Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New Work out!

I've started a CrossFit class that is intense and a nice change of pace. It is always a good thing to have someone else push you a lot harder than you push yourself! So now I'm doing that three times a week as well as my daily cardio workouts (elliptical every night, running once a week, swimming 1-2 times a week and recumbent bike 3 times a week.) All of this in anticipation of multiple triathlons this summer!! Woo hoo!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

making yogurt

It's actually not nearly as intimidating as it sounds! (Soap is much harder.) All you need are a few key ingredients and supplies and a sense of adventure and you end up with creamy, fresh, homemade yogurt. (Not only tasty, but MUCH cheaper than buying it!!)

I don't really follow an exact recipe, so bear with me.

Pour a bunch of milk in a pot. I use organic milk from our local dairy, but any milk will do, I think. Have fun and experiment! Let us know how it goes! (Unless you use breastmilk. We don't want to know about that.)

Heat the milk to 180 degrees. Here it is very helpful to have a candy thermometer. The milk will be almost boiling--with little bubbles around the edges. But I find it much easier to ignore the bubbles and just look at the thermometer.

Next cool the milk down to 112 degrees. You can place your entire pot in an ice bath. Or put your pot in the fridge. Or just leave it out. Whatever floats your boat. Again, though, it is nice to have a candy thermometer here. ($3 at Wal-mart.)

While you are waiting for your milk to cool, heat up your containers. For one pot of milk, I used three big yogurt containers. I just put them in the sink in hot water.

Now add your starter. WHAT STARTER?! you ask. Never fear. Just add some yogurt to your milk (a little store-bought container will do--you just need to make sure it has "live and active cultures".) Mix it up. You can also add a little sugar at this point to "speed up the bacteria growth." That's right folks, we are growing bacteria!

Pour the milk into the containers. Put the lids on. You now get to incubate your yogurt. There are many methods to this madness, but my favorite is the heating pad method, so that is what I will show you. You are welcome to research others...

I put a cutting board down to protect the counters, then place the heating pad on top and cover it with a towel. Put your yogurts on top of this and wrap them all up in another towel. Put the heating pad on medium heat and let the yogurt incubate for about 8 hours or so.

Warning! You kind of need to babysit your yogurt. It's not like babysitting an infant or anything, more like a 10 year old girl. Just a little bit of supervision here and there. The first time I tried to make yogurt I let it incubate overnight. Fail. The heating pad has an automatic shut off feature!!! The yogurt needs to stay between 90 and 120 degrees the whole time. So I ended up with weird milk stuff. Now I just do it during the day, so I can periodically make sure that the heating pad is still on.

That's it!!! We like thick yogurt, so at this stage I start the process for making Greek yogurt--see my previous post. It's super yummy and creamy and not as tart as store bought stuff.

Oh, I should mention, this is plain, unsweetened yogurt. Add fruit or honey if you don't want to feel like you are eating straight up sour cream. :)

So I know that seems like a lot of steps and somewhat daunting, but it is really easy! Give it a try!!!

All you need:
candy thermometer
a small thing of store-bought yogurt (with live and active cultures)
a little sugar (if desired)
old yogurt containers
a heating pad
a sense of adventure :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Really real.

I am pretty proud of this morning's real breakfast!

Whole wheat/oat toast with apricots and cream cheese
Cage free scrambled eggs
Fresh, homemade yogurt made with organic milk, sweetened with honey and blueberries

I'll post recipes later--we are on our way to the pool!

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I tackled Cheez-its/Goldfish and Saltines today. We still have a good supply of Ritz and grahams, so I will have to save those for another day. Which is probably a good thing, because although both of these recipes were decidedly easy, they were also somewhat time consuming, to put it mildly. Now that I've got the hang of it, I'm sure it will go quicker next time. A lot of work, though. The kids LOVE the Cheez-its!!! Apparently that real cheese and real butter is much better than the fake stuff. They begged for more and I had to turn them down. Those babies took me like 6 hours to make--I have to ration them out!! :) Kidding!!

Sort of.

Here is the scoop:

Homemade Saltines (my version)--I doubled it to get the above amount.

1 cup white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
5 TBSP cold butter, cut up
1/2 to 3/4 cup ice water
1 + tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flours, baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles small crumbs. Add ice water and stir gently to incorporate. When mixture will clump together, roll out onto a floured surface. Cut into squares (or any other shape, I guess!) Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Arrange on 2 sprayed baking sheets and put in oven. Cook for 9 minutes, then rotate sheets and cook 9 more minutes. Let cool and enjoy a nice, REAL snack!!

I started off my Cheez-its with the idea of making them cute and little (more like goldfish.) HA. HA. HA. I took the original recipe's suggestion of using baking tips to cut out little circles.
And soon realized that although these might be somewhat cute and charming, it was going to take me until the middle of next week to cut them all out. So I did about 7 like that, then switched to a quicker, easier method. Next time I will probably just use a pizza cutter, because really, they just go straight into your mouth, so who cares what they look like!!
You could also make these bigger, which would speed up the process as well!

Homemade Cheese crackers (a la Lindsay)

8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 TBSP cold butter, cut up
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup steel cut oats
3/4 tsp. salt
2+ TBSP cold water

Pulse everything except water in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add water, 1 TBSP at a time. Test to make sure dough will clump together--add more water if necessary. Remove dough from processor and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. (Try not to go longer than that--or else you will get quite a work out rolling out the dough. Take my word for it.) Roll out the dough and cut into desired shapes. Place on sprayed cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Yummy!!
Next time I do these, I want to experiment with using less butter.

REAL food.

I just discovered this website and I'm really excited to look at it more in depth. It pretty much totally answers my sugar vs. Splenda debate (NEITHER!!) Is anyone else wanting to take the challenge with me? Only eating real foods--cutting out all of the overly processed, mechanically altered food from our diets, eating EVEN MORE whole fruits, veggies and grains, sticking to cage-free eggs and grain-fed, local meats and local organic milk?? Let's do it!! I've already started making my own protein bars and guess what? I can pronounce every single ingredient in them! (Nuts, berries, oats and organic brown rice syrup.) Today I'm going to tackle making my own Cheez-its. I'll let you know how it goes (and more importantly, what the kids think!!)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Valentine's Day = Chocolate!!

Instant gratification is even better.

Especially when it is low in calories and fat...

All you need is...love. And...

3 TBSP cocoa powder
2-3 TBSP sugar (I used Truvia. *I am on the fence about sugar vs. calorie-free sweeteners.)
1 TBSP flour
3 TBSP unsweetened almond milk
3 TBSP applesauce
1/2 egg white (make two recipes! One for you, one for your sweetheart!)
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Mix dry ingredients in a microwave-safe mug. Add in the wet and stir it all up. Stick it in the microwave for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Dollop of bit of whipped cream or ice cream on top, if desired!

*I want to cut processed foods out of our diet as much as I can, but at the same time, I am trying to keep my calories low (in accordance to my endocrinologist's advice.) I should probably figure something out!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Indoor FUN!

Getting my kids moving inside while it is cold and snowy outside...



If you haven't seen or at least heard of "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" you must be living under a rock because I feel like everyone is talking about it lately. It's a great show and it might make you thirsty...

Juice, juice, juice!!! I got my juicer before I even saw the show ("The Gershon Miracle" convinced me of the importance of juice) and we have been enjoying the benefits of it for a while now. I don't ever follow an exact recipe--I kind of go with what is available.

Today's batch included:
5 apples
2 pears
6 carrots
1 stalk of celery
1/2 cucumber
1/2 sweet potato
6 oranges
1 cup spinach

All those fruits and veggies really don't even make that much juice, but wow, think of all that liquid health!! I try to have the kids drink some every day and I have it as a snack. It is a bit high in calories, so I have to just have like 1/2 cup, but still--soooo good for you!!!

And if you try the "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" diet, I'd love to hear your thoughts!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Breakfast of Champions

Long-time readers will know that I am a big fan of a nice, home-baked breakfast for my kids every morning. But because I have three kids in elementary school and one in preschool, mornings tend to be a bit chaotic at our house. So I usually end up making breakfast the day before. I came across this recipe on Pinterest--it is originally from Everyday Food magazine, but it had been altered and then I altered it even more. My kids loved these muffins and I have been making a batch a week to just have on hand for a quick go-to breakfast for myself and Ryan. Cause let's face it--by the time I have all four kids bathed, fed, dressed, teeth-brushed, hair-done, backpacks packed, bundled up and out the door as well as having the kitchen clean and hopefully a load of laundry started--I need a quick, easy breakfast! I'll usually just have one or two with a mug of sugar-free hot chocolate! Perfect way to start my day!

Healthy Morning Muffins
adapted from Everyday Food magazine
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2-3 Tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup steel cut oats
1/2 cup raisins
3 Tbsp applesauce
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg white
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
4 medium carrots, shredded (I use my food processor and then chop them even smaller so I don't have long strands of carrots sticking out of the muffins.)
1 medium ripe banana, mashed

1) Preheat oven to 400*. Coat a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, ground flax seed, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt until there are no lumps. Stir in oats and raisins. Add oil, egg, milk, carrots and mashed banana and stir until blended.
2) Fill each muffin cup with 1/4 cup batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Serve muffins warm or at room temperature. (To store, keep in an airtight container up to three days--or longer in the fridge!)

Thursday, February 9, 2012


A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that she JUST STARTED planning out her meals before going grocery shopping. (And no, she is not 18, she is my age.) Another friend recently asked me to come over so she could, "pick my brain about food." I brought her my meal plans for the next month so she could photocopy them. I plan out every day for a month--breakfast, lunch, dinner, after-school snacks and Friday night game night dessert. And now I am discovering that not everyone does this!!! Wow. How do you people function?! :) I love to do it. I love to plan. I love to cook. I love to try new recipes. I love to alter them to make them healthier for my family. It is right up my alley. I'm going to try to find a convenient way for me to share my plans on here--so that those of you who aren't planners can take advantage of my OCD. I say convenient because as much as I love to plan and try new recipes, I don't particularly love typing them out. Really it takes me long enough to do this...

Where have I been?

I was just looking for a recipe on this old blog of mine and I realized, Hey, this was a dang good blog. Why did I stop? This last year was so busy for me--we pretty much remodeled and redecorated the whole house and the blog got put on the back burner. I also really started relying on myfitnesspal.com to help keep me accountable. But now that the house is complete, I think I will start back up! How about a recipe??

THIS BREAD IS DIVINE!!! No, really, you probably shouldn't make it because you might not be able to stop eating it!!!! Not only is it fabulous, it is 100% whole wheat, has no fat and my kids love it too!!!

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

3 tablespoons yeast
4 cups really warm water
1/2-3/4 cup honey
10-11 1/2 cups whole grain wheat flour (freshly ground if possible)
3 teaspoons sea salt
1/4-1 cup anything else you would like: I add 2/3 cup steel cut oats and 1/4 cup flaxseed
cooking spray

1. Grind wheat.
2. Mix yeast, water, and honey in a bowl.
3. Let rest for 5 minutes until yeast foams.
4. Then add flour, I just add all the flour at once then gently mix with my paddle attachment.
5. Then add salt and anything else, if you choose to.
6. Then gently mix again just until the salt or other ingredients are mixed in.
7. Knead for 4-6 minutes. Now this dough is really sticky and you are going to think that you need to add more flour. Sometimes I have had to add the entire 11 1/2 cups but sometimes I am fine with just 10, however just know that the dough will be very sticky and you only want to add enough flour that the dough barely pulls away from the bowl.
8. Let dough rise for 15 minutes.
9. Spray the back of your hands with cooking spray and punch down the dough.
10. Form into loafs, this will make 3 smaller sized loafs. Put into greased loaf pans.
11. Let rise in pans for 30 minutes.
12.Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. I like to put a large glass baking dish filled with water on the lower rack.
14. Remove from pans immediately and let cool on a cooling rack.

Enjoy!! And don't say I didn't warn you....