Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thrifty Thursday

Every Thursday The Nourishing Gourmet hosts Pennywise Platter. This week I posted a link to my Homemade Coconut Milk recipe. Check out all the other great recipe ideas too!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Homemade Coconut Milk

If I can make something from scratch I always prefer at approach to store bought. One because it gives me the opportunity to be creative in the kitchen. Two, because I know exactly what I'm feeding my family. Some of my guidelines for homemade foods are that it has to be fairly easy, quick and inexpensive. I'm working mom and as important as nutrition is so is my time!
After some quick research, I was super excited when I found how simple it is to make coconut milk. I've written alot about the benefits of coconut and the medium chain fatty acids. Coconut milk is the closest to human milk in its PH level, fat and nutrient content. It is also the next highest natural source of lauric acid (contains antiviral, antibacterial, anti- carcinogenic and anti pathogenic properties). In my opinion, this sounds like an ideal choice when we compare it to our other options- soy, rice, almond, hemp, oat, goat and cow's milk. Some of the other alternatives do offer their own set of health benefits, but I'm always looking for optimal!

Ok, so back to how easy it is to make! You only need two ingredients and few kitchen utensils- blender, strainer or cheesecloth and storage container.

1c Dried Coconut (organic, unsweetened)
4c Water

Combine in blender and "puree" on med-high for 60-90 seconds (or if you have a Blendtec use the whole juice setting). Strain or squeeze into your storage container. Voila! It's that easy. I would note that if you use a strainer instead of cheesecloth be sure to press the pulp to remove all the liquid. My family likes it as is. It offers a lightly sweet taste of its own, but you can add honey or stevia if you like it sweeter. Other variations might be to add a little vanilla extract or even a little raw cacao to the blender for a nutritious chocolate milk!  Let me know what creations you come up with!  

Monday, March 14, 2011

*Blueberry Pecan Mini Muffins*

I am very excited to have this new little snack for my family. My oldest son has been on a predominantly gluten-free diet for almost a year, and while the rest of us have limited our gluten intake we hadn't completely cut it out. A few months ago we decided that our youngest son would also benefit from a gluten-free diet. Then about two weeks ago out of the blue my sweet husband said to me that he was going to give it a try. At first I was in shock, and then I was excited. He already eats healthfully, but loves breads/carby foods. His decision was two-fold; partly to be an example for the kiddos and partly to see if it would alleviate his chronic sinuses issues. We all know that children learn by example. How could we expect our children to want to make healthy choices (and gluten-free choices) if mom and dad weren't doing it too? For me, I'd like to say that I can take it or leave it as we've found many great gluten-free alternatives over the last 10 months, but sometimes it's a challenge. Wait... a challenge? I LOVE a good challenge! Those are the times I learn the most about myself and feel I grow as whole person. My challenge has many facets, the two most obvious being my own internal struggles and supporting my family through this dietary change. 

I always approach a new GF (gluten-free) recipe with a bit of hesitation as many are dry, boring or require way too much sweetener. Although, I have taken a liking to Coconut flour especially after my experiment with the Coconut Cake. The flavor is mild so you can really make into anything you like without having a strong coconuty taste. I made two batches of this recipe the first day we tried it (the first batch disappeared rather quickly!). This recipe has been given the seal of approval by my guys (all 3 of them), myself, and 3 of my fearless co-workers who don't mind letting me test my new experiments on them. You all are the best! 

This base for the recipe is simple. The blueberries and pecans can be substituted or omitted. 

3 Eggs (preferably Organic or Pastured) 
2-3TBS Raw Organic Honey
3TBS Butter or Coconut Oil
1-2tsp Cinnamon
1tsp Almond Extract
1/2tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4tsp Baking Powder (GF/Aluminum Free)

1/3c Blueberries (Fresh or Frozen- I used frozen with no issues)
1/8c Pecans

Combine ingredients until smooth batter forms. Place in lightly greased (coconut oil is a choice for this) mini muffin tin. Bake at 400F for approx 13 minutes. 

Makes 18 high fiber nutrient dense yummy muffins

I think a double batch of these may become a weekly standard in our house! IN-JOY! 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

*Learning Found in Every Adventure*

     As a homeschooling family, we look at every experience as a learning opportunity. Research over the past 30 years or so has consistently shown that young children (until about age 8 or so) learn best through hands on play and experience. At times, it's frustrating when your toddler is into EVERYTHING or when babies first start crawling and EVERYTHING goes in their mouth! But it's amazing to look at what and how much they are actually learning from these seemingly simple sensory experiences. As our children move out of their toddler years, their play expands more into their imagination as they create elaborate stories and experiences in their mind; when they share these thoughts and stories with us, we get a rare glimpse into their perceptions and understanding of the world around them. Remember when you were a kid and thought you could do or be anything?! Our children are naturally so full of curiosity... "What's that Mommy?" "Why Daddy?"
     While I realize homeschooling is not for everyone, we as parents are still (or should be) our child's primary teacher. Every moment we spend with them, they are observing and learning. I love how they often times naturally mimic what I do, not what I say. Or well, sometimes they say what I say! Doh! It's easy to turn an everyday "conversation" with children into a learning experience. They are such little sponges! Taking in everything around them, even the things we may sometimes miss.
     From this perspective we like to be an activity family and plan lots of family outings. Don't get me wrong, we definitely enjoy our "down time" too! Young minds (and older ones) need time to process everything they've taken in so time to relax and rest is important too! Sometimes our outings are just a simple walk or bike ride to the park down the street; ever heard of P.E.? I believe the more my boys are able to experience, the more they are able to take in about the world around them.
     It's easy to come up with ideas for learning at places like the park, the zoo, the science center, or while you're camping, hiking, or even at the store. But, what about those bigger outings or family vacations? On a family trip to the beach, perhaps, the kiddos will want to collect shells. So why not count them and make observations about them? How you are going to be travelling to your destination (plane, train, car, etc) also presents a great learning opportunity. When travelling by car children can learn basic map skills by showing them where you are starting, the route you are taking and your final destination. This can be done with a traditional map, a print out from MapQuest or children's map. If you happen to be travelling by plane you can talk about the process at the airport- check-in, where the bags go, security, what the flight attendants and pilots do, and even look at a map to see the beginning and ending locations. This also helps younger children be prepared and know what to expect, possibly saving mom and dad the stress of a panicked child. You could even request for the children to see the cockpit. Not all airlines allow this, but as you're pre-boarding you can ask a flight attendant if you're child can meet the pilot and occasionally they will grant your request.
     Tomorrow we are off to Disneyland California! At first all the learning opportunities I came up with were not quite age appropriate. There is only so much a 5 and 3 year old can understand about physics and mechanics! Although I'm sure they will ask about it (maybe) and I'll still get to tell them about how the rides work. I know not everyone is fan of worksheets and coloring pages, but my kiddos happen to like them, and fortunately Disney character pages are not hard to find. Mazes are good for logic and pre-writing skills and Connect the Dots for math, sequencing, and counting. Tonight we'll be making journals for them to document their favorite parts of the trip and maybe turn into a scrapbook (writing, art, memory recollection). My oldest son has his own kiddie camera so I'm sure he'll be taking tons of photos right along side me. There will also be opportunities to learn about literature, history and the futuristic possibilities. The library is our favorite place for picking up all kinds of books on topics related to our adventures so we'll be making a stop this afternoon. They are also a handy tool for keeping them entertained on the car ride along with creating some excitement about what we are going to see. These things are just the "extras" and most of the learning will come from all the questions they will come up with. And that's the best part!
     There is no activity too big or too small for learning. Opportunities to encourage our children to learn and grow their minds are all around us. As much as we can teach our children, they can teach us as well; never stop asking questions, use our imaginations (again), be more carefree and to just go with the flow. My dad always says having children/ grandchildren keeps you young by keeping you on your toes and your mind sharp. How can you turn your next outing or play time into a fabulous learning experience for you kiddo(s)?
Here are some resources and blogs I like to use for inspiration:
Progressive Pioneer (Great posts on Fridays "Friday Make and Do")
Handmade Childhood 
Little Acorn Learning 
Childhood 101 (Also a post about everyday learning at home)

Activity/ Coloring Pages:
Disney Characters
Suz's Coloring Activity Pages
Animal Alphabet

Monday, February 21, 2011


You might be thinking "Brownies?! Did she say brownies?!" Yep! Since most standard desserts no longer fit into our way of eating I've done lots of searching for "guilt-free" healthy desserts (like the Coconut Cake); mostly raw, gluten-free and always nutrient dense. Recently I came across a recipe for  raw brownies that looked amazing and even better there were only 5 ingredients for both the brownies and the frosting!

Here's what you'll need:
15 mins

1c Dates
4Tbs Raw Cacao powder

1Tbs Raw Honey
1/2Tbs Raw Cacao powder

Raspberries, strawberries or other fruit of choice to top.

Using a blender (Blendtec/ Vitamix) or food processor, grind walnuts until they form a "flour." Add dates and cacao until mixture sticks together and there are no large chunks. Remove and press into a pie dish or small shallow pan. Place coconut butter, honey and cacao into blender/ processor and mix until smooth. Spread on top of brownies. Refrigerate for 10 minutes and enjoy!

The first batch I made was fabulous and disappeared rather quickly. Second time I decided to double the recipe. YUM! Definitely enough to share with friends and family so this time I didn't have to feel so greedy ;) Even "guilt-free" desserts have to be enjoyed in moderation (waaaa!), but I definitely don't mind my kiddos having these for dessert or afternoon snack or even a morning snack! These little brownies pack a punch with healthy fats and loads of minerals essential to growing a strong mind and healthy immune system.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

*Word Wednesday*

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

(c)  Shannon Shakaya Leone

Sunday, February 6, 2011

*Great Health Debate*

It's not too late to register for this free event! 14 subject matter experts go head to head on diet and nutrition. I'm super excited for this event as I have thoroughly study the work of most these experts over the last several years.

The discussion will be available for 24hrs after each recording so don't worry if you can't make the "live" time.

Register now for this life changing Great Health Debate

*Weekend of Cravings!*

Okay, so actually I've been wanting sweets all week. As much as I avoid standard desserts (ie. non-organic, sugar laden, etc) I gave into a cookie at our SuperBowl potluck on Friday. EW! YUK! What was I thinking?! I would never let my kids near those things so why would I even consider it?! One bite and it went in the trash. Ok, time to get control over the "emotional" eating. I will say I'm glad I have come far enough in my nutritional journey that my body, my tastes buds, immediately reject anything that is not nourishing.

I decided I HAD to make some fabulous nourishing guilt-free treats this weekend. I started with a Coconut Cake with Coconut- Honey Frosting! Delish! My inspiration came from this recipe over at Nourished Kitchen. Although I opted for a single layer cake and cut the recipe in half. I even added some shredded coconut on top for decoration. After about an hour in the kitchen I had created a wonderfully yummy treat that was completely gluten-free, sugar-free, and guilt-free!

My boys (all 3 of them) really enjoyed this special treat. I don't bake much and we rarely have dessert; unless of course it is raw ice cream! But this was a treat I didn't feel bad serving them. I knew they wouldn't be bouncing of the walls in five minutes. They even had a tiny bit with breakfast! Kids need fat in their diet. Good nourishing fats, and this treat has just that!

This recipe is high in fiber thanks to the coconut flour, protein rich and just sweet enough. The frosting is higher in fat due to the coconut butter, but it is "good" fat. You know those medium chain fatty acids that are hard to find in other "fatty" foods? ;)

Today I'm off to make some raw vegan brownies. This last year I made raw vegan chocolate cupcakes with coconut frosting for both boy's birthdays and they were a hit. The recipe I'm trying today will be a little different and has a chocolate frosting, but still looks totally delectable! 

Thursday, February 3, 2011


So, finally, here I am! After the name for my blog came to me rather quickly and only taking few days of playing graphic designer to create my banner I've been "sitting" on this blog for several months. *Note: I'm a bit of a perfectionist ;)* My intention was to create a place where I can share with parents all my learning and experiences with wellness- total health and well-being, body, mind and spirit for the whole family. This surge of creativity and inspiration had me in whirlwind, and then it happend. Block. What?! My enthusiasm never really dwindled I just suddenly felt stuck. You know, like a clogged drain where so much is trying to come out it just gets "stuck." But I knew if I unplugged it too fast the contents of my mind would spew in an ever confusion gush and I would be at a loss for my balance and harmony. Sounds dramatic right? LOL Truthfully as I write this now I realize it was fear that caused my "block." Fear of not being as good as the rest of  writers I follow in blog-o-sphere. Fear of being the newbie. Fear that no one would read or like what I have to share. One of my favorite movitating phrases is "If I wasn't afraid of _____, I would_____", and here I was letting fear hold me back. One of the biggest challenges in life is overcoming our fears no matter how big or small. If I expect my children to grow into confident teenagers and then adults I first have to be that example. I have something to offer the world and that's why I am here!

I am primarily self-taught, although I have taken a few classes, on the matters of food, nutrition, herbalism, and early childhood education. When I first became obessed with these subjects I thought I needed to go back to school. Which I tried. Who was I kidding? Honestly, where was I to find the time and concentration capabilities when my family of 4 already has a crazy schedule?! Don't get me wrong, I LOVE learning new things, but it just didn't work with my life at the time. I have also come to realize I don't need fancy credentials to share my knowledge, which is based on the hundreds of books I've scoured, teleseminars I've listened to, my intuition and my experimentation. Isn't there a saying that experience is our best teacher? I encourage everyone one I know to be self-motivated and self-educated. Someone can teach you everything they know, but you have to be the one who learns and integrates that knowledge. So as the guy from Reading Rainbow would say: "Of course, you don't have to take my word for it..." My goal is for the information and thoughts I share to be motivating and provoking.

My life, like everyone else's, has been complex and unique. My experiences and choices have shapped the person I am today. That person is ever evolving. I will never stop learning. I will never stop growing. My kiddos remind me of this everyday. They also keep me flexible- mentally and physically ;) No one told me 6 years ago that I'd become a human jungle gym! Good thing my husband is tall and strong... he serves this purpose better than I do!

I hope you enjoy what you see on this blog, and join me in this journey called life.

To Health and Happiness!

*As of April 2011, I am back in school! Attending the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts for their Mind-Body Wellness/ Transformational Psychology program specializing in Nutrition.