PB Awesome Apple Dip

If you are anything like me, you have a sweet tooth and are constantly on the lookout for better food alternatives. Sure, in an ideal world the Calories from Oreo’s would be good, healthy Calories that nourish your body, but that’s just not the case. I find myself in a constant struggle of instant gratification and hating myself a little bit for making decisions that make my body feel sluggish and overall unpleasant. Well, I have decided to take one of my favorite foods and dress it up to make a delicious snack!

What is great about this snack is that it’s good for just about every age. There is honey in this recipe, so I do not recommend giving this snack to little guys and gals below the age of one. Assuming you and your children have graduated to at least toddler status, you will love this tasty snack that feels more like a treat than an alternative to highly processed sweets.

Ingredients:PB Dip

2              Apples, cored and sliced

¼ C         Peanut Butter

2 T          Honey (raw if you prefer)

2 t           coconut  butter

 

  1. First collect a bowl to mix ingredients. This will require nothing bigger than a small cereal bowl or a coffee mug, depending on your preference.
  2. Measure and combine peanut butter and coconut butter. I have little experience using coconut butter but have found that it gives a nice, subtle freshness to my baking and can be used to make a recipe fluffier. If you are looking for that lighter quality, use a fork to beat mixture quickly.
  3. Once butter is to your desired consistency, fold in honey.
  4. If you haven’t done so already, core and slice apples. Once slice, the apples are good to go!

Tip: Because the dip is already sweet, I recommend using a tarter apple, such as a Granny Smith or Braeburn.

It feels like a recipe should be more complicated than this, but that is the beauty of this dip! With this dip being easy and versatile, you can make it for yourself or for large gatherings. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with tweaking the recipe to your unique preferences, but I bet you will love it just the way it is!

Peachy Squash Baby Puree

I have found myself very passionate about making baby food for Little Man and I cannot wait to share ALL of the awesome, yummy baby food recipes I’ve come up with! Just to give you a little background: I do my best to feed Little Man as little processed food as possible and I do not like to have any kind of preservatives in my baby food. The way I keep my baby food from spoiling is by freezing it in the Fresh Baby Trays. I don’t really worry about them getting freezer burnt as Little Man does an excellent job eating them up in a timely fashion. With that said, I don’t go nuts and make more than a month’s worth of baby food at any given time for the simple reason that we just don’t have the space in our freezer.

This week I made a super tasty baby food recipe that is too good to keep to myself. It’s simple, took very little effort, and I had no problem licking it off my fingers when Little Man decided to share!

 

Special Kitchen tools you will need:

Food Processor

Jellyroll pan

Fresh Baby So Easy Baby Food and Breast Milk Trays (2)

 

Peachy Squash

Ingredients:

1              Acorn Squash

1              Butternut Squash

1              Peach/Nectarine

 

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Cut both squash in half the long way. Definitely use a large-bladed knife as you may need the cleaving power.
  3. When you’ve cut both squash in half, remove seeds with spoon and discard seeds and guts.
  4. After the squash are gutted, I recommend cutting the curved side of the squash as we will be placing the squash face up on the jellyroll pan. I have tried roasting squash both facing up and down and have found without adding oil (which I prefer to keep out my baby food), face up works best.
  5. All four halves of squash should fit nicely on one jellyroll pan. Once oven is preheated, place squash in oven on middle rack for 45 minutes to an hour. Cook time will vary depending on your oven and size of squash. You will know they are done when they are easy to pierce with a fork.
  6. Once your squash are ready to come out of the oven (you will likely notice the skins beginning to brown and edges will curl slightly), remove from oven and let them sit for 20 minutes. Once you can comfortably handle the squash, feel free to move on to the next step!
  7. Peel squash with knife, or if tender enough, scoop out contents with a spoon. There’s no need to keep the squash in any particular form. If you end up with it chunked, that’s perfectly fine. It all ends up in the food processor anyway!
  8. Once peeled, take half of acorn and butternut squash and place into food processor. Process until smooth.
  9. Empty squash from food processor into a bowl and repeat step eight with the remaining squash.
  10. At this point, peel and pit a ripe peach and add to food processor. Process until well incorporated into squash puree.
  11. Pour the remaining puree from food processor into bowl and stir.
  12. If Freezing*** pour puree evenly over the Fresh Baby Trays and freeze for at least 6 hours. Don’t worry if the puree is still warm when freezing. The Fresh Baby Trays are BPA and phthalate free!

Tip: Since I have two Fresh Baby Trays, I usually have some left over puree. I recommend storing the rest in the fridge and using that up first. I found that it is usually gone within three days, so there is no additional need for other forms of preserving.

Mommy Danae

How We Simplified Breakfast

After waking up several times a night, the last thing any mommy wants to do is get up for the day. No matter how hard you will yourself out of bed, there’s always that little voice telling you to crawl back under the sheets and stay there. Those nights are rough and happen much more often than we’d like, but moms don’t have the luxury of sleeping in. Sadly, I cannot magically make your kids sleep through the night, nor can I silence your deepest desires to sleep the entire day away, but I can offer you an easy solution to your breakfast woes.

As a family that has three mouths to feed, we now collectively devour one super yummy, hydrating and healthy smoothie filled with all the nutrients we need to get our day off on the right foot. It’s not always IMG_3227 (2)the case that three people will like the same foods, but this smoothie is satisfyingly sweet and packed with plenty of fiber and nutrients found naturally in the fruits as well as a minimal-ingredient protein powder. We use Vega Protein Powder (vanilla flavor) which has proteins from plants rather than dairy or soy and tastes delicious! We used to take out a small portion for Little Man before adding the protein powder, but now recognize the health benefits the protein powder has for him too.

Here’s how we make our family’s breakfast smoothie and also an adorable testimonial photo from Little Man.

IMG_3225 (2)

Ingredients:

1 Banana

1.5 Cups Frozen Pineapple

2 Cups Frozen Strawberries

2 Cups Frozen Blue Berries

2 Cups Water

1 Scoop Vega Plant-Based Protein Powder

 

  1. In a blender, layer frozen fruit and banana. If you have a standard-size blender, this will likely leave you with just enough room to add the lid.
  2. Pour the two cups of water over the fruit. I found that adding the water all at once helps to get give the blender a little more to work with and does not run the blades without actually blending.
  3. Blend fruit until slushy and resembles desired smoothie consistency. I start with medium-high works well and increasing to high once the large pieces have been blended.

Tip: You may notice with this quantity of fruit may be a lot for your blender to handle. If that’s the case, make sure to stir with a wooden spoon as needed. If you are lucky enough to have a Ninja Blender, this won’t be an issue for you. This blender is at the tippy-top of my wish list!

  1. Pour one scoop of Vega Protein Powder on top of the blended fruit. And blend until evenly incorporated.
  2. Once done, you should have roughly five cups of smoothie, which you can then split among the family. We like to enjoy our smoothies with bendy straws because you are never too old for bendy straws!

Mommy Danae

Real Plans Strawberry Crumble

So you have a baby and still want to impress people with food… Good news! Summer gives us the perfect opportunity to do just that! Fruit is in season and backyard barbecues are in full swing. What else could you ask for? To be honest, unless you get a babysitter, baking or cooking for friends will never be the same, but that doesn’t mean it is unattainable. There are a lot of crowd-pleasing dishes you can make that will impress your friends and they will not have a clue you had a tiny person clinging to your ankle the whole time!

One of my favorites is the strawberry crumble from Real Plans. This crumble seriously takes very little time and is extremely forgiving when it comes to how things are combined. There are no small steps that will ruin this dessert, which means you will continue to be reining champ of baked goods (we’ll let you keep thinking that). The best part about this dessert is that it is casual enough for a small friendly get-together but can also be dressed up for a much swankier event as well.

Please check out the recipe below, and if you like what you see, there is plenty more where that came from. Real Plans has plenty more crowd-pleasing dishes to offer.

 

Preheat oven to 350 F

Strawberry Filling:

  1. Wash and remove greens from strawberries. Once you’ve done that, you are set to place the strawberries (halved) into a mixing bowl.
  2. Juice Lemon into a small bowl then once you are sure no seeds managed to make their way into the bowl, pour lemon juice over strawberries

Tip: If you are frugal and don’t see the point of a lemon juicer like myself, I would recommend just using a regular fork. “How,” you ask? Hold lemon in your palm, insert fork, and squeeze and twist lemon. It does the trick for me.

  1. Combine strawberries and lemon with tapioca starch, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
  2. Place bowl contents in any 9” baking dish. I personally used a pie pan, but shape is not important.

 

Crumble Topping:

  1. Combine almond flour, sea salt, coconut oil, and maple syrup until contents look like a heavily textured liquid.

Tip: We made the mistake of adding more almond flour because we felt the topping looked too thin. Having the contents thin will allow for a more even topping on the dessert.

  1. Place topping evenly over the strawberries then place in oven. Allow the dessert to bake for 30 minutes or until topping turns crispy golden and strawberries are bubbly.
  2. When taking the dessert out of oven, make sure to allow it to sit for 10 minutes to let the dessert set. This will make it much easier to serve.

Mommy Danae

How We Make Baby Food

When my husband and I were first discussing having babies many, many years ago, his biggest reservation was that babies turn into toddlers that always have jam-covered fingers. Fast forward seven years, it turns out once you start feeding a child ANYTHING (no matter the age) they have sticky, grimy fingers! Though my husband is not thrilled about Little Man’s grimy mitts, we do enjoy his adorable face smeared with whatever we decided to feed him that day. The good news is, we know exactly what it is that we are feeding him because we make our own baby food.

Why on Earth would I go through all the time and hassle to make my son’s food? To be honest, it is super easy and really does not take very much time at all. I also really appreciate knowing how his food is preserved (freezer!) and making sure that he is being fed food that I’m comfortable with. I will walk you through how I make Little Man’s baby food (sweet potato puree, yum!) so that it is as easy to follow and can be done even with a rambunctious baby in tow.IMG_2975 (2)

Here are some tools you will need:

  • Food Processor
  • Stock Pot
  • Potato Peeler
  • Sharp Kitchen Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Colander

Ingredients Needed:

3 large sweet Potatoes

4 Cups of filtered water (for cooking veggies)

 

  1. Wash and peel your sweet potatoes. If you have your kiddo in a carrier, I would recommend always having them facing inward whenever working in the kitchen for safety reasons.
  2. Once the potatoes are peeled, I rinse them again to avoid any residual dirt from the peeling process.
  3. Start a pot of water filled with roughly four cups (roughly one liter), or enough water to cover the potatoes. Place the temperature to medium-high heat.
  4. Cut sweet potatoes into pieces that are roughly two-inches thick.
  5. Place cut pieces of sweet potato into the water that is not yet boiling.
  6. From here, I like to wait until the water starts to boil and set a timer for 12 minutes. This should leave your potatoes tender enough that a fork can pierce them.

Note: In case your kiddo decides that it’s nap time or has prevented you from being able to tend to the sweet potatoes for any time after the water starts boiling, do not worry! Little Man decided he needed to take a nap right in the middle of making his last batch of sweet potatoes, and they turned out perfect! All I did was turn off the burner with the pot still on the burner and left it covered until I could come back to it.

  1. Once your potatoes have passed the fork test, strain them in a colander or remove them piece by piece with slotted spoon. This step I do with my son on a blanket on the other side of the kitchen to avoid any burning injuries. Though I am careful in the kitchen, hot liquids seem to be the easiest to screw up so why take the chance?
  2. Place the potatoes directly into your food processor with the rotary blade setting. I personally like using my metal rotary blade, but I would imagine plastic would be fine as well.
  3. Turn on the food processor until you no longer see any chunks. I found it took roughly one minute for my food processor to get the job done.
  4. Place into storage container of your choosing. I personally use the Fresh Baby So Easy Baby Food and Breast Milk Storage Trays for portioning purposes. I personally like these trays because they are made from biodegradable plastic, and are BPA and phthalate free! In the case of the sweet potatoes, the contents will be hot when going into the storage container, so it is important to have a BPA free container for that purpose.IMG_2979 (2)
  5. Freeze and call it a day!
  6. Once the food has set, I transfer them to freezer bags so that I can make more baby food without needing more freezing containers.

I enjoy making Little Man’s baby food because there’s just something about knowing exactly what I’m putting into my child’s mouth that gives me peace of mind. There is so much to worry about as a parent, so I eliminate that concern by doing it myself. An added bonus is that most baby food can be easily made alongside your regular daily cooking. I am constantly juggling tasks so having something I don’t have to watch closely is right up my alley.

I hope these instructions make preparing your own baby food a little less scary and a lot easier! Happy parenting!

 

Mommy Danae

How and Why I was Dairy-Free

When Little Man was just nine weeks old, something peculiar happened. We found blood in his diaper and immediately brought him to the doctor as something was obviously wrong. Now, I’m sure you are wondering why I’m discussing my son’s poop in a section about how to feed a family, but it is relevant, I promise. After many tests and multiple appointments, the doctors determined it was likely a dairy allergy. My son is breastfed and I wanted to continue breastfeeding, which then posed a pretty big challenge for me. I have never had to cook with restrictions and had no idea how to make it work. Living in Wisconsin, it is no surprise that taking on this challenge was daunting, but I was ready to take it on nevertheless.FoF Eggs in Flour

I reached out to friends on social media and received numerous recipes, but I found myself overwhelmed and disorganized. Though I was kindly given exactly what I had asked for, I didn’t know where to start. How was I going to incorporate ALL these new things into my diet? To be 100% clear, I am not a cook. My husband has regularly put up with crunchy spaghetti noodles that I called al dente.

After a day of eating very little, for fear of causing my son pain and discomfort, I went to bed feeling like a failure. The next day was not much better until I stumbled upon a link for Real Planson the Nom Nom Paleo website. I was skeptical at first, as it had a subscription fee, but I felt so desperate to find something to help us that I signed up with little hesitation. I did not know it then, but I managed to find what I feel is our saving grace for breastfeeding and stepping our way towards a healthier lifestyle.

Real Plans™ is a meal planning website. Okay, what is so great about that? Well, not only do they provide meal planning, but they also have ways to adjust the recipes based on your specific dietary needs (vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, and Paleo, just to name a few). I was thrilled to see how many options they had and meals that I could master with relative ease. The cherry on top is that it comes up with a shopping list each week that I can print out or have on the Real Plans app. It makes my life so much easier and far less wasteful to know that I will for sure have all the ingredients I need to make all my weekly meals.

FoF Spinach Bacon Quiche

I noticed a real difference in the health of our family and the happiness of our son when we removed the dairy from my diet by managing meals using Real Plans™. This meal planning service was exactly what we needed to succeed. I even received a call within two-weeks from their customer service to make sure I understood how all the functions worked and was getting the most out of my subscription. I really appreciated the follow-up and the willingness to help me work out issues I was having.

Additionally, I cannot tell you the amount of money this subscription has actually saved us. Though there was an up-front cost to us, it easily paid for itself in the first month (and I went with the one-year subscription!). We no longer need to eat out, as we cook all but two core meals a month at home, and we hardly ever have food go bad in the refrigerator because we didn’t get to it in time. We could not be happier with how Real Plans™ made the continuation of breastfeeding possible for our family.

If you feel Real Plans™ would be a great way to make your life healthier or easier, please check it out by clicking here. Any subscriptions help us to achieve or dreams of being sustainable stay at home mommies. Thank you for your support!

Mommy Danae