Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Pure Decadence Smoothie

Smooth, velvety and chocolaty. Yep, you have heard it: chocolate! Good for you, too.

Chocolate Mango Smoothie
1 serving

½  mango
½ banana
1 tbsp. maple syrop
1 tsp real cocoa powder
½ - ¾ cup of ice cold water.

Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Adjust water amount for desired consistency.

Chocolate Protein Mango Smoothie
This Chocolate Mango Smoothie is rich in potassium and with added protein makes an amazing post-workout recovery shake. 
1 serving

½ mango
½ banana
1 small peach (optional)
2 scoops of chocolate protein powder
½ of ice cold water.

Mix and blend until smooth.

I have been enjoying both versions quite often even without much physical exercise, this  girl needs all the energy she can get.

Enjoy! And do not forget to let me know how you liked it.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Canning Tomatoes

OK. I am not going to say the dreaded word, which is "the season after Fall". We know it is coming and I do not even want to think about is. For those that do not know me, anything below 25 C is COLD. What am I doing living in Canada?!

A couple of weeks ago I went to my local farmers market in search of plums. Ended up staring at strawberries and left with a bushel of tomatoes. So much for my shopping plans.

Since it was a spur of the moment decision to make preserves for …. you know ..... that terrible cold season, I had to get some jars. Except I had no clue how many I may possibly need. What is a yield from a bushel? Anyone? On the box it said 36 L so figured I may get perhaps half of that.
Do not mean to brag but I was right on the money. 19 liters of yummy tomato sauce!

I have to guard it with my life since I only had 17 jars, I used up remaining sauce making tomato soup. It got eaten faster that I could think of possibly taking a picture! If I wanted to have anything left for… later in the year, I had to hide the remaining jars.

This is how I went about the whole business:

Rinse the tomatoes.

Place tomatoes in the largest pot you have, preferably one with a thick bottom.
Turn the heat on medium.
Once the tomatoes start bubbling, stir and turn the heat down a bit. You do not want them burning and sticking to the pot. 
I cooked mine for 1 hr 50 min., stirring occasionally.The sauce is pretty thin. I have heard one lady say that she cooks her s for 4 hr and gets a thick sauce.

I added about 6 teaspoons of salt to the whole batch. If you need to make smaller ones than adjust the amount accordingly. Best is always to taste how you like it.  
The recipe I googled called for some lemon juice, which I added but I do not think it is necessary.
Once the sauce is ready strain it through the sieve. I used plastic one but I think that steel mesh one may be better. Live and learn, and plan better J
Wash all the jars in soapy water. Rinse well. Leave in the sink and pour some boiling water over the rims – do it slowly. You will see that the water goes down the wall, getting rid of all the bacteria.
Once the water cools a bit, pour it out. The jars are ready to be filled.
Bring the strained sauce to a boil. Fill the jars with hot mixture. Tighten the lids. 
I put jars upside down until completely cold. Flip back up. Check if jars sealed properly by pressing on the lids. If no movement or click that means all is good and ready to be stored.

Have you canned anything this year? It is not too late to start.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Small Home Office Inspiration

Until very recently did not need an office at all. After I started my online business it was still mostly laptop. Now I have more and more source documents, books, training materials and receipts that I need to keep someplace, ideally separately from the rest of my home stuff.

I could also use a quiet, designated space to work and study. Lately I have been spending a lot of time in my summer office. I love it! But now the days are getting shorter and colder and I will have to move back inside.
I have been scouring the internet and my vast collection of home decorating magazines for ideas but so far have not found a solution that would satisfy my requirements.
Ideally this is how my office would look like:

Do you like it?

In reality, I do not have a room that I could use for the sole purpose of it being an office. (Not anymore, thanks to hubby!). I would rather not have it in my bedroom, which is small and does not need clutter in it.

I was thinking of sharing a study room with my daughter. That is not best solution as the room is open to her bedroom and would not allow either us a free use of space.

I found many great designs for small office:

These are mostly horizontal work spaces and I need lots of storage as well.
Can “lots of storage” be small?

So, back to searching for inspiration. 

Care to share your home offices or ideas?

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Smoothie  Wednesday.  Health in a Glass Green Smoothie.

Let me call today a CRASH day. My laptop crashed and I am told that the hard drive is a total bust. I had a bunch of pictures and blog ideas that were not backed up anywhere else, so now I am crushed and have no decent photo to add to today’s post. Please be forgiving as it is getting dark and I have trouble taking a good picture at best of times. 
Forget the shake, I am ready for a glass of Chardonnay.

This is a staple in my household that rarely varies. It is rich in fibre and plenty of vitamins and minerals.

11/2 cups of water
2 celery stalks
1/3 large bunch of spinach – about 2 cups
3 large romaine lettuce leafs – 11/2 cups
1 pear
½ cup of parsley, flat leaf or curly
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Add banana or cored apple for milder taste

Blend all the ingredients till you achieve smooth texture.

Wonderful thing about this smoothie is that it can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days. Just remember to cover it.

Do you make smoothies out of greens?

Monday, 14 September 2015

Wonder Grains: Chia

Back in May I have decided to do a 4 week detox program and that required of me to forgo dairy, gluten and sugar. After the month has passed I continued on the clean eating path. I felt so good, was energized, lost some weight and was enjoying my new diet to such extent that I did not think about foods that I have given up.
I also started to discover many ingredients that would serve as replacement to the ones I no longer ate but would allow me to cook one diner for the whole family, rather than try and manage multiple diet requirements of my family members.

When I first came across Chia I was not impressed. It usually comes in small pouches, the seeds are tiny and I did not have high hopes of using it a lot. I thought I would go broke if it was to become a staple at my table. As it turned out a  little goes a long way so no worries!
Chia seeds come from a plant native to Latin America. Those tiny black seeds are considered a wonder grain and are gaining on popularity.

Here are top 5 reasons:

Chia is gluten free.
High in fiber
Chia seeds may be considered an excellent source of calcium for people who don’t eat dairy.
Like flax seeds, chia seeds are very high in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Chia slows down digestion – which may aid in combating diabetes and weight loss.

1 ounce ( 30g) of chia seeds contains:
Fiber: 11 grams – 30 % of RDA
Protein: 4 grams – 9% RDA
Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s).
Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
Manganese: 30% of the RDA.
Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.

For the most nutritional benefits it is best to soak chia seeds before using.

It can be used as part of breakfast like in Oats with Chia, if you make a chia gel (1.5 tbl. spoon chia seeds in cup of water, left in the fridge overnight), you can add one tablespoon to smoothies.

For hydration try making Chia Fresca

2 cups water or coconut water for after workout potassium boost
 1 ½  table spoon chia seeds
½ table spoon lemon or lime juice
½ tablespoon maple syrup

Mix seeds in water. Let sit for 10 minutes. Add lime/lemon juice and maple syrup.

When the seeds start separating give it a stir or a shake.

  Have you tried chia yet? Please share your favorite recipe.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Fruit Smoothie Wednesday

Make it any day that works for you. It can be  Monday or a day after you have done your grocery shopping.
In my household every day is a smoothie day!

Strawberry, Peach and Raspberry Smoothie

When I started my clean eating program it was the first time ever that I really got in the habit of drinking berry smoothies. Berries are low in sugar and high in antioxidants.  Which makes them the perfect fruits to use. They are also available in stores at all times and very easy to prepare. 
Just rinse and blend!

Now that I am not hooked on sugar anymore I use other fruits as well. Keep that in mind - if you want to loose weight do not use fruits like bananas or pineapples every day.

What I like most about smoothies is that you can get really creative with flavors and use any combination that you enjoy.  No need to stick to the recipe, simply use them as a guideline and inspiration.

Here is your basic morning  Strawberry Smoothie:

1 cup of strawberries –fresh or frozen.
1/2 medium banana
1 cup almond milk or water

Cut up the fruit and blend.

Peach Strawberry Smoothie

1 peach ( 130g)
1 1/2 cup strawberries ( 230g)
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 cup of almond milk or water

Cut up the fruit, add maple syrup and water, blend until smooth.

Peach, Strawberry and Raspberry Smoothie

1 peach (130g)
1 (130g) cup strawberries
1/2 cup raspberries ( 70g)
1 teaspoon maple syrop
1 cup of water

Blend all the ingredients until smooth.

If you find that you like you smoothies less watery, reduce the amount of liquid.

Strawberry and Peach Smoothie

If you drink smoothies for breakfast (more on it here) add 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil, coconut oil or almond butter. I often add ground flaxseed and always vegan protein. This way I get all the nutrients and have a fully balanced meal in a cup.

Enjoy! And do not forget to let me know how you liked them when you try my recipe.

Ps. Does anyone know why the size of the font changes once I copy the text from Word? It looks silly and I do not know how to fix it. 

Friday, 4 September 2015

My Top Back to School Picks

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

How is your shopping going?

We do not really do much beyond replacing what was used up or got broken. I have enough pencils, paper and binders to last a lifetime! 

This year we need pencil case(s)! and some small items like crayons and erasers. Since my daughter's school has a dress code, clothes are easy part of back to school shopping.

Here are some fun things I found that I would like to buy:

These seem to be all the rage this year:

Great space saving lunch boxes:

 Mini Crockpot, may not be perfect for a young child but I am sure an older one could manage.

I am not very creative when it comes to writing so those labels are great solution.

There is no going to school without backpack of course. I like them sturdy, with wide straps and well fitting. Kids do not agree and always try to get the "it" thing. In my daughter's school "Jansport" is a very popular brand. For the longest time I thought that kids were given those backpacks for free, since more than 50% seemed to carry them. Silly me! They actually are much better than I expected and come in many colors.

Well, I better go and set up my alarm clock for bright and early or it will not be a good start on Tuesday.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

I am back!

Hello readers. I have not abandoned you completely. 
After two years without vacation I finally managed to get away and in true holiday fashion left all the work and worries behind.
The last couple of years were very busy for the whole family. We sold a house, bought another, renovated, started small business, went from part time to full time job, changed schools, had regular life hiccups and in general kept busy.
Let me tell you, at such rate I should be taking 2 weeks vacation every 6 months!

Now I am back home and working, planning, learning and ready to share it all with you.

Here are some shots from my trip. I think this was one of the more interesting ones I have ever taken.

We visited Torun in Poland - famous for its gingerbread's and Nicholaus Copernicus

Then we went to Rome, Italy:
 You can see into St. Peter's Square

Hadrian's Mausoleum on the left

St.Peter's Basilica Dome


After Rome we went to Pompeii.
Commercial strip in ancient Pompeii

Courtyard inside of residential villa

You can see the difference in ground level between excavated buildings and where I stood,
which was on top of ruins that are still under the 33' or 11 meters of ashes that fell on Pompeii after Vesuvius erupted. It was not lava!

Ceiling in public baths

Off we went to climb the Vesuvius:

Looks very docile does it not?

Anyone lasted to the end?

Did you go anywhere this summer?