Wash Your Produce :)

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As you probably know,  non organic produce has residues of nasty chemicals and pesticides.  Although there are things you just can’t wash off, like the remains of fruit ripening chemicals,  you should wash your produce before consuming.  Fruit and vegetable wash is available for sale at many stores, but you can also make your own!  It is super easy and probably just as effective.  It can be cheaper, since you probably have all you need at home.

Here is what you need:

1 tablespoon of lemon juice (from an actual lemon not a bottle)

2 tablespoons of vinegar (distilled white is fine)

1 cup of water

spray bottle

Mix all ingredients in spray bottle and you are done.  You can use this directly on fruits and vegetables. Rub it in and rinse.  I use a soft scrub brush to work the solution on the skin but it is not necessary.

For softer skinned fruits and vegetables (like leafy greens or strawberries) you can use the same recipe, just trow it all in a bowl.  Swish it around for a few, then rinse.  Be careful thou with raspberries and very delicate fruits since they can absorb some of the vinegar.  I would just buy those organic or  wash very briefly and rinse with plain water.

For a big batch you can use your sink (I like to do all my apples and citrus at once).  As a general guideline (depends on the size of your sink) fill halfway with water and add about 1/2 cup of vinegar.  Soak the produce for a couple of  minutes and rinse.

Easy, affordable and all natural!  It is a great alternative to help keep some of those chemicals outside your body :)

Green Smoothie

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My two year old Marcos is not as much a lover of the green veggies as Lucas is.  I won’t lie it has been a little frustrating  but with a little experimenting I found a way to introduce him to these flavors and nutrients.  Today I would like to share the recipe for a super simple green smoothie that has become a staple in our home.  This 4 ingredient smoothie is rich in antioxidants and a good source of potassium and calcium.

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Ingredients:

1 banana

3-4 cups of spinach

juice of 1 lemon

1 cup of water

 

Throw all  in a blender and done.  It makes about 2 1/2 cups.  The perfect amount to share with your little :).

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Healing Broths

I recently read an article on Well+Good about a new trend in New York, bone broths.  “Finally” I said to myself and decided to add my little grain of sand by sharing some information with you.

Broths are one on the most ancient and healing foods you will find.  I am not talking about those you buy at the grocery store, but the ones you make at home.  Broths are ridiculously easy to make and contain a wealth of nutrients.  It is a traditional food that has been removed from our culture by the food industry’s fast everything standards.  I am here to tell you that making this a staple food at your home will not only  improve the flavor of your meals but your health.

Most of the food generally consumed is depleted of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.  These foods are flavor and nutrient lacking, even worse they are depleting.  They literally rob your body of essential nutrients!   When your body is malnourished it can’t protect itself from viruses that are rampant during the cold season.  If you have ever wondered why you or your kids always get sick during the winter, it’s not because of the cold weather but poor nutrition. Broths are a great way to nourish your body.  This season I invite you to build up your reserves and make broths a part of your routine.  Me and the kids have greatly benefited from sipping on them on a regular basis.

Broths can be a nutrient powerhouse!  Bone broths are especially nourishing containing minerals in  forms that can be easily absorbed by the body.  Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, glucosamine and gelatin are just a few of the precious nutrients you can find in a bone broth.    The calcium found in bone broths easily surpasses the one found in milk!  Bone broths gelatin content is excellent for aiding in digestion not to mention it is good for your joints.  Vegetable broths can also be loaded with nutrients like potassium and trace minerals.

Lucas and I enjoy sitting down together for a cup of hot vegetable tea (as he calls it) and look at books.

turn it into a soothing event with beautiful teacups

turn it into a soothing event with beautiful teacups

 

Making broths is simple you just need a pot, water, vinegar and what ever ingredients you are using be bones or vegetables. For bone broths you will want to put the bones (preferably from organic meat, pork or chicken) in the pot, cover with water and add a couple of teaspoons of vinegar.  The vinegar leaches the mineral from the bones.  Let the bones sit on this water-vinegar solution for an hour before heating.  Then bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 6-8 hours.  I usually let my bone broth simmer overnight in a slow cooker at low temperature.  Vegetable broths can be ready faster.

If you do a quick google search you will find numerous and easy recipes.  Here is a bone broth recipe by wellness mama.  And the article “Broth is Beautiful” contains various recipes.

 

I am going to share the recipe we have been using the most, for our daily “vegetable tea”.  It is super easy, don’t be daunted by the list of ingredients, and delicious.  I got this recipe from  Rebecca Katz, The Inner Cook and it truly is a “magic broth”.

Magic Broth recipe

3 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds
1 unpeeled medium yellow onions, cut into chunks
1 leek, both white and green parts, cut into thirds
1⁄2 bunch celery, including the heart, cut into thirds
3 unpeeled cloves garlic, halved
1/2 bunch fresh flat‐leaf parsley
2 medium red potatoes with skins on, quartered
1 Japanese or regular sweet potatoes with skins on, quartered 1 Garnet yam with skin on, quartered
1 8‐inch strip of kombu ( I have been using a whole Nori sheet)
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
3 whole allspice or juniper berries
1/2 tablespoon sea salt

Rinse all the vegetables.  Put all ingredients in a pot except the salt. Fill the pot  with water, cover, and bring to a boil.

Remove the lid, decrease the heat to low, and simmer a minimum of 2‐3 hours, I simmer mine for 6. If water evaporates and vegetables start surfacing add more water.  Once the broth is ready add salt.  Strain and store.  I use mason jars.  That’s it even an inexperienced cook can handle this recipe.

If Lucas can do it, so can you!

If Lucas can do it, so can you!

Ready to cook!

Ready to cook!

So good luck and, pardon the pun, may the broth be with you!

 

 

Butternut Squash Muffins

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With Fall a lot of squash and pumpkin are coming my way.  Growing up in  Puerto Rico I didn’t eat any of the traditional fall favorites, like pumpkin pie or anything pumpkin for that matter.  So this year I have decided to learn how to prepare a variety of dishes using these abundant fall crops.

This weekend I tweaked a Jamie Oliver recipe of butternut squash muffins.  It was approved by the whole family so I am passing it on.

Here is what you need:

14 oz butternut squash, cut into pieces with skin on

3 eggs (free range and organic would be best)

2 1/2 cups of flour.  I used 1 1/2 cup of sprouted spelt flour and 1 cup coconut flour, these are healthier alternatives to regular flour and are easier to digest.

2 teaspoons of non-aluminum baking powder

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/4 cup of coconut oil

1/4 cup or plain, whole milk yogurt

1 cup of sugar.   I used half organic sugar and half xylitol because I try for our pastries not to cause too much of a wreck on our blood sugar.  Xylitol has little impact on blood sugar and does not feed yeast, at the time it is touted as a healthier alternative to sugar.  Of course keep in mind that, as with anything else, you need to get it from a good source and that studies on sugar substitutes are constantly changing.  In any case use any sweetener in moderation.  For more information on the subject you can click here.

1/2 teaspoon of celtic sea salt

1 to 2 spoonful of  chia seeds

 

Pre-heat oven to 350 and line your cupcake or muffin tray

Throw squash in food processor and whiz until finely chopped (you do not have to cook the squash prior or remove the skin)

Add the sugar and eggs to food processor and whiz again 🙂

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.

Pour mixture into lined pan.  I had to use a spoon because the mixture is a little thick.

Place in oven and bake for 25 minutes, them remove muffins from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

And that is all folks.  These muffins are a healthier alternative to sugary and nutrient depleted cupcakes.  And they are very filling; so they keep you satiated longer, a good thing coming this cold weather that makes us want to eat constantly and hibernate :).

 

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This recipe was well received and approved by both Lucas and Marcos.

 

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Hope your family enjoys it too!

 

 

 

Zucchini and carrot pie

Fall is here.  As the days start getting cooler, our foods should start making us feel a little warmer.  So how about a healthy pie for dinner!  Or lunch, or breakfast for that matter.  With this recipe you can start using up all that left over zucchini in the fridge, and create a delicious, easy and healthy meal to boot.

Ingredients:

1 large zucchini grated (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 carrot grated

1 cup of shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup of chopped shallots or onion

1/4 cup of chopped chives

2/3 cup of milk

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 eggs

1/2 cup flour, I recommend  sprouted spelt or any sprouted flour

1/2 teaspoon of celtic sea salt

1 teaspoon of baking powder (non-aluminium)

3 tablespoons of grated parmesan  (you can use the powdery one if you like)

Pre-heat oven to 400.  And grease pie pan,  I use coconut oil don’t worry it won’t taste like coconut :).

After you shred the zucchini dry it out. Try to get as much water out as possible, I put it in a kitchen towel and pat it dry.

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Put in a bowl with carrots, shallots, chives and cheese.

In a separate bowl mix the rest of the liquid ingredients.  And use a separate bowl to mix the dry ones.  Mix dry and wet ingredients.  Place zucchini mixture in pie pan.  Add the mixture with all other ingredients.  Top with the parmesan cheese.  Place in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.  Mine is usually done in 30.  Let sit for about 5 minutes and serve.

 

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You can serve as a main dish or side dish.  Either way it is an easy way to add some veggies into your day.

Enjoy!

 

A better PB&Jelly

Today I was thinking about the little things we can do to improve our lives. Smiling more, relaxing my shoulders, drinking more water, walking more and sitting less.  It’s the small changes we make on a daily basis that have the greatest impact in our health.

While making Lucas a peanut butter sandwich it occurred to me I could improve it, with a little twist.  Here is the easy and healthier alternative to the famous PB and jelly.

The new and improved pb&honey

The new and improved pb&honey

Use whole wheat bread. When choosing bread I always check how much sugar is in it and, honestly, how it looks.  The further it looks from a brown version of wonder bread the better.  Test your bread, the longer the shelf life the worst it is for you.  My bread usually goes bad after about 4 days unless I refrigerate it.  Most of the time (cultured foods excluded) super long shelf life is an indicator of high processing.

Use peanut butter with one ingredient on it, peanuts.

Instead of jelly use a little bit of raw honey (not the kind that comes in a little plastic bear). Raw honey has lots of vitamins, minerals plus antibacterial and antioxidant power.

Sprinkle with chia seeds for extra antioxidant power.

That’s all folks.

A small change that can improve your health and your children’s.  By the way, Lucas loved the new version.  Mission accomplished for the day :).

 

 

Home made paint

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Another summer day arrives.  And with it a gazillion: “what are we doing now?!”  The little’s don’t skip a beat and I suddenly feel myself aging rapidly :).  What is a mother to do so she doesn’t earn a one way ticket to the loony bin?  Activities, lots of em.  This summer I have done everything I can think of and afford.   The pool, fruit picking, the aquarium, playdates, dancing, pretending to be a superhero, reading and lots and lots of painting and crafts.

Today Lucas and I tackled another project, home-made paint.  A while back my mom shared this recipe with me and I finally got around to doing it. I have to say the paint isn’t really great but there is a lot of fun to be had with it.  For one, making the paint is something a 3-year-old can help with.  Basically you mix equal parts of flour, salt and water then add a few drops of food coloring.

Lucas especially enjoyed shaking the mixture

Lucas especially enjoyed shaking the mixture

"can we shake it some more pleeeeasseeeee"

“can we shake it some more pleeeeasseeeee”

 

Here is what we did:

mixed 2 spoonfuls of flour, 2 spoonfuls of salt and two spoonfuls of water in a jar.  Then we closed it with a lid and shook it, that was pretty fun.  Then we added a few drops of food coloring and shook it again.  We put the mixtures (we did 4 colors red, blue, yellow and green) in separate containers.  Then we proceeded to test the paint.

Lucas experiments with the new paint

Lucas experiments with the new paint

As I mentioned before it’s not great quality, it looks a little like watercolor but it has a grainy consistency.  But the best part of it is that it’s not toxic at all, it could even be edible (thou I wouldn’t recommend it yuck 🙂

This paint is most suitable for babies, its all natural and safe

This paint is most suitable for babies, it’s all natural and safe

It’s also so cheap to make I don’t mind just letting the baby play with it.  In the end I figured that was the best use for it anyways.  Baby body painting :).

Marcos prefers painting his cute little footsie than the paper.

Marcos prefers painting his cute little footsie than the paper.

 

I also figured we could use this type of paint for a paint fight a la Pollock 🙂  We could lay out some cheap white fabric on the ground (preferably outside) and then give everyone a couple of squirt bottles filled with paint.  The paint war would be limited to the area of the fabric.  In the end I’m sure an interesting and fun work of art would turn up.  If anything it would be a fun way to kill a few summer minutes :).

Gluten free Chocolate-banana muffins

Finally I think I got this right, I think.  Keeping in mind I’m an amateur healthy baker 🙂 I promise to update this recipe if I make modifications.  In any case, this recipe has been approved by Lucas.   Its a healthy alternative to store bought muffins I am happy to serve him.  It is high in fiber with a lower glycemic index than baked goods containing regular flour.  It also contains a decent amount of protein and healthy fats.

So without further ado, here is the recipe.

Gluten free and delicious

Gluten free and delicious

 

 

Ingredients:

1 ripe banana

2 eggs

1/3 cup of whole-plain yogurt

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of chia seeds (optional)

1/4 teaspoon of celtic sea salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 spoonful of cocoa powder

1 spoonful of sugar in the raw (for a healthier alternative you can use dextrose, you might need a little more than a spoonful)

1/2 cup coconut flour

 

Preheat oven to 400.  In a large bowl mash the banana, then add eggs, yogurt, coconut oil and vanilla extract.  Mix well.  Add dry ingredients but hold off on the flour, mix well.  Add coconut flour and mix.  Put mix in greased cupcake pan ( I use coconut oil)  makes about 9 muffins.  Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on oven.  Remove muffins from pan while still hot, so they don’t get stuck, be careful :).

Since this recipe contains no preservatives I recommend storing in the fringe after the first day or two.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Healthy Chocolate Shake

Super simple, super delicious and healthy to boot!  This is a recipe I came up with so my kids could have a healthier alternative to a milkshake at home.  Rich in probiotics and antioxidant power, this is a shake I’m happy to serve my kids.

A healthy treat that makes Lucas smile!

A healthy treat that makes Lucas smile!

 

1 Cup of plain yogurt

1 spoonful of organic cocoa powder

1 scoop of grass-feed whey

a few ice cubes

Blend ingredients and serve!

Coconut Milk Custards

Coconut milk custards

Coconut milk custards

 

Here is a recipe for baby (8 months up) that is not only delicious, it’s super healthy.  I got this one from the book Super Nutrition for Babies.  It’s simple and a great treat for your little one.

Coconut Custard

Makes 8 servings

1 cup of organic, whole coconut milk (no sugar added)

1/2 cup of softened organic butter

1/2 uber ripe banana

6 large egg yolks (organic and pasture raised for super nutrition 🙂

Preheat oven to 325

Mix all ingredients, pour the mix into 8 buttered paper cups set in a tin muffin pan.  You can also use ramekins.  Place the muffin pan in a large class pan filled two-thirds with water.  Bake for 45 minutes or until set.

That’s it, they are ready to eat, you can refrigerate for up to 5 days.

 

I fed this to Marcos this morning and he seemed to approve 🙂

Marcos 9 months young

Marcos 9 months young