Sunday, January 20, 2013

Healthy (well, healthiER) version of Orange Julius

My husband and I got a large amount of oranges in our Bountiful Basket ( this week. That, coupled with the three oranges I had from last week and a hankering for an Orange Julius, led me to experiment with a recipe of my own. The result is very similar to the real thing, but made with fresh, natural ingredients. This still has sugar and vanilla in it so it definitely is a treat, but probably a lot healthier than the actual thing  (I believe that is made from frozen orange concentrate and corn syrup). Enjoy!

3 oranges
1 1/2 cups ice
1/2 cup of milk ( I used organic 2%)
1 1/2 tbsp. sugar (or creamed honey)
1 tsp. vanilla (used the vanilla I made at home in the other recipe :)  )
1 tsp of orange zest.

-Peel the oranges and freeze for about 45 minutes until cold, but not entirely frozen over. For best results, pop the oranges into a food processor and puree into a fine pulp blend. This will eliminate any chunks in your smoothie.
-Add oranges, ice, milk, sugar, vanilla, and orange zest into the blender, and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Pour into a fancy glass and enjoy!

*I used my Hamilton Beach personal blender for this smoothie, since my husband wanted a strawberry one instead. This recipe will make enough for one, but could be easily doubled or tripled into a full size blender.

Other options:
: Other fruit: Instead of oranges, use strawberries or bananas. I used about 1 1/2 cups of frozen strawberries (that I washed, cut, and froze last month), for my husbands drink, and he said it was just like the real thing.

:Creamsicle-Martini: (Sounds so yummy during a hot summer day!): Add a shot of "Whipped" vodka for an adult creamsicle, and serve in martini glasses with a wedge of orange.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Healthy Eating Part Two: Freezer Meals

I have to admit, when my friend Mika sent me photos of her pimped out fridge (with enough freezer meals for a MONTH), I cringed a little inside. My immediate reaction to freezer anything, was sodium-laden chemical bombs. Then I got to looking in my own freezer and realized at any given time, I have strawberries and bananas for smoothies, ginger and garlic for cooking, and peppers for when I don't feel like chopping. I was interested in learning more, and following Mika's advice, scoured the internet for different recipes. The result of my trials are the recipes listed below. The whole concept here is that you spend about an hour once every few weeks, assembling easy meals that are then laid flat in your freezer, and thrown into the crockpot when you're ready to eat them. I initially tested five recipes, which I'll post here, and made some pretty big modifications based upon health cheats (used homemade canned tomatoes instead of sodium-bomb store bought diced; added more veggies, used less meat, etc), and still came up with some pretty killer recipes. I can't say every single one is as healthy as a rice cake, as sodium is still going to lurk it's evil head wherever we go, but hey, balance that bad boy out with a salad first :)

For those of you who don't own a crockpot, call your mom, borrow hers, and never, ever give it back. That's what I did, and my own Grandmother has eaten meals out of it, commented on the crockpot, and then told me I could keep it, if I kept cooking her meals. Sweet...  For those of you who do own one, but never use it- hopefully these recipes will inspire you to bust that puppy out and dust it off. Either way, I'll gladly take 1 hour preparing several meals for my husband and I and not have to worry about cooking after a busy, hectic, stressful day on my feet at work. Oh, you mean the crockpot maid cooked dinner for us? She really needs a raise!   -Enjoy!

Teriyaki Chicken Freezer Meal Recipe

Teriyaki Chicken: Freezer meal

I was inspired by two other recipes that I have combined and significantly modified to suit my palate. Feel free to experiment on your own with serving size, adding more veggies/ different meats, or different sauces.

Teriyaki Chicken

-1 bag of medium size carrots (thick sliced)
-1 large red onion (cut into chunks)
-2 large cans of pineapple (chunks)
-4 Garlic cloves
-4 Chicken breasts (cut into cubes)
-1 cup of teriyaki sauce (I use Soy Vay Island Teriyaki since it has pineapple juice in it, and is a little sweeter)
-2 large green bell peppers (cut into cubes)
-2 cans sliced water chesnuts
-2 tbsp of soy sauce

-2 large freezer bags

Assemble all of your ingredients and evenly divide between each bag (i.e. 1/2 bag of sliced carrots, 1/2 red onion, etc). Push air out of the bag, seal, and mix well. Lay flat and freeze. To cook: the night before, remove from the freezer and place in the fridge overnight. The morning of, unseal the freezer bag, pour the contents into your crockpot, cover, and cook on low 7-8 hours. Serve over rice or chow mein noodles.

This recipe will make enough to serve 4-5 out of each bag. (Enough for lunch the next day, in my household!)

It takes me about 5-10 minutes to chop and assemble this meal, and makes enough bags for 2 separate dinners. The 5 minute prep once every few weeks versus actually cooking the entire thing from scratch is a serious time saver, and I particularly love this recipe because it has a sweet and sour taste to it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Finished Living room part 2

Finished living room. Yes, in my dream world, a quilted white couch would be sitting here instead. Alas, I choose my dogs :) I also made that sign.. there's a DIY tutorial for that one coming soon!

Our finished board and batten, paint, new electrical, and chair rail project!

This project was amazing. It tested our skills set in power tools, taught us many new skills that we will be applying to the rest of the house, and our upcoming nursery project, and as always, brought us closer together as a couple. There's something about looking back on a big project, reflecting, and saying "we made that".

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Healthy eating part 1: Breakfast of Champions!

My husband and I are normally up and out the door in the morning. I'm currently savoring every precious second of sleep I can manage to squeeze in nightly, in between being up all night- so cooking a breakfast in the morning is out of the question. I looked at the ingredients in the crap we were eating for breakfast (no seriously, it literally was crap- looked like crap, tasted like crap.. but was better than no crap I suppose?), and realized there's got to be a better way.

Here's the recipe I followed for homemade Egg and Cheese sandwiches

18 eggs (I use cage-free, grain fed, mainly to ease my conscience of Chicken Little shot up with antibiotics in a chicken farm).
9 slices of your favorite cheese (I used swiss and cheddar-mozzerella)
18 whole wheat english muffins
Olive oil cooking spray
-You'll also need a muffin tin, a baking sheet, and aluminum foil.
-This will make 18 sandwiches, you can add more or less depending on your ingredients on hand. The entire process to make 18 sandwiches takes about 25-30 minutes. 

-Heat over to 350 degrees.
-Scramble all 18 eggs in a medium size bowl.
-Prepare muffin tin by generously spraying with cooking spray (you can also use butter, but generously coat or the egg will stick like crazy)
-Pour eggs into the muffin tin to about 1/2 inch below the top of the tin
- Cook the eggs for about 8-10 minutes, depending on your oven- until thoroughly cooked through.
-While the eggs are cooking, split the english muffins and lay out on a baking sheet.
-Add 1/4 slice of cheese onto each slice of muffin
-Toast the cheese and bread in the oven while the eggs are cooking, until cheese is melted, and the muffins are toasted.

-Remove muffins and eggs, add eggs to muffins and assemble into a sandwich.
-Wrap in aluminum foil and freeze.
(You could also add cooked bacon, sausage, or ham. We just prefer egg and cheese in the morning).

To re-heat:
-Remove from the freezer the night before, and place in the refrigerator.
-Reheat in the microwave the morning of at 45-60 seconds, until cheese and egg is hot.

Eggs cooked in the muffin tin

Assembly line prep for 18 sandwiches.

Now for the fun part! Alright, I already know this route is much healthier than the frozen breakfast sandwiches since I get to control the ingredients.. but how about being less than 1/2 the cost? My husband and I calculated the cost per sandwich (even if we bought them in bulk), and it equates to $0.50 per sandwich following this recipe, and $1.25 per sandwich store bought. Wowsa! Baby crib, we will be saved up for you in no time! :)

Also, since Spring may eventually get here (Although it's currently 3 degress outside, with 2 feet of snow on my back patio), I save, dry and crush all of my egg shells for compost and soil. I dry the egg shells on a few sheets on paper towels overnight, then crush them using a mortar and pestle, and have been storing them in one of my large blue mason jars. When planting season rolls around, after our last frost, and before we till up the garden, I will add my egg shells to the garden soil. If I'm able to save a lot, I will plant my tomatoes with the crushed egg shells, as this helps to boost the calcium many tomatoes often lack. Free, organic, and non-wasteful.. sounds good to me!
Save those egg shells for Spring planting!!

CH-Ch-Changes..... And Baby makes 3!

This post is all about my pregnancy, and truthfully, written solely because the existing pregnancy chat groups, forums, websites, and people who frequent them.. are SCARY as all heck for a first time mom such as myself. (A quick rant, and I promise I won't bash it again: there's two websites in particular, who will remain nameless, in which people literally made me cry. Cyber bullying knows no limits on these sites, which is quite sad, as these people are supposedly mothers-to-be such as myself. I went on with the hopes of finding women such as myself, who may not have a large social or family support group due to where they are living, and instead found women who must spend countless hours a day starting drama and hurting other people's feelings. I honestly hope they don't teach their children their hatred, lack of manners, and cold-hearted souls.) With all that being said, and living in Utah isolated from many of my friends and family, this pregnancy has been pretty rough so far.

Let's start from the beginning, shall we? Shortly after Jace and I were married, we knew we wanted to start our family soon, but had no idea how quickly that would happen for us. We found out we were expecting in early October, and our due date for this little one is June 10th, 2013. I had smooth sailing up until about 7 weeks, where at which point, I started to get minor morning sickness, and very, very tired. Things quickly progressed from weeks 8-14 to just all out warfare. The stories women tell you about "a joyful pregnancy!", "I LOVED being pregnant!", "Oh, morning sickness? Just eat some saltines and you'll be fine!"... Let's get this very clear: this is not the case for every woman. I was one of the unlucky ones that suffered from extreme "morning" sickness, that was pervasive, lasted all day, and particularly brutal at night. I spent nearly every evening from 5pm until 11pm or 12am throwing up, for weeks. No amount of ginger ale, fresh ginger, pregnancy pops, ginger candies, saltines, sprite, cold compresses, warm compresses, sea sickness bands, plain food, or aromatherapy worked. I was just sick as a dog. This in turn, made me very weak, and extremely emotional. In addition to the blessing of morning sickness, I felt pain and a lack of energy I have never in my life experienced. I have run half marathons, and felt better afterward than the feeling I had my first trimester.

So no, I wasn't "reveling in my pregnancy", or "having my pregnancy glow". Quite frankly, I was PISSED I was so sick, frustrated that I still had to drag my butt to a grueling work schedule during the busy holiday season, and angry I couldn't get a single thing accomplished around my house like I had pre-pregnancy. Everything changed around 14 weeks... I had a terrible migraine bout, and obviously not being able to take my migraine medicine, was forced to ride it out for close to 12 hours in the bathroom. I was sick every 5 minutes, had vision auras, tingling fingers, the left side of my body went numb, extreme light sensitivity, and the sound/smell of anything was enough to send me over the edge. My husband called the doctor, and I was placed on a medicine that worked really well for the sickness. Luckily, since that time, the sickness has been much more manageable.

All that being said, I am now in my 19th week, and finally getting everything under control. I'm learning to navigate my new body, and new belly (shoes are getting harder to put on, I'm continually kneeing myself accidentally), and feeling like much of my energy has come back. There's still so much that I'm unable to do, but have spent enough time being pregnant in this body now, that I'm learning what I can, and cannot do. I'm leaning on my wonderful husband for support (he seriously deserves a medal after all he's already done), and we're dividing up chores to still get everything accomplished. I cry over stupid commercials and over a dirty house. I forget that I just bought something, and my husband has to remind me I already have one of those (or 3 December issues of Living... because I forgot I had bought them). But all in all, things are getting much better. My friends have been amazing, calling to check on how I'm doing, offering to help out, giving me maternity clothes- it's just been a form of support I really, truly needed. I've started taking pre-natal yoga and focusing on our diet, so the changes we make now as a couple, support the healthiest lifestyle for us as a family.

I also want to disclaimer this post: Although it hasn't been easy, I've never once questioned if it is worth it. Not a day goes by that I don't feel blessed at this opportunity. I am so looking forward to our little bean, and the addition that he or she will bring to our family. I can't wait to start that next chapter and continue to grow as a person, continuing now to do everything in my ability to nurture my body and mind to be the best possible version of myself that I can be.

Until next time...


17 weeks along