Fruit Punch Ice Pops

Fruit Punch Ice Pops #summercampathome #frozen #summertreatOh the dog days of summer! Great for lying in the shade on a sultry day and enjoying an ice pop and hoping it helps cool you down.

Just not those nasty ones that are full of food dyes, fake colors, nasty sugars, and other assorted ickyness. They’re so easy to make yourself that there’s no need to resort to such.

Fruit Punch Ice Pops #summercampathome #frozen #summertreatHonestly? Making an ice pop is simply a matter of freezing juice in a lickable format. So if you have popsicle molds and juice, you’re in business. Even if you don’t have popsicle molds, you can make do with cups and craft sticks. The juice is kind of essential, though, no getting out of that one.

I have these Zoku Mini Pop molds which I actually bought at Michaels’ with a 40% off coupon, but you can also get them from Amazon with free shipping if you have Prime. They’re the perfect size for little mouths and quick snacks!

Fruit Punch Ice Pops #summercampathome #frozen #summertreatThe Boyz created this recipe together as a Summer Camp at Home activity: they each chose 2 kinds of fruit and I determined the quantities. It turned out to taste exactly like fruit punch!

Fruit Punch Ice Pops #summercampathome #frozen #summertreat

Sharing at Grounded & Surrounded, Try a New Recipe Tuesday, and Tasty Tuesday

A Healthy LunchBox Snack: Whole Grain Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Those hungry little munchers are gonna want a sweet treat in their lunch box come the first day of school…. And I have just the thing for you! Packed full of whole grain goodness, honey sweetness, and just a little bit of deliciousness from chocolate chips, these Whole Grain Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies will fill their tummies and their hearts.

You can find the recipe at Baking Whole Grains, where I am visiting for the day.


Vegan Spelt Chocolate Chip Cookies {Secret Recipe Club}

Wheat-Free Dairy-Free Egg-Free Nut-Free Spelt Chocolate Chip Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies

My most profound apologies to Noelle of An Opera Singer in the Kitchen. Although I love to sing and I love music, I have to admit… I’m not a big fan of opera. Like real, actual opera, where they dress up and sing tragical stories where everyone dies.

However, I am a big fan of the well-trained classical voice, and I can’t help but feel a thrill when I hear the depths of passion and power an excellent voice can exude. As a choral singer, I’m particularly fond of oratorios (Handel’s Messiah is a famous example) and the like, but as long as I’m being honest, I must say that my favorite music genre is pop opera. I know that makes me totally plebeian, but there you have it. Sarah Brightman, Amici Forever, Il Divo, Josh Groban… yes, I confess I am a fan of all of these.

But you don’t have to be an opera fan to enjoy Noelle’s blog! You just have to be a fan of food… and I think we all qualify. Noelle has got quite a fabulous collection of recipes there, including a large number of vegan recipes. Now is the perfect time of year to try out her Fluffy Vegan Pumpkin Biscuits or perhaps Almond Quinoa Hot Cereal. Her BBQ Chickpea Burgers are on my list to try.

As you know, I love spelt, so I was quite happy to discover her selection of spelt recipes. In fact, I ended up trying her Spelt Choco-Peanut Butter Cookies as a treat for My Certain Little Someone to share with his Wednesday night class at church. They were a huge hit! I have to admit, that despite the fact that I am avoiding carbs and sugar right now, I snuck one or two. Or maybe three.

I made a few adjustments to the recipe to make them allergy-friendly for The Boys, the most notable being eliminating the peanut butter chips because they can’t eat those. I still wanted to retain the “peanut butter flavor”, though, so I thought maybe I could try replacing the margarine in the recipe with homemade sunflower seed butter. It didn’t exactly work like I thought it would, and I ended up having to make additional adjustments. The final result was delicious, though! Thanks, Noelle, for a fabulous recipe!

Now, go and listen to some of Noelle’s beautiful singing. Why, yes, even this non-opera lover enjoyed it!

Read more about The Secret Recipe Club and find out how you can join! We’d love to have you.

Sharing at some of these wonderful link-ups:  Homestead Barn Hop, Mom’s Monday Mingle, The Bulletin Board, Better Mom Mondays, Open Call Tuesday, Delicious Dishes, Teach Me Tuesday, Titus 2sDay, Hip Homeschool Hop, Tiny Tip Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Tip me Tuesday, Trivium Tuesday, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Allergy-Free Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Women Living Well Wednesday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Real Food Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Keep it Real Thursday, Tastetastic Thursday, Homemaking Link UP, Simple Lives Thursday, Thought-Provoking Thursday, Life in Bloom, Frugal Thursday Rewind, Fellowship Friday, Fight Back Friday, Feast in Fellowship Friday, Frugal Friday, I’m Lovin’ It, Weekend Bloggy Reading, Snacktime Saturday, Show & Share Saturday, Weekend Whatever

Remembering Daniel of The Haggis and The Herring with Toasted Chickpeas

I was saddened last week to hear of the sudden passing of a fellow food blogger, Daniel of The Haggis and The Herring. I was further saddened to learn that not only did he leave behind his wife, Meredith, who often appeared on his blog either in her own words or his, but that his wife was expecting their third child. My heart and my prayers go out to this family for their comfort and peace in the middle of their bereavement .

My food-blogging friends from the Secret Recipe Club and I are joining today to honor Daniel and his legacy by cooking up recipes from his blog and sharing them together with you. If you’ve never been to The Haggis and The Herring, you are in for a treat! He and Meredith have compiled quite a list of international and ethnic goodies that they’ve tested and tasted and approved. I love trying out foods from different cuisines, so I always have fun browsing through his recipe directory.

For today’s special tribute, I chose to prepare his Toasted Chickpeas Snack in keeping with my new “Get Healthy” goals. They were delicious! They remind me of popcorn, but they fill me up a lot faster, and offer more protein.

I didn’t have all the spices that Daniel used in his, so mine were admittedly less exciting than they could be. They’re still delicious just as they are, but feel free to jazz them up with the spices he recommends.

Sharing at Homestead Barn Hop, Better Mom Monday, Melt In Your Mouth Monday, The Bulletin Board, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Tiny Tip Tuesday, Titus 2sday, Traditional Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Women Living Well Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, The Mommy Club, Delicious Dishes, Keep it Real Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Homemaking LinkUP, Life in Bloom, Tastetastic Thursday, Fight Back Friday, I’m Lovin’ It, Snacktime Saturday, Simply Natural Saturday

Easy Protein-Rich Snacks

At this point in my life, I have no desire to go on GAPS, and the Paleo diet does not particularly appeal to me, but I have lately been endeavoring to shift the balance of proteins vs. carbs in my diet. I don’t want to eliminate carbs completely because I feel that they play an important nutritional role; but I do want to be more cautious about consuming carbs in excess, and I want to focus on carbs that are refined as little as possible.

Unfortunately, snacking has proven to be my downfall: It appears I’ve really gotten into the habit of eating carb-laden foods in between meals! Popcorn, homemade cookies or granola bars, dried fruits and the like are all go-to snacks for me. Not that those things are inherently unhealthy – they’re not – it’s just that I eat too much of them.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that carb-olicious snacks don’t tend to stick around with me for long. It’s like they evaporate into thin air after a little while, and then I start getting pangs in my stomach and shaky hands and a light head. But if I eat some protein and/or healthy fat, I can go for hours without feeling any hunger or low-sugar issues. (I will say that sometimes I do need to eat at least a small portion of carbs to get a more immediate rush of sugar to my blood if I’ve gone too long without sustenance.)

So…. all that to say that I’ve been getting a little more creative with our snacks here lately, and experimenting with protein-rich snacks that are filling but not super expensive, plus easy to keep on hand when the munchies strike. I’ve come up with this list of such snacks, mostly for my own benefit, and I thought you might be interested as well. And if you have any more ideas for me, please let me know! I’m in need of more inspiration.

Straight Up Protein

These snacks do not contain any carbs at all; they are only proteins (and fats).

  • Hard-boiled eggs – I actually want to get in the habit of having a few of these on hand in the fridge. Since my DH and I are currently the only ones in the house who eat eggs, it tends to take us a while to go through a whole dozen, so we definitely have some to spare most of the time.
  • Cheese sticks/Cheese slices/Cheese cubes – I’ve already gotten in the habit of buying two large bags of cheese sticks from Costco every month, and that’s plenty enough for my DH to have the requisite 2 in his lunch every day  (force of habit!), and for me and Tiger Cub (formerly Baby Boy) to snack on occasionally. I know it’s not the healthiest version of cheese around, but for now, it works for me! (Read: it’s cheap, and the healthy cheese is too expensive.)
  • Nuts – I particularly love almonds, but pistachios and walnuts are yummy, too. I have some hazelnuts in my pantry, but since they are still in the shell, I rarely bother to deal with cracking them. But I like hazelnuts, too!
  • Nut/Seed butters – Around here, that’s mostly homemade sunflower seed butter because it’s safe for everyone, but I do occasionally indulge in my own personal jar of all-natural peanut butter. I usually use it as a dip for something like apples or – very rarely – celery.
  • Yogurt – I make yogurt with a machine once a week. Admittedly, I usually add some honey or jam to it which means added carbs, but over all it’s still a protein-rich snack (good fat, too, since I make it with whole milk). Sometimes I also mix it with freshly whipped cream, which is quite yummy.
  • Mini meatballs – The other week, I made meatloaf for dinner, and since I had a 3lb package of ground turkey to work with, I went ahead and doubled the recipe to season all the meat, but then rolled half of it into meatballs. I froze some and kept some others to eat as a quick snack.
  • Roasted chickpeas – My Certain Little Someone and I enjoy any flavor of roasted chickpeas; here’s a salt-and-vinegar chickpea recipe you might like.

Protein-Based Snacks

These snacks might contain some carbs, but they are based on proteins.

  • Coconut Cookies – These cookies have 3 ingredients: coconut flour, butter and a small amount of honey. They are very good, although I did find them to be a little bit dry. That might be because I had to use coconut oil and palm shortening in place of the butter, though.
  • Bean Brownies – My bean-based brownies always turn into fudge, but that might be because I have to substitute the eggs in order to keep them safe for my Certain Little Someone. But they’re still yummy!
  • High Protein Muffins – I haven’t tried these yet, but I’m putting them on the list so I will remember to! Nut or seed butter forms the base of these muffins.
  • Cookie Dough Dip – This bean-based dip could be completely carb-free if you eliminate the chocolate chips and use stevia to sweeten it. I dont’ think I would have the heart to eliminate the chocolate chips completely, though, so I’d probably just reduce them a little.
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookie Dough Dip – This dip is also bean-based.
  • Baked Donut Holes – Coconut flour forms the base of these delicious little morsels, and there is very little sugar involved.
  • Raw Vegan Chocolate Cranberry Energy Bars – Kind of like a Larabar, I think. I’ve never made them because I don’t usually have that many nuts, and I don’t have a food processor. But they sound quite delicious and they’re on my Pinterest board because I would like to make them someday.
  • Peanut Butter Balls – Kind of like the old-fashioned “Buckeyes”, but made with peanut butter and coconut flour.
  • Chocolate Bark – Use nuts or coconut and it’s deliciously protein-rich!
  • Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies – yet another reason why “chickpeas” are on my grocery list!

Protein-Enriched Snacks

These snacks are carb-based, but use protein-rich ingredients as well.

  • No-Bake Energy Bites – These do have oatmeal, but they also have peanut butter and coconut.
  • Leslie’s Sunbutter Balls – These are made with a crispy rice cereal and call for dried fruits and chocolate, but the base is sunflower seed butter.
  • Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies – Once again, peanut butter is the core ingredient here, and it also contains eggs, but this recipe does call for a great deal of sugar. I would try with maybe 50-75% of the sugar called for, or I would experiment with stevia.
  • Beanie Butter Blondies – Chickpeas are the main ingredient, but it also calls for a small amount of flour. I think I might have more success with these than I have with the completely grain-free bean brownies.
  • 4-Ingredient Chewy Almond Butter Granola Bars – I made these with sunflower seed butter (and slightly less honey), and they were seriously the best granola bars I’ve ever made.
  • Cultured Coconut Milk Cheesecake – This recipe is on my list to try; it’s definitely more of a dessert than a snack, but it sounds divine!

Whew! I’m so glad I have compiled this list; I have a feeling I’m going to be referring to it often! I hope you find it useful as well.

So, my friend, what is your favorite protein-rich snack?

Healthy Cookies. Yes, HEALTHY Cookies! {Secret Recipe Club ~ August 2012}

Banana Oat Cookies #cleaneating #healthysnack My secret blog for this month’s Secret Recipe Club was Everyday Mom, written by Kim, whose love of baking is evident when you browse through her Recipes page! I’m pretty fond of baking myself, so I had fun looking through her archives and trying to decide which delicious-sounding treat I should make: Apple Cake with Maple Frosting (when autumn comes, for sure!)? Maple Mousse (I’d never heard of that one!)? Or maybe Yeasted Coffee Cake (complicated, but – I imagine – totally worth it)?

Delicious Vegan Cookies

In the end, I settled for none of these, and instead made a treat that was angelically good in comparison: Banana Oatmeal Cookies, which happened to be her Secret Recipe Club post from last July. If you leave out the chocolate chips (but really, now, who does that?), they have absolutely no added sugar! And while I personally could probably never bring myself to make them without the chocolate chips, I think they would still be perfectly sweet without them because the bananas offer all the sweetness necessary.

You may or may not need quite as many bananas, depending on how big they are. I think mine were larger than  usual, because 4 made the mixture very liquidy. I ended up adding some oat flour to make them more of a cookie consistency, but next time I’ll probably start with fewer bananas and see how it goes. Below is the recipe exactly as I made it.

Banana Oat Cookies #cleaneating #healthysnack

Banana Oat Cookies #cleaneating #healthysnack

If you’re curious about the Secret Recipe Club, you can read more about it here.

Don’t Throw Away Those Sweet Potato Peels

One of my biggest pet peeves is throwing away food. I could kick myself every time I dump food down the drain or in the trash: it’s just a complete and total waste! And I hate waste. Which is why I am so thrilled to link up to  The Frugal Girl on her weekly feature where she posts a picture of all the food she had to throw away for the week, and invites other bloggers to do the same. The idea is to feel some accountability – who wants to admit they threw away all that money to the whole world? – to help you avoid throwing away food in the future.

So in the picture above, you see what I threw away this week:

  1. a child’s serving of chicken
  2. cucumber-tomato salad
  3. (not pictured) 3-4 soft potatoes

The chicken is leftovers from going out to eat with our extended family to celebrate some birthdays. I tried 3 different times to get both kids to eat their leftovers, but they categorically refused. By then, it was time to throw them away. Sadness.

I made myself the cucumber-tomato salad, ate half of it, then forgot about the other half. Oops.

And the potatoes went bad surprisingly quickly! I’m going to half to cook up the rest of the bag for dinner tonight before they go bad, too.

You’re probably wondering about the sweet potato peels, aren’t you? I have not recently thrown away any sweet potato peels. In fact, I’ve discovered recently that sweet potato peels actually make an amazingly delicious little snack that’s good for you, too. Considering it’s made from something most people would grind in the garbage disposal, I’d say that’s a pretty good deal!

Now if you Google “sweet potato peels”, you’ll find a bunch of tutorials that instruct you to bake the sweet potato whole, scoop out the flesh, and then roast the peels. That’s great if you actually need sweet potato puree, but not so great if you’re wanting to peel and cut the sweet potatoes for some other purpose (like sweet potato fries, for example). In that case, you’re starting with raw peels, a totally different thing altogether.

I couldn’t find a single recipe online that started with raw sweet potato peels, so I invented my own. And Oh. My. Goodness. They were soooooooo good. Even better (in my humble opinion) than the variety that starts with baked potato peels. Instead of baking the peels, I boiled them a little bit first so they weren’t completely raw when I put them in the oven. The olive oil just soaked into the tender peels and created a crisp but tender salty little treat that was rather addictive.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the finished product, but trust me. These are good!

Boiling the peels adds an extra step, so these aren’t the QUICKest snack in my repertoire. But they’re still done in half an hour or less.

Very EASY! No special skills required.

Oh yeah, these are CHEAP. Can’t get any cheaper than this!

And very HEALTHY, too. The fiber from the peels and all the antioxidants and other goodness from the sweet potato is just the icing on this cake.

Sharing at Frugal Days Sustainable Ways

Chicken Dip, Not from Buffalo

bbq chicken dip

I was actually going to call this dip “Chicken Chicken Dip“, the first “chicken” standing for the cowardly human variety, because it doesn’t have hot sauce in it. Due to sensitive tummies in my household, I never buy any because it would sit around in our fridge until it went bad (does it ever go bad?). Henceforth and therefore, we have never had Buffalo Chicken Dip, because, as you no doubt know, it has hot sauce. And we don’t eat hot sauce.

Instead, we have Non-Buffalo Chicken Dip, more specifically BBQ Chicken Dip, seeing as it’s made with BBQ sauce instead of hot sauce. It’s a milder-tasting, almost lightly sweet, version of the famous party dip, that goes just as perfectly with chunks of hearty bread, crudites, and tortilla chips. Hey, it even makes celery taste good!

I really think you should add this dip to your Super Bowl menu right now because your friends are gonna love it! If you want to be really cool, you can make a bread bowl shaped like a football. (I don’t know why I didn’t do that – I guess because I didn’t think of it until right this minute!)

One note: I wanted to try this recipe with yogurt cheese, since I’m embarking on my journey of make-your-own-dairy, but I ran out of milk and time, two essential qualities for that particular delicacy. So I bought a last-minute bar of cream cheese instead. I still want to try it with the yogurt cheese to see how it turns out; if you do, let me know! I really feel like cream cheese is just too over-processed for my taste, and would prefer the healthier version.

I did use my own homemade Ranch dressing and BBQ sauce for this recipe, which is easier if you already have some on hand, but not a huge problem if you don’t. They’re both easy to whip up in a jiffy! I’ve included the Ranch dressing in the recipe because I don’t have it anywhere else on the blog, but you can find my two favorite BBQ sauce recipes here: Quick BBQ Sauce, and Cooked BBQ Sauce.

bbq chicken dip

I served mine in a bread bowl(alas, not a football-shaped one). Of course, I used my artisan bread dough recipe, and I just baked it in a round shape in a small cast iron pan. I used up the last of my dough, so it ended up being kind of flat because I didn’t have enough – next time I will definitely use more, probably about a pound or pound and a half.

Since I made it with real ingredients (mostly, anyway), it was not quite as QUICK perhaps as regular Buffalo Chicken Dip. But I mixed up the dressings while the cream cheese was melting, so that didn’t really add much time. Still about half an hour or so from start to finish.

It’s very EASY, too. Again, the added steps of making the dressings, but nothing too overwhelming.

Cream cheese ain’t CHEAP, another reason why I wanted to use homemade yogurt cheese. Otherwise, it’s made with affordable, common ingredients that anyone can afford.

I like my HEALTHY-er version quite a bit! I love that I know each and every ingredient in this recipe – no packaged or bottled goods (with the exception of the cream cheese, which I hope to change in the future).

Linking with Tastetastic Thursday, Katherine Martinelli, and…

Cast Party Wednesday

Another Christmas Tree Tray – Veggies This Time!

Here’s yet another last-minute Christmas tray to bring to any festivities this weekend. Yesterday, I brought you a Christmas tree fruit tray. Today, it’s a Christmas tree veggie tray! Same concept, different produce.

Easy peasy. 

This one I also found on Pinterest (naturally), originally from the Betty Crocker website. Here’s another Christmas tree veggie tray, also from Betty Crocker, if you’d like something a bit different, or if you have different tastes in veggies. And if you’re looking for yet another creative Christmas-tree-shaped appetizer tray, try this cheese cube Christmas tree from Cabot.

Serve your Christmas tree with a bowl of homemade dip on the side. Unfortunately, I have no specific dip recipe for you (I was in too much of a hurry to take measurements), but I can tell you how I made my Ranch-like version of dip: I dumped equal parts cream/yogurt cheese (homemade from yogurt) and plain yogurt in a bowl and mashed it together well until it was creamy. Then I stirred in garlic powder, freshly ground black pepper, dill, parsley, chives, and a bit of salt until it tasted right. Then I refrigerated it for a couple of hours before serving.

Just as QUICK as any other vegetable tray!

And just as EASY, but with so much more presentation!

It’s CHEAPer than the fruit tray, because these veggies are cheaper than those fruits.

And it’s very HEALTHY, too, nothing but veggies! (Well, except the pretzel sticks, which I don’t normally buy, but didn’t have time to come up with anything more creative. Carrot sticks? Celery sticks? Right shape, wrong color. Let me know if you come up with something!)

Sharing with Real Food Wednesday, and…
day2day joys

Christmas Colors in Your Cookies

No need to pull out the food coloring. God has already given us some pretty amazing colors in the food He created for us, so there’s no reason for us to try to mimic them with cheap – and unnecessary – imitations. For example: cranberries and pistachios, a deep magent-like red, and a lovely dark sage green. Gorgeous!

And to combine them in a cookie? Genius!

I have the pleasure this year of participating in the Second Annual International Bloggers Cookie Recipe Exchange, hosted by Lori of Fake Food Free, and Andrea of Food Embrace. It’s a virtual cookie exchange, where instead of exchanging actual cookies, we exchange the recipe. I was sent 2 recipes to choose from by Mindy of The World in My Kitchen  and I picked her Pistachio-Cranberry Icebox Cookies specifically because of the gorgeous color – not to mention flavor – combination. I mean, what says Christmas more than red and green? And even better if you say it with food!

Here’s Mindy’s original recipe, adapted from Epicurious:

And here’s my version:

Aside from the chilling time, these cookies come together fairly QUICKly. And here’s the deal: you can freeze the logs for a month, so that you always have cookie dough ready at a moment’s notice! Surprise guests at Christmas time? You’ll be ready with a treat to share in no time at all!

They involve more work than a drop cookie, but they’re still pretty EASY over all. Your friends will be impressed!

Well, pistachios ain’t CHEAP, that’s for sure. I found mine at Trader Joe’s for a pretty good price ($4.99 I think for a package of shelled pistachios, the best price I could find around here). You can also occasionally find coupons for Wonderful Pistachios or Everybody’s Nuts Pistachios.

These are fairly HEALTHY cookies, as far as cookies go. They’re sweetened with honey, filled with dried fruits and nuts, and a little fiber.

Linking at Tastetastic Thursday, and…

Nap-Time Creations Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays Miz Helen’s Country Cottage