The Avocado Smoothie Your Kids Will Love

Avocado Smoothie

Last year, juicing was all the rage in my house. This year, we have moved in a similar but slightly different direction…smoothies!  Thanks to my friend Jen and her facebook posts about the delicious smoothies that she made with her family, we have started to make smoothies too.  Now don’t get me wrong, I still love juicing but making smoothies requires less cleaning in the end. The one thing about juicing that I hate is having to take apart and clean the juicer when we are done.

Making smoothies allows us to use most of the same ingredients, but creates a frozen concoction that my kids can’t resist.  We initially started with your typical type of smoothies. You know, bananas, yogurt, ice and orange juice.  This is delicious but not quite healthy enough if you ask me.  The cool thing about smoothies is that some frozen fruit can really hide the taste of all the healthy stuff.

There are 2 things that I always put into each smoothie.  These are wheat germ and flaxseed meal.  If you are not familiar with these two things I highly recommend that you check out these links and learn about all the awesome health benefits of wheat germ and flaxseed.   Just a word of warning though with regards to flaxseed.  It can have a mild laxative effect so you may not want to add too much at once. We add about a 1/4 of wheat germ and 2 tbsp. of flaxseed to each blender full of smoothies.

Health benefits of wheat germ

Health benefits of flaxseed meal

Now let’s move on to the recipe for what I have to call the tastiest avocado smoothie ever.  I love avocados and both of my kids did when they were toddlers, but now as preschoolers they have become much pickier eaters.  This is where the whole smoothie thing comes in.  This is a great way to sneak in the healthy stuff without getting any complaints or whining from the kids.

The ingredients are: (makes 4 smoothies)

2 bananas

1/2 ripe avocado

 6 oz. container greek yogurt (any fruit flavor you like)

1/4 c. wheat germ

2 tbsp. flaxseed meal

1.5 cups frozen mango

5-10 ice cubes depending on how thick you like it

1.5-2 c. orange juice

Blend all of these together until rich and creamy.  We swap out the type of fruit daily depending on what we have on hand.  I buy my frozen fruit at Trader Joe’s.  I think they have the best selection and the prices on frozen fruit can not be beat.

Once you try this you will be hooked and proud to give yourself and your family such a delicious snack. We make these smoothies almost everyday after school and I feel good knowing that they are getting lots of vitamins, protein from the greek yogurt, omega 3’s from the avocado and much more. Please let me know how it turns out if you try it.  Happy blending!

What’s your favorite ingredient to add to smoothies?  I would love to hear from you!

If you love avocados as much as I do, check out this recipe for Avocado Egg Salad!  This recipe was create by an awesome blogger who focuses on nutrition and fitness.  I can’t wait to try this!

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Mommy’s Time Out!

Wow, I can’t believe how long it has been since I posted something on my blog. The truth is that the last couple of months have just been insane in my house.  I feel like I am never getting anything accomplished.  The worst part about this is that when life gets like this the last thing any of us have time for is a little mommy time, but missing out on that little bit of me time sucks!

In the interest of  getting back some mommy time, I decided a couple of months ago that I would give running a try.  Yes, running!  Any of you that know me know that I hate to run. I have often said that I only run when someone is chasing me.  Well things have changed a bit (or a lot).

About 2 months ago, while at the gym just cruising along on the elliptical machine, I had the idea that I should try to run…just a little.  Well, just a little has turned into quite a bit.  I started out with the goal of running one mile.  Once I ran 1 mile, I felt so proud of myself that I wanted to run 1.5 miles.  Now this had turned into a competition with myself always trying to run just a little bit longer or faster.

I have found that running is actually pretty amazing for me both mentally and physically.  My body feels great after a run and my mind feels great after having 45-60 minutes of mommy time.  Time where no one talks to me, needs a snack, wets their pants or cries. We recently joined the YMCA and wow there is nothing like free babysitting to motivate you to exercise. I find that in those crazy days when I am at my limit, the idea of being able to get a little down time from 2 small children is enough to get my ass on the treadmill.

I have convinced a friend (thanks, Jen) to run with me and that certainly makes it fun too.  One of the things people have asked me is  “how long will this last”?  Truthfully, I am not sure.  I do have a tendency to go full steam head with things and then get bored and stop, never to do it again.   The thing that has been keeping me going is that I keep setting a new goal. These little goals are keeping me motivated right now.

This coming Sunday I am going to be running in my first race ever!  The best part is that three of my best friends will be running right along with me.  Right now I feel like even if I never run again I have already completed a huge achievement considering that just a few months ago I could have barely run to the end of my street.

You may be wondering why I am sharing all this.  Truth is, as I was thinking about a post for my blog, I got to thinking about how it is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and how easy it is to cut out the things that seem unnecessary.  This leads us to feeling bored in our routines and having a short fuse (for me) with the people around us.  It is so important when we are raising our kids not to neglect ourselves and just assume that when our kids leave the nest then we will get back to taking time for ourselves.

If I have gotten even on person thinking about what they can do add something fresh into their life then the time I took writing this was worthwhile.   Set a goal for yourself now. Instead of waiting until the new year to make a resolution, make one now with the goal of keeping it up until the new year.  Reframing your goal to be something that you can accomplish in 30 days is much more motivating that one that lasts all year.

What do you do to give yourself some me time?  Do you try to make a little time for yourself each week?  I would love to hear about what you do to take care of yourself or what you plan to do!

. Imagine if it really worked this way! 🙂

If you are interested in running, here is the link to a fantastic running blog called Organic Runner Mom. I went to High school with Sandra and her blog is totally awesome and motivating!

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Oatmeal Apple Craisin Muffins

Wow it has been a long time since I have posted something.  I am not entirely sure where the time has gone.  All of the sudden, the summer is behind us and autumn is in full swing.  In fact, there are frost warnings tonight in my area.  Now I have to admit that I am a warm weather gal.  By the end of the winter, I am about ready to jump out of my skin after being “trapped” inside all winter long.

Now with all that being said there are a few things that I actually look forward to as the weather gets chillier and one of those is apples.  My daughters absolutely love apples. They average 2 each everyday. Let’s hope that an apple a day really does keep the doctor away.  Due to our love of apples, I buy them or pick them in large quantities. Especially if I ever want to get any to bake with or turn into applesauce.

Sunday morning my older daughter asked if we could bake something.  Inside I suggested that we make applesauce (recipe coming soon) due to having bought 10 lbs. of apples recently.  She had a blast using the apple slicer, dicer and coring machine. I have to admit that this is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets too.  If you do not already have one, I highly recommend that you pick one up.  Then Sunday afternoon, I picked up another 10 lbs. of apples. We are literally up to our elbows in apples right now.  One thing to keep in mind though is that when making applesauce, it takes a lot of apples to make a sauce.  My 10 lbs. of apples made 6 pints of sauce.

Tonight we made the rest of the applesauce and as I giving it a final stir I got to thinking that maybe I should use a bit of it to make muffins.  I love applesauce muffins. They are moist, delicious and healthy. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Here is what you need:

1 1/2 c. rolled oats

3/4 c. AP flour

3/4 c. whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/4 c. applesauce

3/4 c. sugar (I like to use the Truvia sugar blend)

1 egg white

3 tbsp. canola oil

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 tbsp. wheat germ (optional, but so tasty)

3/4 c. craisins or raisins

 

Here is what you do:

First preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  The mix all the wet ingredients together and stir just until combined.  Next slowly add the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.  Finally, stir in the craisins.  Line a muffin tin with muffin wrappers or spray with nonstick spray. Then fill each tin almost to the top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown.  These are truly delicious.  I love them smeared with a little butter but my kids like them right out of the muffin wrapper. They are a treat for the whole family.

 

What is your favorite apple recipe? Do you like to bake with them or use them in more savory dishes? I would love to hear from you!

 

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How to Get Rid of Mineral Deposits and Hard Water Stains

 

Hard water stains and mineral deposits can leave something that is actually clean, looking filthy. Look at the rack that goes under my dish rack.  I clean this at least once a week, but due to the mineral deposits from the water dripping on it, it never “looks” clean.

I have tried everything I can think of to clean it including harsh chemicals and my favorite tool the magic eraser.  Even the magic eraser did nothing to it.  Well finally I have figured out how to clean off these horrible stains.  WHITE VINEGAR!!!!  I guess I should have tried this sooner as I use it to clean everything else in my house. For some reason, I just did not think it would work. Well I was wrong.

All I did was pour some undiluted white vinegar onto the drain board and let it sit about 10 minutes. Then I scrubbed it gently with an old toothbrush and voila!  It looks like new.  This method could be used on shower doors, sinks or anywhere else that gets mineral deposits.  Put it in a spray bottle to clean the shower. It works beautifully.  Check out the pictures of my drain board.  Seeing is believing.  Good old white vinegar proves to be the champion cleaner again. Click here to see how you can use white vinegar to clean your floors.  You may never buy expensive cleaners again.

Before cleaning with white vinegar

After cleaning with white vinegar!

What other things do you use white vinegar to clean?  I would love to hear from you!

 

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The Best Homemade Floor Cleaner Ever

A while back, I read an article about making your own homemade floor cleaner.  In our house, we have three different types of floors (hardwood, tile, linoleum). I have always had a hard time finding a cleaning solution that worked on all three…until now.  The original article I read made a similar solution in a mop bucket.  While I am much to frugal to use a Swiffer mop, I also detest mopping from buckets.  It seems counter productive to use dirty mop water to wash the floors.

The best mop ever!

Rubbermaid Reveal Mop

The solution to this was buying a Rubbermaid Reveal Mop.  This is seriously one of my favorite cleaning tools. The microfiber pads clean great and are washable. I have washed mine a million times and they still work like new. The best thing about this mop is that you can fill the solution bottle with any solution you want (unlike Swiffer)!!!! This mop costs about $20 but will pay for itself quickly if you are currently using a Swiffer. I have also seen coupons for it in the past so definitely look for coupons before you buy.

A few weeks ago, I experimented a bit with creating a homemade solution for in my mop bottle and I have perfected it.  My floors could not be shinier.  This solution works great to remove dirt and everything else that gets on the floor and leaves a great shine behind. I have had great results with it on hardwood, tile and linoleum.

Here is how you make it in the mop bottle:

5-6 drops of dish soap

1/2 c. of white vinegar

Then fill to top with very warm water.

This is so quick and easy to make and costs pennies per batch. Much better than buying liquid floor cleaner that can easily cost $5 a bottle.  I don’t think I will ever use anything else on my floors. You MUST try this. Just look at my floors!

Have you ever made your own cleaning solution? I would love to hear from you!

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Light Your Charcoal Grill with Sugar

This makes me hungry just looking at it!

There are lots of gadgets and ideas out there about how to best light the charcoal in your grill. The fact is, when you are ready to grill and the food is all set, there is nothing more frustrating than charcoal that won’t light.

Here is the quick fix if you are ever in this situation.  Sprinkle a few tablespoons of sugar (just plain old sugar) on the briquettes and then light the charcoal again.  This works because when you expose sugar to high temperatures it quickly decomposes and catches on fire quickly. I really prefer this to squirting lighter fluid all over the coals that cook my food!

When you are hungry and cursing at the coals because they won’t light, this little trick will save the day.  Happy grilling!

Do you still you a charcoal grill or do you only use gas?  Do you think the food tastes different when cooked over charcoal?  I would love to hear from you!

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Zucchini and Apple Cobbler

 

If you read the title of this recipe and thought “yuck”, you are not alone.  A couple of months ago, another blog I read posted a recipe for zucchini cobbler and I thought the same thing when I read it. You can check out that recipe here.  After reading the reviews, which were amazing, I decided I needed to give this recipe a try, but make it my own in doing so.  Boy am I glad I did because it is a wonderful dessert!

If you are like many gardeners you have had you fill of zucchini for a while and yet your zucchini plants keep on producing.  That is the problem that I have been  having.  Well problem solved. This recipe will use up a few of those zucchini and you will not even know you are eating it.  I have made this recipe a few times for family and friends and they all raved about it and swore it was not zucchini. It tastes just like apple cobbler!

Here is what you need:

2 medium or 3 small zucchini

2 granny smith apples

2 lemons

1.5 cups sugar (I used Truvia for baking)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1.5 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

6 tbsp butter (cold)

3/4 c. oats ( I prefer steel cut but quick cooking would be fine)

3/4 c. whole wheat flour

Here is what you do:

First peel and dice the zucchini and apples into about a half-inch dice.  Then add the zucchini and apples to a pot and squeeze the juice from both lemons into the pot.  Cover and cook the zucchini and apple mixture for about 10-12 minutes or until they just start to get soft.  Once the zucchini and apples are soft, add 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. of nutmeg and 1 cup of sugar.  Reduce heat and simmer just until the sugar is melted.

In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, oats and flour. Cut the very cold butter into the mixture with a pastry cutter (or two knives) until the mixture has formed a large crumble.

Next pour the zucchini and apple mixture into a 2 quart baking dish and cover the top with the oat crumble.  Place the baking dish in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until the top of the cobbler is golden brown.  Serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (or both if you are me).

Hopefully if you are still reading this then I may have  convinced you to try this.  It is truly delicious and I promise that you and everyone you feed it to will not believe that you are eating zucchini!

Have you ever made any unusual desserts before just to find out it was delicious?  Does this recipe sound gross or are you willing to give it a try?  I would love to hear from you!

 

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