True Roots (you won’t want to be DUNZO with it)

Like pretty much every other teenage girl in the 2000’s, I was obsessed with Laguna Beach, and later The Hills. The “real O.C.” was a dramatic MTV reality show that followed the lives of spoiled teenagers in Laguna Beach California. It was terribly wonderful, so naturally, my sister and I loved it.

If you watched the show too, you remember Kristin Cavallari. She was the young, beautiful, and bitchy character who was always stirring up extra drama. You loved to hate her.

Fast forward to 2019, Kristin is a pretty crunchy mom of 3. She released a cookbook in 2018, called True Roots. The book contains more than 100 recipes free of gluten, dairy, and refined sugar. Her recipes are healthy, unique, and seriously delicious.

The book begins with an explanation of ingredients and items you might want to keep stocked in your pantry and fridge. True Roots is filled with healthy recipes for salads, lunches, dinners, drinks, salad dressings, snacks, and more.

The first thing I made from this cookbook was the Caramelized Bananas. I cannot rave enough about these candy-like cooked bananas. I make them at least once a week now. The first time I made these, my husband came into the kitchen and said it smelled like I was making cinnamon rolls. They are the perfect addition to oatmeal and french toast. You basically slice and cook a ripe banana in coconut oil, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Delicious.

The Carmelized Bananas on top of my homemade oatmeal

I have also made a Coconut Key Lime Chia Parfait, that really tasted like key lime pie. Kristin’s Date Delight Bars are also a simple and healthy snack for anyone.

True Roots is surprisingly awesome and crunchier than you might expect. Even if you didn’t indulge in her reality shows as a teenager, you can definitely still appreciate her healthy and simple recipes. This cookbook has been a great addition to our kitchen, and I highly recommend it for yours!

Advertisements

Sugar Snap Peas- a toddler approved snack

Our toddler, Dexter will turn 4 years old in July. He’s intelligent, sweet, funny, and also very busy. Just like his mama, he loves to snack all day long. He will happily munch on berries, a banana, or an apple (any fruit really). Trying to get him to eat vegetables for a snack can be a little bit more of a challenge though. We recently bought some organic Sugar Snap Peas from our local health food store, and Dexter couldn’t get enough of them. He ate them raw, without any dips or sauces. Mom win!

Sugar snap peas are high in vitamin C, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin K, B vitamins and minerals.

The only thing I did to prep these sweet little green pods, was rinse them off with some water. Dexter and I ate half the bowl by ourselves in one sitting. They are crunchy, and just the right amount of sweet. They make the perfect snack, and would be great to add to a lunch box!

Thinking Dirty

I’m thinking dirty this morning…but probably not the kind of dirty you’re thinking. I’m thinking about chemicals and other nasty things hiding in our homes! There are chemicals hiding in pretty much everything you can think of.

Things like all purpose cleaners, laundry detergent, perfume, makeup, body lotion, dish soap, and even baby products are FILLED with things that are actually causing our bodies harm. Phthalates, Perchloroethylene or “PERC”, Triclosan, Quarternary Ammonium Compounds, or “QUATS”, 2-Butoxyethanol, Parabens, Fragrence, and Triclosan are just a few of the dangers that may be hiding in your home. Here’s something else really scary- in 2009 the European Union had already banned 1,328 chemicals, while in 2018 the United States FDA has only banned 30. How is this possible? How does the EU recognize that over 1,000 toxic ingredients are dangerous, but the US only recognizes 30? There is simply no way that one ingredient is dangerous in the EU and not dangerous here.

These toxic ingredients that are still legal in the US are linked to interference with hormones and fertility problems, developmental problems in children, asthma, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and more.

So as Americans, we must take it upon ourselves to be more educated, and make better choices for our families. Thankfully, we don’t have to be scientists or spend hours researching products and their ingredients. There are trustworthy companies we can turn to for help. The Environmental Working Group and Think Dirty are the two I most often use. I tend to favor the Think Dirty App because it feels more user friendly. You can simply scan a product, type in a product name, or search for a company and immediately see the toxicity of the products.

You will be SHOCKED at what you see. Products are given ratings based on their “cleanliness”. The lower the number, the “cleaner” and “greener” a product is. The higher the number, the more toxic it is.

Another thing to be aware of is “green washing”. This is when companies take advantage of consumers and market their products to seem “green” and “clean” when they really are not. Mrs. Meyers is a company notorious for this. Aveeno is another company that markets their products as “green” but most are not.

I very highly recommend downloading these apps and checking the things in your home. Once you know what’s hiding in your home, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed about switching everything out for healthier options. An easy way to do this, is to switch out your toxic products one or two at a time.There are SO MANY clean and healthy options out there, and they work just as good, or even better than the toxic chemical filled products. There are also companies that I have found that are commited to being clean and healthy that I know I can trust. Our family uses Young Living for many things because of this. We also use Seventh Generation and Dr. Bronners as well.

Have you started making the switch to a toxic free home? How have you done it? What made you switch? Do you have any tips for people looking to make the switch?

Science Wednesday

For those of you that may not know, I used to be a fifth grade teacher. So as a past teacher, I am constantly looking for fun, meaningful, and educational activities to do with Dexter. I found this on the Busy Toddler Instagram.

Dexter LOVED this activity, and I already had all of the necessary materials on hand. They are probably things you have at home too. Setting this activity up took about 3 minutes. SO QUICK AND EASY. If you’re a stay at home parent, or a working parent, you can very easily do this activity at home with your little ones. It would be great to set this up for your toddler when you need to make dinner, fold a load of laundry, or just put your feet up for a few minutes. Just set this up, give them some instructions, and let your little one work, while you get a few magical minutes to yourself!

Supplies needed:
Large clear bin (to contain the mess)
Large Towel for under the bin
Muffin tin
Baking Soda
Food Dye
Vinegar
Squirt Bottle (a water bottle, or even dropper would work here too)

Put a few drops of food dye in each muffin spot, and add enough baking soda to cover the dye.

Fill your squirt bottle with half water and half vinegar.

Then let your little scientist get to work! They squirt the liquid onto the baking soda and watch the magic happen! Bubbles will appear in different colors based on the food dye you put in each container. Once Dexter figured out what was happening, he couldn’t wait to see the next color and shout out what it was.

Dexter really enjoyed this activity, and did it for about half an hour. If you’re a parent, you know that a toddler doing an activity for 30 minutes is absolute magic.

Dexter wanted to keep playing once he had revealed all of the colors. So we dumped the liquid into the large plastic bin, and he kept going. I had to refill his squirt bottle a few times, and even added more baking soda once.

We will definitely be doing this activity again! It was SO simple to set up and cleaning up was a breeze too. This gets a serious thumbs up from us!

Homemade Hummingbird Food

Our feeders in our backyard

One of Matt’s favorite memories with our first born is when Dexter was about 8 months old. They would sit on the porch together in the morning and watch hummingbirds. We lived in Alabama at the time, and had a huge front porch with a few hummingbird feeders hanging. Matt was (and still is) an awesome husband and father. H would get Dexter his breakfast in the morning and hang out on the porch together while I got to get a little bit more sleep. (I got extra sleep so I’m also fond of this memory)

Dexter right before he turned one on the awesome porch

Many hummingbirds spend the cold winter months in Central America or Mexico, and begin migrating North this time of year. Since we live in Northwest Florida, we will be seeing them really soon. We typically see Ruby-throated hummingbirds here. They’re so amazing and beautiful, and I know Matt really looks forward to watching them again with both of our children this year.

Did you know the red dye in hummingbird food is possibly dangerous for these sweet little birds? Don’t worry though, making your own hummingbird food is SO EASY. Dexter helped me make our first batch this year.

Supplies needed:
4 cups of water
1 cup of sugar

My sweet helper

Instructions:
1. Bring water to a boil and remove from heat
2. Stir in sugar until completely dissolved
3. Let water/sugar mixture cool
4. Fill your hummingbird feeder with your mixture and hang up outside

Remember- DO not add red food dye!

Change the food and clean the feeder every 3 to 5 days.

Enjoy watching these amazing birds!

Practicing Gratitude (Thanks Hannah)

Hello again! I apologize for my blogging absence. We suffered from some serious seasonal allergies and then were super lucky to have a lot of different visitors come to Pensacola.

We had such an awesome visit with these guys!

We love living on the Gulf Coast. The white sand beaches are amazing, and the weather this time of year is perfect. But sometimes it’s tough to be so far away from family. My husbands uncle and his beautiful family came to visit for a long weekend and it was a whirlwind of awesomeness. We went swimming, ate so much good food, and had even more memorable conversations. Their visit left us feeling so grateful for our relationships and the time we got to spend with them.

Dexter and his cousin Keegan

Practicing gratitude is something we have been working on as a family since the start of 2019. Practicing gratitude is regularly taking time to notice and reflect on the things you’re thankful for. Practicing gratitude can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction.

My awesome sister in law Hannah keeps a gratitude journal. Every single day she writes down the things she is grateful for. Hannah and her journal are what inspired what our family now does.

Dexter and Hannah December 2015

Every month I hang a new large sheet of paper in our kitchen. As a family we talk about what we’re thankful for and write it down. We also talk about why we’re thankful for those things. Some examples are: healthy children, flowers, a home to live in, feeling the sunshine on our skin

Our goal is to each add something every day. (Full disclosure-we don’t actually do it every single day, but we are working on it)

It’s always interesting what Dexter comes up with. I try not to say no to his ideas for what he is thankful for. Sometimes the ideas are strange, like ‘killing mosquitoes’ but I add them anyway because who am I to say what he should be grateful for?

Practicing gratitude is such an easy and important thing to do. It allows us to see how many little (and big) things we have to be thankful for. It is so easy to get caught up in life and forget about how truly blessed we really are. Spending a few minutes every single day thinking and talking about what we are grateful for has been such a good practice for my family. It is definitely something I want to continue past 2019 and teach our sons to always do.

I am truly grateful for learning how to practicing gratitude. Thank you Hannah.

Homemade Vegetable Broth

We go through a lot of vegetable broth in our home. I use it in soup, when making rice, and other dishes like shepard’s pie and even for simmering vegetables for added flavor.

I have been making homemade vegetable broth for a few years now. It’s SO simple and easy, and saves money.

I start by saving vegetable scraps in a gallon size bag in our freezer. Every time I have vegetable scraps I add them to the bag.

I save things like carrot peels, onion peels and ends, bell pepper scraps, and kale stems. Some people say to not use broccoli, but I personally don’t follow that rule. That’s up to you! I don’t save potato peels, moldy bits, or lettuces.

Once the bag is full, I dump it in our slow cooker. Then I add any fresh herbs we have (parsley, thyme or bay leaves) but if we don’t have any on hand, I don’t worry about this step. I always add some garlic. I like to save and use those tiny pieces that are in the middle of the clove that are too small to peel and chop.

I rinse out the gallon bag, and reuse it again and again for storing my broth veggie scraps.

Once all of the vegetables and herbs have been added I fill the rest of the slow cooker with water.

I personally don’t add any salt or pepper, but this is totally personal preference. If you want to add some, go right ahead!

I cook the veggies on low for about 12 hours. I like to do it overnight. At the end of the 12 hours, I let the broth cool and then strain all of the veggies, seeds, and peels.

And now you have delicious, healthy, and inexpensive vegetable broth! It smells amazing, and tastes so great just on it’s own! I like to just sip on a glass!

At the end of the 12 hours

I like to keep 1 or 2 mason jars in the fridge for easy use, and then freeze the rest in 2 cups portions.

In my slow cooker, this makes about 14 cups of vegetable broth.

Store in the fridge, and use fresh vegetable broth within 4 or 5 days. Frozen broth will keep for about 4 to 6 months.