Date Ball Recipe

Dates look too much like cockroaches for me to eat by themselves. I prefer to add them to smoothies, oatmeal, or roll them into yummy goodness. Check out this easy recipe for date balls!

(This recipe is lightly adapted from the Medjool date container at Costco.)

Ingredients:

2 cups of medjool dates pitted

1 cup of raw cashews

1 cup of dried blueberries or whatever dried fruit

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/2 to a whole cup of shredded coconut (optional)

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Directions:

  1. Put the pitted dates, cashews, dried blueberries, and salt in food processor and let it blend until all ingredients are combined.0-1.jpg
  2. Scoop out about 2 tablespoons at a time and roll into balls.0-3.jpg
  3. Roll the balls in shredded coconut. I put the shredded coconut in a container and then drop the balls in one at time, shaking them around in the coconut. (optional)0-2.jpg
  4. Store in an airtight container and keep in fridge.0-4.jpg
  5. Enjoy!

These are a yummy treat that satisfies the sweet craving in a pinch! Dates are also recommended for pregnant mamas to eat. Some studies show they could help with a quicker, easier delivery!

How do you eat your dates, Mama?

Meal Planning

A few years ago I was challenged by a friend of mine to start meal planning for the week. This has been a true GAME CHANGER for our family’s budget and time management. (Notice the all caps!) We used to be go to the store multiple times a week to run out and get ingredients. I would find it would be time for dinner and have no idea what I was going to make. I’ve discovered there are five important components to being successful at meal planning.

  1. Meal Plan. I make out a list of ALL the meals and snacks I will be cooking that week. An example of a week’s dinner meals includes: Sweet potato chili, Thai salad, guacamole, potato asparagus salad, spaghetti. Snacks/desserts: date balls and cookies. Breakfast and lunch: acai bowls, PBJ sandwiches, and leftovers from dinner. After making my list of meals, I go through my cabinets and refrigerator and make note off all the ingredients I need to purchase, categorized by store.IMG_0883.jpeg
  2. Do a Big Grocery Shop. We typically shop at 3 stores: Trader Joes, Costco, and Whole foods. I save the list on my hubbies phone and simply “un-click” the bullet point for the items we buy weekly, and add/delete items as needed. An example of our Costco list for a week includes: 2 packages of acai, dates, frozen blueberries, and eggs.
  3. Meal Prep. I didn’t quite grasp the beauty of meal prep in high school. I remember my mom cooking dinner first thing in the morning and being so relieved that dinner was made. Some mornings I make sweet potato chili at 6:30 am and do a happy dance as my husband puts the spices in. Sometimes I prep on the weekends, other times I prep during my daughter’s nap. I don’t always have the entire meal prepped, but often do a part. For example, I can prepare the salad dressing in advance . When I look at my meal plan and see I need to soak cashews overnight for a cashew cream pasta sauce, I am not surprised on pasta night. I’ve soaked the cashews, prepared the cream during my daughters nap, and only have a few steps left prior to dinner time.unnamed.jpg
  4. Double the recipe. One other thing I’ve learned is to double or sometimes triple recipes. If a recipe such as veggie burgers is super labor intensive, I’m going to make more and my family will eat off it multiple times during the week. Also, our family likes lots of sauce and dressing. So I always drouble/triple salad dressing recipes or pasta sauces.unnamed-5.jpg
  5. The Leftover Jam. Leftovers are truly our family’s jam! The majority of the time, our lunch is leftover from dinner the night before. This allows less expenses for food and helps us waste less food.
  6. This last one is a bonus! Let your kiddos help in the kitchen! It’s fun for them and teaches them good skills like teamwork and following directions.unnamed-6.jpg

I will say that I’ve learned to do things through a ton of trial and error. Too many times in the past I realized I didn’t have the ingredient I needed or forgot to soak something. And sometimes I still do forget a key ingredient by overlooking a recipe. I usually make adaptations and move on. After all, everyone has to eat and the clock is ticking towards dinner time.

Have you ever meal planned or prepped, Mama? Share some of your favorite meals to make! I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

What’s In Your Lunch Box?

Oh the Lunch Box! It’s only three weeks in, and the lunchbox struggle is real! My son has been digging some PB&J sandwiches on Ezekiel bread, but I have to encourage him to think outside of the box.

Every day I try to include one veggie, one fruit, one protein, and one snack. We really try to limit our kiddos intake of processed food, and have some healthier suggestions listed below. What kid doesn’t like a good snack?

Fruits: Whatever fruit our kiddos are currently digging, but preferably something not too messy. Grapes, apples, blueberries, strawberries, and frozen mango are the current favorites at our house.

Veggies: Kale salad, quinoa salad, leftover sweet potato fries, roasted brussel sprouts, or broccoli.

Proteins: PB&J on Ezekiel bread, kidney beans, hummus and crackers. For the PB&J, I use Trader Joe’s organic PB and organic jelly from Costco.

Snacks: Annie’s bunnies or cheddar squares, Yum Earth gummies, Lara bars, home made date balls, Trader Joes peanut butter crackers, and stove top popcorn.

As a child, I have fond memories of my mom and dad writing me notes in my lunchbox. I try to always include a bit of encouragement for my son on his napkin.

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What’s in your kiddos’ lunchbox, Mama? I’d love to swap some ideas!

Flax Hair I Wear

My hair is one of my favorite physical features I have. But during my middle school and high school years, it was a painful experiment to tame my mane. I have a vivid memory of being in study hall in 7th grade, and leaving only to discover that some nice boys a grade above me had made my hair a target for their spitballs.

I went through many extremes of hair do’s and don’ts: pulled back into a tight bun, too much gel to have a crunchy look, french braiding my hair at night to give it a crimpy look, and the list goes on. For years, L.A. Looks blue level ten plus extreme sports gel was my best friend. It was cheap, it did the trick, and my hair looked good.

In recent years, I’ve been introduced to the idea of a toxic free home. This idea promotes using products that have clean ingredients-from what you scrub your toilet with to the makeup you put on your face. Gel was on the back burner though… It was the one thing I didn’t want to give up, even after seeing it’s poor rating on the EWG website. Organic toxic-free gel ain’t cheap, Mamas. And most of the products that I’ve tried didn’t give me the hold I needed for my curly locks.

To L.A. Looks I clung.

Until one day, I researched how to make homemade gel. I’ve adapted the recipes I found online, and added the secret ingredient for the hold I desired- honey.

This recipe is three ingredients. You’ll need a pot, a pair of tongs, a bowl, a glass Tupperware for storing, and nylon knee highs.

Flax Hair I Wear

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Ingredients:

2 cups of flax seeds

A few squirts of honey

5 cups of water

Directions:

  1. Put the 2 cups of flax seeds and five cups of water into a pot. Put the burner on medium high to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to medium/medium high so it continues to boil, but not to the point that it is splashing out of pot. Stir occasionally, so the flax seeds at the bottom of the pot don’t burn. Let it simmer for ten minutes or slightly longer. There should be a frothy look when it’s done.APC_0725.jpeg
  2. Let it cool for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Scoop out with a ladel and insert several scoops into nylon sock. APC_0732.jpeg
  4. Using a pair of tongs, squeeze the flax gel into a glass tuperware. Repeat steps until all gel is squeezed out and nothing remains in pot.APC_0737.jpeg
  5. Add a few squirts of honey to Tupperware and mix well. I store my flax gel in the fridge to keep it fresh and usually use one batch within a week to two weeks, depending on how often I wash my hair.APC_0739.jpeg

Be careful on the honey, too much makes your hair stiff as a board. Too little doesn’t give you enough hold.

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Do you make any homemade recipes for beauty products, Mama? What’s your favorite physical feature you have? Share in the comments below!

 

Family Size OJ Smoothie: Part 2 Breakfast, Brunch, and Brinner

My breakfast of choice lately has been a massive smoothie. Mornings tend to be full of exciting moments at our house. My son runs upstairs and needs to poop to discover that the toilet paper was put up high the night before to prevent my 21 month old daughter from eating and unrolling the entire thing. Then Mommy needs to use the bathroom only to have the same 21 month old crying desperately for me outside my door, as if I’m going on a long journey for months on end.

Needless to say, a grab and go smoothie for this Mama on a run is efficient and (mostly) effortless.

We like to refer to my hubby, aka Daddy, as the “Smoothie Master.” He always comes up with yummy concoctions that satisfy adults and kiddos alike. This recipe happens to be our favorite. It is jam packed with nutrition found in kale, açai, hemp seeds, flax seed meal, and fruit! Check out this family sized recipe. Feel free to cut it in half or quarter it to meet your needs.

Servings: 2 Adults and 2 kids

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Blend Time: Until smooth

Ingredients:

  • 5 Cups of Kennessaw OJ with pulp
  • 3 stalks of kale
  • 2 açai packets (3.5/4 oz package)
  • 1.5 cups of frozen mango
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries
  • 2 scoops of Organic Vega Berry flavor protein powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons of flax meal (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of hemp seeds (optional)

Add all ingredients into your blender and put on high until smooth, using the tamper if needed.

What’s your favorite go-to smoothie, Mama?

*Note, we use a Vitamix 64 oz and it is packed to the brim with all these ingredients.

 

 

Breakfast, Brunch, and Brinner: Part 1

Happy New Year, Mamas! It’s been a looooong while since I’ve written a post. Between the 18 month sleep regression + teething + Christmas pageant + children waking at 5 am…my family is beginning to see the light at the end of an intense tunnel. Every now and then we go through an patch where everyone and everything seems so…extraordinary. Thankfully my Babes had off for seven days for the Christmas holiday and we’ve enjoyed some much needed down time at home. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and feel as refreshed as I do!

Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day. So much, that I’ll eat it anytime, not just first thing in the morning. I have fond memories of calling my Grandma Julie and inviting I and my sisters over for her famous breakfasts, along with my dad making me omelettes late at night in high school.

This will be the first in a series titled, “Breakfast, Brunch, and Brinner.” I’ll be sharing you some of my current treasures!

Over light Eggs and Sautéed Veggies With Goat Cheese

Servings: 2        Prep Time: 5 minutes        Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup of mushrooms
  • 1/2 a large yellow or purple onion
  • 4-6 eggs depending on how many each person wants
  • Garlic salt
  • Goat cheese

Directions:

  1. Put a pan on medium heat and lightly oil the pan.
  2. Dice veggies and place in pan. Sauté them until they are cooked to your preference. I personally like them a bit charred. Add a dash of garlic salt.                IMG_5817.jpeg
  3. In a separate pan, heat it up and cook your eggs until over light. IMG_5820.jpeg
  4. Serve onto a plate the eggs, goat cheese, and veggies on top. Putting the goat cheese in between the layers allows it to melt a bit.IMG_5821.jpeg
  5. Eat and enjoy!         IMG_5825.jpeg

This recipe is easy and the combination of the simple ingredients have made it a repeat in our home. What do you like to eat for breakfast, Mama?

Sweet Potato Chili

Super Bowl Sunday has always been more about the food and friends than the football. Well, at least for this Mama!

Chili has appeared on the table this particular Sunday year after year for as long as I can remember. When I became vegetarian, I was introduced to sweet potato chili by my friend, Sember. A big shout out to her as her original recipe has been tweaked over the years. I hope you enjoy this, Mamas! Whether for this weekend or any other night that a one-pot-meal is needed!

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Sweet Potato Chili Recipe

Servings: 8        Prep Time: 15 minutes        Cook Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves minced
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes diced
  • 4 cans of kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes 28 oz.
  • 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes 28 oz.

For the spices. I come from an Italian family where there are no measurements, you simply taste as you go. These are the spices we use in order of the most to least.

Spices:

  • Chili powder (use generously)
  • Garlic salt
  • Black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • Cumin
  • Oregno (a dash)APC_0035.jpeg

Directions:

  1. Dice veggies and mince the garlic.
  2. In a large pot, lightly coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil. Add in the garlic, onions, and pepper and saute for a few minutes until the onions are translucent on medium high, stirring frequently.
  3. Add in the diced sweet potatoes, and stir frequently for about 5 minutes.*
  4. Drain and rinse the kidney beans and add to the pot.**
  5. Add the diced and crushed tomatoes.
  6. Stir everything in, mixing it well together.
  7. Add some spices.
  8. Cover the pot with a lid and cook on medium high for about 30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender. Stir occasionally.
  9. Taste test and add more spices if needed.
  10. Serve, add toppings of your choice, and enjoy!***

What I love about this recipe, is it’s so versatile! My sister is a meat lover, so she adds ground turkey after cooking it in a pan. My family enjoys cheese and sour cream, so they dollop it on top of their chili. I personally love to put some quinoa as a base, and then put my chili on top. This is a fun recipe to be creative with!

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What are your favorite Super Bowl recipes, Mama?

*The smaller you dice the sweet potatoes, the quicker they will cook.

**I’ve found that rinsing my beans in a collider removes not only the liquid from the can, but also some of the sodium.

***We love to put a heaping spoonful of guac on top and sometimes use chips to scoop up this yumminess.

P.S. Photo credit and thank you to my Babes!