Grain-Free, Sugar-Free Sweet Potato Breakfast Spread

Eating seasonally is great.  The produce is fresher and almost always cheaper than it would be out of season, plus if you begin to listen to your body you will find that you crave the fruits and vegetables in season.  As the weather has turned colder, my thirst for raw salads and tropical fruits has died and been replaced with a craving for warm, hearty, filling and heavier dishes like beans, squash, soups and apples.

Today our grocery store had sweet potatoes, 4 pounds for $1!  So as you stock up, know that you don’t just have to eat the iconic sweet potato and marshmallow dish, but can enjoy sweet potatoes in a myriad of ways- for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I got this idea from a health magazine from my local health food store- sweet potatoes for breakfast!

Need:

– 1 good sized sweet potato

– 1 ripe banana

– a little bit of orange juice (all I had was pineapple juice and it worked)

– cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

– chopped pecans or walnuts

– dried cranberries

– raw honey (optional)

Place sweet potato on a microwave safe plate and poke a few holes in it with a fork.  Heat for about 5-6 minutes until very tender.  Scoop out flesh and put in a bowl.  Add the ripe banana and a little bit of juice.  Add cinnamon and nutmeg to taste.  Blend with an electric mixer until uniform and fluffy.  Spoon into a bowl and add chopped nuts, dried cranberries, more cinnamon (if desired) and honey (optional).  I ate it without the honey and was surprised at how yummy this was!  You can easily eat this right off the spoon and is especially great for those on a grain-free or grain limited diet.  I really like it as a spread though.  I toasted some sprouted organic bread and slathered it with butter, then topped with a spoonful of the sweet potato.  Top with nuts and cranberries and you have a filling, seasonal nutritious breakfast!

 

Simple Rosemary Quinoa and White Bean Soup

I love soup anytime of year.  I think it is one of the most nourishing things you can eat, especially if it is homemade.  But this morning we woke up and it was actually a little cold outside!  Oh, how I love soup weather!

This is  a really simple soup.  I sort of just threw together what I had on hand (that is another beautiful thing about soup).  I based my recipe off of this recipe I found.

First, cook your quinoa.  After rinsing the quinoa well, I just followed the directions on the package.

Heat 1-2 Tbsp oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add half of an onion, diced and one carrot sliced.  Heat until tender.

Add 1/2 tsp sea salt, black pepper to taste, chopped fresh rosemary, one can of white beans (drained), 2 cups vegetable stock and one cup of water (more if you like more liquid).  Bring to a low boil, simmer for 15 minutes.

Add 1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon and 2 cups of cooked quinoa, stirring to combine.  Let simmer for a few minutes or let warm off of the heat to blend the flavors together.  Serve hot.

Enjoy! (And I know you will!)

 

 

The Healing Puddle

It was late in the day.  I finally decided I should change out of my pajamas and into something appropriate.  The day seemed nice.  I decided we would take a walk.  At the sound of the word, Marlee impatiently waited by the door.  She grabbed a toy to play with outside and carefully stepped over the threshold, reminding me how well she can do things on her own now. How is it we’re just now breathing this fresh air?  The sun shone cheerfully in the clear blue skies, soft cool wind blew against our skin, the signs of Fall just barely showing: crunchy brown leaves strewn across the sidewalks, trees beginning to be bare.  We go about our usual way of walking.  She holds my hand and we walk down the sidewalk, she is barefoot and I in my sandals.  I begin to take in the day.  Our neighborhood is nothing fancy but on days like this I believe it is the most beautiful place I have ever seen.  The trees dance a little in the wind, leaves fall, I breathe in the welcome cool air, everything is bright and perfect.  I needed this today.  I forget how healing beauty is.

We keep walking, but there is always a place where we turn and cross the street.  This place on the sidewalk is littered with a layer of acorns and since we’re not big on wearing shoes, it hurts her tiny feet to walk on them.  Our street is quiet and we cross it, unhurried.  On the other side there is a place where the sidewalk is not level.  One piece of concrete juts into the air a couple of inches more than the piece next to it and perhaps because of that, a puddle of water is forever settled there.  A nearby tree sheds it’s yellow and brown leaves and they end up in the puddle too.  Marlee loves that puddle.  I have resigned to let her play in it whenever we come to it and so she eagerly steps in.  Not wanting to get wet or dirty myself, I watch her from behind splashing her feet in the shallow water, sinking her toes in and feeling the slightly muddy water with her hands.

This beautiful day just surrounds me.  I breathe in deeply.  I look up at this glorious Fall sky and watch a single leaf, wildly fluttering in the wind.  It spins and spins for a long time before finally soaring to the ground.  Today I felt like that leaf.  I just wanted to feel settled today, rested and calm, but instead I felt frustrated and tired.  It was one of those days I wished I could call in sick.  But who would I call?  Motherhood is a job that never ends and never rests and sometimes that thought overwhelms me.  But then I look at my daughter and I am once again overwhelmed with love by this beautiful child.  Her hair shines like gold in the sun.  Her milky skin is soft and warm.  I slip off my sandals and feel the cold concrete on my feet and remember how healing it is to touch the earth.  I am content.

Just then, as if somehow, she knew what I needed, my little girl backs up to where I am holding out her dirty, wet hand dotted with pieces of wet grass.  “Join me, mama,” it was if she was saying.  I looked at my clean hand but her took hers anyway and she leaded me into that dirty puddle of water.  I lifted my skirt a little so it wouldn’t get wet.  The water was much colder than I thought, but it felt good between my toes.  Fallen leaves swirled around my ankles; my daughter’s hand still in mine.  We walk in and out of that puddle leaving a trail of wet foot prints on the side walk.  A few neighborhood girls are walking towards us.  Marlee steps out of the way as they gingerly step over the puddle, but when they leave she wades right back in.

My frustrations are rinsed away in that cold puddle of water.  I smile at the simplicity of my daughter’s happiness and am reminded to be happy too.  Sometimes the days feel endlessly long, but I know, just like the falling of leaves and the changing of seasons, it will soon be over and I will wonder what happened to the days when all my daughter wanted to do was play in puddles of water.

Soaked Whole Grain Banana Pecan Bread

Yesterday, a little blonde toddler (who shall remain nameless) wouldn’t sleep.  It was late and instead of continuing to fight a losing battle, I decided we would get up and I would bake.  

Baking my very first loaf of banana bread years ago was when I first fell in love with the magic of baking.  Ever since then I have always loved that perfect loaf of sweet and slightly spicy banana bread, but this loaf is extra special.  It is originally from the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and reprinted with permission in The Maker’s Diet.  The day before I had soaked 3 cups of whole grain flour in a water and yogurt mixture.  There is tons of information out there on soaking grains.  Soaking your grains first allows for better digestion and allows for important nutrients to be properly assimilated.

Here is what I love about this banana bread:

– Absolutely no white flour is used.  Only whole grains and freshly ground is preferred (although I didn’t do that).

– Absolutely no refined sugar is used.  Only a 1/4 cup of real maple syrup.

– You only need 2 ripe bananas instead of the usual 4-5 in the traditional recipe.  

So around midnight I began to smell that glorious scent of cinnamon and nutmeg waft through the house and somehow it made everything better again.  

My favorite way to eat banana bread? Sliced cold straight from the fridge with a cold pat of butter. Yum! (And yes, eventually she did go to sleep!)

Enjoy!

Pinecone Birdfeeder: Inviting Backyard Birds to a Picnic

Today was the most beautiful Fall day.  The air was bright and clean.  It was cool and crisp, a little chilly in fact.  This time of year always amazes me, surprises me.  I forget how wonderful it is.  Last week I took Marlee to the pet store to see the animals.  Just a little fun, free way to spend some time.  She loved seeing the birds and that gave me an idea.  Fall is the perfect time to create bird feeders for the backyard.  I found these birdfeeder crafts for kids and was inspired.  I decided we would do the pinecone bird feeder.  

Earlier in the week we gathered pinecones and I gathered the rest of the supplies.  Marlee was all too eager to go outside and play.

We just used what we had around the house: a pinecone, some string, scissors, peanut butter, a bowl and spoon and bird food.  We used oats and nuts, but I loved this website that explained what foods to use to attract certain kinds of birds.  Or you could use store bought bird seed.  

First I tied the string around the top of the pinecone and made a knot.  

Then I scooped some peanut butter into a bowl (so we could double dip the spoon and not ruin our jar of peanut butter! Or you could just dedicate a jar of peanut butter for crafts and not for eating.)  Just a little helpful hint on the peanut butter:  The kind we buy is “natural” and therefore doesn’t contain thickening agents.  I found this makes for a pretty messy peanut butter application, but still works.  Next time, I think I will buy regular peanut butter just for this purpose.  

Then I showed Marlee how to spread the peanut butter on the pinecone. 

Next I showed her how to sprinkle the oats and nuts onto the pinecone.

She loved playing with the peanut butter on the spoon and made a big mess! We got peanut butter everywhere!  With toddlers it is not the end product that matters but the experience, and for this project it is definitely true.  There were many different textures and shapes for her to feel, and mediums with which to play.  In the end, I made sure the pinecone was bird worthy and I hung it proudly in our backyard.  

Afterwards we stayed outside for a little picnic and waited to see if any birds might join us.  Unfortunately they didn’t (although we did hear a nearby woodpecker) but Marlee didn’t seem to mind.

A Picnic.

This weekend

A picnic on our land

Loving butter and cornbread

Enjoying the quiet

Rustling of leaves

Thinking of house plans

Dreaming of family

Present and future.  

 

Discovering the Pumpkin Patch

With October comes a trip to the orchard to visit this year’s pumpkin patch.  We’re still in tank tops, shorts and flip flops here but Fall is definitely here!

 

We left with a pie pumpkin for me and a little tiny, child size pumpkin for her.  My husband and I are moving towards living more sustainably, so this year instead of buying pumpkins to decorate our porch then tossing them when the month is over, I thought I would actually use the pie pumpkin to bake with.  It is after all, fresh produce, is it not?  I want to thank blogger at Live.Learn.Eat.Love. for posting her instructions on how to make homemade pumpkin puree!

Out of the one pie pumpkin I got about 5 cups of pumpkin puree and about 1 cup of pumpkin seeds.  The seeds I soaked and then dried in a warm oven (150 degrees) for a few hours then stored in empty and clean jelly jar.  I’m thinking they will be great on salads, in granola or just to munch!  I used three cups of the pumpkin puree to make pumpkin casserole (see picture above).  I got the recipe from the book Simply Vegan by Debra Wasserman and wanted to try it because it contains no flour and very little sugar.  The pumpkin puree combines with organic chopped apples, organic dried cranberries (or raisins), cinnamon, nutmeg and walnuts (I used pecans) and two tablespoons of maple syrup then baked until hot.  It doesn’t hold together like a pumpkin bread, but I found it actually to be very good smeared on a piece of whole wheat toast, with a tiny drizzle of raw honey over the top.  I think “warm vegan pumpkin butter” is a more apt title!  I froze the rest of the pumpkin puree and can’t wait to make more goodies with it.  We loved going to the pumpkin patch this year!

 

 

 

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