The Balls that {nearly} broke the Vitamix’s Back

As we’re nearing the end of this pregnancy, I’ve been doing a lot of things to prep my body for labor & delivery. This includes lots of walking, lower body exercises, consuming 2 cups of red raspberry leaf tea a day, sleeping as much as I can, hydrating like I’m preparing for a marathon (which I kind of am), and eating dates.

dates

A few weeks ago, my acupuncturist recommend I trade in my sweet tooth (she could tell I’ve been consuming more sugar than normal by the looks of my tongue!) for dates. I had never tried them before yesterday because I wasn’t sure on how to eat them. So I went home looked up some recipes and kind of came up with something of my own. I present to you…BALLS. My first time ever making them and they are delicious. I made them with walnuts, pecans, coconut, dates and sea salt. They’re the perfect combination of sweet and salty.

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Not only do they satisfy a sugar craving without consuming any processed sugar, but they also have great benefits in labor and delivery. My acupuncturist sent me this interesting article highlighting the study results on the effects of consuming dates and labor and delivery. Overall, they found that the first phase of labor was shorter for women who consumed dates in late pregnancy compared to those women who did not. Eating dates also lowered your risk of augmentation and induction of labor.

If you’re NOT pregnant, dates are high in protein, vitamins (folate, iron, potassium) and fiber without being high in fat. they also provide a lot of energy because they’re high in good, natural sugar. (Source) Below is the recipe that I used. I suggest pre-soaking your dates in water before you make this recipe because the Vitamix was not a fan of how much power it was going to need to blend these up. Just as I was finishing up, the thermal heat sensor kicked in and it just stopped working. I seriously had a small heart attack because I thought I burned out the motor. We unplugged it and let it sit for about 20 minutes and it’s working good as new. Hallelujah!

Date & Coconut Energy Balls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of walnuts
  • 1 cup of pecans
  • 1 cup of unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 2 cups of SOFT dates, pits removed
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp of coconut oil, not melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp course sea salt

Directions

In a food processor or high speed blender, add the nuts and coconut until you have a crumbly mixture.

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Add the dates, coconut oil, sea salt and vanilla and mix until sticky and well-blended. On a cookie sheet with parchment paper, place the rolled balls on there and sprinkle with extra coconut. Place in the freezer until hardened. I kept mine in there overnight and they taste delicious frozen. A perfect frozen treat! I plan on making more of these this weekend so that we have extras to take with us to the hospital.

I’m also enjoying a few dates along side my nightly cup of tea! Hopefully I reap the benefits of these, if not, they are a very tasty snack.

What’s your favorite go-to snackI’m trying to stockpile some healthy go-to snacks to have on hand when baby arrives, so any recipes/suggestions are appreciated. So far, I have some lactation cookies and date balls in my freezer.

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Paleo Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

Happy Tuesday my friends. This weekend was a bit crazy because of some work things, but my in-laws took Madelyn for us on Friday so that helped balance out the work/home life a bit. She got to have fun in Chicago with her grandparents and I got to come home, after a crazy Saturday, to an empty house. It was kind of amazing actually, because I can’t remember the last time I was home alone.
What’s a girl to do on a Saturday night all alone? Grab a $10 take and bake pizza from Whole Foods, a salad to go with, and of course swing by cheesecake factory for a piece of dessert. Everything was delicious and I was sounds asleep by 9:30pm.
saturdaynightLeftovers for days…
On Monday, I enjoyed a much needed workout at The Barre Code, ventured off to a doctor’s appointment, and then I spent the rest of the afternoon playing with Madelyn in the backyard while picking some rhubarb. I was never a huge fan of rhubarb until we inherited a huge plant when we bought our house a few years ago (mostly because I didn’t know how to eat/prepare it). We’ve had so much that I’ve given some away and I still have some in our freezer from last year.
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Yesterday, Instead of utilizing nap time to catch up on household chores, I decided to whip up a batch of paleo strawberry rhubarb muffins. I was going to make strawberry rhubarb crisp, but decided muffins would be a much better option since I was still in a sugar coma from Saturday night’s lemon torte dessert. I am also sick of eating hard-boiled eggs for breakfast and muffins seem to be the next best “grab and go” breakfast option. They were delicious! I can’t wait to make them again.
Ingredients
-2 heaping cups of almond flour
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-a pinch of salt
-3 eggs
-1/4 C honey
-1 Tbsp ghee, melted
-1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
-1 tsp lemon juice
-1 tsp orange juice
-1 tsp vanilla
-1/2 C strawberries, chopped
-1/2 C rhubarb, chopped
Instructions
-Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line muffin tin
-combine all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Mix all the wet ingredients into a separate bowl until well blended then pour into the dry ingredients. Stir in strawberries and rhubarb.
-fill the muffin tins about 3/4 full
-bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool (or eat warm) and enjoy!
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Healthy tidbit of the day: If you have left over strawberry rhubarb mixture, stir it into some plain yogurt and sweeten with honey. It’s a delicious breakfast treat without all the added sugar that most  “fruit-in” yogurts have in them.
What’s your favorite summer produce?
During a busy morning, what’s your go-to breakfast?

Extremely Easy Slow Cooker Chicken

Do I have an easy slow cooker recipe for you guys. If you even want to call it that. I stumbled upon this inspiration from Lina’s blog and it has been added to our monthly rotation of week night dinners. Lina is the Chief Training Officer of The Barre Code and writes an awesome blog focused on fitness, health and wellness.

Step one-buy a whole chicken. Cut up some of your favorite vegetables that will hold up nicely in the slow cooker (carrots, parsnips, onions, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, celery).

IMG_2881Lay the vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker. Season the chicken to taste. I used sea salt, black pepper, thyme, rosemary, and sage. Place the chicken on top of the veggies. Placing the chicken on top of the veggies will help keep the chicken from falling apart too much. Turn the slow cooker onto low and cook for about 8 hours.

IMG_2882You want the internal temperature of the leg to be 160 degrees. The cooking time will vary based on the weight of your chicken. No need to add water or broth to this. It will not burn, the vegetables and the chicken will make its own lovely broth.

When it’s done, scoop out some veggies and cut the chicken off the bone. Dish up and eat! It’s that easy.

IMG_2886I’ve made this now twice and both times it was delicious and satisfying. My ONLY complaint is not having crispy skin. I usually pick the skin off anyway, but I think next time I will place the chicken in the broiler for a few minutes after it’s done slow cooking. I’ll make sure to report back 🙂

It’s Friday! Hallelujah!!!! It’s been an extra long work week and I’ve been looking forward to my wine date tonight with my friend, Jen, all week. The rest of my weekend will be filled with Christmas cookie baking, birthday celebrating, and maybe some Christmas shopping (I only have 1 thing purchased!). I’m really looking forward to baking cookies this year, it will be Madelyn’s first year participating! She’s the best kind of kitchen helper 🙂

madelynpancakes

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup 2014

My third year hosting Thanksgiving went off without a hitch and I am finally recovered from my turkey coma. I’m definitely getting the hang of this whole making a big feast for 9 or more people and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

This year I stuck with some old tried & true recipes but snuck in a few new ones along with some modifications to some previous items.

What stayed the same? Well the Williams-Sonoma Turkey Brine. You can never go wrong with the Apple & Spices Turkey Brine. I’ve been brining my turkey for three years now and there’s not a thing I would do different. The turkey never dries out and it tastes delicious.

IMG_2836-My mom’s gluten-free cornbread stuffing. I don’t know what she puts in it, but it’s amazing and I’m always so sad when the leftovers are gone. I know she makes it with Pamela’s gluten-free cornbread and sausage. It’s pretty much the best thing ever.

-Dutch Apple Pie. I’m not normally one for a freezer to oven pie, but I purchased one last year from one of my co-worker’s kid who was having a fundraiser at school. It was one of the best apple pies I have ever tasted {My guests even agreed}. The parents hand pick the apples and make the pies all from scratch! They were so good, I ordered two this year. I’m not really sure why, but I felt like it was necessary 🙂

This year I {nervously} made modifications to my famous sweet potato casserole. For the past three years, I have received rave reviews on this dish. My sister, who despises sweet potatoes (how are we even related?!) said this dish is the only sweet potato dish she will eat. They’re that good, so why would I want to change them, right? Well, for starters I replaced to the two cups of sugar with two cups of coconut sugar (a healthy alternative to regular sugar you can read about here). 1 cup of all purpose flour got switched to coconut flour (making it completely grain free), the brown sugar got cut in half, and 12 Tbsp of dairy free butter got replaced with 6 tbsp of ghee.  It tasted even better this year than it did last year.

-Mashed potatoes. While I was at Williams-Sonoma picking up my turkey brine, I came across this little taste of heaven:

heaveninatinI texted my mom a picture that stated: “I know that I’m not in charge of making the mashed potatoes, but you have to add this.” Done and Done. Everyone loved them and the smell of the truffles filled up my kitchen as they were heating up in the oven. So good, I want to go back and get more to add to a cauli-flower mash.

Something new. For the past two years, I’ve kept it pretty basic when it came to the green beans. I’d pretty much sautee them in butter, shallots and garlic and call it a day. Well I didn’t want to have to cook anything while I was trying to get the turkey prepared and ready to serve, so I decided to try out the Detoxinista’s Clean Green Bean Casserole. I wanted something that was dairy-free and that was made with REAL ingredients. It was very good and no one even knew it was vegan. The only person I told before serving it was my husband. The sauce that goes along with this dish is so delicious, it’s hard to believe it’s not cream based. I’m glad I had some left over. I’m thinking it would be a good partner in crime with fried eggs.

Here’s some pics from our Thanksgiving feast!

IMG_2838 IMG_2839 IMG_2841  Everything was so delicious! The crumbly topping on my sweet potatoes got brown very quickly, but they were still good 🙂

Of course we enough leftovers to last us a couple of days, and we finished off the turkey with some delicious soup filled with onions, garlic, parsnips and carrots.  I’m already looking forward to cooking next year’s feast.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving Day Food? Mine would have to be a heaping serving of my mom’s cornbread stuffing with a little dab of cranberry sauce for that sweet and savory taste!

 

Spaghetti Squash Bake

Happy Tuesday! How was everyone’s weekend?  Ours started out really good and then ended kind of a low note…my strep throat returned and a busted tail light :-/ Womp womp!  Hubs accidentally backed my car into his…the worst kind of accident. But luckily, everyone is okay.  Easy (but pricey) fix.
fenderbenderI started feeling kind of crappy on Sunday when I woke up, but pressed forward with baking cookies with my little darling.
IMG_2530After that adventure and cleaning up the kitchen, I was exhausted and could feel my throat starting to swell up.  I called my doc to call in another round of antibiotics, so hopefully this round will do the trick.  I have a half marathon to run this weekend and I want to go into it feeling 100%.
To continue on with celebrating National Nutrition Month, I want to share an amazing recipe using spaghetti squash in place of pasta.
Both pasta and spaghetti squash have their own nutritional benefits.  For example, pasta is a better source of folate, where as eating spaghetti squash will provide you with more antioxidants.  Both are low in fat, but if you’re watching your carbs, spaghetti squash would be the better choice.  There are 7 grams of carbs in spaghetti squash compared to pasta’s 31 grams of carbs.  And calories? 1 serving of pasta (and let’s face it, most of us are consuming more than the recommended amount) packs in 158 calories, while spaghetti squash contains 27 calories. (source)   Overall,l if you’re trying to eat low (complex) carbs, low-fat, gluten-free or whole, unprocessed foods, I would say that spaghetti squash is the way to go.
Last week I made this delicious number.
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I cut 1 spaghetti squash in half (lengthwise), brushed it with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted it in the oven at 400 for about 45 minutes.  While that was baking in the oven, I cooked up some italian chicken sausage, spinach, and pasta sauce.  Once the spaghetti squash was out of the oven, I took a fork and “fluffed” up the “noodles”.
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Then spooned the chicken sausage mixture over top and then added a sprinkle of goat cheese crumbles.  And voilà! Dinner 🙂
What’s your favorite way to eat spaghetti squash? I used to scoop it out onto a plate and eat it like spaghetti, but I found this way to be much more appetizing and EASY!