raw liver: why I added it into my diet along with a raw liver smoothie recipe

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liver

I am fully aware that some of you will pass on reading this post, which is totally okay!  I know the thought of eating liver totally grossed some people out, so feel free to skip back and look at cute picture of my kids –> here.  But for those of you that are intrigued, as I was a few months, please read on!

Where did I hear about eating raw liver?

I fully attribute the initial idea of adding liver into my diet to the balanced bites podcast.  Then I did more research on Real Food Liz (this specific post) on the benefits of eating raw liver and thought that it sounded good to try adding in.  Why not?

I was ready to try it.  The next step was finding a good source of liver, which was super important to me especially since I was going to try it out raw.  Luckily I have a local grass fed beef farmer  (grass kickin’ farms) I purchase beef from time to time so I happily added a pound of beef liver to my next order.

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Why eat liver?

Liver is a nutrient power house.  I think of it as nature’s true multi-vitamin.  Liver is high in super important nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron (source).

I chose to eat it raw because I was looking for a big energy boost from the high content of vitamin B12 which decreases when liver is cooked, and my preference taste wise was for it raw in smoothies after trying it both cooked and raw.

I know eating raw meats is controversial and especially for pregnant women, so I’m not here recommending you add it to your diet, pregnant or not. It was a personal choice I made knowing that after 14 days of the liver being frozen pathogens and such die off, so I felt safe eating it and feeding it to my children. I also use proper and safe food handling, which is important for all food preparation no matter the food you are choosing to eat.

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How to include raw liver in your diet?

I did try a cooked beef liver and bacon paté recipe and managed down a few bites.  It was rough (although Zoe loved it).  So I’m sticking with the raw liver smoothies since they are easier to drink and the pronounced liver flavor can be masked, which I personally need at this stage in my liver eating life.  The first time I made a raw liver smoothie shot I stood over the sink gagging and holding back the reaction to vomit. No joke, it was pretty nasty to me.  Way too much liver in that first experiment.  Hunter thought that same first smoothie shot tasted funny and only had a sip or two, but Zoe… she devoured all of hers and all of Hunters!  I just love young kid palates.

To prepare the liver I defrosted the frozen liver quickly in warm water until it was soft, then just added it to a blender and blended until smooth.  I then poured the liquid liver onto a baking sheet with parchment paper to freeze and I cut it into manageable little chunks to add to my smoothies so that it would blend in nicely.  Pretty sure I waited another 14 days of it refreezing before using it.

Here’s a smoothie recipe that masks the liver taste pretty well for me.  The flavor isn’t 100% absent, but enough that the smoothie is enjoyable and the kids and I are getting the nutrient power house into our bodies little bits at a time.  I shoot for a raw liver smoothie once a week, but in reality we’re getting it just about 2-3 times a month.

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Banana Peach Green Smoothie with Raw Liver 

Serves 2 (or 1 adult and 2 kids)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 2-3 tbsp frozen puréed liver
  • 1 cup frozen banana chunks
  • 1 cup frozen peaches

Directions 

  1. Add the coconut water and spinach to the blender.  Blend on high until all the spinach is smooth and combined, then add the liver in and continue to blend until smooth again.  You want to make sure the liver is broke down before adding more items so you don’t end up with any liver chunks.
  2. Add the frozen banana and peach next, and blend until smooth.  Depending on your blender you may need to add a little more liquid to keep it going, or just scrape the sides a couple times to get the frozen chunks down to the blades.
  3. Once smooth and creamy pour into glasses and enjoy!

Note: I don’t keep any leftover smoothie for two reasons.  Zoe devours any extra we have, and since I’m feeding us raw liver I want it to go from frozen into our bodies with no chance to warm up just for extra food safety.

Want to read more about why liver is awesome for you nutritionally?  Check out this post by Liz Wolfe for so much more info.

What do you think, would you try a raw liver smoothie?  Or are you running the other direction?

Heather

zoe’s pompom party

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I don’t know how, but Zoe is nearly 2 years old!  Her actual birthday is next week, but since I am due 2 days after her birthday I decided that her party needed to be a couple weeks early, in case this baby decided to come early.  (That did not happen)

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Since I’m 9 months pregnant (yikes!) I kept the party really small, simple and low key.  We had a few friends over and both sets of grandparents.  I wanted the party to be all about enjoyment and fun for her, and it sure was.  She adores having friends over and talks about it daily.

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Pompoms may seem like an odd theme, but I loved it!  I already had a pompom display made in her room (see it here along with the tutorial), so it was a simple decoration to bring upstairs.  Since I love yellow, black, grey and white I stuck with those colors.

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I replaced the tree garland I had made for Christmas with a black pompom garland.  It’s totally going to stay there for a while.

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For a fun kiddo activity I set up pompom flower pots for them to create!  Making the actual pompoms took the longest amount of time, but the rest was a breeze.  I’m planning a post about this on its own soon.  The older kids were super into making and stuffing as many pompom flowers and moss into the pots as possible.

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Food was kept simple because I could make it ahead of time: curry chicken salad with grapes and celery, croissants and butter lettuce to wrap it up in, a fruit salad, a tomato/cucumber/mozzarella salad and two kinds of pickles + dilly beans.

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For the cake I made 2 layers of Japanese cheesecake (recipe here) with fresh raspberries between the layers and whipped cream all around it.  Plus pompom flowers to top it off!

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I made Zoe and her baby doll matching geranium dresses in the color theme with big dots!  Kind of pompom like and she was absolutely adorable in it, of course.

Birthday girl had a blast and it was such a fun and stress free party.  Hooray for pompoms and a successful party!

What was the last theme for a party you attended? 

Heather

2 minute tuna avocado salad

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As a mom of two littles, I can definitely say that lunch time is the most challenging meal to get on the table.  Usually we’ve spent the morning away at activities and will arrive back home when everyone is hungry and getting tired for naps.  I rely heavily on leftovers because they are quick to prepare for us – the biggest plus in my book.  But when leftovers are lacking my go-to is canned fish.  We love all different kinds – tuna, salmon and sardines – and I’m always looking for new ways to enjoy it.  Tuna salad with mayo and pickles is a go to standard, but today I have a fresh take to share that uses avocado for creaminess instead of mayo.

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I am exited to partner with Bumble Bee® today to share this quick 2 minute paleo friendly tuna avocado salad, where I used Bumble Bee Solid White Albacore in Water as the main ingredient.  Bumble Bee offers responsibly wild caught Albacore that is delicious, versatile, high in protein and absolutely perfect as the main ingredient in any meal.  Try this mouth-watering recipe and discover for yourself why Only Bumble Bee Albacore Will Do™  *see their website for full nutritional facts

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I will say, the first time we made the tuna salad it took more than 2 minutes, but that’s because the kiddos both helped me make it.  Having them help out in the kitchen makes the time even more fun, so the fact that it took about 10 minutes with them being involved was a-okay with me.

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Hunter helped me mash the avocado and slice the cucumbers, and Zoe tried everything as we went along.  She is a great taste tester!  I’ll assure you though, an adult without distractions can get this from kitchen to table in 2 minutes flat!

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Tuna Avocado Salad

Serves 2 (or 1 adult and 2 kids)

Ingredients

  • 2 cans Bubble Bee solid white albacore in water
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt and pepper
  • Dippers: cucumber rounds and rice crackers

Directions

  1. Open and drain cans of tuna.  Place in a medium bowl.  Add avocado and mash with the tuna.  Add sea salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  2. Serve with cucumber rounds and rice crackers, or your favorite dippers!

Are you curious about the difference between premium Solid White Albacore and Chunk Light Tuna?  Be sure to learn more about why Only Bumble Bee® Albacore Will Do here.

Do you have a go-to tuna recipe?  What are some quick lunches you rely on?  I always love new ideas!

Heather

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

a day in the life with 2 toddlers

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The last time I shared a ‘day in life’ post was when Zoe was just a wee little newborn baby.  A new day in life post is definitely due!  Now Zoe is almost 2 years old and Hunter is a few months shy of being 4 years old.  I snapped a bunch of pictures during our semi-normal Monday last week.   Hope you enjoy!

Wake somewhere in the 4 o’clock hour to the hubs getting ready and leaving for work. Try to fall back to sleep but can’t.
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5:30am Grab coffee and banana and head back up to bed for my daily bible reading. Once done I hop in the shower, dry my hair, make the bed, tidy the bedroom, snap a quick 36 week pregnancy picture and head downstairs.
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6:30am Get breakfast cooking on the stove, take out garbage and recycling and grab the infant car seat from the shed.
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6:50am Hunter comes upstairs, does some silly face pictures to send to daddy and then helps me clean the infant car seat.
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7:15am Hunter and I begin eating and I feed the dog. Custard oatmeal/quinoa cooked with coconut milk, banana, vanilla and cinnamon then topped with peanut butter and fresh blueberries.
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7:30am Zoe wakes and starts breakfast, Hunter is done and gets cleaned up.
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8am -10am kids color, help me fold laundry, we put it away upstairs and downstairs, head outside to the garage (I clean the car while they draw with chalk in the driveway).
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10am Snack! They both eat 2.5 bananas, I munch on one while cleaning up the dishes from breakfast and prepping their lunch + my post workout snack.
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10:40am Grandparents arrive to watch the kids, I leave and have some extra minutes before teaching so I redo my hair with a braid (it doesn’t last both classes).  I also munch on some dates.
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11:30-1pm Teach 2 classes (fitness yoga and sculpt and tone) while the kiddos have fun at home.
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1:10pm Before driving home I eat some yogurt and granola plus an apple and then listen to part of an episode of the balanced bites podcast on my drive back home.
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Once home I help get Zoe to sleep, then do a quick shower while Hunter reads plays in my bed, then we prep dinner.
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Hunter helps rip up the kale for kale chips, I saute ground beefalo and add tomato sauce to it to simmer.  Olive oil, sea salt, pepper and garlic granules are mixed with the kale.
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2:30pm My second lunch of leftovers happens, then Hunter does stamping while I work on THIS blog post.  
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3:15pm Zoe is up from her nap and snacking on some grapes.  Hunter gets in on that action too.
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The afternoon is a blur of playing and finishing dinner prep + Jacob gets home, which we all love.
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He was given a selfie stick at work, so we have a little fun with that.
IMG_5669.JPG5:30pm dinner is served.  Monday night spaghetti and kale chip night!
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Clean up the kiddos then they play.
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While they play I prep Jacob’s food for tomorrow and clean the kitchen.
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7:15pm kids are down for the night, we finish picking up the living room, relax for a bit, then head upstairs to watch an episode of the new girl. And by 8:30pm we are done for the day, lights out!

afternoon tea time with lipton tea

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Afternoon tea time.  Raise of hands for those that love it? (ME!).  My kids also have a love affair with tea time.  They must have picked up on the tea love from me, because they both have so much fun pretending to drink tea.

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For Christmas we gave Zoe this adorable wood tea set, but even before that, she used other cups for tea parties and Jacob would build her a tea pot out of legos.  They’d have fun going back and forth sharing cups of tea and talking about the kinds of tea they are drinking.

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We not only do pretend tea parties, but they enjoy sipping on the real stuff with me too.  Since I’m pregnant I currently stick with decaf teas, and both of the kids most definitely only need decaf teas in their little bodies.  I was selected to participate in a campaign with Lipton Tea, which means we’ve been enjoying a new flavor together in the afternoons.  I chose three different teas to try out: Lipton Pure Green Tea, Enticing Chai Black Tea and Peach Mango Herbal Tea.  Check out the full line-up of Lipton Green, Black and Herbal tea flavors here.

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Once this baby arrives I’m excited to try out the green tea and chai tea, but in the meantime afternoon tea has been all about the peach mango herbal tea.  So much flavor.  We love that it is made with real ingredients combined with their best herbal tea blends to awaken the senses.  Something so calming like tea totally refreshes me and wakes me up for the rest of the afternoon.  I love sharing the quiet moments with the kids where we sit together snuggled up on the couch, sipping a warm soothing drink and talking about whatever is on their mind.

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I am definitely guilty of living a busy life.  Our calendar rarely has an empty day on it, most mornings we are off to either a kiddo activity or I’m teaching a class, and even when we’re home I have a long list of items to work on around the house.  Tea time with my kiddos really lets me sit down and enjoy the slower moments.  You can’t rush through tea time, you just have to be present and enjoy it, something I can get behind any afternoon.

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Do you have any tea time rituals?  What is your favorite flavor of tea? 

Heather

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

january highlights

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I hope your week is starting out great!  Here’s a little look into what our January was like.  As always, so many kiddo pictures to share. :)

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We started the new year in Seattle for Christmas with my family.  Matchy-matchy sweater love.

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We ended up leaving Seattle a day earlier than anticipated which I am super thankful for, because we were home for the snow that started in the next morning (when we had planned to drive home)!  After naps we all bundled up and went out to play in the snow.  Snow ball fights, snow angels and snow men.  Such fun!

IMG_1847After snow play reading and warming by the fire.

IMG_1914I shared my post on five simple habits that bring me more happiness.  Read it HERE.

IMG_1930That top knot.  That flannel.  Those remote control car skills.

IMG_1975 IMG_1997 IMG_1993 IMG_2022We went on an unplanned outdoor exploration one chilly morning.  Zoe was not dressed for the mud, but boy did we have fun!

IMG_2026I am so happy to have farm fresh eggs back in the house!  The local source I was buying from before wasn’t an option anymore, so (thanks to craigslist) I found a lady that has 180 chickens she cares for at her home (with llamas and alpacas too) and they lay beautiful eggs that taste so, so good.  They’re less expensive than the ones I was buying at the grocery store, way more fresh and the quality is great!

IMG_2023The only time Hunter naps now is if Jacob or I lay with him in our bed to help him to slow his body down.  He’s adjusted well to only napping 1-2 times a week when we really needs it, but I have to say, the afternoons I lay in bed with him to give him extra rest, I totally soak the rest in too.

IMG_2047 IMG_1885Fun in the kitchen making nutty cacao coconut energy balls.  Find the recipe HERE.

IMG_208733 weeks!

IMG_2094Just a quick and simple lunch I love to have when we need something fast and nutrient packed.  Canned sardines smashed with a little mayo and old bay seasoning, cucumbers rounds, rice crackers and homemade apple sauce.  All foods I pretty much always have on hand for those lunches when leftovers are sparse.

IMG_2095Stumptown is our fav.  Decaf for an afternoon treat with allllll the half and half.

IMG_2099THE most adorable first full french braid.

IMG_2122I taught one last body combat class mid January.  It is such a fun class, but at 33 weeks the intensity was leaving me a bit more tired than I like to feel the rest of the day.  Cannot wait to get back to combat after baby though!

IMG_2146Pregnancy heartburn is no joke, but this has been such an amazing cure.  A little shot of ACV when heartburn kicks in and it keeps it away so much better than other remedies I’ve tried.  I think it’s actually helped with my stomach acid levels because since I started using it I’ve noticed my heartburn decrease to only a few times a week now instead of once or twice a day.

IMG_2177My go-to no-cook breakfast we all love on Friday mornings.  Read more about it HERE.

IMG_1967Curious kitty checking in on Zoe’s art.  Also, see those undies?  Potty training happened this month too and Zoe’s done so well!  We aren’t 100% yet, but we are also just 2 weeks into it.

IMG_2236Almond-pecan-coconut butter.  Yes.  Used this on some nut butter coated roasted parsnip fries.  Amazing.

IMG_1978Very sleepy Saturday morning of coffee, kids, cuddles and a show on the bed together.

IMG_2242Some freezer meal prep – pumpkin ricotta gnocchi in the works (so good).  To get the link to the recipe and read more check out my 1 month count down to baby #3 post HERE.

IMG_225735 week midwife appointment – kid free and oh so relaxing.

IMG_2263Our families favorite combo for Monday night spaghetti night with loads of kale chips.

IMG_2266Both kids started gymnastics classes a couple of months ago and this is pretty much Zoe during most of her class – a blur from one activity to the next.

IMG_2290Girl day to the Polish Pottery Store in Portland!  Three generations together with my mom along with us.

IMG_2286Then my mom and I enjoyed some decaf coffee while Zoe had a ball on the stairs.  Up, down, up, down, up, down.

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New for the collection.

IMG_2029While the girls were out the boys had a fun dude day in town hiking around, going to the local hardware store and getting breakfast together.  And Jacob shaved his beard!

IMG_2309Having a little table in the office for the kids to color at whenever they want to was a genius idea, if I do say so myself.

IMG_2319Twin snacks.

IMG_2335Rain doesn’t stop us from getting outside.  Big puddles to splash in makes it even more fun.

IMG_2323The staycation adventure hike.

IMG_2363Oatmeal/almond biscuits.  So good at breakfast time with a little fig jam on top.  I’ve been making them 1-2 times a week lately.

IMG_2373Afternoon art.  We usually do paint, stamps, a paper craft or play dough when Zoe is napping and Hunter needs some calm time.

IMG_2378I picked up a bunch of seed packets and am getting excited to plant the garden in a few months!  Still a few more varieties to purchase, but I’m really excited about these finds.

How was your January?  What are some highlights from the month?  Happy February!

Heather

Want more highlights?  Check out previous months:

August 2015

September 2015

October 2015

November 2015

December 2015

1 month count down to baby #3

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I cannot believe I am due exactly a month from today!  Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went in a flash, which also made those couple months of pregnancy fly by even faster than I had expected.  I had mentally made a date of Feb 1st as the ‘start to get things ready for baby to arrive date’, but for the past 2 weeks I’ve been hit with a major nesting mode.  I want to clean and organize everything, and I’ve been doing just that!

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My office/sewing room was the biggest disaster ever.  It needed items to find homes in other parts of the house where they made more sense, and also some more organization to actual office and sewing items that were just left laying around.  I also removed the curtains from the 3 large windows.  They were never by style and blocked the natural light more than I’d like. Plus there are blinds in there as well so it wasn’t a necessary thing to have right now.  The room was becoming my catch all place and now it feels so much more open, light and it’s nice to be in there!

Three more spots that I tackled were the laundry room,  Zoe’s closet and the pantry.  The laundry room was another spot that clutter seemed to build up quickly in, so it also got some reorganization done to it.  Zoe’s closet still had 3 big boxes of clothes and blankets that I hadn’t uppacked yet, so I went through those and washed all the blankets for when this baby arrives.  Lastly, I reorganized the pantry.  Now I have more space in there, and everything is categorized together and looks so much better.

And if that want enough, I did some things very unlike me.  This week I cleaned 2 of the bathrooms, scrubbed our shower, vacuumed the main floor and top floor plus swept and mopped the main floor.  Organization I can get behind, but normally I’m just not big into actual cleaning, so I’ll take it when inspiration hits!

I am itching to get into the boxes of baby clothes to sort through and wash up some newborn clothes.  Unfortunately they are hiding somewhere in the garage so it’ll be a project for the hubs and I to tackle together hopefully this weekend.

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I am slowly starting some freezer meal prep. I made 3 crustless quiches that went unbaked into the freezer.  Two of them are sausage, cheese and green chilies, and the other is sausage, cheese and mushroom.  They’ll be nice to pull out of the freezer the night before to defrost, bake up in the morning and pair with fresh fruit.  I also made a triple batch of coconut pecan bars (recipe here).  They are cut up and individually wrapped just waiting to be eaten.  It will be hard to resist them, they are so good!  Last weekend I made a double batch of pumpkin ricotta gnocchi (recipe here).  The single recipe actually makes enough for 2 meals, so I used one portion, then have 3 more meals of homemade gnocchi ready in the freezer.  The gnocchi + bratwurst + spinach is a dynamite combo.

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Daily the kids and I talk about the new baby coming and I am getting more and more excited for this little one to arrive.  When we just had Hunter, it was hard to imagine loving another child that much, but then it happened so naturally. Now that we have both Hunter and Zoe, I cannot wait for my heart to expand even more for the love I know I’ll have for this baby.  I cannot wait to see Hunter take on the role of big brother again, but at 3.5 years old this time.  Zoe is going to be a little mama I’m sure.  She cannot get enough when it comes to babies and I see her wanting to spend all her time loving on this little one.  It is going to be such an amazing adventure as a family of five.  So so soon!

Do you have any favorite freezer friendly recipes?  Please share the links!

Heather

my go-to no-cook breakfast 

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One morning a week I wake and leave before the kids are up for the day to teach a yoga class.  When I first took on teaching the earlier than usual class, I used to either make breakfast the night before or cook something quick up in the morning.  No matter how simple the breakfast was to cook, it still felt rushed.  It was more work than I wanted on those morning.  That went on for a while, then one morning when I was out of eggs (which I eat one way or another almost every morning), so I put together yogurt bowls.  It was fast, simple and a major hit all around.  Ever since then yogurt bowls have been my go-to no-cook breakfast for those earlier Friday mornings.  Plus after a week of cooking breakfast, it’s such a treat taking a morning off from it!

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Here is the anatomy of our yogurt bowls, broken down into three parts.

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Yogurt

I always go for plain whole milk yogurt for the kids and I, something we all enjoy.  Organic and grass-fed are pluses too when I have the option.  I tend to buy two different brands: Maple Hill Creamery and Dreaming Cow most often.  Dreaming Cow has a more mild flavor whereas Maple Hill Creamery has a bit more tang.  Both are cream top and delicious!

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Fruit

The fruit of choice changes weekly.  Bananas are a simple options since we always have them on hand, but this week raspberries were on sale so I loaded up on them.  Other favorites include peaches, which I defrost from the freezer, and whatever other berries we have frozen to defrost.  If I’m in a pinch I’ve used homemade jam before too.

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Granola

This maple butter nut granola has been a constant in our house for 13 months now!  We all love it and I make a batch just about every week, or whenever we run low.  I love that it is filled with so many different seeds (sesame, sunflower and pumpkin) and chopped almonds.  In the entire large batch (which makes 8 cups worth of granola) it only contains 1/2 a cup of maple syrup, but tastes plenty sweet to all four of us.  I’ve made it so many times now that the recipe is embedded in my head for life (which is a good thing!), but if you want the recipe, please go find it on Cookus Interruptus.  You will not be disappointed!

The ratios that make it into my bowl are usually 1/3 yogurt, 1/3 fruit and 1/3 granola.  I love to go heavy on the granola because it is just so delicious and my favorite part of the breakfast!

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I’ve been meaning to get back into making my own yogurt again in the crockpot, so for myself and anyone who is interested in seeing how simple crockpot yogurt is to make, check out these two posts:

Do you have a go-to no-cook breakfast?  What is your favorite kind of yogurt?

Happy weekend everyone!

Heather

nutty cacao coconut energy balls

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Over the weekend the kids and I had some fun in the kitchen making energy balls together.  They really don’t need any more energy.  For real (can I just tap into their energy source… maybe it’s the 12 hours of sleep a night they get…).  But we do like these balls for a sweet treat and I love the energy pick me up from the dates.  Natural sweetness is my favorite way to go, especially when I’m feeding little bodies like theirs.

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I made the afternoon a little less messy by pre-measuring out the ingredients into little bowls before we began mixing the ingredients together,  but normal I would have Hunter help me measure them out.

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At 3.5 years old he does a great job of scooping, counting how many scoops we’ve done and pouring it nicely into a bowl. Zoe, who is almost 2 now still pours pretty much all of the dog’s food on the floor when she feeds him.  I think she just wants more practice. 😉

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Hunter helped by pouring the ingredients one at a time into the food processor, then pulsing like a pro.  Zoe was on the counter sneaking as many bites of dates (which she kept calling sausage) and cacao nibs as she could before we got to those items.  When the food processor was running she’d cover her ears from the sound.  And then I captured this sweetness from Hunter kissing his sister and telling her that she would be okay.  He is so, so sweet.

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The date/nut mixtures comes together super simply, then the fun part of rolling into balls happens.  Hunter rolled about half of them, Zoe instantly ate whatever I gave her to roll, and I helped with the other half. We all loved these and are already sad about the batch being gone.  They are super tasty, chocolatey and energy packed from the dates.  Plus you also get longer lasting sustained energy from almonds, hazelnuts and coconut’s higher fat content.  So many wins.  Let me know if you try them out and how long they last in your house!

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Nutty Cacao Coconut Energy Balls

Makes 12-24 balls, depending on how large you make them

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups dates (soak in water for 1 hour to soften, then discard the liquid)
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 1.5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • pinch of sea salt

Directions

  1. Add almonds and hazelnuts to food processor.  Pulse until ground evenly into small pieces.
  2. Add the dates and continue to pulse until the dates are broken down and the mixture is combined.
  3. Add the coconut, cocoa powder and sea salt and pulse a couple times to combine.
  4. Lastly, stir in the cacao nibs.
  5. Roll into balls and store sealed in the fridge.

Want more date sweetened energy ball recipes?  Check these out:

Do you make energy balls often?  What are your favorite flavor profiles for them?

Heather

five simple habits that bring me more happiness

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During the last half of 2015 I fell in love with podcasts.  I’m sure many others share my love for them.  They make mundane tasks like washing dishes, folding laundry or a solo drive back home so much more enjoyable.  I phase through different podcasts, but currently my two favorite are the Balanced Bites Podcast and Happier with Gretchen Ruben. Happier focuses on tips for creating healthy habits and learning more about your own personal tendencies to make habit changes simpler and easier to maintain.

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I am not big on new year’s resolutions, because for me if I want to make a change, there is no better time than to start it now.  I don’t want to wait for a specific day to begin making a change that I’m ready to implement.  One area that I wish I was naturally better at is homemaking.  Meal planning, cooking and budget keeping, I’m great with.  Cleaning, organizing and general house balance… I always need help.  However, I can say with certainty that because of the tips from Happier, I’ve created new habits that have helped me to work on my personal goal of being a better home maker, while being even happier too.

Here are my five simple habits that bring me more happiness.  Be sure to check out the Happier podcast, it is nothing but great!

Habit 1: make the bed daily

It may seem so simple and little, but it actual brings me a lot of joy to have the bed made.  It brings order to our room and is such a simple task to turn into a habit because it only takes about 30 seconds to do.  I find on the rare day when I haven’t made the bed, I miss it.  I told Jacob about my new habit and how making the bed actually brings me happiness and because he is so sweet and thoughtful, he’s started making the bed too if I get up before him.  Now that brings me even more joy because I know he’s doing it for me!  Love.

Habit 2: the one minute rule

If there’s a task that takes one minute or less, then I’ll just do it immediately.  I use this all the time and I feel it helps keep the clutter a little more in control.  Actually just last night I was picking up Zoe’s hair brush from the ground in the living room and where I would normally just put on the kitchen counter because it’s quick and easy, I took the extra 10 steps to put it away in the bathroom drawer where it belongs.  It took 5 extra seconds, maybe, but had I put it on the counter with all the other items that find their way there, the task of cleaning up the counter would be a bigger project.

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Habit 3: leave a clean kitchen over night

There is nothing more annoying than waking up already behind on dishes.  As someone who cooks pretty much all of our meals, dishes are always stacking up.  If I start the morning behind with dishes from the previous day, I’m just setting myself up for failure.  But if I can start fresh, and even better with an empty dishwasher, I’m making my life even easier.  When all I have to do is rinse the dishes, add them to the dishwasher and hand wash a few pans, cutting boards and knives after a meal is done, I’m way more likely to actually accomplish it and feel less overwhelmed about it.

Habit 4: put coats and shoes away right when coming inside

This habit is yet another simple quick one that I actually have my kid’s implementing too.  I know it could easily snow ball into a bigger annoyance of clutter around the house if I let it go.  It takes just a couple minutes to get all the coats and shoes put away when we come inside, and it instantly makes me feel good to not have the clutter of things laying around on the floor or hanging on chairs.  I really like that most of the time I don’t even have to tell Hunter to put his shoes away, he automatically starts to take them off and put them in the closet right when we come inside.

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Habit 5: have a specific spot for everything

This is one I’m still working on throughout the house, but the general idea is that if items have a specific place to go, it becomes way easier to put them away in their place.  It also makes the job of finding something easier.  Jacob and I used to joke all the time at our last house that when something went missing, it got sucked into the house’s vortex.  Sometimes things were never found, and I think that’s because instead of setting up organization for everything, items would get shoved into closets, drawers and boxes with no real reason as to why it was put there, except to not be seen.  Thankfully our new house is much larger, which makes it easier to set up places for specific items. The kid’s toys are a good example – there are boxes or baskets specific for most toy category.  Pictured above we have a separate basket for the tea set, pig popper, small block books and bigger books/puzzles.  It makes it easy to clean up and to also know where things are.  I’m slowing working that habit through other areas of the house, but it’s definitely a big task!

The biggest and most helpful switch for my own personal habit change was in my brain.  I really had to think about making these habit changes as something that brings me more joy and happiness, because they really do.  I just hadn’t pinned that thought down before.

One saying I absolutely love and agree with is this: Outer order brings inner peace. 

So true for me.  When things are messy and unorganized it creates this sense of chaos, but when things are organized and where they should be, I feel calmer and more relaxed.  Believe me when I say this, my house is still no where near perfect.  At all.  Pretty much daily things are left on the counter, clothes find their way to the floor and my desk I’m typing at right now is a mess of sewing projects and paperwork, but for now, it’s about the baby steps going in the right direction.  Taking these little steps to bring some control to the chaos, even if it isn’t perfect right away.  It’s all about the journey and enjoying the process, and I sure am.

Have you implemented new habits lately?  Are you a new year’s resolution setter?  What podcasts have you been loving lately?

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