The Sweet Life Of Raspberries

My friends, do you know what time of year we are coming into?  Raspberries, people!!  20160602_174445The precious short season of the raspberry is here and I am so happy! They are a bit early this year and growing abundantly.  I’m so fortunate to have family that share their bountiful harvest.  In fact, picking the berries is most exclusively done by me.  If I don’t they will dry up on the vine.  Age and health issues keeps my loved ones from tending to them as they have in the past.  These happen to be my favorite berry so for the next few weeks, I’ll be a raspberry picking fiend as I pluck as many as I can before they disappear.

Of course, these delicious raspberries must have a coming out party and what better way than with these fantastic scones?20160602_185952  One of my favorite recipes; I’ve made them so many times with different variations.  This time the only change I made was substituting the maple syrup for raw sugar.  Turns out that was not the best choice, but it was all I had and I’m using up my cupboard staples before I buy more.  They are good, but maple syrup is way better.  There’s a reason it’s in the recipe title.  That’s my opinion.  It certainly won’t stop me from munching on these for a mid-morning snack!

I’ve posted this recipe many times before here and if you haven’t given it a try, I highly recommend it.  Go ahead, you deserve this treat!  Happy Friday, y’all!!

http://www.nourishingmeals.com/2009/07/gluten-free-maple-raspberry-scone.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Be Kind. Eat Kind. My Kind of “Kind” Bars

Last week was a huge challenge and stress for me.  I had some pretty crazy things happen and it has thrown me off balance.  My focus has been pulled in many directions.  This week I’m struggling with the after effects of said craziness.  I have truly appreciated the kindness of friends, family and complete strangers recently.  I am purposefully noticing kindness.  Have you ever taken the time to notice random acts of kindness?   I’m not talking the grandiose gestures that get media attention.  I’m talking about the genuine kindness of everyday people you cross paths with as you go about your day. The grocery clerk who wishes good thoughts to you and your family during a difficult time, the person who holds the door because your hands are full, or the couple on a walk who stop to ask if you’re okay and stay to help when it’s clear you need it.   There really are genuinely good and kind people in this world.  When we are constantly bombarded with other types of messages about our fellow human beings,  we tend to forget kindness truly does exist.  I would rather focus on that than be sucked into the negative culture of our world.   So, I focus on the positive things happening around me, take in kindness and give kindness.

As I have mentioned many times in past posts, when my life gets hectic and stress filled, interrupting my usual routine I often forget to eat.  Having ready made, quick foods on hand are essential.   I was motivated to re-create a version of my favorite grab and go bars I spend too much money on when I shop.  You know those bars in grocery stores, KIND bars?  They are an energy type bar made of nuts and dried fruits.  I’m addicted to them.  They have been a regular shopping item that goes into my basket for a long time.  I like the protein punch and energy it provides.  It’s a fantastic portable snack for me.  However, in my ongoing attempts to cut back on expenses so I can save money toward my goals, I am trying to lower my grocery bill.   I decided to get creative and try to make my own kind of bars.

I think they turned out pretty fantastic.  They even got a thumbs up from my colleague.  I cut them into nine bars similar in size to the actual store brand, wrapped them individually and stored them in the fridg. It is the perfect on-the-go snack for me.

Give these a try.  You’ll be happy you did!  Enjoy!

Kinda Kind Nut Bars

Prepare a square or small rectangular baking dish.  Mine was an 8×6 glass baking dish.  Line with plastic or parchment paper.

In a medium bowl mix:

1 cup toasted almonds

1/4 cup toasted cashews, chopped

1/4 cup dried cranberries

2 Tbsp hemp seeds

1/2 cup puffed rice cereal

1/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut

Stir until combined

On the stove top, add to a pan:

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp vanilla

pinch of salt

Melt on low heat and stir until combined.  Let cool a bit and pour over nut mixture in bowl.  Mix with hands to incorporate fully, making sure all ingredients are coated.  Dump mixture into prepared baking dish and spread it evenly across the pan with fingers, pressing it down just a bit to mold it together.  Store in fridg until firm.  Cut into bars.

These have a lot of sugar!  Enjoy in moderation!  Ha!  Look who’s talking…..try to anyway!

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Blaze Your Own Trail Energy Snack

I cannot believe it is almost the end of August!!  We are rolling into the fall season even though the weather still feels like summer.  The months have been flying by and upon reflection last night, I realized that today marks eight months since my life was tossed around by “M”.  I think I’ve picked myself up damn well!!  It still does not seem like all that nonsense happened eight months ago!!  Of course, I lived in the basement guest room of “M’s” house for a month while I scrambled to find other housing.  I say “M’s” basement, even though it was “our” house.  I never felt like it was mine or any part of “ours” and that feeling was regularly reinforced by “M” in words, but mostly in actions.

C’est la vie! Or as we American’s say, “that’s life”.  Never could I have imagined while I was in that basement that my life would become what it is today.  I certainly remember many conversations in my mind as I reassured myself I would be in such a different and much better place in six months than what I was experiencing, even though I had no idea what that would look like or how it would happen; I just needed to comfort my panic.

I still have brief periods where I feel like that trauma happened more recently.  When I think that through I realize it took me until late May to feel completely settled.  I lived in a space with no furniture for months, I sat on pins and needles about a wonderful job opportunity, my current position, for two months and it took me time to get back to some sense of financial stability.  I was in complete survival mode for too long and it was often difficult to relax into contentment with my new life.  I am still working on the emotional aspects of being treated so horribly in such a surprising way, but at least I’m actively working it through.  Clearly, working through the emotional facets of a relationship is not something “M” could do, which is why I am where I am.  Isn’t it a strange thing that I can say I am grateful for this experience?  I know, it’s odd to say out loud.  I absolutely would not wish this upon myself ever, ever again and I wish “M” had chosen a better way to end a relationship that did not leave me in such an awful state, but I feel like it catapulted me directly to my dreams.  For this I am truly grateful.  Additionally, I feel “saved” from a life I thought would be wonderful but realize now it would have been totally miserable.

I have a job that is perfectly suited for me.  It is the job I wished for and desired, it just looks different than I imagined.  Sometimes I have to pinch myself about this amazing job to make sure I’m not dreaming!!  I completely love it in all ways.  It has opened so many new doors for me that will let me continue to build on my dreams.  I am taking classes again!  Now, that is amazing!  They are not college classes, but it is education and I am really enjoying it.  I live in the sweetest little place located in one of the wealthiest areas of Portland for a fraction of the cost of what others would rent it for and I have the most awesome landlady ever!  She truly cares and has given me the sense of comfort and security I needed.  I have learned to live in a small space which is giving me practice for my future tiny house living.  I have let go of so much, giving me a feeling of lightness and freedom.  I have met some incredible people, I reconnected with people I haven’t seen for years.  I am developing new relationships, traveling often and generally enjoying life immensely.  I love working on my tiny house process.  It’s so exciting to think about and plan!!

Isn’t it grand?!  When I see all the incredible things that have fallen into place; when I read my own story, even I get blown away by the goodness of it all. With all this amazing and powerful stuff, it requires some high energy food to help me keep up the pace of my new life.  I am a busy woman and I realized that keeping a supply of high energy snacks is essential in my work day since I’m bouncing around town all day and sometimes into the evening!

I wanted to use more of those powerful cocoa nibs I’d written about in a previous post so I came up with this delicious trail mix that is simple and much less expensive than buying it in pre-made packages.  I buy all my nuts, seeds and dried fruits in bulk so the savings is even greater.  I’m all about the money saving right now because there is a piece of land calling for me and I need to build up my savings for that and the house that’ll I’ll plunk down on it.  Give this trail mix a try and keep a stash in your own workplace, or for a quick on the go snack from home.

Who knows what the next eight months has in store for me, but I am imagining nothing but amazing goodness because I will make it happen.  There is certainly power in positive thinking!  I am moving comfortably forward to the next best part of my life with hope and joy.

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raw walnuts, cashews, almonds and sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, raisins, candied ginger and raw cocoa nibs.

Spiced Apple Carrot Muffin

As I was cleaning up my bookmarks on my laptop recently I came across this recipe that sounded like it would taste good, be healthful and provide the convenience I enjoy with muffins.  I was trying to use the items I currently had in my little refrigerator so I could make room for my next shopping trip.  I am learning to be a much more efficient shopper!!

Instead of dealing with the hassle it would be to make these in my tiny kitchen and be irritated by the lack of proper tools to prepare this them, I decided to pack up all the ingredients and take them with me on a recent visit to see my dad. His house has a spacious kitchen with lovely counterspace.  It is still filled with all my moms baking gadgets and supplies.  My mom kept a well stocked bakers kitchen so I had everything I needed to make my muffins.

I followed a recipe from ‘Eat to Beat’ cancer website.  They promote dietary behavior changes to destroy the cancer epidemic.  It is really a fabulous website that is filled with valuable information.  I highly recommend you check it out.  I discovered this site when my mom was sick and I have made several of the recipes they provide.  I am always happy with the results.

These muffins tasted fantastic, but the texture didn’t turn out as I had wanted.  They seemed too spongy and they didn’t really rise. However, I will say this was very likely chef’s error as I forgot to add salt and I did get a little carried away with my moms hand held beaters.  I may have whisked the egg mixture a bit too long!!  I got lost in memories of when I was small and watching my mom use this same tool as she baked.  I had a good time using the tools of my childhood, spreading out in a spacious kitchen and just doing my thing.

Even though my dad scoffed at my muffins for their gluten free nature, he certainly asked several times when the muffins would be done!  Once done and samples enjoyed, he also made sure I was going to leave a few on a plate for him.  Dad approved; they turned out pretty well, albeit a little flat.  Give them a try, but I suggest being a bit more gentle with the whisking!  Enjoy!

Here is the link to the recipe— http://www.eattobeat.org/onemeal/636/spiced-apple-carrot-muffin.html

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I added two each of apples and carrots because mine were small!!

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On The Road Again

I am about to head out again; this time with my new car and my sweetie!  This combination will be a success.  Except I woke up to rain.  Not just a little rain.  I’m talking R.A.I.N!!!  Pouring rain!  This should be interesting.  Camping and rain are not my favorite combination.

I was quite productive yesterday in getting things ready for this trip.  I started out my morning feeling so anxious about taking my new car on this trip.  My daughter told me I had car PTSD.  She may be right!  I was so worried that I took my car in to a shop that specializes in my particular make and had it looked over for any potential problems.  Once again, I was told my car is beautiful and in great mechanical condition.  I should go on my trip worry free.  I guess I can start relaxing.

It helped me feel more excited and gave me motivation to prepare some delicious food for this trip. I kept busy in the kitchen all day and had quite a bit of fun in the process!

I made some “chips” from rice tortillas.  They are easy, portable and will taste delicious with the dip I made, which was a combination of spinach, artichoke hearts, garlic, kalamata olives and white beans all blended together.  It tastes delicious but is not that eye appealing so I decided against a picture.  I’m sure it will go great with the veggies I packed, too!

I love grilled veggies in tin foil packages so I added a couple of those to our cooler.  This is a mix of yellow onions, garlic, carrots, turnips, radishes, green beans, sweet potatoes and curly kale.  I mixed it with olive oil, some basil, cumin sea salt and pepper.

I made a some pizza with my favorite store bought crust.  The base is basil pesto using fresh basil from our garden.  I topped it with red onions, kalamata olives and a mix of shredded daiya cheeses.

Of course, I always have to add a treat to the menu.  I thought I would try a no bake cookie and the end result was not that appealing, in my opinion, but I’ll take them along anyway.  I think I need to tweak this recipe a bit to make it better.  So, I’ll leave the recipe out for now until I can perfect it more.

We are ready, with great food in tow.  Rain or not, we are on the road toward fun!

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Food Revolution Day!!!

I completely love everything about Jamie Oliver, who in my opinion is the biggest food radical in so much of the world.  In his own words, he “works tirelessly to save lives in his own way.”  I admire his passion and drive to bring healthy, whole, real food into schools and remove the highly processed junk food our kids now eat.  I feel the same fervor when he talks about his disgust at the epidemic in obesity (especially in children!) because it leads to so many health related diseases that are absolutely preventable with a healthy diet.  My inspiration sky rockets as I listen to him share his love of educating lobbiests, change makers, teachers and children.  I can watch a video of him preaching his good stuff and I want to spring from my chair and fist pump the air!  I want to be that kind of catalyst toward healthy food transformation.  My devotion is that strong.

Then there is Food Revolution Day!  Seriously, it’s like a holiday for me!  It requires big celebration.  This day is all about raising awareness of how food impacts our health.  It’s about good food.  Made from scratch.  It begins with kids.  It’s about creating healthy habits and teaching kids where food comes from and what it can do for their bodies.  This is Jamie Oliver’s campaign and I want to be an Ambassador in his campaign to promote a love of real food from scratch and a respect for where food comes from.   This will empower kids to make informed food choices and healthy decisions that will take them into their adult years.

With that said, we are celebrating Food Revolution Day here in the kitchen at the Head Start program where I work.  We had a colorful and healthy menu to proclaim this day a food party!

Take a look at what kids ate!

Today’s Food Revolution Day Menu

AM CLASSES

BREAKFAST: Breakfast Casserole, Pineapple chunks, whole wheat toast, milk

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look at all the colorful veggies that went into the breakfast casserole!

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Breakfast Casserole

SNACK:  honey sweetened yogurt, fresh strawberries, whole wheat crackers

PM CLASSES

LUNCH:  Taco Salad with all the fancy stuff, Pineapple Chunks, milk

This vegetarian taco salad uses black & pinto beans with sauteed veggies and spices on top of shredded romaine. Some fresh diced tomatoes, a sprinkling of cheddar cheese and a salsa/plain yogurt combo as the dressing! Delish!

SNACK:  same as AM classes.

I visited two of our classrooms today and talked to the kids about healthy snacks.  They also got a lesson on where a strawberry comes from!

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 But it wasn’t all talk.  We played with food!  I demonstrated how to make a “Healthy Banana Split” and then I let them get their hands on the food to make one for themselves.  Wow, these kids had fun!  We all had a blast and I loved watching their little minds work to create some pretty amazing displays.

Here’s what we used for our “Healthy Banana Splits” :

whole banana (we decided peeled is best!) split in center, but not completely through

open with your fingers and add:

mangoes, strawberries, blueberries, sunflower seeds, yogurt (whip cream) and crumbled crackers for crunch

These lucky young ones got an extra special kind of cracker today-honey grahams!

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The best part–I felt complete satisfaction in knowing I planted a seed in developing a positive relationship with real food.  My commitment to spreading knowledge of whole, fresh, sustainable foods is deep.   I have an unwavering desire to engage and interact with young people in meaningful ways around food.  I want to be the catalyst of change.  And, you know, kids are just super duper fun to be around!  They give me joy.

http://www.foodrevolutionday.com/

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