31 Days of Juicing. Day 3: Getting Started

Tomorrow is the first day of my juice fast and this morning the only thing I could think about is my last cup of coffee. I seriously thought of driving to Starbucks for one last hoorah, but I didn’t, because then I would have gotten a Grande and it would have been a Pumpkin Spice Latte, I would have said “yes” to the whipped cream and that would be counter productive. Instead I sipped a normal sized coffee with stevia and half and half and said good-bye to coffee.

I’m being a little melodramatic here. The truth of the matter is once you stop drinking caffeine, you actually have more energy and last time I did this I got hooked on Celestial’s Bengal Spice – an herbal tea that is very similar to Chai Tea, but caffeine free. I highly recommend it and you can find it at Wal-Mart.

Yesterday I ended up having a fruit juice in the morning, a bowl of my favorite minestrone soup (no pasta/no meat), a green juice and a carrot juice. At  9:00 pm I realized I was out of soup and made another pot – I’ll freeze what I don’t eat today. It took 2 hours and when done I ate a little bowl at midnight. I was a terrible water drinker – I had maybe 20 oz all day. Note to self: drink more water today, duh.

It’s still early today, but I feel good. I went to bed earlier than normal last night and I woke up before the alarm and actually felt refreshed, so that’s awesome! I’m sticking to the routine of the two previous days – 2 or 3 juices, a bowl of soup and a handful of nuts.

To prevent this from going into book length I’m going to give you some lists of advice for getting started! You can find more details on juicing that I wrote when I first started by clicking here.

JUICING

  1. Click here for a printable list of recipes that I compiled from over at Join the Reboot. I like to print them and slip each into a clear sleeve to protect them when on the counter.
  2. You maybe get brave and make up your own combinations, but in the beginning stick the recipes. It’s like anything… adding to much or too less to a favorite recipe can ruin it.
  3. I recommend that you stick to all fruit juice only in the morning. You really can’t go wrong with fruit, but make sure to PEEL oranges, grapefruit, lime and lemon. Your juice will be horribly bitter if you don’t!
  4. NOTE: Watch doing too many fruit juices in a day, especially of one kind. I have never had a reaction, but some people will find too much citrus, too much of one fruit or an abundance of grapes can cause little blisters in their mouth. I have never had that happen when juicing, but did have it happen when I drank too much red wine one day. Ooooops.
  5. Almost all veggie juices are better with ginger, but start with just a little in the beginning. Too much will give it a kick that may a bit much for you. You will get used to it and eventually start adding more.
  6. Beets are not my fav, but they’re good for you. It’s all about starting small and peeling them. To be honest, they taste like dirt, but you may love them.
  7. I trim the ends of most everything. If I feel like peeling I do – it’s good to do if it’s not organic, but 9 out of 10 times I don’t. I do almost aways wash everything and sometimes even use an organic cleaning spray, but when I am in a hurry, I may not peel or wash. It’s true, don’t judge.
  8. Stick to two main vegetable juices in the beginning. My staples are green and carrot, apple, ginger.
  9. The sooner you drink a fresh juice, the more nutrients you get
  10. Store juice in an airtight container. I fill a mason jar to the rim.
  11. Drink within 24 hours for best results. Personally, I don’t like fruit juice stored at all, but it doesn’t seem to bother my husband.
  12. Use a straw. You won’t get a juice mustache!
  13. Banana’s don’t juice. You can juice fruit like mango, melon and papaya, but I think you waste a lot and I think they are better in smoothies at the end of the fast.
  14. Line the pulp container with a plastic bag from the the grocery. When full, dump in composter or tie it up and throw it away. I do NOT like to dump it directly in the garbage because it attracts fruit flies.
  15. Don’t put too much importance on what I say… explore for yourself and please do share anything that you discover
  16. Don’t pup pulp down your garbage disposal. A small bit of course is okay, but a lot will clog it. Don’t call a plumber though, a plunger should fix it. If it’s a double drain, seal one side and plunge with the other… thanks to google for that info!
  17. Peel the skin off your cucumber. Apparently, some cucumbers have a coating of wax on the outside.

SHOPPING

  1. Plan on shopping twice a week to ensure fresh food and enough room in your fridge.
  2. Print this shopping check list each time you shop in the beginning. Check off what you need for the recipes you have chosen. I found it on-line and don’t know who wrote it, it’s awesome. If you know who the author is please tell me, I will hug her.
  3. Do NOT be embarrased if you don’t know what certain items look like. I would stand in the grocery store with my list and have to google a photo of certain items. Now? I’m like a pro. You will be too!
  4. Stick with your two vegetable recipes and try one or two new combinations a week to avoid waste.
  5. Learn what stores have the best produce/prices. I find Sam’s/Costco has the best bulk fruit and veggies, but Meijers (a grocery store in my neck of the woods) sometimes has better prices and their fruit is almost always fresh. Wal-Mart may have better prices sometimes, but their fruit is not always the freshest. You’ll learn quickly where you want to go. I do the bulk of my shopping on Sunday and fill in on Wednesday.
  6. Organic is best, but only if you can afford it. I do a mix, do whatever is best for you. More on that in a later post.
  7. If you want sweetener in your tea get some stevia, although buyer beware, all stevia is NOT alike. Some is horribly bitter. I get mine from Whole Foods – it’s NuStevia non-bitter. The packets are nice, but the powder form is much cheaper and will last forever!

SET YOURSELF UP TO SUCCEED

  1. Sit down at night and make a plan for the next day. What are you going to juice? Are you making it all in the morning? Have a plan. I generally make all my juice in the morning. I drink the fruit one immediately. I pack one in a cooler for the office and keep two in the fridge for when I get home.
  2. Keep water in a cooler when on the go.
  3. Drink water every hour or so. Juice does not replace the need for water. Lack of water will make you feel hungry when you are really dehydrated.
  4. Have one or two herbal teas on hand for a treat and to get you through tempting times.
  5. Have an emergency back-up plan. Mine is the Bolthouse Juices.  It’s the closest thing to juicing I can find in a pinch. There are only two juice bars that I can find in Cincy and they are not close to me, but I can find the Bolthouse Juice in almost any grocery store. I only drink them in a bind.
  6. Go to bed early. I’m working on that one.

WHAT MY DAY WILL LOOK LIKE TOMORROW

  1. Wake up drink a cup of water
  2. Shower
  3. Make a cup of Bengal Spice with a packet of Stevia
  4. Get dressed and ready for work
  5. Make fruit juice and put in a to-go cup to take to work
  6. Make 3 carrot/apple/ginger juices and 1 green juice and place in mason jars
  7. Pack a green juice and a carrot juice in a cooler with a few bottled waters, straws, two packets of stevia and two bags of tea.
  8. Put the rest in the fridge
  9. Drive to work
  10. Drink my fruit juice as I drive. I will have this during the day at work… a cup of tea, water, green juice, water, carrot juice, water and another tea. This will keep me satisfied. I probably won’t even drink the second tea, but will have it on hand.
  11. Come home grab a carrot juice and make husband dinner. For some reason, cooking dinner does not tempt me.
  12. I’ll drink tea at night along with the last carrot juice.
  13. Then I’ll wake up. Get on scale. and say Yay 🙂

No doubt, this day will be more about feeling deprived, but it won’t be bad. I’ll take a tylenol if I have a headache, but I don’t expect to. Probably day 2 and 3 will be worse, but day 4 will be awesome!

I know that’s a lot to process and I have so much more I could say, but I won’t. If you have a question, fire away… I will try to answer all ASAP. I know what it’s like to have questions and no one to answer them!

I’m excited for tomorrow, but even way more excited for October 31st… Can’t wait to see what this month is going to bring! Did you miss the earlier days? Click the photo below to catch up!

31 Days of Juicing

31 Days of Juicing. Day 1: Just Do It.

Note: Below are links to the entire series.

DAY ONE

You may have seen my earlier post about 31 days to Decorate Confidently, well apparently I’m overly inspired by the whole 31 day thing at Nesting Place because I’m adding another series to my list: 31 Days of Juicing. I have an internal battle going on at the moment… “share this” versus “don’t share” and as you can see “share this” won. I decided to make this a series for four reasons…

  1. I’ve posted about juicing in the past and get a ton of questions about it. This is a great way to share my experiences with you.
  2. When I first decided to start Juicing I devoured the internet for information and had a hard time finding the information I craved. It’s my hope that this will be a good source of information and reference for people searching in the future.
  3. I have lost over 50 lbs, but want to lose much more. When I saw the 31 Day blogging challenge I decided the time is now and what better way to commit myself than to do it publicly?
  4. Juicing has changed my life in so many ways. I just want to shout it from a mountain top… This is my mountain… do you want to climb it with me?

Here’s the skinny of it. I’ll post everyday – short and sweet, nothing too long.  The next three days will involve getting ready. I’m not interested in making myself miserable by going into withdraw by starting juicing cold turkey. I currently juice each day anywhere between 1 to 2 juices – usually one fruit juice plus a green juice and/or carrot juice. My current diet is pretty healthy (although not always) and amazingly I have maintained my 50 lb loss for several months now. To my dismay, I have gotten back into drinking coffee with half and half and have been known to have a bad carb or two or three. Believe it or not, I have more energy without caffeine. Unfortunately, Starbucks and I have a bond that’s hard to deny.

What would happen if I didn’t prepare my body for a Juice Fast? Basically, my body would freak out. My head would hurt, I’d feel lethargic… in a nutshell I’d want to whine and want to sleep all day, but since I love myself,  don’t have time for that and see no point to it, this is my plan for the next three days:

  1. Drink lots of water. I don’t have an aversion to water, but for some reason this is a chore to me. I am striving to get better at this.
  2. No sugar. None, zero, zilch. I haven’t had any in a few days, so I’m telling myself this is easy. Hah! Fruit of course is okay, but I won’t have any bananas.
  3. No dairy except for the half and half in my coffee. After Wednesday, none.
  4. Three cups of coffee today. Two tomorrow. One on Wednesday. None after that.
  5. 2-3 Juices a day with chia and flax seeds. This is easy. I make them in the morning and I can drink on the go.
  6. Have a bowl of my favorite minestrone for dinner. Click here to see the brand I make. Love this soup!  When I make it,  I don’t add any meat or pasta. I do add two stalks of celery cut up, two carrots chopped and half of an onion. It’s delicious and I like that the beans add protein. The point here is no meat or pasta.
  7. No meat. No problem as I haven’t had meat in a few days. I don’t think cutting out meat causes any withdraw symptoms… well physical symptoms anyway. Some people may mentally miss it! I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m not tied to meat like I have been in the past.
  8. I’ll eat a salad if I want one with a little vinaigrette dressing, but chances are I won’t.
  9. If I have a munch attack at night I’ll grab a small handful of nuts.

So that’s the plan!

If you think I’m crazy, watch Fat, Sick and Nearly dead for free over at Join the Reboot – a fabulous site that’s all about juicing.

If you want to see what Joe Cross of Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead recommends about preparing for a juice, you can see it here. In fact I highly recommend exploring his site for loads of information.

If you want my story on how I joined the juicing bandwagon you can see it here.

If want to see how losing 50 lbs by juicing changed my life, click here.

More tomorrow! xo Amy

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, not a nurse, not a nutritionist. I’m just someone who needed to lose weight, get healthy and feel better. I didn’t go to my doctor before I started juicing, but you probably should. In other words if you try this, you do this at your own risk and I take no responsibility for it. I will be happy to answer any questions you have, but again, it will just be my opinion and will be based on my personal experience which may differ from yours!

Halved Avocado Topped with Goodies and Raspberry Vinaigrette

I threw this together in less than 10 minutes last weekend and really like it so I thought I’d share! Be creative and change up the cheese, dried fruit, add olives etc… I don’t think you can mess this up!

HALVED AVOCADO TOPPED WITH GOODIES AND RASPBERRY VINAIGRETTE

  • Halved ripe avocado’s
  • Cherry tomatoes halved lengthwise
  • Crumbled blue cheese
  • Dried cranberries
  • Crumbled walnuts
  • Salt and pepper
  • Raspberry or any other vinaigrette
  • Optional: Herbs De Provence or other seasonings
Note: Amounts will be determined by many you are making.
  1. Cut Avocado’s in half and remove pit.
  2. Place on individual serving plates or together on large platter.
  3. Sprinkle each halved avocado with tomatoes, blue cheese, cranberries, walnuts.
  4. Salt/pepper to taste and top with any other spices or herbs you’d like to add.
  5. Drizzle with Raspberry Vinaigrette and serve

Enjoy! Amy xo

Five Kitchen Tools I Love

Over the last few years I’ve discovered that I enjoy cooking and baking. I’m having fun exploring spices, recipes, gadgets, appliances and more. It wasn’t always that way. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve cooked for my family for many moons, but as a family, we were always on the run – running to baseball, football, cheerleading, volleyball, track… you name it, we were running there. As a result, we rarely sat down to dinner together, not because we didn’t want to, but because we were just busy running. Dinner was almost always on the fly. For the longest time I believed boxed or frozen food was faster and more convenient.

I  admit I was pretty much in the dark  about spices, fresh herbs, vegetables and fruits. Back then, I was the queen of frozen food and microwaves.

Today, I realize that it’s possible to create simple, clean, healthy meals  just as fast and they are soooooo much better. Better, in that it tastes better and better, in that it’s better for you. If you visit my kitchen today you’ll find very little frozen or boxed food and lots of fruits, veggies, rice, nuts, beans and potatoes.  I find I enjoy discovering new recipes and trying foods I have never tasted. My taste buds are beginning to crave vegetables and salads. Bread is less appealing. Well, okay, not really about the bread… but if I do eat bread I try to make it whole grain.

As I explore the world of cooking, I find myself getting excited about gadgets. A day in the kitchen is so much nicer with handy little gadgets that really work!

Here are five tools I’ve discovered that I think you might like:

Not your mother’s SPATULA: This spatula by Good Cook is amazing. My Aunt went on and on about it and I was like yea, yea, yea… until she bought me one and I promptly fell in love. Now I buy them for other people – it’s that good. It gets every single drop out of a bowl in one quick sweep. I won’t use any other spatula.

ROTARY SIFTER: When I started making cakes and icing from scratch, a lot of recipes required sifted flour. I dutifully attempted to sift with my little sifter… you know the one… it has a handle that you squeeze…. and squeeze…. and squeeze until you feel like your hand is going to fall off. I never sifted flour again. That is until I discovered this

This baby simply requires you to turn the handle and as you do, it effortlessly and smoothly sifts your flour – fast. Here’s a peek inside…

The wire ball rolls through the flour and voila! Done. No finger cramps, no aggravation, no wasted time.  Now I actually look forward to sifting. It really is about having good tools!

AVOCADO PEELER/CORER: We have been trying to add more avocados to our diet – they are really good for you and oh so yummy. We mostly toss them into salads. Tonight we had a romaine and Spinach salad with onion, sliced avocado, strawberries, cranberries, almonds and a dash of parmesan, topped off with a balsamic dressing. My oldest son’s girlfriend gave me us the cutest basket for Easter with a bottle of wine, chocolates, egg-shaped rice crispy treats stuffed with M&M’s, grapefruit spoons (she knew I was looking for them) and this handy little tool

Yes. She’s a keeper.

Of course you could core and peel without this, but why? This little tool is just so handy. Simply slice the avocado long ways all the way around, then use this end to pop out the pit/seed…

Then use the other end to scoop out the insides of each half…

Not only does it scoop out all the goodness, but you’re left with perfectly beautiful slices. So nice!

STAINLESS STEEL SCRAPER, CHOPPER, SCOOPER: These are simple little tools, but I love scooping up chopped veggies and such in one big sweep and then dumping them into whatever I’m cooking or sauteing…

I like the bigger one best for scooping, but the smaller one is nice too – I like to use the flat end of it to get crumbs off my tablecloth after a dinner party. I really don’t use either of them to chop – I prefer a sharp knife for that.

Last but not definitely not least…

BATTERY OPERATED SALT & PEPPER GRINDERS: I love freshly ground sea salt and pepper, but manually grinding them was kind of a pain… that is until I got these…

I love these tall boys! A bonus is these came with a base for re-charging – no batteries to replace! Love them.

Do you have any favorite gadgets in your kitchen? Have a great weekend! xo Amy

P.S. I blogged about these products because I genuinely like them! I haven’t been paid or compensated to write this!

Ready to Fly, a Goat Show and a Mystery

Happy Monday! Hope you all had a great weekend! I’m still down in Florida and watching the adorable baby owls get ready to leave their nest. They left a dusting of tiny owlette feathers under their nest over the weekend – apparently this means they are getting ready to fly. They are so darn cute. Their big round eyes just look down at me whenever I come to say hello. Last week they would peer out at us from inside the nest. Now they are venturing out onto the branch to see the world. Take a look…

I admit have to stop myself from walking outside every hour to see if they have taken their first flight!
Gigi and I did lots of things this weekend, one was a first for me – we went to a goat tailgate show to see her grandchildren Grayson and Loring show their goats. I love tailgating for Ohio State Football Games (O-H!), but had no idea people tailgated at Goat Shows – how fun! I will admit that I was pretty clueless about both 4-H and Goat Shows, but I left pretty impressed. What a great way for kids to get involved and grow!
My friend Lisa of Pick Me Yard – Grayson and Loring’s mom, will probably blog about it soon and give you all the details, but here are my observations…
Adorable is a word you could use all day. These kids get up in the morning to feed, clean and milk their goats – what a great way to teach responsibility! They adore the goats and the goats adore them. To see them interact is, well… adorable. Here is Loring with Pearl telling her to be a good girl and to follow her lead. According to Loring it’s easy to show a goat, you just have to show them who’s in charge.  P.S. I want pink cowboy boots just like hers…
This is Grayson with Daisy. He did such a great job showing his goat, guiding the little ones and helping out with the show. When you’re showing your goat, they should stand strong with legs stretched apart and a bit behind them with the tail out.
Here’s Grayson talking to the Judge. One of the most impressive things I saw is the judge talks to every single child. Kids share what they know about their goats and answer any questions the judge may have, the kids have to be prepared for this interview. They also have to ALWAYS keep their goat between the judge and themselves… it’s like an ongoing dance as the judge walks around the arena and the kids constantly change their positions.
Here’s the Judge talking to two of the PeeWee’s… This is some serious stuff for Loring and her friend Ty…
It’s a family affair at the Goat Show – even the babies come along for the day. This little guy is only a week or two old…
The coolest thing families with Milk Goats is they have fresh milk daily when the mom’s are finished nursing their young. They use it to make cheese, creamy fudge and soap.
Of course after a hard day’s work at the fairgrounds, you need some food!  We brought some yummy vegetable soup that Gigi made. I love to use mason jars to bring juice to work and this worked perfect for a tailgate. You can visit Krista and Jen who have some great recipes for Jar lunches.
Overall it was such a fun day!
So here is a mystery… Gigi ordered this amazing kitchen tool and put it away in a drawer. She re-discovered it the other day and we can’t figure out what it does. The “bolt” is not threaded, doesn’t come off one end, but comes off the other. We have no idea and can’t find it on the internet. It’s by a company called kuchenprofi. It’s driving us nuts! Check it out…
Have a Great Day! Tomorrow I’ll have some more landscape ideas. xo Amy

A Confession, Banana Smoothies and Baby Owls!

I’m just going to say it. I am was a compulsive eater. Binge-eater is probably the correct word, but I am winning the battle lately and I like the word compulsive better. Here’s the deal. I am really good during the day and into the evening, but at night… when all the little creatures are asleep… I become obsessed with wanting something sweet. Enter my newest love…

Smoothie

This is not just not your ordinary banana smoothie… it’s loaded with really good things and I choose to have this now whenever those pesky little cravings rear their ugly little heads. You really need to try one. Trust me, you will thank me! Here’s the scoop!

BANANA SMOOTHIE RECIPE

In a blender combine the following:

  • 1 cup of vanilla flax milk (you could also use soy milk, almond milk, goat milk or cow milk as well!)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 banana’s (try them frozen for a colder treat!)
  •  2-3 tsp of vanilla – make sure it’s not imitation!
  • up to a Tbsp of ground cinnamon
  • a Tbsp of Coconut Oil (in liquid form)
  • a Tbsp of Chia Seeds
  • a Tbsp of Flax Seeds

Flip the switch and blend till smooth! So why, you might be wondering, do I add all those things? Here’s why…

Flax Milk – vanilla or plain. I will tell you that I just don’t love milk. In fact, unless it was with a handful of Oreo cookies, I have never poured myself a glass of milk. Flax milk on the other hand is a different matter. I adore it. Flax milk is good for you – it has lot’s of Omega goodies, tastes great and is only 60 calories per cup. Sixty calories… I really can’t believe that, but there it is on the side of the carton – 60 calories. It’s low in sugar (7 grams) and lactose, dairy, gluten and soy free.  Some Wal-Marts are starting to carry it along with whole foods. Yum.

Banana’s – Mostly because they are good, less than  and a comfort food –  click here for 14 reasons why banana’s are good for you!

Vanilla – Tastes delicious and has some healthful benefits as well! For my smoothies I use pure vanilla extract – have you ever used a real bean? Here’s a great article on the vanilla bean

Cinnamon – Again, tastes delicious and is good for a range of things including high Cholesterol and Type 2 Diabetes as well! You can click to this link for more about cinnamon!

Coconut Oil – I actually started adding this because I read it’s beneficial in the quest to slow down or even stop the onset of Alzheimer’s. It runs and my family and I thought to myself…why not? You really can’t taste it and an added bonus I find is it ensures that I am “regular” on a daily basis! I know… TMI. Sorry! Here’s a link to an article I read about coconut oil and Alzheimer’s. FYI… Coconut oil comes in a jar in a semi-solid state unless it’s warmer in your house or at the store and then becomes liquid. If it’s solid I melt on medium heat for less than minute to liquefy. Click  here and here  learn more about coconuts from my friend Lisa at PickMeYard!

Flax Seed and Chia SeedsDr Oz has been raving about them lately and when I looked into them further I decided to add them too! Here’s an article I read from Livestrong! They add a bit of a texture to the smoothie and it’s not bad at all! You can also sprinkle on salads, in soups and more!

So see… this smoothie tastes good AND is good for you! I love that!

LOOK WHOOOOO’S PEEKING DOWN AT ME!

I’m in Florida for a bit working with Gigi – my friend and business partner. She’s my inspiration for getting healthy, cooking clean and more. I’ll introduce her to you soon, I promise – she’s going to start blogging with me and I’m pretty sure between the two of us, you will be entertained, haha!

Two years ago when I was in Florida visiting, we discovered two Great Horned Owls had nested in a tree at Gigi’s house. You can read more about them here. Mom and Pop are back again for the third time (they mate for life) with new adorable little babies that hatched about 7 weeks ago and they are so stinking adorable! Here’s a few photo’s…

For the longest time Mom and Dad took turns sitting on the nest… Finally, the owlettes hatched and OMG… they are so adorable! The one peeping out above is a bit bolder. There is a second one in there, but he’s a little shy! That’s dad in the photo above – he’s a bit smaller than mom.

Once the babies hatched, momma and papa began to hunt together and sometimes watch from afar. See them above perched high on a nearby tree keeping watch?

I walked out today and saw both of them sitting in their nest! As you can see, the second one is getting a bit bolder!

And then tonight, we saw them being fed! They stopped eating when they saw me, but isn’t this a great shot? You can’t see it here, but mom is laying inside the nest watching them. So adorable!

Hope you had a great Monday! xo Amy

It’s Pi Day… Let’s Celebrate with a Pie or Two!

Did you know today is Pi Day? Pi Day is apparently a day to celebrate the mathematical equation of Pi. I’m thinking we need to properly celebrate this day with a PIE, don’t you? I first heard of this special day when Gigi sent me a link to a couple of her favorite bloggers – Krista and Jess who shared some pie recipes they had found for “PI” day. Inspired, I thought it would be fun to share some pie recipes that I’ve tried (and loved) along with recipes I want to try in the future. Some of these I have pinned over at Pinterest! Here are a few…

PIES I’VE BAKED AND LOVE…

Good Ole Fashion Apple Pie

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It seems whenever Christmas or Thanksgiving comes a long, I get requests for a good ole fashioned apple pie, so when I found this recipe from Grandma Ople online I had to try it! Boy was I glad I did! Nothing fancy, just apple pie like it should be!

Chicken Pot Pie (or turkey!)

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This is simply yum. I love to make this after thanksgiving with my leftover turkey and always make two. One to eat right away and the other to freeze for a cold winter day. It’s definitely a comfort food! Love this pie – you can find the recipe over at allrecipes

Favorite Pie Tool:

Speaking of Pies, I have to share my favorite tool for pies. I hate it when the crust gets burned and for years I put foil on the rim to protect it.  That was such a waste of foil though – plus it is a pain the tush! I’ve tried the popular metal shields, but they still weren’t perfect and then I found a silicone adjustable rim! One is still a tad short for a few of my oversized pie dishes, but you can double them up if needed! I really, really like these!

A VARIETY OF PIE RELATED RECIPES I WANT TO TRY

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake with Floating Mini Pie

There are sooooo many sweet little pie treats I’d love to try! I don’t know about you, but pumpkin is one of my favorites… but how about a pumpkin milkshake with a mini-pie floating on top? Probably not really considered a pie, but seriously? Yum. Check the recipe out from A Beautiful Mess.

Mini Pie-in-a-Jar

I have been wanting to try these forever! I actually bought a dozen little Ball Jars from Wal-Mart a ways back, but baking all these sweets does not mix well with my New Healthy Diet, so I have been waiting until for a special occasion to try them out! You can find all the details from Our Best Bites.

More Mini-Pies

If you don’t have the jars, here’s another way to get adorable little mini-pies!

These little cutie patooties are from Simple Organized Living and bake in 20 minutes!

Fabulous Serving Idea

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any cuter, I found this from Tiny Urban Kitchen

Simply carve out the apple inside to use for the mini-pie filling, bake the pies in a muffin pan and then plop back in the hollowed apple to serve. Adorable, don’t you think?

“Cheeseburger Pie”

I don’t know about you, but I love a good meatloaf. The problem was my kids “hated” meatloaf. One day, many moons ago, I had a genius idea… I thought to myself…why not make your fabulous meatloaf into a “cheeseburger” pie and see if the kids like that! Guess what? It’s still one of their favorite meals and its soooooo simple to do. Fairly healthy too!

You can use the recipe I found on-line pictured above, adapt your own meatloaf recipe, or try mine below, which is really quite basic!

Recipe for Amy’s Cheeseburger Pie

Pre-heat oven to 350

Mix up:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 lbs ground beef or ground turkey (which I prefer)
  • 1/2 of a white onion chopped – I like the onions chunky, but younger kids like them chopped finely – aka, won’t know they are there!
  • 2 -3 pieces of bread torn up or a 1/4 cup or so of seasoned bread crumbs
  • A healthy squirt of Ketchup
  • A Beaten Egg or Egg Beaters equivalent

Spray a pie dish with non-stick spray or olive oil

Pat the mixture into the pie dish

Bake for 20-25 minutes until meat is no longer pink.

Remove from oven and carefully drain any liquid, generously top with shredded cheddar (or favorite cheese) and place back in oven for 3-5 minutes until cheese is mostly melted.

Slice with a pizza cutter and serve! Enjoy!

Let me know if you try any of these! Happy “PI” day! Amy xo

Joining the Juicing Bandwagon

It’s all good!

I’ve taken an extended break from blogging, but am ready to get back up and going. We’ve got some fun new things planned here, but as we get ready to introduce them, I wanted to share something that has changed my life in the past few months. Juicing. My friend and business partner Gigi introduced to a documentary on Netflix called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It may change your life for the good, like it did mine. In a nutshell, it’s a about a guy named Joe Cross who really was fat, sick and nearly dead – well not maybe nearly dead, but eventually he would have been dead. Like Joe, I had low energy and needed to lose weight. In fact I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes a few years ago. I never lost the weight after giving birth to three kids and have desperately tried to lose weight over the years. You name the diet, I’ve probably tried it. I’ve lost weight, gained weight, gained more weight and lost a little again. It was an evil, vicious cycle and none of it made me healthy or thin. Here’s a link to watch it for free – Click here.

The documentary really hit home, but the thought of juicing really didn’t appeal to me. I mean, I don’t even really LIKE vegetables and you just can’t do fruit juices all day – that’s not good either. But, Gigi made me try one (she’s pushy like that!) and guess what? It was actually really good and I decided to get myself a Jack Lalanne which is the most reasonably priced ($99.00) and reliable juicer I’ve found and perfect for a newbie.

I started exploring the internet for juicing tips and quickly found that I had lots more questions than answers. The best website for juicing in my opinion is Joe’s over at http://www.jointhereboot.com. They just did a major overhaul to their site and have added lots of great info – I’m guessing that new things are going to be added each week. You’ll find the best recipes, community help, fasting plans, etc and it’s ALL FREE! Gotta love that 🙂

It’s up to you if you want to try juicing, but you know me, I love to share a good thing and this is a GREAT thing – guaranteed to make you feel better. For me, losing 50 lbs so far (yay!) was a bonus. I actually feel really, really good for the first time in a really long time. In fact, I had forgotten how “good” feels and realized how bad I really did feel. Crazy.

Here are some tips and information I found along the way that may save you a lot of digging on your journey to feeling better! These are a mix of my opinions information that was helpful to me. As always, check with your health physician if you have any concerns. Just consider me a friend sharing information with a new friend! I’m not a doctor or even a nutritionist and will give credit along the way of where I found particular information. If you see I missed credit somewhere, let me know and I will correct it!

WHY JUICE?

The answer is really simple. It makes me feel good, I’ve lost weight, gained energy, my skin is clear and feel better than I have in a lot of years. The end.

WHAT DO I NEED TO START?

A Juicer

  • I started with Jack LaLanne’s Power Juicer Deluxe – $89.00 if bought at the store from Costco – it comes with a recipe book, although honestly, I’ve never looked at the book. It’s a basic model and works well. I don’t think it’s on-line anymore through Costco, but the stores should have it. You can also find other versions on Amazon and at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
  • Now that I have been juicing 3-4 times a day for a few months, two of my kids decided to start juicing too – they’re 23 and 25. My daughter took my Jack Lalanne and my son bought one too, so I moved up to the $149.99 model from Breville. I have to say I adore it. If you can swing an extra $50.00, do it! It just has a little more giddy-up-and-go. You can often get a discount if you shop through the ReBoot site.

By the way, I am writing all of this on my own and not being paid to promote anything or anyone – juicing is just something I’ve become passionate about!

My favorite green drink

Recipes

  • For fruit, I find that almost anything tastes good together, as long as you peel the oranges! If you don’t peel your oranges it will be very bitter!
  • For vegetables, it’s all about the recipe. It’s about using the right amount/combination and finding things that work for you. I have tried lots of different combinations, but really stick to my two favorites – Classic Green with spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, green apple and ginger or a Carrot Juice with Carrots, apple and Ginger. Sometimes I’ll add 1/2 a sweet potato as well! Yum.
  • Quick tips: use flavor items such as ginger, lemon or lime lightly in the beginning. For example ginger – start with a piece the size of your finger tip, lemons – cut original amount in half and lime – start with a quarter of what the recipe calls for until you know what you like and don’t like. Also, start with a basic recipe such as a green drink. I try to mix it up with some different recipes each week, but always fall back on my two favs mentioned above.
  • I found that I needed a go-to  sheet of basic recipes, so I put the recipes from Join the Reboot into a word document, printed and put into clear sleeves to keep them dry when juicing. It worked perfect for me, so here’s a link to a PDF of JuicingRecipes to print for yourself if you would like! NOTE: That was a few months back and before their website redesign – it’s actually quite nice to access now with lots of new recipes, so make sure to check them out! New recipes from Join the Reboot They are still working some kinks out, but the website is an amazing source of information!

Fruit & Veggies

  • In the perfect world where I had unlimited funds and lived next to a whole foods, I would buy all organic. Unfortunately, neither is a reality, but that isn’t going to stop me from juicing. I have explored my neighborhood and have found the stores that have the best prices and freshest produce. Deals may vary in stores in week.
  • I aim for organic, but if it’s too pricey or not available, I wash them extra carefully. My daughter bought me an 0x0 salad spinner and I really like it. I do think it helps to clean lettuce and grapes a little better. I take the skin off of cucumbers since they sometimes have a waxy film – occasionally, apples are waxy too, but the truth is I am not going to peel my apples. I don’t have time for that. Don’t judge me.
  • In the summer (I live in the mid-west) I am going to explore some local markets with fresh produce which I hope will be pesticide free, fresher and less expensive. I’ll let you know how that works out in a few months!
  • I find I need to shop about every 3-4 days. I shop on the weekend for the main things and then head back to the store on Wednesday or so for fillers. Do NOT over buy – it’s easy to do in the beginning. Choose a few recipes and start with the ingredients for those. The last thing you want to do is have food go to waste and it will go to waste if you buy too much. I get a lot of my fruit and some veggies at SAM’s, but don’t alway’s assume they have the best deal. Wal-Mart often has a good deals, but their shelf life is not always as long. We also have a Meijer’s and find their selection and prices good as well. I need to check out the Krogers in our area, but just haven’t done it yet.
  • Confession: I admit I hadn’t a clue as to the types of veggies that were out there. Fennel? Kale? Who knew they existed or that I would be buying these things? If you need help figuring out what the heck these and other things are, here is a great resource – Farm Fresh to You. I actually had to google what things looked like the first couple of times I shopped!
  • Ever wonder why some things go bad in your refrigerator so fast? Read this.. Why Fresh Produce Goes Bad I can’t say I follow it all, but it is helpful to know. I had a problem with things freezing, so I added an inexpensive thermometer to regulate the temperature in my freezer and fridge which really helped.

Juice on the Go

  • You are supposed to drink fresh juice right away to get all the nutritional value, but of course that is not practical for all of us. On a work day, I will make a fresh juice before I leave to drink immediately and then I will take a double recipe of a veggie juice and store it in two ball jars. I take it to the office in a little cooler and it still tastes good! I think the secret is to fill it to the top so there is very little oxygen inside. I don’t like fruit juices stored over night, although my husband doesn’t mind it. Bottom line, drink fresh if possible, but if not, figure out what works for you!
  • I found an AMAZING shopping list for fruits and vegetables on-line, but for the life of me cannot find the source to credit. a link to it was originally posted in the reboot forums, but I can’t find it anymore. You can print out multiple copies of this Juicing Shopping List and check off the items you need to buy for specific recipes. It’s a great help when starting out! P.S. Once you get the swing of it, shopping will be a breeze!

READY TO START?

I suggest you start juicing a few times a day to get started. Clean your juicer out ASAP and it will be easy peasy to clean. I often just rinse and use a brush so I get a build up of soap residue. Also, if you don’t use fabric shopping bags, use a plastic produce baggie to line the pulp container – that saves a step of clean-up!

Right now I am doing a Fruit Juice in the morning and 3 or 4 vegetable juices throughout the day. I will typically have a light meal or bowl of soup for dinner. I am going to go back to a Juice Fast in a few weeks which for me really helps me not only feel good, but helps me to continue to lose weight. The thing is to not do it cold turkey. I took a week to prepare via The Classic ReBoot of Joe’s which really helped me to prepare. As a result the cravings weren’t bad and I didn’t have any headaches from caffeine withdraw. Note: I was a 6-8 cup a day coffee drinker a few months ago and now I only drink herbal tea (caffeine free). I don’t miss the caffeine at all – I know that’s hard to believe, but with juicing, I don’t need a pick-me-up anymore.

I will probably think of lots of other things to add, but for now this will get you going! Give juicing a try… I think you will love it! I’d love to hear any tips or thoughts you have along the way! xo

Happy Valentine’s Day!

    

    

I’m baaaaack! After a small break from blogging, I’ve decided it’s time to dive back in! I really did miss you, xo! There are lots of exciting things going on around here. We’re getting ready to launch a new website design with lots of new organizing ideas – even a challenge!  We even have a new instructor in Qatar – how cool is that? In the next few weeks I’ll be able to tell start introducing you to everything that’s new, but in until then I thought I’d share with you a baking project I tackled this weekend and later this week I’m going to tackle some decorating questions!    

Cake pops and cake balls are quite the rage, so I thought they be fun to make for valentine’s day. It seemed like a relatively simple undertaking, yet what started as a fun little project that I thought I’d complete in one evening, ended up taking a few days. Although I had done lots of research before starting, I still struggled a bit and figured I’d save you some time and aggravation by sharing some tips. They really are simply yummy.and most definitely worth making.    

What you will need:    

  • Baked Cake (cooled)
  • About 1 can  (see tips below)
  • Melted chips, melts or bark

My thoughts and tips on the ingredients:    

CAKE: The icing gets mixed with the cooled crumbled cake. The amount of icing really depends on the type of cake that you use. The recipes that I found on-line called for either a can of icing or a box of icing. I found that is sometimes too much.    

I used two types of cake mixes:    

  1. Duncan Hines Strawberry – This was really, really moist. It ended up being delicious with Duncan Hines cherry icing and Wilton’s white candy coating, BUT, the first time I made it, used an entire can of icing and the balls were way too soft to dip, even after freezing. Complete fail. Lesson learned: the moister the cake, the less icing you need. In this case, a 3/4 of a can of icing was plenty.

     

2.  Naturally Nora’s Cheerfully Chocolate and Sunny Yellow – I have been wanting to try Naturally Nora’s cake mixes. I had seen them on a cooking show and then on-line. They’re all natural and said to taste like “made from scratch”. I have to say, I agree… yum. These cakes are heavy, not too sweet,  have a great texture and consequently need a bit more icing to make the balls hold together.      

ICING: The icing is the sweet yummy glue that holds the balls together. I think any kind is okay, but I used Duncan Hine’s Creamy Cherry which went well with the strawberry cake. I also tried Naturally Nora’s Cheerful chocolate Icing  with the chocolate balls which was easy to whip up and extra good.  I used the whole amount since the cake was a bit firmer than the strawberry one.   

Chocolate/Candy Coating:  I researched this the most. You can use any chocolate or candy coating. Chips, melts, bark, etc… there are lots of kinds out there. My microwave is on the blink, so I first tried melting Ghirardelli white chocolate chips in a double boiler which was a complete fail. I couldn’t get it thin enough, I tried adding oil, even milk… In the end, I coated some peanuts and pretzels and was completely done with it by late Friday night. If you look on-line you will find all kinds of recipes and tips for melting chocolate. It will make your head spin.     

By Sunday, I had decided to try Bark or Wilton’s melts and came upon a miracle: Wilton’s melting pot. I L-O-V-E iT! I wouldn’t melt chocolate or candy any other way. I found mine at Wal-Mart for $20.00 and it had me at hello. It’s amazing. I used the melts (haven’t tried the bark yet) and they were delicious. The BEST part about this contraption is it melted the chocolate perfectly and kept it perfect until I was finished, which was an hour + later. No re-heating, no lumps… just perfection.  My son stopped by right in the middle of dipping and although I took a break to get him up some white chicken chili and say hello to him and his adorable puppy earl, by the time I got back to dipping, it was still perfectly melted. Worth every cent.    

Did I mention that I love this thing? NOTE: I actually purchased the Deluxe model for $19.99, not the Pro pictured above which retails for $29.99.

 

I used the Wilton light cocoa melts and also the white ones

 

DIRECTIONS:     

  • Bake the cake in a 9 x 13 pan and allow it to completely cool.
  • Once cooled, trim any edges that are too crusty and discard or eat :). Crumble the cake into small pieces.
  • Stir in the icing until completely blended with cake making sure not to add too much.
  • Form small round balls about the size of a tootsie pop and place each on a cookie sheet. I lined my cookie sheet with wax paper and used one that was narrow enough to slide into my freezer.
  • Freeze balls a minimum of 1 hour. After 3 hours, I placed mine in a sealed container and dipped a day later.

freeze the cake balls so they are easier to dip

 

  •  Melt the chocolate until completely smooth. I also read that ANY water will ruin the chocolate, so make sure the pot and utensils are dry. 
  • When you’re ready to dip, remove about a dozen balls at a time for dipping. If you take them all out, they’ll start to get soft and be more difficult to dip.
  • Dip the balls. I originally was going to make balls and not cake pops with sticks. I tried dipping the balls with a tooth pick and later a fork with the center prongs broken out and didn’t have much success. Finally, I tried 4″ candy sticks (I cut 8″ sticks in half) and they worked great! The key is to dip the stick in the melted candy before placing it in the ball. Note: if you want to do balls, I would suggest using a wire dipping tool, much like the simple ones you used to dip hard boiled eggs into coloring at easter.

Dipping the stick into the melted coating helps to secure it

 

Place the coated stick 3/4 deep into a frozen ball

 

Now you can start gently dipping the balls. I used a plastic ice cream scooper to help coat the balls and lightly skim the bottom to remove excess coating.

 

As you set each ball on wax paper to cool and harden, immediately sprinkle with jimmies, sparkles or nuts if you would like. If you wait more than a few seconds, it will be too hard.

 

These are triple chocolate balls (chocolate cake, chocolate icing and light cocoa coating) with white round sprinkles

 

I had some extra chocolate and decided to use it to cover some pretzels that I had. You could do the same with pecans, chips, peanuts, strawberries (dried and at room temperature), etc.

 

Yum.

 

 The bottom line really is Yum. Once I worked out a few things, they really were simple to make. You can store them in  a sealed container – no need to refrigerate. I guarantee you they won’t last long. I made sure to give mine all away ASAP… definitely too tempting to have around! Let me know if you try them and if you have any other tips!  Have a great valentine’s day! xo

UPDATE: Dehydrating Tomatoes and Onions

Simply Delicious. YUM!

You may remember that last week I blogged about dehydrating tomatoes and onions while working at the office. I promised you an update when finished. My friend Lisa over at PickMeYard suggested I add some olive oil and seasoning to my tomatoes and I decided to do the same to some onions…boy, am I glad I did!  

Once I got over my initial shock of how small everything had gotten, after 12 hours I took the now dried onions and tomatoes off the trays and sampled one…or two…or three. Oh my….while the tomatoes are soooooo good, the onions are double delicious. I would eat both of these by the handful as a healthy yummy snack and can’t wait to sprinkle them on a salad. I’m thinking they would be fabulous if crushed and used as a breading of sorts for chicken or fish. Oh… the possibilities that are swirling through my head….mmmmm  

The bottom line on the dehydrator is I can’t wait to try it more. I will always make two or three times more because of shrinkage and can’t wait to experiment. My husband’s favorite is the apples. Mine is the onions and tomatoes…which I should add is not really a normal favorite of mine. Let me know if you try it or if you have a favorite already! xoxoxo Amy

Look what’s Cooking while I’m at the Office; Dehydrating Tomatoes and Onions

Tomatoes and Onions with a bit of Olive Oil and Seasoning

 

While in Florida a few weeks ago, I visited new blogger and good friend – Lisa of PickMeYard. Her home smelled soooooo yummy as she dehydrated dozens of fresh strawberries picked from her truly amazing garden. 

I had never used a dehydrator and because I am a sponge for new ideas – was excited to learn more from Lisa. I discover I could purchase a basic model at Wal-Mart for $39.00 or for a small price increase one that features a temperature control for $58.54 . 

Last night I experimented drying banana’s, strawberries and apples – they turned out delicious. It’s so easy…all you have to do is slice up your fruits of choice and place on trays. Note: I did soak my apples for 5 minutes in orange juice to prevent them from turning brown. Twelve hours later…done! Actually it was all delicious at 3 hours, 6 hours, 9 hours – not as crisp, but warm and chewy.  Now that I think about it, we were lucky to have any left after 12 hours – haha! 

I'm going to have to make a secret stash...they're not going to last long around here

Time to secretly stash some of these...they aren't going to last long around this house

 

This morning, before heading out to the office I sliced up some fresh tomatoes and onions, spread them on the trays, brushed with Olive Oil and topped with a bit of my husbands favorite seasoning. They will be a nice add to dinner tonight! I’ll let you know how they turned out. 

I really like my new dehydrator…it provides a great (and easy) way to make a healthy crunchy snack. Plus, don’t you hate it when there’s fruit in the house that only has a day or two of life before going bad? I know I do… with the dehydrator I can make sure none of it goes to waste. What a great way to make a healthy snack for both kids and adults. 

This weekend the guys are going to try making some Jerkey. xoxox Amy

The Cupcake Experiment

Mini Chocolate Buttercream Cupcakes

 

 For some time now I’ve been wanting to learn how to make pretty, fun and yummy cupcakes. One of my friends on twitter has the most beautiful cupcakes and even offers cupcake classes, but alas she is across the sea in england and I don’t have plans to be there anytime soon. Click to see Bea’s of Bloomsbery’s creations…aren’t they beautiful?  Since cupcake classes were out, I figured what the heck…just dive in and try it…so I did.   

 Last night my daughter Ashley decided to come for a sleep over and to try our hand at cupcakes and it was so much fun! I think the secret is in the buttercream icing (which I slightly messed up) and the decorative elements. Perfect they are not, but I think they’re pretty cute and taste absolutely yummy!     

 Next time I’ll try a batter from scratch and will remember to set the butter out in advance. This recipe call for butter at room temperature and instead of softening in the microwave, I accidently melted it…oooops! The icing was a bit runny as a result! This was the first time to use a decorating bag for the icing and it really was quite easy. I can’t wait till next time when my icing is the proper consistency.     

 Tip: Homegoods, my favorite place to shop, has a great and inexpensive selection of sprinkles, jimmies and drops.     

 Here’s some photo’s with my newbie insights 🙂     

Ready to Ice

 

 I had read that you should tap the pan before putting in the oven to get out any bubbles. We filled ours about 2/3 full – which seemed about right.     

Chocolate with Buttercream Icing

 

  Next time we make chocolate cupcakes, we’ll either use two paper wrappings or a metallic wrap…as you can see above (or not see); the cute design doesn’t show with a dark cake.     

White Dots

 

These pearly white dots came in a Princess multi-pack of sprinkles and were one of our favorites    

 

The Mini's were the Prettiest

 

We experimented with a variety of colors and sizes. One word of advice is to taste your sprinkles before you decorate. A few of our sugar sprinkles were a bit bitter and I wouldn’t use them again. Also, maybe it’s the designer in me, but you can’t go wrong when you color coordinate. The mini’s above are our favorite, not only because they are just darn tiny, but because we made sure they all matched. Remember…even in cupcakes…you need to plan your color scheme!    

This would be a great family activity on a cold winter night. Pre-bake the cupcakes and pre-ice as well,  if your kids are really young. Set up stations like an ice cream bar for decorating and let children decorate without inhibitions…this is all about developing creativity and confidence and none of it is about perfection. Giving kids the freedom to learn and explore with accolades instead of criticism is one the best gifts you can give your children and also makes it a bit more fun for everyone! I still have to remind myself of that sometimes! xoxox

Start your Day with Easy Cheesy Cupcake Eggs

Cheesy Sausage and Egg Cupcakes

 

Surfing the internet a few weeks back, I discovered several recipes for eggs baked in cupcake pans. I’ve been trying to stick to the no sugar/no bread thing, but find myself skipping breakfast. This is my version of cupcake eggs which I like to make on Sunday and then re-heat the rest of the week. They’re really simple and total time in the kitchen is not more than a half hour from beginning to end – 20 minutes of it is baking time. Best of all they’re delish! 

Cheesy Sausage Cupcake Eggs 

I like to make 6 scrambled and 6 “fried” muffins.  Another option is to use an egg substitute to make a dozen which will save time and cholesterol. 

You’ll Need: 

  • 1 Muffin Pan w/liners
  • 6 pre-cooked turkey sausage patties (can also use crumbled cooked sausage)
  • Dozen Eggs or equivalent egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheese
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions: Pre-heat oven to 350 

  • Trim the round sausage patties to fit into the bottom of a lined cup and place inside 6 of them.
  • Crumble the remaining sausage and place in bottom of the remaining cups; dividing equally.
  • Crack and pour an 1 egg each into 6 cups. Scramble 6 eggs with a dash of milk and divide equally into the remaining cups.
  • Add a dash of salt and pepper to each if you would like
  • Top with a generous pinch of shredded cheddar cheese

Bake for 20 minutes. Wrap each individually or keep in an airtight container, store in refrigerator and heat in microwave for 40-50 seconds for breakfast or a snack each day. 

Note: You can get as creative as you want! Use pre-cooked bacon, add onions or  mix it up with a variety of cheeses and herbs. It’s pretty hard to go wrong on this one. 

For busy families, this is so easy and kids love it. It’s perfect for breakfast on the go or at home before they head out the door to school. 

Enjoy! xoxox