Beverages, Food

Easy Strawberry-Coconut-Chia Milkshake {dairy-free, gluten-free & paleo friendly}

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Last night my family and I binged out on homemade popcorn. It was delicious, as always.

But it left me feeling super-thirsty. So after I cleaned up the kitchen I made up a nice little milkshake. Everybody knows mundane chores go by way faster when you have a reward dangling at the end 😉

So I mixed up this and that, keeping in mind my Pumpkin smoothie recipe. Except this time it was strawberries.

I love strawberries 🍓🍓🍓Don’t you? (Strawberry allergy sufferers, you have my sympathy.)

No fresh strawberries this time, but maybe there will be more on that in the future. This time I used frozen, which I bought on sale, too. Yay!

Strawberry season in the midwest will be here soon & I can hardly wait.

This is a good strawberry recipe to whet your appetite. The concept of “rubbing x food through a seive” is one I learned from reading old school cookbooks. I’m thinking it was what people used before blenders.

But anyways. Here’s some photos, with the recipe to follow. My daughter and I fully enjoyed it both times (yes today and last night, it was that good 😋).

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Easy Strawberry-Coconut-Chia Milkshake

Prep/hands on time: 10 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Makes one 16oz serving.

 

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 frozen strawberries, diced
  • *a drizzle of raw honey
  • **10oz/300ml vanilla almond milk
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 Tablespoon chia seeds

*using an alternative liquid sweeter, such as maple syrup would make this recipe vegan.

**any kind of non-dairy milk will work here. If you can have cow’s milk, that works too.

 

Directions:

  1. Pour the diced strawberries into a pint mason jar, or any desired container with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Add the honey and stir well.
  3. Add the almond milk, attach the lid and shake it up.
  4. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the strawbwrry mixture into the bowl. Rub the strawberries through the strainer with a metal spoon (until you have extracted as much strawberries as you can).
  5. Set the strained strawberries aside.
  6. Pour the strawberry mixture into a glass and add the chia seeds. Stir.
  7. Top with a dollop or two of the coconut “cream” and the leftover strained strawberries.

 

Cost:

This recipe was fairly cheap, although I used a bit too much coconut cream in my recipe. Using much less of it would bring the price down from $3.06 to about $2.06. Still, at 19¢ an oz it’s not a bad price.

Got any favorite drinks to keep you cool this summer?

Enjoy!

Note: I realize that pictures of the topping when contrasted with the directions may be a bit misleading. In the photos, I did not “scoop on a dollop”. Instead, I whipped the cream. However, it was very liquid-y and I thought I could firm it up by freezing it, which didn’t exactly work out according to plan. But it did make the cream nice and smooth. So my recommendation is to save yourself some effort and just add a scoop on top. I sandwiched the leftover strawberries between layers of the coconut cream, in case you are wondering where it went 😉 Hope that makes sense!

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Beverages, Food

Chickweed and Cantaloupe Smoothie {with banana, strawberry and oats}

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So. *glances at clock* It is rather late on this Friday night but a promise is a promise. I said that I’d share my chickweed smoothie recipe today.

And so never fear, my loyal readers. I shall share it! *cue superhero music* To the blender!

(This recipe was alluded to in my last post: Two Ways to Eat Chickweed {spring foraging fun}.)

If you didn’t read the post, here is a quick summary⤵⤵⤵

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This⬆⬆⬆  and this ⤵⤵⤵ is chickweed.

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  • It grows in your yard.
  • It is an edible weed.
  • Birds/chicks like to eat it, hence the name.
  • It is full of vitamin C.
  • It tastes a little like spinach, but on the bland side.

Perfect for smoothies. And so I came up with the………..

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Chickweed and Cantaloupe Smoothie

Servings: 1-2

Cook/prep time: 10 minutes or less

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole frozen banana, diced
  • 4 frozen strawberries, diced
  • 3 smallish cubes cantaloupe
  • a handful of well rinsed chickweed, torn into a few pieces
  • a handful of *quick oats
  • about 1/2 TBS cocoa powder
  • 1-2 cups (240-480mL) unsweetened vanilla almond milk

*gluten-free oats will make this recipe gluten and dairy-free.

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients into a blender from first to last. (Fruit first, almond milk last.) I poured in almond milk until it reached the 2 cup line.
  2. Give it a quick stir.
  3. Blend on high until you reach your desired texture.

Cost:

I calculated that this smoothie cost me no more than $1.40. And that is probably overestimating. That’s about 70¢ per 8oz/240mL serving. Pretty good deal, eh?

Enjoy your smoothie! Let me know if you try it with the chickweed. It’s totally worth looking ridiculous for as your neighbors stare at you ripping it out of your yard. Haha! Promise! 😝😉

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Desserts, Food

Yummy Fudgy Brownies {quick and healthy-ish}

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted any new recipes. I made these wonderful brownies yesterday because of my brownie-loving children. And ok, I’m guilty too.

I made them because the only way I could get my son to come inside was by bribing him with brownies. (It was in the 70s yesterday. Not common for February, but we weren’t complaining!)

So when we came inside, I needed something fast. And delicious of course. I looked up Rachael Ray’s Fast Fudgy Brownies but had to substitute and finangle a few things.

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The end result turned out really well. My son didn’t seem bothered at all with the changes. All he wanted was brownies 🙂

These brownies have a dense, slightly chewy texture. The chia seeds add another element to the texture that I found myself enjoying. These brownies are wonderfully moist and delicious.

I will say these are a tad more salty than what I’m used to on account of the coconut sugar. Less sweetness means the saltiness isn’t as balanced. So I may try less coconut sugar or just use unsalted butter next time.

Still. We loved them 😊

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Yummy Fudgy Brownies

Servings: about 8

Prep time: 15 minutes or less.

Bake time: 25 minutes.

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tablespoons/50g. butter
  • 6 Tablespoons/53g. cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons/25g. shortening
  • 3/4 cup/105g. coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup/35g. white/granulated sugar
  • 2 chia eggs**
  • 1/2 teaspoon/2mL vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup+2 Tablespoons/53g. white flour
  • 2 Tablespoons/18g. whole wheat flour

**I made 2 chia eggs following the directions from minimalist baker: 2 TBS/19g. chia seeds, 5 TBS/75mL water. Mix and let set till goopy.

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°/200°C. Grease and flour a 5×8″/12.5×20cm pan. (Or similar size.)
  2. Melt shortening, butter and cocoa powder in a small pan. Stir till smooth and melted.
  3. Add melted chocolate mixture to a bowl, along with sugars, chia eggs, vanilla and salt.
  4. Stir in flour. Empty thick batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake at 400°/200°C for about 25 minutes. Check for donness by inserting a thin knife, skewer or toothpick into the center. A clean utensil indicates doneness.

 

Cost:

This recipe cost me $2.97 to make. That’s 37¢ per serving (1 brownie).

Enjoy!

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***I wanted to do the measurements and baking temperature in metric because I know I have quite a few international readers and I wanted to make things easier. Let me know if any of my calculations are off if you find any errors, please and thank-you 😄

Food, Snacks

Easy Strawberry-Apple Fruit Leather

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Howdy ya’ll 🙂 Just checking in on this fine Wednesday evening from my beautiful corner of the globe here in the midwestern U.S. Its been super cold lately…one evening it was even -16 with the windchill. Way too cold.

Some of you guys might have even colder winters than that though. I follow a Canadian blogger who said it was like -34 where she lives. What?? How do you even?! Yikes. It’s no wonder people are so incredibly happy come Spring.

Oh Spring! Come early this year! Please do!

Alright enough of my belly-aching and onto the real stuff.

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I don’t know if you remember my post on preserving apples, but in it I included the above picture.

Know what I did with all the peels and leftover bits of puree? Yep I put it all in the blender, made a puree and froze it.

Because I knew I wanted to make fruit leather with my dehydrator.

However…I couldn’t at the time because I had lost my fruit leather tray and was too lazy to find/think up/buy a replacement. So I found it. Yay! That’s what happens when you deep clean 🙂

Now I could finally make some! I took a big tub of apple puree and added it, along with some frozen organic strawberries to my blender to mix it. My ratio was 3 cups apple to 1 cup chopped frozen strawberries.

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This is the puree about halfway through the 4-6 hour drying process.
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Dry texture ontop when finished.
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Shiny texture on bottom when done. My edges were a bit too thick and didn’t dry properly.
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Cut off the underdone parts and the remainder into strips with kitchen scissors.

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These make for a super-delicious snack. My almost 2-year-old daughter agrees. And why not? These fruit strips taste just like candy. They store well too. But that point is irrelevant because they won’t last long!

Do you like fruit leather? Have you ever tried it or maybe made your own at home? If so, what flavors are your favorite? I’d love to try some different flavor combos 😋 🍏🍓🍑🍒

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Beverages, Food

Mama Chia {Copycat Recipe}

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Finally. I have finally concocted a cheaper version of the Raspberry Passion Mama Chia beverage my daughter and I love so much.

It was much easier than I expected it would be. I’m not sure why I kept putting it off.

I began by looking at the ingredients list.

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Already I had decided to use pomegranate juice. Odd that that isn’t one of the ingredients listed. Pomegranate juice to me tastes like a combination of juices…like a raspberry/grape/cranberry combo maybe?…so I was confident that this would work.

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Raw honey, soaked chia seeds, pomegranate juice and lime juice.

First I prepped the chia seeds. I took about 1 ¼ cups of dry seeds and poured them into a mason jar along with about 30 or so ounces of water.

I actually miscalculated the amount of water I would need initially. I filled my glass bottle (see pictures below) 3/4 full with chia seeds, then added water.

That is not the way to do it.

Chia seeds absorb a lot of water. Like 3 times as much as the actual seeds. 

So after that sat in the fridge for awhile I was ready to throw it all together.

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One teaspoon of honey was just right, once I figured out how to stir it up (stir with a metal skewer then shake vigorously).

A bit of lime juice added to the pomegranate juice added another element to the flavor that made it pitch-perfect, and just like the Mama Chia beverage I remembered.

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Rachel’s Copycat Mama Chia Recipe

Makes about 10oz (1 serving).

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup soaked chia seeds*
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime juice

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in liquid measuring cup.
  2. Pour into desired container.

*To make about 25oz/3c. of soaked chia seeds, I put about 1 ¼ cups dry chia seeds into a quart (32oz) mason jar. I filled the jar with water, shook up the jar and let it sit in the fridge about 24 hours.

Cost:

For 10oz of this Mama Chia brand drink from Aldi, it was $2.29. My version was only $1.28 for the same amount.

Granted, my recipe doesn’t have the same exact ingredients. But the taste is very similar and still delicious.

Enjoy!

~Rachel

Food, Main Meal

Easy Rustic Kielbasa and Noodles with Tomato-Onion Sauce

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Sunday night I was cooking away in the kitchen. My husband came in and peered into the skillet. He said, “You’re going to have to save some of that for my lunch tomorrow”.

He had an appointment to keep and was eating supper out of the house that day. Meanwhile…yum. Seriously this was so good.

I had an inkling to make a skillet supper using kielbasa. Its a cheap and tasty ingredient. I thought about rice. Nah. How about onions…and tomatoes? Then add some noodles? Yeah that sounded good.

And that’s what happened.

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Note: do not do what I did here! Tomatoes and cast iron skillets do not mix. Acid is about the only enemy of the cast iron skillet.

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I’m a big fan of rustic, simple food. Don’t overthink it. Don’t overcomplicate things. Get the best ingredients you can and let them do the talking.

The onions carmelized a bit. The tomatoes, combined with the onions turned into a beautiful sauce. Everything together was wonderful. I have found a new favorite kielbasa recipe.

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Don’t feel like you have to use egg noodles. I use them because my family loves them and they are cheap.

Other good choices would be rotini, campanelle, farfalle (bow ties) or rigatoni noodles. Whole wheat is better and healthier of course. Which is what we mostly do. Anymore it seems like organic whole wheat noodles aren’t that much more than regular noodles.

I always buy my kielbasa from Aldi because it is currently the only place I can find it cheap and msg-free.


 

Rustic Kielbasa and Noodles with Fresh Tomato and Onion Sauce

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 8oz Polska Kielbasa (1/2 of a 14oz package), sliced into thin diagonal pieces.
  • 3-5 small tomatoes (I used 3 the first time. 5 made it more saucy), halved and quartered
  • 1 onion, diced
  • A few tbs. extra vigin olive oil
  • 4oz (about 1/4 of a 16oz package) egg noodles
  • s & p

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add egg noodles.
  2. While noodles are cooking, saute onion in about 2 TBS olive oil until just beginning to carmelize. Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add kielbasa and cook until tomatoes break down and the onions are translucent.
  4. Add noodles, stir and serve.

 

Cost:

It cost me only $1.94 to make this recipe. Using tomatoes from the garden makes it cheap.

If I doubled this recipe, it would be $3.87.

I shop at Aldi mostly so if you’re curious about prices it was $1.99 for 14oz of Polska Kielbasa, $1.19 for 16oz egg noodles, and $1.49 for 5 onions. Olive oil I purchased at another store for $6.09 for 17oz.

Enjoy!

~Rachel

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 🙂

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

~Rachel