Low Carb, High Protein Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

For some reason I have a current infatuation with protein balls or energy balls (or bars, I’m totally not partial).

My favorite store-brand thus far are these:

Premier-Nutrition-High-Protein-Bars-18-per-box

I found them on a whim while shopping at Sam’s Club with my mother over Easter weekend. For some reason I was having issues getting my daily protein needs met (preggo momma’s need anywhere from 70-100g of protein a day!) and so I was on the search for a good protein bar. The 30 grams shined over the competition. Though I had no idea how they’d taste, I went ahead and purchased them. They actually taste GREAT! Honestly! And recently I got my hands on their new flavor: Mint Chocolate Chip. Oh yum. It’s practically like a candy bar! And 30g of protein? mmmm-yes… I seriously look forward to eating one of these bars for breakfast. It’s so filling!

Loving the kitchen as I do, I’ve been experimenting with making protein balls/bars from scratch.

Today I came across a recipe from Food Fiasco for:


Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars
(vegan, low carb, and high protein)

3/4 C protein powder (I used Body Fortress 100% protein isolate, vanilla)
1/4 C peanut butter OR 1/4 C PB2 w/ 2 T unswt almond milk (I used the latter, tho with Jiff peanut powder)1/4 C unswt almond milk (I used Aldi brand, organic)
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey)
2-4 T sugar, erythritol, or stevia (I used 3 T xylitol)
1/2 t vanilla extract
**tho not on the recipe, I added 1 bar of Aldi’s Moser Roth 85% dark chocolate

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until it forms a ball. Either press into an 8×4 loaf pan and cut into (4) bars OR roll into balls (which is what I did– and I got 17 balls out of it). Store in refrigerator.


1 ball= 39 cal, 1g fat, 3g carbs, & 4g protein

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think!!!
And if y’all have yummy protein or energy ball/bar recipes, PLEASE SHARE. I’d love to have a recipe arsenal to pull from when a craving hits! Love these things!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Made a huge 5 gallon batch of homemade liquid laundry detergent the other day and I ❤❤❤ it! Thought I’d share it here with you my readers!

The recipe:

4 C hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar1 C Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 C Borax
5 gallon bucket
water

*Grate bar of Fel-Naptha soap and add to sauce pan with 4 C of water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
*Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. *Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover, and let set overnight to thicken.*Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of the way with water. Shake before each use. (Will gel)
*Optional: you can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

 

 

Yield:
*Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

Usage:
*Top load machine: 5/8 C per load (approx 180 loads)
*Front load machine: 1/4 C per load (approx 640 loads)

 

If you make this, please let me know what you think!!!  😁

 

Homemade Dryer Sheet Ideas (Part II)

Ok… so the aluminum ball idea was a fail. Well, it worked at first… but after about 3-4 loads, I noticed that bits of aluminum were starting to fall off. Not cool.

So… back to the drawing board.

On my Facebook page, a reader of mine commented that she uses bits of cloth soaked in a vinegar and essential oil solution.

Well, that’s the path I’m headed toward next!

 

 

I found a great recipe for homemade dryer sheets on Wellness Mama’s website.

Homemade Dryer Sheets:
1 C white vinegar
25+ drops of Essential Oil (I used lavender)bits of cloth (like flannel or cotton)
glass container

Basically, you mix the vinegar-EO solution and place in a glass container, preferable one with a wide opening/lid. Add your bits of cloth. Go ahead and leave them in there to soak. When you get your clothes ready in the dryer, grab a dryer sheet and lightly squeeze it (so it’s wet but not dripping). Add to the dryer. The vinegar smell will evaporate but the EO smell will lightly stay on the clothing. The vinegar not only softens the clothing, but it also gets rid of static cling.

—————————————-

At Walmart today, I was able to purchase this large container of white vinegar for $2.84. This fleece blanket, which I plan to cut down into strips of cloth, cost me $1.38 at Goodwill. This blanket will probably make a TON of cloth strips (beyond what I’ll be needing for “dryer sheets”)… so I’m actually considering using the extra material for natural/homemade wet wipes. But that’s a project for later.

2016-02-21 17.32.23

2016-02-21 19.14.38

I got a tad impatient and decided to cut up some old dish cloths we had that were super ratty and use them first. In fact, I used one of these dryer sheets on the fleece blanket I got from Goodwill (after I washed it).

My personal opinion: I LOVE it!
-our clothes were soft
-the static cling was quite minimal (esp considering I washed a fleece blanket with a comforter– a great formula for static)
-our laundry smelled great– just a nice, light scent of lavender– even approved by my hubby (it didn’t smell “girly”)

We will definitely stick to this!

Just thought I’d share and encourage others to maybe try this!

If this is how you launder, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

Washing Fruits & Veggies With Vinegar

We all know that we’re “supposed” to wash our fruits and veggies before we eat them. But lets be honest… how many people actually do? Or if we actually do try and wash our produce, how many of us simply just run water over it and call it “good enough”?

Been there. That was me.

But something recently has been firing in the back of my mind that perhaps I should care a little bit more about the cleanliness of the produce that my family and I eat. Eating healthier is a process and if anyone has embraced this “healthier lifestyle”, we are all going to be a different stages and levels at different times. This is where I am today with our family.

Thoughts crossed my mind like: I don’t know who handled this food, or where has this food been, or what was sprayed on it, or what animal came in contact with it out in the field or garden… or who touched it at the grocer? Especially with cold and flu season just around the corner! My mind was filled with a whole lotta “ewww”. And the more time I spent pondering this, the more I started getting grossed out and worked up. So I began looking for ways to get the gunk and grime off our food!

Ideally, I’d like our family to go organic. But there are (8) of us living under this here roof and where I won’t say it’s “impossible”… I will say it’s impractical. Let’s be real… it can take a lot of money to eat organic. And our grocery budget is already tight. So is there any we could get “kind of” or “mostly” organic?

**It dawned on me at some point that pesticides are designed to be able to withstand rain… so how would just rinsing produce off with plain water get it off?

Bacteria, germs, icky farm/grocer unknowns…
Pesticides, herbicides, and icky unknown “icides”…

As I started doing research, I realized you could most definitely get commercial Veggie Wash sprays. But… this mom (yours truly) is always looking for a way to do things homemade– it’s just fun, usually cheaper, and almost always healthier. So I found several articles that talked about using “vinegar water”. Sounds pretty daggone easy to me! And it is!

Gonna share how I now wash our veggies.

But first of all, if you’re interested, check out this brief article online: http://goodgreenhabits.com/wash-your-fruits-veggies-with-vinegar/

————————————————————–

We have a giant kitchen sink. I ♥♥♥ it! If you’re ever considering updating your kitchen, considering getting one of these kinds of sinks. They are fabulous!
Anyways… I placed my produce in the sink and covered everything with cold water.
I then added 2 Cups of white vinegar and let it soak for 15 mins,
often swirling it around with my fingers because some stuff floats.
Actually… I easily conned my kids into it. They LOVE water and so
are thrilled to help me in this endeavor.
2015-10-09 12.54.27

2015-10-09 12.58.45

Then I rinsed everything off with cold water and dried it/bagged it.
The stuff I bagged, I put a piece of paper towel at the bottom to keep
the moisture at bay.
**Supposedly washing the grime off your produce makes them last longer. I’m not really sure about this personally as our food gets consumed within the week. But apparently the bacteria or whatever that is on the produce starts the break-down/decomposing process right away on fruits & veggies. So if you remove it, the produce can last longer. If you decide to vinegar wash your food, please let me know if it does prolong the life of your produce. I’m quite curious.2015-10-09 13.37.27

This is another batch I recently did.
After doing further research I have decided to pull out things like lettuce a bit earlier, like after 5-10 mins. They apparently don’t need to be in the wash as long as smoother veggies & fruits do.2015-10-19 18.02.43

It’s amazing how dirty the water is when I get ready to drain the sink!!!

Another yuck… check out the who-knows-what that I often find at the bottom of my Romaine lettuce bag. This is the part of the bag near the stems. I have no idea what it is but it’s slimy. Ewww.2015-10-19 18.03.43

So wash those veggies if you’re now feeling the pull to!

And if any of you have some other tricks of the veggie-washing trade to share with me, I’d love to hear about it. I’ve just started, so I’m open to further learning.

————————————————————

**Note: you can also make a vinegar-water spray. Simply mix water to vinegar with a 3:1 ratio and put it into a spray bottle. Shake the bottle and spray your produce and allow to sit for approximately 5 mins. Rinse with cold water.

**I’ve also read that you can SALT your vinegar water, too, to further draw out bugs, bacteria, dust, dirt, and other unwanted things. If you’re going to salt your water in the sink, add about 2 Tablespoons of salt. In a spray bottle, just adjust the salt content down to maybe a teaspoon for a small spray bottle and increase for larger bottles.

**Another Spray recipe I saw was:
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 T baking soda
1 C water
I hesitate to make this just because I know what lemon juice and baking soda do when mixed and I’m just imagining a big mess on my hands. So I’m personally going to stick to vinegar water…

Although next time, I may try adding salt to my vinegar water and see how that does.

Happy veggie washing!!!

How to make a bone broth

Today, I want to teach you how to make homemade bone broth. Broths are awesome for making soups or gravies or using in recipes or for *whatever*. Plus they are super healthy. There’s LOTS of immune-boosting goodies in bone marrow that cooks into the broth. I have steamed (or sauteed) veggies with broth rather than plain water (or oil). I’ve crockpotted meats & veggies in bone broth. I use bone broths *especially* when the kids get sick. I whip out a bag of this, heat it up, add noodles or rice, and voila, quick healthy soup for the sickie(s). Every woman has her own method (there’s a bazillion methods online), but this is what I do in my kitchen. And this is what my kids all had when they were growing up. Every broth I create is just a tad different, based on what veggies, meats, or spices/herbs I use. So as I step you through this, know that each batch varies. This is a very simple recipe that has endless possibilities. Experiment and see what you like flavor-wise. So, #1, start with a bone from a roast that still has a bit of meat on it. Add any kind of veggie you want. In this broth batch I have a ham bone and I’ve thrown in carrots, celery, onion, and spinach. Don’t worry about nicely chopping pretty pieces. They can be large. They’ll cook down. Cover with water. Add any spices you’d like. This batch has garlic salt, red pepper flakes, pepper, marjoram, dried onion, and dried garlic. I added a decent scoop of chicken bouillon, too. If you don’t have the paste kind, you can just add 3-4 cubes. If you’re using a beef type of bone/meat, just use beef bouillon. But otherwise, for chicken or ham I just use chicken bouillon.

2015-05-01 12.35.40Bring to a boil.

2015-05-01 12.36.17Drop to a very low simmer and allow to slowly simmer (uncovered) for approximately 3 hours.

2015-05-01 12.54.42Done

2015-05-01 16.10.02In a big pot, place a colander inside.

2015-05-01 17.06.15Line with cheese cloth or a thin, clean kitchen towel.

2015-05-01 17.06.48Strain the bone and veggies out from the broth.

2015-05-01 17.08.02The leftovers.

2015-05-01 17.08.11Yummy, beautiful broth.

2015-05-01 17.11.55This is when I pull all the little bits of leftover meat off the bone.

2015-05-01 17.13.56There’s enough meat here for topping a couple of baked potatoes, sprinkling on salad, adding to a sandwich, etc. Just throw away the bone and the cooked veggies. They’ve done their job. 🙂

2015-05-01 17.22.40Let the broth cool down… then refrigerate. Depending on the meat, once cooled there may be a film of fat that will rise to the top and solidify. I’ll often pick that off. Yuck. (Personal preference)

So here’s my refrigerated ham broth. Surprisingly, not much fat at all. So I’ll just leave the fat alone on this one.

2015-05-03 16.38.39I didn’t measure, but I divided the broth semi-evenly into quart bags and then added them to a gallon size freezer bag. If you want to be specific, you can measure out 14 oz per bag, that equals 1 can.

Label and then put in the freezer. It’s ready for whatever meal you need.

Super easy. Super tasty.

2015-05-03 16.46.19

Taming the Sickies

Not sure what type of bug we have roaming about our house right now, but it includes: headache, nasal congestion and drip, LOTS of coughing, fever, aches, and chills. Flu? Bronchitis? ???

Whatever it is, it’s annoying. My oldest son (10) and I have had it the worst– now on Day 3. But it’s also crept up some on my oldest daughter (11) and second son (6). Had great plans of baking and hanging with the fam, maybe having some friends come over in the PM. But no… we’re all lounging on the floor and couch, sleeping, and hoping it doesn’t spread.

And we won’t be able to make it to church/Palm Sunday service tomorrow. Boo.

Not good at all. (Pas bon du tout.)

Whenever we have sickness in our ranks, we try turning to natural/home remedies first. We are NOT anti-doctor. If there is something I cannot treat at home or there is something serious… dude, we go to the Dr. They have been gifted by God with the power to heal. BUT… we also don’t run to them with every sniff and cough and spot of blood. One of the many roles of mom is “nurse” and I’ve learned a great deal on how to deal with sickness, blood, and whatnot. Kudos to those that are the medical profession. I just couldn’t do it full time.

My #1 go-to “herb” for illness is GARLIC. Love it! We eat it all the time. Thankfully I married into an Italian family and they have been very accepting of my love for this little bulb of yumminess.

Look it up on the internet and you’ll see all over how it’s antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-everything!

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to make multipurpose garlic oil: http://growthasawifeandmom.blogspot.com/2010/06/garlic-ear-drops.html.

From this garlic oil, I treat all kinds of things.

In comes flu or bronchitis… out comes my garlic oil…

As of late, I don’t even strain the pulp out anymore. I just dump it all (oil & pulp) into a canning jar. As it is still warm, it will separate and the pulp will all sink to the bottom. Then I throw it in the fridge for later use.

One batch of garlic oil (since it’s cooked— *not* infused like what you would use for dressings or dipping oils) will easily last 6 months (maybe longer) in the fridge just fine.

The easiest way for me to get gobs of garlic into my babies is with garlic bread!!! Here’s what I do:

1) Scoop down into the bottom and get the pulp. Plop onto bread. As you can see, I make large batches of garlic oil. But with a family of 8, it’s necessary. I’ll also often cook with it. So using it up within 6 months isn’t that hard.

garlicbread1

2) Evenly spread the garlic oil/pulp and lightly salt the bread slices. I REALLY like Aldi’s Garlic Salt. So yummy.

garlicbread2

3) Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese.

garlicbread3

4) Put it in the oven for 15-20 mins at 350F until desired crispness.

garlicbread4

5) Voilà! It’s done. Enjoy!

garlicbread5

I’m sure in future blog entries I will talk more on how I use garlic to heal. But this is what I prepared today!

Some people are brave enough to eat cloves whole. I’m not. And nor are our children! The point is, to get the medicinal properties out of the garlic clove, it must be crushed. Seriously, the easiest way for me to get it into the kids is this garlic bread. I will also make chicken, GARLIC, & rice soup. The garlic bread and soup actually pair quite well together. It’s something our children actually look forward to when someone gets sick.

Enjoy! Bon appétit!

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

Made my own gluten free cream of mushroom soup yesterday. Can’t STAND the canned crap soup. This recipe is SO good I can eat it straight from the pot! Even the kids LOVE it. SO SO good!
You can use regular all-purpose wheat flour if you’d like. But you can just as well use all-purpose GF flour, too. Thickens just as well and doesn’t affect the taste at *all*.
I’ll make a batch or two of this and measure out 10oz portions (10oz= 1 can) and freeze them in baggies for future recipes.

mushroom1

mushroom2

mushroom3

Cream of Mushroom Soup

8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 C. boiling water
3 chicken bouillon cubes *or* (5) 3/4t chicken soup base
2 T finely chopped onion
1/4 C butter
3 T flour (reg all-purpose *or* GF)
3 C. milk
1 t salt
Pepper, to taste
In a large saucepan, combine mushrooms, boiling water, bouillon (or base), and onion. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20min.
Melt butter in another saucepan. Blend in flour, salt, and pepper. Gradually add milk. Cook and stir until thickened. Add sauce to mushrooms, stir well.
Enjoy!