Friday, August 30, 2013

Ohio Buckeye Protein Bites

It's Food Fun Friday (which, let's face it, is every Friday) and I will share with you an alteration of a recipe that is a family favorite: Ohio Buckeye Cookies.

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Ohio Buckeye Protein Bites

Inspiration for these cookies hit me on the head, literally, as I was on a walk. There is a tree called an Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra) which can be identified, according to my tree identification book:
"Leaves have 5 to 7 short-stemmed, lanceolate leaflets, each 4 to 6 inches long and 0.5 to 1.5 inches wide. The yellow flowers, hairy below and with stamens longer than the petals, are borne in erect panicles, 5 to 7 inches long. The capsule, about 2 inches in diameter are spiny on the surface and usually enclose two seeds, about 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter. Brown bark is fissured and scaly. Grows 50 to 90 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet in diamet; crown oblong, rounded. Also leaves and twigs have an unpleasant odor when bruised."
Which probably means very little to most of you but, the plant nerd that I am, I couldn't leave out any of those details.
Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Ohio Buckeye tree nut and leaves
It was this very nut that fell from it's lofty branch and hit me squarely on the top of my head. Like Isaac Newton before me, I was struck with an idea (although I will not claim that my idea will change the course of science as we know it) and a craving for the buckeye cookies my grandma makes.

When I came home I looked up the recipe for this delectable treat. I was surprised by the amount of sugar added to many of the recipes I found and decided to work out a recipe for more of a protein bite in favor of this sugar packed morsel.

These are the ingredients I used.
Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: ingredients for Ohio Buckeye Protein Bites


Add peanut butter, rice milk and seeds to a medium sized bowl.
Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: ingredients for Ohio Buckeye Protein Bites

Stir until everything is mixed together. The mixture should be very sticky, but not liquidy at all. 
Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: peanut butter filling for Ohio Buckeye Protein Bites

Using a spoon and your hands, form 1-2 inch balls out of the mixture and place them on wax paper to keep them from sticking. 
Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Ohio Buckeye Protein Bites without chocolate

Put in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Once the peanut butter balls are chilled, remove them from the freezer.

Melt your chocolate over a stovetop or using a microwave, being careful not to burn the chocolate. 
Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Melting Chocolate

While the chocolate is still melted, dip the peanut butter balls in the chocolate, covering them completely. 
Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Ohio Buckeye Protein Bites

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Ohio Buckeye Protein Bites dipped

Return the chocolate covered peanut butter protein balls to the wax paper. 
Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Ohio Buckeye Protein Bites

Return to the freezer for 4 hours (or overnight). Store in refrigerator. Makes about 24 small peanut butter protein balls.

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Ohio Buckeye Protein Bites



Ingredients:

  • 1 jar (16 oz) natural peanut butter (I use chunky, but if you prefer smooth, use that)
  • 6-8 tablespoons rice milk (any other kind of milk should work fine too)
  • 6 tablespoons hemp seed, flax seed or chia seed
  • 6.4 oz dark chocolate, or about two regular sized chocolate bars (85% or higher cacao is ideal, I used Chocolove)

Directions:


Add peanut butter, almond milk and protein powder to a medium sized bowl. Stir until everything is mixed together. The mixture should be very sticky, but not liquidy at all. Using a spoon and your hands, form 1-2 inch balls out of the mixture and place them on wax paper to keep them from sticking. Put in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Once the peanut butter balls are chilled, remove them from the freezer and melt your chocolate over a stovetop or using a microwave, being careful not to burn the chocolate. While the chocolate is still melted, dip the peanut butter balls in the chocolate, covering them completely. Return the chocolate covered peanut butter protein balls to the wax paper and return to the freezer for 4 hours (or overnight). Store in refrigerator. Makes about 24 small peanut butter protein balls.

And now for the poem that comes in every Chocolove chocolate bar:

Strong Dark
 
Sonnet 75

So are you to my thoughts as food to life,
Or as sweet-seasoned showers are to the ground;
And for the peace of you I hold such strife
As 'twixt a miser and his wealth is found.
Now proud as an enjoyer, and anon
Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure,
Now counting best to be with you alone,
Then bettered that the world may see my pleasure,
Sometimes all full with feasting on your sight,
And by and by clean starved for a look,
Possessing or pursuing no delight
Save what is had, or must from you be took.
Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day,
Or gluttoning on all, or all away.

William Shakespeare 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

12 Weeks of Wellness: Stretch


The third week of wellness is upon us and this week we'll be focusing on stretching, moving, activity. Of course you'll want to keep up with the good habits you've been developing so don't forget to continue hydrating and getting enough rest.

Exercise is important to a healthy lifestyle for many reasons, regardless of your age, sex, or physical ability.

Mayo Clinic
To accomplish this week's wellness goal you'll need to try a new form of exercise. A few ideas include: yoga, walking during your breaks at work or school, running, lifting weights, swimming, etc. The idea is to try something you maybe have been wanting to try but haven't for whatever reason.

You can check out my Fitness Page for a few ideas if you are unsure about where to start.

This week stretch: try a new form of exercise

Click the week for more information on why these are important to your wellness

Monday, August 26, 2013

Paper or Plastic?

The other day I watched a white plastic bag lazily float through the air as I was waiting at a stop light. It has an odd sort of beauty in the grace with which it moves. The wind catches in little pockets and it inflates, then as the wind shifts it flattens and picks up speed. Bits of it get caught on fence posts, branches and car antennae causing it to cartwheel as it makes its way to whatever destination it is fated to reach. Then I snapped out of my reverie and realized what a terrible crime this bag represents.


It's a mystery to me why people continue to choose plastic bags at the store when they accumulate at home faster than second uses can be developed for them. Not to mention their tendency to blow away, as mentioned, creating litter, or the fact that they hold relatively few items for their size. Whatever the reason, they continue to be used by the general public.

Did you know that according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), close to a trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each years? The United States alone used about one hundred billion of those, which comes out to almost one thousand plastic bags per U.S. household per year. If one household cuts out plastic bags, this could actually make a noticeable dent.

It takes twelve million barrels of oil to produce the plastic bags the U.S. alone uses each years and fewer than 3 percent are recycled. This means they wind up in landfills where they can take hundreds of years to decompose. Or they end up in rivers and oceans where they choke and poison about one hundred thousand whales, birds, and other aquatic life each year, or act as rafts carrying foreign species to new ecosystems.

Going Green - Plastic Island in the Pacific

I once thought paper bags were more environmentally-friendly-ish because they are biodegradable. Nope. Making ten billion paper bags (about the number of grocery bags United Statesians use in a year) requires fourteen million trees to be cut down because they require virgin fibers to hold up to heavy groceries. On top of that, pulp and paper mills are among the worst polluters of air, water and land of any manufacturing industry.

There is a hidden option, it's like the elusive third door that no one tells you about but really has the best prizes if you just take a wild stab and guess it. Reusable cloth bags! By far the best solution to the bag crisis in the US.

Sophie World
The tough part is remembering to bring them with you. Practice makes perfect so keep trying. Here are some techniques you might want to try:
  • Doorknob - Attach at least one, if not more than one, reusable shopping bag to the doorknob you most often leave through. You have to literally touch them in order to get out of the house.
  • Car - Designate a box in your car to store a few reusable bags. Now you only have to remember to get them into the store.
  • Purse - There are many options of reusable bags which are small enough to stick in your purse or pocket. There's no excuse for not using it if you've been carrying it around with you.
  • Make a note - Stick a note anywhere you're likely to see it --on the mirror, on your dashboard, on your forehead-- to remind yourself.
  • All of the above - If you're like me then you've probably accumulated dozens of reusable bags at festivals, fairs and events. I keep my bags anywhere and everywhere.

As an added incentive many places across the US either give to a discount for using your own bags or expect you to pay for the store's plastic or paper bags you use. So if being a Earth-saving superhero isn't enough, maybe money will convince you.

How do you remember your reusable bags when shopping?

Friday, August 23, 2013

6 Real Food Kitchen Staples

In an effort to both save money and cut out processed food further I learned to make my own kitchen staples. In this post I will share a few recipes for items I like to make at home instead of buying the bottled-version in store (for less cost to boot).

*Here’s a tip: save your old condiment and spice containers to use as storage. 

Homemade Ketchup 



I love ketchup; it could be considered it's own food group in my opinion (If I could live on ketchup and cinnamon I would... not necessarily mixed together). The ingredient list for Heinz actually isn’t that bad (especially if you buy the simply ketchup version, which doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup) but this homemade version is much cheaper.

Six in the Suburbs

Ingredients:
  • 12 ounces Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dry Ground Mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 scant teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 2 pinches of Ground Clove
  • 2 pinches of Allspice
  • 1 pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • 2/3 cup Water
  • 4 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Store in an airtight container overnight for maximum marriage of flavors.


Homemade Mustard 


As much as I like ketchup is about the amount that I don’t like mustard. But I'm told that other people like mustard for some reason so I decided to include it. It’s actually fun to make mustard because you can use really whatever spices you like.

My research actually didn’t turn up any store-bought mustard’s that contain “bad” ingredients (even the store-brand) but I'm told that the better the mustard the higher the expense so now you can make gourmet mustard for a fraction of the cost.


Relishing It

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds 
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar 
  • 1/3 cup water 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sugar 
  • Your pick of spices (to taste), optional
Directions:
Soak the mustard seeds in the vinegar and water, making sure the seeds are covered by the liquid. Leave soaking for 2 days.

Add the sugar and spices (allspice and turmeric are boyfriend's preference) to the seeds mixture. Begin with about 1 tsp. of each spice. Blend mixture until it reaches desired consistency, adding water if needed. Let it sit in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a day or two before trying it out.

Homemade Taco Seasoning



This Old El Paso Taco Seasoning isn’t actually representative of the whole market. You can buy McCormick's if you don’t want to make your own spice mix. I’m always partial to making it myself because I can use more or less to suit my own taste. In addition to being perfect for tacos, this mix is great for flavoring burgers and chili. See how I used this mix in Rainbow Chicken Fajitas.




Homemade Barbeque Sauce  


I also a huge fan of barbecue sauce. I like it like I like my men: hot and smoky (haha just kidding, sorta). My favorite brand is Stubb's which is tangier (and less unhealthy) than most. Barbecue sauce, in general, has a lot of sugar in it so making your own can really cut down on this. You can also, as with everything else in this list, customize the flavor profile.

Food Network

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar 
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup (you can use your homemade ketchup or store-bought) 
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar 
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 2 tablespoons honey 
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dry mustard 
  • 2 teaspoons paprika 
  • 2 teaspoons salt 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper 
  • 2 dashes hot pepper sauce  
Directions:
Combine all ingredients, stirring until sugar dissolves. Store in an airtight container. To make it smoky tasting add 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke per 1 cup sauce. For a spicier sauce add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper per 1 cup of sauce.

Homemade Salsa


For me, making salsa is more about flavor than anything else (including ingredients or cost). I've just about had it with the stuff you can buy at the grocery store. Click through to the tutorial for my favorite salsa recipe.



Homemade Ranch Dressing 


Ranch Dressing is one of those sauces that we like to put on pretty much everything. As you can see above the list ingredient in store-bought variety is pretty extensive. Here is a recipe for ranch in which you can really customize every piece of it.

You can use fresh or dried herbs. Depending on how you like your ranch (more creamy or more tangy) you can play with the quantities of mayonnaise (creamy) and yogurt (tangy) or you can use sour cream in place of yogurt. I’ve tried this recipe with buttermilk (which further enhances the tanginess), 1% milk (which is somewhat of a non-flavor), almond milk (my favorite, it rounds out the flavor in my opinion) and soymilk (sort of adds a sweetness). Finally, I have listed just a few optional ingredients you could use to further personalize your ranch; really there are probably hundreds.

Barefeet in the Kitchen

Ingredients:
  • 1 Clove (to 2 Cloves) Garlic 
  • Salt (to taste) 
  • 1/4 cup Italian Flat-leaf Parsley 
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Chives 
  • 1/2 cup(Real) Mayonnaise 
  • 1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt 
  • Milk (to desired consistency) 
  • Other optional ingredients (to taste): White Vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce, Fresh Dill, Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Fresh Oregano, Tabasco etc.

Directions:
Crush garlic into a paste with a fork. Finely mince parley and chives. Whisk together the mayonnaise and yogurt. Add milk to desired consistency. Next, stir in garlic, parsley and chives. Add mix in seasonings to taste. Store in an air-tight container in fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Well there you have it. Six new condiment recipes to add to your arsenal of real food eating. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

12 Weeks of Wellness: Rest

As we continue on our 12 week program toward physical wellness keep up your good hydration habits but add this next weeks focus to your routine. Today we're talking about rest and why it's important.

Here is an infographic I created with the same information found on the previous "Sleep is Awesome!" infographic. Enjoy your new-found learning about sleep and why it's important!


This week rest: wind down early and stick to a regular sleep schedule this week.

Click the week for more information on why these are important to your wellness