When the weather is warm and I am not in the mood for a green smoothie I make the next best thing… a milkshake. Nosh on some chocolate on the side and I am heaven sent. Yum!
This is a raw, vegan “mylkshake” made from unsweetened almond milk. I added a bit of Thai coconut sugar, a ripe banana, some vanilla, and ice cubes. It is frothy and delicious. I think the Ball jar and glass straw just add a little something too.
In the bowl is handful of Nativas Naturals Cacao Goji Power Snacks. I have long liked the brand for their raw, vegan, organic offerings. They sent me this bag and and a bag of Citrus Chia snacks. The chocolate ones are killer. The Chia Citrus ones tasted like soap. I did not like them at all. My husband, however, devoured the whole bag in about 30 minutes. Guess they don’t taste like soap to everyone.
Now I am powered up for errands and laundry!
What are you snacking on?
When it comes to healthy summertime treats for kids the winning solution usually has to do with the presentation of the treat. Something that captures a child’s imagination has a much better chance of actually getting eaten.
Getting a Visual on Summer Treats
A child given a handful of carrot and celery sticks is far less likely to be interested in eating them than is if they were given ‘notched’ carrot and celery sticks that they can create buildings out of (think the old fashioned Lincoln Logs).
Which brings us to our first healthy summertime treat:
Rabbit’s Lincoln Logs. Rabbit’s Lincoln Logs consist of carrot and/or celery sticks cut to precisely the same length and “notched” on each end so that they can be used to create edible structures. Kids will have a blast creating and then eating cabins and other structures. Stand by with a kitchen knife so that you can “cut out” windows and doors. If you want to get really creative, you can add olives as “ornaments” or lettuce leaves as thatching for the roof.
Juicy Pops. Tried but true, freezing 100% natural juice in your freezer to make juice pops never goes wrong, no matter how young or old your child is. Orange juice and apple juice fresh from the juicer and then frozen are big hits with my own kids. You can also buy popsicle molds with interesting shapes and forms that kids will love.
Homemade Smoothies. Everyone loves a cold drink on a hot day, but if you want to make sure that your kids get healthy alternatives to the high-sugar varieties of drinks available, you may want to consider homemade smoothies. Use an all-natural yogurt or kefir (plain or flavor of choice) as your base. Add 1 cup of berries and a handful of spinach. Blend it smooth and serve in small cups. Hint: Try to aim for a ‘pleasing’ color for your smoothie or your child may refuse to even try it. In our home we especially spinach and musk melon smoothies. They taste great and the pale green color is appreciated.
Tea Party Sandwiches. While the idea of tea party sandwiches may be aimed at girls for the most part, just change the name for boys, the idea is the same. Use a sprouted bread (like Ezekiel) and your favorite sandwich filler, and then cut the sandwich with a cookie cutter to make fun sandwich shapes. Hint: to minimize waste, use a cookie cutter shape that you can get at least one tea party sandwich per slice of bread, and don’t add the filler until after you’ve cut the shape, this will prevent unnecessary waste of the sandwich filler (not to mention cut down on the mess).
Nut Butter Porcupines. Use a smooth nut butter (like almond) and scoop out a large tablespoon full. Pat the nut butter into a smooth ball and then roll through chopped up walnuts and coconut until they resemble porcupines that have rolled themselves up into a ball. For an extra sweet touch you can add honey to the butter before rolling them in the nuts and/or coconut. This treat can technically be considered a “sweet treat” thanks to the coconut, but is still far healthier than many “sweet” snacks available on the market. Sunflower seed butter (which my kids adore) will also work with this if you add a bit of almond flour to solidify it.
What treats do your kids like to eat in the summer?
My youngest guy is a bit a grazer and a night time eater. He will rarely sit down and eat a whole bowl of cereal or yogurt but give him a bento box filled with nuts or flax chips and he will munch slowly for a couple hours until he has managed to eat it all. Like me, he struggles to find the appetite to eat in the morning. Not sure why that is. So in order to vary things and encourage him to eat more in the morning hours… I have been giving him a variety of foods to eat in small quantities… usually just a little bit of all the stuff he loves and it has worked like a charm. This is his breakfast bento for the morning/afternoon.
Greek yogurt, dehydrated banana chips drizzled with nut butter (almond/hazelnut I think), oatmeal w/cranberries, and trail mix with pepitas, nuts, chocolate chips, raisins, ect. To drink is a green smoothie with spinach, collards, turnip greens, wheat grass powder, and frozen fruit.
The nifty stainless steel divided plate (or bento style tray) and the matching stainless steel cup are from Yellow Margosa. They are non leaching and safe for kids to use. LOVE them! Safer than plastic and not as breakable as ceramic and glass.
For my breakfast I think I had a bite of everything I gave him and a quart of that green smoothie. Yum!
The glass straws can be found here.
If you have been around any traditional foods / nourishing traditions enthusiasts then no doubt you have heard them sing the praises of Kefir. What exactly is it though and how do you make it at home?
Kefir grains are actually a gelatinous grouping of bacteria and yeasts that grow during the process of fermentation. The grains themselves look very much like tiny cauliflower heads but they can turn milk, or other beverages into a drink that is deliciously sour and sparkling, charged naturally with carbon dioxide. The grains can be used again and again to make a continuous supply of kefir drinks.
Kefir was discovered accidentally by shepherds carrying milk in skin bags. Over time the milk would ferment and create a tasty drink. Now foodies everywhere are buying and making kefir drinks from cow’s milk, soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, juice, and even water. Fruit and other sweeteners can also be added to make a sweet sparkling juice, a drinkable yogurt style beverage, or a smoothie. If you want to try some before purchasing the grains, many natural foods grocery stores offer bottles of flavored Kefir but trust me it is yummy!
How to Make Your Own Kefir
The process for making kefir is actually pretty easy. You just add 1-2 tablespoons of the Milk Kefir Grains for every two cups of milk (or other liquid) to a glass mason jar. Fill the jar 3/4 with milk and let it sit at room temperature on your countertop for 12-24 hours. Keep away from direct sunlight. While the milk is culturing, gently shake the jar a few times to stir the mixture. The Kefir is done when it starts to taste tangy. Just strain the kefir grains out of the milk and set them aside to use again. You can also refrigerate them and the cold will cause them to go dormant if you don’t plan to use them for awhile. When stirring and straining make sure to use plastic or stainless steel utensils and kitchenware because certain metals can react to the acidic nature of milk grains and heavy metals can leach onto them. This is not true of water kefir grains, also called sugary kefir grains. For storage use glass, as it is an inert and non-reactive material.
The kefir grains will grow as you make more batches and if you mark your mason jar with a permanent marker you can tell how much they have grown and remove the excess. You can add the excess grains to the strained drink and blend to increase the probiotic value. You can also store them for future use, or you can donate them to someone who wants to try their own hand at making kefir.
Kefir is favored by health enthusiasts because it contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and strains of friendly bacteria and beneficial yeasts that help with digestion, immunity, healing, and the improvement of regular body functions. Many people swear that kefir has helped them to recover from serious illness and that it has anti-aging properties. The nutritional value of kefir makes it a beneficial drink for just about anyone and making it yourself is incredibly easy. So why not try it today?
For more info about live cultered foods I recommend: Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods and you can buy Milk Kefir Grains at Cultures for Health, eBay, or on Amazon.
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Life goes by so fast already who needs to speed things up by rushing through daily routines and tasks? If you are a parent then you know that it seems years go by like the blink of an eye and you are left to wonder where did time go? Like many, you may want to try and slow the pace of life and so you can truly enjoy the people and things that matter most to you. But how can you go about doing that? Here are some simple ideas for simple, joyful living.
Get up fifteen minutes earlier and go outside each morning. There is nothing more peaceful than the quiet of early morning. Go outside with your cup of coffee, tea, or green smoothie and sit in quiet reflection. Sit in a comfy chair or on a yoga mat. Think about your day and connect with nature as you listen to the wind, birds, insects, and the sounds of morning. Concentrate on your breathing and do some breathing exercises to help you feel energized and ready to tackle the day. Reserve that special time for yourself each morning and start the day off right.
Experience the joys of slow cooking. In this fast paced world it seems everyone touts the benefits of fast food but a new revolution has begin called the slow food movement. It is of course a more healthy way to eat but the real benefit is that you can get back to basics and cook the foods your mother and grandmother may have made and make meal times special in your house again. Create a meal plan each week and though you may spend more time cooking and a bit more money on quality ingredients, you and your family will relish the experience and time together.
Have a dinner party. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just make one or two special dishes and have guests mix their own drinks. Sit outside and talk with adults while the kids play. Perhaps you can trade dinner party nights with other families so that at east once a month you have something special and memorable to do.
Get a hobby! Start a sewing project or two, take up knitting or crochet, take your camera on a nature walk several times a week, start a scrapbook. Instead of spending time in front of the TV, which will never be very memorable, use some of your free time to create something meaningful. You can even get a head start on a homemade Christmas gift list. Your parents would love to have a scrapbook of the grandkids and your best friend might like a hand knit scarf.
Start a book club. Gather together with some female friends and choose a book to read over a few weeks time. Get together once a week to discuss the pre-assigned chapters and bring finger foods. This gives you an excuse to get together regularly and you get some reading time too. The laughs and great conversations will be treasured memories for years to come.
Start a babysitting co-op for date nights. Most married couples who have small children will tell you they don’t get out alone together much. Do something about that! Get together with 2-3 other couples and make a plan. Perhaps on every third weekend, two of the couples will go out while the remaining couple watches all the kids. Trade off so that each couple gets a regular date night.
With a little planning you can slow the pace of life and find time for the things that mean the most to you.