Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

So for Mother's Day, I had my family over for some food and some Xbox fun.  For dessert, I opted to make a Chocolate Chip Banana Bread based on a recipe I found in Clean Eating Magazine.  It was so delicious.  The bread was moist and had so much sweet flavor, it was quite a treat.  Here is what I used to make my recipe:

1.5 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp nutmeg
2 tbsps ground flaxseed
4 ripe bananas, mashed with a fork (3 probably would have been fine, but I had 4 in the freezer)
1 egg
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (using my homemade applesauce)
1/2 cup raw, local honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Place banana in bowl and mashed with a fork.  Add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Create a small well in the wet ingredients and place dry ingredients in the well, mixing the dry ingredients together first, and then mixing all the ingredients together.  Stir in chocolate.  Place in loaf pan (mine was a traditional bread loaf pan) and bake in 350 degree oven until set.  Mine took about an hour.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Haslet Farmers Market

I know what you're thinking... where's Haslet?  Haslet is a town at the tip of north Fort Worth.  If you've ever been near Alliance Airport, then you've been near Haslet.  Haslet Farmers Market is likely to serve well for North Fort Worth, Haslet, Rhome, Northlake, maybe Roanoke, perhaps some people from Decatur, even some Keller people.  Today was the first day- not just of this season- but of Haslet EVER having a Farmers Market, so I felt it was noteworthy to discuss.  I headed down to downtown Haslet early this morning for a peek into the newest offering, and I was so happy at what I found!  I think this place will make a great addition to the area.

Here are some pics of my trip:

These are some tomatoes from Finley Farms, I originally saw these guys last week at Keller Farmers Market... except this week that had a much larger variety.
 More produce, look that that selection!  I loved those sweet potatoes in the back- they're HUGE!
 Green beans- yum!  Prices are reasonable as well.
 Yumscents.  The said they would be here probably every other week.  Such great scents.  I purchased a soap and a lotion from them today to give to my sisters for Mother's Day.
 This was a jewelry vendor- she had beautiful selections.  I forgot to grab her card, but she too said she would be there every week.
 I really loved these rings.  These particular ones were just $15 each.
 Hudspeth Farm was here.  VERY reasonable prices for their products, they also sells eggs as well as meat.

A picture I missed (although I bought the product) was Mother Shucker's Tamales.  I bought the black bean and jalenpeno (so yum) and the spicy pork (we'll try them later).  When I try the spicy pork, I'll try to remember to take a picture to share with you!  For the black bean ones, we simply placed them in the crock pot with a little water and heated them up.  Delicious.

 Lucido's Produce.  I've seen these guys all over the Farmers Market scene.  I actually haven't had the chance to purchase any of their products yet, but I think I'll try these pickles next time.
 The Spice Boys were there!  Which seems obvious since they're from Haslet and all.  I met these boys last year at Grapevine Farmers Market and loved how involved they were and how great their stuff tastes.
 Sadly I didn't get a picture of this next booth, I was too tantalized by the cheese...., but Pure Country Products was amazing.  Their cheese was so flavorful, you needed just a little bit to satisfy your savory appetite- which is great because the more flavor it has, the less you eat.  A win-win.  These cheeses are made by a husband wife team.  I met the husband at the market and I really appreciated how friendly he was, how much he knew about the cheese and where the milk comes from.  I don't want to sound cheesy (badum ching) but I could taste the love.  Seriously, LOVED this cheese.

A few notes about the market- there was plenty of parking in front of and on the sides of the market.  There is a small park behind the market which is great for kids and perhaps a snack after you shop.  Market hours are 8-12.

The Power of the Co Op

It's no secret, I'm in love with Bountiful Baskets.  This morning I went to pick up my basket, and I was in awe of how much we get for just $15.  Purchasing power, baby.  I'm so excited to use all the things in my basket- which I'm sure I'll share here.

Also, this morning I went to Haslet Farmers Market- stay tuned for product reviews and great pictures from the event!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Juice Cleanse: Day Three

Today was day three of my cleanse and my first goal.  I'm feeling proud of myself for accomplishing 3 days, but disappointed because at dinner I allowed myself a smoothie.  My smoothies do not include yogurt or anything like that, just frozen fruits and veggies and water.  The past few days have been challenging, and while I didn't constantly find myself craving foods, I did often find that I was hungry.  My stomach wasn't satisfied.  And because of that, I was thinking about food ALL THE TIME.  Seriously.  After dinner, when I had my smoothie, I felt satisfied and content.  I haven't thought about food in several hours and I've been happy just sipping on water while I worked.  So I think that I'm going to wrap up my Juice Cleanse.  I've lost pounds this week... so I feel like I've accomplished my goals in giving myself a kick start, and enough weight loss to stay motivated.

Starting tomorrow, I'm going to be living a vegan, mostly raw diet.  Allowing myself whole fruits and veggies, smoothies, juices, and perhaps a vegan treat I find at the Farmers Market, who knows?  I feel like I need to take time trying different things before settling on a lifestyle so that I can decide what's right for me.  My husband, for example, gets his energy from protein.  He is a meat and potatoes guy.  Because of that, I've always eaten and prepared meat and potatoes type meals without giving too much more thought into the types of foods that I get energy from.  This exercise has proven to me that I can prepare meals for my husband without losing the focus of what's right for me.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Juice Cleanse: Day Two

So today is day two of my juice cleanse.  I started feeling really tired and annoyed in the early afternoon... I made myself a watermelon juice with a celery and started to feel better.  I am learning that I need to be better about having a juice more frequently.  You definately do not follow a three meal a day plan when you're juicing.

So I thought I would take a moment and answer a few questions I've gotten from various friends.

Why are you juicing?
The answer is fairly simple actually.  Although there are lots of health benefits to juicing, my biggest reason is to prove to myself that I can.  I have the world's worst self control.  I really felt like my new lifestyle needed some positive reinforcement, that I AM capable of turning down a processed brownie, and that it WON'T kill me to do so.

Are you getting enough calories?
This is something I've research fairly extensively.  I don't believe that juicing is something you should do long term, so I've decided to not worry about how many calories I'm getting.  I'm going to focus on juicing a variety of fruits and veggies, staying full and satisfied.  I don't intend to do this for 60 days, I don't intend to do it for 30.  I probably won't even do it for 10.  My first goal was to make it to 3, and if I did that, then I would re-evaluate and try for 5 and go for there.  My perception is that each juice I drink is healthier than anything else I would have eaten, so each juice is progress in the right direction.

Do you miss eating? 
Yes and no.  I get stressed sometimes thinking too much about food because I want it all, or more specifically I want chocolate.  :)  Telling myself that anything not juiced is off limits has eliminated some of the stress I generally feel on a day to day basis when I look through the pantry.

Do you still cook meals for your family?
This is probably the hardest thing so far.  Even though I'm on a different schedule, my family isn't- and they still require 3 squares a day.  So yes, I've still been cooking meals for them.  But I have been cooking meals that are easy- so easy I don't need to taste them to make sure the flavor is right.  Things like spaghetti with whole wheat noodles and pre frozen homemade spaghetti sauce, or stir fry quinoa.  These are things I make often enough that I know how it tastes based on scent alone.

I have found one interesting thing about this though- I didn't realize how often I snack.  When I give my son a snack, it's second nature to take a few of whatever it is before I hand it to him.  I found myself doing that today with grapes, crackers, and cheese cubes.  Those are small bits of calories that are adding to my bottom line (or rather, middle line) that I don't account for.  So this exercise has really taught me that I need to be careful about snacking.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Juice Cleanse: Day One

So for awhile now I've been contemplating various "cleanses" but have not committed.  A few weeks ago, my mom and I watched "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" and it really motivated me to do more juicing.  We had a juicer, but it was awful- vibrating so much that it danced across the table.  So after doing a fair amount of research, this past weekend, my husband and I purchased a Breville- like the one featured in the movie.

Last week I juiced and ate a modified diet and I lost weight and felt amazing.  This week I decided to stick with all juicing (with the exception being Mother's Day).  Today is Day One and I'll plan on updating you with how things are going, how I'm feeling, and perhaps some juicing recipes.  

So this morning, things were going great.  I felt fine, I juiced and felt satisfied.  Even in the afternoon, my husband, kiddo, and I went to town to buy some things we needed to repair our a/c (yes, the beginning of a Texas summer and our a/c goes out- more on that later)- my husband and son needed snacks so we made a stop and they picked up some treats.  I stuck with water, until I got home and could juice myself a drink.  It wasn't until the evening (like... now) that I'm starting to doubt my plan to stick this.  If anything though, it's encouraging me to go to bed early so I can stop thinking about food (not that getting more sleep should be a problem given how sleep deprived I feel so often).

So- about that a/c, I promise, it's related.  On Monday, it stopped working.  On Tuesday, we had a guy come out who said it was the compressor and it would cost upwards of $2000 to repair (mind you, he said an entire new until for our home would cost $2500- so you know- you do the math).  Anyway, I had planned on shopping for my fruits/veggies on Tuesday... but now I felt stressed and poor (since who wants to shell out that much cash for... well... anything really?).  I contemplated putting off juicing altogether.  In fact, I contemplated grabbing some chocolate and stuffing my face until the crying stopped (if you can't tell, I'm an emotional eater- severely).  But I didn't.  I got up and went to Sprouts, where I purchased all the things I needed to prepare meals for my family as well as all the fruits and veggies I would need.  I browsed the chocolate cakes, and even eyeballed a few lemon squares... but I resisted.  Seriously, huge accomplishment for me.  As I was driving home with my juice loot, I praised myself.  See, I tend to be mean to myself- but instead I'm working on praising myself for things I do right.  I resisted temptation AND stayed on course for my juicing.  This was huge.  Yes- I'm making progress... even if the only progress I'm making is to prove to myself and I am capable of doing this... it's progress.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Keller Farmers Market

My husband is hard to impress, so I was thrilled when we went to Keller Farmers Market yesterday and he actually was asking to buy things.  Yesterday was the first day the Farmers Market was open for this season!  I am really excited we got to go.  Let me walk you through some of our visit!  The Market is at around the fountain at the corner of Bear Creek Pkwy and Town Center Ln.

They had a lot going on today, but the first thing that greeted us was the Seed and Plant Exchange hosted by Metroport Meals on Wheels and the Primrose School in Keller.  The kids got to plant a little something in a cup, and the adults got free plants!  My sweet peppers didn't come up this year (I think as the result of an overly helpful toddler) so I got one to put in it's place.  I'll make sure to take a picture later to show you.  It looks beautiful and healthy.

Look at these great breads provided by Village Baking Company.  I tried one of their croissants last year, and it was AMAZING.  So good, and they use lots of organic ingredients.
 Seriously, the flower makes me want it even more.  I bet it would go great with some olive oil!!
 Music was provided by The Matt Larsen Quartet, they were very good, and made the stroll so much more enjoyable!
 Friends of the Keller Library was there.  I picked up a great used book for a $1.25.  Super psyched to read it to my kiddo tomorrow.  They are open Wednesday and Saturday from 10-2, near Old Town Keller.  Great place to pick up some books, and the lady was super sweet and friendly.

 South Texas Beef Jerky- one word- YUM.  This table was so busy, it was hard to get a good picture!

Flowers by Cooper and Co. Nurseries.  They had great Mother's Day arrangements for just $18.

 Look at these great colors!
 Now, here's a vendor I've never seen before- natural pet food with free delivery by Nature's Select.  This is another one that had a lot of people at the table- so I didn't get a chance to speak with them, but I love that they have no corn, etc in their food.
 Vegan Soaps and various other products by YumScents!  These smelled awesome.
 This was probably my husband's favorite table- I mean, grilling things for my grill king.  This Jalapeno Honey Mustard looks interesting.... I think I'll pick some up the next go 'round.
 And look at these rubs and salsas.  Yum!!  Can't wait to try them.  These were made by Smokin' Texas Gourmet.
 Of course Homestead Farms was there!  We love you, Homestead!  They were all out of cucumbers though- boooo. :-)
 These onions were at the table for Finley Farms out of Lipan.  I couldn't find a website for them, but I did find this description from Coppell Farmers Market.  They were reasonably priced and so friendly.  We purchased both mushrooms and potatoes (with dirt still on it, thank you very much) from them.  She apologized for the dirt, but personally, I kind of like it that way.
 There were a few food vendors for immediate consumption, including these pork people, tamale people, and some pizza people.

 Plenty of space to play and eat.

For a full list of vendors at Keller Farmers Market please go to their website.  This is going to be a regular Saturday event for our family- we hope to see you there!

How Does Your Garden Grow?

So we moved into our new house in September and I've been spending all winter planning my garden.  I decided to start small and get bigger as I get more experienced.  Here are a few photos of where my garden stands as it is now!

A Bean Plant!
 Here's the garden, I built it using concrete blocks.  The fence is to keep the dog out.
 Here is our mystery plant.  It just started growing to the side of our porch several weeks ago, and was lucky enough to survive our first mowing, so it lives and we will decide what it is in time!  Stay tuned for the verdict!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Emergency Preparedness Tips

While I am not a boy scout, I believe in being prepared. Recent storms in Texas and our current political climate have caused me to be a little more purposeful in my preparedness. Tonight as I write this, there is a storm raging outside and I have been without power for hours; these preparedness principles have been even more reinforced. So, I would like to pass on some tips that I have learned, some by doing them right and others from doing them completely wrong and wanting to save you the heartache. Emergencies come in many forms...basic preparedness can go a long way.
  1. Have a 72 hour kit. This should include enough food, clothing, medication, saline solution, etc. to last you for 72 hours should you lose all power. Include a copy of credit cards, driver's license, etc., just in case in the emergency you were unable to grab yours. Keep this kit in a safe (so your information isn't stolen) and easy to access place. 
  2. Update your kit often. I have started a tradition of assessing my kit every 6 months. Use daylight savings as a good reminder, a good time to check smoke alarm batteries as well. If you live in a warm area and store your kit in a warm place, be aware the batteries and other items may need replacing more often.
  3. Include in your kit a book or magazine to read or game to play. We live in a fast-paced society and when there is silence for long stretches of time, it can be boring. Have an activity ready (especially if you have kids).
  4. Have a flash light per person and back up batteries that match. This I discovered the hard way today. I had just updated my kit at the beginning of April and was feeling pretty prepared. When tonight's blackout hit, I went for the flashlight in the drawer and it was dead. I went to my 72 hour kit and the batteries were barely working. My back up batteries were the wrong kind for my flashlight. I went to my car and the moral of the story is it took three flashlights and many set of batteries to produce two working flashlights. ***NOTE: Also, as an aside, have lots of back up batteries or an extra flashlight if you are particularly nervous in storms or darkness. I consider myself a tough cookie but in the pitch black of night with noises I am not used to hearing, I scare more easily than I would like to admit. It has helped me to have two flashlights so I can leave one where I am sitting and take one with me as I move outside or throughout the house. Something feels more comfortable about having more light than less and if you feel the same way too, be prepared for that. (This especially applies to children or animals who are skittish as well.)
  5. Remember your pets. They typically have good eyesight and darkness from a loss of power won't always affect them. But animals are usually very sensitive to the emotions of their humans and if you or someone in your family is nervous, they will feel it. It's easy to neglect animals in emergencies because people are the #1 priority. But, make sure your animals are in a safe place and when things calm down, take a moment to comfort your pet. It'll also lower your blood pressure. :)
  6. Tonight as I was digging for flashlights and batteries, I realized how hard it is to find something with just a flashlight. My purse was downstairs but my 72 hour kit was upstairs. I had only the slightest clue where my shoes were and where did I leave my keys?? In a true emergency, I would have been toast. It can be helpful to practice what to do and grab in an emergency in the light and darkness, especially with young kids. The more practice, the more prepared people feel in a true emergency. The more prepared someone is, the better the outcome, the stress is lower, and the individual is safer.
  7. Be prepared to organize a neighborhood watch. As homes lose power (and security systems) burglary and rioting are more common. Talk with your neighbors that you trust about keeping an eye on each other in such an emergency.
  8. Finally, follow your gut. Stress can make us second guess ourselves. In emergencies, it is important to be able to make clear decisions. Pray for guidance and trust your gut. After the storms came through the Dallas area a few weeks ago, I chatted with friends about the experience. I cannot tell you how many people started off by saying something to the effect of, "I was planning on going to the grocery store but then I had the thought I should wait." Those that followed that thought were better off than if they hadn't. 

I hope this helps. If you have tips you have found helpful, please post them. The goal is for everyone to be safe! I have posted some websites and blogs below that have other helpful hints for preparedness. Good luck!

Food Storage - LDS Website
Prepared LDS Family Blog
Tactical Intelligence - Building food storage on a budget
Home Storage FAQs

Friday, May 4, 2012

What Does One Do With 8 LBS of Strawberries?

I ordered the strawberry extra with Bountiful Baskets, and it came with 8 pounds of strawberries.  It was an amazing price, and I couldn't resist.  But when I got them, I had to do something with them!  I thought about making jam- but I'm trying to get away from sugar- so instead, I ate a lot of them, gave some to my mom, and froze the rest for smoothies.  I've been having smoothies everyday for three days and I feel really awesome.  They are all fruits and veggies- no yogurt or juice.  DELICIOUS and I feel so much more energetic than I have in the past.

Here is how I went about freezing them:
First, cut off all the stems.
 Wash them!
 Let them dry- eat a few, admire them, eat some more.
 Put them on a plate to take more pictures of them.  Eat a few more.
 Line them up in rows on a cutting board (or pan, whatever you have).  I cut these in half for one of my smaller smoothie machines.  Stick them in the freezer until hard.
 Place into freezer bag and enjoy as needed!