Thursday, December 9, 2010

Knitted Bookmark

Here is a little project I quickly made last night.

I ordered some very nice lace weight yarn(still no project for it yet) and I got a sample of this yarn, wool/bamboo blend. It was easy to knit with and gave me some practice knitting with lace weight. I used 2.5US size needles and did a K1,P1, K 5, P1,K1. till it was as long as I wanted it to be. Then I added a little fringe to one end.

Super cute and very practical!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lazy Day Beanie

ETA: I knitted this hat lastnight after the kids were in bed. I used a chunky yarn and followed the below pattern exactly and it fits my very small 4 year old little girl. The pattern really needs to be revised to say "kids" hat. I knitted a matching scarf a while back and now she has a set. My next project is to try and make matching mittens, I just might have enough yarn left.

This is my first attempt at making a hat. I have to say I love the yarn and the end result. The pattern on the other hand said it was "one size". I added 4 more rows and it just fits my 6 year old son. If you make the pattern I suggest adding 8-10 rows for an adult hat.
want the pattern? it was a Lion Brand pattern.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dragon Party

Wow, this is seriously long over due. I have neglected my blog long enough!

I think when September hit and the lazy days of summer were over I found my free time was limited.

My son had a party in August, yes that was many moons ago. But he wanted a dragon theme and I wanted to finally share some of the fun things we did for his party.

We melted some crayons in a dragon mold to give away as party favours. we made some neat colour combinations and the kids loved to see the crayons melt and what colours it would create. We peeled a lot of crayons!

I made dragon wings for all the guests. This is my son trying to fly like a dragon. I got the instructions from Dabbled.
I did make some changes since mine were a no-sew project. I used that iron tape instead(I can`t sew)

My husband drew this dragon for a fun game of pin the flame on the dragon.

oh and the cake. My first attempt at making a shaped cake. It turned out OK. The kids loved it so that is all that counts. I made the wings and spikes out of chocolate and free formed them on some wax paper.

At the end of the party we set the kids out on a hunt to find the dragon hiding in the cave. My husband had fun making the clues and the kids had a blast following them to find the dragon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vegan "Chicken" Balls

I am very excited about this recipe. My son asked me one day to make "chicken" balls without the chicken. I searched the Internet for some recipes and came up with nothing made specifically vegetarian. So I put a few ideas together and this is what I came up with.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do. My husband who still enjoys eating meat really likes these "chicken" balls. He said he was very impressed and had nothing bad to say. Yahoo!

Ingredients for Tofu marinade
  • 2 vegan chicken flavoured stock cubes(or powder to taste)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp ground sage
  • salt to taste
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/2-1 block of organic tofu cut into 1 inch cubes
Prepare Broth
Dissolve vegetarian chicken-flavored cubes in boiling water. Add spices, and tofu to marinade and let sit in fridge for at least 4 hours. I marinaded mine for 8 hours. You can do it over night as well to save time the next day.
I also made my broth very strong tasting. The instructions for my broth cubes was 1 cube per 2 cups of water. I used 2 cubes with only 2 cups of water.

Ingredients for batter
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose white flour plus 1/4 cup for coating the Tofu
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 eggs substitute or 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup soy milk
  • 1 to 2 tbsps cooking oil
Mix together 1 1/4 cup of white flour with the baking powder, salt, pepper (reserve 1/4 cup for coating tofu pieces before dipping into this mixture).
Add the 2 eggs and the milk. Mix all together well.

Take the tofu pieces and dip them in the 1/4 cup of flour, then dip into this batter to coat the tofu. Fry the tofu pieces in hot cooking oil until browned on all sides.
Server with your favotire Sweet and Sour sauce.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Party Pom Pom's

I kept the decorations simple, but these Pom Pom's are super cute and very easy to make. I found the instructions at Martha Stewart's website

The Birthday banner was also very simple and even comes with a printable template. I printed the letters out onto coloured card stock and weaved them through some ribbon.
I bought some purple flowers and out a cute cupcake ribbon on the vase, and used my fancy 3 leveled tray for the sandwiches that we served for lunch, along with(not in picture) some fancy white tea cups and saucers that were lent to use by some great friends.

Cupcake Purse and Cupcake Soaps

Are these not the cutest things you have ever seen!
My great friend made these for all the girls that came to the party.
We used them as the gift loot/party favour bags and all the kids collected the pinata goodies and put them inside.

We also tucked in a little cupcake soap into the cupcake bags, which smelled so yummy you could eat it.

I bought the cupcake purse pattern from Amy Gaines on etsy, and I bought the cupcake soaps from LulliLiscious at esty as well. Check them out, both shops have fantastic stuff. The soaps were also all chemical free!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cupcake Pinata

I don't know if it is where I live or if the cupcake theme isn't that popular. But trying to find a cupcake pinata was nearly impossible.
So I made one! and you can too. I was inspired by this website,, click on the link for the isntructions.
Mine doesn't look quite the same, but you get the idea, and it was fun to make and I saved myseld $20 by not having to buy one.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's a Cupcake Party and you're Invited!

Birthday Party Invitation
"Princess Carissa is turning 4!
Please join us for Cupcakes and more"
I just used pink card stock and printed the wording on white paper. Then I cut the white paper and glued it to the pink card stock. Added a wribbon and a cute out cupcake. Nothing fancy, but it was affordable and fun to make.

Save the Date Card
Wording inside simply says
"Save The Date
for Carissa's 4th Birthday
on August 14th"
I have a mild obsession with cupcakes, anything cupcakes and I want it. I don't collect cupcake stuff by any means but I can't help but think how anything made to look like a real cupcake is the cutest thing going.
My daughter celebrated her 4th birthday and we had an oh so cute cupcake theme. I am going to add, over several posts what we did for her party. It was so much fun and the ideas I found online were fantastic!
First, for the save the date card I found this template for a Cupcake Box and Cupcake Card. I just used the card template, and it is all for free!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Reading Organic Labels

After watching the movie Food, Inc. I decided to buy the book to read a little further into what the movie didn't get a chance to say. I have to say I am enjoying the book a lot and have learned so much about our food industry.

One thing I didn't know was the Organic label and the laws that are set around it. The word Organic doesn't mean that the entire product is organic nor does it have to be. Here are the tips I learned about reading labels. write them down if you need to, but remember these three things when shopping for organic foods.

"The term "100% Organic" is fairly self-explanatory and refers to foods and fibers that are indeed produced at every step, from field to store shelf."

"The Second level, simply "Organic" requires that at least ninety-five percent of a product's ingredients be organic, with the remaining five percent strictly limited to ingredients on USDA's National List of allowed and Prohibited Materials."

"The third category, "Made with Organic", means that at least seventy percent of a product's ingredients are organic."

My only concern with this is the very long list of materials that are on the USDA's National List. Curious about the materials? Click on the link above for a full list of stuff in alphabetical order.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Best 100% Whole Wheat Loaf

I have been a long time maker of homemade breads. I have tired my fair share of recipes, some worth keeping and others just down right nasty. My kids have grown up on whole wheat bread and I honestly don't think they know the difference between whole wheat or white bread. They just eat what they are given.

For anyone who makes whole wheat bread themselves they will know that it can be hard to get a nice light loaf. They tend to be more dense over the white loafs and they are by nature just harder to make.

But I am happy to say I have finally found the perfect whole wheat recipe. I very well may never make a different recipe again.

I do cheat a little and use my bread maker to make the dough for me. I have never been good at doing it by hand and always seem to kill the yeast. But if you are a master and making bread 100% from scratch then go for it. Otherwise I highly suggest you buy a bread maker, it is one appliance we can never live without in this house. 7 years and counting for when we bought our first bread maker.

Maple Whole Wheat Bread
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup bread flour
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select wheat bread cycle; press Start.

More often then not I only put my bread on the dough cycle of my bread maker. Once the dough has finished rising I take it out, flatten it and let it rise for another 30-50 minutes. I bake it in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"I don't want to eat pigs"

Those are the sweet words my 5 year old son said to me after we saw some very cute piglets at the Minnesota Zoo this month.

I have never really pushed my children into not wanting to eat meat. They just haven't been eating very much of it unknowingly. I feed them "hot dogs"(once in a blue moon) and they eat them up like it is the original hot dog they ate many times before. They eat "pepperoni" on their pizza with no questions asked, and they eat "meat loaf" now more then they ever did.

They love beans and rice and can not get enough fruits and veggies. One other thing I am very surprised at is that they don't ask for milk very often since I stopped giving it to them. My son has only asked for cheese and crackers a couple times, but their desire for dairy has pretty much been eliminated. They willingly eat "ice cream" made from coconut milk, soy or rice milk and enjoy every bite. They have willingly replaced rice, almond and soy milk for cows milk.

When my son saw those piglets and decided on his own that he didn't want to eat them, I was very proud of him making the choice on his own. I think children don't want to eat animals that they think are cute and cuddly and when they get old enough to realise what they are eating they start to ask questions. Some children refuse outright to eat meat even if their family does, but many children eat it because they feel they have no other choice.

When we were at the Zoo we had the opportunity to watch a dairy cow get milked. Now it wasn't the old fashion way with doing it by hand, but rather at the Zoo they have a few cows that they used for their dairy source and they are milked by machine. I was not excited to watch this being done and I already knew what the process was, but I was glad for the opportunity so our children could see what really goes on. It was a great learning experience for them, and for me to explain to them why we don't drink milk.

The process at the Zoo was fairly humane, but the sad reality is, the calf's born to those cows are not shown with the words "veal" written on their pens. The process at the zoo is not nearly as degrading and unsanitary as it would be in a huge production line of 500 cows being milked 4 times a day, which makes the cow milking "show" 100% false in my opinion.

People will walk away from that show thinking that the cows are being treated well with a lot of care and love, and I seriously feel that the cows on the farm are treated that way. But the milk you are drinking is not from those cows at the Zoo.

I will not and do not force my children not to eat meat or dairy. I want them to come to the realisation themselves that by them not eating meat or dairy that they will be healthier and not contribute to the suffering of animals. Nor will they be sucked into societies view of what you should be eating.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cookies for Breakfast?

cookie monster!

yes you can! I made these cookies a while ago and the kids just loved them. If your kids want a cookie for breakfast this is the one. They will think they are getting a super treat but you will know that these are packed with so much healthy nutrition.
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Ground Flax Seed
  • 3/4 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 5 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon Molasses
  • 1/4 Cup Raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl mix together all ingredients. Drop cookies onto a greased cookie sheet. Use 1 slightly raised tablespoon of dough per cookie. Mash down dough some to help them spread out. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and top. Allow cookies to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before taking off cookie sheet.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Vegan Lentil Loaf

This loaf is so very yummy, and yes, my kids even ate it!
(recipe from

I made the loaf with some mashed potatoes and vegan gravy along with some peas and carrots.

My son just didn't care for the tomato topping so much. But it can easily be omitted and the recipe would still be great.

Tomato Topping Mixture
  • 1 6oz Can Tomato Paste
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Onion Flakes
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Salt

Lentil Loaf

  • 1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/2 Block Extra Firm Tofu
  • 1 Cup Chopped Onion
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Green Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Red Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Tomato Topping Mixture
  • 3 Tablespoons Plain Yellow Corn Meal
  • 3/4 Cup Cooked & Drained Lentils
  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Thyme
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Parsley
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Onion Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Dried Mustard

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the tomato topping mixture together first because you will need a tablespoon to mix into the lentil loaf. The rest will be set aside to coat the loaf when completed.

Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to a skillet on medium heat, add chopped onions, red and green bell pepper and let cook until onions are transparent (about 5 minutes), stirring frequently.

In a food processor chop oats for 5 quick pulses.

Drain tofu well and press with hands until all excess water comes out. In a mixing bowl mash tofu with a fork or use grater to coarsely grate.

In the same mixing bowl combine, cooked onions and peppers, 1 tablespoon of tomato mixture, oats, corn meal, lentils, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon olive oil, thyme, cumin, chili powder, parsley, salt, sugar, garlic and onion salt, dried mustard and mix until well combined.

Spray a large sheet of tin foil with cooking spray to form loaf on, place on cookie sheet. On top and in the middle of tin foil form loaf mixture into loaf that is 2 1/2 inches tall and 4 1/2 inches square. Coat top and sides with tomato mixture (you will probably have some left over to spoon on later).

Cook loaf for 20 minutes, then cover with tin foil and cook for another 10 minutes. After cooking let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


To the giant king of the food industry, this video is for you. This video is also to anyone who likes to avoid thinking about what they eat.

McDonald's is picked on because it owns about 90% of the meat industry in America and if McDonald's makes a change in how animals are treated and slaughtered and demands change then change will happen.

As a family we have decided to boycott McDonald's because of their careless practices and lack of courage to make a change. But, you as a consumer can send the message by not eating there. If you like McDonald's I encourage you to watch the video. If you watch the video and still eat at McDonald's, then more power to you.

Link to Video

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pass on the Napkins

Clear cut forest, Washington coast

I was watching a show called Eco Trip on the Sundance Channel. The show is about a man(David de Rothschild) who investigates environmental issues and how one small item can be disastrous to our world. On today's episode he focused on one tiny napkin and how using virgin papered goods is doing more harm to our environment then almost any other industry.

I really appreciate this show but in reality I wonder how many people are watching it and how many people care.

Here are a few scary facts about paper and how using virgin trees is impacting our environment.

  • Approx. 324 L. of water is used to produce 1 KG of

  • Average worldwide annual paper consumption is 48
    KG per person with North America accounting for
    over 1/3.

  • Asia has surpassed Western Europe in paper
    consumption and will soon surpass the United

  • Recycling 54 KG of newspaper will save one tree.

  • Paper manufacturing is the 3rd largest user of fossil
    fuels worldwide.

  • Recycling paper uses 60% less energy than
    manufacturing virgin timber paper.

  • Paper manufacturing is the largest industrial user of
    water per pound of finished product.

  • 10,000 trees are cut down annually in China to
    make holiday cards.

  • Every year in the United States, over 2 billion books
    are published, 359 million magazines are published
    24 billion newspaper are published

  • Recycling half the world's paper would free 20
    million acres of forestland.

Ok, so you get the point. Please read the link above to read ALL the points.
How can you help make a difference? One of the most important and easiest things you can do is make sure you do not buy toilet paper and paper towels created from virgin trees. There are so many other options out there these days. Even wal-mart sells an eco friendly paper option. Super Store has their President's Choice brand and Vita Health sells Seventh Generation.

The key to finding a good brand is to read the label. Make sure the company has a high number of post consumer material Seventh Generation used 90%!

Another serious issue is pulp being bleached with because we have this obsession with everything having to be white. Having pulp bleached with Dioxins has seriously toxic consequences. If you must have white toilet paper you should use eco friendly paper goods that have been whitened without chemicals.

So why isn't recycled paper cheaper you ask? The Government highly subsidises the logging industry to make virgin paper affordable. The best thing we can do is to STOP BUYING virgin papered goods. The more you buy the more the industry will stay alive. The Government needs to wake up and support those companies who are trying to make a difference so everyone can afford to buy recycled papered goods.

So, before you walk down the lane at wal-mart to buy your "kleenex" or toilet paper think twice about what brand you buy and the virgin trees that are being destroyed. And pass on the napkins at the resturant. Carry a few reusable cloths to wipe down the kids if needed.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Biscuits with no butter? oh my!

And no sugar either! I can't believe it myself, but it is true.

I am trying to find some yummy breakfast ideas to feed the kids.

We have decided(after much reading) that cereal is pretty much one of the worst things you can ingest(more on that later). The kids do ask for it once in a while and once in a while they can have some of our fairly old depleting stock of cereal. It is plain cheerios or organic rice puffs. Not much to choose from so I am trying to make things that are much more exciting then cereal.

I found this Pumpkin Biscuit recipe today. By no means do I want my children to eat a fat free diet, but they are sugar free and I had all the ingredients so I wanted to give them a try.

If you want to make the dough itself a little sweeter, substitute agave nectar for a couple tablespoons of the soy milk. Or, if you want sweetness without calories, try adding a little stevia or your favorite sweetener to the batter

2 cups white whole wheat flour (I used 100% organic whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon(I used only 1tsp)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup pumpkin (canned or cooked, pureed, and drained)
1/2 cup plain soy milk (plus additional, as needed)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425F and lightly oil a non-stick baking sheet. Mix the dry ingredients together well (flour through raisins). Add the pumpkin and mix until crumbly (do not overmix). Combine the soymilk and lemon juice and add it, stirring until a soft dough forms. If all flour is not moistened, add additional soymilk a teaspoon at at time until dough forms a ball.

Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface and sprinkle the top lightly with flour. Roll out about 3/4 inch thick. Using a 1 1/2-2-inch wide biscuit cutter or glass dipped in flour, press straight down without twisting to cut into 12-15 biscuits.

Place the biscuits, sides lightly touching, on the oiled sheet. Bake until tops are lightly browned, 9-11 minutes. Serve hot.

Servings: 14
Yield: 12-15

The results were a yummy nice textured biscuit. I tried one right out of the oven with a tiny bit of butter(that is a debate for another day). My goal is for my kids to enjoy these as well. I will feed them to the kids tomorrow and I will be keeping my fingers crossed that they like them.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

City Patch

Until the kids are done with their swing set and trampoline we have to wait to have a nice size garden again.

The one thing I miss about our old house is our strawberry patch. We had a nice established area where we got some berries each year along with some other goodies.

One thing I wanted to try this year in our new house was a hanging strawberry patch and we have success! We bought the plants at Sage Garden Herbs, a garden centre that sells organic plants and they have been growing very well in our little hanging basket.

We can't wait to try one and to watch the rest of the berries grow.

Life is sweet

Nothing says Summer in Manitoba like fresh strawberries, picked by none other than yourself of course!

I have enjoyed picking strawberries for the last 3 years now. I always end up going to Grenkow's U-Pick because it is nice and close to our house.

Support your local strawberry U-pick's and buy local berries! I know it is tempting to buy cheap berries at the grocery store, but nothing is sweeter then a strawberry so sweet and ripe off the vine that it melts in your mouth.

No time to pick your own berries? Go to the Farmers Market on Saturday for the berries already picked for you. But be forewarned, they cost almost double what you would pay to pick them yourself.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Vegetarian Lasagna

This recipe was originally adapted from the Vegan Spinach Lasagna from

I have made this recipe two times now with great results. My kids love this lasagna and eat up every last bit of it. My version is not vegan. I did add a tiny but of organic Cheddar cheese to the top of the lasagna. But I am going to bet that even without cheese my kids would eat this.

When I made this recipe the second time I decided to make a veggie Ground Round layer(what is veggie Ground Round?). I pan fried the ground round with some chopped up mushrooms and used that as my bottom layer. The only changes I made to the original recipe aside from adding an extra layer was not using the nutritional yeast and adding cheese.

The "ricotta" spinach mixture for this recipe is so good. I bet even tofu hating people will really enjoy this one. Give it a try, you will be very pleasantly surprised.

For the love of beans

I know many people never eat beans and if you do it is usually by accident or because your mother forced you. But if you prepare them right you may actually enjoy them.

I saw this recipe on another blog (you know who you are). It looked very yummy so I just had to try it.

Tomato and white bean salad with dill and lemon

2 15-ounce cans white kidney beans, rinsed, drained
2 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes (about 12 ounces) or cherry tomatoes
2/3 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, pressed

Toss all ingredients in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Let marinate at room temperature 1 hour. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring salad to room temperature before serving.

I could not find white kidney beans without EDTA so I purchased some organic navy beans. I also just used a few whole tomatoes cut up instead of cherry tomatoes and I added some olives which added a nice bite to the flavours. Oh yes, and no fresh dill so I used dried instead and it still tasted great. Don't have a fresh lemon? just use the stuff in the fridge, no one will know.

Switch it up. Greek Bean Salad. Do you love Greek pasta salad? The bean mix would taste wonderful with the Greek salad dressing I posted below. Instead of pasta just use beans for a healthy high protein side dish. White beans or black beans would work just find, or heck if your feeling creative mix the two!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Where is my milk from?

Have you ever wondered where your milk cames from?

There is a very cool website created to just do that very thing.

We have decided to stop drinking milk completely in our house. Have you ever given it some thought that humans are the only species to consume a milk product after they have been weened from breast milk. It would be quite a funny thing to see a cow ween her calf to only have it go and drink Emu milk or human milk. All mammal species go from drinking their mother's milk to drinking water and it only makes sense for humans to do the same.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Best Chocolate Cake

I signed myself up for some cake decorating classes a few weeks back. It has been a lot of fun and one thing I have to do each week is bake something to decorate. This past week I had to bring some cupcakes. I ended up trying the Chocolate Cake recipe from

I was so pleasantly surprised. I have made my fair share of vegan cakes in the past and this by far is the best I have ever made. The cake is so moist and tasty, you wont be disappointed.

I made the cupcakes and can not wait to make the cake for my kids birthdays.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Oats & Rice Sausage

I tried this Oats & Rice Sausage recipe from My Vegan Cookbook. They were very easy to make and tasted great. I pan fried mine(with a tiny bit of oil) on a cast iron skillet and they turned out very good. Give them a try!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Granola Bars

I recently tried this new Granola Bar recipe from where else, My Vegan Cookbook(.com)

I made the original recipe first and it was fantastic. So my mind got thinking on how could I make this so my son could eat it at school(must be nut free).

Here is my version of the granola bars, nut free.

1/4 Cup Brown Rice Flour
1/2 Cup ground Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 Cup Coconut Flakes
1/2 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
1 Tablespoon Sesame Seeds
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Sunflower seed butter
1 Tablespoon Molasses
1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
1 Teaspoon vanilla

To grind the oats finally I put them in a clean coffee grinder. This will make an oat flour which worked great in this recipe. I may also try grinding up some flax seeds in my next batch. I also didn't have any sesame seeds so I chopped up some pumpkin seeds instead.

I also added some yummy choco chips, butterscotch chips, marshmallows and coconut to the granola bars. I let the granola bars bake for 25 minutes then I sprinkled on 1/4 of chocolate chips, 1/4 cup coconut and a handful of marshmallows. I placed the pan back in the oven for 5 minutes to melt the chocolate. The bars were very goopy since the chocolate wasn't spread on, so next time I will sprinkle the chocolate on alone and bake the bars for 5 minutes and once the bars are out of the oven I will spread the chocolate around and then add the coconut and marshmallows.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Vegan Meatballs

I found this webite My Vegan Cookbook one day when searching for meatless meatballs. I was pleasently surprised to find many great recipes that I can't wait to try.

For tonights dinner I made Vegan Meatballs. They were super easy to make and tasted very yummy. My daughter didn't care for them too much but they did have chili in them. Next time I will omit the chili powder and maybe add some oregano instead.

The recipe makes 12 meatballs which was enough for a family of 4. If you want left overs or any to freeze make a double batch.

Greek Pasta Salad

I know most of you may have had something as simple as a Greek Pasta Salad. Nothing shocking here but to say that this is the best recipe I have made and it can't get any simpler then it already is.

I did change up the recipe a bit. I found the dressing amounts to be a little excessive so I halved it. I used one 375g box of Penne noodles(whole wheat). If you use two boxes then I would make the recipe as is. This is perfect for a BBQ party with friends and of course just for you. I also omited the meat, it isn't necessary. Here is the recipe how I made it.

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoons garlic powder(I used 2 cloves crushed garlic)
3/4 teaspoons dried basil
3/4 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
375g Whole What Penne
3 tomoatoes diced
1 cup sliced red bell peppers (any colour is fine, I used orange)
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (or to taste)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 (4 ounce) can whole black olives

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic powder, basil, oregano, black pepper, and sugar. Add cooked pasta, mushrooms, tomatoes, red peppers, feta cheese, green onions, and olives. Toss until evenly coated. Cover, and chill 2 hours or overnight.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche

I made this recipe from my all time favorite cook book. Don't let the images scare you. I know I was a little hesitant myself to eat it by the looks of it, but it really is yummy. The book is 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes, by Carol Gelles. She lays all the recipes out by either Lacto-Ovo, Lacto, Ovo, or Vegan. She even has a little heart beside many that are heart healthy. Not a vegetarian? No worries, this book has so many recipes that even meat lovers will find it interesting, especially if you love to cook.

I honestly am not sure if I can share this recipe publicly or not? So for the sake of unknowing I will have to keep you all wondering. But with that said, go buy the book!!

Smoothie Pops

Blackberries, Strawberries and Pineapple Juice


Nothing says summer like sugar, food colouring and artificial flavour frozen into a million different forms. From Popsicles to freezes those really have to be one of the worst things to eat on a regular basis. I have had my fair share of them as a kid and boy were they great! I do let my kids have them on the rare special occasion but for the most part we make our own healthy alternatives.

I like to call them Smoothie Pops. They are basically what we would drink as a smoothie but frozen. Here are a few ideas to get you motivated, but really, the options are endless and there are no rules.

I always use frozen or fresh fruit. Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries are a favorite in our house. I put the fruit into the blender and add just enough liquid to puree the fruit to a nice smooth texture. Liquid options are endless. Milk, soy milk, rice milk, fruit juice and even just water.

You can be really sneaky with smoothie pops and use this opportunity to add ground flax seeds and wheat germ, they wont even notice!

For a super fun treat you can also add "fruit" gummies the kids will go wild.

Get creative with your containers too(if you feel up to it) You can use mini paper cups with Popsicle sticks or you can buy several different kinds of Popsicle holders just about any where.

Too lazy to make your own? Motts now has fruit only freezes with no sugar added. They came out with them last summer and are a great alternative to buying Mr. Freezes. I also know you can buy many different brands of frozen fruit Popsicles but they are not cost effective by any means. Making your own will cost very little and you don't have to go to the store to get them.

Involve your kids in making them, they will have a blast helping.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Littler Less Lunch Program

Get with it! I think I need to be blunt with this post. But for all of you STILL using those zip lock baggies, enough is enough.

I know I don't need to explain that one of those baggies stays in the landfill but for FOREVER and if every single school age child used 2 of those a day for 200 days of school that alone is 400 baggies per day in the landfill created by your child(per year). Times that by millions students(in Canada lone) and you get the point.

I seriously think those bags should be banned or a recycling program be paid for by those companies should be mandatory. Our Earth is suffering enough.

Now with that said I would like to introduced to you litter less lunch baggies!! very simple, buy a reusable baggie and wash it out and reuse it!

As a concerned parent I(along with two other lovely ladies) started a Green Committee at my son's school. One of our goals is to have a litter less lunch program set up at the school to make people aware of this issue.

We put on a KangaSac fundraiser to give people the opportunity to buy reusable baggies and we also gave people alternatives if they didn't want to buy the KangSac's. Here are a few of them.

Stainless Steel Containers(great for liquids like messy fruits)

Laptop Lunches

Sandwich Wraps

100% cotton baggies

Get Cleaning!

Living Simple Naturally wouldn't be complete without posts on cleaning without chemicals.
Did you know that childhood cancer is the #1 leading cause of death among young children. Asthma is the most prevalent chronic condition in children.

Every time you spray chemical cleaners your family is breathing these chemicals and sadly they will last in your home for months, probably even longer for those of us who live in cold climates and we keep our windows closed for many months out of the year.
I purchased the book Clean House, Clean Planet by: Karen Logan. There are many great recipes in this book and although I don't agree with some ingredients(borax being one of them) this book has provided me with some simple and effect cleaning products that are safe for my family and the environment. Plus they all cost pennies to make. Some of the recipes in the book have been published at Green Amarica but I have altered some of them to eliminate the borax.

I have also taken on the task of selling Norwex products. I can not say enough about how important it is for your family to live in a clean home but not an overly clean home. People who are constantly bleaching and killing everything in site are not doing themselves nor their children any favours. Don't get me wrong. Norwex products work, but going beyond what is necessary is not essential to being healthy nor living in a clean environment.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Soda Pop

I don't know too many people who let their kids drink pop and if they do it is usually for a special occasion and not very often.

I had borrowed a really great cook book from a friend and in the book it had home made Soda Pop recipes. when I saw it I had to try it.

Keep in mind you can use absolutely any fruit for this recipe.

Strawberry Soda

1 cup whole strawberries(frozen or fresh)

1/4 cup honey(or omit completely, fruit is sweet enough!)

Puree the strawberries in a blender until smooth. With the machine running, add the honey in a thin stream. Mix well.

Pour into a jar, and store in the refrigerator. Use within a few days.
To make soda, use about 1/4 cup of concentrate for each 16-ounce glass. Add carbonated water and, if desired, ice cubes.

The recipe failed to tell me that I would need to strain the strawberry puree. If you don't strain it there will be tiny strawberry seeds in your drink. If you don't mind(they do sink) then don't bother straining it. The kids didn't seem to notice, but I did and I will strain it from now on.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Alligator Skin Cake

If your kids hate Zucchini they will love eating Alligator Skin bread. Unless you have a little girl who is a self made vegetarian, then I highly suggest finding a new name for this oh so yummy treat. My son was pretty darn excited to try some real Alligator skin! I think he was actually disappointed when I told him it was a joke.

Bread is a pretty suggestive term. This "bread" has WAY more sugar in it then bread ever would.
I got this recipe from my all time favorite cook book. 1000 Vegetarian Recipes, I can't say enough about this book, it really has a lot of amazing nutritious recipes in it.

I tweeked the recipe a bit, so I will write it as I made it.

Alligator Skin Cake a.k.a Zucchini Bread

3 cups whole wheat flour

1tsp baking soda

1tsp baking powder

1tsp salt

2 eggs

2 egg whites

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil(don't be afraid, it makes 2 cakes!)

2 Tbsp lemon juice(I never use fresh, always fridge stuff)

2-3 cups shredded Zucchini

1 tsp Cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flower 2 BREAD loaf Pans.

2. In a large bowl, stir together both flours, the baking powder and soda and salt.

3. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and egg whites until frothy, then beat in the sugar and oil. Beat in the lemon juice.

4. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined; stir in the zucchini and Cinnamon. Pour into prepared pans;bake 50-60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

You can also add some mini chocolate chips if you so desire. And the cake wouldn't be called Alligator Skin cake if you peeled the zucchini. But if your kids really and truly hate all things green, peel the zucchini so they will at least eat it. Or not and you wont have to share.

Affordable Frappachino

If you love coffee, you would most likely love Frappachinos on a hot Summer(or spring) day. I personally consider a Frappachino to be a HUGE treat. The cost is, lest face it, REDONCULOUS!!

So with that, here it is, an affordable alternative to Tim's, Starbucks and even Co-op's Iced cappachino's/Frappachinos. I don't have an actual measurement recipe here, which can be a good thing. This way you can make as much or as little as you want.
Things you will need: Glass for drinking(so obvious),instant coffee or seriously strong brewed coffee,ice cubes, milk(or soy,rice, you name it), sugar(optional), and blender.

1. Fill your glass half full(or empty depending on your mood).

2. Top up your glass with ice cubes till it is full.

3. Place the contents of the glass into your blender.

4. Take 1tsp of instant coffee and dilute it with a tiny bit of hot hot water in a separate cup. For best results boiled water works best. If you are using brewed coffee you will probably need at least 1/4 cup so add more ice cubes to get desired thickness of Frap.

5. Place diluted coffee into blender with milk and ice.

6. Add sugar if desired. 2tsp is plenty for a 16oz glass, but again it is personal preference. I actually drink it with no sugar and my husband has about 1-2tsp.

7. Turn your blender on and let her ripe.

8. Poor into glass and serve with straw. If you want to be very fancy you can add chocolate syrup or caramel and even whipped cream! be careful though, the kids will want some as well and we all know what will happen if they drink this. It could get ugly.

No blender? no problem!
Instead of filling your glass half way with milk fill it 3/4 of the way, add your coffee and a bunch of ice. Add sugar if desired, stir and enjoy a nice iced coffee.

You may also want to use icing sugar instead of refined white sugar. The icing sugar will dissolve instantly and you wont get any grainy texture.

Hate coffee? try this recipe with your favorite tea.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Meshy, hotsacks

boy, oh boy has it been a LONG time since I posted last. Time was stollen from me and I have been keeping busy. I got hooked on reading the Twilight books, among other things.

I haven't been doing any new baking in the last couple of months either.

Today the family and I went to Sage Garden Herbs. A really nice garden centre that sells organic plants and flowers. Aside from buying some heritage tomato plants, organic strawberry plants, and a Raspberry bush!, I came across these bags called "Meshy" hotsacks. If this isn't the next best thing I don't know what is. I always hated having to use those plastic produce bags and many times would not bother when buying small amounts of food. But with a family of 4 and 2 kids who love their fruits and veggies, using those bags is inevitable.

Sage Garden Herbs is a quaint little garden centre just off of St.Mary's Road. 3410 St.Mary's, not far off the Perimeter Highway, just before the Floodway.

If you live too far for a drive you can buy them directly from, or find a retailer closer to home.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Almost" Sugar Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

So I started my no sugar kick on Saturday instead of Monday. I felt I was ready and didn't feel the need to wait. I am proud to say I have not ate one baked good with refind sugar. I don't feel any diffrent yet but I am sure that takes time.

I am in the process of trying to find recipes for goodies that don't have any sugar. I have sucessfuly baked banana bread and some chocolate chip cookies.

Ok, so the chocolate has sugar, but they are for the kids. Making a cookie without sugar and the kids actualy eat it is amazing, chips or not.

"Almost" Sugar Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup mashed banana

1/3 cup vegetable oil(or melted butter)

1/4 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1/4 cup rice milk(rice milk is naturally sweet) or you can use cows milk

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

2 tbsp wheat germ

1/4 tsp baking soda

2/3 cups rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, beat together the mashed banana, oil, vanilla, eggs and milk until creamy. Beat in the flour, wheat germ and baking soda. Stir in oats and mix thoroughly. Coat a cookie sheet with veg oil or butter. Drop batter by the spoonful onto the cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes.(8 minutes in convection oven) until just firm to the touch. Don't over bake! cool before serving.
If you want to make these completley sugar free add raisins or coconut, or nuts instead of chocolate chips.

Recipe taken from "Sugar Free Toddlers" Susan Watson. revised the original recipe.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Calling all fellow sugar addicts

Magnification of grains of sucrose, the most common sugar.

Do you find you are overly addicted to sweets and take every opportunity to eat something with sugar in it?
Do you find yourself sneaking sweet treats when no one is watching? Do you bake for the kids but end up eating more then half of what is in the cookie jar?
Would you rather eat baked goods instead of real food when you are hungry?
If any one of these describes you then you have a sugar addiction.

I am calling all sugar addicts to jump in with me to cut out sugar for 2 weeks. No commitments after that, but you can't cheat for the entire 2 weeks.

I know I have a serious sugar addiction. I always use to think I was addicted to food, but I came to realise that it isn't food, but actually only some sorts of foods, namely foods with sugar. Like baked goods. For one thing, I LOVE baking. It really is an outlet for me and something I really enjoy doing. I just have to do it and learn not to eat it, or at least learn to know when to stop eating it. I know sugar, especially refined white sugar is possibly one of the worst things you can eat and to eat it on a regular basis, lets face it, is the entire reason why I have a weight problem. My logical mind knows the answers to my own questions, but the other half of my selfish mind just wants that sweet fix of sugar(especially when my sweet darling children are driving me nuts)
so, for my own confirmation of why I want to do this, here an article of all the negative things about sugar and its side effects. #1 being weight gain, of course, so beyond that, here goes.

Sugar is the No. 1 ingredient (in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), fructose, or glucose) in foods. But sugar (1) typically delivers a load of calories with little to no nutrition; therefore, (2) it can stoke your appetite rather than satisfy it, and (3) it can even become addictive: By constantly eating sugar, you force your pancreas to work overtime, and as you eat more, it pumps out massive amounts of insulin--eventually, your body may become less sensitive to sugar and build up a resistance to it. The Women's Health magazine website has a ton of tips to avoid sugar shock in an article called "Sugar Overload."

A host of diseases--diabetes, heart disease, stroke, obesity, dehydration--have been linked to excess sugar/glucose intake. Despite this fact, simple sugars (such as HFCS) are being used 42 percent more in our foods than they were in 1970, when they were used only two percent of the time.

So, after reading that you must want to at least give it a 2 week trial, right?

There will be a few rules though(of course) you can not substitute the white poison for artificial sweeteners cause that stuff is even more poisonous and don't try and tell me anything different, even you know it is. You can however substitute sugar with honey, Agave syrup necture(found at any health food store),Maple syrup, molasses, and pure Sucanat(read the link) you can find this stuff at health food stores or even Super Store in the healthy living sections in their stores. But I think for the 2 week trial we should stay away from all sources of sweet stuff, excluding lactose(found in milk products)
Read labels! you should be a crazy label reader after this two weeks is up and after reading a few labels you will be shocked at how much stuff has sugar in it. And I challenge you to cut your children's sugar intake by half, if not completely.
I personally did it with my kids for a 2 week trial and I saw amazing results, especially in my son. I also strongly feel that kids are so loaded with sugar these days and no one even gives it a second thought. I always felt that I was controlling the intake but it wasn't until I really sat down and realised that unless we cut out packaged foods my kids will be eating sugar every time they open their mouths.
Are we perfect? no. Do we let our kids still have sugar, yes. But it is very limited. Lets just say they appreciate every bit they get and will be over the Moon come Easter Morning.
If you feel like giving it a shot, post a comment below. I am hoping a few people will want to do this with me as it is much easier doing things as a group and not alone. Start date is Monday March 22nd(I will give you one more weekend). We can do this!
Here is a list of words that mean "sugar"

Corn sweetener
Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
Dehydrated Cane Juice
Fruit juice concentrate
High-fructose corn syrup
Invert sugar
Malt syrup
Maple syrup
Raw sugar
Rice Syrup
Sorghum or sorghum syrup
Turbinado Sugar