Category Archives: Snacks

Easy Guacamole

I really didn’t pay attention to the fact that yesterday was Cinco de Mayo! Clearly my honey and I did nothing to celebrate the occasion since we were fairly oblivious.

However, even though I didn’t do it on purpose, I did make one recipe on Friday that was very appropriate for the holiday- guacamole!!

I have never really liked the stuff until very recently. I’ve always thought avocados were very bland tasting and most guacamoles were overly flavorful with way too much cilantro, so I just haven’t eaten it. That is until my mom made it for Easter as an appetizer. It was so delicious, I couldn’t stop eating it. When I asked for the recipe, she said she bought a packet of mix at the store to mix in with the avocados, plus a secret ingredient. So the next time I was at the grocery store, I picked up a packet and made some. It turned out great, but I really wanted to make it from scratch.

I did a huge shopping trip on Friday and picked up some more avocados, a lime, some garlic, and my mom’s secret ingredient: Ro-Tel tomatoes!

Easy Guacamole (Makes about 2 cups)

Image

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 can (or more!) of Ro-Tel HOT tomatoes with habaneros if you can handle the heat!
  • 1/2 lime
  • salt to taste

1. Peel the avocados and remove the pits.

2. Place the avocados into a food processor, along with the peeled cloves of garlic, and the Ro-Tel tomatoes.

3. Squeeze the juice of the lime over the avocados, then sprinkle with salt.

4. Blend the ingredients to desired consistency. I like mine all mixed together with barely any chunks so I let it go for about a minute.

5. Serve with your favorite organic tortilla chips!

Advertisements

Prepping for NYC!

I’m just about to start packing for our trip to NYC! We are staying the night with my parents tonight because they live a little closer to the train station in DC and they are so graciously taking us in there so we don’t have to pay for parking. We have to get up at about 5am in order to get there by 7:30am.

We are headed to the chiropractor this afternoon before we leave though. I want both of us to be adjusted before we set out on our travels. I know it will help with all of the sitting we’ll be doing, plus being properly aligned will help our immune systems as well. Also, I’m treating my honey to a massage at the chiropractor because he definitely needs one!

I stayed up a little late last night making a batch of Honey Vanilla Peanut Butter (and I added a 1/4 cup of cashews too :)) to put in my Granola Bars. These are going to be the best snack for us to take on the train and then to have when we are out in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. They are packed with protein already, but I actually added a heaping tablespoon of coconut flour along with half a scoop of chocolate protein powder just to give them an extra boost!

I’m also planning on taking some oatmeal baggies with 1/4 cup oatmeal, 1 tbsp flax seed, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, and a little cinnamon. Just add some hot water for a quick and healthy snack/breakfast!

I looked online and found out that we will have wi-fi on the train, so I plan to do a post from there tomorrow! Plus, I’ll be able to catch up on my blog reading since that hasn’t happened in awhile.

I also plan to bring a few other things to read and do on the train (since we have over 4 hours on it!):

  • I am rereading Real Food by Nina Planck. I just feel like I’ve gotten a little off track with my eating and I want to be reminded why I need to get back to eating more real and traditional foods.
  • I have the newest Oxygen Magazine to finish reading.
  • I have some posts saved from other blogs that I intend to finally read.
  • I want to clean out some photos on my computer and also create a photo book of our house.
  • My honey and I are going to plan a few sights to see while we’re up there since he has never been!
  • I have Angry Birds on my phone…enough said!

Because my brother lives in a studio apartment, we are lugging our air mattress up there. Luckily, each passenger on the train gets two carry on bags, so we can definitely squeeze it on. I’m hoping to pack a light bag with only a few items of clothing. I’m not going up there trying to impress anyone, so I don’t care about what clothes I take with me, just as long as they will keep me warm!

The main things that will take up space are our electronics! I’m taking my big camera, my MacBook, and my phone, plus chargers for all three. My honey will be bringing the video camera and his phone, plus chargers. We intend to capture our trip in many different formats 🙂

Well, now that I’ve figured out what all I need to pack, I better get to it!

Buying in bulk

In thinking about my food purchases lately, I realized that I have been spending more than I originally had planned to spend on groceries for my honey and me. I attribute this to a lot of things, but the main one is that I buy healthy, whole, real foods, and a lot of organic ones at that. It can really add up!

In an effort to reduce my spending, I’ve done quite a bit of bulk shopping for foods lately. It’s amazing how much money you can save by doing this! Plus, there is an abundance of healthy food you can buy in bulk if you know where to look.

Here’s a list of items I’ve bought in the past month, where I bought them, and any savings I’ve had by doing it. If you’re not already buying in bulk, I highly recommend it!!

Local grocery store purchases

  • Organic Golden Flax Seed from the bulk bins– $2.29 per pound. Compare to Bob’s Red Mill- $3.99 per pound. The bulk bin is directly across from Bob’s Red Mill products, so it took me awhile to actually find out that I could buy them in bulk. I use flax seed in some way every day, so I definitely need to save on it in any way I can!
  • Organic Brown Rice from the bulk bins– $0.59 per pound! I love having brown rice on hand when I need to bulk up a meal, so this is a cheap way for me to buy it.
  • Fruit to freeze- last week at my store, Mangoes and Kiwi were on sale. I loaded up on them and chopped and froze them for smoothies.
  • Organic Baby Spinach- $5.99 for 16oz. If I’m eating a lot of salads this will only last me a week or so, but I have been using it mostly for smoothies lately so it has lasted maybe two weeks. I plan to stock up next time they have a sale and freeze the spinach in cubes like Amy suggested for kale.
Online purchases
  • Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil 32oz– buy one get one free- $40. This is top of the line coconut oil, that’s why it is so expensive. I probably would never spend that much on this stuff without this deal. However, the two times I’ve bought a 16oz jar at the grocery store, it has been nearly $1 per ounce…so this is actually much cheaper and a better deal since I’m getting 64oz for $40! Plus, coconut oil has so many excellent health benefits, to me it is worth it to buy.
  • Pamela’s Baking Mix– 12lbs (three 4lb bags) for $32.51 on Amazon with Subscribe and Save (Thanks Mindy for recommending it!). I bought one 4lb bag at Whole Foods this summer for $16, so this was a HUGE savings!

Costco: I love Costco. I am always surprised to find such healthy foods in bulk there. Especially when they are organic! My most recent finds are:

  • Organic Peanut Butter two-pack: $8.75 for 56oz. I was paying $3.99 or $4.99 for 16oz at my regular grocery store…never again! The great thing is, it tastes really good too!!!
  • Grass-fed ground beef: $4.66/lb. I can find organic ground beef at my grocery store for $4.99 and maybe sometimes $4.79, but it is not grass-fed. Plus, at Costco you have to buy 3 pounds at a time, so I can plan ahead with meals or just always keep one on hand for quick marinara sauce or chili.
  • Organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs: $3.99/lb. I can find these much cheaper in my grocery store, but they have the skin and bones. I don’t mind the skin and bones, so I might only pick them up at Costco if I want to use the meat for something other than just eating it straight off the plate (like for chili or chicken salad).
  • Organic quinoa: Under $10 for 4lbs! This bag probably lasted me nearly a year. A little bit of quinoa goes a long way!
  • Quaker Oats: $6.99 for 10lbs. TEN POUNDS! That is quite a steal. And to answer your question, no I do not buy gluten-free oats. I have found that I do not have any side effects or issues from eating regular Quaker oats, so I’m going to stick with them since they are so cheap.
  • Walnuts: $13 for 3lbs. I eat walnuts pretty much every day in some form or fashion, so I only buy them at Costco. They are $8.99/lb at my grocery store, so it is a huge savings. I’m excited for the fall though….our walnut tree in our yard produced this year!!
  • Kirkland brand Nut & Seed and Nut & Fruit Granola bars– even though I make my own granola bars a lot of the time, I find that my honey needs more than that each day, so I read all of the labels of the granola bars Costco offered and these were the healthiest. No weird oils, no high-fructose corn syrup, lower sugar, no soy, wheat-free, and seriously delicious. I plan on making my own version of the Nut & Seed one soon!
As you can probably tell, I shop at lots of different places in order to get the best deals on the healthy foods I like to buy. I’m glad that I have that option, but I also buy online when I know I can get things for cheaper that way.

I also plan to stock up at the Farmer’s Market tomorrow on certain items. One thing I will definitely be buying in bulk tomorrow is butternut squash! I made another batch of my Butternut Squash Pancakes yesterday and I know I will be making them more and more as the fall comes into full swing because they are just that good 🙂 I’m also going to look for sweet potatoes, white potatoes and carrots too!

Do you buy in bulk? What do you buy? Have you gotten a good deal on healthy food recently? From where?

Vanilla Cashew Butter Cookies

Ever since I saw Ashley post a recipe for Cake Batter Cashew Butter, I knew I had to make some. I finally bought a package of cashews when I was in Minnesota last weekend just for it.

I finally found the time to make it today!

I had to change up Ashley’s recipe just a little because I don’t like almond extract, I don’t have sucanat, and my cashews were already salted. I also left out the sprinkles, so really I made almost an entirely different recipe than Ashley, but her recipe was my inspiration!

Vanilla Cashew Butter 

I had never had cashew butter before today, and now I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to afford the $8.99/lb price tag so I can have it all the time! 

2 cups dry roasted and lightly salted cashews (from TJs)

2 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp maple syrup

Put the cashews in your food processor and process until smooth. Stop it every once in awhile to scrape down the sides. I probably stopped it 4 times before it got smooth. Then I stopped it 2 more times. Don’t be alarmed (like I was!) if it forms into a big ball and spins around on the blade for awhile. It will stop and smooth out eventually. Once it is smooth, add the vanilla and maple syrup. Process again for a minute. Taste it to make sure it is sweet enough and add more maple syrup if desired and process again. Store in an airtight container, I used 1/2 pint mason jars. This made about 1 1/4 cups. Resist the urge to dive into the jars with a spoon and eat it all in one sitting!

*Note: Having tried lots of different brands of vanilla extract, I must make this comment here. Make sure you have quality vanilla extract. The vanilla flavor is so potent in this that you don’t want to have a cheap brand that doesn’t taste all that good.

So with all this cashew butter lying around, I was thinking of all the ways I could enjoy it. I had it on a piece of GF toast and boy was it good. But, I knew I didn’t want to eat toast just to enjoy the cashew butter.

Then, I had a brilliant idea. Cookies!!!

Vanilla Cashew Butter Cookies

A delicious way to enjoy cashew butter! The cookies are soft on the inside and have a nice outer layer that adds a small amount of crunch. They are buttery with a powerful vanilla flavor, and simply sweet. Definitely my new favorite cookie!!

6 tbsp salted butter, softened

2/3 cup maple syrup

2 flax eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2/3 cup cashew butter

2 cups GF flour

Preheat your oven to 350*. Begin by beating the butter until fluffy. Add the maple syrup, flax eggs, and vanilla. Beat until combined. Add the cashew butter and mix again until smooth. Resist the urge to eat it straight from the bowl. Add the flour 1/2 cup a time. I think I used a few extra tablespoons to get it thick enough. The dough won’t be as thick as most cookie doughs. It is light and fluffy and will spread when baking. I used a large cookie scoop and made 24 perfect sized cookies with a little leftover batter for me to enjoy off the spoon 🙂 Bake the cookies for about 10-12 minutes. Bake longer for crunchier cookies.

A Weekend in the Kitchen

Seriously, I have spent the entire weekend in my kitchen! Luckily, I absolutely LOVE my kitchen!!!

Here’s what it looked like when we moved in last October (notice the absence of the extremely long table and instead a normal person table!):

I have made SO many recipes this weekend!

Starting with a homemade marinara sauce for spaghetti on Friday night. I’ve been making my own sauce for awhile now from canned tomatoes; however, now that tomatoes are in season, I decided to try my hand at using fresh tomatoes. Wow! It was amazing!

It is super easy to use fresh tomatoes. Just bring a pot of water to a boil and place the tomatoes in the water. Let cook for about a minute or until you see the skin start to crack. Immediately place the tomatoes into an ice water bath and let cool. Take them out and peel the skin, then dice the tomatoes to the desired size. Use them as you’d use any other diced tomatoes!

On Saturday, I said that I would be making a few different recipes throughout the day. I wasn’t able to make all of them, but I busted out 4 of them!

The first one I made was actually not on my list yesterday!

Averie’s Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls: I thought these would be phenomenal because they sort of sounded like other ones I’d seen. However, I have to be honest. I’m surprised I made it past the first bite…the recipe calls for agave nectar which I don’t use that often at all. I think it was the different flavor and intensity of sweetness that was the problem for me. I will eat the rest of them though! I think if I make these again, I wouldn’t use as much agave nectar.

The second recipe I made was Mama Pea’s Pumpkin Spice Roasted Chickpeas, which I’ve made before. The reason I made them again (since I actually didn’t like them by themselves) was to put in some Protein Balls. I used my first batch of these chickpeas in some Protein Balls last weekend, and they were so good, I decided to make another batch this weekend. Instead of making them into balls this time though, I put them into a 9×9 pan and will cut them as bars throughout the week. I also omitted the chocolate chips this time. They are good enough with them!

I know, I know...really great picture, Kristin!! Sorry, I was too tired to make it look pretty.

After all of that, I tried my hand at Leanne’s 100 Calorie Beary Simple Cookies. While they were definitely beary simple to make, I was not very pleased with the outcome. This was my first time using buckwheat flour and it definitely has a different taste and texture. Mine also turned out green and hers didn’t! I also made a lot of substitutions: vanilla extract for the vanilla powder, maple syrup for the coconut sugar, and peanut butter for the almond butter. I have cut back a lot of my sugar intake so I’m used to not-so-sweet things, but these were still not sweet enough for me. Oh well! They were fun to make 🙂

The final recipe I made was Pioneer Woman’s Peach-Whiskey Barbecue Chicken. YUM! This was a little time consuming, but simple enough that I know will I make it again! Lucky enough, my honey’s grandma lives 1/2 a mile down the road and had some whiskey on hand for me. My honey likes whiskey, but I wasn’t going to buy a whole bottle just for this recipe! By the way (or BTW as my honey likes to say because that’s how his middle school kids talk to him!), I could never do this recipe justice in pictures, so you’ll have to check out PW’s page to see how beautiful it is!

Because I didn’t get to make my other recipes yesterday, I made them all today! I told you I spent all weekend in the kitchen 🙂 And I still have to make dinner for tonight!

I made up all three recipes I made today: vegetable potato soup, squash and quinoa salad, and caesar chicken salad, and I’m quite proud of how they all turned out!

I haven’t taken pictures of any of the recipes yet, so I’ll just tell you that it was all pretty amazing! I plan to share recipes on Tuesday, so check back then!

Now I’ve gotta go make some tacos for the honey and I for dinner! And some salsa…I think that puts me up to 10 recipes this weekend!!!  I can’t think of a better way to spend the weekend 🙂

What is your favorite recipe to make?

Meeting my niece

Earlier in the week, I planned on making Julie’s protein balls on Thursday before I went to my parents’ house. Even though I was running a little behind, I decided to stick with my plan. I got all of the ingredients. I got out my Magic Bullet, my 3-cup hand pump food processor, and my blender. I was ready!

NOTE TO SELF: GET A REAL FOOD PROCESSOR! STAT!

I struggled to put this super simple recipe together!!! A true food processor is definitely a good idea for making this. However, I had to improvise and they still turned out okay. I ended up making the almond meal in the Magic Bullet, then trying the chop the chickpeas in the hand pump food processor, and tried mixing both of those in my blender. I pretty much failed at it all. LUCKILY, I have a pastry blender! Yes, folks, I made this recipe by hand with my pastry blender as my mixer. It actually worked really well! My arm was definitely sore though (I’m sure it had nothing to do with my workout earlier in the day either…).

Anyways, I proclaim success with these protein balls even though I had such trouble!

Just look at them! The flavor was interesting. I was a little concerned after I put the chickpeas in them…the smell was so strong I was sure they were going to taste just like it. However, the peanut butter and the almonds really mask it. The texture is still there (might be different if I used a REAL food processor), but they weren’t overly sweet. I would probably add a little more honey next time. The dark chocolate chunks I added definitely give it a little extra oomph! My older brother suggested I dip them in melted chocolate and then freeze them. Maybe next time!!

Okay, onto what you’re really waiting for!! Pictures of the cutie 🙂

Belly time on the blanket I crocheted for her at Christmas!

Nana (my mom) took her swimming!

She was so peaceful in the car!

Big yawn!

I’m absolutely in love and can’t wait to see her again today, and tomorrow, and on Sunday!! Hopefully I’ll get some pictures of her and I (my mom took a bunch, but she hasn’t sent them to me yet…mom? You there? Send me some pics!).

So today is the start of our family reunion. My dad’s side of the family gets together every two years somewhere across the country. I’ve been a bad family member the past few years and haven’t been to a reunion in 4 or 6 years! My dad volunteered to host the reunion here in VA, but then he got a job in NC and moved. He still did a good job of putting it all together! I suggested this resort down the road from us so that everyone could come see our house. Plus, it is nestled in the mountains with tons of hiking trails, and we’re only about an hour and a half from DC. It’s the perfect place for people to come visit so they can do a little of everything.

Tonight, we’ll be out at the resort hanging out and hopefully we’ll be able to do some hiking in the morning (very early since it is absolutely sweltering here!!!). Then, tomorrow night, everyone will be coming out to our cabin for a cookout and a tour of the house and property. I’m so excited to have people come see it!! However, that means it needs to be picked up….my honey just hollered at me that we need to get cracking on that, so I must go!

Do you have family reunions? Isn’t my niece adorable? 🙂

Peanut Butter Cookie

Stop what you’re doing! Now go get yourself one of these:

Seriously, these are super delicious! They taste just like a peanut butter cookie!!! The texture was chewy and a little smoother than some of the other ones I’ve had (Apple Pie, Blueberry Muffin, Cherry Pie and Cashew Cookie). But it still had a good crunch to it because of the peanut chunks. It was less date-y than the Cashew Cookie. It was sweet enough, but not too sweet, and the peanut butter flavor was perfect!

I picked this up while grocery shopping after work. I was actually hoping they sold the bars in my store because I hadn’t ever seen them there. Lucky for me they were 10 for $10!!! I only bought three (also got the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and the Chocolate Chip Brownie), but plan to go back tomorrow to pick up some more while they’re on sale. I ate this on my way home because I was starving and wasn’t sure when I’d be eating dinner. It totally hit the spot!

When I first tried the Cashew Cookie, I was really disappointed and didn’t plan on trying other flavors. But in looking at other bars on the market, these were by far the healthiest out there, so I picked up Blueberry Muffin. Now with Peanut Butter Cookie on my side, there’s no stopping me when it comes to Larabars!!

Have you tried Larabar’s before? What’s your favorite flavor?