Revamped Cream of Mushroom and Green Bean Casserole
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Gluten-free.  Dairy-free.  Soy-free.  Packaged food-free.

Not exactly terms that you usually connect with cream of mushroom soup or green bean casserole.  But behold my fellow real food eaters, it can be done.  And done deliciously I might add.

First things first, make yourself a big batch of cream of mushroom soup.  This recipe makes the equivalent of 2-3 cans worth.  If you only need 1, you are set to freeze one for later convenience.

If you aren’t dairy or gluten free, feel free to use cream instead of coconut milk and whole wheat flour in place of brown rice flour.

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

  • 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced or diced to your liking
  • 2 T onions, diced small
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4-6 T brown rice flour
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup So Delicious brand unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Melt your butter and oil together in a large saucepan.  Stir in mushrooms, garlic, and onions and saute until soft.  Add in chicken broth and coconut milk.  Gently heat.  When warm, add in 4 T of flour.  Whisk to combine and stir for a while to help the soup thicken.  Add more flour 1 T at a time until desired consistency is reached.  Season with salt and pepper.

Easy peasy, right?

Now use that to make amazing green bean casserole.

Green Bean Casserole

  • Cream of mushroom soup
  • 1.5 lbs. fresh green beans, lightly steamed or sauteed
  • 1 large onion, cut in half then sliced thin
  • brown rice bread crumbs
  • 1 T butter

Steam or saute your green beans until they turn bright green and slightly tender.  Saute your onions in butter until slightly brown.

In your casserole dish, stir together your green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and half your onions.  Top with the rest of your onions.  In your food processor, combine your bread and butter to make bread crumbs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spread on top of your casserole.

Roast at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the top browns.

I promise you won’t miss the canned onions.  Trust me.

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Smoothie Sensations
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Getting your recommended amount of veggies isn’t always easy.  It is even more difficult to get your toddler or young child to eat all their greens.  You can attempt to mix broccoli and carrots into brownies and sweets, but in the end all you are doing is teaching your children that vegetables are something to be hidden.  There is a good chance they are not learning good eating habits when you have to sneak in the nutrition.  Enter the smoothie.

Smoothies are similar to milkshakes but where the main ingredients are produce.  There are hundreds and hundreds of smoothie recipes.  There are even recipes tailored to specific dietary needs, such as diabetes or pregnancy.  Fitting one smoothie everyday into your diet can make positive changes to your health.  If you are dieting for weight loss, opt for nutritious smoothies instead of meal replacement drinks which are often filled with artificial sweeteners and additives.  Smoothies are very filling and can be stored in a fridge at work or for later.  You can also alternate smoothies with juicing.  Just be sure to give yourself at least a bit of nutritious kick everyday no matter how it comes to you.

Smoothies are a wonderful way to introduce your child to fruits and vegetables in a way that they can see what is actually going into it.  Let your child help you add the ingredients to the blender.  My son loves watching everything get blended together.  It is like a mini science experiment to see what color it will become.  Smoothies are also naturally sweet and a great mid morning snack or even light breakfast.

Smoothie Making Tips:

Have ziploc bags with precut frozen fruits and vegetables in your freezer.  By having frozen fruit you cut out having to add in ice which can sometimes make smoothies grainy.  You can also purchase bags of frozen veggies and fruit from your local grocer.

Add whey/soy protein to your smoothie mix for an added boost.  This is especially helpful if you have a child who doesn’t like to eat meat.  You can buy a large tub of protein at the store for under $20.00.  Unflavored is best, but if you can’t find it go with vanilla because it will blend in with different flavors more easily.  I add about 1 scoop for 2-3 smoothies.

Experiment with adding in new things like yogurt, flax, coconut milk, even granola on top.  You can turn any smoothie into a desert by adding fresh fruit slices and whipped topping.

Don’t be afraid to go green.  Adding spinach may seem like it will taste bad but when mixed with strawberries you can barely even taste it.  and actually spinach, kale, and other leafy greens can add a sweetness of their own.

Layer your blending.  Rather than blending everything at once, pulse each item as you add it.  For instance blend the carrots, then add the orange juice, blend, then the protein, blend, then the coconut milk.  This gives it all a more even texture.

Great Breakfast Smoothie:

1/2 cup milk (can be coconut/almond/soy/cow)

Handful of frozen carrot slices

1/2 cup frozen fruit(bananas and strawberries are great)

Protein Powder

Scoop of yogurt(plain/greek)

1/2 cup fruit juice of your choice(no sugar added)

Blend and enjoy….put this mix into a cup with lid and straw and take it with you to start the day.  Smoothies can make a great replacement for caffeine addictions.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Little Post about Ladies Days
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We all have them, well those of us who are female anyway.  What am I talking about?  You probably already guessed, I am talking about that horrid week once a month, called menstruation.  Since we hit puberty we have been silently dealing with the cramps, aches, and leaks, that brand us as women.  But I have found that there is a better way.  There are more options than chemical laden sanitary pads, and uncomfortable tampons, that by the way have a warning that says could cause death from Toxic Shock Syndrome!  Hmmm, not so convenient now is it?  Below are a few modern yet old school ways to deal with your ladies days and turn each day into a happy one.  Now these won’t keep you from getting mad at your husband for not taking out the trash, but hey every little bit helps.

1. Cloth Pads:  Cloth pads have been found to reduce cramping and even make your period lighter over time.  The reason behind this is that you no longer have chemicals being absorbed into your body from disposables pads that will then have to be flushed out as well.  It makes perfect sense when you think about it.  Cloth pads come in wide variety.  You can have organic materials, fleece or PUL backed to make them leak free, or a combination of the two.  The bamboo velour pads being sold on etsy and hyena cart by WAHMS look divine.  You can get them hand dyed in all sorts of fun colors.  Plus the softness of cloth pads is a huge step up from plastic pads.  I know you will agree.

Cloth pads are also offered in postpartum or heavy flow style.  Some even come with built in ice packs for the those sensitive days after giving birth.  Your bady has been through enough bringing your baby into the world, treat it with some kindness and pamper yourself with cloth instead of disposable pads.

2.Menstrual Cup:It is embarrassing to say but this thing changed my life!  No more pads, no more leaking, or running to the bathroom every hour just to check.  No more gigantic overnight pads!  Menstrual cups are an amazing product.  Made from hospital grade silicone they are worn similar to a tampon.  Only difference is you can change it as little as 2 times a day.  They can also be worn overnight.  A bonus to these is that they are also proven to reduce cramping and flow, as well as not having a risk for Toxic Shock.

Do they save money?  That is hard to say.  Everyone has different needs so you may not go through many disposable pads.  You need to buy one cup every year, or have a minimum of about 6-8 cloth pads.  They may not truly save a lot but they will help the environment.  We see a lot of stats on how many diapers babies use.  Well that average woman will use around 10,800 pads in her life time from 13-63.  Multiply that by the number of women in the world and it makes for a staggering amount.  So it may not take a chunk out of your wallet but it will for sure be positive for your world.

I urge you to consider more earth and health friendly options for your special time every month.  When I first heard of cups and cloth pads I thought “these people are nuts” but a year and a half later I am a total convert.  Do some research of your own and find out what kind of system would work for you.

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Its My Party
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It is my belief that every new baby should be celebrated in some way.  However, if you are on your third or fourth child, or having a baby of the same sex as your first you may feel awkward having a traditional baby shower.  There is no doubt that no matter how many children you have you do need things for each new addition to the family, but many parents feel odd asking for gifts or even expecting them after their first child.  A party however, brings together family and friends, and allows them to be a part of your experience.  If having a shower just isn’t your style here are a few ideas to make this pregnancy and birth special in its own way.

1.Night Out with the Girls: Gather a few of your closest friends for dinner at a restaurant.  Splurge on a big desert and maybe go to a movie or other entertainment afterward.  You won’t have a lot of time to get together with friends after your little one arrives, and it is nice to take a break from planning central for the evening.

2.Spa Day: Invite a few friends and family to the spa.  Get pampered before the big labor day approcahes, a pedicure may give you the boost you need to keep going.  You will feel refreshed and have time for girl talk.  You can always bring along a small cake and sparkling juice to toast the mommy to be.

3.Blessing Party: Blessing Parties are becoming popular.  Rather than throwing a big shower with games and presents, this style of party is kept low key and is more about welcoming a new soul and encouraging the mother in her new role.  These are especially popular for those who want to celebrate the impending birth of their child but already have children at home.  Similar themes at Blessings are, candles as favors(these can be lit when the baby is born or when notified that the mother is laboring), Quilt blocks made by each guest to be sewn together for the baby later, and in lieu of gifts some request frozen casseroles to take the load of mama once baby is here.

4.Block Party: You may choose to wait until after your little bundle is born to celebrate.  This is the perfect opportunity to have a big barbecue or potluck with friends and family.  Have fun games for the kids like sack races, and a bean toss.  Enjoy showing off your new beauty or handsome little guy.  An added bonus to this is that if people know you will be doing this, and you set a date in advance it may save you having 100 guests at your door the day baby arrives.  Everyone will get cuddle time at the party.

5.Give Back: Make a day to help someone else.  Get your friends and family together to help at a soup kitchen or clean a park.  Plant a tree in honor of your child in your yard and watch it grow alongside your baby.  Finish the day with refreshments.

A little on the subject of gifts: I have never asked for a gift.  In general the only person I even tell if I need something is my mother.  However everyone has a different situation and regardless if it is your first child or fifth you may be in need of some help.  A sensitive way to approach the subject is to inform someone close to you of your needs and allow them to pass it on.  This gives others the opportunity to help with out you needing to ask for it.

There are many choices available for celebrating the birth of your child.  I hope that you will consider my suggestions even if you were not planning on doing anything.  Mothers need the support of family and friends and by inviting them to celebrate with you, you are also inviting them to support you in new journey.

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Left Over Breakfast Cookies
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I was having a bit of a sweet tooth today, but didn’t really have the ingredients to make anything special.  I looked through my cabinets and saw that I did have the basics to some cookies, but that was about it.  I decided to push away that sweet tooth and clean my kitchen instead, that was when I came across the bottom of the bag crumbles of raisin bran and came up with a great idea.  I baked up some goodness using all my leftover breakfast ingredients and they turned out great.  Here is what I did.

I used the basic oatmeal cookie recipe.  This included:

1cup melted butter or shortening

2 eggs

1.5cups of flour plus 1 tsp baking soda (I used 1.5 cups of pancake mix instead no baking soda)

1 tsp vanilla and some cinnamon

Then I added the raisin bran crumbles and smashed it up in the bag until it was more of a raisin bran powder.  About 1 cup of rice krispies, and 2 packets of maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal, and flax seed.  I put in 1/4 cup of almond milk as well because the dough looked a little thick, this helped a lot.  Because the oatmeal was already flavored I didn’t add any sugar/honey, but you could add sweetener if you need it.  You have to eyeball this recipe and play around with the ingredients until you have proper cookie consistency.

Bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Take out of the oven and enjoy…an added bonus is that my house now smells like Christmas, and I get to feel like a super baker, even though it was easy peasy.

If you want uniform cookies then roll the dough in wax paper or plastic wrap into a log shape, and refrigerate for 1 hr.  When you unwrap the dough you can slice it for even sized cookies.

This is a great recipe for kids to help with.  My son is just now at the age where he can really help and enjoy it.  This recipe isn’t very messy and letting your little one mix up the dry cereal ingredients is fun for them.  These cookies are great for on the go breakfast and taking along on picnics and hikes.  Cookies can be healthy too, depending on what goes into them.  The cookies I made were really no different than what would have gone into a normal breakfast.

Your cookies are open to what you have in your kitchen and your imagination.   Any type of cereal will work, you can add nuts, peanut butter, chocolate chips, dried fruit, it just depends on what you want.

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