Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Great Northern Bean Soup (V)

Mmmm... This earthy filling soup is great with sprouted or whole grain bread.

1 cup dried great northern beans, soaked overnight
3 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth
1 large carrot
1 medium chopped onion
2 cups chopped kale or spinach
1 clove of garlic, or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley, or 1/2-1 tbs dried
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp dried oregano
2 cups cooked rice

-Drain and rinse beans, add to large pot and 3 cups water, bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer for about 50-60 mins. until beans are tender.
-Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer, cooking until vegetables are tender, about 10-15 mins.
-S&P to taste
-Makes about 8 cups, about 140 calories/cup.

Monday, January 30, 2012

French Bread (V)

This recipe is easy, simple and tastes just like store bought:
Including cooking time= 4 1/2 hours, so make sure to plan ahead.

Makes 2 loaves
2  1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tsp sugar (optional but it feeds the yeast and helps it grow faster)
-Mix the yeast, sugar and water in a large bowl and let stand 5-10 mins until the yeast flowers or begins to froth.

Add to the bowl:
3 1/2 cups bread flour, or all -purpose
1 cup water
1  1/2 tsp salt

-Mix well and then knead by hand or on low speed 5 mins until you have sticky dough.
-Place in an oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and let rise covered at room temp about 2 hours.

-Punch down the dough and divide into two, if sticky sprinkle some flour to make it easier.
-Roll each half into a long rope about 10-12 inches in length
-Lightly sprinkle a large wooden cutting board or baking sheet w/o edges with oil and corn meal to prevent the bread from sticking.
-Place the two ropes side by side about 5 inches apart on the baking sheet/board.
-Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise at room temp for 1  1/2 hrs.

-For decorative purposes you can sprinkle a little flour on top and cut 4-5 diagonal lines across the tops of the loaves with a very sharp knife.
-About 30 mins before loaves have fully risen, preheat oven to 450 degrees, and place baking stone or another baking sheet w/o edges on a rack in the middle of oven. Also place a pan for water underneath on bottom rack or bottom of stove, big enough for a couple cups of water this helps get a hard crust. Do not add water until the bread goes in.

-Slide the bread onto the baking stone/sheet.
-Slowly add 2 cups of water into pan underneath.

Bake for a total of 25 mins or until the loaves are golden brown, cool on rack before cutting.
*I have only used the baking stone and using a baking sheet might alter the crust a little, but you can use it if you don't have a stone.

*For Garlic Bread- cut in 1-2 inch slices, spread butter or alt. sprinkle some garlic powder on top and put on a baking sheet. Broil on low maybe 5 mins or so, keep an eye on it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

All Purpose Cleaner

If you have read some of my previous posts then you know by now how much I hate chemicals, so with that being said I'm sure you could have guessed that I hate most store bought cleaners. However I love to use vinegar on most things. Why? Because it's cheap, safe for kids and pets, and it works. It doesn't make you sick, yes it has a distinct odor but so do all the icky chemicals that are bad for your health and the environment and besides it goes away when it's dry and you can always add essential oils, some of which also have antibacterial properties (see my fav websites for more info on essential oils), I mostly use it for the kitchen and bathrooms. I highly recommend trying it!

-Heinz company spokesperson Michael Mullen references numerous studies to show that a straight 5 percent solution of vinegar—the kind you can buy in the supermarket—kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs (viruses). He noted that Heinz can’t claim on their packaging that vinegar is a disinfectant since the company has not registered it as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency. However, it seems to be common knowledge in the industry that vinegar is powerfully antibacterial. Even the CBS news show “48 Hours” had a special years ago with Heloise reporting on tests from The Good Housekeeping Institute that showed this.

Good in Coffee

If your like me and can't give up the coffee creamer, if you haven't tried it yet I highly recommend putting some maple syrup in your coffee, Yum! Its soo good. I don't like a lot of the ingredients in coffee creamers so I've been trying to find out the best alternative and depending on how long it lasts me since it's a little pricey I may have found my coffee sweetener! I knew people used it but I didn't try it until I recently stopped using honey. I do measure it so I don't overdo, cals add up. But it's pretty tasty! (as Buddy the Elf said "oo syrup in coffee! Why didn't I think of that?!") lol

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Croutons (V)

I like to make croutons when my bread starts to get a little hard but not too old, I eat whole grain bread so it's normally on the hard side and great for croutons!

5 slices of bread
1/4 cup butter, or sub. I use earth balance soy free, can also use oil,or spray.
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasonings

Cut bread into 1/2 inch cubes and put into a bowl. Melt butter and then add the seasonings to it. Drizzle over cubed bread and stir, I drizzle half at a time and stir to make sure it all gets some. Cook on ungreased cookie sheet with edges at 325 for 15-20 mins. I also stir half way through cooking and keep an eye on it the last few mins so they don't burn.

*Makes roughly 10-1/4cup servings, about 81 cals per 1/4cup
*When I make soup I like to make just garlic croutons to put on top, yum! Obviously you can use different seasonings if you like.

Sweet (Split) Pea Soup (V)

This soup is so filling and delicious, I think we make it almost every month or so, at least in the colder weather months :) Enjoy it with some garlic bread or croutons.

Makes about 8 cups:
1, 16oz. package of split peas, sorted for other particles, and rinsed. About 2 1/2 cups.
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot
2 stocks of celery (optional, or a dash of celery salt)
1 medium sweet potato
1 tbs. parsley
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 bay leaf
8 cups water

-Chop carrots and sweet potato in desired bite sized pieces, I make my sweet potato pieces a little bigger since they break up a little during cooking when they soften, however I would make sure to add them in the beginning since they contribute to the flavor of the soup. Set aside.

-Saute onion with oil or a tiny bit of water until tender (they will still soften while in the soup also) Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer about 1 hr - 1 1/2 hrs until split peas are soft and mushy, stirring frequently. The soup will seem a bit runny, it thickens as it cools, or cook without a lid and some of the liquid will evaporate. If you want it heartier just add 6-7 cups of water instead of 8. S&P to taste and enjoy!

Pedestal Plate

Cheap easy way to make something look pretty!
2 Plates and a wine glass
Goblet and a plate
For a pedestal all you need is a plate and a wide bottom glass or bowl! Just put any decorative plate on top of an upside down glass or bowl, make sure its sturdy, if you wanted to you can glue it for a more permanent piece. And if you have sturdy enough dishes you could even make it 2 layers. Use it for cakes or anything you want!

Great Mascara

Organic Wear by Physicians Formula
I hate that a lot of us don't have the confidence to show our faces in public without makeup on even though we probably look better without it, but you know we wear it anyway.  Even if I decide not to wear a lot with my blond eyelashes I always have to have my mascara lol and I disliked all the chemicals in other mascara's and as usual went on the search for something I could get at a reasonable price and in a store I could go to instead of paying extra for shipping online, so I tried this after hearing some good reviews. I had tried the other kind they have where only the top handle looks like a leaf and it seemed to smear throughout the day. This however rocks! Not only is it better for your eyes, it stays on all day without smearing and washes off with almost just water! The brush is also decent, it's thick and doesn't get clumpy, I highly recommend it. I got mine at Target I think about 8-9$ and I'm sure you could find it at a CVS or Walgreens as well.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Awesome Green Smoothie (V)

Serves-1 Large glass, about 16-18oz:
2 Kale leaves, (or other leafy green), wash and tear off center stem (about 2 cups)
1 cup Milk alternative or water
1Tbs Chia seeds or Flax meal (optional, see note below)
1 Banana
1 cup Strawberries (or any other fruit mango,pineapple etc.)
Ice (optional)

-All you have to do is add the kale, liquid, and flax meal to your blender, use ice crush setting or puree to make it chop the kale into tiny pieces, vita mix blenders I guess work great, I just use my regular one and seems to turn out just fine! If you need more liquid add a little bit at a time.

-Next mix in the banana broken into chunks, the banana masks the flavor of the kale and you can't even tell it's in there! Then do the same with the strawberries or you can use any fruit, If you add frozen fruit you might need a tad more liquid and less ice. Otherwise add some ice cubes about 5-7 or so depending on how thick you like it, Yum! You can also use spinach or any dark leafy green.

*Flax meal is easier to digest and absorb than flax seed, it has fiber and omega 3 and also helps thicken your smoothie! You can find it in the natural/organic food section at most grocery stores(cub here is where I get mine).

*Chia seed also contains fiber and omega 3 but doesn't have to be ground up, it creates a gel when combined with water, also a great egg replacement. It is tasteless, can add to salads or make pudding as well.

More info on Chia Seeds

* Kale rocks! Click here to learn why.

For more green smoothie recipes and tips check out these sites:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Make your own deodorant!

Homemade Deodorant

So after discovering that a lot of store bought deodorants have some ingredients that are unsafe, a main one including aluminum that blocks the pores to eliminate the release of sweat. There is a chance that this ingredient can cause cancer. So I went in search of finding a safer product and came across this recipe from one of my fav blogs, Smashed Peas and Carrots, and I have been using it ever since, and yes it does work!

2-3 Tbsp Coconut Oil (I like organic unrefined since it is the least processed)
1/8 Cup Baking Soda
1/8 Cup Arrowroot Powder or Cornstarch
Essential Oils (optional) *

-Mix the baking soda and arrowroot powder/cornstarch together and then slowly add the coconut oil.

-When you have it on you wont smell like a coconut so don't worry about that. Coconut oil will be in a solid state up to room temps of 76 degrees so your end product will be more of a very thick paste similar to white toothpaste, or your desired consistency.

-Apply like you would regular deodorant, it might sting if used on just shaved under arms. If it didn't have time to soak in and you noticed darkening of your clothes don't freak out, it washes right out :). I use about the size of a pencil eraser for each under arm, it goes on kind of like a lotion.

-I usually keep mine in a cleaned out baby food jar or whatever is easiest to reach into with a finger that has a lid. Also you can put it in a bowl on top of saran wrap in the fridge and it will become solid and you can rub it on like reg. store bought deodorant. (I do this in the summer since I don't have air conditioning and it gets really runny)
*Coconut oil is really good for you and has antibacterial properties, that's what makes it work so well as a natural deodorant.

*I have not tried it yet but some people also add a little essential oil to it like lavender or tea tree since they smell nice and also have antibacterial properties.

Getting the Hang of it

Ok, so I think I'm finally getting the hang of doing my blog, sure is confusing for someone like me lol I'm sure not too many people are interested in my blog yet so I'm not that concerned :)

Homemade Almond Milk (V)

I like to make my own, that way I know whats in it!
Start off by soaking 1/2 cup raw almonds in water over night or a few hours, this plumps them up. Make sure to use more than 1/2 cup of water since they soak it up.

Next rinse the almonds and add to a super powerful blender and 4 cups of water, chop, ice crush or whatever for a couple mins until its all white and you have tiny chunks floating around.

Strain the Almond milk, first I use just a regular large metal strainer, then if you want it strained even more you can use a large coffee filter or a jelly strainer bag, also a cheese cloth works, if you really wanted to you could use any piece of cloth, just make sure it doesn't have soap residue from being washed or your milk will taste funky. It is easier to use something tougher than paper since then you can squeeze the milk out w/o ripping the paper.

Keep that Almond pulp! You can add it to granola bars, biscotti, or even oatmeal!

Now refrigerate and enjoy!
I would say stores for about 5 days or so. Also make sure you shake it before you pour since tiny pieces can sink to the bottom.

* If you want you can add a sweetener or vanilla flavor to your milk.
* Also for more flavor use less water.

* I recently discovered that in the U.S. raw almonds are no longer raw- Click Here for more info

Banana Bread Muffins (V)

I have loved banana bread ever since I tasted my grandma's recipe. I was making that for years, this recipe is a healthier version of hers and I'm glad I can still enjoy it and I hope you do as well :)

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients:
2 Tbs flax meal mixed with 6 Tbs of water
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
2 medium/large bananas 

 *1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

-In a small bowl whisk 2 Tbs of milled flax seed with 6 Tbs water, let sit 5 mins.

-Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.

-In another large mixing bowl mash up the bananas, then mix in the rest of the wet ingredients. ( A hand mixer works great after mashing the bananas).

-Slowly add the dry to the wet and mix well.

-If adding walnuts you can either mix them into the batter or sprinkle on top of each muffin.

-Lightly grease a muffin pan, this makes about 12 muffins.

-Bake at 350 degrees, for about 35-40 mins, or until brown on top, and no longer looks wet, you could also insert a toothpick to see if it comes out clean.

-Let the muffins cool before removing from the pan.

*For 12 servings, 166 calories, 4g fat (includes walnuts).

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A lot of work

Ok so obviously I've been working on the header for my blog for a while now, unfortunately I still have nothing else lol, I didn't realize how time consuming making the actual blog would be. Oh well Its a work in progress and will have to be for a while, stick with me and keep checking for updates!