i love chips.

Anyone tried Kale Chips?

Well, for starters, if you are a true chip lover (like myself) these little suckers really shouldn’t have the word ‘chip’ in their name… For the purposes of this blog we’ll call them Kale Crisps.  Anyway, buy a bunch of Kale (it’s by the lettuce).  Chop it up (the leafy part – remove all of the thick spiny parts).

Toss it in a bowl with about 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil.

Spread it out in one layer on a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and some grated parm.

Throw it into a preheated oven (350 degrees) until it’s crispy and dried out.  If you’re going by looks- still green but shriveled.  Not brown (see above).  This is a picture of Kale Crisps cooked 5 minutes too long.  20 minutes was too long, if that helps anyone.

Scoop it up (feels like gathering some fall leaves off the lawn).  Put it in a bowl.  Snack on the pumpkin-seed-tasting Crisps.  Remind yourself that this is a healthier snack than the real chips you want to be nibbling on as you prepare dinner.  Enjoy a 2nd scoop of Blue Bell for dessert tonight. After all, you ate Kale instead of chips!


our version of a beach bod

With a beach vacation on the horizon and swimsuit wearing looming, we are focusing on healthy snacking over here.  I am not one of those gals who does very well going without things that I love, thrives on having a deadline, or who can really even function with any type of diet.  So, my beach bod goals:

Acceptance.

To feel healthy.

Embrace my strength.

Get energized.

For me, step 1 is buying a swimsuit that fits well.  This means some much needed boost (another thing nobody thought to tell me about breastfeeding 2 babies) and the right size to cover everything and allow me to play with the beauties. Two, to add as many healthy snacks as I can.  I don’t plan on cutting out sugar or booze or fat… I just hope that in adding healthy options to our fridge maybe I won’t have as much room for the junk that I tend to go for when I haven’t eaten all day. I want to focus on rest and sleep.  I will try to relax and just get done the things that are necessary and try to take advantage of the sleep time that Elle offers!  Kurt and I have also committed to a minimal number of workouts before we go.  Things that we consider fun (as fun as a work out can be) and can do together. I made a little scratch chart… we’ll see how it goes.  Wish us luck!

(notice, we have actually done a few workouts! oh, and we got the idea for our memo board here.  ours still needs some work but I love the idea!)

Here are some healthy snacks that have found their way into the snack rotation:

Lentals (hot or cold)

Baby Cucumbers

Apples with natural Peanut Butter

Light String Cheese

Edamame

Eggs

Brown Rice Cakes

Marcona Almonds

Sliced Turkey

Sliced Avocado with Sliced Cheese

Rice Crackers with Hummus

Baby Bell Peppers

Turkey Pepperoni’s

As a side note: I will be finishing this flourless chocolate cake before the weeks end, just in time to finish the pan of brownies I will be making for Kurt’s Birthday ’round 2′ on Friday!

Trader Joe’s flourless chocolate cake. Add some ice cream and in our case some peanut butter chocolate sauce- ummmm… yum! And, it’s Gluten Free if that’s important to ya!

Lets be honest, I think the main goal I will focus on for the bod a’la beach vacay will be acceptance .

Happy St. Patty’s day friends!  Cheers to some green beer tonight!  {Geez, I’m hopeless 😉 }


gluten free mint brownies

I nabbed this recipe a few weeks ago and I’m sure glad I tried it!  You should know that I’m not a huge brownie fan. I’m more of a big Chocolate Chunk Cookie kind of gal. Anyone one have a GF recipe for those? So when I stumbled upon this recipe one Saturday afternoon I wouldn’t have made it if I didn’t have all of the ingredients already in my pantry . First attempt… Brownie explosion in my oven.  Dang.  But I still finished up the recipe and though it was UGLY they tasted so good!  We even shaped them up enough to bring them to a Super Bowl party and they disappeared!  So I decided to try again.  This time, brownies stayed in the baking dish, the mint frosting hardened on top and I guess they looked slightly more appetizing.  I’ll admit, I don’t know much about brownies. They were hard to scoop out of the dish if not refrigerated first. They are more fudgie than fluffy, so I don’t know if this qualifies as good brownie texture?! Bottom line.  They were easy to make.  Gluten Free.  Yummy on their own.  And even better under a scoop of Blue Bell.

Gluten Free Fudge Mint Brownies

adapted from William-Sonoma Kitchen Library Chocolate Cookbook

1/4 c. almond flour
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 c. Earth balance butter, room temperature
2 oz. chocolate, about 1/3 cup (I used Trader Joe’s chocolate chips)
1 tbsp light corn syrup
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 package Andes mints (4.67 oz)

Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease and use gluten free flour to coat an 8 inch square baking pan.

Sift almond flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and baking powder into a bowl. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine sugars, butter, chocolate, and corn syrup. Continually stir until smooth. Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl. Allow to cool until barely warm.

Add eggs and vanilla to cooled chocolate mixture. Then add dry mixture, stirring until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 35 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately place Andes mints on surface, slightly pressing them into brownies. After about 30 seconds or when you can see mints beginning to melt, begin smoothing with a spatula or an icing knife, covering the entire surface of the brownies. Transfer pan to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. Initially, icing will appear wet. But as the brownies cool, the icing will harden.


Seasame Peanut Noodles with Chicken

Here is the original recipe that inspired this meal.  I really wanted to make it but with an end-of-the-week-fridge I had very few of the ingredients…

OK.  So to start you need to get your rice noodles soaking ( I love these- GLUTEN FREE and they make the Asian-y dishes taste so much more authentic!).  I used 1/2 the package of the above noodles.  I put them in a big mixing bowl and covered them in HOT tap water.  Let them hang out for 25 minutes until they are kind of bendy but not completely done then drain them and rinse with cold water.

While the soaking is happening mix up the Peanut Sauce and set aside.  Be sure to taste the sauce after you’ve mixed it well and add more of what you need 🙂

PEANUT SAUCE:

  • 3 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Chunky Peanut Butter
  • 6 Tablespoons Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons (maybe a little more) Rice Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon (to your taste) Hot Chile Sauce
  • ¼ cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon (to 2 Tablespoons) Toasted Sesame Oil (sold In The Asian Aisle)

Now pull out your wok and spray with cooking spray.  Season your chick with some garlic salt or whatever you like and cook it up.  When it’s almost finished throw in the veggies and cook until tender.  You  could definitely use more veggies but this was all I had 🙂

  • Chicken (I used 5 tenders cut into bite sized pieces)
  • 1/2 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 chopped red bell pepper

Now throw the noodles and sauce in the wok and toss until the noodles are done and everything is saucy.  Just a few minutes.  Sprinkle with chopped green onions and serve!  This is totally kid friendly if you don’t use too much spice :-)Also a great Gluten Free option if you use GF Soy Sauce or a substitute like Bragg Liquid Aminos!


Chicken Tortilla Soup

I tried a new recipe last night… Chicken Tortilla Soup!  I wasn’t searching out a new recipe but when I had my heart set on soup and opened the freezer to chicken, and only chicken, I was in a pinch.  I realized in this moment that all of my go to soup recipes call for beef… Well, the stars were aligned for my chicken-soup fiasco.  The Pioneer Woman posted this soup recipe the day before!  This recipe was easy and tasty and called for ingredients that live in my fridge and pantry!  I served it up with some cheese quesadillas… Yum! I was just sure this would be a blog worthy meal so I started out strong with the pictures.   Then I got so hungry I forgot how important photo documentation was to my ‘food’ blog posts.  So, here ya go, this is all I’ve got!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1-½ teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Diced Onion
  • ¼ cups Diced Green Bell Pepper
  • ¼ cups Red Bell Pepper
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 can Rotel Tomatoes And Green Chilies
  • 32 ounces, fluid Low Sodium Chicken Stock
  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 4 cups Hot Water
  • 2 cans Black Beans, Drained
  • 3 Tablespoons Cornmeal Or Masa
  • 5 whole Corn Tortillas, Cut Into Uniform Strips Around 2 To 3 Inches
  • Garnishes:
  • Sour Cream
  • Diced Avocado
  • Diced Red Onion
  • Salsa Or Pico De Gallo
  • Grated Monterey Jack Cheese

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cumin, chili pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix.

Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, red pepper, green pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.

Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.

Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Check seasonings, adding more if needed—add more chili powder if it needs more spice, and be sure not to undersalt. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips.

Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream, diced red onion, diced avocado, pico de gallo, and grated cheese, if you have it! (The garnishes really make the soup delicious.)

And for the fam… here are the Beauties 🙂


Blendin’ up some Elle food

I seriously scrounge around for activities each morning and afternoon to keep Ava and I busy… When I’m out of ideas we usually just end up doing a craft (cutting up my old magazines and gluing the scraps to boxes and paper) 🙂  Today when I found myself turning to craft-time #2 I decided that rather than vacuum up the paper mess again we should try something new.

In accidentally opening up some of my junk email I had run across this recipe for making baby cereal from scratch.  So, since the kitchen needed a good cleaning anyway we decided that the experiment was worth it.   It looked easy enough for a 2 year old to help with and if it worked I knew we’d use it up on our hungry little baby!

We did it!  Not only was it a fun way to use up some of our afternoon, but I have to say I felt very accomplished with our cereal chilling away in the freezer!  I am so happy to feed Elle this cereal made with love from Ave and I!

Here’s what we learned:

Babies digest rice easily and are less likely to be allergic to it than to any other grain. That’s why it’s a perfect first food. Brown rice, which is called for in this recipe, is extra nutritious since the vitamin-packed outer husk is still intact.

Avocado makes a great first food for baby due to its texture and creaminess as well as its high nutrient content.  Avocados are often called one of nature’s perfect foods because they are said to contain everything a person needs to survive.  A wonderful “good fat” food for baby’s brain and physical development, try an avocado as baby’s first food instead of refined cereals.

So here’s what we made:


Brown Rice Cereal with Avocado

1 cup brown rice, cooked according to package directions

1/3 avocado

6 ounces breast milk, formula or water

Place the cooked brown rice in a blender with the breast milk/water/formula and avocado. Puree until it’s as smooth as possible. Pour the cereal into ice trays, cover and freeze overnight. Once frozen, pop the cubes out of the trays, place them in a freezer bag or container that’s labeled with the date, and return it to the freezer. Lasts up to two months.

Defrost the cubes, and add more breast milk or formula to develop a smooth consistency. For babies just starting solids, thin the cereal to a semi-liquid consistency. Warm the cereal slightly, if desired. You can change the flavor of the cereal by adding different strained fruits or veggies once your baby has started to eat those foods.

Side-note:

*I am loving this Costco find… fully cooked frozen brown rice!  You just scoop whatever amount of the frozen rice into a microwave safe dish and heat for 1-2 minutes or scoop it right into a skillet and toss it around until heated through!  I am SO bad at rice… this yellow bag has been such a lifesaver!
Noelle loved her first homemade dinner tonight! I just popped one of the frozen squares into a bowl and defrosted it, no need to add anymore milk, stirred it up and spooned it in!  As you can see she couldn’t get enough and took to licking her seat to get every last bite 😉

Pumpkin Time!

It’s October!  That means Pumpkin Cookie/Muffin/Bread time around here!  Here’s our first batch of “Gluten Free” Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!


In place of the flour in the recipe I substituted King Arthur Flour: gluten free multi-purpose flour, which I found right in the ‘baking needs’ aisle at the grocery store next the the regular flour!

I truly LIVE for these cookies so I knew I’d be a pretty tough critic of the GF version, but… they’re good!  For those of you who have done some experimenting with GF baking, you know that the texture just isn’t quite the same as the regular versions.  Mainly I’ve noticed that things tend to be a little more crumb-y.  I don’t mind this part too much as long as the flavor is still there and there isn’t any aftertaste… So though not quite as moist as the originals, I think these cookies are a fairly close substitute that I am sure I can put away at the rate of one batch per week for all of Fall 🙂

My little helper!

My little roly-poly giggle box!