Day 23: 30 Days of Unprocessed Food

 At last I am back to the daily grind of working towards a college degree. Isn't it funny that amidst the chaos of the semester I find myself whining and anxiously awaiting classes to be over, yet during my time off these past few weeks, I find myself getting restless and eager to be back on a schedule? The grass is always greener. Although I have been dreading the start of summer school these past few weeks, part of me is happy to be back into a routine. It feels good to wake up and have somewhere to be in the morning and to work towards something that means so much to me. I am three classes away from earning my Bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. It feels great to be nearing the finish line!

 Today was my first day of Microbiology and I loved it. This is my last lab science. Let me just recite to you all the science courses I have taken. It makes me feel smart, so humor me: Anatomy and Physiology I and II, General Chemistry I and II,  General Biology, Organic Chemistry, and last but not least... Biochemistry- hardest class of my life! I will be so happy when Microbiology is over. Yes it's true, I am a science nerd, but I am also getting burned out on lab reports and chemical formulas. I rushed out the door this morning to make sure I had plenty of time to find my class. As a result, I made a very quick and easy lunch for myself of 1/2 peanut butter sandwich, grapes, and almonds.  I was starving by the end of the day, because this lunch would barely satisfy a 90 year old sedentary woman!

After my husband picked me up from school, he insisted on getting a haircut,  (he really needed one) so he dropped Sophia and I off at Starbucks. I grabbed a tall iced coffee sweetened with honey for a little pick me up. Much to my surprise, we were able to find a fruit and nut bar that was raw and unprocessed to share as a small snack! I have never heard of this brand before, but after finding these bars, I am in love. All products are raw with no refined sugars or oils. What's not to love?! Check it out here.  Although this was supposed to be to share, Sophia ended up eating most of it ;)



Day 23:
Breakfast: 2 slices toast with peanut butter and banana
Lunch: 1/2 peanut butter sandwich, grapes, raw almonds
James and Sophia's Lunch: Sandwich with organic deli turkey with avocado; grapes, homemade crackers.
Snack: Lara Bar; Raw food bar at Starbucks
Dinner: Penne past with marinara and cheese; sauteed spinach
Dessert: Watermelon slices

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Day 22: 30 Days of Unprocessed Food


I cannot believe we are in our last week of eating no processed foods. I have had  a lot of people ask me this past week, "why are you not eating processed foods? What's the point?" Honestly, hearing those words is a little discouraging at first, but it is also a great conversation starter! What's the point? Well, I guess the point was to illustrate to my readers exactly how to eat unprocessed, real foods. In choosing to do this challenge, I have hoped to get my readers involved and excited about trying to eat healthier foods. I also wanted to prove that we could eat a healthy, whole foods diet without feeling completely deprived. I think we have been successful in that respect. Although we have been eating very healthy, I don't feel deprived in the least.

This weekend has been full of several challenges. We were invited to numerous BBQs and only ended up going to one because it was for my grandma's birthday and we felt that it was an important celebration to attend. My family has been very supportive throughout this 30 days. I always stress out when it is time to go to a family function because it is so hard to avoid junk foods. It is even harder to tell my daughter that she can't eat this and she can't eat that when everyone around her is enjoying chips and dip. My mom made my life so much easier this weekend by making grass fed burgers and healthy brownies made from garbanzo beans. I'll have to post that recipe later. We spent today with my in-laws shopping at antique stores. Look at this gem that we found for our living room. What do you think?


After shopping for 3 hours, we were all starving. We headed over to Chipotle for vegetarian burrito bowls. What did I tell you; we eat at Chipotle A LOT! Although we have been adhering to our "rules" this weekend, our meals have been very sporadic. It's 4:30 and I have no idea what we are eating for dinner tonight! I feel like in week 4 of our challenge, I am starting to get lazy! I am starting summer school tomorrow. These next 8 weeks are going to be very chaotic. Maybe I will need to post about how to keep up with meal planning amidst total chaos.

Chipotle Burrito Bowl. Brown rice, black beans, pico de gallo, avocado, corn, lettuce.
Day 22:
Breakfast: Eggs with spinach and cheese. Sweet potato homefries
Lunch: Chipotle Burrito Bowls
My Daughter's Lunch: Applegate Organic deli turkey, organic blueberries, shredded raw cheese.
Dinner: TBD! It will be leftovers of some sort. Probably whole grain pasta salad and turkey. We need some veggies too. I'll probably sautee some asparagus.
Dessert: Lots and lots of watermelon :)

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Day 18: 30 Days of Unprocessed Food


I genuinely enjoy cooking and planning meals; most of the time.... The past two days have been slightly stressful because I left all of the cooking and meal prep until the last minute. I am usually pretty good about prepping foods ahead of time, but I have been a little preoccupied with a few things. Yesterday we were planning to make falafel for dinner. (We flip flopped a few of our dinners this week.)  I soaked the garbanzo beans and had just put them on the stove to simmer for a few hours. Just then one of my friends had called and invited my daughter and I for a play date. I decided to take her up on it because I was in desperate need of some girl time. I left the beans on the stove to simmer. I figured we would be gone for an hour and everything would be fine. My husband was upstairs working.

Bad bad bad idea! I called James on the way home and he tells me that something is burning. Ugh! Why did he not smell it sooner? I walked in the door and the whole house smelled like smoke. I went to stir the beans and they were a charred, black mess. Not my proudest moment. I was so annoyed and so starving that I honestly wanted to order a pizza! We hardly EVER order pizza, so you can bet if we do, there is a good reason behind it. I went in the living room to cool off because apparently I was "fuming" or so the husband tells me. I stupidly assumed that he would keep the beans from burning. But why should I assume that? He was upstairs working. Miscommunication between spouses is so much fun isn't it? ;)

As James attempted to clean up the mess, he declared that the beans were not as badly burned as we thought. He ended up scooping them into a bowl and separating the charred beans from the good ones. Whew! We were able to salvage enough beans to still make our falafel. We probably wasted $2 worth of beans. Whoop dee doo!



As if yesterday wasn't frustrating enough, I had planned on going grocery shopping this morning because we didn't have much to eat in the house for the rest of the week. James has been trying to sell his music equipment and he had taken our car to go meet a man who wanted to buy a keyboard case. I was stuck at home with no car, anxiously waiting for him to come home. Our daughter was at school thankfully, with a lunch I had packed. By the time James came home, we were both STARVING and ready for lunch. I don't know about you, but when I am hungry I cannot think about grocery shopping. We stupidly sat on our bed for twenty minutes talking about where we could go to pick something up quick. We can't have any refined grains during this 30 days, so going out to eat is nearly impossible. A salad without any crackers or bread won't fill us up. We finally decided to go to Chipotle and order their vegetarian burrito bowl with brown rice. Chipotle is pretty much the only real food restaurant that leaves us feeling full and happy.

Okay so why did I decide to ramble on about these 2 unfortunate circumstances? The moral of the story is that if you want to eat healthy,  it is so highly important to have a plan for your meals and also to have a plan B. Things go wrong in the kitchen all the time. Something can spill or burn or even just taste horrible! Usually our plan B is burritos with whole wheat tortillas and beans pulled from the freezer. Another good one is whole grain pasta and organic marinara sauce. Unfortunately we didn't even have those items today. Thank goodness for Chipotle! What is your "go to meal" when life is stressful?

Day18:
Breakfast: Rice puff cereal sweetened with honey; banana
Snack:Raw almonds
Lunch: Chipotle vegetarian burrito bowl. Brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, pico de gallo, guacamole, lots of letuce.
Dinner: Falafel with tabouli, pita, cucumber slices
Dessert: Watermelon slices

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Peach Cobbler

We have recently grown to love picking our own foods at the farmer's markets. There is something so traditional and fun about walking up to the farm stand and choosing fresh, organic produce that was grown only a few miles away. I love the feeling of having fresh foods as well as supporting local farmers. There is a farm in Queen Creek, Arizona called Schnepf Farms that is best known for their delicious, organic peaches. I had heard about the farm in years past, but I never cared to drive 40 minutes just to pick some peaches!

 Now that I am a mom, my whole mentality has changed. I want to teach my daughter to care about the food she eats and to choose real, organic foods when possible. Driving 40 minutes is nothing compared to most of the Arizona produce that reaches us by semi trucks from New Mexico and California! We decided to take the drive this past weekend, and I am so glad we did. Not only does the farm have organic peaches, they even take you on a hayride "shuttle" to the middle of the orchard so you can pick the peaches yourself! The orchard is several acres long, with peach trees as far as your eyes can see.
My daughter just loved picking the peaches off the tree. Although she is very familiar with going to the farmer's market and helping put food in our basket, this was her first picking experience. We grabbed a large box from under an awning and we filled it to the max! I didn't know how many pounds we had until we walked over to have them weighed. Turns out our little three year old had managed to pick 5 pounds worth of peaches. What on earth are we supposed to do with 5 pounds of peaches? Make peach cobbler of course!


I jump at every chance I get to make a dessert recipe.  My sweet tooth is ridiculous. Even a little pathetic. A meal is never complete until you finish your dessert. I feel a little less guilty about this one because it has fruit in it. It's healthy right? I also feel less guilt about the fact that there are no refined sugars and the flour is whole grain.  I have just recently discovered coconut sugar and I love it. The sugar is produced from the sap of the coconut palm. Although it is still sugar, it is unrefined and a much healthier option than that bright white junk at the grocery store. The maple syrup in this recipe creates a slightly sweet and satisfying glaze for the peaches. When serving this, I highly recommend using a ladle and giving yourself an extra spoonful of the maple glaze. You will surely be glad you did.


Peach Cobbler:
Serves 6-8

 For the Filling:
4 cups slices peaches
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1tbsp arrowroot powder (cornstarch is also fine)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon

For the Topping:
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 stick + 2 tbsp cold butter cut into small chunks
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp water

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2 qt baking dish. 
Place sliced peaches in a large bowl. Pour maple syrup over peaches. Add coconut sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix flour and arrowroot. Add dry ingredients to wet. Place peach mixture in a 2 qt baking dish. Add oats and 3/4 cup flour to a food processor. Pulse briefly. Add sugar, cinnamon and 1 stick butter. Pulse very briefly until ingredients have mixed.  Pour the topping onto the peach filling. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of water to the top of cobbler. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

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Day 15: 30 Days of Unprocessed Food

Exactly one week from today I will be starting summer school. I am dreading it like you would not believe! These past few weeks have been so relaxing for me. I have had so much extra time to devote to my husband and my daughter. Honestly, I enjoy being a housewife so much. Maybe in another life we will strike it rich and I will have the luxury of always being home with my sweet girl. Until then, I must face the reality of earning a college degree and finding a "grown up" job. Darn.

Visiting the petting zoo at a local farm. I love my sweet girl!


One of my favorite things about being home these past few weeks has been having more time in the kitchen. When I am in the middle of the semester, our meals tend to be very boring. Although we don't resort to fast food, we are very guilty of having quick and easy meals that usually don't taste very exciting. I love having the time to prepare flavorful, complex meals that we can all enjoy. Eating healthy is so much easier when the food doesn't taste like cardboard. Needless to say, I am becoming much better at making large batches of recipes and freezing them for later use. I think this will be my saving grace when I finish up school in the fall.

Speaking of meals that don't taste like cardboard, I made Grilled Vegetable Salad with Balsamic and Quinoa. for my sister and brother-in-law tonight and they both loved it. My brother-in-law cannot tolerate gluten so I was very happy to be able to make a dish that he could enjoy.  Like I stated previously, this meal might be a new staple in our household! The balsamic dressing soaks into the quinoa and veggies, offering so much flavor and density. It is such a satisfying vegetarian meal!

I cannot believe we are at the half way point in our challenge! In some ways it feels like we just started. But mostly, it feels like we have been doing it forever and there is no end in sight. I had a very random craving today for a good burger and fries.  When this challenge is over, I might be treating myself to a burger at Joe's Farm Grill. They use all local, natural meats, which I LOVE! All in all, I haven't had a lot of cravings thankfully! I know James is starting to have some cravings too. Although we love this way of eating, we will all be in need of a treat when this is over. Sophia misses her organic lollipops;)


Day 15
Breakfast: Vanilla Oatmeal Pancakes with Banana Slices
Lunch: Organic Hotdogs with Sauerkraut and carrots
Snack: Raw Almonds
Dinner: Grilled Vegetable Salad with Balsamic and Quinoa
Dessert: Popcorn with Olive Oil

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Anniversary Dinner

James and I celebrated our 4 year wedding anniversary last night. I cannot believe it has been 4 years! Time flies when you are in love:) I was looking forward to our indulgent meal all week. We decided to go to the Herb Box in Scottsdale because they use local, organic produce in a few of their dishes and we love the romantic ambiance of being on the Waterfront. We don't go out to eat very often, but when we do, we like to go all out. Drinks, appetizers, entrees, desserts, the whole shebang!

He insisted on snapping a few photos of me, so then I snapped right back at him!
 We arrived to the restaurant around 6pm and decided to sit outside because the breeze was just perfect. We ordered our drinks right away. I ordered a cucumber mojito and James ordered a blackberry mojito. {We ended up trading. So predictable} It took us a long time to decide on appetizers. Although everything looked good, nothing stood out. We finally ordered Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives and a Ham and Caper Flatbread Pizza with Arugula. The pizza was excellent. I just love capers! We also ordered a salad to share. The salad was interesting. Mixed greens, orange segments, avocado, pepitas, dates, with a sweet dressing. It was unpredictable but surprisingly good.

Our delicious ham and arugula flatbread with parmesan and capers.
 James wasn't sure if he wanted to order entrees. My reaction: "Are you crazy? This is our anniversary. Let's go all out!" And so we did. He ordered a Salmon Cake with a Poblano Cream Sauce and I ordered Baby Back Ribs with Gouda Mac and Cheese. {Honestly, I couldn't decide what to order. I was overly stimulated by all the options!}  James was able to eat his entire entree because it was pretty light. I ate less than half of mine and packed the rest up to send home with our baby sitter. AKA my mom:) Although I enjoyed my meal, it didn't make my mouth water. I think my favorite parts of the meal were the salad and the flatbread pizza. Both items were light and refreshing. The ribs were fine, but the mac and cheese did not impress me. James' salmon cake was delicious! The cream sauce and avocado on top really added to the flavor experience.
From left to right. Salmon Cake with Corn Poblano Sauce and Avocado. Baby Back Ribs with Jicama Apple Salad and Gouda Mac n Cheese.
 Neither of us was in the mood for dessert, which shocked me. We are both major dessert lovers. We walked around outside for a little while and finally decided to pop into Sprinkles for some cupcakes. We were afraid that if we didn't have dessert, we would regret it in the morning.  When I bit into the cupcake, I enjoyed it, but at the same time I thought it was waaaaaaay too sweet. I definitely think my taste buds have become accustomed to eating less sugar. I am grateful that The cupcake tasted too sweet because it reminds me that I have been successful in slowly training my taste buds to not prefer sugar. Now I need to do the same thing with James' salt addiction! Overall, I was really happy with our anniversary. We had a great night and enjoyed each others' company. I was also surprised by us that we didn't overeat. I thought for sure that we would go on a "food binge" because we have been so restricted lately. Instead, we both ate sensibly and hopped right back on our real food bandwagon this morning by making green smoothies for breakfast!


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Day 10: 30 Days of Unprocessed Food


Today started out a little hectic. My husband and I overslept and woke up at 8:50am. When I went upstairs to wake up Sophia, she was happily playing with her animals on her bed! We rushed to get ready and get out the door to preschool. She was 30 minutes late, but who's counting?
Yummy Salad at Essence Bakery. Organic and 100% Unprocessed.
 After rushing home, cleaning the kitchen, and taking a quick shower, I headed out the door for a lunch date at Essence Bakery.  There are very few organic restaurants in the Phoenix area, but Essence is one that I enjoy frequenting. It amazes me that more restaurants do not serve organic and local options. It seems that no matter where you go for lunch, the average price for a salad is $10-$13 dollars. I would so much rather pay $13 for a salad made from organic ingredients than pay that same price for a salad from a chain restaurant like Chili's or Paradise Bakery. Essence Bakery uses locally grown produce as well as local, organic meats. That is my kind of restaurant! My salad today consisted of organic baby greens, pear slices, pecans, goat cheese, dried cranberries, and organic, grass fed flank steak. I used olive oil as my dressing, and although it came with a roll, I resisted the temptation to eat it. I am thinking of compiling a list of restaurant options that offer real, organic options. Honestly, I am thinking of boycotting all other restaurants. Am I crazy?

Grain Free Pizza with Cauliflower Crust. Delish!
Have any of you heard of the Paleo diet? The word Paleo comes from Paleolithic. It is also called the "caveman" diet. The definition of the Paleo diet is "grain free". Okay so what does "grain free" mean? People who follow this diet do not eat wheat, rice, oats, corn or any sorts of grains. Typical flours that they cook with would be coconut flour, almond flour,  and garbanzo bean flour, none of which are grains. People who follow this diet believe that grains should not be consumed by humans because our ancestors did not consume grains and therefore we cannot properly digest grains. Although I am not sure that I fully agree with this, I do think that as a Western nation, we rely on grains more than is necessary.  How many of us are guilty of eating cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, crackers for snack, a huge helping of pasta with dinner, and cookies for dessert? That is a lot of grains in one day! I have become very intrigued by this diet in the past few weeks. My daughter suffers from eczema and severe allergies and I am a huge believer in diet being a contributing factor to these symptoms. We have begun limiting her intake of wheat, dairy and soy and it seems to be helping.  I made grain free coconut waffles yesterday for breakfast and a grain free cauliflower pizza tonight for dinner. Both were surprisingly delicious! I don't anticipate us ever giving up grains 100%, but I am definitely on board for eating less grains as a way of reducing inflammation and being healthier.  Today is day 10 of our challenge and we are going strong! I feel so healthy. James told me this evening that he feels much more energetic than he has in a long time! I think we may be onto something big here!


Day 10
Breakfast: Overnight Oatmeal with Peanut Butter and Fruit Puree
James' Lunch: Bean Burritos with Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas
Delia's Lunch: Organic Salad at Essence Bakery.
My Daughter's Lunch: Peanut Butter and Jelly on Ezekiel bread. Organic Applesauce, Carrot sticks, Fruit Leather.
Snack: Raw Almonds
Dinner: Grain Free Pizza with Spinach Salad
Dessert: Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

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Grilled Balsamic Vegetable Salad with Quinoa



Every once in a while, I dream up a recipe in my head and then when I make it, it tastes perfect. This doesn't happen very often, but it happened today! My greatest secret in keeping our organic eating lifestyle INEXPENSIVE is that we don't eat a lot of meat. I refuse to buy cheap meat from a mainstream grocery store because it is full of arsenic, growth hormones, antibiotics and junk that I don't feel comfortable allowing my family to eat. Yes, you can find great deals on chicken for less than $1/lb, but it's not worth it to me.  Buying meat at the farmer's market is not cheap! This is why we try to eat a lot of vegetarian meals, and we think of meat more as a side dish rather than the focal point of a meal. Using veggies and grains to bulk up a meal is both INEXPENSIVE and tasty!  I have been craving grilled veggies for the past week. I love grilled seasonal veggies,smothered in sauce and lightly sprinkled with salt and pepper. Yum. I wanted to make a meal that was centered around grilled veggies that would taste delicious and not leave us feeling hungry. The best way that I could think to do this was to serve the veggies with quinoa. Quinoa is the only vegetarian source of protein that contains all essential amino acids. It really is a superfood that we all need to eat frequently! My husband will only eat quinoa if it has a lot of flavor to it. I knew that I wanted to season our veggies with balsamic dressing, but then I came up with an even better idea of dousing the quinoa with balsamic! This meal is truly bursting with flavor. For those of you who have husbands who are reluctant to eat a vegetarian meal, I assure you this meal is worth trying. It is so refreshing and delicious! I think we might add this to one of our weekly meals. We also added grilled corn to this salad, although it is not pictured above.
 Grilled Balsamic Vegetable Salad with Quinoa
Serves 4
1 small Eggplant
1 red Bell Pepper
1 red Onion
2 ears Corn
8 Asparagus spears
4 cups cooked Quinoa
Skewers (optional)

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1tsp salt
4 cloves garlic

Directions:
Place all dressing ingredients in food processor. After ingredients are thoroughly mixed, place in refrigerator. Cut bell pepper, eggplant,  and onion into 1 inch pieces and place on skewers. Place skewers and asparagus spears on platter. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. Without removing the husks from the corn, pull them back slightly and pat corn with olive oil and salt. Wrap husks over corn to be placed directly on the grill. Grill veggies for approximately 15 minutes or until desired crispiness. Cut the corn off of cob after it has cooled. Place 1 cup of quinoa on each plate and serve veggies atop the quinoa. Drizzle generously with the balsamic dressing. Enjoy!


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Day 8: 30 Days of Unprocessed Food


Although I am still a little grumpy about our minor setbacks from the weekend, we have had a great day today! It has been so nice being home for the past few weeks. Being fully present and fully committed to my husband and my daughter is my favorite thing to do! I feel like we have had so much quality time in the past week. My husband is a traveling musician, but he has been home the entire month. It has been wonderful. I love when the three of us are home together. Even if we are not doing anything very spectacular, it is so nice to be in the presence of the people you love most.  Having more free time also means having time to cook yummy meals more often which is always a bonus! We bought our bratwursts for dinner at Whole Foods because I wasn't able to make it to the farmer's market for local meat. They smelled terrible before we threw them on the grill, but they ended up tasting pretty good!


Day 8:
Breakfast: Green eggs with toast and pear slices
Lunch: Mexican salad with brown rice, black beans, avocado, cheese, romaine, salsa
Snack: Raw almonds
Dinner: Organic bratwurst with saerkraut and mustard, grilled potato medley
Dessert: Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

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Strawberry Ice Cream


I have to come clean with all of you about my current obsession. I am completely and utterly obsessed with teal vintage berry baskets! What is more country chic than an adorable box of strawberries fresh from the market? I lived in Maine for a few years of my childhood, and I have such fond memories of going berry picking during the summer. We used to grab a large crate full of berry baskets, and fill it to our hearts' content. It's no wonder that I love berries!  Now that I live in Arizona, berry baskets are nowhere to be found. I love them so much, that I ordered a dozen on Etsy and I decided to use them as centerpieces for my daughter's 3rd birthday in a few weeks. I am super excited for her party by the way. It is going to be ridiculously cute.  I know it's a weird obsession, but I just can't help it. Red and teal just belong together. In case you haven't noticed, I also chose the colors of this blog to mimic a berry basket:)

When we originally decided to do our 30 day challenge of no processed foods, I knew it would be miserable if we were not allowed to have ice cream. I cannot stress enough that we are a family of dessert lovers! After telling my husband that we would not be allowed to have store bought ice cream for the 30 days, we got in the car and headed to Target for an ice cream maker! We are pretty impulsive, what can I say? There is no way that either of us could give up ice cream for 30 days! You would have to pay me a very large sum of money... In the past few weeks, I have made several ice cream recipes using maple syrup in place of sugar and they have all turned out surprisingly creamy and delicious.  One of my favorite parts of summer is the fact that berries are in season. My daughter has a serious berry obsession (I wonder where she gets it from?). She will eat any vegetable I place in front of her, but when it comes to fruit, she has to have berries! The vote was unanimous in our house that we needed to make some fresh strawberry ice cream to kick off the start of summer vacation. I made this recipe originally using canned coconut milk. Although it tasted great, it was more icy than creamy. I then tried the recipe with organic heavy cream, and it was much more satisfying. This recipe is very low in sugar, and therefore you don't have to feel guilty when your kids want to eat a huge bowl for breakfast dessert :)


Strawberry Ice Cream
Makes approx. 1 quart

2 Pints Heavy Cream (organic)
1/3 cup Maple Syrup
1 tbsp Arrowroot Powder
3 Egg Yolks (organic)
1 lb Strawberries (organic)
Ice Cream Maker

Directions:
After washing strawberries and removing stems, place in a saucepan on low/medium. As the strawberries begin to cook, mash them vigorously with a fork or potato masher. Place in bowl and allow to cool. In separate bowl, mix heavy cream, maple syrup, egg yolks, and arrowroot powder. Add strawberries after they have cooled down. Place all ingredients in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill. Add ingredients to ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer directions.

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Day 6&7: 30 Days of Unprocessed Food

 Yesterday was the first day of our 30 day challenge that truly felt like a challenge. We went out of town for the day to celebrate my sister's graduation. We had a great afternoon and enjoyed some cool weather.  I packed our lunches and snacks so that we wouldn't have to resort to any convenience foods. My family decided  that we would go to a Thai restaurant for dinner after the commencement ceremony. I called the restaurant ahead of time to ask them a few questions such as what type of oil they cook with, if their sauces contain sugar, and if they use MSG. She told me that they cook with only sesame and fish oil which are both perfectly fine. Although they don't use any MSG, pretty much everything contains added sugars. There were only about 3 items on the menu that were considered unprocessed.  My husband ordered a spicy chicken and green bean dish with chili flakes, and I ordered an eggplant dish and had them make it with no sugary sauce. We both ordered brown rice.  Our greatest challenge was in the fact that my family ordered some crab puff appetizers and Sophia threw a fit because she was starving and wanted a bite. We decided to let her have one very small bite because it only seemed fair considering James and I will be having a splurge day this week for our anniversary. I was a little aggravated that we had to give in, but I feel at ease knowing that her bite was teeny tiny and this is the ONLY processed food she has eaten all week.
Chicken with Eggplant, minus the sugar in the sauce. Chili paste with chicken and green beans.

 Happy Mother's Day to everyone!
We went out to eat at P.F Chang's to celebrate with my husband's family this afternoon. We had a great time visiting with everyone. I didn't know where we were going out to eat until an hour beforehand and when I tried to call to ask specific questions about the menu, the chef was too busy to talk to me. We knew that appetizers would be off limits, but we had a very hard time finding items for lunch. I ordered Sophia steamed vegetables with brown rice, but I was disappointed when they came drenched in sauce. James ordered Salt and Pepper Prawns which came deep fried even though the menu made it appear that they were steamed. I panicked and didn't know what to order. Being with a large group made it difficult for me to break out of my shell and ask the waitress specific questions. They were also very busy due to it being a holiday. I ordered the Ginger Chicken with Broccoli because I seem to remember it not being very saucy. I was wrong! The dish came drenched in sugary sauce! I tried very hard to not eat a lot of the sauce, but it wasn't easy. Sophia impressed me a lot today. She ate a ton of steamed veggies and brown rice, and she didn't ask for anything else.  She also enjoyed her maple syrup peanut butter cookies and didn't throw a fit when I wouldn't let her have any cheesecake.  Although we technically "failed" today, I am so proud of James and Sophia for making such a strong effort. I conclude that it is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to eat a truly unprocessed meal at a restaurant. Don't even get me started on the factory farm chicken that is full of hormones and antibiotics. YUCK! Yesterday I was in a really bad mood about all of this because I knew that we would "fail" today. I am feeling a little better today because I know that we made our best effort considering the circumstances. I am trying so desperately to prove that we can eat unprocessed, organic foods without sacrificing flavor. I conclude that this is true only if we eat at home. James and I will still be indulging for our anniversary, but we decided that for the rest of this challenge, we will not be going out to eat under any circumstances. Even those dishes that appear to be healthy have hidden sugars and processed ingredients. Maybe we failed today, but it was most certainly a learning experience. Oh and to leave on a happy note, my favorite part of today was when I heard the sweet sound of James making me pancakes this morning. Truly the sweetest gesture ever :)


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Day 4: 30 Days of Unprocessed Food


Breakfast this morning was delicious. Overnight oats with chia seeds, banana, and a dollop of creamy peanut butter for a protein boost. For those of you who have never had Overnight Oats, you don't know what you are missing! The basic premise of Overnight Oats is mixing oats with milk and refrigerating overnight. There is no cooking involved. By not cooking the oats, you are keeping all nutrients 100% intact which makes for a highly nutritious breakfast. After adding your oats and milk, the rest is up to you. Add fruit puree, raisins, nuts, vanilla, peanut butter, coconut flakes, and whatever the heck you feel like! We always put chia seeds in our oats prior to refrigerating. Chia seeds are my new favorite superfood. Not only are they full of fiber, packing in 4 grams per tablespoon; they are also chock full of Omega 3s. Step aside wild salmon! I highly recommend chia seeds as part of your everyday routine. Add them to pancake batter, muffins, chili, soup, casseroles, and oatmeal. They have almost twice the amount of Omega 3s as flaxseeds. If you are not eating chia seeds, now is the time to start! I call them "crunchies" and add them to my daughters cereal almost every morning. She loves them. No matter what your stage of life, everyone benefits from Omega 3s. They contribute to heart health and cognitive development.  You can find Chia seeds in the bulk section of most major farmer's market grocers.

Homemade Ice Cream! Recipe will be Coming Soon!

 We survived day 4 and we are going strong. I spent a large majority of my day in the kitchen trying to create a few new recipes. I was only successful in one new recipe. I have a healthy, creamy, delicious ice cream recipe coming soon! We allowed Sophia to have a scoop after dinner, and she was in heaven!  I was worried that our dinner tonight would not be very satisfying, but it turned out to be a great meal for a warm Spring evening. When my husband was in school, we used to eat in the student union quite frequently, and veggie wraps were a staple dinner. To this day, I still love a thick spread of hummus on wraps and sandwiches. I am always amazed when I try to find hummus at the grocery store that doesn't have added ingredients. Several brands contain high fructose corn syrup and artificial dyes! So disappointing. My favorite brand is Doctor Hummus. This hummus is locally made here in Phoenix and it tastes so fresh! Probably because it is not preserved with anything. We used the artichoke hummus tonight. These are the ingredients: garbanzo beans, artichokes, olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt. That's it! 

Day 4:
Breakfast: Over night oats with chia seeds and peanut butter.
Lunch: Leftover vegetable stirfry with rice and garbanzo beans.
Snack: Apple rings with peanut butter.
Dinner: Hummus and veggie wrap (avocado, bell pepper, tomato, cheese.
Dessert: Strawberries with organic whipped cream sweetened with honey.

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Day 3: 30 Days of Unprocessed Food


My daughter is doing surprisingly well so far. During dinner she made a face and said she "doesn't like rice" and then proceeded to ask to watch a movie. I told her it was not time to watch a movie, it was time to eat dinner. My husband and I sat down to dinner and ignored her for a few minutes. She eventually came over and started eating. She mostly ate the beans and a few bites of rice. Then she surprised me and asked for more bell peppers. She ate an entire plate full. Sophia is living proof that it is possible to raise your children to be healthy eaters. I am so proud of her good eating habits. Yes, we have our battles, but overall, she is such a good eater! For those of you who have picky eaters, be patient and be assertive. Your kids will eat healthy food if that is all you offer them. I will be posting an entry about how to raise your kids to be healthy eaters in the next few weeks, so hang tight. Here is what we ate today:

Breakfast: Peanut butter banana quesadilla
Lunch: Leftover chicken from last night made into sandwiches with lettuce and tomato
My Daughter's Lunch: Leftover chicken, fruit leather, apple rings with peanut butter, frozen peas, whole wheat brownie. 
Snack: Popcorn with salt, pepper, and cultured organic butter
Dinner: Vegetable stirfry with garbanzo beans. This turned out really well. I added some homemade chicken stock to give it some flavor.
Dessert: Watermelon slices. I also had a small brownie. Whoops! I love chocolate, what can I say?

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Day 2: 30 Days of Unprocessed Food

Well, we survived day 1 and 2! I think this first week is going to be a piece of cake (no pun intended). Things will probably start to get difficult around week 3 or 4 when my mouth starts to water at the first thought of chocolate! We had whole wheat brownies last night, and I think they satisfied the craving pretty well. Hopefully it stays that way. My husband and I both agreed that we went to bed last night feeling comfortably full and not deprived. Remember, this 30 days is not a "diet". We are not cutting back our calories, we are simply avoiding all additives and processed foods. My daughter goes to preschool 3 days a week and I am so grateful that they are understanding of my desire for her to not have junk. When the other kids receive gummy bears as reinforcement, my daughter receives fruit leather. Although she is following the 30 day plan with us, she doesn't always eat what my husband and I eat. I will post below what she ate for lunch. I dread the day that she starts kindergarten and I have to let go a little more and accept the fact that she will eat junk once in a while. Maybe by that time, there will be a little more awareness in our elementary schools.  Ugh. I'll cross that bridge when I get there! Needless to say, the three of us are doing great so far. There have been no major obstacles yet.  I know that we will have obstacles in the future if we are invited to someones' house for dinner, etc. We will simply have to tell them our 30 day goal and plan accordingly. Here is what we are eating today:

Organic strawberries with honey whipped cream. Real Delicious!


Day 2:
Breakfast: (We swapped our breakfast with day 3.) Green eggs with Ezekiel toast and apple slices.
Lunch: Leftover tostadas with carrot sticks.
My Daughter's Lunch: 1/2 peanut butter and jelly on Ezekiel bread,  (jelly is sweetened with fruit juice), blackberries, carrot sticks, organic hotdog, whole wheat brownie.
Snack: Handful of raw almonds and apple slices.
Dinner: Grilled organic chicken drumsticks with quinoa and broccoli (asparagus was not fresh at store, so I substituted broccoli.)
Dessert: Strawberries with organic whipped cream sweetened with honey.

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Day 1: 30 Days of Unprocessed Food

Day 1 is officially here! I'm not sure if I am excited or nervous. Maybe a little of both. I am excited to experiment in the kitchen to make flavorful meals that will keep our tastebuds happy. I am nervous for awkward moments when we are out with friends and family and we can't eat any food that is offered to us. I really hope that our close friends and family will be supportive of us during this time. My greatest hope in all of this is to prove to myself, my husband, and those close to us, that we can eat unprocessed food without feeling deprived. I have posted our Week 1 meal plan on the Facebook page for those of you who may wish to follow along. For those who do not use Facebook, I will be posting our meals and snacks each day on the blog.  I personally find that it is very difficult to only grocery shop once each week. I typically shop 2-3 days each week to ensure that all ingredients are fresh. I went shopping yesterday afternoon for Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3. The grand total was $65. The ingredients needed for Days 4-7 will be minimal beacause a lot of ingredients I purchased yesterday will be used the entire week. Our grand total for the week should be just over $100 for a family of 3, with a large amount of ingredients being organic.

I made a small mistake on our meal plan that I need to apologize for. I stated that we will be drinking coconut milk, however, for the 30 days we will only be drinking non homogenized organic/ raw organic cow's milk. The coconut milk (although I consider it a healthy non dairy milk) contains evaporated cane juice, guar gum, and carrageenan which are not considered unprocessed. We buy our non homogenized milk at Whole Foods. It has cream on the top, and tastes phenomenal! I love this milk because their farming practices are non GMO and organic. They also do not "ultra pasteurize" their milk as most organic farmers do, which destroys all vitamins and beneficial bacteria.

Straus Farms non homogenized milk

Day 1 Meals:
Breakfast: Vanilla Oatmeal Pancakes with banana slices
Lunch: Organic hotdogs (Applegate Farms) with sweet potato fries (coated in olive oil) and watermelon slices.
Snack: Plain yogurt sweetened with honey (most yogurt has artificial dye and is sweetened with sugar)
Dinner: Tostadas with homemade refried beans, avocado, and bell pepper slices. I purchased corn tortillas and plan on frying them in olive oil.
Dessert: Whole wheat brownies


As a way of trying to keep meals QUICK and EASY for the next few days, I prepped a few items last night. I made a batch of brownies and put them in the freezer, I made tortilla dough for later in the week, and I soaked pinto beans to make refried beans tonight. Buying dried beans and making them yourself can be a savings of up to 50%! It takes a little bit of effort, but I think it's worth it. Making beans is so simple! I will post a little tutorial down below. I also cut sweet potatoes this morning to use in our sweet potato fries for lunch. Having as many items prepped as possible, makes cooking QUICK, EASY, and stress free!

Easy Beans:
Rinse beans with warm water. Soak beans overnight in water, make sure beans are fully submerged in water and refrigerate. When you are ready to cook beans, place them in a pot, fully submerged in water. Medium heat. Add spices of your choice. I usually add 1 onion, 3-4 garlic cloves, green chiles, cumin, salt and pepper. Beans will cook for 2-3 hours. If you want refried beans, place cooled beans in a blender. You can also drain the garlic and onions and eat the beans whole. QUICK and EASY!

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Welcome!

Hello and welcome to Delia's Kitchen! 

I am super excited for this new blogging adventure. The idea for Delia's Kitchen has been on my heart for a long time. I have been hesitant to start this blog because I have a fear of people hating me for trying to tell you what to eat. Let's face it. Food is a sensitive topic for a lot of us, myself included. It is not my intention to tell you what to eat or make anyone feel guilty for eating certain foods. Although I am incredibly passionate about food, I don't have a perfect diet. I have been known to polish off a pint of {organic} ice cream, especially during finals week. (Did I mention I am in the process of gaining a degree in dietetics and nutrition?) I strive for moderation in my diet and not perfection. With that being said, I am so excited to share my thoughts on nutrition with all of you. You can rest assured that all information on this blog is factual and scientifically based. No crazy gimmicks here! Since becoming a mother three years ago, I have taken a huge interest in what foods we put in our body because I firmly believe that every bite we take is effecting our body in one way or another. I strive to feed my family whole, organic, unprocessed foods at home. There are huge misconceptions about organic food being "too Expensive". I hope to show you that it doesn't have to be expensive. With a detailed grocery list, and careful planning, everyone can afford to eat organic, whole foods. 

A huge thanks to my husband James and my brother Ethan for their very hard work behind the scenes! It has been a fun journey bringing my vision to fruition.  Within this blog you will find a lot of topics including: Genetically Modified Foods, Organic Eating on a Budget, How to Decode Labels at the Grocery Store, Real Food Recipes, and much more!  Whether you are single, newly married, raising five kids, or retired and lovin' life, I hope this blog can be a resource of sound and helpful information about how to choose healthy, delicious food for long term health and longevity.


Now onto the more exciting stuff. It is my greatest intention to educate my readers on what normal, balanced eating looks like. I hear a lot of questions from friends and family about how to eat healthy, but the # 1 question/complaint is, "I want to eat healthy, but I just don't know where to start". Rest assured, because I want to tell you exactly where to start!  Starting on May 7th, myself, my husband, and my daughter will be embarking on a 30 day challenge of whole, unprocessed foods. For these 30 days we will be eating absolutely no processed foods. In addition, I will be posting our meal plans and grocery lists each week for those who want to follow along.  We will have one "cheat day" mid challenge where we will be celebrating our four year wedding anniversary. I am choosing to put in one cheat day because I want to illustrate how to indulge without overindulging. Our foods will be mostly organic and local because I want to show my readers that it is possible to eat organically without spending your life savings. For those of you interested in hopping on this whole foods bandwagon, be sure to check out my previous post for details.

If you enjoy the blog and find yourself to be a frequent reader, I ask that you please subscribe and become a follower. It is very important to me to know who my audience is so that I can better suit topics to my readers.
 Thanks again for stopping by! 

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Unprocessed Food: What You Can and Can't Eat


As I stated previously, my family and I will be embarking on 30 days of absolutely no processed food starting on Monday, May 7th.  I really wanted to start on May 1st, but I had to focus on my final exams, and therefore we decided to wait a week. We have chosen this time for several reasons. First of all,  it's the only time that my husband is in town for a full 30 days; (he typically travels for work). Secondly, I will not be in school and therefore I will have more time to devote to creating recipes and blogging all of it for your reading enjoyment:)  Thirdly, there are no major holidays or birthdays in the month of May, other than Mother's Day, and so we felt that this would be a realistic month for such a challenge! With that being said, eating no processed food is not going to be easy for us. Typically I would say we probably eat 85%-90% unprocessed foods, but to try and go 100% will be tough. We are choosing to do this because I want to prove that it is possible! Eating unprocessed food does not mean that we will be eating tasteless food, it simply means we will have to be very meticulous about knowing the ingredients in everything we put in our mouth. Just the other day I was shopping at a local farmer's market grocery store and I was appalled to read a few food labels and to learn that their hummus contains high fructose corn syrup, their cheese contains artificial yellow dye, and their refried beans are preserved with BHT and BHA!  I cannot stress enough, the importance of reading EVERY food label. It may seem tedious, but it is the only way to be sure that your food choices are healthy. When we began talking to friends and family about limiting processed foods, I came to the realization that most people don't know how to differentiate between processed and unprocessed. Honestly, if I didn't do my own extensive research, I wouldn't know either!  I decided it was very important for me to explain the differences between the two. These are the guidelines that we use in our household and we will be adhering to these guidelines 100% during our 30 day challenge, with the exception of one indulgent meal for our anniversary mid challenge. *

What You Can Eat: Unprocessed, Real Food
1.  Whole snack foods that are from nature -popcorn, raisins, dried fruit, fruit leather, Lara bars,
      raw nuts- not roasted in refined oils
2. Whole fruits and veggies-  preferably from the farmer's market and organic
3. 100% whole grains- whole wheat, oats,  brown rice, quinoa, etc
4. Seafood- wild caught is highly preferable
5. Meat- preferably organic and local
6. Dairy- unsweetened yogurt (add honey), milk, cheese- preferably organic
7. Beverages- water, coffee, unsweetened tea, milk, 100% juice,  beer and wine, coffee creamers
     must be just cream or half and half with no added ingredients.
8. Sweeteners- honey, maple syrup, sucanat,
9. Good Quality Oils- olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, organic butter/grass fed butter
10. Condiments- must contain no added sugars or additives.


What You Can't  Eat: Processed Food
1. Added ingredients that you can't pronounce (BHT, BHA, sodium benzoate,
    high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, sunflower lecithin, xantham gum, cellulose gum, guar gum,
    sodium nitrate/nitrite, and many many more.
2. Artificial Dyes- Red, yellow, blue dyes
3. Sweeteners- White sugar, brown sugar, Aspartame, Splenda, corn syrup,
4. Enriched grains- Wheat flour is not the same as whole wheat.  Jasmine rice, white rice, bleached
    flour.
5. Highly processed meat- Bacon, sausage, deli meat, hot dogs- these are all fine if they are organic
6. Boxed or packaged items with more than 5 ingredients- read your labels! All ingredients must
     be natural.
7. Refined Oils- vegetable oil, canola oil, corn oil, margarine, fake butter sprays or spreads
8. Condiments/Dips- Check your labels! Most items (even hummus,  soy sauce, and salsa) have
     added ingredients such as sugar and sodium benzoate.


*We will be indulging in one "not real food" meal to celebrate our anniversary. I have chosen to do this because I want to show how to indulge without overindulging. This will be the ONLY meal we will  eat during the 30 days that is processed. We are planning on going to a restaurant that offers local and organic options, so the meal will be very minimally processed.

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Green Eggs



"I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I am!"
For the past two semesters I have had the opportunity to volunteer at a local school district in the nutrition department.  It has been a very eye opening experience. Although I am very interested in the school lunch program and children's nutrition, I think our school districts have a long way to go in bringing awareness to the issues. While volunteering,  my supervisor informed me that we would be making green eggs and ham in honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday as well as to celebrate National School Breakfast Week. I thought it sounded like such a fun idea! When I arrived that morning, she handed me a bag of egg "product" and FIVE tubes of green food dye. I was more than appalled at this. Personally, I think the only appropriate time for food dyes is when you are participating on Cake Boss or making an awesome birthday cake on a very rare occasion. Needless to say, I did as I was told and added the dye to the egg "product".

This incident inspired me to create my own recipe for green eggs. I have been making spinach and eggs for years, but I never thought of blending the two together. I love this recipe because it is such a great way to sneak in a healthy dose of veggies before your day has even started. I usually add cheese to this recipe, because let's face it; cheese makes everything taste better!

Green Eggs
Serves 2

4-5 eggs
1 cup spinach or kale firmly packed
1tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup grated mozzerella

Directions: Put all ingredients in blender. Pour into hot skillet. Eggs with look frothy. Cook and stir until desired texture. Serve with some organic ham slices. Yum!

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Whole Wheat Brownies


I am not one of those moms who doesn't let my kids have sugar. I see nothing wrong with sugar once in a while. My concern is that the sugar, and all ingredients come from a natural source and that the treats we eat be as healthy as possible. We are a family of dessert lovers, so you can bet we will usually have cookies of some sort in our house. I don't feel guilty about this because the cookies are always made with whole grains and natural sweeteners such as maple syrup or sucanat sugar. I bake with organic cane sugar sometimes, but I prefer sucanat because it is whole and unprocessed sugar cane. I think I have mastered how to make healthy, yummy cookies. Now moving on to my next challenge. Brownies! The thought of whole wheat brownies does not appeal to me at first glance. When I enjoy a good brownie, I want to make sure it is dense and full of flavor and that it doesn't taste "healthy" so to speak. I feared that by using wheat flour, the brownies might be dry. I found that quite the opposite is true surprisingly. After making these brownies, as well as having made whole wheat chocolate cupcakes, I conclude that chocolate and whole wheat go very well together!* The wheat adds a lot of density to the brownie creating a hearty texture that is very satisfying.  The unfortunate thing about these brownies is that they taste much better after being refrigerated. Due to using natural sweeteners, the sugars and flour become crumbly when they are eaten immediately from the oven. I know its a little unfortunate, but just make them early in the day and stick them in the fridge. They will be a great treat after dinner. For those of us who grew up with Betty Crocker and Little Debbie, these brownies might take some getting used to. To be completely honest, I am a huge chocolate lover, and these definitely hit the spot for me!
* Make sure to use white winter wheat and not red winter wheat. Both are whole grain, but red winter wheat is very "wheaty" if you know what I mean....
 King Arthur Flour is a great option for white winter wheat.



Whole Wheat Brownies
makes 12 brownies

1 cup whole wheat flour
 3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup melted coconut oil (butter is fine too)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sucanat sugar
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts
1 egg

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8 square pan. Using an electric mixer, blend oil, syrup, egg, vanilla. Add flour, cocoa powder, and all dry ingredients. Fold walnuts into batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes. After brownies have cooled in pan, place in refrigerator for one hour. Enjoy!






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Vanilla Oatmeal Pancakes



I think breakfast might be my favorite meal of the day. Probably because its a great excuse to eat something sweet before noon. Is it just me or are pancakes the ultimate breakfast comfort food? There is nothing more delicious than a heaping pile of pancakes generously smeared with some real butter and doused in maple syrup. My mouth is watering now.... Growing up we always seemed to have a box of Bisquick on hand for Sunday morning pancakes. I looked forward to the weekend just so that I could get my pancake fix.  Now as an adult and a "real foodie", I wanted to create a pancake recipe that had the same comforting flavors of my childhood as well as a great nutritional punch. Bisquick contains trans fat for those of you who didn't know:( I love pancakes that are hearty and grainy and have a little substance to them. Adding oats to the pancake batter creates a texture that is satisfying and will most certainly hold you over until lunch.  For an even more satiating meal, add some sliced walnuts or almonds to the batter.  These pancakes are sure to be a hit with the whole family. Every time I make these pancakes, my daughter devours every last bite!



Vanilla Oatmeal Pancakes
Makes 8-10 Pancakes

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cup milk (I have tried using whole milk and coconut milk)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 egg
pure maple syrup and organic butter
sliced almonds or walnuts (optional)

Directions:
Heat skillet to medium and pat with butter. Wisk egg, milk, vanilla, and  coconut oil. In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir. If you prefer thinner pancakes, add a splash more of milk.

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Kale Walnut Pesto


 I have a confession to make. I love carbs. I mean I really really love carbs. Remember the Atkin's Diet craze? Yeah, I am glad that is finally phasing out.  Carbs are so essential for our body. The only source of energy for our brain is glucose that comes from carbohydrates!  Even if I thought there was a reason to eat low carb, I could never do it. I love bread, I love fluffy couscous, I love chewy delicious cookies, and I absolutely love PASTA! Pasta is one of those foods that is so easy and so versatile. I usually resort to boring old red sauce for pasta, but let's face it, that gets old real quick. Time to shake things up a little bit with a homemade pesto.

This recipe came to me in a dream. Just kidding.... but honestly, I was sitting in class a few weeks ago, daydreaming about food, when I thought to myself: "Oh my gosh, why have I not ever tried to make pesto using walnuts?" I love making pesto, but pine nuts are so ridiculously expensive. I love the idea of using walnuts because they are so high in Omega 3s. Then my daydream got even better: "Ha! I could totally hide some kale in there, and my daughter (and husband) won't even know it's there!" Genius! And so I began the creation of this recipe. Honestly, this recipe is so simple and versatile. I literally just threw in handfuls of each ingredient and then I realized that I should probably make it again and measure everything. Whoops. Depending on your taste buds, you can easily add more or less garlic, and if you want a tangy pesto with a strong flavor punch, go ahead and use the whole lemon. This is a great recipe that your whole family can enjoy. Just don't tell them that it is bursting with phytochemicals and therefore is highly nutritious!



Kale Walnut Pesto
makes 2 cups

 2 cups firmly packed kale, stems removed
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup shaved parmesan
2-3 garlic cloves
1 cup cold pressed olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Add garlic and olive oil to food processor. Add walnuts next. Slowly add in the rest of ingredients and be patient to make sure that everything is mixed well. Pesto will keep in fridge for 2-3 days. Do not freeze.  Pesto is great on pasta, bruschetta, or as a sandwich spread.

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