Toasted Coconut Chips

 

Back in March when we began our grain-free journey with a Whole30, I found myself doing a ton of research on paleo eating, specifically related to paleo snacks that my children and husband would enjoy. I knew that their normal snacks of granola bars and muffins were easily paleo-itized. But those snacks used pound after pound of insanely expensive almond flour or a dozen eggs per batch of muffins.

When reading one of my now favorite cookbooks, Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan, I stumbled across a recipe for toasted coconut chips. I immediately knew that my boys would LOVE toasted coconut chips. Tip: If you click on this Well Fed link you can download a free PDF sample of the book with a ton of fabulous recipes!

Melissa’s recipe uses a skillet on the stovetop to toast the coconut chips, which I cautiously did a few times with mixed results. Sometimes the coconut burnt. Other times toasted nicely. Most of the time I got a combination of both.

This process was pretty daunting because I wanted to batch prep a ton of coconut chips (think a half gallon ball jar full of them). And that meant standing next to a screaming hot cast iron skillet for 30 minutes trying not to burn the coconut or my hands. I knew there had to be another way.

One evening I decided to put the untoasted coconut chips on a pan and put them in a 350* oven, just to see what happened. The results? Perfectly toasted coconut chips in 6-10 minutes.

We eat our toasted coconut chips topped with sea salt and cinnamon. However, they would be amazing with curry spices, paprika, nutritional yeast or cacao powder. The options are endlessly delicious.

This is one of those recipes that is more technique versus actual recipe, so don’t overthink it. Just keep a watchful eye and nose to the oven during the last few minutes and you should be golden. Remember that all ovens heat differently and have their own quirks (convection vs non convection, hot spots, etc.). So don’t leave the room while you are toasting your coconut chips.

 

Toasted Coconut Chips

by Maria Peters

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook Time: 6-10 minutes

Keywords: bake appetizer snack dairy-free gluten-free low-carb low-sodium low-sugar nut-free soy-free sugar-free unsweetened vegan vegetarian

Ingredients (4-6 cups)

  • 4-6 cups coconut chips
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt, to taste
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon, to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350*.

Spread coconut chips on a large rimmed baking sheet and place on the center rack of the oven.

Bake for 6-10 minutes or until the coconut smells toasted and is lightly browned. Stir halfway through cooking time to ensure all of the coconut is evenly toasted.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle evenly with sea salt and cinnamon. Stir to distribute spices. Allow to cool on the pan for at least an hour. The coconut will crisp as it cools.

Tips and Tricks

You can toast multiple batches in the oven at one time. Note that the coconut on the top rack will toast faster than the coconut on the lower racks.

If you have hot spots in your oven or are baking multiple sheets at once, it might be helpful to turn the pans or switch racks mid-way through the cooking time when you are already opening the oven to stir the coconut chips.

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Peanut Butter and Banana Bites

Good afternoon!

I wanted to stop by and let you know that I have been busy over on Instagram sharing the snacks that my kids have been enjoying this week. Check out all of the posts by searching the hashtag #cleaneatingsnacks and #cleaneatinglunch. If you’d like more ideas for fabulous clean eating and whole foods recipes for your family check out the hashtag #kideatingwhole on Instagram.

This was cinnamon chia seed pudding with strawberries </p>
<p>So far I have shared a few of our favorite <a title=smoothie recipes and the quick grab and go items I feed my boys on the fly. I’ve even posted the haul that I pack up and bring to my in-laws when the boys are staying all day. At the end of the week I plan to make a big post with all of the posts included in addition to my tips for feeding your kids quick, healthy whole foods snacks.

Jazz, chocolate and a picnic at the #eaganmarketfest

Feel free to join me in tagging your own snacks with #cleaneatingsnacks and sharing your favorite snacks below. I love learning from you!

Blessings to you and your family!

Maria

The Albion Fit winner was announced on this post and has been emailed. Congratulations!

Green coffee beans

As I am sure you have noticed, the internet has been all abuzz lately about Dr. Oz’s recent run in with the Senate’s Consumer Protection panel. If you have no clue what I am talking about, then count your lucky stars. And if I’ve piqued your interest, head over to CNN for a concise article that details the charges against Dr. Oz and the misleading claims he has made about chlorogenic acid (aka green coffee beans) and gardenia cambogia.

Green Coffee Beans

Photo: Flickr user Jessica Spengler http://www.flickr.com/photos/wordridden/8278570234/

Here’s a little summary of what the research says about the “miracle” pills Dr. Oz uses “flowery language” to sell:

  • chlorogenic acid (aka green coffee beans): one study showed significant weight loss among a very small participant group, another study showed a slight weight loss among a very small participant group and another study found absolutely no weight loss effect. Bottom line: real, significant studies that aim to give legitimate results generally use large participant groups so that the results can be applied to the public at large. This has not been done for chlorogenic acid and therefore it should not be marketed as a proven weight loss supplement.
  • gardenia cambogia: proven to not significantly help participants lose any more weight than a placebo pill. Definitely should not be marketed as an effective weight loss supplement.

Photo: Flickr user Victor/CC/flickr.com/photos/v1ctor/6889837424

Honestly, I’m not surprised by Dr. Oz’s claims. Celebrity experts have been slinging “miracle” pills for years and consumers have been buying their claims all the way to the poor house. But the fact of the matter is that there is NO miracle pill or supplement out there that is going to help you loose weight while sitting on the couch and eating potato chips. DO NOT waste your time and money.

Unfortunately since the advent of cheap processed food and the fun “farm bill” that subsidizes even cheaper commodity foods, North American’s waistlines have expanded exponentially. Todays children are the first generation expected to live shorter lives that their parents. We’ve become docile and are looking for ways to improve our health in all of the wrong places. The only real impact these quick fix pills are making is to drain your wallet. You will not lose weight by simply popping a pill, drinking a magic protein powder or taking a particular supplement. I repeat quick fixes will NOT help you lose weight and keep it off.

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Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about real, documented and researched ways to lose weight, feel fabulous and have shiny, glowing skin. Here’s a spoiler: it’s not rocket science. It’s exactly what God provided for us at the beginning of time when we were created. Honestly, it’s really that simple and you know what, it works 100% of the time.

1. Drink plenty of filtered tap water. If you are thirsty, then you are already well on your way to dehydration. Don’t waste calories and your hard earned money on artificially sweetened soda (yes, high fructose corn syrup is an carcinogenic artificial sweetener) and designer waters. Did you know that standards for city tap water are actually stricter than government imposed bottled water standards? Yep, there are likely more toxins floating around in your bottled water than the stuff straight from the faucet. Buy a few reusable water bottles and fill them up. Add a couple sliced lemons or limes, a pinch of sea salt and some fresh mint and you’ll be set.

2. Eat your vegetables. Focus on in season, local vegetables in a rainbow of colors. Visit a local farmer’s market or sign up for a CSA farm share. If your budget allows chose organic or certified naturally/sustainably grown vegetables that don’t use toxic pesticides that encourage super bugs and the degradation of soil. Plus organic is better for you because the produce needs to produce more antioxidants to help them fight off diseases and pests.

3. Don’t fear fat. You need to eat dietary fat to loose body fat. Focus on healthy fats that have been proven to build a better body and boost brain power like avocado, extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, pastured meat and eggs, wild salmon, sardines, nuts and seeds.

4. Pile on the protein. Enjoy one serving of protein (about the size and thickness of the palm of your hand) with each meal. Protein is made up of amino acids that help to build strong muscles and keep your body processes humming along. Without clean, good quality protein your body will not run optimally. Find a local farmer who values his craft and buy your meat in bulk from the farm. You will not only save a ton of money, but you will also build community right where you live.

5. Move your body every day. Do not overthink this. Remember that 80% of weight loss and health revolve around the fuel that you put into your body, exercise is only 10% of the equation (but still VERY important). Make an effort to lift heavy things a few times a week, take a 30 minute walk, play with your kids at the park, get your bike tuned up and actually use it, etc. Find a form of exercise that excites you and make a plan to stick with it. Not only will your body thank you, but so will your mind. Every time you move your body you activate hormones called endorphins that lift your mood and energize your body. It’s a beautifully designed cycle straight from God’s hand.

Next time you feel swayed by a commercial or something you hear on TV, take a deep breath, a moment to be thoughtful and keen enough to realize that there are lots of people out there trying to take advantage of your weaknesses and insecurities. Don’t give them the opportunity to take advantage of you. Know that you are worth more than a quick fix, you are fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image and your body deserves to be treated like Christ’s temple!

Albion Fit Antigua Floral Icon Suit2-2

As many of you know, we took our family to Walt Disney World this Spring. The nice folks at Disney and AIGA Orlando hosted our family in their wonderful city for two weeks while we enjoyed all that Disney had to offer along with visiting both of the Florida coastlines. It truly was a magical time! Plus, we got to meet some pretty amazing people and Allan got to talk about what he does and share our story with a few rooms full of designers.

 

As we prepared for our vacation I recached out to the lovely people at Albion Fit to see if they would be interested in sponsoring a review and giveaway on my blog and they happily accepted. As you may have noticed in mine and Allan’s flurry of Disney Instagram posts I donned one of Albion Fit’s beautiful limited edition Antigua Floral Icon swimsuits for the duration of our trip.

When the suit arrived at our hotel I couldn’t wait to rip open the package and take it for a test drive in the kid’s water playground and pool at our hotel. Upon holding the suit in my hands I knew that it was going to last me a lifetime. It is meticulous crafted with thick, structured fabric and a lot of stretch. This helps to hold everything in, keep you comfy and allow the suit to move with you vs against you. The fabric was definitely made to stand up to chlorine and salt water for years to come. I especially loved that the Antigua Floral pattern perfectly matched my favorite floppy hat (from Target last year, similar hat)

The next day we decided to take it easy and hang by the pool for the morning. I loved the fit of the Icon suit and am smitten with everything Antigua Floral. The swimsuit hugged my curves and looked very flattering. It made me feel pretty and sexy while still being modest and sporty. I could see wearing this suit at the water park with my boys, the local beach or on a getaway with my husband. It definitely does double duty as a functional suit and fashion statement.

I cannot wait to wear this amazing suit at our local water park and at my parent’s pool for years to come!

Albion Fit has graciously offered to grace one of you with a $50 gift card! To enter simply sign up below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note that this post is sponsored by Albion Fit, however all opinions are my own.

 

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As I sit here on a snowy, beginning of winter day perusing the beautiful family photos we had taken in early November, I am thankful that we planned ahead. Trying to wrangle two small children in front of a misshapen Christmas tree armed with a tripod, self-timer and lighting kit seems like an accident waiting to happen. Allan’s cousin, Sean Sullivan, did an amazing job taking our family photos and I am so excited to share them with our family and friends in our annual Christmas photo card.

When I was contacted by Minted I knew that it would be a wonderful partnership opportunity. I had heard of them by way of friends and other bloggers, but have never used their services. The Christmas cards we received last year that were printed by Minted were beautifully crafted and memorable. Upon entering their site I was immediately greeted by a wide assortment of gorgeous Christmas cards to choose from. Look at that gold foil!

I loved the Find It Fast feature which gave me the ability to upload my family photos and preview each card with our photo in place of the stock family photos. I was immediately able to tell if a layout would work with my chosen photo instead of having to go through the effort of placing my photo into the card myself.

 

 

 

 

 

It can be daunting sorting through hundreds of layouts, so I really liked that upon mouseover I was able to favorite/heart, pin to Pinterest or have a quick look at the card. This made sifting through the layouts easy.

When I finally decided which card I liked most I was able to really personalize it to match our taste. I could add fancy edging and rounded corners, choose upgraded papers (like 100% recycled paper) and add patterns or photos to the back of the card.

Once you decided on the layout and personalizations you would like, most cards can be delivered in two different ways:

Express Service, which is similar to other photo card sites, where you receive an immediate digital preview of your card options. This enables you to quickly get your order processing and includes a $10 credit.

If you’re more Type A, like me, then you can choose to receive a Full Service Proof prior to printing. A Minted designer will provide you with a digital proof, just like we used to receive in the advertising biz prior to printing. This way you can see every detail of your card and ensure that it is juuuuust right.


If you order Christmas cards by Thursday, December 5th use coupon code HOLLY to receive 15% off $150+ or 10% off a $100+. Also, for a limited time Minted will address all of your envelopes for FREE!!! That in and of itself is an amazing offer saving you time and many a hand cramp.

 

 

Please note that this post was sponsored by Minted. However, as always, all opinions are my own.

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When L began eating solids back in March we loosely followed the Baby-Led Weaning approach. I was surprised at how well he did feeding himself cute pieces of super soft foods. So, honestly we haven’t had a huge need for homemade baby food purees, like we did when M was a baby. I am really loving the ease of simply feeding L a bit of what we are eating or leftovers from another meal, like sweet potatoes.

L’s favorite foods are sweet potato, grapes (quartered), banana (which he calls “beneh”), oatmeal, eggs, all berries, stone fruits (nectarines, peaches, plums, cherries), sautéed greens (kale, spinach, collards, swiss chard), zucchini, carrot apple zucchini muffins and gluten-free toast spread with coconut oil. He’s started eating around avocado (which he used to love) and will spit out foods when he sees something else on his tray that he would prefer to eat.

When we first started solids, I spent one afternoon making my own homemade smoothie packs for easy grab and go meals when we’re running out the door, grandma’s house, going out to eat or for those nights when the meal that I’ve prepared isn’t exactly baby friendly and we are short on leftovers. I loosely based my recipes on this post. We’ve since run out of that big batch of pouches and it’s time to restock my freezer!

To quickly thaw frozen smoothies simply run them under warm water and gently break up the icy clumps. If you place the baby food in the fridge overnight it should be thawed by mid-morning. Please do not microwave baby’s food to warm/thaw. You can create hot spots and will run the risk of burning your baby’s mouth. Also, I would highly recommend that everyone attempt to wean themselves from the microwave, it’s not good for you or your health.

Our summer has been crazy busy so far and I have had to break down and buy store bought organic smoothies pouches – we like the 4 pack “cases” by Plum Organics, which have thankfully been on sale at Target quite often . However, at close to $2 per pouch they are overpriced, heavy on fruit, light on veggies, lack caloric density and don’t offer healthy fats.

At almost 11 months old, L is eating 98% table food; however, we do supplement some lunches with pouches and I would prefer they be uber nutritious and filling. Also, M still enjoys smoothie packs as an occasional snack (his favorite is broccoli apple kale) and I’m sure we will do the same with L as he begins enjoying snacks, as well.

In addition to smoothie packs, we keep organic bananas, organic greens puffs and Little Ducks freeze dried organic fruit on hand for quick grab and go foods or for the boys to much on while I prep lunch or dinner.

Homemade baby food definitely saves money while offering superior nutrition. This is obvious by simply looking at the brilliant colors of homemade food vs. the brownish mush that comes out of a store bought smoothie. Store-bought ain’t got nothin’ on that!

Also when making homemade you can control the ingredients and ratio of veggies to fruit. No more additives like lemon juice and citric acid (which can be GMO). As your baby ages you can add less water during the blending process resulting in a thicker consistency and higher caloric density.

Plus, it’s fun to dote on your baby by spending some quality time making love in the kitchen just for him or her. :)

Click here for an easy to follow, step by step process to making a big batch of 60 four ounce smoothies. This should easily last 2 months with a new eater (5-7 months old) and one month for a baby who is starting to enjoy finger foods along with pureed foods (8+ months). Please do not be overwhelmed by the lengthy list of instructions, it is not difficult or overly time consuming to make your own baby food. I simply wanted to ensure that I seamlessly laid out the entire process for you so that your time in the kitchen would be efficient, fun and easy. Also, be sure to check out the tips and tricks at the bottom of the post for ways to save additional time and money.

Please remember to check with your baby’s doctor before starting solids, as there are several milestones your baby must hit before being ready to enjoy more than milk. 

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Holy buckets, friends. Guess what happened today? Besides the craziness that lead me to send my husband a novel of a text message outlining the intense psychosis that is staying at home with a 10 month old boy, 3 year old boy and 10 year old cat and the emotional and physical trauma that can enfold all before nap time.

Phew! Ok, what was I talking about again? That’s right! Guess what happened today?!? I found the piece of paper with the recipe for my (soon-to-be) world famous gluten-free, dairy-free Rhubarb Raspberry Pie. And honestly, not a second too soon. Like we discussed last week, rhubarb season is coming to a close and so is raspberry season. So take your sloppy seconds and throw them together into this amazing pie that will honestly stun health nuts, omnivores, vegetarians and those who enjoy the SAD (standard american diet) equally.

One you dice the rhubarb, this pie, including the pie dough, comes together at a moment’s notice. The only hang up is that the pie dough behaves best when allowed to chill in the fridge or freezer for a bit. So, I suggest making the pie dough (or a few to be safe, as these do freeze well) first then moving on to the rhubarb raspberry filling.

Don’t be dismayed if the time for rhubarb has already come and gone in your neck of the woods and you didn’t think to pick up a few extra bushels to freeze. Peaches, nectarines, plums, blueberries and cherries would all make amazing substitutes in this recipe. Simply adjust the amount of sweetener to correspond to the ripeness of your fruit. Or simply run to the frozen section of your health food store and pick up a bag of pre-diced, frozen rhubarb.

I used to be very intimidated by making my own pie crust and so I avoided doing it most of my adult life, relying on store bought, frozen whole wheat and spelt crusts to house my homemade creations. However, once going gluten-free I was unsatisfied by the price and nutritional quality of the pre-made gluten-free pie crusts. So, I started experimenting with simple press-in crusts. However, not all pies work well with a hearty oat and nut filled crust. Some pies simply deserve a fancy, buttery, rolled crust. My secrets for making pie crust are to keep a sense of humor, remember that all errors can be fixed, imperfections add character, let the dough CHILL and always use a food processor equipped with a dough blade.

When I went dairy-free and gluten-free my stand-by gluten-free crust needed some reworking, as the recipe called for both coconut oil and pastured organic butter. I was nervous that the dough wouldn’t roll or would be too gooey using all coconut oil, but to my surprise it actually worked! Honestly, the dough rolls a little funny, needing to be warmed and pressed with your hands and then gently rolled with a rolling pin. When you invert the crust onto the pie plate it will break into several pieces. However, the dough is easily worked and repaired into one pie crust.

Since I planned to bring my pies to family events around the Fourth of July, I opted to use the extra dough pieces from each crust to cut out star shapes using a cookie cutter. Feel free to use whatever shape floats your boat or skip it altogether – no one will be the wiser.

As you can see, the crust browns very nicely, meaning that you MUST use a pie shield. If you do not have a fancy schmancy pie shield (or three) you can make one using strips of foil neatly wrapped around the pie plate. Please do this prior to placing your pie in the oven and realizing half-way through the baking time that the crust is going to burn. Trust me, darling, no one wants burnt fingers.

Also, feel free to edge this pie in whichever way you would like. I really liked the forked edge technique in the pic above, but did flute a few pies with this crust, as well.

Also, please save yourself some time and make several pies at once. They freeze amazingly and simply need a day or so in the fridge to thaw. The quality of the pie does not suffer one bit.

 

Pie Crust, Gluten-Free Dairy-Free

by Maria Peters

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 10 min

 

Ingredients (One 12 inch pie)

  • 1 1/4 cups oat flour, gluten-free
  • 2/3 cup almond meal or flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil, chilled
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 large organic egg

Instructions

Chill coconut butter until hardened.

Place oat flour, almond meal and sea salt into a food processor outfitted with the dough blade (all plastic). Pulse a few times to combine.

Cut coconut butter into small pieces and add to the food processor. Pulse until coarse crumbs form.

Whisk the egg and vinegar in a small dish until fluffy. Add to the processor with the honey. Pulse until a ball forms in the food processor. Test the dough to see if it rolls nicely between your thumb and forefinger. If it is too wet/sticky add additional oat flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. If is crumbles and is too dry, add 1 tbsp of cold water at a time until you can easily roll the dough into a log shape.

Form the dough into a ball and place on a sheet of plastic wrap. Press the dough into a large, flat circle (see pic in the linked post). Wrap with plastic and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350*. Grease your pie plate with coconut oil.

Roll dough out onto parchment paper that has been liberally sprinkled with additional oat flour. You may need to warm up the dough with your hands to facilitate the rolling. Also, it helps to start the smoothing with the palms of your hands and then move onto using your rolling pin. Roll to fit your desired pie plate.

Invert the pie plate in the middle of the dough and quickly flip the dough + pie plate + parchment over so the pie plate is right side up and the parchment is on top. Gently peel away the parchment paper from the pie dough. The pie crust will break into several pieces. Don’t worry, this is easily fixable. Gently press the crust into your pie plate, using the warmth of your fingers and palms to heat up the folds and create one uniform pie crust. This is time consuming, but not difficult. Breathe deeply.

Trim the pie crust to fit the plate and edge as desired.

Pre-bake crust for 10 minutes before filling.

Serve with Rhubarb Raspberry Pie Filling.

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Rhubarb Raspberry Pie Filling

by Maria Peters

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45-55 minutes

Keywords: bake birthday dessert spring summer toddler approved dairy-free gluten-free low-fat low-sugar soy-free vegetarian vegan July 4th spring summer

 

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 4 cups rhubarb, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberries
  • 1/4 cup raw organic honey or organic maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch sea salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375*.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Taste test. You may need additional sweetener if your fruit is tart.

Add filling to your pre-baked Pie Crust (see my gluten-free, dairy-free pie crust recipe for a great option!).

Shield pie crust with foil or a fancy schmancy pie shield.

Bake at 375* 45-55 minutes until filling is bubbly, thickened and baked down.

Serve warm or at room temperature, preferably with coconut milk ice cream or coconut whipped cream.

This pie freezes amazingly, so make extras!

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A few months ago I noticed a small blurb hidden in one of my issues of Clean Eating magazine that had a comprehensive list of common sources of gluten found in packaged foods. Honestly, I was a bit shocked that such an important nugget of information was tucked away in a corner of the magazine. I thought that the subject deserved an article of its own.

So, in case you missed it the following is a list of common sources of hidden gluten with a few of my own additions and commentary:

  1. Grains (wheat, freekah, durum, semolina, farina, bulgur, rye, barley, spelt, triticale, graham flour, Kamut, matzah, wheat berries, etc.)
  2. Oats and Corn (if not labeled gluten-free)
  3. Malt, Malt barley (note: rice krispies and other rice treats commonly contain this additive rendering a typically safe food off limits)
  4. Texture vegetable protein (TVP), Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP)
  5. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) (Yeast extract, Torula yeast, Yeast food, Yeast nutrient, Autolyzed yeast)
  6. Natural flavor, Artificial flavor
  7. Dextrin
  8. Vegetable gum
  9. Smoke flavor
  10. Germ, Groats
  11. Brewer’s yeast, Nutritional Yeast (if not labeled gluten-free)
  12. Carob (if not labeled gluten-free)
  13. Emulsifiers, Fillers
  14. Modified food starch

Yikes! That’s a long list of items to avoid. Usually I would rather be safe than sorry and always buy items that are labeled gluten-free. Although, if you are following a plant-based, clean lifestyle focused on minimally processed foods you will have few labels to scour and ingredients lists to read.

Did I miss an additive that contains gluten? Please comment below with any additions and I will update this post with the additions.

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As the temperature and humidity rise, rhubarb is taking its final bow. However, if you’re like me, your plants are still hanging on. Go out and pick your last harvest and enjoy this amazing semi-homemade Ginger Rhubarb Peach Cake.

Can’t get your hands on rhubarb anymore? No worries! This cake would be amazing using blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, plums or any fruit that is in season. Can’t decided which fruit to use? Mix and match a few to make an amazing flavor combo. Go out on a limb and try something new and different like peach raspberry or blueberry peach.

Speaking of fun combos, I still can’t find that Rhubarb Raspberry Pie recipe. *doggonit* Seriously, I just had the recipe a couple weeks ago when I made three of them for a few family events and one for my freezer. The pies were a hit at both events and they miraculously freeze and travel well. Although, this year I did use store bought raspberries, because local berries were not in season yet. The flavor was a little flat in comparison to last year’s trial where I used my mother-in-law’s berries. Seriously, that pie was out of this world! I would highly suggest using freshly picked berries if you can get your hands on them.

Yes, this recipe uses a packaged cake mix. Don’t hate. I know it might seem counterintuitive to receive a recipe that isn’t homemade from a girl who LOVES to bake and create clean eats from scratch. But trust me, even I don’t always feel like spending hours in the kitchen. Take last Mother’s Day, for example. Yes, this recipe HAS been sitting gathering dust for months! I wanted to bless my mother and mother-in-law with dessert at our house after burnch at French Meadow; however, I also wanted to enjoy my day of rest. That’s exactly the time and place that semi-homemade can be to your advantage. Seewhaddimean?

Feel free to get all Suzy Homemaker and whip up your own gluten-free vanilla cake. However, when I’m in a hurry or want simplicity, the BRM gluten free vanilla cake mix has a pretty stellar ingredients list (in comparison to most ulta-processed cake mixes) and tastes amazing. Honestly, it might be the best cake mix I have ever tasted – gluten-free or not.

This cake is so good, in fact, that my little helper could not wait to eat his piece. Here he is pointing out the spot where his piece of cake should be.

This is why most of the pics in this post are of only part of the cake. It just wouldn’t be right to photograph a partially eaten cake, would it?

Semi-Homemade Rhubarb Peach Cake

by Maria Peters

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30-35 min

 

Ingredients (serves 12)

    For the Cake

    • 1 Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake Mix
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted
    • 3 eggs, room temperature
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp cardamom
    • 1/4-1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger

    For the Filling

    • 3 cup rhubarb, 1/2 inch dice
    • 2 cups peaches, sliced (fresh or frozen)
    • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tbsp arrowroot starch
    • 2 tbsp chia seeds

    Instructions

    Preheat oven to 350*.

    Prepare a 13×9 pan by greasing it with coconut oil. Set aside.

    In the bottom of the pan combine the filing ingredients and stir well.

    In a large bowl beat the eggs on medium speed for 30 seconds, until frothy. Add the remaining cake ingredients and beat for 60 seconds, until fully combined. Stopping to scrape down the sides of the pan as necessary.

    Gently “plop” the cake on top of the filing, trying to distribute it around the pan as evenly as possible. Using a rubber spatula gently spread the piles of cake batter into another until all of the filling is covered in one even layer.

    Bake in a preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until the filling is bubbly and the cake is baked through. Test cake’s doneness using a toothpick. You do not want the cake overcooked, so a little bit of softness/crumb is ok. If the cake is gummy/wet it probably needs a couple more minutes in the oven.

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    Enjoy!

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    We had a wonderful weekend filled with tons of family time. It was the first weekend this summer that we didn’t have anything planned in advance, so we were able to make our own schedule and take our time at home (and away).

    One a week Allan watches the boys after he gets home so that I can get out of the house alone for some “me time”. :) On Friday night I wrote a few blog posts, edited some pics and read. I just started Meghan Telpner’s UnDiet and am in LOVE! I love reading about food, nutrition and health, so this book is right up my alley. It was *bliss*.

     

    This beautiful grass-fed, raw milk cheese made an appearance on Friday, as well. I decided that it was time to see if I (and L) could handle a truly good cheese and so far, so good. :)

     

    On Saturday I soaked a TON of beans – kidney, great northern and adzuki. Then on Sunday I cooked, bagged and froze them. In total I made 21 cans worth of beans in a little over an hour of my time. Each bag contains 2 cups of beans, which is the equivalent to 1 can of beans. Freshly cooked beans > canned.

    L and I cuddled a lot. He is teething (getting all 4 molars!), so he has been needing a lot of extra love.

     

    On Saturday we picked raspberries at my in law’s house. I love freshly picked raspberries. I have an amazing Rhubarb Raspberry pie recipe to share with you full of amazing pics, but sadly I couldn’t find the piece of paper that I wrote the recipe on! I plan to scour my kitchen tonight to try and find it.

    A family of tree bumble bees decided to make this small birdhouse at my in law’s house their new home.

    On Sunday we visited the Kingfield Farmer’s Market. Matthew enjoyed a breakfast cookie (gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free) from Sift - which he adored! I need to make these at home.

    At the market we picked up 20 lbs of Sockeye Salmon from Wild Run Salmon, two bunches of beets and green beans.

    Later on L experienced his very first bike ride in the Burley. We rode to Lake Calhoun and back and when we arrived home both boys had passed out cuddling.

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    This week’s fruit box was overflowing with goodness, per usual.

     

    However, the star of the show from this week’s CSA box was the yellow squash and cucumbers. I plan to combine the cucumbers with the red onion we received to make refrigerator cucumbers ASAP! (note: the brown paper bag contained baby red potatoes)

    The yellow squash joined a few other veggies in a special crockpot dish. 

    In other news, I still have not made my kohlrabi! Please send me your recipe suggestions ASAP!

     

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    I figured that it was about time that I give you an update on our backyard happenings! As you know, I absolutely LOVE gardening and growing my own food. Some day I hope to have a few raised beds to grow many of our own fruits and vegetables.

    Our garden is in full boom! In the last week I’ve spent countless hours weeding, pruning and moving plants.


    There is still mulching to be done, but it’s quite beautiful in our backyard.

    The jostaberries are almost ripe!

     

    We are very excited for our heirloom and roma tomatoes to ripen. Although we still have several weeks until the fruit turns a robust red.

    The radish, kale, lettuce, parsley and peas have been keeping me busy, producing new veggies every day. I have not purchased greens in a month!

    I am a little disappointed in our watermelon plants, which are growing at the base of the trellises pictured above. They really haven’t grown much, although they did bloom last week. I hope to get a couple pieces of fruit, as the boys LOVE watermelon!

    So that’s what’s blooming and growing in our garden this year. What’s happening in your neck of the woods?

     

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    I blinked and the summer is already half over. In a few short weeks the air will be crisp, football season will kick off and my sweet pea will turn one. Either our cold and wet Spring has me off or I am still sleep deprived from 8+ months of waking every few hours. Whatever it is, you can’t deny that the heat of Summer is upon us (it’s been close to 90+ degrees with high humidity for as long as I can remember). We are all (knock on wood) finally sleeping through the night on a regular basis, save for a few wet diaper mishaps, and I am starting to feel a bit rested.

    L, who is 10 months old, just started crawling and is getting his molars. M is officially an energetic little boy who forms complex sentences and is constantly engaging in creative play. I’m still working through Rachel Cosgrove’s Drop Two Sizes weight lifting plan and seeing huge gains in strength. I’ll have to write an official post about the plan sometime soon. Allan is still kicking ass at Target. I am so darn proud of him. I’ve always told him that he was going to do amazing things and he is.

    Our CSA is in full swing cranking out beautiful greens, onions, turnips and kohlrabi. Sometime this week I will be making my first ever kohlrabi dish. I still haven’t decided on a recipe to try, I think I’m so nervous to pick the wrong one! What’s your favorite way to enjoy kohlrabi?

    I am so thankful for our weekly fruit share deliveries. It’s so nice to pick up a huge box of fresh, organic fruit and not have to travel to the grocery store on the regular; save for a handful of trips to pick up dozens of organic local eggs, bananas and apples.

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    It’s been a while since I’ve checked on MMM and just noticed this post that was supposed to publish on June 26th never made it live. Ooops.

    ——

    It’s been a long time since I’ve checked in, so I decided to stop by and let you in on our comings and goings over the last few weeks.

    1. Our new Learning Tower. M and I love to cook together and I imagine L will also enjoy joining me in the kitchen. Up until now, we have simply been pushing M’s Tripp Trapp over to the counter from the table; however, M likes to stand on the top “step”, which has resulted in several falls and slight injuries. I have been drooling over these Learning Tower for over a year, but could not stomach the price tag. A couple weeks ago we scored the above Learning Tower for $8 at a garage sale in Linden Hills!!! I originally thought the price tag said $80 and still considered the purchase; however, upon closer inspection I was happy to hand over the $8 and run away quickly before the owners realized the amazing steal they were offering up!

     

    2. Driving around potential neighborhoods. We are considering selling our house again, but are unsure where we would move if we were to sell. This amazing home straight out of The Lord of the Rings is located on a dead end street deep in Edina. Check out those lights on the outside of the house – yes, they flickered as though they were made of fire.

    3. Swimming! We dubbed this M’s Water Park. It’s pretty darn awesome and only $30 at Target!

    4. Our small urban garden. We removed a ton of invasive vines that grew on our neighbor’s chain link fence to make way for several tomato plants and one red bell pepper. It’s almost time to break out the Florida Weave. We also have a small space in our raised flower bed near the house for herbs, kale (curly and lacinato), lettuce (red and green), spinach, peas, watermelon and radishes.

    5. Sorting kids’s clothing. Putting away too small, getting out just right, storing off-season, and washing one size too big.

     

     

     

    6. Celebrating my sister’s 25th Birthday. We had dinner at the new-to-us Everest on Grand. The food was delicious and the company impeccable!

    7. New Clek foonf car seats for both boys. L outgrew his Graco SnugRide 32 infant carseat and we were in need of two new seats so that we have an extra for either boy for Grandma’s car. We decided to give Grandma the Britax seats (Britax Roundabout and Britax Boulevard) and buy the boys matching foonf carseats for our SUV. So far we love them! M is even riding backwards and enjoying looking the same direction as L.

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    Summer has finally arrived! It’s hard to believe that eight short weeks ago I was blogging about this

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    Yikes! And today it was a sunny, mid-80 degree day.

    A couple weeks ago we started receiving boxes from our CSA, Treasured Haven Farm. This is our second year with this farm and so far have had a wonderful experience. This year I hope to document all of the boxes that we receive so that others can see the incredible value that comes from being a CSA member.

    This year we purchased a large weekly mixed fruit delivery (not all local fruit, but all fruit is organic and in season across the U.S. and North America), a small monthly specialty fruit delivery (for canning/freezing, etc.) and a basic weekly veggie box (organic, grown at the Farm).

    Week 1: Fruit only delivery. This season’s cold Spring and intense rain delayed veggie deliveries for most area CSAs along with several of the local farmer’s markets. This veggie box will be made up at the end of the season.

    Week 2: Fruit (both a weekly and monthly box) and Veggies. A small number of veggies, but most CSAs didn’t even deliver a box this week.

     

     

     

     

    Week 3: Fruit and Veggies. We received quite a few spring onions and radishes. We definitely have enough to grill onions as a side dish this week and to make a lovely radish salad (recipe coming soon).

     

     

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    I am 8 months post partum and the sleep deprivation of the first months of L’s life is starting to wane. It’s amazing what a little sleep can do for your energy levels! Our routine is starting to develop and I feel that I can finally put some real focus and determination into my workouts, which I am loving!

    All of my skinny pre-L, post-M clothes are starting to fit and I am gaining my confidence back. Having babies and the resulting weight gain/body changes can be difficult to digest. For me, the insecurity that I felt from being overweight most of my life started to creep into my mind again. The self-doubt can be extremely toxic and clouds my mind in really nasty ways. I thought that I was free of all of that garbage, but here I am 4+ years later dealing with it once again.

    I sometimes find myself discrediting the progress that I have made so far (I’ve lost 35+ pounds and SO MANY inches in the last 8.5 months) in addition to creating doubt in my ability to fit back into my size 4/6 clothes (seriously, I’ve done this twice before, I know what I’m doing and how to best take care of my body… why doubt myself and the Lord?).

    I have been working out since I was cleared by my midwives at 6 weeks post-partum, but have been fitting in workouts during naps, episodes of Sesame Street and my evening adult time with Allan. Honestly, making time for a workout was starting to rule my day and I hated it. I found myself resenting my kids when they would wake early from a nap and interrupt my workout, I was unhappily behind on my daily to-do list and purposely missing playdates and running errands in favor of trying to squeeze in a sweat session. All in the name of what? vanity? endorphins? a smaller jean size? It was seriously NOT worth it. I vowed to myself that once L was waking once per night (or less) I would make it a point to be in bed by 10 PM and up for the day by 5:30 or 6 AM to fit in my workout and get ready for the day prior to breakfast with my family.

    L has been sleeping really well for the last few weeks. So, it was time to follow through with my promise to myself. It’s taken a little bit of work, but I am FINALLY following through.

    So, what am I doing to motivate this night owl into becoming a morning person?

    First of all, I bought some new Lululemons. :) I got my first ever pair of wunder unders (on sale!), a tank that doesn’t ride up while doing inversions and a pair of crops that are perfect for sweaty cardio sessions. Yes, they were expensive, but thankfully I was able to find some of it on sale. Quite honestly, I am going to wear these items over and over again. Plus, I feel hot in them, which helps to keep me motivated to wake up and workout. Sometimes I find myself hanging in my workout clothes all day long because I love them so much. P.S. nursing mamas, check out the Moving Comfort Rebound Racer Bra it gives fabulous support, plus the straps have velcro for easy access.

    I am back on my mat. I bought a package at Blooma to use on Barre and Vinyasa classes. I loved Blooma’s prenatal classes when I was pregnant with L and was so excited to go back to enjoy the classes they offer for mamas that aren’t expecting. I recently stopped attending Barre classes, because I felt that they were aggravating an existing hip injury that I sustained while pregnant. However, once my hip heals up, I plan to try going back, because I loved the energy of the class. My favorite class, though, is the Thursday 6 AM vinyasa flow class taught by Nan. I’ve only been twice, but both times she has completely pushed me out of my comfort zone and empowered me in so many ways. The class is life changing. Plus, I learned how to do a headstand and a handstand!

    I bought a new strength training book. I loved Rachel Cosgrove’s, The Female Body Breakthrough, when I read it and completed the strength training plan before getting pregnant with L. So, when I saw that Rachel was releasing a new book, Drop Two Sizes, I immediately pre-ordered it. This week I began the strength training program and it does not disappoint. I can already feel my body responding and changing!

    I signed up for a Zumba class. My friend, Renea, teaches a Zumba class once per week through Community Ed and I jumped at the chance to, once again, shake my booty with a room full of women. We have such a great time and Renea is a wonderful instructor. I leave class dripping with sweat, confident, silly and free. It’s the perfect mid-week refresh and a serious calorie torcher.

    This is what my weekly workout schedule looks like:

    Monday: 6 AM Full body lifting session at home, per Drop Two Sizes

    Tuesday: Evening Zumba class

    Wednesday: 6 AM Full body lifting session at home, per Drop Two Sizes

    Thursday: 6 AM Vinyasa or active rest

    Friday: 6 AM Full body lifting session at home, per Drop Two Sizes

    Saturday: Optional metabolic workout, per Drop Two Sizes or active rest with the family

    Sunday: Active rest with the family (walks, bike rides, playing in the yard or gardening)

    I <3 living in Minneapolis.

    Namaste!

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    Yes, I know it’s late in the day on Friday and a new weekend is upon us, but, I DO want to talk about LAST weekend. Please indulge me for a moment… we are still playing catch up from Allan’s trip to St. Louis last week, where he judged the AIGA St. Louis design show. We missed him while he was gone, but I am so proud of the man that my husband is becoming. It’s really cool to see others realizing what I’ve known all along – Allan is an amazingly talented man.

    On Friday our playdate was cancelled due to pink eye, so we accompanied my parents to the MN Landscape Arboretum, which was free for the day. It was such a beautiful place and we will definitely be back as a family to roam the gardens and pick up tips for our own yard. Their toddler play area inspired me to create a special space in our back yard especially for the kids to experience and play with nature.

    Luke was unimpressed.

    These are apple trees that were trained to grow along this fence. Here is a description of the method used to train the apple trees. I would love to do this with a row of honeycrisp apple trees!

    Daffodils in full bloom!

    On Saturday we went to opening day of the Mill City Farmer’s Market with my parents.

    Rollin’ deep in front of the Spoonriver crepe tent!

    Before we switched to a gluten-free diet, we loved to stop by the Spoonriver crepe stand while at the market. So, we were so excited to see that Spoonriver now makes gluten free (and dairy free!) crepes.

    M and I split a honey and cinnamon crepe – it was amazing! I was only able to talk M into sharing a small piece with me.

    While at the market I met the inspiring, Beth Dooley, who signed my copy of her new book, Minnesota’s Bounty: The Farmers Market Cookbook. I am so pumped to start cooking from this book!

    The flower that M planted for me for Mother’s Day. :)

    On Sunday we spent the day as a family brunching at my favorite restaurant, French Meadow, then we had everyone over to our house for dessert.

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    Here are a few of the things we have been enjoying lately.

    1. Lots of restful, bliss-filled naps.

     

    2. Interest in crawling.

     

    3. Freshly sun dried diapers.

     

    4. Sun-filled trips to the Zoo.

     

    5. Picnics in our front yard.

     

    6. Nature walks along the creek.

     

    7. Local playgrounds.

     

    8. Swinging.

     

    9. A one-on-one date to tots yoga at Blooma and out for fresh juice and muffins at Tao Natural Foods.

    10. Blueberry-Zucchini Snack Muffins.

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    I posted this picture last week and got lots of requests for the recipe, so I thought I would pop in while the kids finish up their naps to share this very simple recipe that has become one of my go-to snacks.

    I love to top my Quinoa Protein Cereal with either fresh berries, banana or Rhubarb Strawberry Sauce. Also, be on the lookout for a new twist on Rhubarb Sauce this spring.

    This recipe is inspired by Gina’s Cookie Dough Cereal, which is another wonderful breakfast and/or snack option.

    Quinoa Protein Cereal

    by Maria Peters

    Prep Time: 2 minutes

    Keywords: no bake breakfast easy quick snack dairy-free gluten-free high protein kosher low-sodium low-sugar soy-free unsweetened vegan vegetarian

     

    Ingredients (serves 1)

    • 1 cup cooked quinoa
    • 1/2-1 scoop protein powder (vanilla or chocolate are ideal)
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • pinch of sea salt
    • 1-2 tbsp almond butter, peanut butter or sunflower seed butter
    • 1 cup almond milk

    Topping Ideas

    • Rhubarb Strawberry Sauce
    • Fresh berries
    • Sliced banana
    • Dried fruit (raisins, banana chips, cherries)
    • Chocolate chips

    Instructions

    In a medium sized cereal bowl stir together cooked quinoa, protein powder, cinnamon, sea salt and almond butter. Stir together using the back of your spoon to break up the almond butter and protein powder clumps, fully distributing both throughout the the mixture. It’s ok to have clumps of quinoa cereal, you just don’t want all of the almond butter in one big clump.

    Top with almond milk and toppings of choice. Enjoy!

    The cereal, minus the almond milk and toppings, can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge for a couple days.

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    As you already know, I am a big fan of acquiring proper nutrition by eating a plant-based clean diet filled with lots of fruits, veggies, healthy fats, gluten-free whole grains and lean meat. However, the unfortunate state of our land, sea and air has made it very difficult to (safely) acquire necessary nutrition from food alone. Couple that with a toddler’s finicky eating habits along with a strong desire to eat bread, muffins, bananas and nut butters all day long and my little guy could easily be left with a nutritional deficit.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, M is an amazing eater. He loves most fruits and vegetables and will usually try just about anything I put in front of him. Plus, if you indulge him in some entertaining literature (aka The Bearenstain Bears, Dr. Seuss or Little Critter) during dinnertime he will devour just about anything.

    With the guidance of our pediatrician, chiropractor and my own research I started M on a few supplements to round out his already healthy diet. I get a lot of questions about the “pills” that I give M and thought that I would share with you what works for us.

    Since we started supplementing M’s diet and omitting all gluten and most dairy we have seen a marketed improvement in his elimination. As a young toddler, M would oftentimes get bouts of toddler diarrhea, that I feel was inhibiting his ability to confidently potty train. Since we made this change in his diet he has been symptom-free and is now going potty on his potty chair like a champ.

    Please note that I am not a doctor, I am simply a well-informed Mom. The following are products that we actually use and like. I was not compensated in any way for this post and used my own money to purchase these products. This is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. Please check with your pediatrician before adding any supplements and/or vitamins to your child’s diet.

    Every day M takes the following dairy-free and gluten-free supplements, which we purchase on Amazon,Vitacost or iHerb (use code TIV632 for $10 off your first iHerb order!), depending upon current sales and available coupon codes.

    This might look like a long list of supplements and vitamins resulting in a mountain of pills… and it is. We used to get out every pill every morning during breakfast, which was cumbersome and oftentimes I would simply skip giving M (or myself) some of the supplements out of laziness. Then I developed a better system. Once a week I sit down with our basket of vitamins and supplements and three weekly pill boxes, one for each of us, and I put all of the supplements into our boxes. The pill boxes then go into the fridge. Each morning while making breakfast, Allan takes out the boxes and sets them on the table to be taken after breakfast. This is a serious time saver, as the weekly sorting only takes me a couple moments longer than the daily sorting.

    Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting the blog, as I receive a very small percentage of sales. You can always google the supplements on your own if you would like to opt-out.

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    Warning: this is a completely random post induced by my sneezy/stuffy state of being.

    Happy Earth Day!

    We celebrated by reading one of our favorite books.

    We are hunkering down for yet another snow storm that is forecast to hit tonight. We could get up to 10″ of snow! When will Spring finally arrive? Well, it looks like it could get into the mid 70′s by the weekend!

    Truly I tell you that the weather here in MN can change on a dime. As many of us forecast, the weather will go from Winter to Summer without a hint of Spring in between.

    In honor of Earth Day, I had planned to plant our new herbs from Gardens of Eagan that we picked up last week, but, alas it was too cold, wet and rainy this morning to venture outside with the boys. We were really excited to plant them in their new bamboo homes that we picked up at EGG|PLANT Urban Farm Supply over the weekend. Maybe tomorrow we will lay down plastic in the living room and plant the beauties inside. What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day?

    I am thinking forward to our garden and have requested that Allan build a few raised beds for my Mother’s Day present. I still have to decide where to put the beds and what size we would like. When doing my research I stumbled upon Earth Easy’s lovely site where they sell FSC certified raised beds in all sorts of configurations. Oh how I would love one of these beds along with a few salad tables and tomato towers. If only money and time were unlimited! Are you planning a garden this year?

    Some very wise words from Dr. Seuss this morning:

     

    Like, I always tell my boys: YOU can make a difference!

     

    Looking to be inspired to create positive eco-friendly changes in your life? Check out a few of my other green minded posts:

    - Composting 101 Post + Video

    - Zero Waste :: Eliminating Paper Towels

    - Green Party Planning

    - Notes from my Conversation with an Eco-Friendly Expert

    - Wise Acre Eatery :: Yummy Eco-Friendly Dinning

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    Things have turned a delightful corner. I almost didn’t want to blog about life with a seventh month old and 2 (going on 3) year old because I didn’t want to jinx it! However, keeping with my promise to be honest with you, my beloved friends, coupled with the fear that I may have talked several of your out of every procreating, I felt that it was necessary to write about how lovely life has been lately.

    Let me just start out with a big fat sigh of relief. I am back on my mat and enjoying every single minute that I have connecting breath to movement. Luke and I even enjoyed our very first BYOB class. He adored it and flirted with anyone who would make eye contact. So cute! I also broke out my treadmill for an intense walking workout.

    Meal sized salads featuring this wonderful dressing are a daily affair! I am ready for spring weather and am celebrating its hopeful return by pretending it’s 60 degrees outside, even when it’s snowing.

     

    Luke loves food! We have been giving him small tastes of table food for a little over a month now and he gobbles up everything he can get his hands on. We decided to do Baby Led Weaning this time around, because Luke now has EIGHT teeth. Also the purees that I did make for Matthew were mixed into soups and baked goods rather than actually fed to the baby. He much preferred table food over purees.

     

    In an attempt to encourage Luke to sleep we kept swaddling him until last week. I was doing research on swaddling and read that it can potentially keep babies from learning to roll over, which Luke is not comfortable doing. He loves to sit unassisted and play with toys, jump in the jumperoo and pivot side to side while on his back, but rolling over stomach to back and back to stomach are not part of his repertoire. Also, he was a pro at breaking out of his swaddle and would wake himself up after escaping.

    The swaddle weaning process was a little rocky at first, but now that Luke has adjusted to his freedom he is only waking 1-2 times per night to eat. We started by unswaddling one arm for 3 night and then unswaddled both arms from then on. The first couple nights were rough, but everything is better now and he is actually putting himself back to sleep when he wakes up and fusses in the middle of the night!

     

    We made a rocket ship. :) Also, work on the playroom in the basement is in full swing. We are so excited to put together the finishing touched this weekend!

    My inalwas are back home from Alabama, which means that I have been enjoying some very necessary me time on the regular. Which is also why you have been hearing from me on a consistent basis. Hooray!

     

    What’s new with you? I would love to hear about your blessings!

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    I apologize for the blurry, unflattering photos below. Our new camera should arrive next week, so I will be using my iPhone less for food pics. Even if I did have the DSLR at my disposal, it’s difficult to take an appetizing photo of curry – the reddish pink sauce makes most veggies look brown, which is simply unappetizing!

    I very recently became acquainted with the amazingness that is Indian food. It all started last summer when Allan and I decided to take the plunge and try Namaste Cafe in Uptown. It was the heat of the summer Spring and I was pretty far along into my pregnancy with Luke. We had recently found out that he was a boy and we were still contemplating names. Allan and I spent a romantic evening on the front porch of the cafe’s renovated house sipping chai lattes pouring over baby names, our future and the sweet little bundle of joy we would be welcoming in a few months. That night I decided to join Blooma and our road to homebirth began. I will always remember that night.

    After this culinary awakening I finally decided to try my hand at cooking Indian food at home. With the help of a very special premixed Vindaloo Curry Powder, the following dish is one that is super easy to throw together. If you’ve ever made homemade curry you know that simple and quick are abnormal adjectives to use in reference to curry-making, which usually involves mixing several spices to achieve the perfect blend. But trust me, you can throw all of the ingredients into the slow cooker in a matter of minutes, set it to low and be about your business the rest of the afternoon!

    We served our curry on a bed of sweet brown rice, which I soaked in water and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar for several hours prior to dinner. We love sweet brown rice because the texture is closer to that of sticky, sushi rice making it easier for Matthew to scoop.

    In addition, I strive to always soak the grains that we consume (all oats, rice, quinoa, millet, etc.). The following are a few of the benefits of soaking your grains:

    • First, you will significantly reduce the cook time of the rice from 45 minutes (unsoaked) to 20-30 minutes for well soaked rice.
    • Second, soaking rice reduces the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors in rice, in essence pre-digeting it, so that our bodies can actually benefit from the nutrition they contain. For more information on soaking grains and the reason that you should soak all grains, check out this article.
    • Third, your rice will be softer and fluffier – closer resembling white rice in texture.

     

    Crockpot Coconut Vegetable Curry

    by Maria Peters

    Prep Time: 10 minutes

    Cook Time: 4-6 hours

    Keywords: slow-cooker entree easy vegetable toddler approved gluten-free dairy-free high protein low-sodium low-sugar nut-free vegetarian vegan

     

    Ingredients (serves 6-8)

      Coconut Curry Sauce

      • 1/2 can tomato paste
      • 2-4 tbsp red curry paste
      • 1 inch piece ginger, grated fine
      • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
      • 1/4 cup veggie stock or water
      • 2-4 tbsp vindaloo curry powder
      • 4 tbsp ACV
      • 1 tbsp EVOO
      • 1 tsp coconut sugar
      • Sea salt and pepper

      Veggies and Protein

      • 1 bag frozen broccoli florets, 10-16 ounces
      • 1 bag frozen green beans, 10-16 ounces
      • 1 bag frozen peas and carrots mix, 10-16 ounces
      • 1 bag frozen peppers and onions, 16 ounces
      • 1 lb tofu, pressed and cubed, optional or 1 bag frozen edamame

      Finishing touch

      • 1/2 – 1 cup full fat coconut milk

      Instructions

      Place Coconut Curry Sauce ingredients in slow cooker and stir to combine. Sauce wil be thick. Begin with the minimum curry powder and curry paste amounts.

      Add frozen veggies to crockpot along with frozen edamame, if using. Stir to distribute sauce ingredients.

      Set slow cooker to low for 5-6 hours. During last 45 minutes of the cooking time, place tofu on top of veggies, to warm.

      Pour in 1/2 cup coconut milk and stir to combine. If needed, add additional coconut milk to thin sauce. Taste and decided if you would like to add additional curry powder and/or curry paste.

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      This is what it looks like outside right now.

      Yep. That’s a bunch of snow. God has quite a sense of humor, doesn’t he? The last time MN had snow in April was 2002, the year I graduated from high school. Prior to that, you have to go back to the 1980′s.  Hmmm… something just isn’t right.

      This is what it looks like inside.

      Much better!

      Since we returned from vacation I have felt off in my eating. I am eager for Spring to arrive and feel like my eating habits are in limbo. The MN weather is schizophrenic this time of year. It’s cold one day and warm the next; raining today, snowing tomorrow. Couple that with the fact that organic berries are beginning to show their pretty little faces next to the winter squash at the market and I don’t know if how to eat. It makes me want to buy a can of pumpkin and bake something delicious one moment and consider going high raw the next.

      Yesterday I made up my mind that even though it is snowing outside, the calendar says that it’s Spring! So I grabbed every fresh veggie we had in the fridge and threw together this beautiful salad featuring one of my favorite seasonal dressings. It’s been almost a year since I’ve whipped up this dressing that is inspired by the oh so talented Ashley.

      On a side note, have you preordered Ashley’s gluten free cookbook, Baked Doughnuts For Everyone? If not, rush over to Amazon right now. Better yet, open the link in a new tab, finish reading this post and then buy her book. I’m impatient and don’t feel like waiting while you check out. But, trust me, her book is not going to disappoint!

      So, back to the salad.

      Honestly, this recipe can easily be adapted to the ingredients that you like and/or have on hand. Don’t have green onions? That’s ok, sub in red onion or a sweet onion. No mango? No problem! Unsweetened dried cranberries or cherries are amazing in this recipe.

      Strawberries too spendy in your neck of the woods? No worries – add an apple, pear or orange. Have a can of garbanzo beans laying around? Throw them in instead of butter beans! See what I mean? Completely adaptable!

      Prefer baby lettuce, spring mix or spinach over kale? Perfect! Just wait to dress the salad until you are ready to eat. Or better yet make cute salads in a jar and vacuum seal them to keep them fresh for your lunch pail all week long.

      This really is a very simple recipe the hardest and most time consuming part of chopping all of the veggies. Aside from that the dressing and salad come together in 10 minutes flat.

      For the base of this salad I used lacinato (aka dino) kale, which is a softer variety of kale that lends itself to raw applications. Like I said earlier, you can easily substitute any other green in this salad. To prep the kale i simply torn the leaves off of the thick stem into bite sized pieces and washed/dried it in my salad spinner.

      To amp up the nutritional value of this salad I added a secret ingredient: raw, lactofermented sauerkraut. Now, I know what you’re thinking… Sauerkraut is stinky, sour and funky tasting. But honestly, raw sauerkraut is none of those things. It’s lightly salty, kind of sweet and completely addicting. It also amps up the nutritional profile of the salad because it is literally swimming with probiotics and beautiful microorganisms that help to build your gut flora and keep you healthy.

      I cannot wait to make my own raw sauerkraut this summer, but this winter I have been purchasing the Bubbies brand from Whole Foods. I also like to add a little local, raw Kimchi to my salad, but because Matthew is not a fan of spicy foods I left it out of this one.

      Next up is the Strawberry Mango Basil dressing. This stuff is serious business. Even Matthew scarfes down salad coated in this super low fat, ultimately healthy, outrageously delicious dressing. Even if you don’t make the salad, you MUST make this dressing!

      I like to keep my salad dressings low in fat so that I can opt to pile on avocado, hemp seeds or other delicious fats. However, I did add a bit of cold-pressed walnut oil to aid in emulsification and add a few extra Omega 3 healthy fats to the mix. Feel free to omit the oil completely, as it wont influence the flavor or sub any organic, cold pressed healthy oil of your choice (EVOO, pumpkinseed oil and hemp oil would work beautifully).

      You will notice that I did not add a grain/starch to my salad, like I usually suggest that you should. As you know, due to Luke’s food allergies I am limiting my starches and grains, so instead I opt to top my salads with an additional protein source (chicken, hard boiled eggs, tempeh, marinated tofu, etc.) along with an additional fat source (1/3 of an avocado, additional hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.) – you just have to do what works best for you. This salad would pair perfectly with 1 cup of cooked quinoa, millet or wheat berries.

       

      Strawberry Mango Basil Kale Salad

      by Maria Peters

      Prep Time: 15 minutes

      Keywords: raw no bake vegetable toddler approved summer spring side salad entree dairy-free gluten-free high protein low-sodium nut-free soy-free vegan vegetarian

       

      Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

      • 1/2 mango, diced
      • 6 strawberries, quartered
      • 3 ribs celery, diced
      • 1 red bell pepper, diced
      • 1 cucumber, diced
      • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
      • 1 bunch kale, thick rib removed and torn into bite sized pieces
      • 1 bunch diced green onion, white and light green parts only
      • 15 ounce can organic, unsalted butter beans (in a BPA-free can)
      • 3/4 cup raw lactofermented sauerkraut
      • 1/4 basil, chiffonade
      • Strawberry Mango Basil Dressing

      Instructions

      Combine all of the ingredients in a very large bowl and add 2/3 – 3/4 of the dressing. Toss to coat, ensuring that every piece of kale is well coated. For softer results gently massage the dressing into the kale. Let the salad sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to further soften the kale.

      Prior to serving add additional dressing, as desired.

      Will keep several days in the fridge.

      If using spinach, mixed greens or baby lettuce in place of the kale, do not add dressing until you are ready to serve.

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      Strawberry Mango Basil Dressing

      by Maria Peters

      Prep Time: 5 minutes

      Keywords: raw no bake blender easy entree kitchen staple salad spring summer toddler approved dairy-free gluten-free low-fat low-sodium low-sugar vegan vegetarian

       

      Ingredients (2 cups dressing)

      • 1 cup diced mango
      • 6 medium strawberries
      • 1 tsp walnut oil, optional
      • 3 tbsp raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
      • Juice and zest of 1 lemon, 1 lime, 1/2 orange
      • 2 tbsp organic, local raw honey
      • 1 tsp dijon mustard (gluten-free, if necessary)
      • 1 clove garlic, minced
      • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil or rosemary, optional
      • sea salt and pepper, to taste

      Instructions

      Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. I used my Tribest personal blender with the mason jar attachment so that I could blend and store the dressing in the same container. Therefore only dirtying one dish. :)

      Will keep in fridge for approximately 7 days – if it lasts that long!

      Notes: Save time by using defrosted frozen mango and strawberries along with their juice. Feel free to sub the zest and juice (totaling 1/2 c liquid) of any citrus you can get your hands on: lemons, limes, oranges, clementines, etc.

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      Artcrank 2013

      How was your weekend, friends?

      We’ve been a little under the weather over here. Luke has been teething up a storm with SIX new teeth coming in. Two of them finally popped through last week, giving him some relief. But seriously, that boy wants to ensure that he has at least one tooth for every month he’s been alive. He has two more days until he is 7 months old and one of his bottom incisors is just about to make it’s appearance. It it does he will have seven teeth. Let’s see if he can keep up the pace! Also, he learned to clap yesterday. Here’s a short video of him randomly practicing this morning.

      The highlight of our weekend was the Artcrank show opening party. Allan’s poster looked rad! It is always so much fun to catch up with friends and beam ear to ear with pride of my husband’s amazingness. We wont know how well his poster sold for a couple months, as the show is moving to One on One Bike Studios and Handsome Bicycle shop until early May. However, the early feedback seemed really positive. Missed the show? Want to check it out? Click here for the details.

      Artcrank MPLS is this Saturday. Are you going?

      Before the show, Matthew got a haircut! I am still shocked every time that I look at him and wonder if I made a mistake cutting off his beautiful curly hair. Although, now I need to decide if we should go shorter or let it grow out again. Opinions?

      Before

      Getting ready for @artcrank with a bad a$$ bike tie

      After

      We chopped all of Matt's hair off!

      I finally made it back on my mat! It has been 7 months since I have been to the studio for a class. On Friday I took my very first Blooma Barre class. I had a lot of fun, but didn’t necessarily click with the class at first. It’s a lot of low weight/high rep moves mixed with some yoga and wasn’t initially convinced. I do love my heavy weights! I noticed that (one of) my favorite prenatal yoga teachers, Corrine, was offering Barre class at 6 AM on Monday mornings and vowed to myself that I would check it out.

      Sarah H setting up for a Michael Jackson themed barre class in StP !

      photo courtesy of Blooma

      So, I crawled into bed by 10:00 PM last night and set my alarm for 5:30 AM. After a bit of a rocky night with Luke (2 wake-ups totaling 1.5 hours awake) my alarm went off and Luke started crying. Allan changed his diaper, I brushed my teeth and hair, fed him for 10 minutes and rushed out the door while Allan rocked him back to sleep.

      So, was it worth all of the trouble? YES! Corrine rocked Barre and it was just what I needed. I was sweating and shaking and completely engaged. I loved the yoga warm up and the cardio intervals combined with holds and pulses and squats and lifts. I plan to make her class part of my regular workout rotation!

      I would also love to check out Jesse’s class, but that would mean packing up the kids in the middle of Luke’s morning nap to make a 9:30 AM class… which seems like such a headache.

      Luke is asleep and Matthew just conked out. So, I better hit the shower before it’s time to prep dinner!

      Have an amazing afternoon!

      IMG_6413-2

      I have been hard at work updating some of the MMM Pages that were VERY outdated.

      The following pages are brand-spanking new and improved!

      About Maria. My story, ‘nough said. :)

       

      What is Clean Eating? Clean eating as defined by the Peters family.

      How to Start Eating Clean Three steps to cleaning up your diet.

      Clean Eating Grocery List The food that we enjoy every day.

      Decoding Nutrition Labels A guide to navigating the grocery store and deciphering ingredients lists.

       

      IMG_2064

      Spring clothes! Desperately trying not to overpack!

      We spent last week on vacation in Orange Beach, Alabama with my mother and father-in-law, who are snowbirds and spend the three coldest, most wintery months on the much warmer beaches of Alabama.

      Trolley ride

      The week started out a little rough. Traveling with two small children is kind of crazy. Although, we refuse to let having small kids deter us from traveling. We have flown several times since Matthew was born and consider ourselves seasoned veterans when it comes to traveling with kids. Would you be interested in a post with our tips/tricks for keeping our sanity while flying with littles?

      Jet setter!

      Although, after you read about our few hiccups, you may reconsider your answer… On our way to Pensacola the airline lost Luke’s carseat, which we gate checked. Apparently, instead of transferring the seat to our destination it got hung up in Atlanta. So, they gave us this loaner carseat to use for the day until they delivered Luke’s seat to our condo at midnight! I think this carseat was better suited for a doll, not a baby. I held my breath the entire hour-long drive from Pensacola to Orange Beach.

      Doll carseat

      Upon arriving at the condo and unpacking our luggage our camera was nowhere to be found! The only pics we have of our vacation were taken via iPhone/Instagram. We are still hopeful the airline will find our camera, but if not the Canon T5i comes out in two weeks. ;-)

      Sea shelling

      To the beach!

      On the beach

      Luke at the beach

      Sand

      Sandcastle building

      Seashells

      For Allan’s birthday, Mark and Lois treated us to a cruise on this lovely catamaran, Wild Hearts.

      Sail Wild Hearts Catamaran

       

      At the helm with @allanpeters

      Sailing with Cap'n @allanpeters

       

      Canons blazing!

      Ahoy! @allanpeters driving the catamaran with Captain Rusty

      Upon returning to Minnesota we were welcomed home to an empty fridge. On Saturday, Luke and I braved the day before Easter crowds to stock up on necessities at Trader Joe’s.

      Restocking the fridge

      While in Orange Beach we enjoyed several amazing gluten-free and dairy-free meals. I was pleasantly surprised at how accommodating and knowledgeable many of the restaurants were about food allergies. Unfortunately I didn’t capture any of our meals because most of the restaurants were too dark to use my iPhone to snap pictures. However, there were our favorites:

      • Lulu’s at Homeport Marina: Grass-fed hamburger on a gluten-free bun; Fish Tacos on corn tortillas; Guacamole with gluten-free tortillas. Be sure to ask for the special ketchup without HFCS.
      • The Cobalt: Seared Tuna Salad and a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir; Grilled free range chicken with steamed green beans for Matthew.
      • Bravo Tacos: Roasted Tomato and Mushroom tacos on Corn Tortillas with Tortilla Soup.
      • Compleat Angler: Mango salad with tilapia (low oil/no butter).
      • Sluggo’s, Pensacola: Nachos; Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burrito on corn tortillas.
      • End of the Line Cafe, Pensacola: Quesadilla with corn tortillas, Chef Salad.
      • Ever’man Natural Foods: a large selection of organic/local produce, organic meat and pantry staples. A wonderful juice bar!
      • Publix, Orange Beach: many gluten-free items, a decent selection of organic produce, eggs and dairy.

      We can’t wait to go back next year!

      Slow Cooker Mahi Mahi Tacos Slider

      Two weeks ago when I posted a photo on Instagram of my Mahi Mahi taco crockpot experiment I had several requests for the recipe. I hesitate to share new recipes with you guys until I have actually tried the dish myself. I would hate to post a recipe and have it turn out to be flop!

      Crockpot Mahi Mahi tacos. #eatcleandietstripped

      I am here today to tell you that this recipe is most definitely NOT a flop. I have found that the secret to cooking lean meats and fish in the crockpot is to start with frozen chicken breasts or fish fillets. This ensures that your final product is tender and juicy vs. dry and tasteless. Also, the crockpot tends to dull flavorful spices and create thin sauces, so before serving any crockpot recipe I recommend checking the spices and sauce thickness 15-30 minutes prior to serving. That way you can adjust the seasonings as necessary or add 2 tbsp of arrowroot mixed with 2 tbsp of water to thicken the sauce. I also find that removing the top of the crockpot and, if necessary, turning the heat to high during this final 15-30 minute window can help to intensify the flavor of the dish.

      The finished product.

      But enough with the crockpot do’s and don’ts chit chat. You really should try this recipe and here are a few reasons why…

      1. It’s lent and many Catholics need good fish recipes to enjoy on Fridays. I imagine that with only two more weeks of lent remaining you are running out of good fish recipes. Now you have a new and vibrant recipe to share with your family. You’re welcome.

      2. Your kids will actually eat this. Matthew loves to pick and choose what goes onto his plate. So, set up a build-your-own burrito bowl station with spanish quinoa, black beans, avocado, organic salsa, baked organic chips, lime wedges, romaine, tomatoes, etc.Then let your family have at it!

      3. We all know that fish is good for us and many of us try to fit it into our weekly or biweekly meal rotation. However, I know far too well, that it’s easy to get in a recipe rut. Trust me, we eat the same (delicious) balsamic marinated salmon recipe quite frequently around here!

      Convinced?

      Slow Cooker Mahi Mahi Tacos

      by Maria Peters

      Prep Time: 5 minutes

      Cook Time: 2 hours

      Keywords: slow-cooker entree easy mexican dairy-free gluten-free high protein low-carb low-fat low-sodium low-sugar soy-free sugar-free unsweetened

       

      Ingredients (Serves 6)

      • 1 lb frozen wild caught Mahi Mahi
      • 1 tsp cumin
      • 1 tsp chipotle pepper
      • 1/2 tsp each: oregano, garlic powder and onion powder
      • sea salt and pepper, to taste
      • pinch of cayenne pepper, optional
      • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
      • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
      • 1/4 of a large red onion, thinly sliced
      • 1/4 cup chicken stock
      • Your favorite taco fixings: spanish quinoa, black beans, avocado, organic salsa, baked organic chips, lime wedges, romaine, tomatoes, etc.

      Instructions

      Place frozen Mahi Mahi filets in the bottom of a lightly greased slow cooker crock. Pour the chicken stock into the slow cooker.

      In a small bowl combine seasonings and sprinkle half of the seasoning mixture over the top of the Mahi Mahi. Layer the pepper, onion and tomatoes on top of the fish. Top with the remaining spice mixture.

      Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on High for 2 hours.

      Test the fish for doneness and adjust seasonings as desired.

      Serve on on a bed of romaine, spanish quinoa and black beans along with your favorite taco toppings.

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      Slider Honesty

      Thank you for your words of support and encouragement yesterday. It’s nice to hear that I am not alone. However, yesterday’s post was not intended to be a woe, is me plea. Honestly, it was a raw look into my day with two young children. I strive to keep from writing with rose colored glasses. I feel that there are many blogs out there that only show the beautiful, sweet things that happen. But life is messy – we screw up, we have bad days, we miss workouts, we overindulge, etc. We are sinners. To edit my life as if I am without fault would be a disservice to you. On the other hand, to show you how I lean on God through the tough times and rise to the challenge, that, my friends, is what this life is truly about.

      Please note, several parts of the day were embellished for comical effect. I did not mean to scare people away from having a second child or not having children at all!

      I love my boys with all of my heart and would not trade them for the world. I thank God for them each and every day. They are a blessing to my life and one of the reasons I am alive is to be their mama. They are each so very special in their own ways and some of the adversity that we experience on a daily basis is by no fault of my own… Trying to fit in one more thing before putting Luke down for nap, spending too much time on my iPad, resulting in a jealous Matthew. You know the drill…

      And, yes, I am still considering having a third child. Just not until Luke is sleeping through the night and out of diapers! :)

      BTW, I have several delicious crockpot meals to share with you if I ever find the time to edit the pics and write up the recipes! Are you enjoying the multitude of crockpot recipes swirling around the blogosphere?

      Goodnight, my friends!

      Need a crockpot recipe for tomorrow morning or this weekend? Check out these lovelies!

      Crockpot Steel Cut Oatmeal

      Crockpot Teff Porridge

      Beef and Broccoli

      Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Sauce

      Shredded Chicken (for noodles, tacos, salads, etc.)

       

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