What’s Up Wednesday #7


I-am-on-a-roll!  Ok, maybe not totally…but two posts in a month, yay me!  I don’t know about you, but summer flew by way too fast!  My kids start school in less than two weeks. I’m still on summer vacation mode and trying to squeeze out every last bit of summer I can with my family.  In the last 6 days we have been to a dairy farm and the zoo!  I made it a goal of mine to do at least one “field trip” a week with them this summer; as well as attend Mass at least once a week on a weekday.  I think for the most part we succeeded!

A few days ago I dove into a lifelong goal of mine to read the whole Bible in less than a year.  Pinterest didn’t fail me with a quick search for a Catholic one year Bible challenge. I’m three days in and about 4 days ahead.  While I’d love to be an overachiever and get it read in 6 months, I know life happens so I’m giving myself grace.  Anyone up for joining me in this challenge?  If so, comment below and we can support each other!

Gardening updates…Our garden is still thriving!  After figuring out the proper way to cut basil and keep it from going to seed, my basil plant has just exploded and I couldn’t be happier about that!  I have been making pesto like crazy and freezing it in silicone ice cube trays.  Zucchini chips keep my dehydrator running all the time but oddly every time I go to eat some 4 other little hands have already inhaled them all.  I’ll take that as a mom win.   My tomatoes are still green, but getting huge!  Our watermelons are getting bigger by the minute and we will have enough to feed a small army!  The acorn squash are nearly the size of my head but not quite ready for picking (still not golden inside (we checked a few)).  I have so many cucumbers that I started making cucumber and fresh mint infused water, with my berkey water, in a glass pitcher. So good!


Lastly for this week…I started reading the book Woman Code.  My hormones have always been a battle for me.  After I had my second daughter I was diagnosed with endometriosis.  Though I’m positive I had it many years before that.  Three years ago I was diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis and recently through self research I’m pretty sure I have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).  So you can say it’s been a battle.  I’ll be making an appointment with my doc very soon to further discuss all of it.  Back to the book Woman Code, it’s been highly recommended by many people for anyone suffering with hormonal imbalances or a desire to keep your hormones healthy!  Something I didn’t realize until the last few months was that PMS is in fact NOT normal despite common knowledge that it is.  Women shouldn’t have to suffer these symptoms just because people say it’s normal.  IT’S NOT.


Expect to hear more from me as I dig into more research these next few months on the hormone topics!  I started charting my basal body temperature for more info my body can give me for free (minus the $10 BBT thermometer)!  Also, if you suffer from PCOS and haven’t checked out Janny Organically then you’re missing out!  Get over there and read this article she wrote that is so in depth and helpful!  I plan on printing off a bunch of it to bring to my doc appt.


Until next time…may God’s blessings rain down upon you like springtime showers.

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What’s Up Wednesday #6


It’s been way too long (like almost a year *palm to face*) since I’ve done a What’s Up Wednesday post!  Zero excuses for it.


Currently my garden is just pumping out the goodness!  Mostly zucchini. Probably because we planted a zillion of them.  I’ve been giving them away and finding ways to preserve and use them.  Zucchini bread=check. I came up with a recipe for the bread that used the pecan pulp from the milk I made.  It was SO good too!  Look for it on the blog soon!  Zucchini chips in the dehydrator=check.  Zucchini cut, steamed, and frozen for smoothies=check!  Zucchini noodles aka zoodles=check.  Zucchini sautéed in olive oil=check check check.  Zucchini fritters=check.


I’ve been getting an overload of cucumbers too!  My fave way to eat them is with grape tomatoes and my balsamic vinaigrette.


We’ve had a garden the last two years but this is the first year that I’ve been really enjoying it!!  I put in my earbuds, crank up a podcast (currently addicted to Do Something Beautiful by Leah Darrow on iTunes), and pull weeds till my back might break.  All while my chickens follow me around or I chase them away from the tomatoes.


Last Saturday my oldest daughter (11) entered the 4H bake-off at our County Fair.  It was her first year entering and she was so nervous!  Thankfully we have some really sweet, neighbor girls that have done it before and gave her all sorts of pointers.  She has to bring literally every-single-thing to make the cookies expect the oven.  She got started, we looked on and then I turned to my husband and said “OH No! She forgot the coconut oil!”  I stood back and watched as she so brilliantly thought to add extra honey.  The contest lasts an hour and when she I was finished she brought us some cookies to try.  They were perfect!!  Talk about proud mom moment!!  She got her results Monday…BLUE RIBBON!


Oh and the cookies she made were totally Paleo. For anyone who hasn’t tried gluten free baking, it’s tricky!!  Not very forgiving like wheat flour is.  Here’s the recipe she used for Uber Fluffy Chocolate Chip Cookies.  These are a huge family favorite!

Product I’m digging right now… MuffinElse Paleo muffin mixes!  These little babies are so delicious!  But what’s really cool about them is they are individual packets that you pour into a mug, add water and microwave.  So simple, so good, all Paleo!  They also came out with a pancake mix that looks amazing!  I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite flavor because they are all THAT good.  And FYI, I don’t endorse products that I don’t also use and love.

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Dehydrator Blueberry-Coconut Flatbread 

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I’ve tried in the past to make raw veggie flatbread or crackers in my dehydrator but always seemed to fail. I just couldn’t get them to hold together or get the right texture.  Then a few weeks ago I grabbed a dehydrator recipe book to search for a way to use up some tomatoes.  I stumbled across one for tomato flax crackers and gave it a go.   Wouldn’t you know they came out perfect!

So I tried the following the week with a whole new mix of veggies but the same base idea of flax or chia seeds and water to make a gel.  I seem to have struck gold with it because those came out perfect too!

I got confident in my skills at this raw flatbread thing and thought I’d try a dessert-ish one.  At first I failed (miserably) and had to peel the crumbly mixture off the parchment paper into a bowl.  I managed to salvage it though by running it through a food processor with a little water, and then mixing it together with some gelled chia seeds.

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This was the original recipe that failed but was salvaged!

Guys…this is real life.  Not every recipe comes out perfect the first time; in fact most don’t.  BUT!  Just like real life, we live and we learn!

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Thankfully that failure led to this recipe!  I hope you enjoy it.  As a side note: I personally love it smothered in goat cheese, like the cinnamon flavored one in the pic below!

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Dehydrator Blueberry-Coconut Flatbread

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 12 hours drying time
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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A healthy snack that’s perfect for traveling, kids lunches, work lunches or sweet tooth cravings!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 2/3 cup coconut water or filtered water
  • 2 cups frozen wild blueberries (Costco has the best price!)
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp 100% cranberry juice (can sub for more water)
  • 1 Tbsp sweetener of choice, such as coconut sugar, maple syrup, raw honey (I used monk fruit sweetener)
  • 1/4 cup coconut water or filtered water

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small mixing bowl combine the chia seeds with 2/3 cup coconut water. Stir well to thoroughly mix.  Set aside to allow it to gel.
  2. In a blender or food processor add all remaining ingredients.  Blend until smooth.
  3. Add the chia mixture to the blueberry mixture in the blender and blend just until mixed.
  4. Either line dehydrator trays in parchment paper or use a dehydrator tray made for fruit rolls.
  5. Spread the mixture onto the sheets to about 1/4″ thickness.
  6. Set the temp to 115° and dehydrate for about 12 hours.  Some pieces may need to be flipped and dehydrated a little longer.  You don’t want them to be wet in any spots.  Dry longer for a more cracker-like consistency.

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Balsamic Vinaigrette with THREE Bonus Recipes


The first official day of summer break for my kids was yesterday.  The weather got the memo too because it’s been HOT and HUMID the last two days!  Right now I should be weeding my garden buuuut…I think it’s probably best to wait till this evening when the sun chills out and I won’t pass out from the heat (dramatic much?!).   What’s this got to do with the recipe you may be asking yourself?  If you’re thinking because of garden fresh produce then you win the prize!  Hey, don’t get too excited, the prize is just a free, simple recipe!

This recipe is super versatile, can be used in countless ways, is customizable to your liking and the ingredients can be found anywhere.  This vinaigrette is so easy to make yet tastes gourmet.  If you’ve always wanted to make your own salad dressing but feel intimidated or think it’s too hard then you’ve come to the right place because I’m here to help you out!

Ways to use this Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  1. As a salad dressing in any kind of salad.  *Recipe below for a show-stopping salad.
  2. A marinade for kebabs.  *Check below for another bonus recipe for this!
  3. A dressing for an Italian Pasta salad.  *Toss together cold pasta with the cucumber tomato salad (recipe below), add some uncured sliced salami and olives.  Double the dressing recipe for this or make one full recipe and whisk in 1/2 cup mayo.
  4. Dressing/Dip for all kinds of veggies and vegetable salads. *Recipe below for a cucumber tomato salad with a few more options.
  5. Mix with mayonnaise for a sandwich spread.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 2 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A simple, delicious, versatile salad dressing that’s healthy and Paleo with no crazy ingredients needed!

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. raw honey or real maple syrup
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • pinch of sea salt and black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk together all ingredients until the olive oil and vinegar emulsifies (fancy word for the oil and vinegar come together and don’t separate).   You can also use a mini blender such as a ninja or bullet.  This method works better if you add herbs.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use.  The olive oil will solidify some but once it reaches a warmer temp just give a little stir and it’ll come right back together.

 

*CUSTOMIZE IT:

  • Add fresh herbs, like 10 leaves of fresh basil or mint.
  • Add dried herbs, about ½-1 tsp of choice.
  • Use another type of vinegar such as red wine vinegar.
  • Add ½ tsp garlic powder or 1 small clove fresh garlic (either mince if you’re whisking or throw in the mini blender).

*Recipe for Peach Avocado and Goat Cheese Salad

  • 4 cups greens of choice (arugula is my choice but romaine is always a crowd pleaser too)
  • 1 peach, diced
  • ½ avocado, diced (feel free to use the whole thing!)
  • goat cheese crumbles
  • *optional: add grilled chicken or salmon to make this a full meal
  • *optional: chopped pecans or candied pecans/walnuts
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette

Toss the lettuce with the dressing.  Top with remaining ingredients and serve!  Recipe makes 2 side salads or 1 dinner salad.  

 

Above is the side salad with arugula and goat cheese.  Below is a dinner salad with chicken thighs and romaine.

*Recipe for Kebabs

  • 1 lb. chicken (breasts or thighs)
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 recipe for balsamic vinaigrette
  • *optional: fresh peach slices or pineapple chunks
  1. Cut everything into equal sized pieces, about 1″ in size.
  2. Place chicken in a bowl to marinate with 1/2 of the dressing.  Marinate for 30 minutes or longer.
  3. When ready to grill, skewer alternating pieces of chicken and vegetables/fruit.
  4. Grill over medium heat, brushing the remaining dressing over the kebabs as you grill.

*Recipe for Cucumber Tomato Salad

  • 1 medium cucumber (seedless work best), diced into small pieces
  • ½ pint of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • ½ recipe of balsamic vinaigrette (make the full recipe and save the rest)
  • *optional additions: fresh herbs such as mint, basil, or chives.  Soft cheeses such as goat cheese, feta cheese or bleu cheese.  Very thinly sliced red onion or green onions.  Sliced black olives.

Combine all ingredients. Boom, done!

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