Slow Cooker Applesauce

Slow Cooker Applesauce

Ready for Fall?

Here’s a simple recipe that will make your house smell amazingly like the best of Fall! Since preschool is only 2 days a week, I wanted to do something fun with my little guy on his day off.

Not going to lie, I have Fall on the brain. And apple cinnamon is my favorite Fall smell! Plus, c’mon apple picking is a fun activity for the kiddos. So perfect mommy and me fun day!

Preparation

In order to make a whole Crock-Pot worth of applesauce, you’ll need a half bushel of apples.

  1. First, soak the apples in a sinkful of water and a capful of Thieves fruit and veggie soak.
  2. Peel and cube apples. (I toss all my scraps in a bowl to compost later.)
  3. Toss cubed apples in large Crock-Pot with 4 cups water, TBS. Cinnamon, and sugar if desired. (I prefer mine with no added sugar.)
  4. Cook on high heat for 6 hours, stirring occasionally. You can turn the heat down if it begins bubbling.
  5. Let cool for about an hour before eating or storing in freezer containers.

One crock made about 4-5 jars worth, but I chose to freeze most of ours in Tupperware. So far we’ve made 2 crocks-worth and an entire pan of Apple crisp, which the boys refer to as Apple Crunch.

I’m not sure what they like more, picking apples or eating them. What’s your favorite apple recipe?

Buffalo Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Fries

Buffalo Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Fries

For our Sunday recipe, I wanted to incorporate a vegetarian meal. My husband and I have been trying vegetarian for 2 weeks. He and his co-workers made a pact to try it and determine later if it impacted their overall health. I’ve been wanting to hop on board with more meatless meals and nutrient-dense foods.

So far we’ve both noticeably lost weight and feel more alert and energetic. I’ve had such a difficult time staying away from dairy. I had a small amount of cheese on a veggie burger and my stomach did not like it! I miss dairy the most, but I’m on a mission to continue feeling well. Vegetarian can’t be boring if I’m going to be serious about it, though.

For lunch, I wanted to make a yummy plant-based lunch that our boys would actually eat. I’ve been eyeing buffalo cauliflower, but needed a side to go along with it. So I sliced up a few sweet potatoes as fries.

This was a good snack/finger food lunch! These would be perfect for a party of health conscious guests!

Buffalo cauliflower

Sweet potato fries took simple prep, 20 minutes to prep, and we’re very similar to regular fries.

I followed a recipe from tasty.com (link below). One package of cauliflower served our family of 5 for a light lunch. I would consider 1 package of cauliflower per 2-3 adults though.

Basically, you create a breading with spices, bake on 450° for 20 minutes, coat with hot sauce, and bake another 20 minutes. It would be amazing in an air fryer!

We served our with ranch, but Bleu cheese dressing would be delish too!

Sweet potato fries

This is much like the regular fries recipe that is up on Momma Bird Blog. These are nice to make with the buffalo cauliflower because your oven will already be up to temp. All you have to do is pop them in on another baking rack.

Just peel about 3-4 sweet potatoes (I chose longer skinnier ones about the same size for consistency). Then slice in the size you want, keeping the same width for each.

In a big mixing bowl, mix olive oil and garlic salt and toss in sweet potatoes. Make sure they’re covered in the mixture.

Spread sweet potato fries on a baking sheet (with foil or parchment paper). Bake on 450° for 20 minutes.

These were served on a sharing platter with BBQ and we couldn’t stop eating them! The best part was that the boys knew they were sweet potatoes. So, in the future they’ll know that sweet potatoes are something worth trying.

Like I tell my family, you won’t know you don’t like something until you try it prepared different ways. Cauliflower, for instance, seems to be a little less popular. However, you can have it in soups, roasted, steamed, or in broccoli cauliflower salad. Same with sweet potatoes. I’m normally not a fan (sshh don’t tell my kids), but in fry form they were yummy!

What’s your favorite vegetarian meal?Please share a link in the comments below!

Here’s the link to the recipe above.

Changing The Way We Look At Food

Changing The Way We Look At Food

Recently as my husband has been taking classes to become an EMT, he’s thinking more about the human body. He usually feels sluggish and groggy. Like a good wife, I remind him that he can’t be eating highly processed foods/snack and feel energetic.

So after he saw a documentary about animal consumption and health issues, he and his co-workers made a pact. They are choosing a plant-based diet for 2 weeks to see if they feel better. It’s only been a couple days and they’ve all noticed weight loss and more energy.

We’re focusing on whole grains, nuts/seeds, and tons of produce. So far, it’s been nice having him hop on board with me.

The kids love their fresh food especially! We’ve incorporated more fats and proteins in their meals though because they are so little and so active.

After some research, we made a list of foods we would eat. We’ve tried to extend from our comfort zones. We don’t want to just eat salads for 2 weeks either.

In order to stock up well, we’ve applied one of our shopping techniques. We’ve been doing groceries every biweekly pay period. It normally looks like too much food the first day, but we shove next week’s food to the back of the fridge. I mean, what kid would dare venture back there. So safe to say our “rationing” is doable.

2 weeks worth of fresh produce to feed a family of 5. The most we’ve ever bought at once, but now the focus of our meals.

By week 2, I try to make up food before it spoils. So for instance if the lettuce or strawberries are looking sad, I hurry up and use those.

We’re having more whole grains, nuts, and seeds. The whole grains have an amazing flavor!

Ignore the watermelon back there. I was running out of room for all the fresh produce. 😆

With a vegetarian diet I tend to gravitate toward black beans. I love a good Mexican-style rice bowl for a filling meal. I also gravitate towards bananas for a filling smoothie base.

However there’s a little confusion about vegetarians not having cheese or having it. I am choosing to spend the 2 weeks dairy-free because I think it plays a major factor with inflammation. More specifically I cannot digest milk as well as I used to.

A friend from the American Dairy Association noted that if you are lactose intolerant that you may, however, digest cheese fine. Apparently there isn’t much lactose in cheese.

So we’re focusing first on nutrient-dense produce, then adding in nuts and seeds, and whole grains. Things we’re avoiding; added sugars, processed foods, dairy, and alcohol.

I’m learning how not boring it can be.

A few years ago, this term was used and it’s stuck with me since, “fuel-food.” It reminds us that we don’t need to fill our bodies with junk to satisfy hunger. Rather we should be mindful about what we’re putting in our bodies. You’re on the right track if you are nurturing your body.

Like anything else, healthy diet takes time and good support.

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See Momma Bird Blog’s first post, 8 Ways To Lose Baby Weight Realistically.

3 Superfood Smoothies

3 Superfood Smoothies

Sunday recipe posts are back on Momma Bird Blog! Although this is not a fitness and weight loss blog, nutrition is such a huge part of feeling good.

I often find myself talking nutrition with my husband, because I value the benefits of eating well. Sometimes when he’s really tired, I remind him to have a handful or almonds or an apple. When my family is all feeling under the weather, we focus more on hydration and electrolytes. And when I’m getting to that time of the month, I’m always craving heart healthy foods.

Today, I thought I’d share 3 superfood smoothies, especially for those of you who maybe have small children and not a lot of time to eat a balanced diet. Because when you skip a meal altogether, the burnout goes from a mental to physical state.

I’ve had my own speculations about superfoods because it seems like everything is considered to be this ultra-powerful food. It seems that social media tends to really hype-up any whole food. According to Healthline, there are only 16 real superfoods.

Keep in mind that smoothies are super flexible. You can always play with taste; adding various natural sweeteners, dairy, vitality essential oils, and more. If you decide to use oils, make sure to use 100% therapeutic grade essential oils that are intended to digest. (You don’t want to digest perfume oils or oils that aren’t intended for internal use.) Lastly, I used an emulsion blender to whip these up and served them in plastic stemless wine glasses. Perfect way to get that boost for the day!

Avocado + Spinach

Add some lemon or lime to this energy boosting goodness.
  • 1/4 cup avocado ripened, and cubed
  • 1/4 cup fresh, washed spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup water to thin
  • 2 drops of lemon or lime vitality essential oil (100% therapeutic grade)

Blend with emulsion blender and taste.

Berry + Watermelon

Add frozen berries for a chilly treat!
  • 1 cup of cubed watermelon (no seeds)
  • 1/4 cup of frozen berries
  • 2 drops of lemon vitality essential oil (100% pure therapeutic oil)

No need to add water, the watermelon thins well on its own! Blend and enjoy!

Tropical Ginger

One sip tastes like island life!
  • 1 whole banana
  • 1/2 cup chopped pineapple
  • 2 drops lemon vitality essential oil (100% therapeutic grade)
  • fresh grated ginger (a little goes a long way)
  • Dash of dairy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk

If you prefer a chilled smoothie, just freeze your chopped banana and pineapple ahead of time.

The Three Amigos

Which one are you most likely to try first?

Mouth-watering Mac and Cheese (With Butternut Squash)

Mouth-watering Mac and Cheese (With Butternut Squash)

I’m so excited about this recipe! You may remember a recipe I shared with you all a couple years back. It contained remnants of the “yucky” dinner that my kids couldn’t even stomach. Sneakily, I added the baked butternut squash and a few other ingredients, resulting in some “magic chocolate muffins.” They had no clue they were eating butternut squash.

Magic chocolate muffin recipe here!

I still may tweak the above recipe for a fluffier consistency (and maybe a frosting or filling).

For this recipe, I combined macaroni and a few other ingredients to make a mouth-watering combo! In a saucepan I made a homemade Alfredo sauce, using real Parmesan cheese, then I pureed the baked butternut squash. Lastly, I drizzled the new sauce over the leftover mac and cheese.

Do you see any bits of butternut squash in the mac and cheese? I don’t. And my kids clearly didn’t! #momwin

Ingredients:

  • macaroni or linguine, cooked
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 cup baked butternut squash (baked only with oil and salt)
  • about 2 oz. grated from wedge of Parmesan cheese
  • 2 TBS. butter
  • 4 TBS. flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • salt, pepper, and garlic powder

Recipe:

  1. Prepare your macaroni or linguine. Drizzle cooked pasta with olive oil.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk cheese and flour until it becomes pasty. Next, whisk the milk in. Season to taste.
  3. Once sauce thickens, add the baked butternut squash right to the saucepan. Puree using an immersion blender.
  4. Pour over (warmed) elbow mac or mac and cheese. Stir in well.
  5. Depending on your crowd, you may want to pop this into a casserole dish and warm on 300 degree for about 10 minutes (covered). Or for a quick heat, pop in the microwave for 3-4 minutes on high.

I’m almost certain that the Parmesan cheese played a big role! Up until now I hadn’t played much with it because of cost, but now I see how often I’ve been able to use it in other dishes. Goodbye to cans of Parmesan (for now)!

When I took my first bite of this magical creation, I’m pretty sure I fell in love. It has such a creamy, rich taste, none of which tastes like hidden vegetables. It will literally make your mouth water!

Feel free to add other various cheeses to your cheese sauce! And Enjoy!

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Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup (Made With Stock)

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup (Made With Stock)

Here in Ohio, the overcast and rain has my family craving chicken noodle soup. (I told you I’ve got soup on the mind lately.) Chicken noodle soup is one of most nostalgic comfort-foods! For me, this bowlful of warm goodness is reminiscent of my Grandma’s recipe! (Stock is key!)

If you want to make a crowd-pleaser that’ll also make scrumptious leftovers the next day, then this one for you! I promise, the leftovers will go quickly!

I make this also over the stove, but you can also easily add the ingredients to a crock-pot for a quick and easy weeknight dinner! It takes about 15 minutes of prep and about 1 hour of simmering.

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Onion, minced
  • 1/2 Cup Celery stalk with leaves, minced
  • 3 TSP. Minced Garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 3 TBS. Butter
  • (2) 32 oz. chicken stock
  • 1 LB. Boneless chicken, raw
  • 2 Large Carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 8 oz. Wide Egg Noodles

( P.S. I’ve been adding lemon zest to my chicken soups since I was a kid. Believe me, it adds a whole new level of freshness that you won’t want to leave out! )

Recipe:

  1. In a large soup pot, add olive oil. Saute minced; onion, celery, and garlic.
  2. Cube chicken, season (with salt, pepper, and lemon zest), and brown.
  3. Add chicken stock, diced carrots, and butter.
  4. In a separate, smaller pot, boil water for the noodles. (This ensures that your broth doesn’t become starchy.) Cook the noodles for 4-5 minutes, strain, add to soup, and continue cooking until noodles are done.
  5. Serve with crackers, butter bread, or sandwhiches and enjoy!
Don’t you just want to dive right into this bowl with a big spoon?
Serve with a rustic bread, muffin, or crackers!

What’s your favorite soup?

Drop a link in the comments if you have a soup recipe of your own!

Beef and Vegetable Soup (With Secret Ingredient)

Beef and Vegetable Soup (With Secret Ingredient)

Boy, it’s been a while since I posted a recipe! I am I the only one who tends to make whatever is easier for my family on a weeknight? After everyone gets home from work and school, who wants to spend 2 hours cooking a gourmet meal? And then clean up that mess?

I’m still a huge fan of nutritional food. I even let my boys raid the produce aisle in order to encourage them to eat healthy. (Read 10 Ways to Encourage Kids to Eat Healthy.) Healthy to me is focusing on whole foods, definitely using more produce, and less; fat, starch and salt. I was thinking of making more soups, different salads to try, and maybe even some meatless meals just to change things up. But dinner still has to be pretty easy to make and still delicious!

Last summer I made a large pot of vegetable soup that my three boys absolutely loved. It was delicious mostly because it had a lot of fresh garden veggies in it; tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, carrots, onion, sweet corn, green beans… So I wanted to try a couple more soups!

First and foremost, the key to a good soup is the broth. I have a couple favorite methods. You can use up saved meat drippings from roasts and things. Stock works brilliantly also! I think those work the best because they use a real meat based flavor with a little bit of animal fat. Bouillon cubes are my least favorite because the broth tastes artificial and too salty. Recently I found another favorite broth alternative- onion soup mix! This can be bought in a box with 2 packets used to make french onion dip or soup. But using it as a broth base is incredible!

Prep and Cooking Time:

20 minutes of prep, about 1 hour of total cooking time

The thing I love about soup is you just add the ingredients, set at a medium to low heat, and can walk away. You could also make this the night before, store in a crock pot in the fridge, and set for a low heat before heading to work!

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 TBS Olive oil to fry with
  • 1 LBS of diced red meat (I used venison here)
  • Salt to season meat
  • 2 Packets (2 oz. each) onion soup mix
  • 8 Cups of water
  • 2 Cups of diced potatoes
  • 1 Cup of diced carrots
  • 1 Red bell pepper (optional)
  • ground pepper to taste
  • a couple splashes of Worcestershire sauce!

Recipe:

  1. Heat olive oil in big soup pot till warm. Add diced red meat, season with salt, and brown.
  2. Add both packets of onion mix and water to pot. Let simmer.
  3. Add veggies, pepper, and Worcestershire. Cook till veggies are tender.
  4. And serve!

The secret ingredient definitely adds a depth of flavor with the onion mix! Rarely have I used onion mix to cook with before, but I will be doing it more now!

We typically have these ingredients on hand, but I also like how easy this is to make for dinner. Plus my family devoured this particular beef and vegetable soup! What’s your favorite soup?