Harvest Time!

Homegrown Table Grapes

Homegrown Table Grapes

We have always enjoyed fresh local produce, whether from a CSA, farmers market or, for the past few years, generous friends and family.  It’s hard to motivate myself to plant when we already have consumed more than our share of zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers!

Each year, there seems to be a standout among the fresh produce.  At least for me, personally.  Last year I couldn’t get enough of the tomatoes!  Although they are just as tasty this year, and I’ve eaten just as many, I have a different obsession: grapes.

A few years ago my parents planted a grape vine they ordered online from Rolling River Nursery, which is a great source for organic starts.  I can’t believe grapes even grow in the high desert, USDA Hardiness Zone 7a (0F to 5F). It has flourished, and this year there have been almost too many to eat.  I don’t mind the many clusters that have made it to our house, and our girls love them too!
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Recipe: “I Can’t Believe They’re Not Refried” Beans

Not-Refried Beans

Not-Refried Beans

I have been making this recipe for a few years now and it’s still my favorite Mexican bean recipe, refried or not. It’s super fast and easy, and I’m asked for the recipe just about every time I’ve served it to guests. The cooked beans freeze great, pureed or whole, and they are perfect as a side or just in a quesadilla with cheese.

Just last week, we made these beans for a group of 40 for a Mexican buffet and there wasn’t a bean left in the pot. The proof is in the leftovers!

“I Can’t Believe They’re Not Refried” Beans

“I Can’t Believe They’re Not Refried” Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 lbs pinto beans, rinsed (or any other dried beans)
  • 1/2 jalepeño, roasted and seeded (or use a whole one if you really like spice)
  • 2 tbs minced garlic
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 8 C water

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in crockpot and stir to combine
  2. Cook on low for 10 hours
  3. Process beans in a food process until they resemble refried beans. Alternatively, you can leave them whole or just mash it up a bit with a potato masher.
http://greenbabyguide.com/2015/07/24/recipe-i-cant-believe-theyre-not-refried-beans/

Outdoor Cooking for Summer

Outdoor Cooking

Outdoor Cooking

Sandwiches and cold cereal might be fine and well for breakfast and lunch, but many of us prefer a hot meal for dinner.  Or at least a meal that has been cooked over a heat source at some point! Cooking outside doesn’t have to be an activity reserved for camping trips, especially when you have a fully stocked kitchen just inside the door.

Maybe you’re trying to keep your cooling bill down during the summer, or perhaps you don’t have AC to begin with, but setting up an outdoor cooking station might be worth the effort.

Barbequing

Grill pan

Grill pan


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Recipe: Apple Breakfast Souffle

Apple Breakfast Souffle

Apple Breakfast Souffle

Before we had kids, it was easy to whip up a batch of pancakes or waffles for breakfast on a Saturday morning. We still do so, on occasion, but when we have house guests I don’t want to be standing at the stove or waffle maker, especially when the kids need help eating.

I was looking for recipes that would feed about 4 adults and a kid or two, that was vegetarian and baked in the oven. Ideally, I would be able to prep everything ahead and bake it the next morning. After trying out a few different french toast casseroles, I came across a Big Apple Pancake from Gourmet, and adapted it. It takes very little prep ahead, and cooks up quickly the next morning (or morning after).
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Product Review: Bitty Foods Cricket Flour

Bitty Foods Cricket Flour and Cookies

flour_grande

1lb bag of baking flour blend

Ever since the United Nations published a report in 2013 touting the massive benefits of edible insect consumption and urging Western Nations to get on board, interest in the subject has surged. You are probably thinking “Has it?  I hadn’t noticed”.  As a former biologist and insect lover (aka:nerd) I have definitely noticed this particular trend and apparently so has Bitty Foods.

Bitty Food’s mission, according to their website, is simple. “We make delicious foods with cricket flour”. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some of their products. The idea of eating insects as a source of protein is something I have been interested in and excited about for some time now and I was delighted to receive a bag of baking flour blend and a package of cookies from Bitty Foods. At $20 per pound for the flour blend and $10 for a bag of cookies, it’s not cheap. I was curious to find out if their products were worth the money.
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Recipe: Wholesome Organic Peanut Butter Banana “Milkshake”

Healthy "Milkshake"

Healthy “Milkshake”

I’ve been trying to find ways to sneak protein into Franci’s diet since she stopped eating the super-purees I used to make her.  She won’t eat tofu, fish or beans, and only keeps meat in her mouth long enough to suck out all the flavor before spitting out the fibers.

After doing a little research on non-dairy milk, I decided Non-GMO organic soy milk was a good source of protein to begin incorporating into her diet. Then I decided to add a little of this, a little of that, and the High-Protein Peanut Butter Banana “Milkshake” was born.
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Product Review and Giveaway: All Good GOOP and Kid’s Sunscreen

Elemental Herbs

When it comes to skincare, we usually stick to the basics. That means if we’re not making our own lotion or shampoo, we look for products that contain a few simple ingredients that get the job done. Elemental Herbs has many great products, and including an all-purpose healing balm and several sunscreens.

Besides using organic, medicinal quality ingredients, the Elemental Herbs facility runs on solar power, and all products are cruelty-free. They are an Eco-friendly corporation you can feel good about supporting. For more information, take a look here.

All Good GOOP Healing Balm

Healing Balm

Healing Balm

We live in a dry, high altitude climate that can be harsh on the skin. Dry, cracked skin and rough cheeks are a regular occurrence in our household, enough that Franci frequently requests “lotion” for her “owies”. I feel comfortable rubbing on a little bit of All Good GOOP, because I recognize all the ingredients (and usually put them in my own balm, when I actually have time to make it).
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Product Review: JAWS Cleaners

JAWS Just Add Water System

Just Add Water System

Just Add Water System

We recently received a JAWS – Just Add Water System Complete Home Cleaning Kit to review. JAWS uses reusable spray bottles and little cartridges of highly concentrated cleaning ingredients. You just fill the spray bottles with water and all you need to buy after investing in your first set is the cartridges of cleaning solution.

We tried all four — Shower, Hardwood, Kitchen and Glass. In terms of efficacy, these products are good. My favorite was the glass cleaner. I looked online at other reviews and I am not alone. The stuff really works. It’s way better and more effective than Windex or its generic equivalents. My mirrors are all streak-free and I hardly used any of the cleaner.
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Product Review and Giveaway: Snipe Hunt

Snipes in their Nest

Snipes in their Nest

Snipe Hunt Review

Now that spring is in full swing and summer is just around the corner, we’re on the lookout for outdoor games and activities to keep Franci occupied. She will spend hours at her water table playing imaginary games and getting nice and wet, but I’m not willing to set it up for short-term play.  I have to be sure she’s going to be at it for at least a couple of hours on a day that is warm enough to be in wet clothes.

We found a great short-term activity that is perfect for outdoors, but is also good for indoor fun as well.  For months, one of her favorite games has been Hide and Seek, and Snipe Hunt takes it to a whole new level.  The best part is that I don’t have to do the hiding or seeking myself!
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Celebrating Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!

The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 with the goal of supporting environmental protection.  As Eco-Conscious parents, we try to make green choices every day, but any cause for celebration is more than welcome!  Here are a few ideas to help your family honor the Earth.

Let us know in the comments how you are celebrating Earth Day today!

 Choose Local

The farther food and other goods have to travel, the more carbon emission are released into the atmosphere.  Buying local not only reduces your own carbon footprint, but supports your community at the same time.

Whether you are visiting a farmer’s market or a shop that sells locally-made items, buying local also strengthen ties within the community and builds a happier, safer environment for your family.
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