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Smart Balance Gluten-Free Mac n’ Cheese

Our diet continues to evolve, as we find what works best for us. It was suggested to me by my doctor at my last appointment, that I should be consuming more fish, for the oils, so of late, we have included oil packed tuna and wild salmon once or twice a week into our dinners . Add in that Alistaire loves fish (and is something he can eat) I am more than happy to let him have it. Ford was pestering me for mac and cheese of late, and hey, I’d rather he eats one I made over a *gasp* box, at least it can be gluten-free, high in protein and made with clean cheese, not something dyed orange.

I adapted the recipe so baby could enjoy it as well (since cheese is something that of his allergies is the mildest – and he really loves it). A hearty dinner and outside of Walker throwing peas at me, a success. And as a bonus, I got to try out a new product I hadn’t had before, although I have used their products many times –

FT C Disclaimer: “I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Smart Balance. I received product samples, and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”

Smart Balance and Earth Balance are re-doing their look and many of their spreads are coming now in square, and not circle tubs. It not only saves space, but uses up to 18% less greenhouse emissions – and is the same 15 ounce size, and the same great products.

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All 13 varieties of Smart Balance Buttery Spreads and 5 of Earth Balance spreads are in the new packaging! If you are like me, round tubs do not fit in your refrigerator “butter” cubby/door, so I love square and rectangle tubs. I can actually shut the darn door and not have it falling out.

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A little Smart Balance Butter & Canola Spread on a Schär Ciabatta Roll (love these par-baked rolls!). The kids went crazy over it, and that the spread has fish oil in it? Well, I can take that as a bonus. It is buttery and quite tasty on bread! And no one noticed – so why should I tell them?

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Dinner served – 3 happy kids fed! The buttery spread works perfectly in sauces.

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Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese with Tuna and Peas

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces brown rice pasta
  • 8 ounces frozen green peas, preferably unsalted
  • 2 5-ounce cans tuna in olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Smart Balance spread
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch (or tapioca starch)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp mustard, preferably a spicy deli style
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup sour cream, no thickeners (read label)

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add pasta and cook as directed on package. Add peas to colander, pour pasta water over slowly to thaw, shake peas and pasta off.

Meanwhile, heat a medium saucepan over medium. Melt spread, whisk in flour, salt and pepper, then milk and mustard. Bring to a boil, whisking often, until thickened. Take off heat, stir in sour cream and cheese till smooth.

Drain tuna, flake and stir into sauce. Fold sauce into hot pasta.

Serves 4.

~Sarah

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The Fresh 20 Subscription

Eek!

School is starting next week for my oldest. He is going to a sophomore, and his first year in high school! Last week was his orientation, and it felt so weird to drop him off, alone. Parents were not allowed in for it. I tried to remember how it had been for me, when I was in the 9th grade. He was really excited though. The only downside is the high school is outside of town, more than a few miles away. Someone had best not miss the big yellow bus if he knows what is good for him 😉

I have spent the last week starting to fill the freezer with lunch and snack ideas for him, so he can grab and go. Because…um, yeah, I don’t like having to act at 6 something in the morning. It is hard to make sure he is eating as good as he can. The Fresh 20 has inspired me to do more for him – especially if he has leftovers from dinner, for breakfast. And you ask..just what is The Fresh 20?

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I have used the The Fresh 20 Subscription and loving it. I am not usually a planner, I kind of go by the flow, which I know costs us a lot more. Since that leads to someone going shopping every 2-3 days. And I always end up buying more than I went in for. I have used both the classic and vegetarian plans (the gluten-free is also great!). And while I don’t use it every day, it has given me so much inspiration. Maybe it is just August, but I have weeks where I need all the help I can find to get dinner on the table. And to spend less! Tofu Crumble over Peppered Noodles with Peas and Carrots? Oh yes! One Pot Veggie Spaghetti, where the pasta cooks in the sauce? You will be inspired to try new things! And you can easily convert most of the vegetarian recipes to gluten-free as well. And hey, you never know…someday I might be so busy that prepping on Sunday would free up my life!

Oh and they have a six-week lunch plan, I might have to check it out as well, as I make lunch most days for Kirk and I, and the two youngest.

The Fresh 20 Subscription:

Subscribing to The Fresh 20 makes it easy to organize your weeknight meals.  Every week you shop for 20 fresh seasonal ingredients with The Fresh 20 shopping list.  Then, using the step-by-step prep guide, it takes one hour to prep the entire week’s meals—saving you valuable time during busy weeknights. On dinner night, each complete meal takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and features simple recipes the whole family can create together.  Choose from their three meal plans: Classic, Vegetarian, and Gluten Free.  At 16 cents a day, what do you have to lose?

And ooh, check out:

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#getfresh campaign

The Fresh 20 supports healthy eating habits as kids head back to school this year.  They’re on a mission to find The Freshest Kids in America by asking kids the question, “How do you #getfresh?” Utilizing any social platform, parents can submit either a video or a photo of how their children #getfresh on health.  The campaign offers children and their parents a unique opportunity to get creative with their fresh and healthy habits and to get kids involved in their own health decisions. Check out their site for #getfresh back to school ideas.

www.thefresh20.com/getfresh

~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer: Sponsored post.

Yummy Junky Food – Done Vegan

Back in May, when I was at Vida Vegan Bloggers Conference in Portland, I got to sample some of Tofuky’s newest products. There were plenty of people circulating around their table, waiting for the treats to come out. For good reason. It was like stepping back into time…to being a teen and digging through the freezer for a snack.

The really naughty snacks. Pizza Pockets and Pot Pies. All they need are Pizza Rolls and life would be just dandy (ya’ll listening?) Or Bagel Pizzas. It is a slippery slope though. Then I’d be seen hiding behind the couch drinking a 12 pack of Fresca while I was at it (one of my worst habits of my teens was that nasty diet grapefruit pop).

Anyhow, I had a love affair with Hot Pockets around the time we got a microwave, which in the mid 80’s was the calling card of having made it (or something). I haven’t had one in years (since they like to add a lot of really scary ingredients to them) and I also hated the “this part is cold, this part is molten lava and now it cooled off and the dough is rubbery” effect microwaves gave it.

Then look what came across my doorstep (thank you UPS Man) – right from the wonderful peeps at Tofurky –

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Pepperoni Pizza Tofurky Pockets. Hey Hot Pockets, if you tasted this good (and looked this good), I might look at you. Oh yeah, you would also need to be vegan. And taste this good. Did I mention that? 😉 I baked them old-skool and used the oven. Something I somehow never had the patience for when I was a kid (I mean, how could I possibly have the time to wait for an oven to warm up and then bake!?!) Hence, I was gifted with a crispy outer crust and melty goodness inside for being patient. Bake them! They deserve the special love.

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Walker ate an entire one by himself. It was almost scary watching that 3-year-old tear into it. Afterwards, he patted his tummy and announced he was good and full 😛 Want to bet these become a backup staple for those times when Mommy is too tired to make him lunch? Yeah, maybe I should feel guilty enjoying convience foods. But no, I am not going to feel guilty. It was just too good!

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Pot Pies. Not much more can I think of that says “comfort food”. All it was missing was the foil pan – remember those really greasy and salty Banquet ones? I liked that crust is thin, it isn’t all dough – lots of gravy and filling. It and a salad? Perfect!

PS: I got to try the vegan Quiche and the new Artisan Sausages at Vida Vegan, they were amazing as well! The Chick’N and Apple ones? Those grilled, in a bun? Who needs meat with that…..

PS2: They are hosting TofurkyFest in September, to celebrate the opening of their new factory in Hood River, Oregon. Hood River is a gorgeous town – right on the Columbia River and Mt. Hood sits above it. Can I say Oregon road trip?

~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer: We received product samples for potential review.

Summer Is Here….Catching Up On Everything

Three things that say to me summer is here…Fathers Day, farmers markets and school getting out! It has been a rough week and one I was glad to be done with. Walker came down last Sunday with a Norovirus that then spread to Ford, then Kirk and finally me. The baby seemed to buck it pretty well. I really, really hate Noroviruses. I felt so weak and just wiped out, but someone had to keep doing laundry and sterilizing everything. It was a long 5 days before we were all on the mend. I didn’t get a lot done this past week, outside of a steady diet of white rice and bland cereal, so this weekend I was feeling inspired to get back into my kitchen! Then Fathers Day arrived and I was so inspired I got take-out teriyaki 😉 Hah….and local gelato. I feel so lazy, and I am OK with it.

To my husband…I love you ♥ You are a great Daddy to all 3 of our boys. Especially the middle one….who is your shadow.

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The yards are popping, the heat and sun are finally getting everything going, especially my new lavender plants. I put in 5 Spanish Lavender plants along the retaining wall in our back yard, in a no-man’s land near the play ground. I avoid growing food there, due to the rail timbers and their gagging creosote fumes. At some point we will be able to remove the timbers, but till then….

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With me nearly out of projects to do in the backyard, I am in the front yard, in the process of ripping out much of the grass. I have an idea in my mind. We shall see what happens. I would grow veggies but my fear is they would be stolen. Ah well. I’ll post photos soon, as it takes shape.

Our local Farmers Market opened up on Saturday for the season and I was there right at opening. Early bird gets the worm and all that (or in my case, it means I get the good produce!) Kirk was off doing man-stuff (kayaking!) so I roped Ford into helping me with his younger brothers. This entailed him pushing the stroller and watching bags of produce while I yakked with the ladies 😉 Good kid! Anyhow, our local market is in its 5th year and is held at a local elementary school. It has steadily grown bigger and better every year!

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I met a new vendor, The Mason Jar Farm run by the nicest lady – and I love their logo.

 

 

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A happy Alistaire in his stroller!

 

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Walker got to play spin the wheel and won a “I’m a recycling champ” tattoo from the King County waste dept. I got tons of free compostable bags for my well-used compost bin in my kitchen, so win-win (we are champion recyclers/yard waste bin users!). I love how our local market really gets down to the kid level –

 

 

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I was so happy to see Annette from Sweet Briar Produce back again. Her and her husband, Mike, are who I get my raw honey from during the summer.

 

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Baby zucchini, big radishes, cucumbers and purple onions….

 

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Sugar Peas…I totally admit I shelled ALL of them and ate every single one myself. In one sitting. Whatever. I deserved it 😉

 

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Living near the Cascade Mountains pays off for cherries. Especially first of the season cherries! Yeah, you pay for it…but oh were they worth it!

 

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Having said that…meet my newest friends: The Mexican Sprite bottle & a bamboo chopstick ~

 

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Take a cherry, put on top of bottle, push chopstick through (gently) and poink…there goes the pit, into the bottle. Yeah, that easy. And since I had sipped Mexican Sprite all week (I only crave it when sick) I had plenty of bottles. PS: Bonus, the Sprite tastes just like it did when we were kids, since it is cane sugar pop. Thank you Costco and local stores for carrying it. And the bottles are really. really pretty 🙂 You can remove the logo and they make great mini vases.

 

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As for school, the oldest has 2 days left. One is field day, the last is a farce of a day – they go and get out like 2 or 3 hours later. Hard to wrap my head around that Ford will be a 10th grader next fall, and he finally enters high school (it is 10-12 here). His mind is already on summer vacation, let’s not kid anyone here…hah!

Back to the grind….lots more grass to rip out!

~Sarah

Feedback Needed: Pressure Cookers?

Hey everyone…..I’d love to hear feedback and thoughts/opinions on pressure cookers. I’d like to take my canning up to that level this coming summer. But I am feeling overwhelmed by what to even consider! Please, please, please help this girl out!

I saw a link to a sale on Home Woot! this morning that got my mind tinkering once again.

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But I don’t know what features are important. Or size. Or if glass top stoves can handle them? (Yeah, I use a canning kettle on mine which supposedly I am not supposed to….snort.) So…PLEASE leave me some feedback!

~Sarah

PS: The winner of our last book giveaway, for 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe, is Catherine of Almost Raw Vegan. Congrats! And don’t forget my current book giveaway for Raw Food for Dummies!

Flash Sale on Cute Aprons

I love, love, love Flirty Aprons! They are running a special Flash Sale today (December 5th), till Midnight MST on 5 new aprons – 3 are holiday inspired, the other 2 are classic prints. Supplies are limited – so if you would love a cute gift or one for you, act fast. (They ship fast as well)
Today 12/5 only 50% off these Holiday and Classic Aprons only with code holiday50
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Or a cute Christmas one?

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Today 12/5 only 50% off these Holiday and Classic Aprons only with code holiday50
~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer: We are an affiliate of Flirty Aprons – we love their products!

A Hearty Pizza Crust & A Nifty Gifty

On Cyber Monday (can we pleasepleaseplease retire that term?) I caved and bought some goodies online. I am a sucker for gourmet boxes of food that come with free shipping (who isn’t?). I saw the deal via a Mambo Sprouts email. Then I promptly forgot about it till I heard UPS running away the other night. A big box sat outside. Oh wait, was this my goodie goodie box from Cucina Antica Gourmet? Oh yes it was. For $27.95 I got all this shipped to me, shipping included. It was well packaged as well. Frankly I ordered it so I could try the pumpkin sauce…..I had seen their products before at our local natural foods store, PCC, but hadn’t taken the leap to trying it.

If you have anyone to get a gift for, consider this box. It is cool, tasty and ummm…tasty. Fancy-pants too.

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In the box was a 16 ounce jar of Pizza Sauce:

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Well that meant I “needed” to make pizza. The menfolk of course were thrilled. The sauce is “accidentally” vegan (bonus) and oh-wow-so-good smelling. The kind where you crack open a lid and it smells as fresh as when it was made. This is good stuff. No questionable ingredients, no sugar, just wonderful flavor.

I spread it over two massive pizzas. Leftover pizza is a wonderful thing. At least in our house! The crust I adapted out of my copy of 300 Best Bread Machine Recipes.

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Why did I pull my Zojirushi BB-CEC20 Home Bakery Supreme Breadmaker out of the cupboard and use it to make the dough? I couldn’t knead the dough. Why? Because my trainer at the gym worked me so hard I apparently had two useless arms on Tuesday…lol! Kirk normally sees the trainer we both go to 3 times a week, Monday he has a 1 hour workout. This Monday he was slammed with work – he was gone at a conference most of last week – so he said “want to take my place?”. Better that than us losing the money. I hadn’t done a 1 hour workout since spring of 2011. And John, our trainer, doesn’t take it easy on me. He has me back in the gym and his goal is to get me back where I was between babies. Anyhow, the thought of kneading dough wasn’t a pleasant one. So I let Super Machine do 99% of the work for me. Hehe.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups warm water
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp dry active yeast

Directions:

Add ingredients in order required for your bread machine (mine is liquids, flours, sugar and salt, yeast on top). Turn on ‘Dough’ setting, let machine do its magic (mine takes 1 hour, 50 minutes).

Lightly flour a work surface, take dough out of bread pan and lay on the flour. Cover with a large mixing bowl, let rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare toppings as desired. I like to sauté the vegetables until golden. Preheat oven to 400°.

Divide in half, roll out to size desired (I made ours rectangles, baked on parchment paper lined baking sheets).

Pop the crusts in the oven, bake for 10 minutes, flipping rack position halfway. Take out and top as desired. (Be that traditional or vegan….)

Return to oven, bake for about 20 minutes, changing positions halfway through.

Let rest for a couple of minutes, then slice and serve.

Makes 2 large pizza crusts.

~Sarah

Savory Almond Muffins & Bhakti Chai Review

In my quest to keep using up my leftover almond meal I have been busy. I was inspired to make muffins that quickly come together and pair well with many dinners. They also taste great for breakfast with jam on them.

Vegan, grain free, gluten-free, dairy free, no processed sugar. And so much flavor from the almond meal! I won’t deny it, I have a love affair with almonds. In a way the muffins reminded me of corn muffins, a hint of sweetness. I am sure they’d be great smothered in chili as well!

Savory Almond Meal Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups almond meal or almond flour (I used unblanched)
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil or organic virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 3 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 9 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup (or raw honey for non-vegan)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°, line 8 cups of a 12 count muffin tin with foil liners.

Whisk the flaxseed meal and water together in a bowl, let hydrate for 10 minutes, then whisk again.

Whisk the almond meal, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.

Beat the flaxseed meal with the oil and sweetener, add to the dry and stir till mixed.

Divide between the cups, bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and golden brown.

Makes 8 muffins.

I have to tell you about some of the tastiest (And spicy!) chai I have had –

We received a chance to try the chai, made by Bhakti Chai, brewed in Boulder, Colorado. It was easily sourced at a local (And favorite) natural foods store, Marlene’s. Their reach is growing and may well be showing up soon for everyone. They have four flavors: Original, Semi-Sweet, Decaf and a Chai-Coffee blend. Ready to drink, 80% chai and 20% non-GMO soy. It is SPICY chai, not for the faint hearted but utterly delicious. And the bets part? The bottle. It is so gorgeous you have to keep it and reuse it. It makes a lovely ketchup or sauce bottle. And as a bonus their label is designed to be easily peeled off with no residue. Ooh-la-la!

~Sarah

PS: I am hosting a giveaway on my sister site, TrailCooking’s blog, for men’s insoles.

Got a guy in your life who runs? Hikes? Head on over and enter!

FTC Disclaimer: We received product samples for potential review.

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