Wednesday, June 17, 2015

3 Ingredient Swiss Chard Chips

The more I find alternatives to processed snacks, the more I enjoy the healthier options over the other stuff. There are so many ways to change it up, I'm only scratching the surface.

My dad asked me raid his garden today since he'll be gone for a week. I ended up with a grocery bag full of all sorts of greens... lettuce, kale, spinach, parsley, basil, and swiss chard. Didn't seem like much until I got home, and spent an hour washing everything.

The swiss chard was the most abundant! I love the red, white, and yellow stalks.  Since I've made, and enjoyed, kale chips in the past, I thought I'd try the same method with this.

Swiss chard is a powerhouse vegetable. Packed with vitamins K, A, and C, plus a good source of magnesium, potassium, iron, and dietary fiber. What's even better? One cup of these leaves equates to merely 35 calories. How's that for a healthy snack?

Now, you may not feel these would be on par with other salty snacks, often laden with chemicals. However, you just might surprise yourself when you can't stop going back for more. Even my 2 and 4 year old son's cleared out the first batch, and that's a clincher for me.

They are so simple to make, you'll realize it's a practical way to satisfy that craving for a salty snack, while contributing to your daily dose of "green".

The great thing about this recipe is that you can be as flexible as you'd like. Try adding some garlic powder, or perhaps cayenne to kick it up a notch.

Swiss Chard Chips
- 10-12 leaves of swiss chard
- olive oil
- sea salt

Preheat oven to 325.

Wash and dry the chard as much as possible. Tear into "chip" size pieces, removing the tougher inner stalk.

In a bowl, add a bit of olive oil at a time, mixing until all the pieces are just lightly coated. Spread the pieces evenly on a baking sheet. Another option (my method), is to spread them all out on the baking sheet and spray them lightly with the misto sprayer.

Sprinkle salt, or whatever seasonings you'd prefer, evenly across the chard leaves.

Bake for 4-5 minutes, flip all the pieces and bake for another 4-5 minutes. Watch very closely as they can burn easily.

Remove from oven and allow too cool briefly before enjoying.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday Finds - Recipes

I love "roundups" - a variety of posts from around the web, showcasing favorites. So, on Friday's, I'll feature a few of my favorites, tried and true, for you to explore...

This week I'll start with a few recipes I've made lately that have been a sure hit around here.

My sons love to help me in the kitchen and a recipe {mostly} allows you to just "throw it in" is perfect. This recipe for Healthy Whole Grain Carrot Coconut Morning Glory Muffins from Ambitious Kitchen is so versatile, healthy, and delicious to boot. We mix up the ingredients here and there depending on what's in the cupboard. They freeze well, too!

For something a bit more hearty, try these Pork Carnitas from Recipe Tin Eats. It's a slow cooker recipe, so it's easy! I used a bit less salt than called for, per the comments. It was perfect as tacos, or quesadillas, or straight out of the pan.

One of our go-to meals for leftovers are these White Chicken Enchiladas from Joyful Momma's Kitchen. We use plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream and they still come out amazing.

These Coconut Lover's Oatmeal Cookies, from Barefeet in the Kitchen are super easy and SO good! I actually used only 1/4 C. organic sugar and added 1 tbls molasses. I also added flax meal. Make sure you pack them really tight so they don't fall apart. If they do, call it granola.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

One of the highlights of the bike ride we did last weekend was the homemade food at the stops along the way. Everything was completely home baked and absolutely amazing.

My husband doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, but he was raving about the oatmeal cranberry bars all the way down the hill. We just had to ask for the recipe, and the gal was thrilled to oblige! The catch though was that it was hastily scribbled notes on a sheet of paper. Don't those end up being the best recipes?

My neighbor has an abundance of rhubarb in her yard, so instead of cranberry, I thought I'd attempt these with strawberry and rhubarb.

It's a winner. The tartness of the fruit with the salty-sweet oatmeal mixture is so good.

Here is my adaption. It's a two part recipe, which doesn't make it as "practical", but I do prefer to make everything from scratch as much as possible. You could easily substitute with a can of whole berry cranberry sauce if that's easier for you.

In an effort to keep it a bit more "healthy", I did use half the sugar, and it was organic sugar (sugar is sugar, but this is less refined). You can also just sub brown sugar for the sugar & molasses.

Some might consider this a dessert, but you can eat for breakfast. I won't judge. However, ice cream.

Also to note - the sauce recipe makes far more than needed, but once you realize how much you've eaten right out of the bowl, it's just about right. Or, you could save it to add to oatmeal, yogurt, etc.

Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

- 4 cups diced strawberries
  Tip: if you can't find/afford organic, add 1/2 - 1 C. vinegar to sink and fill with water until
   strawberries are covered. Soak for about 5-10 minutes to remove pesticide residue.
- 4 cups diced rhubarb
- 1 lemon, juiced
   or 2 drops Lemon Essential Oil, because you forgot to buy a lemon
- 1/2 C. sugar, add more if you prefer
- 1/4 C. water

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium sized sauce pan.
2. Bring to a boil and let it cook on low to medium heat for about 30-45 minutes, cook less or longer depending on how thick you want it. (recommend thicker for this recipe)
3. Allow to cool prior to using in next steps

Oatmeal Bars
- 2 C. old fashioned rolled oats
- 2 C. white whole wheat flour (regular white is fine, too)
- 1/2 C. sugar
- 1 Tbl molasses
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 C. cold (salted) butter, broken into pieces
- 1 3/4 C. strawberry-rhubarb sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13x9 pan
2. Mix dry ingredients
3. Drizzle molasses and fold in
4. Use fingers or a pastry blender to mix in butter until it resembles coarse meal and holds together when squeezed
5. Spread 3/4 of mix in pan and pat down firmly
6. Cover with sauce, spreading evenly
7. Sprinkle remaining oat mixture on top of sauce
8. Bake 20-25 minutes, then allow to cool on rack

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

DIY Cooling Sunburn Relief Essential Oil Spray

Last weekend my husband and I embarked on a fundraiser mountain bike ride, "Gears for Beers". The concept was a poker run style event, but our cards were about as random as they come. It was 17 miles total, the first 6 up to the top of a mountain and the rest mostly downhill.

Since we started at 9 am I didn't think to put on sunscreen. It's Montana, not that hot, and far too early in the day to catch a burn.

I burn easily.

Needless to say, my arms were toast by the time we finished. Note for next time...

In the meantime, I wanted something more than the standard aloe for my poor skin. After perusing the internet a bit, I came up with my own version of a cooling sunburn relief spray.

I'm in love!

My skin doesn't hurt, it's not dry and flaky, and the redness calmed within a day. I might even go as far as to say it looks more tan, which is a feat for me!

Summer is in full swing, so you'll probably want to mix up your own batch. It's safe for kids, too! The recipe is for 2 oz, which will go a surprisingly long way. Naturally, adjust as you need to.

So, gather up your ingredients:

- 2 oz glass spray bottle
- Distilled Water (regular would work fine, as well)
- Aloe Vera Gel
- Lavender Essential Oil (what I use)
   (all around oil reported to be calming, soothing for skin and anti-bacterial)
- Peppermint Essential Oil (what I use)
   (Creates a natural cooling sensation and has reported antiseptic and antimicrobial properties)
The process is super simple!

Fill bottle halfway with the aloe vera gel. Add 6 drops each of the essentials oils. Fill bottle to the top with the water.

When you're ready to use it, start by giving the bottle a quick shake. Spray wherever your skin needs some love and rub it in gently.

Feel the relief.

Bonus! You can download the free printable labels I created. They are a simple design and come in 2 in (fit 2 oz bottles), 3 in and 4 in size. Print on sticker paper, or use packing tape to adhere.

Click here to download
No need to sign in, or register, just close the box with x in top right.

Note: You'll notice I use Young Living Essential Oils. I love them, I really do. A later post will give a few more details about how I chose them. If you are interested, you can order them here. You can also use the contact me box below to learn about how to purchase them at a discount (without "signing up").

Where do I begin?

I've done this before, this blogging thing, and I always feel cheesy about it. I have a somewhat abandoned family blog and years ago I had a blog of randomness, true randomness. So embarrassing.

Why start another? 

I have ideas, and inspiration, and I want to share it. Also, I want to document it for my own personal records. My variations on diy products, sewing projects and various recipes I've come along. Much trial and error requires a need for getting down what worked.

I'm also on a quest to live a healthier life, so I'm exploring ways to convert our home to a more natural state. We'll see how it goes...

So, Practically Made. The other titles I tried for were taken, but I wanted it to reflect two things - keeping things practical and always homemade.

Let the journey begin!