Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bee Update

It has been quiet concerning the bees since the last Bee incident.  Remember that one?  We sure do! The obstacles a newbie beekeeper can come up against....

After merging the hives into one it has been a bit of a nerve racking winter of wondering if the hive would survive. Dan worked really hard through out the summer feeding them in preparation for the bees to make enough honey to get them through the winter.  Not to mention this winter has been cold!  Brutally cold at times.



That's A LOT of snow!


Then this past weekend the temperatures warmed up, and it was safe to open the hive to check on them.  And we were happy with our findings!  The hive is alive and well!  Of course some bees die off during the winter but the majority are still huddling together in their hive that is a warm, on average, 55 degrees even during the coldest of days and nights.  *As it gets colder, the worker bees actively generate heat within the hive. First, they feed on honey for energy. Then, the honey bees shiver. They vibrate their flight muscles but keep their wings still, raising their body temperatures. With thousands of bees shivering constantly, the temperature at the center of the cluster will warm up considerably, to about 93° F! When the workers on the outer edge of the cluster get cold, they push to the center of the group, and other bees take a turn shielding the group from the winter weather.




 
There are two bees at the top of the hive.
 
 

I tried to get a shot of the grouping of bees deep near their cache of honey in the hive but the photo doesn't show this.





These bees simply amaze me! Honey bees remain active all winter long, despite the freezing temperatures and lack of flowers on which to forage. The honey bee colony's ability to survive the winter depends on their food stores. Keeping warm takes energy in the form of honey. If the colony runs short of honey, it will freeze to death before spring. Dan's estimation of honey stored was approximately 40 lbs.

Soon Dan will start feeding the bees fondant, a sugar paste, until the spring flowers and other means of forage bloom.



We are very happy with how things are going right now. We are looking forward to an active bee season starting this spring!





 Alyssa



*All Bee info was taken from my husband, Dan and from Bee info sources such as About.com















Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tip of the Week - Happiness

 
 
 
 
It becomes easy to forget to make time for ourselves.  We are so often busy taking care of others; children, family, friends.
 
And then we stumble upon motivation like this that reminds us to make the time for ourselves.  To do what makes us smile.  Makes our hearts fuller.  Makes our bodies sing.  Makes us feel alive.
 
So we must always find the time.
 
May you do something to make you feel Happy To Be Alive today!
 
Alyssa

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Amazing Chili!

Last night I made an amazing Chili that I just had to share with you!  Seriously, it is probably the best chili I've ever made and will now be my go to Chili recipe.  I made ours vegetarian but feel free to use organic beef or chicken if you prefer. 

1 tbsp. canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
16 oz vegetarian crumble (soy protein) such as Lightlife Smart Ground, original OR 1 pound Organic ground beef or boneless chicken breast, chopped
1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained
1 15 oz can pinto beans, drained
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tsp ground cumin
20 oz tomato sauce
1 tbsp. molasses
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

Sauté onions and garlic in the oil on medium heat.  Add the protein of choice and sauté until cooked or heated through.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for two hours.  Enjoy!

My son, our pickier eater, LOVED this!  He ate and entire bowl. :)  Ahhhh.....proud mommy moment.

I served this with some Gluten Free drop biscuits I had made earlier in the week and put in the freezer.  It would also go great with corn bread.

This winter has been brutal but Chili always warms up the home and your belly!

PS.  I apologize for no picture but we ate up the pot so fast I forgot to take a snapshot!  Next batch I promise!

Alyssa

Monday, February 17, 2014

Carrot Cake Cookies - Gluten and Dairy Free.

Lately I've been craving Carrot Cake.  Dreaming about it actually.  Maybe it's because I'm done with winter and ready for spring.  Carrot cake makes me think of spring time and Easter holiday.  It's absolutely delicious.  What's not to love? Carrots, walnuts, raisins combined with sugar and spices....a cream cheese frosting.  Ahhh....

However, in my family, we're not really sweets people.  Don't get me wrong we like sweets but in moderation.  Without fail every birthday or other reason for a cake to be baked four pieces will be cut and more than half of a cake will be left over.  So to bake a cake for a simple craving seems to be a bit over kill.

So I came up with a Carrot Cake in the form of a cookie.  Keeping it Gluten and Dairy Free makes it allergy friendly for my family's needs.  It's also nutritious; filled with vitamin rich carrots, omega 3 walnuts, and oats.  These are a snack I feel good about packing in the kids lunch box for a tasty after lunch treat.

 
Gluten and Dairy Free Carrot Cake Cookies
Makes 3 dozen
 
1 1/2 cups of Gluten Free all purpose flour (Bob Mills is a great brand.  I make this blend)
1/2 cup Gluten Free old fashioned rolled oats. (not instant or quick)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan butter, softened.  (I use Earth Balance)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg - omega 3 enriched, cage free
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup finely shredded carrots (2 large carrots)\
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
 
Preheat oven 350 degrees
*combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl
*beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer or hand mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes
*add the egg and vanilla and beat for another 1 minute or until smooth
*add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until combined
*mix in the carrots and walnuts into the batter
*drop the cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet and flatten a bit with the back of a spoon.
*bake for 12 minutes or until golden
*cool on a rack and serve
 
Be creative and add:
Raisins
Currents
Unsweetened coconut
if you so desire!
 

 
 
 
 
 




So until Old Man Winter has had had his fill, think spring and bake something yummy!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tip of the Week! - Giving your brain an oil change

I thought it would be a good idea to bring back Tip of the Week!  Each week I will provide a food or health-based tip that I have found either useful, interesting or fun. As always, please read my disclaimer located in the top right-hand section of my blog. Thank you!

I would really enjoy to read any tip that you may have so feel free to leave one in the comment section!


Our brains are 60% fat.  Therefore it needs healthy fat.   Healthy fats are essential fats such as Omega 3.  The best source of Omega 3s are Fish Oil supplements, seafood and fish oil. Nuts, olive oil, flaxseed oil and ground flaxseed are other good sources.

Many children are deficient in Omega 3 oils due to, most often, food preferences and exposure to unhealthy foods.  Luckily the imbalance is easy to correct by feeding your child/ren seafood, fresh 'pure' food and fewer prepackaged foods.

A few signs that your child may need an "oil change":
> Poor school performance
>misbehavior
>mood swings
>skin: dry, flaky, scaly
>allergies: asthma, hay fever
**

Give your family an oil change by eating pure foods filled with Omega 3.  It's easier than you think!

**Information read from The NDD Book by William Sears, MD



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The creation of Healthy Appetites

I've been doing a lot of reading lately about nutrition and it's effects on children's learning, behavior and health.  It brought me back to why I created Healthy Appetites in the first place.

When my daughter was in Kindergarten, I volunteered in the classroom quite frequently.  Spending a lot of time there, I noticed the types of snacks that children were being sent to school with.  I was deeply saddened by what I saw.  Candy, drinks loaded with sugar, chips, cookies.  So little fruit, veggies, proteins or even water.  I wondered...Why?  Why would a parent send their child off on their day with food that does so little for them?  I've come to understand that we all are doing the best we can with the knowledge that we have.  We all believe we are doing the right thing.  It's as basic as that.

This understanding had lead me to believe that if we started with educating the children than maybe we could make a change to healthier eating.  If we educate the children on how to eat healthy, how to cook healthy, what healthy really means; maybe in turn the children will educate the adults in their lives.  I honestly believe that we only know what we know.  We will never know all we can or even need to; but we must continue to educate ourselves.

And so Healthy Appetites began.  I'm not a health expert.  I'm not a nutritionist or dietitian.  I am a mom who, like any mom, loves her children.  Who wants the very best for them. I want to fill their bodies with all the nutritious food they need to become strong and healthy. I love to cook and want to share that passion with my children in hopes that someday they will love to cook too.

Thank you for taking time to read my blog, to make the recipes I share so you can share them with your family.  I'm very grateful to you.  May we all continue to strive to do better.  To make a difference.  To keep learning and sharing.

Thank you!

Alyssa

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lemon Rainbow Chicken

Recently I've been trying a couple new recipes with the family.  Trying to "mix things up".  I for one get bored with the same old thing.  I don't like feeling stuck in a rut about meal time...though I do feel that way sometimes.

This recipe I made last night was a success and I'd like to share it with you.

Lemon Rainbow Chicken is a one-pot meal that is jam packed with nutrition.  A rainbow of your family's veggies, quinoa and chicken.  It can also be custom-fitted to your family's nutritional needs such as vegan, gluten- or dairy-free. 

Besides it being extremely good for you, I love the fact it's a one-pot meal.  This helps during those busy week nights when getting a healthy meal on the table can be a challenge.  Less fuss, clutter and my husband appreciates the less dishes to wash!

 
Ingredients
 
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 cups dry quinoa
4 cups organic vegetable broth or free range organic chicken broth
3 chicken breasts or tofu cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup lemon juice (juice of 3 lemons)
sea salt and pepper to taste
Rainbow of veggies: 3-4 cups of your family's favorite, chopped.
I used:
Red: red bell pepper
Orange: shredded carrot
Yellow: yellow bell pepper
Green: zucchini
 
 
In a large pot, heat the oil and sauté the onion and garlic.  Add the quinoa, broth and chicken (or tofu).  Bring to a boil and cover.  Reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper.  Stir in your veggies, replace the cover and cook a couple minutes more.
 
Sprinkle with cheese, slivered almonds and/or red pepper flakes if you'd like.
 
Enjoy!
 
 
 





I absolutely love sitting down with my family every night for dinner.  We talk about our day, sharing our favorite and not so favorite parts.  Just reconnecting and enjoying each others company.  Such a special time....I hope you all enjoy your family dinners too!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Ginger-lemon-honey tea

Let's be honest, the common cold it is one big pain in the neck (literally).  It's nagging, lingering and just not fun to have around.  It stops activities, school, work and from just plain having fun. 

Thankfully I came upon a homeopathic recipe for a honey, lemon and ginger tea.  It's full of Vitamin C from the lemon,  antibacterial properties from the ginger and the honey helps soothe your throat.

Via Weelicious

Makes 2 servings

1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
juice of 1 lemon
1 to 2 tablespoons of honey, or to taste (I used 1 tbsp.)

Cut the ginger into several thin disks

Bring 2 cups of water and the ginger to a coil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cover and reduce the heat to low, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes

Remove the ginger from the water, add the lemon juice and honey, and stir to dissolve the honey.

Cool as needed for young children then serve tea mugs.

 
  Wishing you well!
 
Alyssa

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Winter Wonderland

A snow day.  How can you resist it?  I mean, I really am looking forward to spring.... and summer for that matter.  But when the snow flies and the kids and I get to stay home together, I say bring it on!

Roman has been outside since 7:30 this morning.  A bit later than he had hoped since he was ready by 6:45!  He loves the snow.  Shoveling the entire neighborhood really is his dream day off from school. Come spring he'll rake leaves.  Summer, he'll be searching for bugs, cutting wood and whatever else he comes up with.

Sophia is usually content building a snowman or playing house outside. Or taking a walking adventure with me.  With many breaks built in for warm up time.  Soon it will be time for fairy house making in the gardens.  Bike riding with friends.  Oh how wonderful the seasons are!

I also enjoyed our snow day by baking up some of their favorite treats.  Treats to tempt them inside to sit by the fire with a mug of hot cocoa and a snuggle with me.


Oatmeal Raisin for Roman and Oatmeal Cranberry for Sophia.  Both I think are equally delicious, and these bake up beautifully.  Soft, slightly sweet, and tart with the cranberries.  Both are gluten free using my favorite flour, which I needed to make more because I use it for everything I bake!


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups gluten free flour
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1 cup certified gluten free oat flour (I processed my own in a food processor from old fashioned whole grain oats)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup certified gluten free old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature I use Earth's Balance Vegan Butter
2 eggs at room temperature, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon unsulphured molasses
6 ounces dried sweetened cranberries or raisins (or bake a batch of each.)


 
Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set them aside.
  • In a large bowl or standing mixer, place the flour blend, xanthan gum, oat flour, baking soda and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the oats, granulated sugar and brown sugar, and whisk to combine again, working to break up any lumps in the brown sugar. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the coconut oil, butter, eggs, vanilla, honey and molasses, mixing to combine after each addition. The dough will be thick and should come together easily.  If it doesn’t come together, the ingredients specified to be at room temperature were likely not at room temperature. Toss the cranberries and/or raisins and add them to the dough. Mix until the dried fruit is evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  • With wet hands, shape the dough into 1 1/4-inch round balls, and then press flat into disks about 1/4 inch thick. Place about 1 1/2-inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake or until lightly golden brown all over and set in the center (about 12 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet until set (about 5 minutes) before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
This is the second time I've made these cookies.  A "please momma, you must make more of these!" means it's a winner and will be my go to cookie for special treats.

Of course I must balance out even a healthy cookie with more healthy snacks for all the kids to snack on when they come to visit on this snow day.



 I hope you're enjoying your day, no matter what the weather is. 

Alyssa

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Gluten Free and Dairy Free Blueberry Muffin

I absolutely love finding a recipe and changing it up.  Whether to fit my family's needs or just to have fun and get creative!  I recently came across a recipe for Blueberry Muffins and thought I could change it up and still have it be healthy and something my kids will want to eat.

Gluten Free and Dairy Free Blueberry Muffins
makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups gluten free flour.  I use this blend.
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature.  I use Earth's Balance Vegan Butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vanilla coconut milk yogurt
1 egg + 1 egg white at room temperature, beaten
1/2 cup rice milk
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Coarse sugar, for sprinkling
 
Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease or line a standard 12-cup muffin tin, and set it aside.
  • In a medium-size bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and whisk to combine well. Transfer 1 tablespoon of the dry ingredients to a small bowl, add the blueberries and toss to coat the blueberries in the dry ingredients. Set both bowls aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large bowl with a hand mixer), beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, yogurt, egg and egg white, and beat until smooth. Add the bowl of dry ingredients to the bowl of the mixer, and beat until just combined. Add the rice milk and lemon juice, and beat until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and add the blueberries and reserved dry ingredients in 3 parts, gently folding the blueberries into the batter after each addition until they are evenly distributed throughout. The batter will be thick.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the 12 prepared muffin wells, and smooth the tops with wet fingers. Sprinkle the top of each cup of batter lightly with coarse sugar. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center (and not in a blueberry) comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the muffin tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely




These muffins are light and slightly sweet with a tang of lemon.  Delicious!  I've packed them in the kids lunch box for their morning snack along with apples and a yogurt.  A filling, well rounded snack to keep their bellies full and happy!

Enjoy,

Alyssa

Monday, February 3, 2014

Happy Monday

Weekends always seem to go by so fast!

I love our time together as a family. Whether we're busy doing activities or spending time at home, these times are so precious to me. 

Then Monday comes and the pace speeds up. Between school, work and after school activities, sometimes it's hard to catch your breath! 

No matter what the day is, we must cherish each and every one. Embrace them no matter how hectic or laid back they may be. Everyday is special!

Wishing you all a great week!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Game Day Eats!

While I'm not of fan of either team (sorry to those who are) in the Super Bowl,  I still like to make something good to eat!  And watch the commercials of course.  Those are the best part, I think.

Foods that you can eat with your hands are always fun.  Pizza is always a kid favorite.  So I've come up with a Gluten Free Pizza Pocket.  I made a batch with a regular cheese blend as well as a dairy free batch.  Both came out delicious!

There are several Gluten Free all purpose flours on the market, like Bob's Red Mill.  You can also make your own.  I've been using this recipe in cupcakes, cookies and in this recipe all with great success.

Gluten Free Pizza Pockets
makes 24 pockets

1 cup of water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter ( I used Earth's Balance Vegan butter)
2 tablespoons nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
2 cups Gluten Free all purpose flour
1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum (omit if your flour already contains this)
3 to 4 tablespoons milk or cream (I used Rice Milk)

Pizza Sauce

Cheese of your choice.  I used both a pizza blend as well as a vegan cheese.  I just eye balled the amount.


  1. In a medium saucepan, place the water, butter and shortening and stir to combine. Heat over medium heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is simmering (about 3 to 4 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and add in the flour and xanthan gum (if using). Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together. Add the milk/cream by the tablespoonful, and knead into the dough until it is smooth.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a smooth surface and knead until fairly smooth. Do NOT flour the kneading surface.
  3. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
  4. After the dough has rest, roll it out into a large rectangle that is about 1/4-inch thick. You may find that it useful to roll out the dough between two sheets of unbleached parchment paper, or you may find that the parchment paper simply gets in the way.  I didn't use any parchment. With a pizza cutter, cut the rolled-out dough into 24 rectangles about 3-inches long x 1 1/2-inches wide. On a clean surface, roll each rectangle out again along its length until it is the size of a standard 3-inch x 5-inch index card. This helps you get a smooth and pliable dough.
  5. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside..
  6.  Place about 1 teaspoon of tomato sauce on one half of each rectangle, leaving at least a 3 cm of the edge of the dough bare. Place 3 to 4 pieces of chopped cheese (less if the cheese is cut into a larger dice) on top of the sauce. Do not overfill. Fold the clean half of the rectangle over the sauce and cheese, and press the edges together firmly to seal. Transfer to baking sheet.
  7. Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, then quickly and carefully turn over each of the pizza bites. Return the baking sheet to the oven, and bake for another 7 minutes, or until  the cheese is bubbling and the pizza bites are uniformly golden brown all over.
  8. Enjoy!