DIY Window Herb Garden

Each year, as the seasons turn colder, my inner chef-gardener-foodie laments for the end of our herb garden’s harvest and the  flavors and health benefits it brings to our kitchen. “Ciao fresh basil Caprese, adios fresh cilantro pico de gallo, and au revoir fresh tarragon chicken…”

I jest, but really, there are countless, not to mention delicious, benefits to cooking (or heck, bartending!) with fresh herbs. Health benefits of common herbs such as basil, oregano, mint, and rosemary include (but certainly are not limited to): anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties (not sure if mojitos count here, but whatever), digestive and immune system boosters, anti-aging properties and more.*

Simply put, fresh herbs are delicious and medicinal.

food on white background

Surrre you can buy the little pre-packaged herbs in the produce aisle, but it’s not the same! When I wander out to the garden to clip and gather fresh herbs, I full on am feeling like this in my mind…

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I love you, Whole Foods. But you can’t make me feel like Claire…

… ok, minus time travel and castles and such, I suppose. (A girl can dream!) But you get my point. Growing my own herbs makes me feel good. I also like knowing where my food comes from (as much as I can) and being able to whip up recipes on a whim (read: without having to go to the store to buy ingredients.)

But, not all of us live in a climate or space that permits a four-season outdoor edible garden.  So, what to do?

Of course, in my dream home, I will have a charming vintage greenhouse filled with fragrant edibles (and cute kids minding my plants, of course) a la Magnolia Farms all year long. But for now, I am already weeks into the freezing “crisp” New England fall and the “yard” at our current rental situation has more concrete than soil.

Greenhouse

So, I keep dreaming. But, I also don’t give upI don’t currently have a yard, or a greenhouse, but I DO happen to have a window. Not a particularly large or fancy one at the moment (read: rental), but any window will do. After scouring the internet, I found a style that I liked here and came up with my own super-simplified version of the project.

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Above is the HGTV version. Below on the left is the window I started with (oh hey, builder-basic-rental finishes!), and on the right is the super-simple window garden I created in 2 hours, for less than $20. True Story. (Oh, and that little roman shade is actually a no-sew-faux-roman-shade that I put together during the same 2 hour period.  That little tutorial is coming at you next week!) I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, and so far my herbs seem to be too.

SO, herein follows my quick, dirt cheap, and effective way to bring fresh herbs indoors for the urban, budget, minimalist, or cold weather gardener-chef-foodie in all of us. Time required (I promise you!) is less than 2 hours. I knocked this whole project out in one naptime, and my total expense was about $20 TOTAL dollars. Like, basically the price of one fancy-sandwich-shop-lunch. #worthit

DIY Window Herb Garden

Level: Beginner

Budget: $20.00

 

side view

Materials:

  • Small potted herbs
  • Small buckets with handles
  • Curtain rod
  • Spray paint
  • String/twine
  • Scissors
  • Drill (or screwdriver, in a pinch)

To Make:

  1. Gather your materials. I found these potted organic herbs at our local health food store for $3.99 each and the small metal buckets in the seasonal section of the nearest big-box store for a dollar each. (Think: Target dollar section, Wal-Mart, or the Dollar Store. I’m pretty sure they all stock the same loot.)
    bucket and herb
    Any type of bucket will do (even Halloween cats!) since spraypaint will cover the surface evenly.

    I also got a bargain-basement curtain rod for $7.99 and a couple cans of spray-paint at the same big-box store. I used twine and scissors I already had, and a drill from our tool-box.

  2. Spray your buckets. Using your color of choice, spray each bucket with 2+ coats of spray paint. Just make sure to select a paint that adheres well to the material of your buckets. Just about any multipurpose spray paint adheres to plastic and/or metal. I used Krylon Colormaster Brilliant Silver to match the chrome fixtures in our kitchen. (Note: I also tried a Rustoleum Rose Gold finish, because I love pretty much everything rose gold. But, I found that it was not as metallic as I would have liked, and didn’t dry completely smooth on the metal. Luckily, if you have a color mishap like mine, it’s easy to spray over the first color with your final choice once the first coat is dry.)
  3. Mount curtain rod. While your buckets are drying, select the height for your garden window.  I raised mine to about the halfway mark on our window’s bottom pane, where my plants will get a good dose of afternoon sun, and will not to restrict the window’s operation. Most curtain rods come with all the hardware you need, so once you’ve selected your height, just follow the instructions in your package.
  4. Re-pot plants or trim planters as needed. I chose not to re-pot my herbs because they happened to fit just right in the buckets I found (LUCK people, luck.) I also wanted to take advantage of the drainage holes already in the plastic planters the herbs were purchased in. (Note: If you choose to re-pot your herbs into your buckets you will need to drill drainage holes in the bottom of the buckets. Soil needs to drain, or plants will die!) I just trimmed the plastic lip off of the top of my plastic plant-liners so they would fit flush inside the buckets.

    herb pots
    Trim the pot-liners to create a more seamless look.
  5. Hang buckets. Using twine or string, tie the bucket handles to your curtain rod. I used a neutral string that was about the same color as the rod so the twine would kind of disappear. But a natural twine or rope would lend a nice rustic feel as well.

    tie
    Tie a simple knot to attach each bucket handle to the curtain rod with your twine or string.
  6. Water, eat, repeat! That’s it! Make sure your herbs get good sunshine, water daily, and trim regularly to encourage growth. That means get to work, chef!

Happy fresh, healthy, winter cooking and happy DIY’ing folks!

fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer. (Photo credit: Tara Liebeck Photography)

 

 

 

Sources

*Ellie Krieger, The Health Benefits of Herbs as published in The Washington Post

Healthy Pumpkin Bread

If you’re like me, the second the temperature dipped below 70 degrees, you were all over all. the. pumpkin. things.  Literally, in one afternoon (in which I barely had time to shower mind you), I somehow managed to acquire multiple fall scented candles, and at least 4 cans of organic pumpkin.

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Yes, Reese. 100%. Yes.

I know that my 20-something-year-old self would be mortified to even think I that I would say this out loud, but I was legitimately excited to crack open a can of pumpkin to bake our first pumpkin bread of the season this week, y’all. Actual, real excitement. Hold on to your mom jeans…

I’ve been making a derivative of this delicious, spice-filled Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread, for years (maybe even pre-motherhood, I honestly don’t know because my memory no-longer functions at that level, given the last 6 years of sleep deprivation, but I digress) and it’s become, as I suppose I’ve made apparent at this point, a fall staple in our household. I usually pare down the sugar by adding vanilla and extra cinnamon, but in lieu of recent studies on good fats and bad fats (Dr. Annie breaks them down here) I made an extra swap this year.

As with most old-school pumpkin bread recipes, my go-to recipe called for a boat-load of vegetable oil (read: NOT a good fat). So this year, I swapped ALL the vegetable oil for 1/2 heart-healthy coconut oil and 1/2 high-protein full-fat greek yogurt to make this pumpkin bread unofficially healthy enough to pack in our kiddos’ school lunches as something other than a glorified dessert, and because it packs extra protein it can double as a legit breakfast. Not to mention it pairs incredibly well with a hot cup of coffee on a cool fall morning.

orange pumpkin near white ceramic mug with seeds

“WHAT?!?!” You say “Reduced-sugar-coconut-protein-pumpkin bread?!?! STOP RUINING FALL!”

I know, I know that’s what it sounds like. But I swear to you on my pumpkin spice candles, this version is, I daresay even better than the original, and IMO does not taste coconutty or unsweetened in any way. Nope. Just tastes like fall should.  And should you need proof, not a single picky sugar-loving child objected (or even noticed)! In fact they just asked for more…

So here it is folks, the healthy pumpkin bread recipe your whole family will love!

Healthy Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:

*For coconut allergies or intolerances, try substituting ghee

** You can use even less sugar (I typically use about 1/4 c. less) but I believe this amount keeps it closest to traditional taste.

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To Make:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 large, or 3 small/medium loaf pans with coconut oil. (Mine yields three loaves, as pictured.)
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, stir pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water, yogurt, vanilla, and sugar until well blended. 
  3. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger, and mix until just blended. (I probably shouldn’t, but I completely skip the whole “dry ingredients in a separate bowl” step and dump everything into my stand mixer and I’ve yet to have any complaints…)
  4. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pans and sprinkle the top of each loaf with the reserved 1 teaspoon of sugar.
  5. Bake for about 45-50 minutes in the preheated oven (depending on the size of your loaf pans). Loaves are done when a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve warm, and enjoy!

fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3 children, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe & wine explorer who is passionate about healthy living and pumpkin-scented fall things.

Photo credit: Tara Liebeck Photography

There’s wine in my soup

Those of you following us on Instagram may have seen this mouthwatering photo of our homemade Chianti Minestrone pop up on your feed for #winewednesday this week.

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We got a lot of interest about what’s cooking in our kitchen, and we were asked by a reader (and high school friend! what, what!) to post the recipe. So, without mincing words (see what I did there?) I’ll get straight to the point. Here’s how to make the magic happen.

Homemade Chianti Minestrone with Spicy Italian Sausage

Ingredients:

  • 1 28 oz. chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into half moons
  • 1 lb hot Italian turkey sausage
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced into half moons
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into half moons
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup of fresh basil, chopped (reserve a few leaves for garnish)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 32 oz. vegetable broth
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1/2 cup good Chianti (optional)
  • 1/2 water (as needed)
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese (for topping)

To Make:

  1. Coat the bottom of a large soup pot generously with olive oil. Add sausage, onion, and garlic and cook over medium-high heat until sausage is cooked through, and the garlic and onion are fragrant but not blackened. Crumble sausage as much as possible.
  2. Reduce to medium heat and add carrots, cook 3-5 minutes more or until slightly tender.
  3. Add zucchini and squash and saute until tender, another 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for another 30 minutes or so.
  5. Add pasta, beans, spinach, and herbs and return to a boil. Cook for 5-10 minutes and reduce heat to low simmer.
  6. Finish by adding 1/2 cup of good Chianti, and salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes I’ll add an extra 1/2c. of water or so too, depending on how much broth has reduced.

That’s it! You’re done. If you want to go crazy and make homemade bread too, this soup goes fantastically well with my homemade herbed bread, and you can find that recipe here. This makes a LOT of soup and typically feeds us for a couple of meals. I add a bit of water to thin the broth when I reheat it, but it keeps very well in the fridge for a number of days.

Bon Appetit and happy fall soup-ing! (And wining, if you’re so inclined.) Cheers!

fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3 children, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe & wine explorer.

Photo credit: Tara Liebeck Photography

 

 

Bug off! Non-toxic home pest control

It’s that time again! The end-of-summer showers have arrived, bringing with them lots of humidity loving… BUGS. Yep, just when you think school’s back in session and you are solidly on the way to a pumpkin spice latte, the summer heat and showers hang around and make it feel like these bugs are here to stay FOREVER.

macro photography of brown beetle with dew drops

Ok, ok, I exaggerate. But here, near the water, I feel like we’ve had more than our fair share of creepy crawlers this year, and  kid-friendly, non-toxic methods to deal with these seasonal pests is something that I find moms ask me about ALL the time. And I’m all for supporting eco-systems and letting bugs do their thing outside, but when they come inside on repeat?! Whole lotta NOPE.

So, when the little crawlers have you creeping, or shall I say “bugging out”?? (Who’s got mom jokes??) Have no fear, we got you. And as moms, we are particular. We want bugs out, but no toxic pesticides in either. Here are our go-to (and I don’t know if I can say stylish in this arena… but not-totally-smelly-and-disgusting-looking in the very least) methods for kid-safe/pet-safe indoor pest control to keep the summer bugs at bay.

apples assorted bananas bowl

The offender: Fruit Flies

Look. I love a beautifully arranged fresh bowl of produce as much as the next guy, but the GD fruit flies are really cramping my style. I am absolutely certain that every time I reach for a lime, those little suckers have multiplied. But homemade methods for trapping fruit flies can seem borderline sadistic. You know, the mashed-up fruit with the funnel in a cup trick? And the sticky paper?! No. The solution shouldn’t be more disgusting than the problem, people! Enter the saviors at Garden Supply Co. with this little beauty, pictured below.

fruit fly trap

This actually nice-to-look-at soapstone dish comes with two odorless bait inserts that lure in fruit flies and trap them. And it works. Like within days, you’re done. (Maybe the best part, even when emptying, the flies are OUT OF SIGHT!! Yes!) You can leave the simple, clean, soapstone container out on your counter preventatively and no one gets fruit flies in their wine. Win.

shallow focus photography of couple ants holding book figurine
I want to think of them being cute.  I just… can’t.

The offender: Ants, Spiders (and other crawly friends)

I really just can’t even list the names of all the summer crawlies. But thankfully, I don’t have to, because there is a natural, non-toxic solution that works on all of them called Diatomaceous Earth (DE). DE can be used indoors or outdoors, and deters ants, spiders and the like. It is made of the fossilized remains of phytoplankton (yes, REALLY!) and is completely odorless and about as worry-free as it gets. It’s harmless even if baby gets some in her MOUTH. (Little known fact: Humans actually can and do eat DE, as often farmers sprinkle DE in and around their grain to keep the bugs out of the grain.)

To use, sprinkle the powder where you think the little critters are coming in (vacuum excess if using indoors) and let this stuff do its magic. It takes a couple days, but we saw a drastic decrease in our stubborn sugar ants pretty quickly. For more information on DE and how it works, check out this article from SFGate.

toy fly on white graphing paper

The Offender: House Flies

Oh my flipping word… if another fly buzzes past my head at a summer meal!! Am I right?! Ugh, let’s just say I struggle to find the redeeming qualities of house-flies when the sight of them inevitably reminds me that they probably sat on poo before they sat on my kid’s sandwich. Every.single.time.

Common solutions to flies are often ineffective, smelly, loud, or visually pretty gross. Think fly-zappers, smelly traps, and yet again, the sticky paper. Why the sticky paper!? I don’t want to look at live flies, but I also don’t want to see them stuck to my wall. Instead, here are some quiet (maybe even interesting) and non-toxic solutions we use in my house.

fly trap

Venus Fly Trap

For real. You can get a plant that will eat your house fly problem. OK, carnivorous plants are basically just cool.  While interesting (and maybe fun in an odd way?) and happy to digest any victims of the fly-swatter, our Venus Fly Trap wasn’t up to the job of actually ridding our residence of flies. (Side note: did you know venus fly traps are actually native to the Carolinas?! They originally grew wild in boggy areas of North and South Carolina, gobbling up swamp bugs! Sorry, I digress. But really, that is cool.)

Indoor Silent UV trappers

UV light trappers are not new, but the quiet, indoor models are. (Trust me, this is not the porch zapper of our childhood.)

fly catcher

I love this method because it emits ZERO chemicals into our home and the clean, non-offensive look of this trap (pictured above) in particular that comes with a lot of solid consumer reviews, makes for a tidy and non-toxic but effective fly-catcher. (Works for mosquitoes too!)

white and purple flower plant on brown wooden surface

Whole home: Essential Oils

Another method for cleansing your home of pests is essential oils. While they won’t trap or rid your home of infestations, they will smell nice, and have a deterrent effect that can help keep pests out instead of drawing them in. Some great scents to try include Rosemary, Citronella, Lavender, and Tea Tree oil. Always diffuse with care and according to instructions.

Try a drop of each in a carrier oil such as ghee butter, olive, grapeseed, coconut, or avocado oil. Rub it all over as a deterrent. If you wish to diffuse it, grab a diffuser from any health food store (don’t make it expensive) and place 3-6 drops of each oil each in your blend if you are relaxing outside.

When in doubt: go with Hollywood. Honestly, the best pest deterrent is pure garlic oil. Crush a clove or two….or three… You’ll have to bathe after, but you won’t have West Nile. (Or vampires.) I’m just sayin’.

Wishing you a pest-free weekend and a fresh, clean home! I’ll be here, doing my no-fruit-fly happy dance. From my fruit-bowl to yours, you’re welcome.

 

fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and fly-swatting ninja.

Photo credit: Tara Liebeck Photography

Zen As A Mother: Kristy’s Simple Guide to Creating Your At Home Zen Space

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Oh, there you are!

Now that school is back in session, I have found gratitude in some straight up sol-i-tude. Know what I’m sayin’? Rather than spending this time binge watching “This is Us” (no judgement if that is how you relax) or adding on work hours that would leave me depleted when the kids got home, I’ve decided to dedicate this time where I am transitioning in so many ways to starting each day with some zen time.

This has always been a hard concept for me, because my house has never felt…well….zen-able. I have struggled with the ability to turn off my anxiety in order to sit peacefully without the checklist of things that I have to get done before I turn my “mom” back on. I realize now, that that notion is no longer working for me.

zen frog

So, I put on my Namaste big girl pants and tackled a space in my house that has been many things. A guest room, a Massage Room, the room where I kept all my LulaRoe clothing inventory (yes I did do that for a time) and now, I have transformed it into a loving and welcoming environment for all those family members who wish to find peace with meditation.

SOOOOOOO, without further Ado, I give you my guide to making your seemingly impossible chaotic space….zenified.

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  1. Find a subtle corner: It doesn’t have to be an elaborate room or even a huge space, if you feel at peace in a corner of your bathroom with Cindy Lauper blaring, do that.
  2. Declutter your space; Declutter your mind: Make sure you vacuum, sweep, remove any trash or clutter items, so that energy can flow nicely and there are less distractions in your space. In the Ultimate Beginners Guide to Feng Shui, (Feng Shui being an ancient Chinese version of creating harmony in your living or working space) “In a clear and organized space, energy can flow freely and feelings of guilt and unrest might vanish too.” I know that clutter makes me feel irritated and judegmental of myself and my surroundings, and disorganization of my space adds to my anxiety and scatter-brained moments. So, clear answer is a clear space leads to a clear mind.
  3. Meaningful Decorating: For me, it is super important to feel inspired by the art that surrounds me. Whether it invokes a sense of peace, a pleasant memory, or makes me feel cloaked in the guidance of a loved one who has passed, each piece in my zen space has meaning. My personal space has some living energy in the plants that remind me of divine guidance and the readiness of life to bloom at any moment.
  4. Sacred clearing: Not only do we declutter our space of “things”, we must also declutter our space of energy. If you haven’t heard of smudgingimg_0031 with sacred sage before, now is the time to jump on that train. It can be a smudge stick, or it can come in spray form, but the idea is the same. According to Jane Alexander in her article Smudging, “It [smudging] is the equivalent of spiritual spring cleaning.” There is a ton of information out there about the origins of this practice, but for our purposes here, I will explain my intentions. Sacred sage, for me, allows any energy that will influence my mediation practice to be cleared. I believe the smoke from burning the smudge stick will attach to the energies. So, I fill the room, open all the windows, and blow the energy out to the earth. This way, I am clear of any influences or energies that are not my own.
  5. Sound Elements: Sound therapy is always a plus for keeping energy flowing and clear as it is moving through your space. In this amazing book, How to Heal with Singing Bowls, Suren Shrethsa explains that “clients have experienced a wide array of benefits from deep stress relief and relaxation, to a reduction in chronic pain.” One can also use music of all kinds, guided meditation tapes, or water elements such as this fountain for the sound therapy as well.
  6. Get Cozy: In my zen space, I use a sham pillow that’s cushy and cozy to sit on. You, however, may choose to lay, sit in a meditation chair, stand, or even do yoga. The choice is yours, just get comfy so your body can fully relax.
  7. Set up your Altar: There are a million ways to set up your altar space. Setting up an altar with statues, figures, photos, intention candles, or relics that pay homage to your higher power, can help ground your reflections and connect you to that source you find most comforting. It does not have to be about an organized religion, but just think about what makes you feel unconditional love, and place your reminders on your altar. Mine has a heart that reminds me of the sacred union between my heart and the universe, and a mantra that reminds me to light my soul’s fire and be fearless in that. I also love to remember that the world is full of magic, so I am inspired by peacock feathers and a fairy next to my orchid.
  8. Protect your space: believe it or not, it’s super easy to be effected by the energy of others while creating sacred space for you. If your kids are at home, or your neighbors are cutting the grass, their influential distractions can take their toll. I like to put up special mirrors, called Bagua mirrors that deflect negative energies and keep them from entering your space and on the other side, keep positive vibes in. Rad, right?
  9. Time for zen. Now, it’s up to you. Go forth, my loves, and get your zen on, whatever that means to you.

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Kristy is a doula, massage therapist, energy worker and mom of 2 in Virginia.

Back-to-School Breakfasts

Back to school mornings got anyone else feeling like they are #herdingcats ?? You have TONS of time to make breakfast for everyone before the bus/carpool/work/drop-off, right?!?! 

Many times, school mornings are a “just trying to get pants on all parties before they exit the house” kind of mornings, so healthy, homemade breakfasts for the whole squad can sometimes feel out of reach. And we get that. BUT we also know that no one learns better hangry, so it feels awesome when we can pull together a nutritious breakfast for our little one’s learning minds.

plate morning breakfast jam

Christiana’s Pick: Make-Ahead Protein Waffles

We LOVE waffles in our family, but as a mom, I didn’t love that most prepared mixes and waffle recipes were full of sugar, hydrogenated oils, and not much nutritional value. Enter the make-ahead protein waffle. These are definitely not just for the kids! Full of healthy fats, protein, and fiber, these waffles keep our whole super-active family full and energized all morning. I almost always mix these up on a Sunday morning and double the recipe so I have batter to last me a few weekdays. If you make ahead, simply refrigerate the batter and add a teaspoon of warm water to the bowl and re-mix before cooking on the waffle iron. As a bonus: There also lots of great ways to top these. Our house favorites include farm-fresh berries and cream, bananas and nutella, or frozen blackberries with pure maple syrup.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups milk of your choice (I like to use organic whole milk and/or unsweetened almond milk. You may need slightly more or less depending on the amount of optional extras you add, listed below.)
  • 6 Tbsp coconut oil  (Easiest to mix batter when oil is warmed to a liquid)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup ground flax seed (Optional)
  • 1/4 cup chia seed (Optional)
  • 1/4 cup protein powder (Optional. We prefer flavorless or vanilla, particularly Bob’s Red Mill Pea Protein)

To Make: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix and let rest while waffle iron warms. Scoop 1/4 -1/2 cup batter per waffle based on desired size. Top and enjoy!! Refrigerate leftover batter for busy weekday mornings. Will keep covered and refrigerated for several days.

Related imageAnnie’s Pick: Protein Banana Muffins

These are easy to make a week in advance, they freeze and reheat super easily – plus you get rid of those old bananas, hoorah! They are SUPER fast because you cheat and use Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Protein Packed Flapjack and Waffle Mix. They are also healthy because they’re whole grain and pack great healthy protein in each one. They taste good enough for my picky eater to mow through them because they’re made with real butter. Don’t you dare start skimping on that or throwing in your “applesauce in place of fat” recipe substitute nonsense- if you need to review my post about healthy fats to convince you, go here. The recipe is from the back of the box with a little less sugar and added vanilla. Kodiak also makes a gluten-free mix if you’re a glu-tard like me 😀

  • 2 cups Power Cakes Mix
  • 1 cup organic whole milk or milk substitute of choice
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soft unsalted butter
  • 2 ripe bananas, smashed up
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • optional: about 1 C chopped toasted nuts, coconut, chocolate chips…

To Make: Preheat oven to 350 and grease or line muffin cups (This will make 1 dozen but I usually double it). Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Use 1/3 C measuring cup to scoop into muffin tin. Bake 14-18 min for full-sized muffins or 10-14 for mini muffins. If you want to be a little “extra”, after they come out, melt some butter in one dish and mix up 2Tbs sugar and 1tsp cinnamon in another one. Dip muffins in butter then cinnamon sugar. You can also swap the banana for pumpkin and the cinnamon for pumpkin spice and up sugar to 1/2 cup for a festive fall version reminiscent of #PSL.

Mushroom-spinach-and-bacon-egg-muffins-five
Photo Cred: realsimplegood.com

Kristy’s Pick: Sausage or Bacon n’ Egg “McMuffins”

These paleo goodies are a Wright fam favorite for protein on the go. They are a meal prepper’s breakfast dream and can be made in regular size or “mini” for the kids. We have adapted this recipe several different ways, but from realsimplegood.com, the basic method is the same. If you’re like my household where”mushroom” is a bad word and provokes riot level hunger strikes, this recipe above needs to be adapted to avoid the Fungi That Shall Not Be Named. However, we’ve found it is easily substituted and a fun way to avoid the tummy rumbles and have the kids get involved! Also, since we have chickens, eggs are a plenty in our house so we try and utilize them any way we can.

For the bacon muffins:

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 lb bacon, diced and precooked
  •  green onion, diced
  •  handful of spinach, chopped
  •  salt and pepper, to taste

For the sausage muffins:

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 lb breakfast sausage
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, chopped (optional – create your own flavor options here)
  • handful of kale or spinach, chopped (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

To Make: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Heat two medium skillets over medium heat. Add in the sausage to one skillet and the bacon to the other. Brown the sausage and bacon and remove from the heat and set said.  In two separate medium bowls, crack five eggs into each bowl. Whisk the eggs up. Add in your ingredients to each bowl. This is where I let the kiddos take the lead. You can let them add herbs, cheeses, or extra meats they like! Next, rub a muffin tin with a little oil or spray with coconut oil spray, spoon the egg mixture into the muffin tin, filling them to just below the top. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Hope this gives you all a few options beyond toast and squeezie yogurt (no judgement on those options though!) or…. paper products. Happy Back-To-School week Real M*thers!

Zucchini Mania

Anyone else getting overloaded with some zucchini this time of year??

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Here are 2 recipes to add to your arsenal of zucchini disposal – bonus, my kids love both!!

Lemon Zucchini Cake

This recipe and gorgeous photo above are from Mom On Time Out Blog with a couple very slight tweaks – a little less sugar, used divided, and I used unsweetened macadamia milk and butter instead of almond milk and olive oil. She has a ton of awesome zucchini recipes – definitely check her out!

Ingredients
  • 1 cup granulated sugar – divided
  • 6 Tbsp melted and slightly cooled butter
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened vanilla macadamia milk (I like Milkadamia)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
  • 2 cups cake flour (can substitute AP flour following directions here)
  • 1¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1½ cup shredded zucchini, sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the sugar and toss in a mesh strainer. After prepping rest of above, squeeze excess liquid out.
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest
Glaze (optional)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Spray a loaf pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside. Prep zucchini. I like to cheat and use the food processor for shredding.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the remaining 3/4C sugar and butter. Whisk to combine.
  5. Add eggs and macadamia milk and whisk together.
  6. Add lemon juice and vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  7. Add flour mixture and stir just until incorporated.
  8. Fold in zucchini and lemon zest.
  9. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out with moist crumbs. The top of the cake should look dry.
  10. Place the loaf on a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes. Use the parchment paper to carefully life the cake from the pan. Let cool completely on rack.
Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice. Whisk until smooth.
  2. Drizzle the glaze over the cake.
  3. Slice and serve.
  • Still have more??
  • Triple Chocolate Zucchini Muffincakes

    These are my stand-by “get kids excited about something with zucchini in them” food. I think, hand to God, these are more delicious than regular chocolate muffins without the green stuff. The chocolate is in cocoa powder, dark chocolate chips and then optional ganache frosting and the zucchini makes these more decadent than a muffin but also healthier than a cupcake…. so I call ’em muffincakes.

    Makes 12 regular and 12 mini muffincakes

    • 1 C All purpose flour + 1/2 C whole wheat flour (optional substitute gluten free flour – works great in these
    • 1/2 C cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp cinnamon (also optional)
    • 2 tsp coffee granules (if you don’t have, sub 2TBS strong coffee into wet ingredients)
    • 1/2 C melted butter or coconut oil
    • 2/3 C sugar (divided)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • 2C grated zucchini – sprinkle with a handful of the sugar and toss in a mesh strainer. After prepping rest of above, squeeze excess liquid out.
    • 1 C dark chocolate chips ( I like Guittard)

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare muffin tins by spraying with coconut oil or lining with cups.
    2. In medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients (flour through coffee granules)
    3. In mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs and then vanilla. Stir in zucchini.
    4. Mix dry into wet in a few portions until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips and pour batter into muffin tin.
    5. Bake at 350F. 10-12 min for minis and 15-17 min for regulars.

    Optional Ganache

    • 1 C dark chocolate chips
    • 1/2 C heavy cream or coconut cream

    Heat together on stovetop or in microwave at 20 second intervals until chocolate is soft and can be stirred to smooth, melted heaven. Spread on cooled muffincakes. Indulge.

    Messy kitchen + happy kiddos + healthy treats = a win in my book!

    xoxo Dr. Annie