Sunday, June 24, 2012

Clean Eating Green Smoothie


    Sounds kinda gross, right?  Well, I thought so, that is until I tried this vitamin packed smoothie.  I used to drink a version of this with juice...that is, until I realized how much sugar I was consuming.  BEWARE:  This smoothie is DELICIOUS!!

     Well, this new version is a little cleaner too.  No artificial sweetners, which I'm guilty of abusing.  Without any further ado, I'll hush up and share my recipe!  Enjoy.



Clean Eating Green Smoothie

  • 8-10 oz. of unsweetned Almond Milk
  • 1 cup of frozen raw Spinach (I just buy a big bag, as opposed to the boxed kind)
  • 1 TBSP REAL Honey
  • 1 med. banana
  • 1/2 cup vanilla or plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2-3 ice cubes
  • 1 TBSP of Natural Peanut Butter (I use Smuckers cause only ingriedients are peanuts and salt)

Blend away and sip to your hearts content!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

UPCOMING: Homemade Liquid Dishwasher Detergent

A while back I posted a recipe for Homemade Dishwasher Detergent.  At first, my dishes were coming out good, and clean.  But, after a while, there was a soapy build-up. 

It's been driving me nuts!  So, to resolve my dishwasher dilemma, I'm working on a liquid version that I hope will be up to my standards! 

If you have tried my powder recipe, let me know if it worked for you and if it didn't, what were your results.  It's great to have feedback!  But, be kind please.

So look for an upcoming recipe on the liquid version of homemade dishwasher detergent!

Thanks,
Aimee

Monday, April 16, 2012

Healthier Peanut Butter Cookies!


UPDATE:  I used 1/2 cup brown sugar instead of the white, and loved them even better, if that's possible!  If you don't want to use any artificial sweetners, you could use 1 cup of either brown or white sugar.  Another yummy addition is dark chocolate chips!  At least with 60% cacao.



Oh my, what a Monday I've had!  It has been the  MOTHER of all Mondays!  

So, I treated myself to some peanut butter cookies!

Not just any peanut butter cookies, but a bit more figure friendly peanut butter cookies.

I have finished my Advocare 24 day challenge, and feel amazing! I have lost a total of 13 lbs. and 6 inches total from all over. 

So as not to sabbatoge myself on my not so good days when I need a little comfort from....food.  I know, still working on that.  But hey, making changes a litttle bit at a time.

Here is my recipe which I'm still tweaking to lessen the sugar, but it's still pretty good.



Healthier Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 1 cup Peanut Butter ( I used Smucker's Natural PB, Creamy)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup stevia
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1 tsp baking soda


Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix peanut butter and sugars in a bowl until blended. 
Add the egg and baking soda and stir until combined.
Use a cookie scoop to make all cookies same size.  Make sure to squish (that's my technical term for the day) them down with a fork, and make a cute little criss-cross pattern.
Bake for 10 min. Makes about 28 cookies.
Each cookie is about 73.5 calories.  Not bad right?



Did you notice that there's no flour?!  It's not a typo......

These cookies are high in protein and low in calories.

My kids even love these and haven't missed the old version.


Enjoy,
Aimee








Friday, April 6, 2012

Pico De Gallo Chicken!






Pico De Gallo Chicken
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Mrs. Dash's Southwest Chipotle Seasoning
  • Pico De Gallo
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

I used a prepared pico de gallo from Wal-Mart (Marketside brand) found in the produce section.  You can make your own, it's very simple.  I will post the recipe for it at the end of this post!













  • Start by heating the oven to 375 deg.
  • Lightly brush olive oil over chicken.
  • Sprinkle Sea Salt to taste










  • Sprinkle Mrs. Dash seasoning. The more you sprinkle, the spicier it will be.


  • Bake in oven about 25-35 min. depending on the thickness of the breasts.  Juices will run clear when done.









I also cooked some organic brown rice (found at where else, Wal-Mart) with dinner, and a side of steamed spinach. 
When the spinach was done, I added some Light Balsamic Vinegar and mixed well.









To plate the dinner, I first put the desired amount of rice on plate, then the chicken on top....and topped the chicken with the Pico De Gallo.
Spinach with balsamic vinegar on the side.









Super Simple Homemade Pico De Gallo

Equal parts of:
  • Roma tomatoes , chopped
  • Onion, chopped
  • Cilantro, chopped
Then add in:
  • Chopped jalapenos, 1 or 2 (scrape out membrane and seeds, unless you like it HOT)
Mix all 4 ingredients well, then squeeze in juice from
  • half of a lime
Sprinkle with
  • Salt


The kids loved this meal, they were topping the chicken with extra pico de gallo and ate most of the spinach...which is a huge achievement in itself!
Anytime I can come up with a healthy meal that the kids will not only eat, but love....it goes in my "keeper" recipe binder.  The boys told me this one was a "keeper"!!


Thanks!
Aimee


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent with Scouring Power


I finally went to the store last night and got the remaining ingredients for homemade dishwasher detergent.  We ran out of the regular store brand detergent yesterday afternoon, and I decided now was the time.

I've experimented in the past with vinegar as my rinsing aid in the dishwasher, so I knew that was going to work well....and CHEAP! 

I've scoured the internet for recipes and combined several ingredients to make my own.  I needed something a bit abrasive, like a scouring agent, because one of my boys' chores is to help load the dishwasher.....and let's just say he doesn't always get them rinsed off properly beforehand.

Alrighty roo, so here is my recipe, and I'll also list alternative ingredients you could use.



Ingredients before mixing

Dishwasher Detergent with Scouring Power
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • 1/4 cup Kosher Salt (scouring power)
  • 5 single serving packets or .70oz  SUGAR-FREE Lemonade (ONLY LEMON)
  • Vinegar (White)
  • Dawn Dish Soap

Combine Borax, Washing Soda, Salt, and Lemonade together in a container.  I used a shatterproof jar with a locking lid (found at Wal-Mart) since my boys help with the dishes!
When you're ready to run a load of dishes, put 1-2 TBSP in the dispenser, depending on whether it's a full load or super grimy.  Also put 3 (and only 3!) drops of Dawn Dish Soap in the dispenser with powder ( put too much in, and you might have an overflow problem!) Lastly....put vinegar in the rinse-aid dispenser or splash a little in the bottom of dishwasher.

The Salt is not only awesome to use for scouring, but if you live in an area with hard water, it helps soften the water. The vinegar , as a rinse-aid, helps leave your dishes spot-free. 

I tried not using the Dawn Dish soap and and was left with a little cakey powder around dispenser and few streaks on plastic ware.  I think the soap helps suds up the powder better. 

*I made a double batch because I had  bought a large container. 

Alternative Ingredients
  • Sugar-Free Lemonade=1/4 cup Citric Acid or Fruit Fresh or 2 packets SF lemonade (kool-aid)
  • Dawn Dish Soap=Any Dish Soap will Do
  • Washing Soda=Baking Soda
I used the Sugar-Free Lemonade only because it was what was available to me in our small community.  But, it does have the citric acid in it to help clean your dishes.  Just make sure if you do use the lemonade that it is SUGAR-FREE! 


Math Break-down


Borax
76oz = 4.29
8oz=.45/batch


Washing Soda
55oz = 2.19
8oz=.32/batch


Kosher Salt

48oz = 2.14
4oz = .17/batch


Dawn Dish Soap
24 oz.=2.83
3  Drops=?

Sugar-Free Lemonade
1.41 oz=1.74
.70 oz.=.87/batch
Total cost for 24 oz batch= $1.81

Comparison with Store Brand
 
Palmolive® eco+ gel 75 ounce detergent – $3.79 – 28 loads = $0.14 per load



Homemade powder 24 ounce detergent – $1.81– 48 loads = $0.03 per load

Rinse-Aid Comparison
 
FINISH® JET-DRY® Rinse Agent 4.22 ounce solution – $3.99 – 1 fill = $3.99 per fill



White Vinegar as a Rinse Agent 1 gallon solution – $1.79 – 1 fill = $0.06 per fill

Homemade Detergent and Vinegar Rinse-Aid Vs. Store Brand Detergent and Brand Name Rinse-Aid
 
.09 cents per fill VS. $4.13 per fill!
 
 
Not only is this a much cheaper way to wash your dishes....it's more natural without added chemicals!
 
Time to wash another load!!
Aimee

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Old Fishin' Hole

This is it.  The old fishin' hole!  One of several ponds we have on the farm....but according to hubby, this one is the best for fishin.  And me, being an awesome fisherwoman that I am (HA!) would have told you the same.....Umm, Yep!



This is my #2 in the procession of boys.  He is so warm hearted and kind.....He wants to catch a fish, but doesn't want to hurt them...can you feel his dilemma?



My #1 boy on the right and #3 on the left....ha, just noticed he's wearing a shirt with a #3 on it.  Spooky!  My oldest, who thinks he's a professional fisherman....like his mama, of course, is giving his little bro some unsolicited advice.


I think #2 , in the orange shirt,  has caught something.....we caught a lot of moss that evening....  See that nifty atv on the far right?  That's where I assume my position while they're fishing.   After all, there always has to be a supervisor, right?

I'm trying to explain to him, that fishing takes lots of patience....maybe that's why I don't fish?  Good thing hubby likes to fish, otherwise the boys would never get to experience this.  Looking at this picture, it looks calm, serene, peaceful....but if you were there, you would have known otherwise.  Constant chit chat, "where's all the fish", "I have to pee", "Mommy, where's the muskrats?", "Do the fish eat cow poop?'   They love to discuss bodily functions....sorry.


"Mom, you gotta quit talking to me...you're going to scare the fish".  Hmmm....maybe that's why I've never had any luck in the past.

This is our old girl, Hershey, who is/was hubby's pointing dog when hunting.  Jake, in the background, is our cattle dog, who loves to get cows off the fence, police any goings on, help move cattle, and  steal and rough up the kids' basketball.  When we came back up to the house, the dogaloos were so happy to see us...like they haven't seen us in days. 
Caught a glimpse of the sunset before heading inside....wouldn't have traded that evening for anything.


Love to all,
Aimee

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Easter is Coming!




Ok, so it was a couple of days ago when I realized that Easter was THIS WEEKEND!
Holy bananas! It was then I grabbed an envelope from a bill I just opened (cause I'm organized like that), and commenced to writing out my to do list on it in order to be ready for Easter.  

 
My List
  • Buy Easter Candy (Have hubby hide it, so I don't eat it!)
  • Find Easter baskets
  • Buy annoying plastic shredded grass for baskets
  • Buy egg coloring kit  BONUS!  Found an extra from last year!
  • Buy eggs. (This may seem odd since we own laying hens...but we only have brown egg layers.  Ever try to dye brown eggs? Ya, not so easy.)
  • Figure out Easter breakfast and dinner menu
  • Figure out Easter craft with kids. (Geode Easter Eggs?)




Our regular routine for Easter is: Night before Easter, we color eggs, and then watch Peter Cottontail, you know the old version, I loved it growing up, and now it's our tradition.
Wake up at the tiniest crack of dawn, to kids squealing and piling in our bed, hubby crawls down the hall to the kitchen to make a survival pot of coffee. 
Me, holding kids back , literally, so no one spies the "hidden" Easter eggs before the "Great Hunt" begins. (We have to hide the eggs inside...one of the downfalls of living on a farm...otherwise the cats, dogs, possums, and coons would have themselves a tasty Easter treat.  And, well, I'm just not that nice). All the while I'm yelling at hubby to grab the camera on his way back from the kitchen.  Kids then run down the hall to the kitchen, spy their goodies in their baskets on the kitchen table, ooh and aah for a moment before they dump goodies onto said table, shove a piece of candy in their mouth, and take off with their basket to hunt for the eggs that the Easter Bunny hid during the night. 
I would then make some sort of egg concoction (scrambled, frittata, omelet, etc...) with bacon or sausage, call it good, and try to keep the kids from going into a sugar coma.
About noonish, I usually start on a ham, special scalloped potatoes, corn pudding, asparagus, rolls, and some sort of fruit pie. 



Well, this year, I'm gonna change just a few things up a little bit.  Night before activities will stay the same....going to get the coffee ready the night before and set the timer.....put my camera on my nightstand....and this year I'm going to make....drum roll please.....HOT CROSS BUNS!!  It use to be a tradition in my house growing up.  But, I've looked for those babies high and low.... everywhere, and nobody sells them anymore.  I guess maybe, if you went to a special bakery or pastry shop, you might find them, but not in these parts!
Well, this year, I'm going to make them!  I'm so excited....just wish my mama was here to eat them with us. 


My Easter links:






Hot Cross Buns Recipe  This is The Pioneer Woman's recipe! (Love that woman!)












Geode Easter Eggs


 




What are your family's Easter  traditions? 

Tomorrow, I'm going to post recipes for my Easter dinner......

Off to find my bunny spirit,
Aimee

Sunday, April 1, 2012

We are Bald Eagle Watching!

Hey all!  Just wanted to take a minute a share with you what the boys and I have been obsessed with lately.
We've been watching a male and female bald eagle, in Iowa, take care of their eggs by way of a live feed camera mounted by their nest. 




Well, the chicks have hatched....and they are ridiculously cute! 

There used to be four of them, but mom stepped on one of the hatchlings and killed it , I think she may have sensed something was wrong with it...still heartbreaking.

Anyway, here's the link if your curious!  What an amazing, spring miracle!

Bald Eagle Web Cam


Enjoy,
Aimee

Saturday, March 31, 2012

To the Zoo We Go!!



What a wonderful spring day yesterday!  It was the most perfect time to go to the Topeka Zoo.
My oldest kiddo decided to stay home and help dad with cows and run errands.  So, I packed up the other 3 boys and the two cutie patootie girls that I watch and we headed to the zoo. 


Last year we went right in the middle of summer,it was way too hot, and they were renovating a majority of the animal habitats.  It was rather disappointing but I bought a season pass nevertheless in the hopes that with all the work they were doing would greatly improve our little zoo.

Wow, what a great improvement from last year!  It was not too warm out, so we saw just about every animal they had.  Our highlight was the mama hippo and her baby.  We had seen them last year, and it was exciting for the kids to see how they were getting along now. 



I think we watched the orangutans for 15 minutes.  The kids were fascinated by their climbing and jumping skills....I could not tear them away.  I think maybe they could relate with them and was just hoping they were not picking up any new ideas.



For some reason, the girls were enthralled with the African Crested Porcupine. ???? They had a blast!

 
She was very taken with all the flowers in bloom.  She's a woman of not too many words....but said over and over..."I loouvvee flawoors".  And in case you can't speak "2 yr old", it's, I Love Flowers! 



After seeing the zoo, we went across the road and enjoyed our picnic lunch....then the kids played at the awesome park for nearly an hour.  I was exhausted just watching them, but I knew if I just let them keep going.....it was going to be a nice, peaceful ride home....minus the snoring.



I think the older "cutie patootie" was a little worried about the squawking  geese roaming along the path near us.  I think she's going to make a break for it.

We can't wait to visit the zoo again next month for their homeschool education program.  The Topeka Zoo also has a summer camp, and tons of other fun experiences for kids! 


One exhausted mom,
Aimee

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Healthy Recipes



I'm trying to lose weight not only for my health, but before the dreaded bathing suit season.....YIKES!!!

My brother and his wife are advisors and distributors for a company called, ADVOCAREI love this program....you're not starving yourself (those diets are doomed to fail), their products are natural, and nutrient rich.

Well, I just got done with the first week, which is the cleanse week.  I never felt hungry or deprived!  Needless to say, I'm loving my results!  I'm down 5 lbs, 2-1/2 inches around the waist, 1-1/2 inches around the hips!

They are big encouragers of losing weight the right way.....real food, vitamin enriched protein shakes, and supplements. Foods that are less processed (not easy). Exercise is recommended, which I'm starting this weekend. Adovocare is basically a springboard for a healthier lifestyle.

Anyway, I wanted to share a few food ideas that are healthy and a great way to help you lose weight....the right way.

Chicken Berry Salad
  • 4 oz. chicken diced, cooked,  and seasoned with rosemary, basil, and sea salt
  • organic 1/2 & 1/2 salad (spinach & spring mix) I use Wal-Mart's Marketside brand
  • Fresh Strawberries (cut into bite sized pieces)
  • Fresh Blackberries
  • 2 TBSP Light Balsamic Vinegar Dressing



Salmon and Roasted Asparagus with Cherry Tomatoes
  • Wild caught Salmon, 
  • 1 bunch fresh Asparagus
  • olive oil
  • sea salt & pepper
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Mrs. Dash's (Salt-Free) Tomato, Basil, Garlic seasoning
Very lightly, coat salmon with olive oil, (use a pastry brush).
Season salmon with Mrs. Dash and bake on a baking sheet or glass pan, in a pre-heated 400 deg. oven for 12-15 min .
Rinse asparagus and dry it well. 
 Break or cut off bottom ends.
Drizzle 1 tsp. olive oil over asparagus and sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste.
Cut grape tomatoes in half (length-ways) and combine with asparagus.
Mix the asparagus with your hands to evenly distribute all ingredients.
Place on a baking sheet in a single layer, and roast on top rack of oven at 400 deg. for 15 min.

I usually serve this with organic brown rice, or you could roast some red potatoes too!

I'm experimenting with quinoa, so stay tuned!


    Here's to a long and healthy life!
    Aimee

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rainy Day Playdough



Last week it rained every single cotton-pickin' day!   We had a blanket fort day, a movie day, a day at Science City, a catch up on our reading day.....and as the walls started closing in around us, and the boys were crawling up them, I was desperate for something to keep their little hands busy! 
Someone suggested playing with play-dough, but I had long ago  tossed it into the trash after scrapping it out of the carpet...but I did have the ingredients on hand to make it.
So, here it is.....no guarantee that it won't stick to your carpet, but it is natural, and non-toxic!





Mix the following ingredients in a pot over low heat ( recipe makes 1 lb) :



1 cup flour


1 cup water

       



 



1/2 cup salt

    

1 TBSP vegetable oil






                                   




1-1/2 tsp cream of tartar

                                            
                
  

Food coloring

              


Stir, it won't take long
   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

before it starts to clump



                   
                         
  

dough is ready when it rolls into a ball

store playdough in Ziploc bags in the fridge


   
   
                                
                                        Use waxed paper and hold it down
                           with painters tape for a non-stick 
                             work surface.





                                          I set out a bowl of plastic cutlery,
                            cookie cutters, a rolling pin, and
                            they had a blast!



Take that rainy day!
Aimee















                                                      
                      




                                                                             













          

Monday, March 26, 2012

Garden Planning

UPDATE:   If you're a homeschooling family, pop on over to  The Homeschool Village and enter to win "Exploring Creation with Botany" text and notebook!  Hurry, I think submissions close in a day, as of May 2, 2012.




Ahhh, spring has sprung here in Kansas!  The grass is green, the birds are singing, and the temperature has been unseasonably warm!!
I am so glad we are through the winter months, even if we did have a mild winter!  Thank goodness, the sunshine has brought me a little more energy....
So, that brings me to thinking of replanting a vegetable garden.  If you're like me, I do not naturally have a "green thumb".  I need lots of assistance as far as, when to plant, when to harvest, etc...
I do not keep a gardening journal....really, people do that? 
My idea of gardening before, was around April, I would plant whatever I wanted in the garden, all at the same time, paying no heed to temperature or acidity of the soil, and when to exactly plant according to where I live.
Then, at good ol' Wal-Mart, I was thumbing through magazines and happened upon Mother Earth News: A Guide to Wiser Living


It was actually an issue discussing organic gardening.  While I'm no hippie, I do value and realize the healthful benefits of foods with no pesticides, chemicals or harmful toxins.  I try to buy organic when I can.  This can be somewhat challenging out in the middle of nowhere Kansas.  We do however have a farmers market that offers wonderful produce, the only other option nearby is, you guessed it, Wal-Mart.
Anyway, they had a wonderful article about garden planning!  It was so exciting....I bought the magazine ,brought it home and immediately set to planning my garden!


This is an example of a planned out garden, not mine, but it shows how you can make it into whatever your little heart desires.

If you visit the  Vegetable Garden Planner site from Mother Earth News, you will not be sorry!
It offers precise planning as to when to plant according to your neck of the woods, and when to harvest!
Plus you can draw your garden on a grid and it spaces everything out according to what you are planting.  It was so simple for me to use.  Plus it keeps record of what , when, and where you planted to make crop rotation  a snap!
Oh, and did I mention yet that you get a FREE, yes FREE 30-day trial?  No credit card required....you just set up an account, which is just your email, and password.  Then you're ready to go.
Here's a peek at mine if you're curious.  I still have some tweaking to do, but it'll give you a good idea!

My Garden!

Need a little more info?  Here's a tutorial you can view, that helps with using the planner.


Good luck, and may the "green thumb" be ever in your favor! Sorry, a little Hunger Games humor.
Aimee

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