Peanut Butter Banana Nutella Dessert Smoothie

One of the first purchases we made for our new home when we were buying the house was our nice blender. We seriously bought it right away and it came months before we were even able to start moving into the house. It killed me to see it sitting there in it’s box every single day and not be able to take it out and use it. I think the anticipation of getting to try it out and the deprivation of not getting to use it made me use it even more once I finally could. I really didn’t even make smoothies or anything in a blender that often before, even when I had one. I think part of it was due to the fact that it always seemed like such a pain to hoist it out of its cabinet every time, and also I never had a very nice one so it didn’t work very well anyway. peanut butter banana nutella smoothie

Now our shiny beautiful blender sits right on the counter. It has had prime real estate ever since we first set up the kitchen. And it gets a lot of use! I use the blender almost every day, and sometimes more than once a day. I love a smoothie in the morning (although I usually have it as more of a mid morning snack because I often want something more substantial when I first wake up). And especially in the summer, with all kinds of fresh fruit andberries around, it can make the perfect afternoon pick me up. There are all kinds of different things you can blend up, and while I generally stick to fruit smoothies, I also sometimes blend my iced coffee into a kind of homemade frappuchino, or do a peanut butter banana smoothie if I want something a little more decadent. This peanut butter banana Nutella one tastes like dessert, but it’s only got one scoop of chocolate in it. (And I know plenty of people who don’t even consider Nutella the same as chocolate- it’s a snack! It’s breakfast! It can be anything, apparently). With the peanut butter, banana, and greek yogurt, it’s a snack that will get you through the rest of your day, but with a little extra sweetness that makes you think you just might be drinking a milkshake. And that’s always a treat.

:Peanut Butter Banana Nutella Dessert Smoothie:

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)

1 banana

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 tablespoon Nutella

1/2 cup milk

1 cup ice

ASSEMBLY

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on smooth until smooth. Add more ice to make it thicker, if desired.

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Garden Log: End of Summer 2014

This is the second year that I had my very own backyard garden and I have decided that I need to start keeping track of thoughts about it at the end of each year (and probably throughout the summer too, but oops this is my first one) so that I can remember what worked and what didn’t, what I want to change for next year, etc, so that I can continue to make it better and better and not make the same mistakes each year. I have a horrible memory, but for some reason I always tell myself, oh yeah next year I’ll remember to do this, this, and that. Nope. Never happens. I absolutely need to write things down if I am going to remember them ever again. So here goes. Thoughts on the garden this year: by item.

Garden Harvest

The first little harvest from the garden this year

Tomatoes- This year I planted two types of cherry tomatoes and a larger eating tomato. The first type of cherry tomato was the same golden sweet ones that I did last year and that my mom always does because they’re the best. I still love them the best. The other type I did was actually a kind that my mother in law picked out and started in a pot at her house and then brought over to go in our garden here. They were smaller, bright red cherry tomatoes. The plants themselves were really unruly, with branches spread all over the place even when I tried to tie them up. The tomatoes were good and super plentiful- it made tons of tomatoes. But they weren’t as sweet as the other kind and I honestly did not like them quite as much. As the season went on they also tended to split on the vine if I didn’t harvest them in time, making them messy to try to pick and I ended up wasting a lot because they didn’t keep once they split. Next year I think I will just go with the golden cherry tomatoes. The big tomatoes I did are good and I like them. I may try to do more of them next year as I didn’t get that many out of the three of four plants I had. I also would transplant these sooner as they took a while to mature– I still have a lot of green ones out there and only really had a couple ripe ones to eat so far and I’m worried we’ll get a frost before the rest are ready to be picked.

Kale- I got a flat leaf variety this year, because last year my curly leaf kale was the home of choice for bugs. I think they are spider eggs and babies actually, but I’m not sure. All I know is that they are a pain to clean off and it made me not even feel like picking or eating the kale because it would take so long to wash it. This happened just as much with the flat leaf kale, although it was slightly easier to clean because there were less curls for them to hide in. The bugs only came through the second half of the summer, with the earlier leaves being totally fine. The younger leaves also taste better anyway, so next year I think I should plant half as much kale, harvest it before mid-July, and then plant another batch after that, so that I end up with no plants that get too mature or leaves that get too big and tempting to the bugs.

Beans- I planted green beans and black garbanzo beans. The green beans are great. They grow fast and are so easy. This year I only planted half a row because I wanted space for the garbanzos. Last year I had planted a full row. I think next year I want to do a full row again because green beans are so easy and yummy to eat. I feel like I didn’t get that many from my few plants this year. The garbanzos seem really cool. I love garbanzo beans and this was my first time growing them I only did a few plants of these as well, and it turned out that each plant didn’t provide many beans. Each pod only had one bean in it, and I only got maybe a tablespoon of beans out of all of them. I haven’t eaten them yet, so we’ll wait and see how they taste, but if I have enough room next year I would do maybe two rows of them in order to have enough to really bother eating.

Zucchini- I made the mistake of planting multiple plants of these. Bad idea. Next year if I do them at all, I will only do ONE plant. Also, mine were called golden zucchini, so they were yellow, not green. I feel like I didn’t even like them that much. I may not bother doing any plants next year.

Cucumber- I made the mistake of planting these right next to the zucchini. They got totally overwhelmed and blocked by the zucchini which were larger, and I only got a couple good cucumbers off the vine. I would rather do more cucumbers and less zucchini next year.

Peas- These were also next to the zucchini. Same problem. They didn’t get enough sun and started to wither and die when I only had gotten a couple peas off them. It was very sad. I also had not prepared a good enough trellis for them. Next year I will set them up better and allow them more sun. I love peas.

Lettuce- I had bad luck with my lettuce this year. I had a mesclun mix that I used last year as well, and it started out fine, but then we went away for the 4th of July and when we got back most of the plants had bolted already. I also disliked the taste of a couple of the plants in the mix so I only really enjoyed eating about half of it. I ran out of these seeds this year anyway and won’t get the same ones next year. My other lettuces did not grow well so I need to also get new seeds for next year. I will focus on romaine I think. I also liked the spinach I had, but I only got a couple of heads to grow and when I tried planting more they never came up. I also got this winter lettuce mix that said you plant it at the end of the season and it produces through fall. I tried planting it a few weeks ago and nothing came up.. I just tried again today so we’ll see if it comes up or is not worth trying again next year.

Radishes & Carrots- I do one row of these together. I always end up with lots of radishes all at once and let half of them go bad. I can’t honestly eat that many radishes at once, and only really ever use them cut up in salads. Last year I ended up roasting some of them and eating them cooked when I had a bunch at once, which was ok but I still didn’t love it. I don’t know if it’s worth planting them next year. They just always are fun because they’re the first thing to come up which is exciting. Maybe I’ll just plant less. The carrots always take forever and never get very big. I like carrots but can’t decide if they’re worth it.

Onions & Garlic- My onions were a bit of a disaster this year. I planted yellow and red ones and neither of them got larger than a quarter. I don’t know why they are so tiny, but I think it could be partly because their sun was blocked by the kale a bit, but also could be due to the fact that I feel they got a bit stunted when I first planted them. I think I should have kept them wetter and should be more careful about watering when I transplant them next year. They had started to look like they were starting to dry out and wither right after I transplanted them. The garlic did great, but I with I had planted more. I’m not sure if my supply will last us through the winter, which would be my ideal goal. They were ready for harvest by mid to late August, so I think I could plant twice as much next year, and then put something else in their spot once they come up– maybe the winter lettuce if it works, or a new batch of kale.

Eggplant- I did eggplant for the first time this year. The ones I started from seed inside never came up so I bought small plants and transplanted them in, and then I also tried my seeds right in the garden later on. The plants I bought produced one small eggplant each so far. There are still flowers but I can’t tell if they will produce before it gets too cold. The seeds I planted have a couple flowers too but so far have not produced any eggplants. I think these take too long, and I either need to figure out how to germinate them indoors better and have them started sooner or not bother with them next year.

So that’s pretty much it for the garden. I hope that this helps me remember what I want to plant and how to make everything thrive next week when I’m thinking about new seeds to purchase and how to lay out the garden. I don’t have a ton of space, so I always struggle with deciding which veggies will provide the most and be the most ‘worth it’ to actually plant and tend to rather than just buy in the store. I think the third year may be the charm!

Freezer Meals For Postpartum Days

freezer-meals

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I’ve been working on compiling a list of freezer meals that I can make in the next couple of months to have on hand for February and the days/weeks/months beyond, when we may not feel like cooking much and will be too busy with our new little bundle to bother. I keep seeing all these lists that make it seem super easy, like “14 Freezer Meals In 1 Hour” and getting all excited, but then when I look at the meals included, almost none of them actually look good or like something we would want to eat. I don’t care how easy it is, I’m not going to start making those crock pot or casserole recipes that call for a can of cream of mushroom soup. I know I’ll be a tired zombie right after baby, but I’m not willing to let all health go out the window and those ‘cream of’ soups are so bad for you. It’s shocking how many of these recipes call for it.

Anyway, I have found a couple new recipes that look good and worthwhile, and I’ve also added a few tried and true recipes that I know we like and that freeze well to the list, and this is what I’ve come up with so far.

Postpartum Freezer Meals:

White Chicken Chili Looks delish. I love chili but the Mr doesn’t like tomatoes so this white one looks like the way to go.

Corn Black Bean Burgers This is a favorite around here. Healthy and yummy.

Indian Chicken Burgers These look good. Another way to eat chicken in an easy to hold format!

Stovetop Mac & Cheese Everyone loves mac & cheese. This one looks like a winner.

Beef Burritos I would do these without the rice I think.

Broccoli Cheese Soup Yum this looks like a cozy February meal.

Coconut Lentil Soup This is already another favorite in our house. Filling and freezes great.

Spaghizza I know I shouldn’t plan my postpartum meals around pregnancy cravings, but I haven’t been able to get enough pepperoni pizza lately and I just have to believe this will still look equally as amazing after the baby.

Buffalo Chicken Taquitos These look so flavorful and also easy to hold/eat while you have your hands full.

Sausage & Peppers I’d do a variation of this, cut everything up and freeze in a bag, then just thaw and sautee to eat.

Now I just need to decide if I will take everyone’s word on these recipes, or if I should try them all out before I make a batch to freeze, to make sure they’re good! I might need to try that mac & cheese one this week either way 🙂

Healthy Coconut Granola

I have always loved granola but don’t love how expensive it can be at the store or all the added sugars that get put into it, making it less good for you than you think. I never thought about making it myself until the beginning of this summer when I kept seeing recipes for it that looked amazing and even my mother told me she made some homemade granola and it was great. I ended up combining a lot of different recipes I saw and throwing in whatever I thought looked like it would be a good addition, and ended up with a super simple, unique granola that is worth making every week or so to have on hand. It makes a yummy, filling breakfast, or you can have a small bowl or a dry handful for a satisfying snack. I end up having it right before bed when my tummy starts grumbling and nothing else sounds good.

Coconut Granola

I like to make this on a Sunday afternoon while doing chores around the house. It’s super easy to make, but you do have to keep an eye on it in the oven to make sure it doesn’t start to get too brown– it can literally be a matter of seconds when it goes from toasted to burned. Making a jar of this makes it feel like I’ve done something to prepare for the week and I like knowing I have something healthy to eat whenever I’ll need it, no matter what comes up!

:Coconut Granola:

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 cups Oats

1/2 cups Sliced Almonds

1/2 cups Coconut (shredded, flaked, or combination)

1/4 cups Flax Seeds

1/4 cups Sunflower Seeds

1/4 cups Chia Seeds

1/4 cups Maple Syrup

1/4 cups Coconut Oil

ASSEMBLY

Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix together oats, almonds, flax, sunflower, chia seeds in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl combine maple syrup and coconut oil (if it gets thick, microwave for ten seconds and stir again). Pour syrup mixture over oat mixture and stir to incorporate. Spread onto baking sheet in an even layer and bake for ten minutes. Remove from oven and carefully mix with a wooden spoon so that the pieces that were on top and browning get mixed back in. Spread back out into even layer and bake ten more minutes. Remove from oven again and add coconut, mixing carefully to combine. Spread back out and make for ten more minutes. You may want to mix it up again halfway through this time, depending on the size of your coconut (big flakes that stick out more will burn faster so you will want to stir it after five minutes again). Once it is all looking nice and toasty light brown, remove from oven and let cool. When completely cool, pour into a glass jar to store.