Camping (or as close as I come to camping)

I might have stretched the truth a little when I told my (now) husband that I loved to camp. When I was a kid we went camping at least once a summer, but not more that two or three times a year. My mom planned super yummy dinners for us. And we had hot chocolate and powdered sugar donuts for breakfast. What was not to like? Well, now I am the mom and that means it’s my job to think up and cook super yummy camping dinners. When we were tent camping I had two dinners that I would make. Camping could therefore only last two nights (pretty smart). Before we left I would make a grilled chicken pasta salad, put it in a ziploc bag and stick it in the cooler. I would also prep all the ingredients for taco salad, put them in bags and into the cooler. DONE. Breakfast was muffins. Lunch was usually leftovers. I had the food pretty figured out, for two days anyway, but there was still all the other parts of camping. Sleeping in a tent is not the easiest thing for a light sleeper. Somehow, camping just isn’t as fun as it was when I was a kid. I still wanted my girls to have those fun memories though.

My husband I and decided to buy a trailer. It has been fabulous! We have already gone camping two times and I am actually looking forward to camping again. I have already decided that we are going camping next week.

So, here is the point of this post.

Phillip’s Lake, Oregon.

We have decided to limit our trips to a two hour radius from home. Two hours is about all our kiddos can handle unless we are headed to the cousins. Luckily, two hours can get us to some pretty amazing places. Like Union Creek Campground at Phillips Lake. IMG_20170601_121244892

Nice spot, huh? I wouldn’t mind going back, but we have other places to explore. This was a great place for us to spend several days. There is hiking around the lake and fishing in the lake, swimming (if you can brave the cold) and our favorite camping pastimes of burning things, like marshmallows, in the campfire. There are also a couple of historical sites within a short drive. We went to the Sumpter Valley dredge. A large piece of mining equipment siting in a pond. I found it fascinating. We had lunch at the Elkhorn Saloon. It is a bar, but there is a side entrance for seating in the back where kids can go. It isn’t fancy  (it is a bar, I can’t stress that enough), but they have some amazing hamburgers! They have some crazy combos on the menu like the George Washington that is topped with cherry pie filling and cream cheese. No, thank you. I had the BLT burger and it was yummy! I also recommend the onion rings. After lunch we took the kids to the Sumpter community park. Where they played until the adults were able to move again after all the food we had consumed.

Another draw is the Sumper Valley Railroad. Unfortunately, we were there on a weekday and the trains only run on specific weekends. The girls and I are planning on going back just to ride the train. Yes, I will drive two hours for a half an hour train ride. They have train robbery weekends and a Christmas train. It sounds like something we would love to do.

I can’t believe that I am actually looking forward to camping. Not like backpacking or sleeping in a tent camping, but parking the trailer in the woods with electricity and running water kind of camping. I think it totally counts. If my kids and husband are happy I will trailer camp any time.

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P.S. We had a blast adding to the rock stack forest.

Vegan Fajitas

I am making an effort to eat more veggies. So far the only meals I have come up with are stir fry and fajitas. I can cram a ton of veggies into stir fry and my kids will eat them all (they might pick out the onions, but if they eat the rest, I’m happy).

Fajitas are usually meat, onions and peppers. I know there are recipes out there subbing mushrooms for the meat, but I am not a mushroom fan. So, I put zucchini in my fajitas. I saw a tip (pretty sure it was Rachael Ray) to scoop out the seeds of zucchini before you cook them so they don’t get mushy and it totally works.
Vegan Fajitas

1 med yellow onion, cut into wedges

1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips

1/2 red or orange bell pepper, cut in strips

2 small zucchinis, cut lengthwise with seeds removed, then cut into strips

Salt and pepper to taste

1/8 tsp liquid smoke (or less to taste)

1/2 tsp chili powder

Saute everything in olive oil over med-high heat. I like my veggies a little charred, but still crisp. Season with salt, pepper, chili powder and liquid smoke. Serve with tortillas and beans and rice on the side.

 

Seriously, my husband loved this. This is a great meal when you want something comforting without the meat. I don’t know that that makes sense, but I know when I cut out meat I just feel lighter. This filled me up without making me feel slow and sleepy. Good stuff!

Sugar! 

I have mentioned my sugar addiction before. I’m focusing on sugar again. My husband and I watched a documentary out of Australia called “That Sugar Film”. It was like Super Size Me, except with sugar. Damon Gameau didn’t have to eat candy and drink soda, he ate yogurt and granola bars and other food we think of as healthy, to eat 40 tablespoons of sugar a day. It is easy to overload your body with sugar.
Six tablespoons is the recommended daily allowance of sugar for women. That’s 25 grams. One container of vanilla coconut yogurt has 19 grams of sugar. Yesterday I had 79 grams of sugar without any soda, juice, candy or processed foods. So today I’m only having 25 grams of sugar. Guess what? It is amazingly difficult to eat that little sugar. Here is what I ate.

Green Goddess Breakfast Salad from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen

Almonds and coconut chips for a snack (because the breakfast salad was huge)

Chicken stir fry with rice

No sweets, no soda, not even an apple and that was 25 grams of sugar! I even left the honey out of the salad dressing and my teriyaki sauce. The most sugar came from sweet potato.

I agree that the Western diet is full of sugar and it is ruining our health, but I’m not sure that I can maintain this low sugar diet. I had to be careful to measure the amount of carrots in my stir fry so that I didn’t go over my sugar quota. Carrots! It seems a bit much when carrots need to be restricted. Who came up with the daily allowance number? The American Heart Association. I went to their website and all their infographics on healthy eating include fruit. Not possible with only 25 grams of sugar. Did they mean six tablespoons of added sugar? That would be too much of the white stuff, but 25 grams total is a tiny amount. Yesterday I had a fruit salad with half an orange, small handful of grapes and half a banana, it was 22 grams of sugar (according to MyFitnessPal). Giving up soda is not going to lower your sugar intake anywhere near the recommended amount. That takes drastic measures.

I will continue to watch my sugar amounts, but I’m not giving up all fruit. That doesn’t seem right. Like most things in this life moderation is the key. 

Healing Hot Chocolate

I take gelatin every day. I usually have gelatin tea. I dissolve one tablespoon of gelatin in hot water and then throw a tea bag in to steep. Tea is not the best for covering the gelatin flavor. If I was a coffee drinker it would be much easier to drink my daily gelatin. Coffee completely masks any unpleasant flavor. I have coffee on occasion, but I would rather have hot chocolate for something special. There are times when I want something more decadent than tea.

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Single Serving Healing Hot Chocolate

  • 1 tablespoon gelatin*
  • 2 tablespoons organic sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 12 oz unsweetened almond/coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Stir together gelatin, sugar, cocoa and salt in a large mug.  Stir in one tablespoon of milk to make a paste. Slowly stir in rest of milk. Microwave for 1 minute, stir and heat one more minute or until desired temperature. Stir in vanilla and enjoy.

*For fabulous vegan hot chocolate just leave out the gelatin.

Hot chocolate and toast (sigh)

Hot chocolate and toast (sigh).

We used to have hot chocolate and toast on Sunday evenings. We would have a large Sunday dinner in the afternoon and then hot chocolate, fruit and toast for supper.

 

 

 

Super Fondue Party

There will be no football watching at our house on Sunday. I like to watch football. We watch football every Sunday during football season. However, my husband will be watching Super Bowl with his buddies and I really don’t care about the game. I follow the Saints and the Seahawks so this year I don’t need to watch the “big” game.

My girls and I are going to have a fondue party and watch old movies. If it is a hit we might invite some girlfriends over next year. I think Super Fondue Party could be an annual thing.

Starters:
Welsh Rarebit fondue
Vegan cheese fondue
sourdough bread
Granny Smith apples
olives
baby dill pickles
French Fries

Main:
Beef
Chicken
Ham
potatoes
broccoli
carrots (veggies lightly steamed or roasted)

Dessert:
Chocolate fondue
sugar cookie dippers
brownie bites
marshmallows
apples
pineapple

 

Welsh Rarebit Fondue (original recipe)

  • 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • dash hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

Have cheese at room temperature. In a small bowl beat the cheese on low with a hand mixer gradually add beer. Mix at medium speed until fluffy. Add Worcestershire, mustard, garlic and hot sauce. Beat well. Melt in fondue pot on stovetop. Blend cornstarch and water, add to fondue. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.

This is an old fondue recipe from my mama. We had fondue on New Year’s Eve when I was growing up. I have seen several recipes for fondue broth floating around and I know it would be healthier than frying, but I don’t want boiled beef. I just don’t. We don’t have fondue all that often anyway. I think the last time I had fondue was in college.  Can that be right? My husband has moved my fondue set (including pottery plates) all over the country for over ten years and we have never had fondue? That can’t be right.

Chocolate Fondue (adapted from the Gourmet International Fondue cookbook, vintage-super fun)

  • 2 tablespoons of honey or light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dairy free coffee creamer (nutpods)
  • 1 cups allergy free chocolate chips (Enjoy Life or similar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons Amaretto (after the kids go to bed)

Heat honey and creamer on stove, when honey is melted lower heat and stir in chocolate. Stir constantly until chocolate is melted. Stir in vanilla and liquor (if using).

I haven’t made the vegan cheese fondue yet and I have a couple of recipes I want to try before I post one. Here are the contenders:

Easy Vegan Fondue

Vegan Fondue

Melty Stretchy Gooey Vegan Mozzarella

I’ll let ya know how it goes. I’m also thinking of making my mom’s Welsh Rarebit with Dayia or Follow Your Heart vegan cheese. Sometimes commercial vegan cheese turns to liquid when you melt it though. Tricky.

I can’t seem to do anything without making a Pinterest board for it, so here is my fondue party board:

Yea for Pinterest and people who take pretty food pictures!

Review of Nature’s Dairy-free creamer nutpods

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It is great to have dairy-free milk for your cereal and creamer for your coffee, but I am always looking for dairy-free milks to use in cooking. Have you ever bought an unsweetened box of milk to find that it contained “natural flavors” that made your chicken and dumplings taste of vanilla? Or had a dessert turn out too sweet because you couldn’t figure out how much to adjust the sugar to compensate for the coffee creamer? I might be the only one, except for the chicken and dumplings because that was my sister.
My new favorite product is nutpods. So far I have used it in my coffee, tea, chai, hot chocolate, gravy and made the best mashed potatoes I have had in ages! Even my dairy eating husband thought they were the best mashed potatoes I have ever made. They were so creamy and didn’t have any weird flavors (like vanilla, coconut or almond). Even though I have a huge pot of Minestrone soup I might have to make mashed potatoes because I bought more nutpods! And a little cream in your gravy is always a nice touch. My aunt used to add a little half-and-half to the turkey gravy at holidays. I added a couple of tablespoons of nutpods to my pan gravy and served it over herb chicken, oh my, it was very good.

I am drinking chai right now and I can’t believe that it is dairy-free.  Speaking of chai, my favorite is from Blue Lotus Chai- Rooibos Masala Chai. I love that it is caffeine free and I can add how much of whatever sweetener I choose.

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I don’t really have a story or anything to write, I just want to tell someone about the stuff I like. Maybe I’ll have a “favorite things” post. Not like Oprah, but for people who are going to a favorite things party and need some ideas. Who wouldn’t want to go home with coffee creamer?

New Year’s Resolutions

For many people a New Year’s resolution may look something like this.

“This year I will get in shape.”

Or

“My New Year’s resolution is to lose weight.”

Or, more specific

“I will lose 20 pounds in 2017.”

My New Year’s resolution is to “keep on keeping on.” I’m not starting anything new. I’m not setting a nebulous goal for myself. I’m not even vowing to break a bad habit. I am going to make a list of all the things that I have decided are part of a healthy day for me. Some of these things I have been doing for years, others for a few months, but I want to be aware of them and work to do them EVERY day.

  1. read the Bible
  2. take vitamins and supplements twice a day for hormonal health
  3. drink gelatin
  4. do T-Tapp
  5. drink a Green Thickie
  6. drink 5-6 glasses of water
  7. wash face using oil cleansing method
  8. use Wellness Mama toothpaste and oil pull
  9. go to bed with a clean kitchen sink

The last one is probably the hardest for me and the one my husband is most interested in. His love language is acts of service and clean dishes make him feel loved. Washing dishes is right up there with doing laundry. I’ll do it, if I have to, I guess. Doing the laundry should be up there too, but I don’t want to do it every day.

This list might change over the course of this year, but this is a good start.

Alright, here is my one, big, nebulous, hashtag-able New Year’s resolution: be a friend.

I don’t really have any friends and the one thing my husband is always saying to me is if I want a friend I need to be a friend. So there is my big idea for 2017. Now I have to figure out how to be a friend.