Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Orange-Mango Smoothie

I love a good smoothie to start my day off right. I find that if I eat something heavy (cereal, oatmeal, muffins, typical breakfast food) I feel weighed down, and after only being awake for an hour, want to go back to bed! So after my tall glass of water (or 2-As a breastfeeding mama, I have to stay hydrated;) ) I typically have a tasty smoothie. Mango's are one of my favorite fruits, and eating them (or drinking them) always remind me of when I was in Puerto Rico for a Mission Trip years ago. They had mango's EVERYWHERE, and I happily indulged.

Mango's become creamy and perfect in a smoothie, especially when combined with zesty oranges. This is vibrant, refreshing, and will certainly put you in a good mood.

Orange-Mango Smoothie:
  • 2 mango's-peeled, chopped and frozen
  • 2 oranges-cold
  • a bit of fresh squeezed orange juice or water
Add all the ingredients in blender, and blend until' smooth. Add more liquid as needed. If you were unable to freeze the mango, you can add ice to make it nice and chilly. Savor!

Doesn't that look DELISH?!

Take a closer look...

Orange-Mango Smoothie

Friday, April 22, 2011

Egg Dyes- Naturally!

The kids and I dyed Easter eggs- Naturally!

Ok, so they all didn't turn out as vibrant as the store-bought dyes, but we had a great time making them. I did use brown eggs, (local, organic from the local farmers market) so the eggs didn't turn out as great as they could if I used white eggs. But I refuse to buy storebought eggs, the laying hens are treated so inhumanely, you can read more here. Pluse local, organic eggs have SOOOO much more nutrition, it's almost a no-brainer for me.

Back to the egg dying-

Get the kids involved, it's always more interesting. Each of the kids got to make predictions about our egg dyes. While we waited for the dyes to boil, the kids and I wrote down our educated guesses about what color each ingredient would dye the eggs.
We predicted the following:
orange peels=orange
chili powder=red

But instead, only a few colors stuck, and the blueberries, and chili powder did the best. The blueberries made a purple, and the chili powder did come out reddish, and it was fun to see as the eggs change before our eyes.  Things I might do next time to make this project work better is, boil the dye longer, and maybe even puree the dye (spinach, carrots, etc) after it's been boiled for a while, then submerge the eggs into that and see if it turns out better.

Pictured below:
Carrots, Spinach, Oranges
Blueberries, Chili Powder, Tomato

My 6-year old wrote the labels;)

Here is the basic steps to making your own dyes at home:
  1. Boil about 2 cups of water then add your "natural coloring". Let it boil long enough so the color leaches into the water.
  2. Pour the strained liquid into a glass container, add a tablespoon or 2 of vinegar to the hot coloring, then submerge your already boiled eggs.
  3. Let the eggs soak until' brightness of color is achieved. Store in refrigerator.
I found this list online that had suggestions to get the different egg colors.

If you choose to dye your eggs naturally, how did they turn out? Do you have any suggestions, or which natural egg dye did best?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Healthy Taco Salad

I LOVE Mexican food.

Heck, I love all food!

As a kid I loved build-your-own taco night. Tons of flavors combine to create a crunchy, chewy, hot, crisp, cool and savory meal that make your taste buds go crazy for more! I'm constantly trying to eat healthier and trying to avoid the overly processed food at the grocery store since you never know what the heck is (hidden) in it. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about... Taco Dinner in a box. I was determined to make it into something I felt good about serving to my family. Plus, it's VEGETARIAN! Or Vegan, if you skip the cheese and sour cream.

Doesn't that look delicious?!
I served this with some Spanish rice and it was a big hit. My kids and even meat and potato's husband wanted seconds.

Taco Bean Seasoning:
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Combine the following in a small bowl. Once mixed, you can add as much to the beans as you want according to how spicy you want it. I made mine a bit more flavorful than I usually would just because nothing else had added salt, so when I took a bite the lettuce and other ingredients helped mellow it out nicely. I actually saved the extra mix in a tiny glass container so next time I want a kick of spice I have it on hand.
Taco Beans:
I used dried pinto beans, it is more time consuming but it's much less expensive, and this way you can control the amount of sodium. You can use canned pinto beans if you are in a rush, or you can use black beans.
  • 2 cups of pinto beans
  • Taco Seasoning mix (recipe above)
Take your pinto beans and mash them up a bit, you can add a touch of the canned liquid or cooking liquid to make the consistency better. Slowly add the taco seasoning mix DON'T ADD ALL OF IT! If you do it will be WAY to strong. Just add a little, taste it, then add more if needed. Store the extra taco seasoning mix in a small jar for next time.
Taco Salad Bar:

  •  Large bowl of crisp lettuce (I used romaine lettuce)
  • Diced tomato
  • Diced Avocado
  • Grated Cheese (optional)
  • Sour Cream (optional)
  • Taco Beans (see recipe above)
Display all the taco salad bar ingredients in separate bowls, so each person can customize their salad how they like. When making my taco salad, I like to add my lettuce, then warm beans, then cheese on top (the heat from the beans seem to melt the cheese a bit) then the avocados, tomato's, and other toppings.
I hope you enjoy this healthier version of Tacos, and I hope your family does too:)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Natural Cleaning: Olive Oil

Olive Oil isn't just good for your body, you can clean with it too! I love cleaning with natural products, not only are they less expensive but I don't have to worry about the yucky toxins in most chemical-based cleaners sold today.

If you have stainless steel appliances, they can be tough to keep clean... especially with kids. I was so excited when we bought our stainless steel appliances, but I didn't realize the upkeep. There seem to be tiny finger prints constanly on the fridge, dishwasher and oven... o and don't forget the trashcan too. I had tried a few different products marketed to clean stainless steel they left streakes, and boy they were smelly! My wonderful husband told me about using olive oil on a microfiber, and it seriously does the trick. Just make sure to use a small amount and wipe with the grain of the stainless steel.

Another great use for olive oil is wood! Mix a 1-part olive oil, and 1-part lemon juice. 2 tablespoons of each is what I usually use. Put it on a soft cloth and wipe down your wood surfaces. I love the fresh lemon scent, and it really shines my table up beautifully.

There are natural cleaners that can be used all throughout the house, I will share them soon. But until' then, what is your favorite homemade, natural cleaner?
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