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)

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.


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


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

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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