Prickly Pear Lemonade

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Yes, you read the title right. Prickly Pear Lemonade…as in the cactus. We live in the desert and have an abundance of prickly pear cacti very near us. We have been getting a bunch of needed rain as well. Our oldest son and Miss D went out and picked some pears off of the cactus. He intended to make jelly but didn’t want to go to the store for the needed supplies. After a quick internet search, they settled on prickly pear lemonade.

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The prep was much less intense than one would think. They also used powdered lemonade. The results? Mixed. Most of our household liked it but didn’t go back for seconds. The two that would’ve gotten seconds had a bit of an allergic reaction on their tongues. Me, I thought it was okay. It is pretty though and teaches our kids to be resourceful and use what nature has provided for us.

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Move Over Coffee

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That’s right I have a new favorite caffeinated drink. I have found a second 2:00 pick-me-up. I had been seeing this frog green drink popping up here and there. Heard the word matcha tossed around but it wasn’t until Hubby and I went to Starbucks and ordered one with my new Starbucks app (only works out of town) did I actually experience this green goodness for myself. While it looks more like a science experiment it tastes so refreshing.

If you are accustomed to the sugary coffee drinks topped with a mountain of whipped cream drizzled or sprinkled with more sugary decor than this may taste a bit more like grass to you at first. For me, I drink green tea every morning and steer clear from those sugary drinks so the lemonade makes this is actually like a dessert treat to me.

So what is matcha you may ask? It basically is concentrated green tea powder. It is a powerhouse of antioxidants. The caffeine lasts longer and doesn’t hit you like coffee. It is described as an alert calmness. Pinterest and other places on the web have great benefit infographics to show you just how great this drink is.

Being the spendthrift that I am I found a copycat recipe on Pinterest from beautyandthebeets. It really does tastes like Starbucks. I lessened the sugar by 1/2c and could still lessen it more. I ordered my matcha from epicmatcha. This site is great. It has a bunch of info and great customer service.

If you haven’t tried matcha lemonade you just have to! So good.

 

 

Boom Chicka

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(This is not a paid endorsement.)

If you have ever tasted Boom Chicka Pop’s Kettle Corn, you know the meaning of the word addiction. I can’t buy them…I will eat the whole bag!

BUT I did buy this. I mean how could it be bad. It has all the key ingredients, such as dark chocolate, sea salt, and kettle corn! Plus the bag has all of those “good for you” labels.

Sadly the new popcorn trend failed to satisfy. It was a bit on the weird, too sweet side of food. Three members of our house like the concoction. For me, I will stay with the occasional bag of their regular kettle corn.

Yummy Flashback

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(Me, outside of Cafe de Monde, maybe 6 years ago. Our two oldest and one of our nephews are in the background.)

At a recent grocery trip I literally almost walked passed a sweet find. We went to New Orleans, oh golly, maybe 5-6 years ago with our East Coast family for Christmas. It was a wonderful experience. Our country is so uniquely different with each passing state. Driving from New Mexico through Texas into Louisana was great. From dry, dusty desert to water, swamps, and water everywhere. Our travel got green and green with every mile.

Like good tourists, we spent our fair share of time in the French Quater. One of the famous places there is Cafe de Monde. A historic coffee and beignet shop. Of course, we had to try. Now if you’ve never tried or heard of beignets here’s the Wikipedia definition: Beignet, synonymous with the English “fritter”, is the French term for a pastry made from deep-fried choux pastry. Beignets may also be made from other types of dough, including yeast dough. So, what a nice treat to stumble upon a mix of these nice treats.

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Will have to make these real soon before two of our East Coast family heads back.

 

The Best Muffins

Okay, I know everyone claims to have the recipe for the best muffins, but these are really SOOO yummy and pretty healthy for you. All but one of our kids love them. That one doesn’t like chocolate. If you don’t like chocolate you will not like these either. Whether you are vegan, or just love chocolate, these are great for you.

Double Chocolate Avocado Muffins…Yeap!! Doubly rich, thick and fudgy dark chocolate.IMG_1759

Ingredients

1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 medium-sized ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
2/3 c. pure maple syrup
3/4 c. unsweetened plain soymilk
1/3 c. coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. vegan chocolate chips

Tips

Start checking for doneness at around 17 min – ovens vary. An ice cream scoop is great for filling your muffin cups. The protein content of pastry flour falls somewhere in between that of cake flour (lowest) and all-purpose flour (mid-range among flours). Whole wheat pastry flour is a relatively low protein flour, high in starch because it’s made with whole grains. It’s a great compromise between increasing nutritional content while still getting a delicate final product. If you can’t find whole wheat pastry flour, a mixture of equal parts cake flour and whole wheat flour could be used. This way you get the best of both worlds.
Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pan with paper liners if desired.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a food processor or powerful blender puree the avocado, maple syrup, soymilk, oil and vanilla extract until smooth.

Add the avocado puree to the dry ingredients until all the flour is combined. If the mixture is too dry, stir in additional milk. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups and bake for about 22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out with just a few crumbs. Cool.

Serving Size: 1 muffin

I have made these a number of times, varying the recipe a few times. I have used honey instead of syrup and both together, pecans instead of walnuts and no nuts at all, real milk instead of soy. I have made it Keto worthy. (It did fall in the middle though.) This time I did a mix of almond flour and whole wheat flour and I mixed coconut oil and coconut butter. I even added chia seeds. I made some in mini muffin tins which are perfect for toddlers but dangerous for self-control. They are so addictive you will want to eat and eat but they are filling at the same time.

If you make them, let me know.

 

 

My Two O’Clock Coffee

I cherish my two o’clock coffee, the only coffee I have all day.

I save it for when the kids are about ready to come home.  I save it when everyone is gone or asleep.  I save it for when most, who an I kidding, maybe half, of my day’s to-do list is done.  Just my coffee, half & half, stevia and me.  No matter if it’s cold or hot, it comforts my soul and awakens the brain.

Coffee and I go way back. Growing up coffee was not the drink of choice in our house. If it was a hot drink it was tea. Black tea, many herb teas, but no coffee. Then I got married. Hubby was a coffee drinker, still is. I didn’t even like the smell. He’d brew himself some coffee for this workday early in the morning. The smell which would filter its way through the rooms and to my nose was not a comforting, refreshing smell. To me, it was more of a strong, bitter smell that I couldn’t wait to burn away with scented candles.

Then ever so slowly I started to like and even love the smell of coffee brewing in the morning. When entering a coffee shop I’d take those deep breaths you see coffee lovers take. However, that’s as far as I could handle coffee. Until one fateful dinner at a former pastor’s house, I tasted and liked coffee. Now I had tried hubby’s coffee many times, but our pastor’s wife had flavored creamer!! I probably had 1/4 coffee to 3/4 creamer at first, but I liked it. I slowly worked up the ratio of coffee to where I now drink it with 1/2 and 1/2, no flavored creamers. Ever since we started to eat cleaner flavored creamers is one of the things we gave up.

Here’s where I am at today:

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I have my one cup of coffee around 2:00. Any more than that and the caffeine loses it’s kick. Ever since Hubby and I took a mini getaway to Durango, Colorado I am hooked on cold brew coffee. It is less bitter and acidic than traditionally brewed coffee. It has a very smooth taste as well. There are a few different methods to make your cold brew: here and here for example. There are also a  number of containers you can use for this process. If you look at the photo above the smaller, fancier container I bought through amazon.com. They taller one at Walmart. I prefer the Walmart one. It is very basic and easy to use. The suggested number of days you can leave your cold brewed coffee in the frig varies as well. For me, I found that after the 4th day the coffee tends to taste too bitter. You can warm up your cold brew as well. To get my daily dose of coconut oil in I simply melt it into my hot coffee. (My lips are so smooth afterward.) Also, to change it up a bit, when traditional brewing after you add the coffee grounds in sprinkle some pumpkin pie spice onto then brew as usual!  Yum. I still need to try that with the cold brew method.

Tell me how do you like your coffee? What are some healthy, money saving tips for a good brew?

Grateful for Sippy Cups

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Little Man is four and still uses a sippy cup.  Yes, I hear you, I hear you.  It is bad for his teeth.  We are all too aware of that, especially the way he drinks them (more on that later, maybe).  He can and does drink from a regular cup.  However, he doesn’t eat fruits or veggies (except for bananas) and this is the only way to get them in him.  We don’t know why this is.  Sensory issues?  Something with a possible problem with his cleft pallet?  Or just plain old picky eater syndrome?  For now, we are fine with him drinking his fruits and veggies and getting him to “try” some that I serve on his plates.  (Bribing anyone?)

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Just a side note.  I tried making my own smoothies for him, awhile ago (see the top photo).  However, that was a one-time event.  He wasn’t having any of the others I made.