Monthly Archives: June 2012

Berry Banana Smoothie

This past Saturday, my family and I participated in a family 5k. I ran and everyone else biked…well Jane and Annabelle(our 2 and 4 year old children) sat in the bike trailer my hubby Scott was pulling. It was hot that day. Like 100 degree hot. It wasn’t quite that hot at 8am when we did our run, but it was still pretty warm. My lips got burnt. I don’t like having burnt lips because my mouth and lips feel dry all day and I am always wanting something to cool me down. That night, once the kids had gone to bed, I threw together a really refreshing smoothie that just hit the spot. It was the perfect dessert for the end of a hot day. Light and cold.

Health benefits include, probiotics or good bacteria found in your plain yogurt, plus calcium and protein, and blueberries and strawberries have lots of vitamins. Blueberries are a good antioxidant (cancer fighting agent) and have a really low glycemic load. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin c and flavonoids.

Berry Banana Smoothie
makes about 32 oz

1/2 c plain yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 c 100% apple juice
1 banana
3/4 c frozen blueberries
2 c frozen strawberries (or can do a tropical blend like pineapple, strawberry, papaya, mango)

Add ingredients to high power blender in order listed and blend until smooth.




Filed under Desserts, Smoothies

Spinach Orzo Salad

I am obsessed with this salad. Seriously. It is SO yummy! I love how light the dressing is. I love that it’s so easy and there’s not much chopping involved…mostly dumping :). This salad is a nice side dish or even a meal replacement. In fact, when I go to BBQ’s or other social events, I almost always bring this salad along because I know that if there is nothing else there I want to eat, I’ll be happy and satisfied with my spinach orzo salad. And the leftovers hold up and don’t get too soggy if you eat it within a couple of days.

Here is what I used for the salad: prewashed spinach(you can buy this huge bag at Costco for really cheap), orzo pasta, capers, marinated artichoke hearts, and two tomatoes. Now, if you don’t like artichoke hearts, like my husband, you don’t have to put them in. I love them so I add them and I tell hubby he can pick them out and give his to me :). The nice thing about this salad is that there are lots of different things you can add to it, depending on what you like.

The first thing you’re going to want to do is take out a pot for your orzo to cook in. Follow the package directions, but cook only about 6 minutes. While you’re waiting for your water to boil and your pasta to cook you can chop up your tomato, dump your other salad ingredients into a big bowl and then put your dressing together.

I find our capers near the mustard at the grocery store, just in case you were wondering :). And the artichoke hearts are usually on the same aisle.

The dressing on this salad is perfection. Really, it is. Just a little bit of sweetness is mingled in this dill vinaigrette.  Below are the dressing ingredients(I use Braggs liquid aminos rather than  soy sauce). Just dump everything into a blender and mix it up until it’s blended. If you want you can double this recipe and freeze the extra in icecube trays or a ziploc bag. Try and use a fresh lemon if you can….I obviously didn’t for this batch :).

I’m going to buy a nice little dressing jar soon so I can take a new picture and replace the one below for you :), but for now, the quart jar is all I’ve got!

The finished product. I think salads look so pretty in trifle dishes!


Spinach Orzo Salad- lightly adapted from Robyn Openshaw,

1 cup uncooked orzo pasta (preferably whole wheat. Boil  6 min, rinse well)

12 cups spinach (I use about half the Costco bag or about 20 oz)

2 tomatoes, diced

2 oz. capers, drained

optional: 3 oz.  marinated artichoke hearts, drained

optional: 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, walnuts or pecans

optional topper: grated parmesan

Toss all ingredients. Add dressing and toss.

Sweet Dill Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp  lemon juice

2 Tbsp 100% orange juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

2 Tbsp cup apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. raw honey

1 garlic clove

1/2 Tbsp. dried (or 2 Tbsp fresh) dill weed

Blend all ingredients in a high-powdered blender. Makes 3/4 cup. Can freeze in ice cube trays or ziploc bag.

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Filed under Dinner, Lunch, Salads, Snacks/Sides/Appetizers, vegan


Summer is just around the corner, and it already feels like it here in Utah since we’ve had several 90 degree days. Our swamp cooler keeps our house pretty cool as long as it’s under 100 degrees and as long as you’re not using your oven when temperatures reach the 90’s. So for dinners in the near future, I’ll be doing a lot of stove top, crock pot and/or no-cook recipes. I actually prefer these in the summer anyway. Baked foods when you’re already feeling hot, does not sound great.

Being that I am part Mexican(my dad was born and raised in Mexico) and that my dad cooked Mexican food on a daily basis for our family, I have  a great love for Mexican food. I’ll usually cook Mexican food for our family once or twice a week, though I don’t cook everything my dad did, or at least not the same way. He made a lot of Mexican rice and refried beans, both of which use hydrogenated oils. I make both rice and beans regularly but I make brown rice and cook it in water with some cilantro, green chiles, an onion and a couple of spices. It’s really yummy! I also prefer whole, cooked beans. I really like black and pinto.  And remember my post about whole wheat home-made tortillas? Yeah, I’m obsessed with them even though I grew up on white flour tortillas.And guacamole! Oh how I love guacamole! My husband will sometimes hide it from me which I think is so not funny.

This fajita recipe combines all of those things. And the nice thing about that is all of these things can be made in advance, even several days in advance, whenever I have some time. When I make beans and rice, I make a lot and freeze them in bags, so that could even be done months before :). Then when we want to make fajitas, tacos, Mexican Pizza, or burritos, all I have to do is pull things out of the fridge(or freezer), warm them up and it’s all good!

In my fajita, I like to have black beans and a whole assortment of sauted veggies. Who knew you could have fajitas vegan style?! I add a little cheese to mine sometimes. Scott eats his like mine but will also add our Crockpot Mexican Chicken and he always has cheese. Then we top it off with some salsa and guacamole and have beans and rice on the side.

Get out your cooked rice, beans, and chicken, some cheese, veggies and home made tortillas. Warm up a little olive oil in a pan over medium heat and chop your veggies. You can cut them as big or as small as you’d like. I usually cut my onion into long thin slices and my bell peppers a little shorter. Sometimes I’ll throw in half of a zucchini or cucumber too that I’ve cut into smaller pieces. Cook those in the oil and with seasonings until they’re tender, about 5 minutes, while stirring occasionally.

Put your veggies, beans, chicken and cheese inside your home made tortilla(the tortilla really does need to be home made…SO much better!),wrap it up and serve it with your beans, rice, salsa and guacamole as sides.



2 bell peppers(any color, with stem removed)
1/2 onion (any color)
1/2 cucumber or zucchini diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp minced garlic or garlic powder
Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas
Mexican Chicken (optional)
1 c grated Cheddar Cheese (optional)
serve with: Guacamole, Black Beans, Mexican Brown Rice, Salsa

Chop all your veggies. In a stir fry pan or something similar, saute veggies in oil and seasonings for several minutes until crisp tender. Take out all the other ingredients you’ll be serving it with and any optional ingredients. Place veggies, a spoonful of black beans, and optional ingredients in your tortilla. Roll and top with salsa and guacamole. Serve with black beans and mexican brown rice on the side.


Filed under Dinner, vegan

Easy Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken

Seriously, one of the easiest recipes ever. Place a piece of frozen chicken in your crock pot, dump in a can of tomatoes and a little taco seasoning and turn it on(be sure you read the ingredients on taco seasonings and get one without msg…you can always mix together your own taco seasoning using some spices).


Easy Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken

1 1/2 lbs frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
2 Tbsp taco seasoning

Place chicken in slow cooker. Mix in tomatoes(with all of it’s juice) and taco seasoning. Cover. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3 and 1/2 hours or until chicken is very soft and tender. Shred with a couple of forks and serve with tacos, in enchiladas or burritos. Refrigerate for several days or freeze in ziploc bag for a couple of months.

Serve this with:

Fajitas (pictured below)
Mexican Pizza


Filed under Dinner

Mexican Brown Rice

I think most of us know, or at least have heard, that we should eat more whole grains (brown) vs refined grains (white). The reason for this is because whole grains are just that, they are ‘whole’. In order to make a product refined or ‘white’, during the milling process the grain is stripped of it’s germ and bran, which contain lots of fiber and vitamins, only leaving the starchy endosperm. They take out the germ and bran because it gives it a finer texture and it extends the shelf life. At first, I didn’t really like the taste of whole grain products, but over the years we’ve learned ways to cook with these foods and I now love them all! My husband still doesn’t like whole wheat pasta, but he’s okay if I do half whole wheat, and then top it with a yummy sauce. But I’m not sharing a pasta recipe here. This is a brown rice I like to cook whenever we eat Mexican foods.

I always add in onion(or dehydrated onion if I don’t have a fresh onion), a can of diced green chiles, and a few spices. If I have cilantro, I’ll put that in, and sometimes I’ll puree a couple of tomatoes and add that in as well. I enjoy changing things up a little, adding a little variety. So, here is a basic recipe for what I do, but just know you can have some freedom and  add in some tomatoes for a more red looking mexican rice, or some chopped up cilantro.

Brown rice cooks longer than white rice so plan that into your day because you’ll need about an hour: a few minutes to get all your ingredients out and in the pan, and then allow it to cook until all the water is absorbed, about 45 minutes.


Mexican Brown Rice

2 1/2 c water
1 c brown rice
1 can diced green chiles
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp/clove minced garlic
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 onion, chopped
1 tsp chicken or vegetable bouillon(optional)
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)
2 tomatoes, pureed in blender (optional)

Place rice in a large pan on the stove. Add water and optional bouillon and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Add remaining ingredients. Stir together. Cover and cook until rice is done, about 45 minutes. Fluff with a fork. You can refrigerate leftovers for several days or freeze leftovers in a ziploc bag for a couple of months.

Mexican Brown Rice is great with:

Black or Pinto Beans
Black Bean Layered Enchiladas
Fajitas(pictured below)
Mexican Pizza (pictured below)


Filed under Dinner, Lunch, Snacks/Sides/Appetizers, vegan

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

I love this bread recipe. I like using coconut oil instead of hydrogenated oils, which this recipe does, or, if you rather go a cheaper route, you can use butter in place of the oil. I can’t really notice a difference in taste when I use one or the other. This recipe makes 4-5 loaves(I usually make 4 large loaves and 1 smaller loaf that I turn into cinnamon bread by rolling it out and spreading it with butter, a little cinnamon and coconut sugar) and I make it for my family of 7 about once a week. We usually eat the first loaf, or at least half the loaf, as a snack the first day because we love fresh, warm bread right out of the oven. I freeze 3-4 loaves, depending on how much was left from the warm loaf we just devoured, and we eat those over the week. We like to have this with butter or peanut butter and honey, either toasted or just warm as a snack, and all of us eat it as sandwich bread for lunch as well.

If you don’t have a bread mixer, you can knead it by hand,  but I’d halve the recipe because it’s a workout. Just follow all the same directions but mix it in a large mixing bowl and do your kneading in the bowl as well.  Also, you can optionally brush the tops with butter, once they’ve come out of the oven, which will make the crust nice and soft.

Here is what you’re going to need: about 20 cups ground whole white wheat flour(it contains more of the nutrients when fresh), salt, honey, coconut oil or butter, yeast, vital wheat gluten and dough enhancer(I buy both of those at Walmart when living in Utah, or you could get it at a store that sells food storage)

Set up your dough hooks in your Bosch and mix together 8 cups wheat flour, warm water(120 degrees; I warm water in a saucepan with my candy thermometer inside),  and yeast on speed 1. Allow it to rest for about five minutes with the lid on.

Add the salt and butter/oil, dough enhancer, honey and vital wheat gluten and mix together. Be sure your butter is softened, if not, melt it, or if you’re using coconut oil and it isn’t runny, melt some in a saucepan or microwave. Add your optional ground golden flax and the remaining flour, one cup at a time until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl. Be careful not to add too much flour. Allow the dough to knead about 5-6 minutes on speed 2.  Preheat your oven to 180 degrees to warm it up for the rising process; we’ll turn it off before we put the dough in the oven to rise.

Grease four bread pans. Divide the dough and shape them into four loaves (I actually do 4 normal sized bread loaves and one smaller one that I turn into cinnamon swirl bread), if you have a kitchen scale you can have a more exact division of the dough between your pans, otherwise just eyeball it. With my kitchen scale the four large loaves end up being around 2 lbs each. This part is a bit sticky so feel free to grease your hands well.

I shape the dough into loaves using both hands, holding the dough with my thumbs on top and fingers underneath and then squishing it under all around the edges. That’s the best way I can think of to explain. Then I flip over the bread loaf and pinch the insides together so you don’t have any holes in your bread. In the picture below, I’ve pinched the bottom together on half of the loaf so you can see the difference.

Put the formed loaves in your greased bread pans and turn off the oven.

Let the dough rise in your warmed oven for 30 minutes(oven is off), until the dough rises above the tops of the pans. Do not remove the bread from the oven or open the door during or after this time.

Once your kitchen timer goes off, set your oven to 325 degrees and bake for about 30 minutes; the tops will be golden brown and when you knock on the bread you’ll hear a slight thump. Remove bread from oven and with a butter knife, go around the edges to loosen. Flip onto cooling rack.

Optionally brush tops with butter so they soften and look pretty like this:

Nothing better than home made bread! My kids love the smell and know instantly that we’ve been baking bread when they walk in the door from school.

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread- Elisa Smith

8 c whole wheat flour

6 c steaming warm water(120-130 degrees; too hot will kill yeast, and won’t rise if too cool)

3 Tbsp yeast (instant; can keep in freezer)

2 Tbsp wheat gluten (you can just use either the gluten or the enhancer if you only have one, and change the amount to 1/4 c)

2 Tbsp dough enhancer

1 c honey (preferably raw…may need to warm slightly if crystallized)

1 1/2 Tbsp salt

1 c  coconut oil or butter, melted

8-10 c whole wheat flour

optional: 1/2 c ground golden flax

In a medium saucepan, warm your 6 c water until about 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit; I monitor mine with a candy thermometer. While waiting for your water to warm up to the right correct temperature, in a Bosh mixer with dough hooks, add 8 cups wheat flour. Add water, mix to combine, then add yeast and mix to combine.  Let rest for a couple of minutes. Add gluten, dough enhancer, honey, salt and butter/oil and mix together. Add optional ground flax and the remaining flour, one cup at a time until dough cleans the sides of the bowl. Be careful not to add too much flour. Allow it to knead another 7 minutes.  Preheat oven to 180 degrees to warm for rising process. Grease four – five bread pans. Divide dough and shape into four to five loaves. This part is a bit sticky so feel free to grease your hands well. Turn off oven and put bread inside. Let rise in warmed oven for 30 minutes until dough rises above the tops of the pans. Do not  remove the bread from the oven or open the door during or after this time. Once it’s done rising, set your oven to 325 degrees and bake for about 30 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Remove bread from oven and with a butter knife, go around the edges to loosen. Flip onto cooling rack. Optionally brush tops with butter so they soften.This bread will stay good for several days, or you can freeze for a month in bread bags(I save my bread bags from the grocery stores and store them in there, and when I freeze them I also stick them in a plastic bag for double coverage).


Filed under Breads, Lunch, Snacks/Sides/Appetizers