Pumpkin Seeds Three Ways
October 25, 2011 at 6:00 am
One of our favorite Halloween traditions here is to carve pumpkins and then roast the seeds.
It’s a yearly celebration that began even before our children were born, way back before we knew that pumpkin seeds are a really healthy treat.
They are packed with magnesium and have a hearty dose of zinc too. And they are just really fun and festive to make.
Each year, we try to come up with some new and different ways to serve our seeds.
We begin with this basic recipe, and then add various seasonings to the bowl to coat the seeds.
This year’s winners were:
- Pumpkin Spice Pumpkin Seeds, flavored with pumpkin pie spice blend and a little evaporated cane juice in place of the salt.
- Taco Seeds, coated with cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper and salt
- Garden Seeds (Owen’s very own creation) seasoned with garlic and celery salts plus oregano and parsley.
All were yummy and fun, and disappeared faster than a ghost at sunrise!
Do you have a favorite way to flavor your pumpkin seeds?
Friday Tea: Apple Bread
October 14, 2011 at 6:00 am
And so, we wrap up the little loaves in aluminum foil and pack them in our basket and we hit the road.
It’s a mobile tea time. Because this week we are sharing it with friends and family. We visit the library, and the friends we don’t see much, and we drop off apple bread and a little good cheer.
It’s becoming a tradition now. Every year. It’s becoming one of my very favorite things.
Adapted from New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant
1 cup light olive oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups whole spelt flour
1 cup white spelt flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
3 tablespoons almond milk
3 cups chopped apples
1 cup chopped walnuts
We double and even triple this recipe and it works great. This bread also freezes really well (for later distribution).
We like to make this in mini loaf pans, although round cake pans work really well when we are making it to keep.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use coconut or olive oil to grease pans and sprinkle with sesame seeds to coat.
In a very large bowl, combine oil and brown sugar and mix well. Add apple sauce, eggs, vanilla and almond milk and combine well.
In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients including flours, baking soda, baking powder and spice. Add dry ingredient mix to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Add chopped apples and nuts and stir in.
Fill cake pans 2/3 of the way full.
Cook small cake pans for 20 to 25 minutes or until bread is cooked through. Cook in round cake pans for up to 35 minutes or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
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A Very Autumn Spot
October 13, 2011 at 6:00 am
You’ve probably picked up this week that I love apples.
I love fall, and all the cinnamon recipes and crunchy leaves that go along with it.
Which makes me a sucker for apple orchards.
One of the wonderful things about our non-traditional schedule here is the time is allots for apple orchard visits during non-peak hours. We try to go to one each week during the fall.
(And that’s the beauty of the Midwest, of course — anyone with two Jonamac trees and a cow can start an orchard and people will just follow the delicious smell of doughnuts.)
A quarter for the animal feed at the petting zoo; a quarter peck of apples for a pie.
That’s all we need one week.
Maybe the next week we need caramel apples (because sometimes you just do).
I love the mums and the honey displays, the endless packs of soup and dip mixes.
I never buy the soup or the dip. But I like that they are there. Someone wants, them, I’m sure. Someone somewhere just bought one for her sister-in-law, or her kid’s teacher.
I love taking the wagon and walking up and down the rows of trees, side-stepping bees, always wondering how long it really takes for an apple tree to mature. Surely if I planted one today …
There is something that makes me grin as I walk hand-in-hand with my kids down paths covered with fallen leaves.
It feel special. It feels right.
It always feels just like fall.
Fall Fun: Leaf Rubbings
October 6, 2011 at 6:00 am
One of our favorite fall activities is to go for a hike (or even just hit the back yard) to look for cool and interesting leaves.
The kids and I spent a lot of time last week talking about leaves, why they change color, and all the different variety of trees that can be found in our area.
Afterwards, we took a stroll and a chose a variety of fallen leaves to take home and make leaf rubbings.
We used simple recycled paper, beeswax block crayons and our leaf collection to make a seasonal display for the front door. In the past we have also used cardstock to make autumn greeting cards for family and friends.
Quick how-to: Fold a piece of paper in half and insert the leaf into the middle. Holding the paper (and leaf inside) very still, rub the top with a block crayon or the side of a regular crayon. You may need to rub pretty hard to get a clear pattern to show up, so the littlest ones may need a bit of help.
This is an excellent project for tiny hands, though, and something we have been doing here since the kids were tiny!
How are you bringing little bits of fall inside your home?
Celebrating Fall Flavors: Quinoa Salad
October 4, 2011 at 6:00 am
I am having a small, somewhat creepy love affair with quinoa lately.
I hope you can forgive me. But what other grain packs in so much protein?
And quinoa, like so many grains is so versatile. My new favorite way to eat it is in this Fall Salad.
Served chilled or at room temperature, these flavors really bring in all the good things of the season, and do so dairy- and gluten-free.
This salad will definitely be making an appearance on my Thanksgiving table, and probably quite a bit before then too!
Fall Quinoa Salad
2 cups cooked quinoa (prepare 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of water or stock)
1/3 cup celery hearts, chopped (add some leaves — the flavor is really amazing)
1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Juice of two limes
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Toast pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, but watch carefully. To cooled quinoa add celery, pecans, cranberries and parsley. In a small glass bowl mix lime juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. Pour over the top of the salad and mix thoroughly.
Do you have a favorite quinoa recipe to share? Please add it or link to it in the comments below!
Creating a seasonal table
September 14, 2011 at 6:00 am
I mentioned on Monday that this week we will be updating our seasonal table.
This is something we started doing several years ago — having a seasonal or nature table in our home.
But here is a quick funny story … Our nature table is “housed” on a small table that my grandfather bought for my grandmother many years ago. Before my grandfather died, he gave it to me.
I think because it reminded him or her. But this all worked out, because it reminds me of both of them. It reminds me of their love and commitment to each other. And so, even though it is essentially just a decorative table, it is important to me that it is a part of our home.
It’s grain engraving makes it a perfect fit for a nature table, I think.
And so, when Owen was old enough, we created a nature table for all of his “treasures.”
It was around the time that he started pre-school, so we were also arranging other areas of our home to be more conducive to learning.
My husband, seeing the nature table, suggesting we re-appropriate it since the kids were just putting random stuff on it.
I am sure this is how our first nature table looked — like some random junk piled up without much of a plan or design.
Since then, our nature table has changed a lot. It not only changes every season, but it sometimes changes day to day.
It is home to rocks and shells, pinecones, leaves, acorns, seeds, flowers, bug exoskeletons, twigs, bark and various other found items.
It is a place that brings the outside in, and it is a place my kids visit a lot …stopping to see something that to them has a lot of meaning.
I think my grandparents would have liked that.
Do you have a nature table in your home?
Nature Gifts for Nature Kids
August 4, 2011 at 6:00 am
The other day, we got a box in the mail.
It was unexpected, and when my kids saw it was from their aunt, uncle and cousins who live out of state, they couldn’t get it open fast enough.
Because their aunt and uncle are GREAT gift-givers. They give the gifts that always get played with the most … open-ended and often from nature.
We opened our suprise package to find two smaller boxes inside. One, contained the bird’s nest above, filled with three tiny stone eggs. Perfect for my bird-loving boy.
Ellery got a small vintage treasure chest filled with three beautiful gems. It is really what every princess needs.
These gifts were wonderful and generous, but they were also so thoughtful — they showed a true connection to my kiddos that made me feel incredibly grateful.
They also reminded me how difficult it can be sometimes to find gifts for kids at an actual toy store!
Sometimes, we will hit the area’s big toy emporium and wander around looking for something that fits. But often, the best gifts for nature-loving kids aren’t available at the toy store anyway. Things like:
- A small plant and watering can
- A magnifying glass, compass or binoculars
- A “grown-up” style sketch kit or a nature journal
- A handmade certificate to learn a new outdoor skill or do a nature activity together
- Seeds to plant
- Original outdoor treasure hunts with a small prize at the end
- A birdfeeder
- Cool rocks, stones or shells
- A bag or basket for nature collecting
- A child size vest with many pockets
- Specimen jars
- Baskets of acorns or pinecones
- A lantern
- A tent
- A backpack and cool nature- and adventure-themed patches
These kinds of gifts are so much fun to give and receive. And I can promise you that at least here, they get played with the very most!
What are your favorite nature-themed gifts to give?
Put it in a pop!
June 8, 2011 at 6:00 am
There have been some warm days here already. Pool days. Iced tea days. Definitely days meant for homemade popsicle consumption.
There are not a lot of fruit-based things we have not put in a smoothie. Juice, herbal tea, smoothies, even yogurt.
I have spent the past several weeks looking for the best of the best in popsicle molds. There are a lot of great options out there, including plastic and even stainless steel. We finally purchased this Tovolo moldbecause it met my two main criteria — it is BPA-free and it was not so expensive that I could not afford the actual popsicle ingredients.
And oh there are so many nice ingredients and flavor combinations like:
This idea was born when our naturopath recommended coconut milk for Owen’s stomach. We combine a can of coconut milk with frozen pineapple or pineapple juice and blend, and then poor it into the molds. We all love these pina-colada pops!
Red, White and Blue Yogurt Pops
Perfect for July 4th, we make these with yogurt which freezes really nicely. I use plain yogurt and divide it into three batches. To the first batch I add just a tiny bit of maple syrup or honey. The the second, I add strawberries and blend. I add blueberries and blend up the third batch. Then I just layer it in the mold – red, white and blue. Very patriotic and really nutritious.
Some other favorites include:
A mix of yogurt, honey and orange juice
Hot Chocolate Popsicles from Family Bites
Do they still make those? Well you can make your own by making a favorite pudding recipe and freezing it. Bill Cosby will be so proud.
Peaches and Cream
Let vanilla ice cream thaw until it is soft. Mix with Chopped fresh organic peaches and refreeze mixture in molds. Yum!
Really, the pop possibilities are endless, but we follow these general rules:
If it is a liquid or semi-solid, you can probably make it into a popsicle.
We like to leave some fruit, like blueberries, chopped peaches, etc. kind of chunky for texture.
Applesauce does freeze. Usually*
If smoothies for breakfast are OK, smoothie pops for breakfast are OK too
And finally, *the worst thing that can happen is a melty popsicle mess, which can be remedied by eating pops outside, and a few squirts of the garden hose, so just have fun!
What is your favorite homemade popsicle recipe?
June 3, 2011 at 6:00 am
It’s starting to seem like summer, isn’t it?
Oh I know, we still have a few weeks I guess. Technically. Numbers.
But around here, the little sting on my nose from a sunkiss, the requests for “cold water mama, from the refrigerator,” and the increased time spent in the backyard means that summer has pretty much arrived.
Do you have a summer plan?
Summer always seems to sneak by me. A couple of days at the pool, a few hikes, 70 to 80 s’mores, and the leaves are changing.
I have some serious goals for the warm months ahead — I want blueberries — lots! I want to get a safe tan somewhere besides my feet. I want to go on more adventures, while also having plenty of time to read a huge stack of books.
The rest of my family has their goals too — drive-in movies! Birdwatching! Feeding watermelon to the dog (he adores watermelon, really.) Building a sand kingdom! Road trips! Sleeping outside … maybe? Pleeeeease!
For the first time this year, I’m thinking of doing something to capture those little moments of summer. I’m thinking a simple notebook (or one for each kid?), where we can record all the cool stuff that can only happen while it is hot like:
- a comparative analysis of smoothie pops
- favorite library books devoured
- best meals that don’t require turning on the stove
- what we did on the hottest day
- what we did on the rainiest day
- greatest swimming class moments
- greatest softball moments
- best fruit salad combination
- favorite farmer’s market find
- oooh … you know what I’ve always wanted to do — write down what my kids saying during the fireworks on July 4th.
(I’ve always wanted to do that — really. They way they get so excited about GREEN!)
I’m sure the possibilities are endless — especially since I still have almost three more weeks to plan. Although, the way summer goes, it might be better to spend a little less time planning this year, and just do.
Because before we know it, those leaves will be starting to change …
Happy Earth Day!! A GREEN Give-Away!
April 22, 2011 at 6:00 am
Happy Earth Day!!
I am so excited to be featuring a really great give-away today from I’m Organic!
As a lot of you know, we’ve spent Earth Month talking about natural and safe cleaning and this give-away will help you to create your own green cleaning kit! Plus, you’ll get one of I’m Organic’s limited edition Earth Day bags!
Inside your I’m Organic bag you’ll get:
With these ingredients will be able to make the recipes featured here during the past month including laundry soap, all-purpose spray, bathroom cleaners and more!
All you have to do to enter is tell us how you are celebrating Earth Day this year!
So leave a comment below about how you plan to celebrate Earth Day. Comments will close Monday at noon. A winner will be announced in Tuesday’s post! Good luck, and Happy Earth Day from I’m Organic!!