Fruity Cocoa Goodness (Smoothie)

Once in a while I have a chocolate craving. I find smoothies are a great way to take care of this. Making them thick and adding ice is also a nice treat. Doing so almost makes a smoothie seem like a milkshake.

I use organic ingredients when I can. They really do have superior flavor.

Ingredients

1/2 to 3/4 cup of coconut water

ice

1 small handful of spinach or Romaine lettuce

1 egg

1 small banana

6 medium size strawberries

3/4 of a kiwi

2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

2 tablespoons of raw honey

  1. Put some ice into the blender along with everything except the coconut water.
  2. Blend until combined, adding a little coconut water at a time until the smoothie is the consistency you want.
  3. Pour into glasses, add a straw, and enjoy!

Tips:

  • Try using different lettuces and berries.

Serving Suggestions

Enjoy!

Shannon

 

 

Pear and Blueberry Cereal

I had so much fun experimenting with these healthy cereals throughout the spring and summer months. It’s hard to express just how refreshing these are after a long winter of heavy meals. And they are so tasty with the various flavors of the different ingredients. I love how I can switch things up according to what I have on hand at any given time.

Blueberries are one of my favorite foods, and I’ve come to appreciate pears over the last few years as an alternative to apples on occasion. The trail mix can be just about any type you can think up.

Ingredients

1/2 of a pear, chunked

1/2 of a banana, sliced

a handful of blueberries

2 tablespoons of trail mix

vanilla almond milk

  1. Place the pear chunks and banana slices in a bowl.
  2. Sprinkle a handful of blueberries over the top.
  3. Add the trail mix.
  4. Pour the vanilla almond milk over the top.

Tips

  • Switch things up a bit by using a different variety of pear each time you make this cereal.
  • Buy fruits when in season.
  • Try different types of trail mix.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with a slice of Paleo bread spread with homemade apple or pumpkin butter.

Enjoy your breakfast!

Shannon

Mantle Decorations

Decorating the mantle at Yule is a big thing. It is at Christmas as well. Food and greenery can be used for this. I like to use reusable items as much as possible for sabbat and holiday decorating, but I also enjoy the scent of fruits, and spices like cinnamon. It’s possible to combine fake and real items when decorating, and the combination will make a beautiful mantle area. Try using fake greenery and fresh (dried) food items.

The Garland

Garland in the length you need (can be real or fake, but greenery is the proper choice) (Tipping is illegal in some areas.)

Hot glue gun

Glue sticks

String of holiday lights, white or colored

Cinnamon sticks tied into bunches

Red berries

1 or 2 lemons

1 or 2 limes

1 or 2 oranges

1 or 2 apples

Sharp knife

Thread or thin string

Sewing needle

  1. Before putting together the garland, you will have to dry the fruits. The drying process may take a few days. Begin by slicing the fruits. String these with a needle and string of choice, and hang from the ceiling or along a wall to dry. Spread them out so that the fruits are not touching each other. I would string them from their centers. Be careful not to let the string cut through the slices of fruit.
  2. Wrap the lights around the greenery, positioning the garland along the back of the mantle so the plug is near an outlet. Putting the garland in place now lets you see where you want to glue the fruit and other items to the garland.
  3. Glue the fruit, in bunches of 1 slice of each type, here and there along the garland, without getting glue on the lights or cord. Do not pile the fruit slices, but overlap them some in groups.
  4. Glue cinnamon sticks to the garland.
  5. Glue red berries to the garland.

Candles

Greenery, thinner than that used for the garland, to use as a wreath to go around the bottom of the candle sticks

Glue gun

Glue sticks

Red berries

Candle stick holders

Taper candles

  1. Place the candle sticks to the center of the mantle.
  2. Make a wreath that will wrap around the bottom of the candle stick, using the greenery and berries.
  3. Place taper candles in the candle sticks.

Fruit Baskets or Bowls

2 matching baskets with handles that will fit on the space available on the mantle

An assortment of fresh citrus fruits

Fabric wide enough to hang out over the sides of the baskets some, to use as a liner

Thin greenery strips

Red berries

Glue gun

Glue sticks

Cinnamon sticks

  1. Glue the greenery strips around the handle of each basket.
  2. Glue berries here and there along the greenery.
  3. Glue cinnamon sticks where the handles meet the baskets.
  4. Place the fabric liners in the baskets, so that the edges hang out over the baskets.
  5. Put the fruits in the baskets, and place one basket at either end of the mantle.

Potpourri

2 decorative plates or bowls, small to medium in size depending on how much space you have between the candles and the fruit baskets on the mantle.

Cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces

Whole cloves

Whole allspice

Dried lemon peel

Dried lime peel

Dried orange peel

  1. Place the bowls on the mantle, centered between the fruit baskets and the candle sticks on either side.
  2. Place the potpourri ingredients in the bowls.

How do you decorate your mantle using food items? Let us know in the comments for this post.

Shannon

Kitchen Craft: Herb and Fruit Slice Garland

Garlands are a great addition to autumn and winter decor, for the sabbats and holidays of the seasons. These garlands smell so good during the preparation stage, as well as for a while after they are created. Note that these fruits are not edible, but the herbs and cinnamon sticks can be removed later and used when cooking.

This craft takes about four days to complete.

Items Needed (amounts depend on size and number of garlands):

apples

oranges

lemons

limes

wax paper

cinnamon sticks

fresh herbs, or dried

garland

twine

craft wire

scissors

glue gun and sticks

Hammer and nails, or tacks

  1. Slice the fruit, do not peel first.
  2. Place the fruit slices on wax paper to dry for a few days before continuing.
  3. Turn each fruit slice twice a day.
  4. On the fourth day, or when the fruits are dried, prepare to decorate the garland.
  5. Lay the garland out.
  6. Tie two or three cinnamon sticks with twine to make bundles.
  7. Tie bundles of fresh herbs together with the twine. Feel free to mix and match types.
  8. Tie the cinnamon and herb bundles where desired  on the garland using craft wire.
  9. Glue the fruit slices where desired onto the garland, being sure not to get glue on the herbs and cinnamon sticks.
  10. Hang the garland where desired.

Variations:

  • Add small bells.
  • Add bows.
  • Make wreaths to match.
  • Make swags instead.

You could also:

  • Add herb/cinnamon bundles to your holiday tree.
  • Add fruit slice garland to the holiday tree.
  • Use the dried herbs in recipes when you take your decorations down.

Shannon

Pumpkin Fruit Bowl

Fruit bowls are not difficult to make using a mid-size pumpkin, or even one a bit bigger. These bowls, once dried some, will hold the fresh fruit for your Thanksgiving feast.

Materials

1 pumpkin

sharp knife

large spoon

fresh fruit, assorted varieties

wax/parchment paper, or a towel, or even a bowl if you have one that fits

  1. Cut the top off the pumpkin and discard. Scoop the insides of the pumpkin out, reserving the seeds for roasting.

  2. Scrape some of the flesh out to use in cooking, being sure to leave enough so the pumpkin is sturdy enough to hold fresh fruit.
  3. Allow to dry a few hours or over night.

  4. Place a bowl, wax or parchment paper, or even a towel, around the inside of the pumpkin so it covers the flesh.
  5. Put the pumpkin where it will be displayed, and place the fruit inside.

Tips

  • Grow your own pumpkins to save money.
  • When you’re done with the bowl, scrape more of the pumpkin out and place in a pot with boiling water to freshen the air.
  • Roast those pumpkin seeds!

Shannon

Tomato Bake

Here is a vegetable bake for you to try. This does not take much time, and can be served as the main component of a meal or as a side dish. The best vegetables to use are the organic heirloom variety you grow yourself. Same with the herbs. Heirloom varieties of each taste better than non heirloom varieties.

The amount of each ingredient needed will depend on the size pan you are using, and the number of people being served. Think lasagna for basic amounts. I usually start with bulk purchased shredded cheeses and a jar of each grated cheese, as well as about 32 ounces of sauce and a bowl of tomatoes.

Beefsteak tomatoes work well, but you can use other medium to large varieties. Experiment. Also consider trying more than one type of tomato in your bake.

Ingredients

tomatoes

shredded mozzarella cheese

shredded mild cheddar cheese

grated Parmesan cheese

grated Romano cheese

dried parsley

pasta sauce

  1. Start by pouring ¼ cup of the sauce into the bottom of a baking dish and spreading to cover, then work in layers. You will be able to fit 2 or 3 layers into one baking dish, being sure to leave room at the top for another cheese layer.

  2. Rinse the tomatoes well, and dry with a towel.

  3. Cut the tops off and then slice the tomatoes about ¼ inch thick, placing some of the slices in a layer over the sauce. Spread more sauce over this.

  4. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the slices, covering completely.

  5. Sprinkle some of mild cheddar cheese over this, so as not to completely cover.

  6. Shake some of each grated cheese over the other cheeses, then add another layer of tomatoes.

  7. Spread the sauce again, then add the cheeses.

  8. If there is room in the pan, start another layer.

  9. If not, add a thin layer of sauce over the cheeses, and sprinkle the parsley on top.

  10. Bake at 350* – 400*, depending on the oven, until the cheese is melted.

Tips

  • Use tomatoes from your garden and home canned sauce, to save money on this recipe.

  • Growing your own herbs and drying them will save you a great deal of money as well.

  • Try other types of cheeses as desired.

Serving Suggestions

 

Review: Beetology Juices + How to Reuse the Bottles

When I was contacted about trying the Beetology juices by Kayco, I was skeptical at best. The thought of beets as a juice base just did not seem appealing. But I had them send me a few juices to try, because I’m all into trying more and more healthy things, and I’m so glad I did.

These juices are organic, 100% cold pressed. I’m looking more toward organic as I move forward with my nutrition goals (as my budget allows), so this pleased me right off the bat. I also like that they are not from concentrate, something else I look for when I want juice. They are non-GMO project verified as well, which is also plus.

Another benefit is the lack of preservatives and additives. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want those types of things in my fruit servings. And there are no artificial flavorings or colors.

It really is the color of beets.

Beetology juices are certified fair trade.

I tried these five flavors:

  • beet + cherry
  • beet + berry
  • beet + veggie
  • beet + lemon + ginger
  • beet + tropical fruit

While I enjoyed them all, my favorites were the beet + cherry and the beet + berry. They really pleased my taste buds!

Sadly, this product is not yet sold near me. However it is sold in Portland, I will have to buy a few bottles the next time I visit Zowie’s family. I don’t drink a lot of juice, so one bottle would last me three servings – about what I would drink in a week’s time.

Now, the suggested retail price for this juice is $3.99 per 8.45 fluid ounce bottle, but I consider this a good price for me for a few reasons:

  1. I don’t drink juice often enough for the price to make a huge dent in my budget, and I know I’ll get three servings from each bottle.
  2. They are a source of nutrients my body needs.
  3. I can reuse the bottles for short-term food storage.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright August 2017.

Check out the bottles in the picture above. They are made of sturdy, thick glass, and can be used for short-term storage of food items and liquids. I removed the labels (an easy task that took little time) and washed the bottles and covers well, then allowed them to air dry.

I had bags of partially used food items that I decided would look better if they were in these cute little bottles. The bags look so messy, I wanted a better look in there because I’ve been organizing the small closet in my room to serve as a pantry.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright August 2017.

Here you can see where I put unsweetened coconut flakes in one bottle, dried cranberries in the second, and dried berries in the third. These are going to work just fine to store smaller portions of foods and liquids, and look much better in my little pantry space than those bags of food did.

Because I now have five of these bottles, I no longer need to go out and buy containers for this specific purpose.

How would you reuse the bottles?

Shannon

 

Watermelon and Blueberries with Coconut Cream

I love melons and berries, and find combining the two makes for some tasty recipes. These combinations are great for spring and summer.

This recipe makes a great side dish to any meal, but will also make a delicious snack or dessert.

Ingredients

1 cup cubed or balled seedless watermelon

½ cup blueberries

2 to 3 tablespoons coconut cream flavored with pure vanilla or mint extract to taste

  1. Rinse the blueberries well. Lay them out one towel and pat dry with a towel.

  2. Place the watermelon and blueberries in a salad bowl, and top with coconut cream.

Tips

  • To save money, use fresh produce from your own garden.

Serving Suggestions

Shannon

Fruit Parfaits

I love Parfaits. I put them into the sundae cups for a nice treat. I have real tea spoons with long handles that I place in the cups to add just a little fanciness to this treat.

Ingredients

any type of fruit that you like, and you can mix and match them

coconut cream flavored with pure vanilla, citrus, or mint extract

toppings such as cherries, crushed almond slivers, or unsweetened coconut cream.

  1. Put a tablespoon of cream in the bottom of the cup.
  2. Layer the cream and fruit until you get to the top.
  3. Add your choice of topping(s).

Tips

  • These parfaits are great for daycare children to make, though adults may need to cut (or supervise the cutting of) the fruits.
  • They are refreshing on a hot summer day.
  • And they make great party treats.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve at breakfast with an egg scramble.
  • Serve for a dessert or snack.
  • Serve as a side with lunch or dinner.

Enjoy!

Shannon

P.S. If you have any other parfait ideas that you would care to share, please post them in the comments section. Thank you.

Chocolate-Banana Pudding with Berries, and a Smoothie

I admit it. I love chocolate. I don’t know too many women who don’t. However, I’m trying to eat healthier foods. Traditional chocolate desserts are a no-no, and I comply with that most of the time. When I really want chocolate and am at home, chocolate pudding is a dessert I enjoy. Because there is only one of me, I don’t eat the whole thing, but I do take half and make a smoothie for the next day. Both recipes are below.

Just let me say that I had never had an avocado, so I had no idea what this might taste like starting out. I was pleasantly surprised when I made the pudding and the smoothie. I still have never had just an avocado, but I do know I like it mixed in with other foods.

Avocado is not necessarily cheap, mind you, which means I don’t make this often. One costs me about .98. I can get more kiwi or bananas for the price, which is what I often do with a portion of my fruit money. But for only a once in a while treat, this is perfect.

Chocolate-Banana Pudding with Berries

Ingredients

1 chocolate-banana pudding recipe (I use this Paleo one from Paleotable.com)

2 large strawberries, the green cut off

a few blueberries

  1. Make the banana pudding recipe according to the directions on Paleotable.com.
  2. Mix with a blender and taste. If it’s not chocolatey enough for you, and another tablespoon of the cocoa powder.
  3. Chill for an hour or so, then split half the pudding between two small cups or bowls.
  4. Top with diced strawberries, and a few blueberries.
  5. Refrigerate the other half, covered.

Chocolate-Banana-berry Smoothie

Ingredients

1/2 of the chocolate-banana pudding recipe above

1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk that has been refrigerated over night

a few strawberries, greens cut off

a handful of blueberries

  1. Place everything into a blender.
  2. Cover and blend until combined.

Tips

  • Buy coconut milk on sale, preferably with a coupon, to save a little money.
  • Try adding strawberries or other berries to the smoothie.
  • Top the pudding with apple slices for dipping.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve the pudding over a Paleo brownie, or with fruit slices for dipping.
  • Serve the smoothie for breakfast, with eggs on a bed of spinach.

Have a great day!

Shannon