacks. But it doesn’t have to be. Sure, I have days where I feed him semi-unhealthy snacks that he wants because the alternative is not eating anything. But I try to save the more unhealthy options for when we are out of the house shopping, for example.

When my son was approaching his first birthday, I began a pinterest board of toddler snack ideas. Because pinterest is the place to go when you have an unsolved problem and you want to know what the masses think. The masses aren’t often wrong.

However, not everyone’s child will have a palate that lines up with everybody else’s child. This is totally ok. But the neat thing about looking at what others feed their children is that sometimes you may come across something excitingly delicious, and healthy and dare I say it, also easy to prepare. So here is my toddler snack food list.

Healthy Toddler Snack Ideas

1. 1/4 of a whole wheat tortilla

2. Natural applesauce cups

3. English cucumbers, peeled and sliced

4. Greek yogurt

5. Small Macintosh apple, left unpeeled

6. Canned sliced peaches in 100% fruit juice, cut into pieces.

7. Baby carrots

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8. Homemade cheese crackers
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9. Homemade popcorn
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10. Homemade biscuits

11. Red (Angou) Pears, sliced and peeled.

12. Fruit or Veggie Muffins

13. Cottage cheese

14. Any type of cheese imaginable. Swiss, Munster, cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan is his new favorite.

My little really doesn’t like very many veggies. But *cucumbers and baby carrots he loves a lot. We do a special crunchy face where we chew with our mouths open and squint our eyes when eating carrots. Anything to get him to eat his veggies. He loves fruits and will eat pretty much any kind except berries and melon. Apples and bananas are his favorites. Black olives are kinda his quirky thing that he likes. I really don’t know too many kids or adults that like them. But Baby J sure does! I didn’t think they were all that healthy so I asked his doctor about it. He said, “Well they really aren’t all that unhealthy”. So I guess they have fiber if nothing else. And also, his doctor made the point that you really can’t force kids to eat what they don’t want anyway.

I hope that was able to give some encouragement with this post. All kids have stages where they only want to eat x, y, z. And it passes, eventually. If your kid(s) just want to eat 1 food and its healthy, I say let them have as much as they want πŸ™‚

*Bonus these two veggies are great to eat in the summer heat, but they also really help with teething. Particularly molars. Mom win.

~Rachel