Raw Peanut Butter Drops

Nothing makes me happier than getting feedback from readers who are trying my recipes and loving them! It is so rewarding to create highly nutritious recipes that people are actually trying and enjoying.   The other day, I received a comment from a blog reader named Kellie, telling me that she had baked the chocolate omega cookies and they were a huge hit with her husband and her birthing class! Hooray! Thanks so much for your comment Kellie, it really made my day:)

I'm pretty excited about this new recipe. I literally threw it together in 5 minutes. I came home from the gym the other day, and my body was craving protein. I usually have a glass of homemade chocolate milk because it has a great ratio of carbs/protein, but we were out of milk. I grabbed a jar of peanut butter and concocted these cute little drops in no time. Each ball contains about 8 grams of protein. This is a great snack post workout for you or your kids who may be in sports. These have also been a huge hit with my daughter as an after school snack. She always needs a little something to tide her over before dinner, and these are just perfect.

Raw Peanut Butter Drops
Makes 20-25 drops

1 1/2- 2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup peanut butter*
2/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut*
3 tbsp raw honey
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:
Add almond flour, cinnamon and peanut butter to mixing bowl. Using a fork, mash the peanut butter into the almond flour. Add honey, half of the coconut, and vanilla. Continue mashing together. Depending on how oily your peanut butter is, you may need to add a little more or less almond flour. Mixture should form a dough. Place the remaining coconut in a separate bowl. Using spoon, scoop dough and form into small drops, about the size of a golf ball. Roll drops in the coconut.
These are best if refrigerated or frozen. Stays fresh up to two weeks.
 *I suggest natural peanut butter that does not contain hydrogenated oils. Stay away from Jif and Skippy and opt for something containing only peanuts and salt.
*Most coconut flakes contain preservative. I recommend purchasing coconut in bulk from a health food store. The only listed ingredient should be dried coconut.

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How To: Make Beans From Scratch

Hello! It occurred to me that maybe I should write a post about how good it feels to be a graduate. Honestly, it feels the same. Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled to be done, but the real challenge will come in having a job that allows me to advocate change. All I really want to do professionally is to make a large enough impression that people around me will care what I have to say and they will use that information to make changes to their diets. I am in the process of job searching and eagerly anticipating what God has in store for me! Below is a picture of a proud graduate :)

 Okay, now onto something more exciting, {not really} BEANS!

 Let me be honest with you about something here. When you are a full time student, a mom dedicated to only feeding your family unprocessed, nourishing foods, and your husband works in ministry, the food budget can get a little tight... we don't have a never ending cash flow dedicated to groceries. Okay, what I really mean is that we are on a VERY tight budget right now, very, very tight. Whew, I said it!  Now that that's off my chest, let me also say that being on a tight budget is not an excuse to eat cheap, low quality junk! I get a little frustrated when people tell me how they think it is wonderful that we eat organically and locally and they wish they could "afford" it. Um, if we can afford it, so can you....trust me. One of the easiest ways to afford high quality foods is to make things from scratch. One of my favorites...BEANS! We use beans as an INEXPENSIVE way to bulk up our meals. By doing this, we can afford to purchase high quality, pasture raised meats because we are eating more beans and less meat.

I cannot believe I ever used to buy canned beans. Costing anywhere from $.89-$1.99 per can, canned beans are expensive! In the last 6 months or so, I have began making all of our beans from scratch. It is easy, inexpensive and so much healthier for our bodies. My biggest motivation in choosing to make from scratch is the fact that canned goods are lined with BPA. Did you know that? I just found out a few months ago, and after learning this, I vowed to stop buying anything in a can. Yep that's right, no more canned tomatoes, canned tuna, canned soup....nothing.  Maybe a post about BPA is in my future. BPA gets me fired up! Okay, lets focus on beans now....

I have had great success making a variety of beans from scratch. Our favorite recipe is homemade refried beans. I have also made black, kidney, and white beans.

My Method:
Yield: 1 cup dried beans will yield approximately 2 1/2 cups cooked beans.
In the evening, place beans in a large bowl and cover with water. Make sure there is additional room in the bowl for beans to expand.  Add 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice per cup of dried beans. ( 2 cups dried beans= 4 tbsp lemon juice) The acidity of the lemon with neutralize mineral blocking phytic acid in the beans. Leave beans out on counter overnight. Whether you soak in the evening or morning, beans should soak for 8-14 hours at room temp before cooking. When beans are done soaking DRAIN old water and rinse thoroughly. Add beans to large pot and add enough filtered water to cover beans fully. Add seasonings as desired. I usually add salt, garlic, and onion. Cook on stove top using medium heat for 35-55 minutes. The time varies depending on the type of bean and the soaking time. After 30 minutes, taste the beans to see if they are softening enough.

Storage: When I make beans, I make A LOT. And I really mean A LOT. I will usually use the biggest pot known to mankind and make about 25 cups of beans. I drain excess liquid and pull out my stash of mason jars. I love mason jars. Love, love love. I store half of my beans in freezer for later use and we use the rest in various meals throughout the week. The freezer beans will stay fresh for several weeks.


Favorite Recipe Ideas:
Vegetarian chili, refried beans {minus the lard}, 3 bean salad,  spicy black beans, veggie burgers

Get creative and get soaking!

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The Scary Truth of Genetically Modified Foods


I want to talk today about a topic that I care a great deal about; genetically modified organisms. I am amazed how many people I talk to who tell me they have never heard of such a thing. Genetic modification (GMO, GE, GM) began in our food system in 1994. Today, 75-80% of foods in a conventional grocery store have been genetically modified. As our parents and grandparents continue to argue that organic food is a "conspiracy" and a "waste of money" and "I turned out just fine", I feel the need to remind them that they are not the ones effected by these foods. When they were young, there was no such thing as organic because everything was technically organic. The concept of GM foods had not yet been invented. The time is here and now. This is the generation to be effected; us and our children. So please, let's do something!

The term genetically modified refers to foods and crops whose DNA have literally been genetically altered in a laboratory to yield bigger crops that will stay fresh longer and be resistant to pests. At first glance, this may sound like a great idea, but there is a high price to pay for these cheap psuedo crops. When there is even one chromosome or one gene out of balance in humans, this is what can cause a number of outcomes such as mental retardation, down syndrome, autism, and a whole list of conditions. Essentially, this is what genetic modification is doing to our food. When you mess with a gene or a chromosome, you are drastically changing the basic component of that organism. A tomato from a conventional grocery store may look like a tomato, but it is in fact quite different than a smaller tomato you would purchase locally from your farmer's market. While the farmer's market tomato was grown using water and sunshine, the grocery store tomato was genetically altered to grow bigger and faster, sprayed with numerous toxic chemicals, and then it was picked before it was ripe and further ripened using ethylene gas. This may sound extreme, but this is the truth of our food system.

The FDA will repeatedly assure consumers that GMO foods are harmless and there is nothing to worry about, however we are the ONLY country that has not banned/labeled the use of these crops. If other countries have banned the use of genetic engineering, should this not be a red flag to America? Something is not right about this. At this point in time, the FDA is not concerned with health in terms of longevity. They are only concerned with here and now. If GMO foods will not kill us tomorrow, then according to the FDA, they are harmless. So cigarettes must be harmless too, right?

Possibly the greatest red flag in the use of GMO foods, is that they have NEVER been tested for safety. If the FDA wants to say that genetic engineering is safe, then prove it!
People will continue to argue that there is nothing harmless about genetically modified foods by making statements such as, "we aren't dead yet" and, "it's just food". In my
{not so} humble opinion, the food we eat today is the most vital and essential component to our health outcome today, tomorrow, and for the rest of our lives. With the increasing rates of cancers and various diseases, how can we not stop and wonder if what we are eating is in fact slowly killing us?

Take a moment and think of recent illnesses and ailments that seem to be rising up but didn't exist in such vast quantities twenty years ago. Gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance, eczema, infertility, soy allergies, egg allergies. There is a direct correlation between these ailments and the rise of GM foods. The wheat we consume today is very different from that which our ancestors ate. Grocery store milk is not only pumped with growth hormones, but it is also pasteurized and stripped of any nutritional value. Soy is the second highest commodity crop next to corn, and therefore the second most common genetically engineered crop. Based on animal studies, these listed ailments may in fact be due to genetic modification of our foods. http://www.naturalnews.com/037328_Russia_GMO_Monsanto.html
http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/grocery_shopping/processed_foods/29.dairy_products_eggs_genetic_engineering.html

Which Foods are Genetically Modified? Here is a list of all foods that are currently allowed to be modified without required labeling in the US.
1. Zucchini
2. Papaya
3. Tomato
4. Sugar Beets
5. Alphalfa
6. Soy
7. Corn
8. Chicory
9. Cottonseed
10. Flax
11. Potato
12. Rice
13. Rapeseed
14. Animal feed- usually derived from corn, soy, and canola.
15. Salmon

How can you avoid genetically modified foods? 
1. Choosing organic is the first step to avoid GM foods. GM ingredients are found in all foods from cereal to eggs to milk to meat. Start by choosing organic for the foods listed above including meat, dairy, wild salmon, and eggs.
2. Avoid conventional corn and soy. Corn and soy are high commodity crops in the US because they are so cheap to produce. These ingredients are most certainly genetically modified unless labeled organic. Watch our for: soybean oil, corn oil, vegetable oil, DATEM, xantham gum, cellulose, maltodextrin, mono and di-glycerides, citric acid, high fructose corn syrup, and soy lecithin, all of these are derived from corn and or soy.  I suggest not consuming any soy or corn that is not labeled as certified organic; including food additives derived from corn or soy.
3. Choose high quality oils. Many people are surprised to hear that canola oil is highly refined and derived from chemically extracted rapeseed. It is impossible to consume canola oil that is not genetically modified, because 100% of rapeseed in the US is GM. I recommend replacing canola oil with unrefined extra virgin coconut oil.
4. Read your food labels and ask questions. Whether shopping at a health food store or a conventional grocer, reading labels is paramount to avoiding GM foods.
5. Sign petitions. The more people who are willing to demand labeling of GMO foods, the more likely our government will listen. http://justlabelit.org/
6. Find out which brands are using GMO ingredients, and stop buying those foods! Let's force these companies to give us a higher quality product, or put them out of business. Follow the link to find out which companies are using genetically modified ingredients. http://truefoodnow.org/shoppers-guide/

The Bottom Line:
Our FDA is not concerned with this topic because everything in our food system is about money. The current chair of the FDA used to be the chairman for Monsanto, the largest GMO company in America! Our government probably won't do anything about this topic any time soon, so it is up to us. If you want to advocate change, the best thing you can do is to stop buying these products. If you really want to go out on a limb, stop shopping at conventional grocery stores all together! Health food stores such as Sprouts, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Earthfare are much less likely to carry genetically modified foods. If we all do our part, maybe, just maybe our voices will be heard.

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Let's Talk About Snacks, and a New Recipe Too!


Hi my name is Delia and I think I'm addicted to dessert. There I said it. I have dessert almost every day and sometimes twice a day. And do you know what? I don't feel guilty about it. You see, most people... ahem, most women deny themselves dessert all week and then when they finally give in to dessert, they binge on half a box of Oreos. (Yes, I have done this before.) If I were to deny myself dessert all week, I guarantee by Friday night I would be hoarding the ice cream. 

Instead of being caught red handed with the freezer door open and a spoon in my hand, I prefer to treat myself throughout the week. I usually keep a bar of Trader Joe's dark chocolate on hand (the only chocolate I can find that doesn't contain soy lecithin) as well as a batch of homemade cookies.  I allow myself a small portion everyday. It's a huge motivator to finish all my greens at dinner when I know something ooey gooey and delicious is waiting for me!

I am very excited to share this new cookie recipe with you! If I haven't said it before then I will say it now,  I am not a very big fan of giving kids packaged snack foods such as goldfish crackers and pretzels. I know far too many parents who complain that their kids never finish their lunch or dinner, but then I watch them stuff their little faces with pretzels all day. Now, I don't want to sound harsh by saying these foods are bad, but I do want to make it clear that these sorts of snacks are devoid of much nutritional value. No fiber, no healthy fats, no real vitamins or minerals, no protein.  When I feed Sophia snacks between meals, I try to be very proactive about feeding her things that are very nutrient dense. I think of snack time as an extra opportunity for a little more fiber, a little more protein, a little more fruit, a little more of something nourishing. Something that I made in my own kitchen with my own ingredients. 

If you are in a snack rut with your little ones, I sincerely hope this recipe will encourage you. These cookies get a nutritional A+ from me. Bursting with fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, protein, and potassium, these are good enough to accompany breakfast or an after school snack. Enjoy!

Chocolate Omega Cookies
makes 1 dozen

2 very ripe bananas
1 cup oats(organic)
1 cup whole wheat flour(organic)
1/4 cup sucanat cane sugar
1/2 cup chia seeds*
1/2 cup chocolate chips(organic)
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup softened butter(organic)
1 egg (organic)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using food processor, blend oats into a smooth flour; set aside. Using a hand mixer, mix butter, banana, and egg until smooth. Add oats and flour to mixture. Continue mixing; add sugar, salt, baking powder. Lastly, add the coconut, chia seeds, and chocolate chips. Drop spoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake for 12-13 minutes. Allow to cool before trying to remove them from pan.
*substitute finely chopped walnuts if you desire

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Homemade Tortillas


The more I read food labels, the more disappointed I become. Even at health food stores such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe's,  I find myself frustrated by how many unnecessary ingredients are added to packaged foods. Sure, health food stores might leave out the  preservatives, but there are a slew of other food additives that I don't like consuming. Ingredients such as maltodextrin, soybean oil, canola oil, soy lecithin, xantham gum, and the list goes on. All of these ingredients are completely unnatural despite what the label may tell you.

When choosing which packaged foods to purchase, think to yourself what ingredients NEED to be in this particular food. The only neccessary ingredients for tortillas are flour, water, salt, and oil- preferably unrefined oil which does not include lard,  soybean, canola, or vegetable oils.

In an effort to continue striving to eat clean, whole foods, I have developed a very EASY, INEXPENSIVE recipe to make your own tortillas. When you make your food from scratch, you know exactly what you are eating! No surprise ingredients- what a relief!

Homemade Tortillas
makes 6-8 tortillas
1 cup whole grain wheat flour + extra for kneading
1/2 cup refined, unbleached flour
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup oil (I use cold pressed olive oil)

Directions
In a large mixing bowl, add flour, water, oil, and salt. Mix slightly with spoon. As dough becomes sticky, add extra flour as needed and knead with hands. Dough should not be sticky. Form dough into ball and cut in half. Continue shaping dough into balls and cutting in half until you have 6-8 balls, equal in size. Roll dough on floured surface into flat circles.  Roll dough as thin or as thick as you like; this is just personal preference. Cook on stove top in a skillet using medium heat.

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25 Lunch Box Snacks

Now that the back to school season is upon us, I wanted to share some of my top snack ideas to add to your kids' lunch boxes.  With careful planning, each snack we feed our children can be a great opportunity to squeeze in some extra nutrients between meals.   As a rule of thumb, snacks should contain a generous amount of fiber and protein, as well as a little bit of fat. If you don't have kids, these snack ideas are definitely great options for taking to work also!

  1. Ants on a log- celery with peanut butter and raisins
  2. Veggies with homemade ranch
  3. Veggies with hummus
  4. Homemade sweet potato fries- season potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper;bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes
  5. Frozen peas- sounds weird, but young toddlers love this!
  6. Avocado chunks- serve with whole grain crackers and sprinkle with cheese
  7. Baked garbanzo beans- season with salt, pepper, olive oil, bake at 425 for 30 minutes; kids love the crunch!
  8. Organic tortilla chips with black beans and mild salsa
  9. Small serving of natural/homemade soup
  10. Small serving of oatmeal- sneak in some omega 3s by adding 1 tbsp chia seeds
  11. Whole wheat pita with hummus
  12. Air popped popcorn- stay away from the microwave version; buy kernels in bulk at your grocery store and pop it in an air popper or on the stovetop
  13. Homemade oatmeal raisin cookies- replace 1/2 of the sugar with 1 overly ripe banana; use whole wheat flour
  14. Homemade muffins- replace 1/2 of the sugar with 1 overly ripe banana; use whole wheat flour
  15. Small quesadilla- use whole wheat tortilla
  16. Lara bars- these are my absolute favorite store bought bars; each bar contains 3-5 ingredients!
  17. Roasted nuts- make sure your child is old enough to tolerate whole nuts
  18. Soft boiled eggs
  19. Peanut butter banana boat- slice banana partially through lengthwise and fill with peanut butter
  20. Apple slices with cheese
  21. Smoothie- yogurt, ice, fruit, small handful of spinach
  22. Frozen blueberries dipped in yogurt- another great one for young toddlers
  23. Fruit salad drizzled with yogurt and granola
  24. Natural/organic applesauce
  25. Homemade fruit popsicles- sweeten with honey

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Kale Cobb Salad

Today was one of those days where I felt completely restless and bored. Do you remember being a kid on summer vacation and constantly complaining to your mom about how bored you were? Yes, that was me today, except I was complaining to my husband! Surprisingly, it ended up being a highly productive and overall good day. I think my disappointment was in the fact that we didn't leave the house. I get restless sitting in our teeny tiny house all day. Despite not leaving the house, I managed to entertain myself with 2 loads of laundry, 1 scummy bathroom, and a few rounds of hide-and-go-seek with a cute 3-year old!

Remember several years ago when salads started to evolve from boring iceberg and Caesar salads into something much more exciting? Now it seems that every restaurant has at least one signature salad that is full of yummy concoctions and toppings. Just recently I have started seeing kale chopped salads on restaurant menus. Someone has finally discovered that kale doesn't taste as bad as we have all been told. In the past several years I have been known to hide kale in tons of recipes. Pasta sauce, soup, chili, smoothies, etc etc. Now low and behold, there is no need to hide the kale. Let that kale shine in all its green glory!
If you are a kale newbie, I highly suggest lacinato kale, also known as dinosaur kale. Rest assured when I tell you that it is not bitter in the slightest. Whether you cook it or eat it raw, this is the most mild breed of kale that exists. I am sure you grew up constantly being told to eat your greens. Not all "greens" are created equal. Kale is bursting with nutrients. I suggest eating it 2-3 times a week if possible. Kale belongs to the Brassica family which means it is a cruciferous vegetable and can ward off most types of cancer.  Kale also lowers cholesterol and greatly decreases risk of heart disease, a leading cause of death in women. Kale is also very high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, flavonoids, phytochemicals, and fiber.  I know for certain that Trader Joe's, Sprouts, and Whole Foods all carry lacinato kale. What are you waiting for? Go get yourself some greens! :)

I have always been a fan of cobb salads. I usually steer clear of them at restaurants because they can be a calorie death trap. I modified this one to not be so heavy and high in fat. Using a homemade dressing makes it a much more "clean" meal because you know exactly what ingredients are in that dressing. No xanthan gum or other unnecessary additives and thickeners. I have recently begun switching our lettuce from spinach to kale, and my husband hasn't even noticed. This recipe is a fairly QUICK one for busy school nights. The key here is to chop the kale very very finely and to toss the dressing with the kale before serving. Your kids just might like leafy greens afterall!

Kale Cobb Salad
serves 4

8 cups lacinato kale (organic)
4 eggs  (organic)
4 thick slices bacon  (organic)
2 avocados
1 large tomato
1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles
1-2 lbs cooked chicken cubed (organic)

Honey Dijon Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/4 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp honey
pinch of salt
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp chopped garlic

Directions
Add all dressing ingredients to a small bowl, stir, and refrigerate. Finely chop kale and set aside. Brown the bacon in a sauce pan for 5-7 minutes and chop into fine crumbles. Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil and add eggs. Cook for 7-8 minutes and rinse with cold water. Peel eggs and chop into small chunks. Chop tomatoes and avocado and set aside. Toss kale in a bowl with the dressing. Distribute kale among the plates. Add all toppings.  Serve with crusty bread if desired.

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