Getting creative with pumpkin

Getting creative with pumpkin

By: Leanne Ely

 

With the end of November comes the end of pumpkin season. You know what that means-we need to make the most out of this year’s harvest because you just can’t find a good pumpkin any other season!

Why not challenge yourself to see how many ways you can enjoy pumpkin this week?

Pumpkins in a Field

Let me give you a few ideas to start with:

Appetizer: Pumpkin soup, anyone?  For bonus points, serve the soup in half of a hollowed out, roasted squash. How pretty would soup in a squash bowl be on the Thanksgiving table this year?

Main: Make dinner in a pumpkin! First, cut off the top of the pumpkin and hollow it out as if you were making a jack-o-lantern. Sauté some diced onions until they’re soft, and then brown some meat in the same pan. Stir in some sliced mushrooms; coconut aminos; leftover rice, cauli-rice, or quinoa; water chestnuts; diced tomatoes . . . get creative! When everything in the pan is nice and hot, spoon the mixture into the hollow pumpkin. Put the stuffed pumpkin on a baking sheet and put its hat back on it. Bake in a 350-degree oven for an hour or so. At serving time, put the pumpkin on a serving plate and scoop out servings. The roasted pumpkin counts as your vegetable for this innovative one-pot dish!

Side Dish: Make miniature, single-serving stuffed pumpkins using a similar recipe as above, but use smaller pie pumpkins and serve one to each dinner guest. These would make perfect side dishes for your Thanksgiving Dinner.

Dessert: There are so many ways to use pumpkin in desserts. I’ve shared a recipe for pumpkin cheesecake on my YouTube channel, and it is one of our family favorites. But you can find recipes for everything from pumpkin bread pudding to pumpkin donuts if you search Google for five minutes!

Smoothies: I have a great pumpkin smoothie recipe below!

So, get creative in that kitchen with those fresh pumpkins in savory and sweet dishes! Pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin brownies….

Here’s that recipe for pumpkin smoothie:

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 to 3/4 cup water (or almond milk)
1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin
1/4 cup spinach
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 scoop Saving Dinner Perfect Paleo Protein
2 teaspoons Saving Dinner Fibermender 2.0 (optional)
1 tablespoon Just Juiced Greens (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS: In a blender, place almond milk, water, pumpkin, spinach, cinnamon, Perfect Protein Powder, Fibermender 2.0 (optional), and Just Juiced Greens (optional); blend until smooth and enjoy! It’s ok to add a tad more milk of your choice, if a thinner smoothie is preferred.

———————————————-

PS–Everything in our store has FREE SHIPPING right now!  Click here to stock up on Perfect Paleo Protein, Just Juiced Greens and Fibermender!

Keep Celery Fresh for a Month!

Keep Celery Fresh for a Month!

By: Leanne Ely

 

It’s time once again for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe. Today you’ll learn a trick, a tip and you’ll get a great recipe to try it out with. Neat, huh?

Today’s focus is on: CELERY

I’ve done my time with celery. Those “diets” that make you eat a lot of celery because the calorie count is so low? Yeah, you did it too, admit it!

And while I don’t eat celery that way anymore (it kind of makes me cranky!), celery is a fabulous veggie. Celery is one of the 3 magical ingredients used in soups with carrots and onions. The carrot is for sweet, the onion for savory and celery is for salt. And since I try to eat soup a lot, especially when the weather cools down, celery is always a resident in my crisper.

Besides being a key soup ingredient, celery is also plenty healthy. It acts as a natural diuretic, it calms your blood pressure, and it helps your immune system too.

celery-1

Now, it’s time for your Trick!

When you buy celery, only buy organic. Celery is on the Dirty Dozen list because it’s so heavily sprayed. And since most people don’t consume a whole bunch of celery at a time, here’s a bonus trick for you to avoid waste! Cut the end off the celery, wrap the celery in aluminum foil and store it in your crisper drawer. It will last for almost a month this way!

Your Tip:

Remember I told you to cut the bottom off your celery? Don’t throw it out! Save it and place it in a glass of water on a sunny window sill. It will regrow new bright green leaves!

And your Recipe:

Chicken Kale Soup
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:
4 cups low sodium chicken broth, or use homemade
3 teaspoons coco-aminos
1 tablespoon grass fed butter
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cubed
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
2 medium stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 overflowing cups chopped kale
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

INSTRUCTIONS:
Place all ingredients in a large slow cooker; stir well to blend thoroughly. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 hours, stirring every 2 hours.

 

Busy? 12 quick and healthy breakfast ideas

Busy? 12 quick and healthy breakfast ideas

By: Leanne Ely

 

Back-to-school time is upon us, and with it, comes crazy mornings of lunch packing and breakfast making, and other general chaos.

It’s important to get a good healthy meal into everyone’s bellies in the morning, so how do you do that without simply opening up a box of sugary cereal or putting down a couple slices of toast?

The following twelve breakfast ideas will keep your family nourished for the morning, without taking hours to prepare.

Healthy Breakfast-1

Slow cooked oats. If your family enjoys oatmeal, put the slow cooker to work for you overnight. Steel cut oats work best for long cooking like this. You can add some sliced apples and raisons to the pot, too, for a bit of extra flavor. Imagine waking up to a hot breakfast! Magic!

Cold oats. If you make a big pot of oats, keep some in a container in the fridge to scoop out for a fast serving of carbs in the morning. Top with sliced bananas and paired with a boiled egg or a sausage or some Greek yogurt … and you’ve got a well-rounded breakfast!

Yogurt (or cottage cheese) and fruit. It doesn’t get much more simple and delicious than Greek yogurt or cottage cheese and fruit for breakfast. Sprinkle some homemade granola on there and you have a real treat! (Make your own granola though, unless you can source a brand without added fat and sugar.)

Smoothies. Y’all know I’m the queen of smoothies. Blend up your breakfast if you’re in a rush. No excuses! (Bonus points if you use our All In One Smoothie Mix or Perfect Paleo Protein for a well-rounded meal!)

Pancakes. I know this sounds like more of a Sunday morning breakfast idea, and it is! Pancakes can take time. So make a giant batch of your family’s favorite recipe on the weekend, and then keep the leftovers in the refrigerator to be heated up on school days.

Boiled eggs. Instead of boiling one or two eggs at a time, boil the whole dozen and keep ‘em in the fridge for grab and go snacks or a fast breakfast.

Breakfast scrambles. I’m a fan of taking leftovers from the refrigerator and scrambling them together for a quick breakfast scramble or hash. Sliced mushrooms and ham? Great. Brussels sprouts, peppers, and onions? Yum. Sausage, sweet potatoes, and broccoli? Why not? Warm up the leftover ingredients in your pan, add some beaten eggs, mix around until the eggs are cooked and you have breakfast.

Eggs and bacon with greens. Step one: Fry bacon. Step two: Remove bacon and drain fat. Step three: Crack eggs in same pan as bacon was fried in. Step four: Cook eggs to preferred level of doneness. Step five: Place eggs with bacon. Step six: Wilt whatever greens you have on hand. Step seven: Eat.

Granola with berries and milk. Make a big batch of homemade granola and scoop it out to enjoy on busy mornings. Top with milk and berries, like conventional breakfast cereal.

Cinnamon apples. Mix some almond butter and honey together to create a delicious and sticky dip. Sprinkle cinnamon on apple slices. Dip slices in honey/almond mixture.

Canadian bacon egg cups. Preheat the oven to 375. Place slices of Canadian bacon in the bottom of the muffin tins and bake for five minutes to warm the bacon. Take the pan out of the oven, crack an egg on top of each slice of bacon, sprinkle with salt, and pepper, bake 20 minutes or until the eggs are set.

And here’s a bonus recipe from my book, Part-time Paleo: How to Go Paleo Without Going Crazy!

Garden Morning Array

Yields 4 servings

8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved, lengthwise
2 avocados, diced
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, sliced
1 cup strawberries (or seasonal fruit of your choice)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

This is a simple breakfast that is great for those busy mornings. You simply portion out each item onto everyone’s plate, lightly season everything except the fruit with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and you’re done.

Better than store bought: 7 simple sauces

Better than store bought: 7 simple sauces

By: Leanne Ely

 

There are very few bottled items in my refrigerator that I have not made myself. I enjoy making my own condiments because I can tell exactly where each ingredient came from!

I also like to make condiments that use up the bounty of my garden. Currently that would be tomatoes!

The following are seven common kitchen items that I make myself and that you can too!

Indian condiments consisting of yoghurt and lime, chutney and tomato and onion.

Applesauce. Core and slice some organic apples, simmer them down and sprinkle with cinnamon. Ta da . . . applesauce!

Tomato paste. Peel and seed your tomatoes, and then dice them into little pieces. Put tomatoes in a single layer in a medium-large sauce pan. Toss some salt over the tomatoes and cook at medium heat, uncovered, stirring once in a while, until you have tomato paste! Be patient because it can take a couple of hours for this to happen. Keep the heat low enough that the tomatoes aren’t boiling, but high enough that there’s steam coming from them.

Ketchup. Take a good scoop or two of organic tomato paste (or homemade!) and add a dollop of organic molasses or local honey, some organic apple cider vinegar, a pinch of onion powder and garlic powder, a pinch of allspice and some salt and pepper. Add a little bit of water and bring to a boil. Simmer until it looks like ketchup!

Salsa. Your basic ingredients will be roma tomatoes, onion, bell peppers, jalapenos, lime juice, salt and cilantro. Taste test until you get it just right. Once you have the basic formula down, have fun with it! Separate your salsa into separate little batches where you can add all kinds of things. Add in some avocado, mango, strawberries, pineapple, black beans . . . you’re limited only by your imagination!

Barbecue Sauce. Here’s a great recipe for you to try (it’s also Paleo!)

1/2 cup organic tomato sauce
1 cup organic apple juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup local honey or organic molasses
4 tablespoons organic Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon hot sauce (can adjust to taste or omit)
1 cup sweet onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter

Cook onion in melted butter until clear, slowly stir in liquid ingredients, adding dry at the end. Bring to a boil for about 15 minutes, stirring continuously. Use in place of any BBQ sauce.

Mayonnaise. All mayonnaise really is, is a mixture of oil, egg, lemon juice and seasonings. Here’s a fantastic recipe for paleo mayo for you to try:

1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup avocado oil, grape seed, or olive oil
Mix together all ingredients, except oil. Once all previous ingredients are fully combined, whisk in oil. You’re done!

Salad dressing. My Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette is the only salad dressing recipe you will ever need!

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

It’s not all that much work to make your own condiments. In fact, I find that making these items as I need them is quite convenient and spares a lot of space in my refrigerator. It also saves on the grocery bill!

School House Crock

School House Crock

By: Leanne Ely

 

Last week, I started talking about the “s word” when I wrote about how freezer meals can get a nutritious meal on the table for those upcoming school nights.

But if you can’t see yourself using the freezer to help you plan and prepare meals ahead of time, you’re not totally sunk. Not if you have a slow cooker!

That slow cooker will help you get those school night suppers on the table with a minimal amount of effort.

You can use your slow cooker regardless of your lifestyle. Whether you’ve gone Paleo, Primal, Gluten-Free, or if you follow the Standard American Diet, your slow cooker can be working harder for you than it currently is.

And really, what’s better than having a delicious hot meal ready for you at the end of the day?

We have many recipes that focus on the slow cooker because everyone loves the convenience of this hard-working appliance, but inspiration can be hard to come by!

I make all kinds of things in my slow cooker from classic Navy Beans and Beef Stew to Chili Verde Pork and Turkey Pot Pie. But when my kids were young, in the weeks following their return to school, I made a lot of soup. It was a life saver! Not only is it practically effortless to make soup in the crock for a healthy supper, but it’s easy to heat up and pack in lunches the next day.

If you have a favorite soup recipe, adapt it for the slow cooker with the following tips.

Photo of Irish Stew or Guinness Stew made in a crockpot or slow cooker.

Top tips for making soup in the slow cooker

Brown the meat. Yes the crockpot will cook your soup just fine without you browning the meat, but this step will yield tastier results.

Cut ingredients uniformly. When you cut your vegetables roughly the same size, they will cook evenly.

Watch your liquids. You won’t need as much liquid as your traditional soup recipe calls for. Just add enough to cover the veggies by about half an inch. If you’re left with too much liquid at the end of your cooking time, remove the crockpot lid 30 minutes before you plan to serve dinner and it will evaporate.

Layer properly. Ingredients that take the longest to cook should be placed in the crockpot first. Root vegetables should be placed on the bottom where they’ll have more direct contact with the heating element of the slow cooker. Next, add your meats, spices and onions. Veggies like cauliflower and broccoli can go in next. Finally, add your liquid before covering the crockpot and turning it on. Some ingredients don’t take much time to cook, so you’ll want to add them in during the last hour of cook time. (Things like pasta, milk, peas, bell peppers and spinach would fall into this category.)

And always remember that we have you covered when it comes to crock cooker recipes. I’m going to give you one here today, but our Crock Cooker Club is full of delicious options! Click here to read more about it!

Irish Stew
Serves: 6

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours

INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 cups low sodium beef broth, or use homemade
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 cup Guinness or dark beer (or substitute beef broth)

INSTRUCTIONS
In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion; saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic, beef cubes, thyme, sage, salt and pepper; saute for 5 minutes or until beef cubes have browned. Transfer mixture to a slow cooker along with potatoes. Pour beer (or broth) over the top.

Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.

Enjoy!

 

Back to School : Operation Lunchbox!

Back to School : Operation Lunchbox!

By: Leanne Ely

 

I know I’m going to get a dirty look or two from y’all for bringing this up, but its time (or past time for some of you!) to start thinking about getting the kids ready to go back to school.

With two children of my own, I am fully aware of how expensive it can be to do all of that shopping for supplies in the week or two leading up to the first day back, so I’m recommending that you start getting ready now so it doesn’t seem quite as hard on your bank account.

Operation Lunchbox Readiness

Operation Lunchbox Readiness

Times have changed since my kids were grade-school aged, that’s for sure. Back then, your options in lunch boxes were either to brown paper bag it, or use one of those hard plastic lunchboxes that had a matching thermos inside. That isn’t the case anymore!

Nowadays, we have many options for our kids’ school lunch carrier. Here, I’ll share some of my favorite choices.

Lunch containers
Compartmentalized stainless steel. If you do some Googling, you’ll find stainless-steel containers in all shapes and sizes. These are wonderful for school lunches because they’re easy to clean, they look cool and they are free of BPA and other toxins.

Bento boxes
If you can’t find stainless-steel containers, look for BPA-free bento boxes. Bento-style lunch boxes generally contain covered and non-covered compartments for food storage. They come in many fun colors and children tend to enjoy eating from them. You can find plastic and stainless-steel bento boxes online.

Must-have lunchbox accessories

Once you’ve chosen your container, it’s time to accessorize!

Reusable baggies
I love the planet, so I’m going to recommend you look for reusable cloth sandwich bags. If you search for them on Etsy, you’ll find an endless variety of colors and styles. Besides being a more environmentally friendly option in food storage, these little cloth baggies are adorable AND toxin-free. Look for a vendor using organic cotton and be sure they will hold up to multiple washings. Better yet, if you have the ability to sew straight lines, consider making your own baggies! All you need is some cotton fabric and a little velcro.

Insulated container
You can find adorable insulated containers for keeping hot foods hot during the school day. Thermos is the brand most people are familiar with, but don’t buy on simply name alone. Buy a container that is the right shape for your child to use (for younger children, you should buy a short and stout container for littler hands to reach into), and make sure it will fit in your actual lunchbox.

Ice packs
We have talked about lunchbox food safety before and I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep cold foods cold. Buy lots of ice packs and use at least two or three each day when foods need to be kept cold.

Stainless-steel water bottle
I am so happy that stainless-steel water bottles are so easy to come by. I feel they are a much safer option than plastic and when filled with water, they’re a much healthier option than juice boxes! They also tend to stay cool for quite a long time.

Cloth napkins
Save a tree or two and keep your child supplied with cloth napkins for the school year. Not only are they a more environmentally friendly option than paper towels, but if you can actually train your kids to use them over their sleeve, you might save on stain remover!

So, those are the basics. Start shopping for those lunchbox essentials now and you won’t have to worry about it again until it’s time to decide what to pack in the box. That’s a post for another day!

——————————————————

PS–Even though the kids are heading back to school, its not too late for you to go to camp, Saving Dinner’s BRAND NEW Online Cooking Camp that is!  Click here to learn more, and join me your head counselor for cooking camp!