15 Smoothies in 15 Days, Day 7: Banana Berry Citrus Smoothie

I don’t know why, but I’m really digging the pink smoothies! They are just so pretty and bright and they really make me happy. Plus, I could eat strawberries all day, every day. Seriously. Give me 24/7 strawberries and I’ll be happy. I would almost not be surprised if this baby girl came out with red hair just because of all of the strawberries I’ve consumed.

This Banana Berry Citrus Smoothie is like a taste of summer, which is perfect for a warm, sunny, August day like today. In fact, I’m enjoying it whilst sitting on my patio in the sunshine, making it even more perfect. It’s really a simple variation on yesterday’s smoothies, but tastes oh so different.

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Banana Berry Citrus Smoothie
Makes 1-2 servings

Ingredients:
-1 1/2 cups orange juice (I prefer the full-calorie stuff with calcium and vitamin D, but whatever floats your boat)
-1 banana
-2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
-1 tablespoon coconut oil
-1 cup frozen strawberries
-1/2 cup frozen raspberries

Directions:
Blend and enjoy!

15 Smoothies in 15 Days, Days 5 & 6: Berry Coconut Dreamcicle Smoothie

Ok. I’ll admit it. I’m a cheater. I ate a smoothie yesterday, but didn’t post it, and then I made the same one today but used different berries.

But hear me out. This smoothie is so creamy and delicious and packed with nutrients, how could I NOT make it a few times? Plus, it’s pretty, and after my road tar experience the other day, I needed a few that were easy on the eyes as well as for sure delicious. This one hit the mark.

Yesterday, I made this smoothie with strawberries:

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Today, I made it with raspberries:

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I’m not going to lie to you. Tomorrow, I might make it with blueberries. And the day after, I might just make it with the leftovers of all three.

Protip: If you use frozen berries and a frozen banana (just slice it up before you freeze it), you don’t need ice cubes.

Berry Coconut Dreamcicle Smoothie

Ingredients:
-1 cup coconut milk
-1 tablespoon coconut oil
-2 tablespoons almond butter
-1 banana
-1 cup frozen berries of your choice

Directions:
Blend and enjoy!

15 Smoothies in 15 Days, Day 4: Green Blueberry Smoothie

I’ll start this one with a protip: Don’t mix apple cider vinegar and coconut milk.

I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s fine, but alternative milks can curdle when mixed with apple cider vinegar. Even then, I’m pretty sure it’s fine to drink, but I got about 1/4 of the way through drinking this smoothie, panicked and tossed it because I’m paranoid and pregnant and hormonal.

But, what I did drink was pretty good (which probably means the milk wasn’t curdled at all, because doesn’t curdled milk taste awful?), and super healthy, too. I would try to make another one, but it’s grocery shopping day and I used the last banana and avocado for this bad boy.

Anyway, I’ll leave the ACV out of the recipe because… just don’t. Also note that this smoothie looks a good deal like tar, especially if you don’t gulp it down all the way and let it sit for a while. This could be fixed by using 1/2 an avocado instead of a full one, and less spinach. You know, if you don’t like eating things that taste OK but look like you could pave a road with it.

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Green Blueberry Smoothie
Makes 1-2 servings

Ingredients:
-1 cup coconut milk
-1 avocado
-1 banana
-3/4 cup frozen blueberries (fresh works, too, but then you should add some ice cubes)
-2 tablespoons almond butter
-1 tablespoon coconut oil
-generous handful or two of spinach (I used two handfuls, so if you’re looking for less green, use less spinach)

Directions:
Blend and enjoy!

15 Smoothies in 15 Days, Day 3: Apple Pie Smoothie

Yesterday, I mentioned my recent love of chocolate. Today, I’m going to admit that the love of chocolate really extends to the love of all things sweet and dessert-y. Apple pie? Definitely one of those things. But, when you don’t want the carbs and the added sugar, what are you supposed to do when the craving for this all-American goodness strikes?

Make a smoothie, of course!

The added bonus to this smoothie is that if you want to add apple cider vinegar to it, there’s no better way to mask the taste of it than to add it to a smoothie that already has apples in it. You’ll barely even know it’s there!

A few tips on this smoothie, though. The one I made was pretty good, and I’ll include that recipe, but I used a green apple because that’s all I had on hand and I have difficulty getting my pregnant self to the store, a red apple or other super sweet variety of apple would have made this taste much more like apple pie. However, if you do only have a green apple on hand, some honey would have been nice to add a little bit of sweetness. Also, the banana I had was still a little green, so a really ripe, sweet one would have tasted much better, too.

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Apple Pie Smoothie
Adapted from FitSugar

Ingredients:
-1 cup coconut milk
-1 ripe banana
-1 sweet apple (cut chunks for the blender, but leave the skin on; that’s where all the nutrients and fiber are!)
-2 tablespoons almond butter
-2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
-1 tablespoon coconut oil
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
-1-2 teaspoons honey (optional)
-ice cubes

Directions:
Add everything to your blender. Blend, and enjoy!

15 Smoothies in 15 Days, Day 2: Chocolate Banana Smoothie

I’ve never been a huge chocolate person. I’ve enjoyed a square or two of dark chocolate or a melt-in-your-mouth truffle on occasion, but I never craved it. Chocolate ice cream or fudge on a sundae? Skip it and give me the plain, old vanilla. A handful of chocolate candies? No thanks.

Enter pregnancy and, suddenly, I. Love. Chocolate. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate shakes, mint chocolate chip ice cream (I seriously cannot get enough of that stuff), oatmeal chocolate chip cookies… You name it, I’ll eat it. Just now, even talking about chocolate, I had to walk over to the cabinet and get some.

I’m not sure what’s up with that. I don’t even CRAVE it, like I absolutely have to have it RIGHT NOW, but if given the opportunity, I won’t pass it up.

So, when I came across this recipe, I figured, why not give it a try? Coconut milk, coconut oil, chocolate, and a banana? Doesn’t sound like you can lose.

Frankly, it was just OK. It definitely satisfied my chocolate craving, but it could have been a little thicker and sweeter. If I made it again, I might add an avocado for some added health benefits plus a little extra creaminess. I did, however, feel full and satisfied after drinking it, which is tough to do these days.

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Chocolate Banana Smoothie
Makes one smoothie
Adapted from Skinny Ms

Ingredients:
-1 cup coconut milk
-1 banana
-2 tablespoons cocoa powder
-a good shake of the cinnamon shaker (to taste)
-2 tablespoons almond butter
-1 tablespoon coconut oil
-1 avocado (optional)
-ice cubes

Directions:
Add everything to the blender, blend until it’s liquified, and enjoy!

15 Smoothies in 15 Days, Day 1: Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

It’s been a while since I’ve been on here. Five and a half months, to be exact. And I’ll tell you why… I’m pregnant! This is our first, and it’s a girl and I have about three months left before we get to meet her.

Normally, pregnancy wouldn’t be a reason to stop a food blog, but morning sickness hit me, and hit me hard. After about six months of Paleo and clean eating, all I could stomach were strawberry milkshakes from Steak & Shake (they HAD to be from Steak & Shake – don’t ask me why) and pizza. Sometimes, I could eat fruit, but that was pretty much it. I wouldn’t call these craving so much as these were literally the only foods I could eat. For months. That whole thing about morning sickness stopping after your first trimester? It’s a bag of lies. Mine continued well through my fourth month.

This is all not to mention that, for a truly healthy pregnancy, you really need some bread and cheese if you aren’t intolerant to them. Actually, many pregnant women find themselves more tolerant to these things during their pregnancies than they usually are otherwise because they need the nutrients. If you don’t eat any carbs, your body ends up using all the protein and fat you are intaking for you instead of for your growing fetus, and that’s definitely not good, considering growing fetuses need a lot of protein and fat.

Also, did you know that getting into a cooking routine is kind of like getting into a workout routine? You get used to doing it, so you’re fine, but when you stop for a while, it can be tough to get back on the wagon. Needless to say, since I hadn’t cooked for over four months, I just… didn’t pick it back up.

Now, though, I’m in the home stretch. My third trimester starts on Sunday, and this little baby girl is growing well by all professional accounts. Since I want to try a natural, drug-free childbirth, I want to make sure I am healthy, she is healthy, and there are as few complications as possible. Furthermore, the third trimester, your immune system is pretty much shot, and I have to go back to school (i.e. come in contact with lots of new germs) in a few weeks. In short, I want to get my body in the best shape possible so I can avoid any illness or complications here in the home stretch.

So what am I doing to accomplish that goal? Eating well, of course. Whole foods – especially those that are known to increase immunity and breast milk production, because I plan to breastfeed – are now becoming a staple in my diet. I’m especially focused on herbal pregnancy teas, coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar. (Side note: NEVER take these without consulting your healthcare professional, pregnant or not! I AM NOT A DOCTOR and the internet is full of lies. This is just what I’ve chosen to do based on my research and with the help of my awesome team of doctors.) I don’t make my own pregnancy teas, but coconut oil and ACV are known to give you awesome nutrients, make your digestive system function more regularly (no small feat in the last months of your pregnancy), boost immunity, and – in the case of coconut oil – helps produce breast milk and good fats for your fetus, who is packing on the pounds as we speak.

I cook with these things, but I don’t incorporate enough of them into my diet to make a substantial difference (they say one teaspoon of ACV three times a day and two tablespoons of coconut oil per day – but spread it out!). So how am I to reconcile my desire to increase my intake of these foods with my need for more fruits and vegetables and my cravings for ice cream?

Smoothies, of course!

I love smoothies. I make them all the time, but I often find myself in a smoothie rut, eating the same one day in and day out. When I want to add things, I just add them, and the taste isn’t all that great. So, I’m on a quest for new smoothie recipes. Since I start school in a little less than 15 days, I’m starting a new project: 15 Smoothies in 15 Days! Who’s excited. I know I am!

First up, pumpkin pie. Why doesn’t love pumpkin pie? I absolutely adore pumpkin pie; it’s my favorite food. Ever. And, since we’re totally nesting and cleaning out everything, I found four cans of pumpkin puree in my pantry from last fall. So, here’s a little early taste of fall with all of the great nutrients pumpkin has to offer.

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Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Makes one smoothie
Adapted from Free Coconut Recipes

Ingredients:
-1 banana
-1/2 cup coconut milk
-1/4 cup pumpkin puree
-1 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, whatever you have on hand
-1 teaspoon honey
-1 tablespoon coconut oil
-1.5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Optional: Garnish with cinnamon.

Paleo Soup: Beef and Vegetable

Tim does all of the grocery shopping in our house. The reason for this is multi-faceted. First, and most importantly, I HATE grocery shopping. Seriously. I cannot emphasize that enough. I don’t know why, but I just hate it. Maybe it’s all the moms trying to corral their bored, screaming kids or the little kids with those tiny Trader Joe’s shopping carts that get in your way (yea, yea, ok, it’s cute, but I’m on a schedule here). Maybe it’s the spending so much money on stuff that you’re just going to consume and will therefore disappear. Maybe it’s the anxiety about trying to avoid the impulse buys those stores put right in front of you in the checkout aisle on purpose so you will buy them. Whatever the reason, I hate it.

The other reasons Tim does the shopping are because he’s in charge of the finances so he knows how much to spend. He also is totally willing to go to three different stores to get the best deal on something, which I am not willing to do (see above – I am on a schedule here!). Also, I do a great majority of the cooking when I’m not coaching, so it seems like a fair division of labor.

Regardless, sometimes Tim comes home with freezable stuff that was on sale but wasn’t on our list. I think this is because he trusts my cooking ability to be able to turn some random cut of meat into something amazing edible. Challenge, accepted.

So, a few weeks ago, Tim brought home some beef stew meat. I’m not sure what the exact cut of beef it is, but it’s basically just beef cut into 1-inch chunks. Pretty convenient if you want to make soup, eh? We tossed that stew meat into the freezer and waited for a day when we’d need a slow cooker meal. That day came on Sunday, the day after our regional speech tournament (a 14-hour day of high school speech fun!). We were dead on our feet after that day, and then we went to celebrate my in-law’s February birthdays. Yup – we needed a quick, hearty, easy meal to come home to that night.

Enter: Beef and Vegetable Soup. I used what I had in the fridge and the pantry, so you can adjust the spices and vegetables you use to taste. I also tossed the stew meat in frozen and it cooked up just fine. We did have to break up the meat a little way through so it would cook evenly, but the meat ended up so tender, you could cut through it with your soup spoon. (Note: Cooking frozen meat in your slow cooker is considered safe for those of us with killer immune systems. If you are pregnant, nursing, or if your little kids are going to be eating this stuff, thaw it first!)

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(Excuse the awful quality of this photo. As I said, this was a lazy day, and the only picture I could get before the stuff was all gone was when I packed up the leftovers to take to work in our mini-crockpots.)

Paleo Beef and Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:
2.5-3 lbs beef cut into chunks (or stew meat, pre-cut)
4 stalks celery, cut
4 carrots, peeled and cut
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
32 oz chicken broth
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions:
Throw all of it into your slow cooker, put it on low for 8 hours, and enjoy!/

Paleo Brunch: Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake

We were supposed to have our last speech tournament before regionals today. Needless to say, we didn’t go. In fact, no one in northern Illinois went to any IHSA events today because they postponed everything due to the predicted snowfall. When the Weather Channel says there’s a 100% chance of snow and is predicting 10-18 inches of total accumulation, you don’t bust out the busses to head to your events. You stay home. Which is exactly what I’m doing today.

There’s just something about snowy days that makes me really want carbs. Maybe it’s a Christmas-ey feeling (and we all know how I feel about food and holidays), or maybe it’s just me wanting to actually feel full for five minutes – which is hard to do on the Paleo diet.

Whatever the reason, I woke up today really craving some coffee cake. I don’t usually eat coffee cake, even when I’m cheating, and I almost never crave sweet things. Today was different, though. Mysterious.

I don’t often question my motives when it comes to food cravings. I feel that when you want something, your body probably needs it for some reason, so you should eat it. So when I want coffee cake, I will have coffee cake.

Of course, it’s snowing like a beast right now and none of the roads are plowed, so I hit up Pinterest to find a Paleo recipe I could make without having to go to the store. I found lots of recipes, but this one from Gluten Free Homemaker caught my eye. I’m not a huge fan of honey flavor, so I made some substitutions, but it turned out absolutely amazing. This is definitely going to be my new go-to for brunch with the ladies in my book club along with my cheeseless, crustless quiche, for sure. It’s filling, moist, and sweet without being too sweet. Plus, no sugar, dairy, or wheat makes it guilt-free, too!

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Paleo Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake
adapted from Gluten Free Homemaker

Ingredients:

For the Topping:
1 cup pecan pieces
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons honey

For the Cake:
1 cup almond flour (using almond meal would probably work, but almond flour gives the cake a nice, smooth texture and color)
3/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with extra coconut oil and set aside.
2. Combine all of the topping ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt.
4. In a small bowl, whisk eggs and coconut milk together.
5. Add egg/milk mixture to the dry ingredients. Then add coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer until all ingredients are combined.
6. Spread the batter evenly in the cake pan. This may take some work as the batter will be very dense.
7. Add the topping over the batter and spread evenly.
8. Bake for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes and serve warm.

DIY Chicken Bone Broth

If you’ve gone Paleo, or even if you’re just trying to eat cleaner this year, you’ve probably started to notice that you have a lot if waste. Vegetable scraps from peeling and cutting, citrus rinds from all that good-for-you fruit you’re eating, and maybe you even have some bones from bone-in meat you are making yourself.

Don’t throw all of that good stuff away! If you do, you’re missing out on some really great nutrients that you probably didn’t even know you weren’t getting by going store-bought on your broth and stock, not to mention all of the added sodium and BPA and other nasties that are in those pre-packaged foods.

I’ve already shown you how to make your own tea. This is a great way to use citrus peels and rinds. You can also add the rinds to your favorite tea to up the flavor and antioxidant count of your cup. Yum!

I’ve also already shown you how to make vegetable broth with the leftover veggie scraps you save in the freezer as you cook throughout the month. That broth is seriously amazing.

But what about if you’ve got those leftover veggies and you have some leftover bones from the meat you ate a week ago? Two words: bone broth!

Bone broth is great for you. The bones from the meat you eat have all sorts of nutrients in them that will end up in the broth you make, making that soup you crave in the frigid winter even healthier for you. Plus, the broth you make will be more flavorful and have less bad stuff in it than that typical, store-bought stuff.

Don’t have any bones to make broth with? Go ahead and make this chicken in your slow cooker. Seriously, it is the best chicken I’ve ever eaten. You won’t be sorry. Go make it. I’ll wait.

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Ok, so now that you have some bones and some leftover veggies, you’re ready to make your broth. Here’s what you do:

1. Put your veggies in your slow cooker. Any combo will do. This time around, I had sweet potatoes, asparagus ends, onion peels, carrots, celery, and garlic. But you can use whatever you’ve got.
2. Put your bones in the slow cooker. It’s totally cool if they have some meat and fat on them. In fact, I encourage it.
3. Fill the slow cooker with enough water to cover the veggies and bones. Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This will help break down the bones so you get all the nutrients in your broth.
4. Set your slow cooker to LOW for 24 hours.
5. After a day has passed, strain your broth through a fine-mesh strainer or cheese cloth. Discard the scraps and put the broth in the fridge. In a few hours, you can skim the fat right off the top of it.
6. Add a it a tablespoon of fish sauce (or soy sauce if soy doesn’t bother you) an salt & pepper to taste.
7. Store it in the fridge for up to a week or I’m the freezer for up to a month. I like to portion mine out in 2-cup portions so I know exactly how much to thaw when I want to make soup.

And, you’re done! See how easy that was?

You can do this on the stovetop, too, but you have to simmer it for 24 hours and I don’t trust having my gas on for that long.

I’m super excited to make this Mexican chicken soup with my homemade broth tomorrow. It’s just what we need to warm us up on another cold, winter day!

Paleo Quiche: Eggs, Veggies, and Yumminess – Oh My!

I love quiche. I don’t think there is a way I can convey my absolute adoration of quiche through the internet. I just love it so much. My mom used to make two different types of quiches to wake us up on Christmas morning, and we pretty much never had quiche except that day. It seems that I have a tendency to associate my favorite foods with holidays and celebrations. (*ahem*… pumpkin and sweet potatoes). Regardless, I love quiche.

Once I moved out and subsequently stole the quiche recipes from my mom, I started making them all the time. I never realized how easy quiches were to make! Chop the veggies, scramble the eggs, stir in the cheese and cream along with everything else, pour into a pre-made pie crust and bake! It was almost as good as tossing something into the slow cooker, because they took about an hour to bake and you could go do something else while they were cooking. Plus, quiche is pretty much the only meal you can eat for dinner, then have the leftovers for breakfast AND lunch. That is, unless you’re a cold pizza for breakfast kind of person. I, personally, find that disgusting.

As you can see, my love of quiche knows no bounds. However, with all the dairy and gluten in most quiche recipes, I had to give them up when I changed my lifestyle. Next to pizza, quiche was definitely the food I miss the most. The difference between pizza and quiche, however, is that, for pizza, there really is no acceptable Paleo substitute. Dairy-free cheese with an almond meal crust? No thanks. If I want pizza, I’ll use a cheat day to have it. Quiche, though, is just eggs, veggies, cheese, and cream plus some kind of crust. It would make sense that there be a delicious Paleo version somewhere, right?

If you answered “yes,” you are correct! I did a little searching on the internets and found this one from Food Loves Writing. Naturally, I set about making it right away and it was amazing. Tim, however, didn’t like it at all. See that 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in that ingredients list? Yea… Tim really hates spicy food, and that cayenne pepper gave this thing some serious kick.

So, obviously, I set about altering the ingredients to make a less spicy, more savory version, which follows. This is now my go-to quiche recipe for everything from potluck Sunday brunch with the girls to a snow day lunch with breakfast leftovers on a frigid day like today. The other great thing about this is you really can make it with whatever veggies you have in the house. I’ve used all colors and types of onions and peppers, broccoli, carrots – whatever you’ve got!

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Paleo Quiche
adapted from Food Loves Writing

Ingredients:
1 generous spoonful of coconut oil plus extra for greasing the pan
a few handfuls of baby spinach
1 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
10 asparagus spears, ends trimmed then chopped into 1-inch pieces
6 eggs
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons almond meal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
dash cayenne powder
dash black pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-inch pie pan with coconut oil. Set aside.
2. Heat generous spoonful of coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and asparagus. Cook for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent and asparagus is bright green, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
3. While your veggies are cooling, combine all of the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk together. Add cooked veggies and spinach and stir to combine.
4. Pour mixture into greased pie pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.