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Homemade Larabars

One of my favorite things to make in my food processor are homemade larabars.  Larabars are amazing and a healthy choice even when bought straight from the store.  Unlike most packaged bars, larabars don’t have any added icky ingredients.  They are pure and delicious! But they can be quite expensive at over $1.50 a bar at most stores.  It’s much easier on the budget to buy the ingredients in bulk and make up some from scratch.  Plus they are so easy to make! There are endless flavor combinations, but at the most basic level, the formula is 1 cup dates + 1 cup nuts/seeds + <1 cup additional mixins + < 3TBS flavor = Homemade Bars My favorite combo is anything with coconut. Below is what I like to call JOY bars- They are a spin-off of an Almond Joy candy bar but actually nutritious! 😉 PrintJOY Bars Prep Time: 5 minutesTotal Time: 5 minutes Ingredients1 cup dates 1 cup almonds ¾ cup shredded coconut 1 tsp almond or vanilla extract ¼ cup chocolate chips InstructionsAdd everything to your food processor or super high powered blender. Blend until the ingredients start to come together & reach your desired consistency of size (coarsely chopped and sticking together is how I like them) Dump and smooth into a rectangular pan (Pyrex works nicely, especially if you put parchment paper down first). Stick in freezer for 20 minutes, remove and cut into bars. Store in fridge for up to 1 week.NotesStore in fridge for up to 1 week.3.0   The other day I was in the mood for some homemade bars but... read more

Fabulous 4-Ingredient French Fries

I think we can all agree that french fries are AMAZING.  Good fries are crispy, salty, delicious on their own but even better when paired with something saucey… but the beauty of french fries is that they make a humble potato something glorious. Perfect french fries can be made from home using only a few ingredients. For reals. All you need is oil, potatoes, and salt. That’s it. 3 ingredients.  McDonald’s seems to think fries need 19 ingredients.  NINETEEN.  Want to take a peek at what those 19 ingredients are? Take a look here. Immediately after reading that article linked above, I was inspired to go buy a Large fry right then and there!! Ha, no. Not even in the slightest. I was however inspired to make some french fries from scratch, using what I already had on hand.  And they turned out YUMMY! Beautifully gold and crispy on the outside, soft in the middle- these fries are tasty! My little guy thinks so too.  See him double-fisting it? Like I mentioned, you can make fries with 3 simple ingredients, but for this I went fancy and used 4. My added ingredient- arrowroot powder.  I figured arrowroot powder would help coat them so they get crispy.  And I guess I was on to something because more than a few fry recipes I saw online used cornstarch or arrowroot for that same reason! So that’s pretty cool, huh? I also came across the method of soaking your cut fries before cooking.  Now, I like simple.  I like quick. But I also like perfectly cooked fries. So I went ahead and made one batch that had been soaked and... read more

Why I’m Not Buying Lettuce From The Store Anymore

Eww. Do you see that nasty mushy lettuce? That is gross. Now to be fair, it didn’t look like that when I bought it. No, the store didn’t stock it looking that way. BUT, I’ve found that if it’s not used in 2-3 days after buying from the store, it turns into this sad brown mush. I’m all for meal planning and using perishable produce quickly so that it stays fresh and isn’t wasted, but these bags of lettuce seem to get pushed aside and easily forgotten about. But when I buy this– Fresh from a farm stand or farmer’s market, I am immediately inspired to use its beautifully crisp leaves in a delicious salad. Shopping local inspires me. Shopping local prevents wastefulness in my home. Shopping local is delicious. Check out to find a source for produce grown near you. I promise making the switch from store bought lettuce to farm fresh greens will be totally worth it! Do you find yourself throwing out produce because you’re not sure what to do with it? Or just feel uninspired by it and it goes bad before you can use it? Share in the comments and I’ll write a post to help you use it to make something delicious!   Spread the... read more

5 Do’s and Don’ts of Crockpot Cooking

I love the ease of using a crockpot. There is SO much you can do with it (and a few things that should never be done). 5 Do’s and Don’ts of crockpot cooking: 1.) DO use your crockpot to “roast” chicken. Click here to check out how I make budget-friendly “roasted” drumsticks in my slow cooker at least 2x’s a week! And don’t forget to save the bones for broth! 🙂 2.) DO use your crockpot to cook up a bunch of ground beef all at once. I found this idea recently and gave it a try. Success!  The beef turned out great and didn’t burn or dry out even while letting it cook away in the crockpot all day long. Plus it freezes great so you can make a lot ahead of time and thaw when you need it for quick use. 3.) DON’T cook spaghetti squash all day long in your crockpot. Some things just do not turn out right when they slow cook for too long. I saw the suggestion of making 2 whole spaghetti squashes in my crockpot on facebook the other day- the idea is great, but the directions that you could do this while away at work… well, that didn’t work out so well for me. Cooking spaghetti squash in your crockpot all day long results in overlooked, bitter, unpalatable MUSH!   I bet you this TOTALLY works, IF you watch the time and keep a close eye on your squash.  It however does NOT work when you let it cook while you are at work or can’t attend to it.  I found that it needs a little... read more

Crockpot “Roasted” Chicken Drumsticks

Did you know you can actually use your crockpot without adding a bunch of liquid to it?! Maybe that’s not news to you, but it was mind-blowing to me! I had always thought you needed at least 1 cup of liquid in your crockpot to prevent it from cracking or causing things to burn. But a dear friend shared with me that you can actually use just a few tablespoons of oil to coat the bottom and cook things up! Just a TBS or so- that’s really all you need! This makes things all “roasty” and delicious! So now my new favorite thing to use my crockpot for is this– “Roasted” Crockpot Drumsticks. I do this at least 2xs/month. (I alternate between a whole chicken one week and drumsticks the next week.) Using drumsticks is so easy on the budget.  I buy 2 packages of organic free-range chicken drumsticks Trader Joes (at only $1.99/lb!) to use for this crockpot recipe.  You could do this with any cut of chicken, but I love using bone-in pieces, and especially drumsticks since they are SO affordable. No big recipe (YAY for easy!!)- Here’s all you do: 1.  Add a TBS of oil to your crockpot. 2.  Layer the drumsticks to fit. 3.  Season with salt, pepper and garlic. 4.  Cook until meat is about to fall off the bone. Low for 4-6 hours is usually just perfect! 🙂 Don’t forget to save all the bones for some homemade bone broth!  I generally keep the bones in a freezer bag until I’m ready to make a batch.  But often times, I’ll shred the meat right off the bone immediately and get... read more

7 Remedies To Beat Being Sick

There’s a real stubborn bug going around right now and it has more than overstayed its welcome. For those that have a lingering cough, cold or flu, here’s a round up of 7 great remedies to kick that sick bug to the curb!   1.)  Drink some homemade healing bone broth. Bone broth is an incredible support to your immune system and drinking this warm will soothe you to the core! 2.)  Get plenty of water. I’ve been drinking several warm mugs of water with raw honey and freshly squeezed lemon throughout the day.  The honey coats your tender throat and works with the lemon to promote healing. Plus hot liquids stimulate your immune system, so drink up! 3.)  Take an extra dose of elderberry syrup until you feel well again. 4.) Get extra rest. Don’t try to overdo it. Stay home and get some extra Zzzz. If you need a change of scenery, and it’s sunny like it is here on the Central Coast, step out into your backyard and rest in the sunshine. The extra natural Vit D from the sun will boost your immune system too!! 5.) Take a detox bath Add some lavendar essential oil to your bath if you have some on hand. It will help soothe body aches and induce sleep. 6.) Drink some of my headache soothing turmeric milk or tea.  (No headache required.) With turmeric and ginger, it’s sure to boost your immunity and get you feeling better fast! 7.)  Drink a shot of apple cider vinegar or make this apple cider vinegar cough remedy.   May these 7 remedies combat your flu, cold, or lingering cough!! Have any go-to remedies... read more

Sugar on the DL (and 3 ways to spot it)!

Now that we’ve covered reading the right label, one of the things to look out for is added sugars. Added sugars can be sneaky because “sugar” isn’t always in the listed name of ingredients. Not to mention companies may use a variety of added sugars, making the amount of sugar less obvious and more misleading. Why avoid sugar? I really don’t like doom and gloom, “eat this and you will slowly die” type of info sharing, but if you really want to read some of the depressing facts about eating sugar, you can by clicking here. I will say that sugar is not very nutritious and is very addicting. Added sugars make you feel hungrier than you are which leads to overeating.  But not just hungry for food, hungry for more sugar. Eating added sugars gets your brain begging for more and takes away the desire for eating nutrient rich foods that actually help your body thrive. So let’s call out those sneaky aliases for what they really are- SUGAR. Here are 3 sure ways to spot sneaky sugar aliases: 1.) Ingredients ending in “-ose” maltose dextrose glucose fructose & high fructose sucrose lactose sucralose 2.) Ingredients with juice in them cane juice evaporated cane juice fruit juice concentrate & fruit juice cane juice crystals 3.) Ingredients with syrup in them cane syrup brown rice syrup high fructose corn syrup & corn syrup agave syrup (agave nectar) oat syrup rice syrup Recap: When the ingredients label doesn’t just come out and say “sugar”, look for the “-ose”, juice and syrups… and steer clear! CHALLENGE- Go through your pantry or... read more

Headache Soothing Turmeric Milk

I’d love to know the statistics for how many people Google “remedies for headache” on any given day. But even without that data, I imagine it is a very high number. I know I have searched some long hours looking for solutions.  Did you know there’s been evidence that sniffing hot sauce can make the pain go away? Whelp, as desperate as I’ve been at times, I don’t think I could ever go that far. And thankfully, I don’t have to. I found this much more pleasant remedy that actually works! And so you don’t feel tempted to snort the pepper, I thought I’d share this incredibly powerful remedy with you as well. Turmeric Milk It’s really simple, and for the most basic recipe, all you need is milk (any kind you prefer), turmeric and some black pepper.  But my favorite recipe also uses ginger and raw honey. Turmeric is the star of this recipe.  Turmeric is an incredibly beneficial spice that is known for its extensive healing abilities.  Turmeric protects the liver, improves circulation, is a strong anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant. You can read about these and many more incredible benefits here. Turmeric is the spice that gives Indian curry its gorgeous yellow color.  Another spice in curry is black pepper. And this is not a mistake.  Turmeric is incredibly powerful for our bodies, but not easily absorbed without combining it with black pepper.  A study showed that by adding even a pinch of black pepper to turmeric, its bio-availability increased 2000%! (Yes, two-THOUSAND percent!)  Pretty amazing, right? Adding ginger to this milk cuts the bitterness of the turmeric... read more

Bone Broth Spaghetti Sauce

Yep, you read that correctly. Spaghetti Sauce made with bone broth! And it is amazing! Bone broth is an incredibly healthy and delicious addition to your diet.  I’ve shared before that I like to add it to pretty much everything, and my spaghetti sauce is no exception. Rich in minerals, anti-inflammatory properties and immensely nourishing to your gut microbiome, bone broth is a sure way to improve your health. Tomatoes are an incredible source of antioxidants, especially high in lycopene.  And bonus, your body can absorb more of this powerful antioxidant by eating tomatoes cooked, as opposed to raw. I also added garlic, mushrooms and onions to this sauce.  Garlic is a powerful immune booster, low in calories and high in nutrients. Onions are also beneficial to healing the sick and have high amounts of vitamin C and sulfur.  Mushrooms are loaded with nutrients and healing benefits as they are high in anti-inflammatory properties and have good amounts of CLA (conjugated linolenic acid), a healthy fat known to lower cholesterol. So are you ready to see the recipe for this nutrient-dense meal?? Here it is! Bone Broth Spaghetti Sauce Ingredients 4 TBS butter (or oil), divided (1 TBS & 3 TBS) ½ cup onion, chopped (about 1 whole small onion) 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed handful of mushrooms, sliced (about 6 mushrooms) 1 can organic tomato sauce 1 can organic tomato paste 1-1 1/2 cups homemade bone broth 1 lb organic zucchini (or 1 pkg pasta) Seasonings to taste: oregano, basil, salt and pepper Directions Heat 1 TBS butter or oil in a sauce pan.  Add chopped onions and allow to cook a... read more

Broccoli Goodness

I have a confession and it may upset some of you. I know haters gonna hate, but I’m just going to come out and say it anyway…. I LOVE BROCCOLI! There it’s out! I do! And honestly, if you don’t share the love then I assume you have yet to try it roasted and slathered in grass fed butter? Because, seriously.. what’s not to love about that?! Give it a try before you protest me on my broccoli love fest. Ok? I love roasting broccoli, but decided to just simply steam it today. No real recipe, just wash, cut and steam for about 5-7 minutes. Then enjoy! I had mine on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes. YUM! Oh and with butter, of course! 😉     Spread the... read more

Thinking Better in 2015

My hubby and I pray for vision for each new year. Last year the theme He gave us was “Pursuit”.  To pursue Him and pursue dreams He’s given us. This year I felt Him give me not one word, but a string of words that make this verse, “Do not despise small beginnings…” (Zechariah 4:10).  As well as this additional promise– “Though your beginning was small, your future will be great!” (Job 8:7) This 2015 I’m keeping in mind humility. I’m not going to despise small beginnings. I’m going to be settled with where I am each day. I’m going to choose contentment. Choose peace. Choose Joy in this moment. Even if life doesn’t look like I want it to. I am choosing to not despise small beginnings. How about you? Health goals unmet? House unkept? Face undone? Feeling ashamed and guilty for not being where we want to be, or who we want to be, is not working for us. Don’t misunderstand… I am all for pressing forward and striving to be our best and continually growing. I love setting goals for the new year and pushing myself to reach them. But, I believe carrying around shame and guilt for not being where we want to be yet, should no longer be our motivators. In fact, I believe guilt and shame are anti-motivators. Let’s allow acceptance to motivate.  Let kindness lead us to action; let’s start being kind to ourselves and where we are at on the journey. Let’s enjoy the adventure.  And let’s be done with self-hate. I love this encouragement from Graham Cooke. He says, “If all... read more

What is Deliciously Tasty, Beneficially Nutritious, & Exceptionally Versatile?

BONE BROTH, of course! I know it may sound intimidating or like a lab experiment, but bone broth is actually quite simple. It’s a nutrient-powerhouse that can be made in your own kitchen using things you most likely have on hand already! This stuff is great for pregnant and nursing mamas, improves elasticity of skin to prevent stretch marks and wrinkles, helps restore gut flora after antibiotics, safe for babies (at least 6 months of age), and can help heal all sorts of ailments!  It’s simply AMAZING! I think there are a zillion reasons that make it stand out as a nutrient-dense staple.  You can read a bunch of those fabulous reasons here. I like to make a big batch once a week, but typically every time my bone broth freezer goody bag is full, the bone broth magic commences. There are a few different methods for making bone broth. You can use a big pot on the stove, a crock-pot, or a pressure cooker.  Jenny at nourished kitchen shares a way to make a perpetual bone broth in the crock-pot so you can enjoy some every day! My method of choice is my electric pressure cooker which produces a perfect, gelatinous bone broth in just 1 hour flat! I found this method first from the Food Renegade. This is what I do- Ingredients: Chicken carcass and bones, saved from a cooked whole chicken Veggie peels and scraps (carrot peels, zucchini ends, onion peels, etc saved in a freezer bag from the week of cooking) Filtered water to the max fill line in my pressure cooker a splash of apple cider vinegar... read more

Paleo Elderberry Ice Cream Cups (+ 3 other flavors!)

Is there an ice cream that’s dairy free, sugar free, uses only 1 ingredient, is decadently creamy, and can be ready in under 5 minutes? Yes, why yes there is! It can be done, friends! All you need is a humble banana and a blender (or food processor). I was gifted a dream food processor last year and am still so in love! It’s amazing for so many reasons.  Reasons I’ll share another time… but for now, we are talking banana ice cream! Seriously, all you do is grab a ripe frozen banana and whiz it up until creamy and voila- ICE CREAM! I usually make the peanut butter banana variety, but yesterday I decided to try something new. I owe this spontaneous (and surprisingly delicious) flavor combo to my son Isaac. I’ve been giving him elderberry syrup to help kick this cold that he got. But he has been less than enthusiastic about taking a spoonful of this natural and medicinal remedy. He’s actually not had much of an appetite for anything (except mamas milk) until yesterday. Yesterday, all he wanted was a “nana” (banana).  And of course, we were out. And then I remembered a plethora of bananas chilling in my freezer just waiting to be blended into a frozen dessert. So I decided to create elderberry ice cream cups with those bananas. He’d get to enjoy a banana while getting some immunity-boosting elderberry. Best of both worlds. Not only that, but my husband tried some after work and even he loved it! Toddler and husband approved? Yes indeed! I call that a win over here! Here’s the recipe... read more

Lemony Kale Pasta

Do you know how I feel about waste and throwing out food? Hate it. Truly bums me out.  And you can imagine my dilemma when I looked in our fridge and saw limp, lifeless, smashed kale. It was so sad and broken. But I figured there had to be a way to revive it. So to the internet I went! And I found this blog post! Jess had a similar image when she peered into her fridge~ sad and forgotten kale. I figured her rescue looked pretty successful, so I gave it a go with a little twist. And OH MY GOODNESS!!! This dish was amazing!! Simple, nourishing, and tasty! PrintLemony Kale Pasta Prep Time: 1 minuteCook Time: 9 minutesTotal Time: 10 minutes IngredientsOrganic brown rice Fusilli Pasta 2 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil 1 shallot, chopped 2 large garlic clove, chopped 2 bunches kale, finely chopped Zest of one lemon Juice of 1/2 lemon Sea salt and freshly ground pepper InstructionsCook the pasta al dente according to package directions. When the pasta is almost done, heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Saute the shallot in the oil for 1-2 min (don't let it burn). Saute the garlic with the shallot for 1 min. Add the kale and cook, tossing in the pan so it gets cooked evenly (about 4-5 minutes). Add your lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper. Add drained pasta and stir to combine. And... EAT! 🙂NotesTo make this Grain-Free, this would be delicious over butternut squash or a bed of pan-fried great northern beans... Mmmm adding that to our weekly... read more

Black Bean Burritos

It’s been one of those days. The kind where all you want to do is curl up on the couch under a fuzzy blanket and sleep. But with a hubby at work, a cold-fighting toddler at home, and appointments to keep, that just wasn’t going to be my reality today.  And that is ok.  I’ve learned to recognize the difference between the times where I really do need some rest and those times that I just want to be lazy.  Today was more of a “I just want to be lazy day”, so instead I chose to dig deep into the energy reserves (and into God’s grace) and just get ‘er done. And this delicious, warm, and comforting black bean burrito was one of the byproducts of that decision. Started with melting some grass fed butter in a pan. That’s how most of my meals begin. I didn’t have a plan for tonight’s dinner, but I knew it should begin with butter. I like to turn the heat on and race against burning the butter. While the competition was heating up, I chopped a shallot and some garlic. The butter was sizzling and talking it up like it was going to win, but I tossed the shallot in just before it would reach the point of no return.  Thankfully, I got it in right as it turned that caramel hue of deliciously browned butter. Then I tossed in the freshly chopped garlic.  After a minute of that, I added about 4 cups of black beans and began to chop up some organic sugar plum tomatoes and cilantro. The green of... read more

Are you reading the wrong label?

Ever since the FDA started labeling packaged food in 1990, the public has been heavily-trained to read the nutrition facts. You know the drill.  Look at how much fat and calories it has, right? And bonus, take notice of all those daily percentage values for vitamins! Sweet, right? Not entirely. The reality is that a nutrition label can be very misleading and what it won’t tell you is what you really want to know.    Let’s first look at what it WILL tell you: It will tell you how many calories are in that product per serving. It will tell you how much of those calories are from fat. It will tell you how much vitamin A, vitamin C, and Calcium is included.  And here’s what it WON’T tell you:  It won’t tell you if those calories are from real food sources or “frankenfoods” (GMO foods) It won’t tell you the source of fat (whether it’s a nutritious and natural source or synthetic processed source) It won’t tell you which food sources the vitamins are coming from  Solution:  Rather than spend time trying to decode and understand the confusing (and often misleading) nutrition facts, look at the INGREDIENTS LIST instead. That my friends, is a gold mine of information that will help you very quickly know if the product is a nutritious choice. Ingredient lists tell you WHAT is in that product.  It’ll tell you how processed your food is, what’s been added to it, and if its a healthy product for you. Now that you know which label to read, here’s what you should you look for. Choose foods that have the least... read more

Leftover Creations

Have you seen the pin about transforming your leftovers? This is a game changer and I have to tell you about it! Kris over at Attainable-Sustainable shares the secret to transforming your leftovers. Are you ready for it? Here it is: “If the leftovers are dry, add liquid. If the leftovers are wet, add dry ingredients.” Pure genius. And so simple, right?  This little tip has made a HUGE impact on my kitchen. I don’t like the old household rule of “cleaning your plate”… I prefer our family care for our bodies by stopping when full. Does that mean all of what’s leftover gets thrown out?  No way! What doesn’t get eaten is put in the fridge or freezer to eat later. At least, that’s the plan… But, one can only eat the same thing so many times before it’s no longer enjoyable. So the plan aside, REALITY is that same leftover food ends up getting nudged around in the fridge until it’s no longer safe to consume and does get tossed. I used to get so upset about this waste. I hate tossing food- food that my hubby’s paycheck purchased, food that I took time to plan on our menu, and then labored in the kitchen to make. I dreaded cleaning out the fridge at the end of the week, knowing I’d inevitably find SOMETHING in there that needed thrown out. Thankfully, Kris’ tip for transforming leftovers came to the rescue!  By adding liquid to dry leftovers or dry ingredients to the wet ones, the leftovers are totally transformed into something new and fresh!  That little addition ups the flavor and brings life back into what... read more