Where I’ve Been Lately…and a Delicious Seasonal Twist on Pancakes

I took a couple of weeks off from blogging. Why? Honestly, I started reading more about improving your blog and found out I’m doing everything wrong.

I take pictures with my iPhone…or use free stock photos. I don’t have an email list. I don’t offer some great product, have sponsors, paid ads, etc.  Just about all conventional wisdom about blogging is the opposite of what I do.

But then I realized something: I didn’t set out to have a successful, monetary blog. I set out to do something different: share what I know for free. Take it, leave it, ignore parts that don’t fit you. That’s what I wanted to do.

You see, this past year has been one of the hardest of my life. And in the midst of that pain and stress, I felt like God wanted me to write and share what I know. Give it away, and be an encourager. So now I’m back to do just that.

I worked on Black Friday and we all took in dishes for a potluck meal to eat as we were very busy. I took in a family favorite called Spiced Winter Fruit to combat all the rich, gooey, unhealthy stuff that I knew would be present. And I discovered a new way to use it: pancake topper.

See, I love pancakes. I mean LOVE. ❤ Mostly for dinner on Sunday nights. It’s just a tradition for me. I make pancakes various ways. Sometimes with bananas and eggs and a bit of flour(always gluten-free since I’m sensitive to wheat). Sometimes with oat flour instead of regular, or other times using almond flour. (Not almond meal, as it’s coarser. Get the finely ground almond flour for pancakes). Or sometimes with a quick mix from Aldi, my favorite gluten-free biscuit and pancake mix( which is also very low in sugar…score!)

Oh, one simple tip: If you use oat flour save yourself the money buying it. Take regular oats and grind in the blender until they form a fine flour. See? Inexpensive, healthy and gluten-free(if you get gluten-free oats).

Anyway, I don’t like syrup and butter on my pancakes/oatcakes because the meal doesn’t stick with me. I want something with a bit of protein and natural sugar that’s got the fiber, etc. I always use almond butter in place of butter because, well, I LOVE almond butter. 😀 And for the topping, I often use frozen blueberries/cherries that I thaw a bit in the microwave. But the other night I covered the pancakes with the winter fruit and it was amazing.

So here’s my mom’s recipe. It’s very versatile as it uses canned fruit since fruit can be hard to come by in the winter. You can use fresh fruit-you just have to cook a little longer in the oven to get the dish to be tender.

Spiced Winter Fruit

  1. 1 can (15 ounces) peaches, drained and rinsed and chopped
  2. 1 can (15 ounces) apricots, drained and rinsed and chopped
  3. 1 can (15 ounces) pears, drained and rinsed and chopped
  4. 1 can (15 ounces) pineapple tidbits, drained and rinsed
  5. 15 ounces of unsweetened applesauce
  6. 1 Tablespoon of butter
  7. 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon
  8. 1/4 cup Sherry

Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray lightly. Place all canned fruit in the dish. On the stove top, mix the applesauce,  sherry, and cinnamon together and cook over medium until the mixture begins to bubble. Pour over the fruit in the casserole dish. Dot the entire top with bits of the butter. Bake at 350-degree oven for one hour. Serve warm.

Here are my delicious almond butter fruit pancakes. I worked Sunday night so I treated myself to these for lunch on Monday where I ate the outside in the beautiful autumn weather.

Do you like pancakes? What are your favorite ways to eat them?

Açaí Bowls, Social Media, and Being Real

Don’t you love my beautiful chocolate smoothie bowl? Only it’s not. It’s an Açaí Bowl.

But aren’t those a beautiful, vibrant purple? Well, yes…unless it has açaí, blueberries. strawberries, and spinach. Then it’s a muddy brown like this.

Enter VSCO and other picture enhancing apps. Well, and, taking the picture before you add spinach. 😉 You play with the saturation, shadows, tint, and filters. And you end up with this something more pleasing to the eye.

As an aside, check out this beautiful açaí bowl from Honest Cooking -just gorgeous.

My point in this(besides sharing my go-to açaí bowl recipe below] is to remind you: what you see isn’t always real. We put our best face on, filter the heck out of it and clean it up, and present it to the world. Yet our food isn’t always beautiful, we have wrinkles as we age, our homes are messy and so are our lives, at times.

I want to embrace real. Honest. And eat delicious açaí smoothie bowls, even when they’re not pretty.

My Go-to Açaí Smoothie Bowl

1/2 cup Califia Farms Toasted Coconut Almond Milk

1/2 scoop Designer Whey Vanilla Almond Whey Protein

1 Tablespoon Almond Butter or Peanut Butter

1 Packet Frozen Açaí

1/2 Frozen Banana

1 cup frozen berry mix( I love cherries, blueberries, and strawberries)

1 handful of spinach

Have you tried açaí? And how do you stay grounded in an age of illusion and social media? Share your thoughts!

What I’m Eating Lately

I thought I would share my big eating health tip. I do this almost daily and it is versatile, delicious, filling, and packs a punch nutritionally:  salads.

Salads are so easy. I honestly take lots of leafy greens, veggies I have on hand in the refrigerator, a few seeds, some craisins, usually, and a bit of feta cheese. I often throw my leftover protein on there, too. Chicken, chopped or shredded, meat, beans, even chili, all make a great topping for a healthy salad.

I usually have a salad for lunch. It’s easy to throw together while I’m doing other things and I can even make it the night before and take it to work on days that I work a longer shift.

The biggest key for me with salads, honestly, is HOW I eat them. I revert to the childhood method of eating one thing at a time. 😉 Or, hey,  let’s say the fancy way of eating one course at a time. Sounds better! I eat that salad before the main course. I find I slow down and have to chew more and it’s filling so I don’t gobble up too much of whatever is following. It seriously has helped me get in touch with my hunger and satiated signals and that’s such a great benefit.

Other benefits include lots of nutrition, ease of preparation, versatility, no need to cook so minimal clean-up. There are also tons of digestive benefits from eating more raw foods and I find that is so important to my gut health as I get “older and wiser.” 😀

Do you eat salads or other raw foods for your health? Show me your pictures or send me your favorite salad recipes.

Easy One Pan Meals

With cooler mornings and a hint of fall in the air, I’ve been ready to cook some fall meals. I neglected my oven during the summer in favor of grilling and my slow cooker. And yes, I am totally obsessed with my slow cooker. I use it all the time for quick and easy meals. My recent discovery has me excited to cook indoors again because I can still cook everything in one pan…but in the oven. Easy cooking, easy cleanup, minimal time spent in the kitchen. What could be better?

I will share my recipe for the meal above and then give some general tips so you can experiment and create your own oven roasted meals.

1 head of broccoli

1-1 1/2# chicken breasts (I pounded mine a bit thinner for ease of cooking)

BBQ Sauce(I make my own that I got from Real Food Whole Life,  recipe below)*

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and washed

Olive oil

Salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash, peel and cube sweet potatoes and toss with a bit of olive oil and salt. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I use a Pampered Chef stoneware pan so I skip the parchment paper). Place chicken on the tray and spread barbecue sauce on both sides of the meat. Bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, break broccoli apart and toss with a bit of olive oil and salt. Place on top of the chicken and potatoes after 20 minutes and return to the oven to bake 10 minutes more. Remove and serve!

I have made this using a homemade honey mustard sauce, lemon pepper seasoning, etc. I have also used barbecue sauce chickpeas in place of meat and I know other people who use seasoned tofu, sliced steak, etc. Brussels sprouts are great veggies, as are carrots. You can also use russet potatoes. The choices are endless.

*Barbecue Sauce

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

1 6-oz can tomato paste

2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey

2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses

4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

½ cup water

Do you like one pan meals? What are your quick and easy weeknight meal ideas?

My love of Quinoa

When you have allergies, things get interesting. I am allergic to corn and fairly sensitive to wheat. I get tired of rice and oats as my grain choices.

Recently I tried couscous and then quinoa. Oh, quinoa, where have you been? Versatile and higher in protein because it’s a nut that thinks it’s a grain, haha, quinoa is super easy to cook and relatively inexpensive. It’s grown mostly in Peru and Bolivia and is a member of the amaranth family, for those of you interested.

One thing I did was to invest in a simple fine mesh strainer. Quinoa has a natural coating, called saponin, that can make it taste bitter or soapy if you skip this step, After that, you need a simple pan, two cups of liquid to a cup of quinoa, and you’re ready.

I bring two cups of water, milk, or broth to boil along with the quinoa. After it boils, I reduce to simmer, cover, and cook fifteen to twenty minutes. That’s it. I use milk for breakfast quinoa and water or broth to make a more savory batch.

You can use quinoa for warm breakfast bowls like you would oats. Add in fruits, nuts, a bit of milk, and it is amazing. For lunch, I love adding it to my salads to get a boost of extra protein and heartiness. At dinner time, quinoa makes a great side or the basis for a food bowl. I love food bowls! Meat and/or beans, veggies, quinoa and, if I am feeling ambitious, a quickly made tahini based sauce. Or salsa, barbecue sauce, squeeze of lemon or lime, etc. Healthy, quick, filling, delicious.

Have you tried quinoa? Or are you a no-grain type of eater? Yes, I realize some people feel much healthier that way. Drop me a line and share your quinoa recipes. Or, let me know the types of things you would love to see on the blog.

Crock Pot Love…and a Weekly Go-to Recipe

It’s no secret that I think a slow cooker/crock pot is a gift from God. 😀 I am slowly learning to use my Instant Pot too, but that’s another post.

I love throwing ingredients in and having a meal just hours later. I love chilis and stews and soups, but Mexican Chicken is something I make almost every week. It’s quick, easy, versatile, and everyone in my house loves it. The recipe is below, and then I will share ways we use it.

1-2# chicken breast or thigh meat

Taco Seasoning (I make my own)

Hidden Valley Ranch Spicy Ranch packet

Salsa

Seriously, that’s it. I need to try making my own salsa but have an organic brand I use that’s low sodium. I spray the slow cooker with olive oil, place the chicken in the bottom, sprinkle with 1/2 ranch packet and taco seasoning, and add salsa to cover. I cook on low 6 hours or high 4. Then I shred the meat with two forks.

We use to top salads, over rice or quinoa, mixed with black beans, in tortillas, to top a baked potato, and lots of other ways. It’s versatile and makes a quick lunch.

Do you use a slow cooker? Share your recipes and let me know your go-to lunches.

Great Gluten-Free Finds…and my Go-To Sandwich Recipe

Gluten-free is the new thing, right? I hesitated to even write this blog post because it’s so trendy. But, I am truly allergic to wheat…and corn. (Don’t ask details…it’s not pretty). So finding anything resembling bread or pasta is tough for me. And expensive.

So imagine my joy finding a couple of tasty, healthy alternatives for pasta and bread lately! I decided, what the heck, it’s my blog, so I will share a couple of ideas you might use for a different twist on your regular dishes.

Zoodles. Where were these all of my life? Seriously…spiralized zucchini. And my go-to tool was about $10 on Amazon. It’s called a Vegetti and I included a link to the product. It’s super easy to use, cleaning is a breeze, and makes great noodles. I spin the zucchini in it, let it sit a few minutes with a teaspoon of oil added to it, and it’s ready to go for pasta dishes, pasta salads, etc. You get the vitamins and fiber in the zucchini, plus it’s lower in calories than heavy pasta noodles. Give it a try!

Vegetti Spiralizer

Sweet Potato Rounds

Have you heard about these? I Slice a sweet potato into circular rounds, approximately 1/2″ thick. Then I toast for two rounds in the toaster oven. All done! I love topping mine with avocado for a savory treat, or almond butter (of course) and cinnamon for something sweet. Sweet potatoes are chock full of vitamins and fiber too so it is a fun break from your regular toast routine.

Red Lentil Pasta


This. Is. Amazing! The only ingredient is red lentil flour. Since it’s made from a bean it’s much higher in protein than regular kinds of pasta. My favorite dish with this is a chicken and pasta soup. Plus, it’s less expensive than brown rice pasta. Win-win!

Bread

But, sometimes you need a sandwich. That is where this amazing bread makes me happy. It’s a Walmart brand bread made with ancient grains and is the best, softest, tastiest gluten-free bread I have tried. Expensive, but worth it for a treat. My favorite sandwich ever follows and I always use this yummy loaf.

Grilled Hummus and Cheese.

  1. 2 slices whole grain bread
  2. Olive Oil
  3. Really good cheese(I love sharp cheddar)
  4. Hummus (my favorite is Sabra Supremely Spicy)
  5. Caramelized onions(you can buy these as frozen cubes now or make them ahead in the slow cooker)

I put hummus on both insides of the bread and add my cheese and onions in. I warm a small skillet with some olive oil and cook away! I have added thinly sliced apples too. So delicious.

Do you have food allergies? What types of alternatives have you found to your favorite dishes to make them work for you? Let me know.

Overnight Oats Meet Smoothie Bowl

Okay, true confession: I want to be an oatmeal girl. I pin overnight oats recipes and I try them. I search for steel cut oats recipes you make in the in the slow cooker overnight. I add in all kinds of fruits or spices and scour recipes…but I just love smoothies and smoothie bowls. Oatmeal isn’t my thing.

Until now. The other day I saw a recipe on Pinterest for an oat smoothie bowl. The bowl itself was simple (the recipe was more about the homemade granola topping), so I took it, tweaked it, tried it, and LOVED it. It starts with an overnight oat base and is a game changer. Overnight Oats and a smoothie bowl? Yes, please!

So I am sharing my recipe. Feel free to play around with it. And be sure to tell me how it goes if you try it out.

Overnight Oats Green Goodness Smoothie Bowl

Overnight Oats:

  1. 1/3 cup rolled oats 
  2. 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  3. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
  4. 1/2 cup coconut milk
  5. Pinch of salt

Combine and let sit overnight.

Smoothie Bowl

  1. Overnight oats mixture 
  2. 1 or 2 frozen bananas
  3. 1 tablespoon peanut butter or nut butter
  4. 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional. My favorite is Designer Whey Vanilla Almond)
  5. 1/2 cup coconut milk 
  6. Large handful of greens(I used a mixture of spinach and kale)

      Ice as needed, depending on the texture you prefer.

Whirl away and top with fruit, granola, etc. Mine had fresh Rainer cherries and Bear Naked granola. I often make my own granola but haven’t since we moved.
Do you like overnight oats? Share your favorite recipes with me.